The Old Guard (Netflix)
While many of the streamer’s action fare –“Extraction” and “6 Underground” come to mind – were more an exercise in style substance, there’s a far favourable balance here as director Gina Prince-Bythewood combines a slick palette with a creative, gripping high-concept yarn. Charlize Theron- back in physically-demanding terrain, following her turns in “Mad Max Fury Road” and “Atomic Blonde”- plays the plucky leader of a group of immortal mercenaries that find their secret suddenly exposed just as a new member (Kiki Layne) is being christened into the team. Though the villain is a bit cardboard-cut out, and the plot a bit messy, there’s so much good-looking action fun on hand that you can’t but be seduced by the flick’s charms.
Scripted by star Tom Hanks, and directed by Aaron Schneider, this striking film adaptation of C.S Forester’s “The Good Shepherd” faithfully chronicles the journey of an Allied convoy crossing the North Atlantic in 1942 as its captain faces relentless attack by a Nazi submarine wolf pack.
Some films are just made for the big screen, with “Greyhound” a prime example of a film crafted specifically for a taller medium and more stout sound set-up. While it’s spectacular visual effects, pulsating soundtrack and commanding performance by awards-fave Hanks are still appreciated at home, it’s difficult to become fully engrossed here, particularly with sound and image taking precedence over storytelling.
Palm Springs (Hulu)
Andy Siara’s high-concept script takes Andy Samberg’s slacker and Cristin Milioti’s unlucky-in-love maid of honor, guests at the same wedding in Palm Springs, and pairs them in a “Groundhog Day” scenario where they find themselves unable to escape the day, the venue, themselves or each other. Over the course of umpteen different-but-the-same days, the mismatched twosome develop more of a fondness for each other.
A clever, very funny and effectively performed rom-com that runs rings around most other recent laffers, “Palm Springs” is a pleasant surprise package, particularly in these worrying times. Give it a whirl!
Not new but worth streaming…
The Insider (Prime Video) – another (also see : “Manhunter”, “Heat”, “Last of the Mohicans” et al) timeless cinematic gem from the always-dependable (okay, let’s pretend “Public Enemies” didn’t happen) Michael Mann, “The Insider” sees Sixty Minutes going after Jeffery Wigand, the former head of Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, for an interview that would ultimately exposure how tobacco companies’ operate.
Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, powerful performers in their own, singular right, make for an extremely dynamic duo in this absolutely riveting, intricately plotted true account of a jaw-dropper case from a few years back.
Donovan’s Echo (iTunes) – Jim Cliffe’s remarkably-plotted supernatural fantasy sees a man (Danny Glover) question choices past, present and future – with the help of the supernatural. Having experienced one personal tragedy, ‘Donovan’ is determined history doesn’t repeat itself, relying on a subconscious discovery to prevent it from being so. Written by Cliffe with his writing partner, Melodie Krieger, “Donovan’s Echo” is a real surprise package – stylish, compelling and intensely performed, showcasing a powerful and exciting new voice in filmmaking.