Once again, there are too many films and not enough time to review all of them individually. Even in these quick review capsules, there are quite a few that just simply go missing from my ever growing watchlist. But having caught a cold and been stuck in bed for the last few days, I was able to knock off quite a few films from the list. All of them are available to stream currently, so you can check them out pretty easily for yourself. So, let’s review 5 new films available to stream right now!
1 “Wendell & Wild” – Netflix
The pairing of expert storytellers Harry Selick and Jordan Peele paired with a star studded voice cast and cutting edge stop motion animation should be an absolute home run. “Wendell & Wild” is that film that should be a can’t miss, but instead ends up being an absolute storytelling disaster. The final product ends up being a clash of creativities, with everyone having a vastly different vision of what the film should be and paying little mind to anyone else involved. It lacks a narrative identity and crumbles under the weight of its ambitions and inability to focus on any one particular character or theme. It is such a wild (pun intended) misfire from two can’t miss storytellers, and I’m not entirely sure where everything fell apart. Two tried and true creative minds leading the charge of voices provided by Keegan Michael-Key, Jordan Peele, Angela Bassett, James Hong, and Ving Rhames should be a bonafide hit, and “Wendell & Wild” is anything but.
For its strength, the film is visually stunning, with some unique styling that lends itself to the creepy nature of the film’s story. But that’s about where the good ends, because I can’t even begin to tell you what “Wendell & Wild” is actually about. The plot is so convoluted I can’t even give you a simply synopsis. Something about a rebel girl who lost her parents and is now a hell maiden for two demons who want to come to surface world to build an amusement park? Oh and there’s something about shady real estate deals and corrupt landlords, magic cream, revived parents and jarred demons? I don’t know, there’s a LOT going on in “Wendell & Wild,” and none of the visuals are dazzling enough to cause you overlook the major narrative missteps. There’s a little too much of everything from everyone, and the film overall suffers from too few script passes and some much needed fat trimming.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
2 “Soft & Quiet” – Shudder
I say this with the utmost sincerity, “Soft and Quiet” is one of the most unsettling and disturbing films I’ve seen all year. That includes being on par with “Speak No Evil,” and this one may even be more unnerving because its subject matter is far more resonating and believable. It is a scathing look at American racism in one of its most haunting forms: the harmless, non violent kind. The kind of racism that operates in a sense of not really saying the quiet part out loud and surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals. It festers and simmers until the small micro aggressions of verbal abuse and simple but obviously discriminatory actions add up to incredible violence with horrific consequences. “Soft and Quiet” does all of this through a one take lens, never once giving you time to breath or reset. it is unrelenting in its assault, examination and chaos, and hasn’t sat right with me since I saw it at SXSW back in March.
Written and directed by Beth de Araújo (making her feature film debut), “Soft & Quiet” plays out in real time as we follow an elementary school teacher who leads a group of like minded women in a small church attic. After encountering a hispanic woman from her past at the local grocery store, the group decides to continually escalate their racist aggressions, resulting in a volatile chain of events. Beth de Araújo is shockingly in complete control here, despite how out of control things get, and remains focused on putting the ugly underbelly of modern racism on full display. I can’t stress enough how unsettling this film is. It absolutely forces you to reckon with some very difficult things, and its framework demands that you never look away even when everything in you is telling you to close your eyes and turn it off. This is true horror because it is as close to a true story as fiction can get, and “Soft & Quiet” will leave you changed for better or worse. Watch at your own risk.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
3 “Brahmastra Part 1- Shiva” – Hulu
If yo’ve got 3 hours to set aside, “Brahmastra Part 1 – Shiva” is worth the wasted Saturday afternoon. A blend of Superhero Hollywood with Razzle Dazzle Bollywood, the Indian epic largely succeeds in the mashing of genres. Rooted in Indian mythology and executed as a Marvel Franchise started, “Brahmastra” has enough of both “Woods” to please most fans of the two often opposing productions. It is truly epic in scale and scope, sporting some incredible visual effects and shot compositions worthy of a big budget blockbuster success. Sure, “Brahmastra” is largely comprised of standard superhero origin tropes, packed with the boy with all gifts but doesn’t want them, magical powers, mysterious societies, a training montage, and yes, a good old fashioned car chase. Though familiar, it is the strongest and better executed part of “Brahmastra,” and pairs incredibly well the film’s stunning visuals.
Where things become tough to get through is the films dialogue and love story, which are typical of Bollywood but are hard to accept nonetheless. It is incredibly common for a love at first sight followed by a song and dance number to take place in Hindi cinema, but juxtaposed against the superhero spectacle, it bogs the film down tremendously and pumps the breaks on everything, almost to a full stop sometimes. All the talk about light and love and connection ends up feeling far more heavy handed and cheesy than intended, and is so prevalent and silly that “Brahmastra” can become unwatchable to those unfamiliar with Bollywood storytelling. Even fans of it will probably be the first admit it’s all a little much, but if you can power through some of the more cheesy elements, “Brahmastra” rewards you with one hell of an entertaining ride. And one that, despite not really have characters that are all that interesting and hard to root for, will have you eager to check out Part 2 next year.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
4 “The Good Nurse” – Netflix
Full disclosure, I am not a fan of Eddie Redmayne. He just doesn’t resonate with me in the slightest, and his strange character choice paired with his even stranger performance choices have always left me put off. So the idea of him pairing up with the always on Jessica Chastain to play a serial killer nurse in “The Good Nurse” wasn’t really the draw Netflix intended. Nevertheless, the film ends up being an example of terrific actors in a rather droll and uninspiring film, with both Redmanye and Chastain giving everything they have to elevate a script doing them no favors. “The Good Nurse” is perhaps the first times I found Redmayne to be tolerable, shedding his often needless quirk and ticks for a rather straight forward psychopath. He clearly possesses the skills to be a charming yet haunting character (and displays those facets here) which compliments the immense magnetism of Chastain.
Sadly, these two are all “The Good Nurse” has to offer, as the rest of it feels like a made for television crime drama elevated solely by their performances and strong cinematography. The large majority of the film plods along with predictability and flat dialogue, allowing viewers to telegraph beat after beat, which removes any and all intrigue from this rather bleak story. It never feels as engaging or as satisfying as the true crime story should be, and squanders its potential of being a worthy addition to a rather overstuffed genre. If you’re looking for a scathing critique of the Healthcare system in America, then “The Good Nurse” is weirdly the right choice. But if you’re looking for a cool, slick, new true crime drama to add to your ever growing collection, I feel you’ll be left disappointed.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
5 “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” – Apple TV+
Music documentaries can often times feels overindulgent and self serving. And much like biopics, often leave themselves open to be mocked a la “Popstar: Never Stop Stopping” (a film that has no business being as good, funny or as smart as it turns out to be and you should really check this one out too as it’s a Lonely Island best in cinema from the hilarious trio), and often feeling like a PR stunt for some upcoming release or image revamp. But as I’ve traveled down this rabbit hole with recent outings like “Taylor Swift Miss Americana” and “Jonas Brothers: Chasing Happiness” the vulnerability and humanity demonstrated by unadulterated access to their private lives has shed new light on artists and has often altered my perception of them moving forward. “Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me” follow suit in this same vein, thought I am and have been a fan of hers from the jump. Honest, vulnerable, and deeply personal, “My Mind and Me” examines the immense toll stardom demands from its performers, both physical and mental, and how important it is to take care of yourself and surround yourself with real people and real connection.
Once again, the media machine is on display for its grotesque exploitation of young stars, with “My Mind and Me” clearly demonstrating how much unfounded headlines and harassment contributed to some of Gomez’ more harrowing mental health moments. It isn’t as central as it was in something like “Framing Britney Spears,” but you can’t help chide yourself for getting swept up in the clear fabrications and constant rehashing of nervous breakdowns, past relationships, and the completely false drug induced mental fracturing. Gomez takes control of her own story here (sometimes in very difficult to watch ways) as she is wholly vulnerable and honest about who she was and who she has become. “My Mind and Me” is yet another example of how important it is for artists (particularly child stars who have never known life outside of the limelight) to be able to tell their own stories. Though at times redundant slightly unfocused, “My Mind and Me” is still a must see for fans of Selena Gomez and anyone who may have misconceptions of who she truly is and strives to be, and the voice she uses to tell her story to the world. And it’s a story worth telling, and I highly recommend you check out.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
So there you have it, 5 new films available to stream right now! Which one are you most excited to check out? Which one did you like the most?