We’re nearing the end of Summer, and while theaters are coming back to a normal schedule we’re still getting plenty of at home options. Below are four recent or upcoming streaming releases that I’ve divided into three categories—The Good, The Strange and The Ugly. So, heed the headings and proceed with caution.
Queen of the Beach
Released August 15
About: This one is a documentary from Christopher “Cleetche” McDonell. While on vacation in Goa, India, McDonell came across Shilpa Poojar, a 9-year-old beach hawker hustling tourists to buy clothes and jewelry from her seaside shop. Fascinated, he decided to film her and some of her friends for a story about children working the beaches, but it soon evolved into something else. Shilpa had a dream of going to school, something that seemed impossible given her station and role as her family’s primary bread winner. Over the course of three more trips and eight years, McDonell forged a bond with Shilpa, chronicled her story and helped her to achieve her dreams. This film chronicles that story and their journey of friendship that continues to this day. It shines a light on a group of people and culture that we rarely see. Shilpa’s story is inspiring and emotional, and McDonell does a great job of capturing that story and sharing in this journey. This was a fun and engaging film to watch and well worth checking out.
1st Year Checking
Available On Demand
About: In this documentary, Michael Messner decided to explore the subject of checking in youth hockey. The idea of injuries, particularly head injuries, in youth sports has raged the past few years, and as a coach and hockey enthusiasts, Messner decided to chronicle the experience of his 12-year-old son, Grayson, and the team he coached. It’s an interesting and illuminating journey, one that comes complete with interviews with experts including from the Mayo Clinic. I’ll admit to not knowing much about hockey, especially youth hockey. This film opened my eyes and does a good job of capturing information about the subject and the journey. The interviews with Grayson and his teammates, the brutal footage and Messner’s own thoughts leave a striking impression with the audience, as they did with the filmmaker. It’s one that’s worth watching and considering what the true cost is for our youth athletes.
When I’m A Moth
Available to Stream August 27
About: This one comes from co-directors Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak, with Cotler writing the script. This one is a bit hard to describe. It’s about an affluent young woman named Hillary (Addison Timlin) who spends the summer of 1969 working at a fishery in Alaska. It was inspired by the gaps in Hillary Clinton’s biography, but the film doesn’t really try to assert this is a biopic on Hillary Clinton. Though the official description and other things imply it. So, yeah, strange…If you just take it as the story of a woman with political aspirations and little life experience, there are some intriguing moments, including her meeting a man (TJ Kayama) and having an affair. Some of the dialogue and shots are interesting, and I appreciated Timlin’s performance. She really has to carry and anchor a lot. But the vague connection to Hillary Clinton threw me off and I wasn’t totally sure what I was meant to take from the film. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it, either. Still, there was something about it that kept me engaged—mostly to see where it was going and because Timlin was compelling.
Available to Stream August 20
About: There are good movies. There are bad movies. Then there are movies that make you question the nature of film as art. Habit, a new crime/action/comedy/religious exploration of life falls into that latter category. It’s memorable for sure, but not in a good way. The film comes from director Janell Shirtcliff, who co-wrote the film with Libby Mintz, one of the stars. The main character is Mads, played by Bella Thorne. She has a complicated relationship with Jesus, precious little money and no direction in life. She gets involved with a dealer (Gavin Rossdale) and things go sideways, naturally. That leads to Mads and her friends posing as nuns to get clear. The story is a little weird and a little uncomfortable. It’s going for that edgy crime drama vibe, but it doesn’t quite work. Some of the violence is more graphic than I expected and while the religious theme is likely meant to be thought-provoking, it made me cringe. I got the impression the filmmakers wanted to give something profound but it feels misguided. The ending also left me cold. In short, this is the worst film I’ve seen so far in 2021. It’s memorable, but not in the way the filmmakers intended. You may end up wanting to check it out for the same reason people watch footage of pileups on the Interstate, and ironically watching it makes you feel like you landed in one.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.