Streaming. You knew “The Godfather” ruffled some feathers when it was released – but chances are I bet you didn’t know it ruffled this many!?
Created by, and based on, Paramount+’s “The Offer” is a daring and delicious look at the making of one of the greatest films of all time. A big punt for Paramount at the time, not the least of which was because the project was hatched by the creator of TV comedy “Hogan’s Heroes”, the feature film adaptation of Mario Puzo’s controversial novel had to jump more than a few hurdles before it even rolled an inch of film. Anchored by magnificent performances by Matthew Goode, a standout and dead ringer for studio legend Bob Evans, Miles Teller as rising film producer ‘Al’ Ruddy, and Dan Fogler as director Francis Ford Coppola, “The Offer” is not only a refreshing change of pace but one helluva entertaining history lesson.
Must-see television, “The Offer” is to television what “The Player” was to feature films – a warts-and-all look at the machine, its villains, victims, and victors, and the rarely discussed shenanigans that go on behind-the-scenes. It would be an absolute crime to miss it.
The first three episodes are now available with a new episode released weekly. [CC]
Digital. If the fact that CD shelves are now being cleared for vinyl, record day is a huge annual event, and copies of basically any film soundtrack from the ‘80s go for mint prices on ebay haven’t already tipped you off, then Directors Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone’s “Vinyl Nation” will undoubtedly confirm that records are well and truly back.
Fixing on just why album collector’s prefer a needle drop over a CD spin, this compelling and insightful documentary skips the talking head celebs and instead puts mic to mouth on fans, store owners (Amoeba Music principal Marc Weinstein is here), record label managers, pressing plant owners, DJs, turntable reps, and even an Urban Outfitters buyer to get to the bottom of the bonza return of the large fat black discs.
Even if you’re not a fan of vinyl, or are about as familiar with the format as you are anything pre-1998, “Vinyl Nation” will likely still hold your attention. [CC]
Digital. A delightful companion piece to Paramount+’s “The Offer”, Upstream Flix and director CJ Wallis have “Stu’s Show”, another showbizy-yarn chronicling a story you likely haven’t read about in EW or Variety.
While the former concentrates on household names like Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, “Stu’s Show” turns its spotlight on a lesser-known but no less influential industry figure : Stu Shostak. Shostak, a super fan turned TV host and historian, has an interesting tale. From his avid collecting, love of old school Hollywood (in particular the television shows of the time), and his friendship and business relationship with the iconic Lucille Ball, he’s led quite a unique life. Via the many famous folks speaking on camera, including Ed Asner and Tony Dow, it’s clear that Shostak has more than left his mark on the game.
And with “Stu’s Show”, so has director C.J Wallis. Bravo. [ML]
Digital. Not to be confused with the 2006 film by Felipe Martínez, “Bluff” is an admirable, well-performed British crime thriller that plays somewhat like a mesh of “Donnie Brasco” and “Prince of the City” – albeit lacking much of their grit.
Dan Miller is a London copper who is charged with the mission to go undercover, befriending a local drug addict in an effort to nut out the crooks of the game. Things get tense and tricky when his work ultimately brings him closer to drug tycoon Imran.
In addition to being an entertaining thriller, “Bluff” also offers a uniquely sympathetic look at addicts. With a few more dollars, and maybe a more established name in front of the camera, “Bluff” could’ve even been an awards contender. [ML]
Streaming. Never a good thing when a very low-budget, slightly messy indie comedy takes it’s too seriously, thankfully the new series “Barbee Rehab” seems to be in on the joke.
Sure, some of the jokes fall completely flat, there’s less of a plot here than there is a stitch of silly loosely-connected sketches, and a couple of the performances are lackluster, but this inspired bit of fluff from Global Digital Releasing might just find an audience. The story – or lack of – fixes on addicts coming to heal at a retreat specializing in those who are obsessed with the doll. Less a Ben Stiller or Mike Myers-style spoof and more a piss-take on “American’s Next Top Model” and the like, it’s a show much, much better than it’s odd title (possibly tweaked for legal reasons?) will suggest.
Obviously made with passion, and equipped with a cast (the wonderful Vanessa Bednar and the always fervent Bai Ling are standouts) and crew that seem to be having a lot of fun, “Barbee Rehab” (on Tubi from May 6) is yet another reminder that cheap doesn’t always result in nasty. [KT]
Streaming. If the unimaginative title didn’t tip you off, Hulu’s “Crush” is a teen-skewed flick about a youngster trying to sway the object of their affection. As opposed to other similar-titled films – be it “The Crush” (1994) or “Crush” (2009) – the directed piece is a romantic-comedy, and one appreciably sex-positive and sweet.
Paige (Rowan Blanchard of “Girl Meets World”) spends most of her time on her art, an admissions assignment to an art college, and thinking about the girl of her dreams, Gabby (Isabella Ferreira). When social media figure ‘King Pun’ starts vandalizing the school with his art pieces, Paige is blamed and finds herself suspended. Rather than take it lying down, Paige makes a deal with the school to find the actual culprit, and is assisted by Gabby’s sister AJ (Auli’I Cravalho) – who, of course, is far less ideal than her sis. Or is she!?
What this teen comedy lacks in shenanigans – c’mon, these kids are way too well-behaved! Where’s the hijinks!? – it makes up for in sublime performances (particularly the always-adorable Blanchard), a sunny storyline, and sweetness. [CC]