It was a busy week of new releases with most coming via streaming. I give my take on this week’s streaming films, plus the anticipated release Don’t Worry Darling below. If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
Don’t Worry Darling (Theaters)
Starring: Harry Styles, Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilde, and Chris Pine
Synopsis: You’ve probably heard a lot about this film already—well at least about the making of the film. The production troubles have been widely covered, leading many to wonder what we might see when the film finally released. We got the answer this weekend as Wilde’s feature with a stellar cast dropped in theaters on Friday. The film is set in a private community home to everyone working on the Victory Project. It’s the 1950s, and the men go off to work while the women stay in this cloistered community. But, unsurprisingly, not everything is what it seems. I enjoyed the period look and the style employed by this film. I also enjoyed the lead performance from Pugh as Alice, a woman who begins to question her idyllic surroundings. Pine is strong in a supporting role, too, while Styles does a decent job. The problem here is the story. The third act twist isn’t entirely unpredictable and while mildly interesting it feels like we have to do a lot of work to get there. This one is too dry, wasting a good cast and a nice cinematic design.
Rating: Rated R for sexuality, violent content and language.
A Jazzman’s Blues (Netflix)
Starring: Joshua Boone, Amirah Vann, Solea Pfeiffer, and Ryan Eggold
Synopsis: Tyler Perry steps behind the camera for this Netflix film, but it isn’t a big, broad comedy like the Madea films that made Perry famous. Instead, this is a film based on a script he wrote 27 years ago. While the film had a long journey to the screen, it’s clearly a labor of love for Perry, and a film that has plenty to say about the racial issues that have long plagued America. It’s also a love story. A talented singer from a family of musicians falls for a light-skinned woman who can pass as white. The woman’s mother seeks to keep them apart, even marrying her daughter off to a white family. But their romance continues at intervals. It leads to a child and sees our hero, Bayou, flee only to find fame as a singer. The pull of love and family is too strong, and things don’t turn out when Bayou tries to get home. You can tell it’s a labor of love and story he deeply wanted to tell. Some of it is quite compelling and a fascinating departure from the kind of films that first made him a household name. I liked Boone in the lead role, too. Ultimately, you know where this is heading. It has some strong moments but it takes a while to get there.
Rating: Rated R for some drug use, violent images, rape, brief sexuality and language.
Starring: Allison Janney, Jurnee Smollett, and Logan Marshall-Green
Synopsis: This second Netflix feature finds Janney as Lou, a cantankerous woman living in seclusion on a remote island. When her tenet (Smollett) has her daughter kidnapped during the midst of a raging storm by her dangerous ex-husband, Lou springs to action. Both her skillset, past and connection to the missing child aren’t what they at first appear to be. This action film from director Anna Foerster features a couple of plot twists that aren’t altogether that surprising. Still, this one isn’t about mystery, it’s about execution. The execution here is decent enough to hook your attention, while Janney and Smollett have good chemistry that keeps you engaged. Marshall-Green is solid as the antagonist, too, making this one watchable if unspectacular.
Rating: Rated R for violence and language.
Meet Cute (Peacock)
Starring: Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson
Synopsis: The whole time-travel/infinite time loop schtick has been played time and again. Into that well-worn path comes Meet Cute. Here, boy and girl meet in a bar. The sparks fly. They’re having a great night and a great connection. Then girl reveals she traveled there—many times—via her magic tanning bed, and things predictably go off the rails. In this case it’s Cuoco and Davidson in this romantic comedy set in a time travel loop. The story here is a shoulder shrug and I didn’t buy into the chemistry between the leads. This felt like something a stale take on a well-worn premise. Cuoco deserved better. This one can be safely skipped.
Sidney (Apple TV+)
Synopsis: The latest film for Apple TV+ is a documentary on the late acting icon Sidney Poitier. It was produced by Oprah Winfrey, among others, and looks at Poitier’s legendary career and his cultural impact. The actor, who passed away in January, is featured in archival interview footage, while the film includes clips of his films, interviews with his family and with fellow performers. It’s a great look at how his career and activism impacted the world around him while being a celebration of his incredible work. It’s well worth checking out for those that want to learn more about Poitier and his films.
Rating: Rated PG-13.
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.