You know the drill by now, surely. Five reviews of 2020 releases, all currently available through either VOD and/or its home streamer...
Disappearance at Clifton Hill
dir: Albert Shin
pr: Fraser Ash / Kevin Krikst
scr: James Schultz / Albert Shin
cin: Catherine Lutes
In which a wayward woman begins investigating a possible conspiracy involving the decades-ago death of a child on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. A weird and funny neo-noir, deliciously bent in its own quiet way, outstanding performances, suspensefully written and edited...it's everything you could want in this genre! Tuppence Middleton? A star, I could have watched her in a three-hour cut of this, she's so magnetic. Yet I was most taken by the portrayal of her sister by Hannah Gross, cautiously supportive no matter how many times she's been burned, genuine love and exasperation.
dir: Max Barbakow
pr: Chris Parker / Andy Samberg / Akiva Schaffer / Dylan Sellers / Becky Sloviter / Jorma Taccone
scr: Andy Siara
cin: Quyen "Q" Tran
In which a wedding guest caught in a time loop is inadvertently joined by the maid of honor. The Groundhog Day for this generation, not just because of the time loop plot, but because, amid the dark jokes about death and sex and drugs and depression and being generally screwed up, it is one of the sweetest romantic-comedies! Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are just terrific as two not-great people who are great together. They're surrounded by a great ensemble that includes Dale Dickey and J.K. Simmons, though I do wish the whole cast was given as much time to shine (why hire Camila Mendes and June Squibb to just...be there?). But isn't that great, when your biggest quibble is that you wanted to see more? A Hulu Original.
dir: Severin Fiala / Veronika Franz
pr: Aliza James / Simon Oakes / Aaron Ryder
scr: Sergio Casci and Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
cin: Thimios Bakatakis
In which some disturbing things happen while a young woman spends Christmas weekend alone with her fiancé's kids. To what end, the hostility of this film? A slow burn that, at its best, could be a comment on the dangers of weaponized faith, but at its worst, seems to be finger-wagging about exposing one's children to trauma survivors...or having children, period? It's a chilly, unpleasant thing, a nasty piece of work.
The Old Guard
dir: Gina Prince-Bythewood
pr: A.J. Dix / David Ellison / Marc Evans / Dana Goldberg / Don Granger / Beth Granger / Charlize Theron
scr: Greg Rucka
cin: Barry Ackroyd / Tami Reiker
In which immortal warriors accept a new member into their fold while fighting for their freedom and survival. It's quite entertaining in the moment. A Netflix Original.
dir: Marjane Satrapi
pr: Tim Bevan / Eric Fellner / Paul webster
scr: Jack Thorne
cin: Anthony Dod Mantle
In which Marie Curie discovers new elements, hates hospitals, and changes the world. There's a real spark between Rosamund Pike and Sam Riley as the Curies: you believe this marriage is equally satisfying intellectually and physically and emotionally; her unraveling mid-film rings true. And I loved that instead of a plain, straightforward bio, we went forward in time to see how the various discoveries and inventions of the Curies were used for better and worse in the coming century. Acting quality in these sequences varies greatly, but otherwise, I found them to be an entertaining and informative tribute to her work, far more effective than a series of title cards telling us why we should care (though we get some of those, too). Gorgeously shot, almost magically so. Frankly, friends, I loved it. An Amazon Original.
Best of the Bunch: Disappearance at Clifton Hill, Palm Springs, Radioactive