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Monday, June 15, 2020

Couch Cinema: 'Shirley'

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2020 at 5:00 AM

Michael Stuhlbarg and Elisabeth Moss as Stanley Hyman and Shirley Jackson - COURTESY OF NEON
  • Courtesy of Neon
  • Michael Stuhlbarg and Elisabeth Moss as Stanley Hyman and Shirley Jackson
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The movie:
Shirley (2020)

Where to see it:
Hulu; rentable on various services; and at VTIFF Virtual Cinema.

The deal:
At midcentury, Rose Nemser (Odessa Young) accompanies her professor husband (Logan Lerman) to Bennington College, where he’s secured a job. The young couple boards with older prof Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his wife, Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss), who recently became a literary celebrity for her dark short story “The Lottery.”

At Stanley’s urging, pregnant Rose takes over the domestic tasks of the household for Shirley, who is depressive, borderline-agoraphobic and struggling with her next novel. Meanwhile, Stanley enjoys his pick of a “harem” of adoring female students. Shirley knows he’s unfaithful, and wicked barbs fly between the pair.

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Monday, June 8, 2020

Couch Cinema: 'Blindspotting'

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 6:40 PM

Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs as childhood friends in Blindspotting - COURTESY OF LIONSGATE
  • Courtesy of Lionsgate
  • Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs as childhood friends in Blindspotting
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The movie:
Blindspotting (2018)

Where to see it:
HBO Max, HBO Go; rentable on other services.

The deal:
In this explosive indie film from first-time feature director Carlos López Estrada, Daveed Diggs (Tony Award winner for Hamilton) and Rafael Casal play Collin and Miles, best friends who grew up together in Oakland, Calif. They work for a moving company, reluctantly facilitating the influx of affluent hipsters who are reshaping their beloved city. Together they banter, talk shit and freestyle about their frustrations.

But sometimes their concerns diverge. Collin is black; Miles is white. Collin is a convicted felon who is determined to stay out of trouble for the last three days of his year of probation. Miles is a fast-talking hothead who sometimes carries a gun.

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Monday, June 1, 2020

Couch Cinema: 'The Half of It'

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2020 at 5:25 PM

Leah Lewis and Alexxis Lemire in The Half of It - KC BAILEY
  • KC Bailey
  • Leah Lewis and Alexxis Lemire in The Half of It
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The movie:
The Half of It (2020)

Where to see it:
Netflix

The deal:
Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac offers an irresistible template for romantic comedies. What if the wordsmith who’s been hired to help a tongue-tied oaf win the girl of his dreams … is also in love with her?

An award winner at the Tribeca Film Festival, this fresh-faced update from writer-director Alice Wu is set in rural Washington. Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) is a bright, lonely teen who helps support her widowed dad (Collin Chou) by selling term papers to the popular kids. When football player Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) asks her to write a letter to Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire), who’s dating one of his teammates, Ellie initially refuses because she has a crush on Aster herself.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

Couch Cinema: The Wolf House

Posted By on Mon, May 25, 2020 at 6:46 PM

María tries to feed her "family" in The Wolf House. - COURTESY OF KIMSTIM
  • Courtesy of KimStim
  • María tries to feed her "family" in The Wolf House.
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The movie:
The Wolf House (La Casa Lobo) (2018; released in the U.S. 2020)

Where to see it:
Currently available for rent on the Vermont International Film Foundation’s Virtual Cinema platform.

The deal:
This 73-minute stop-motion animation took Chilean artists Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña five years to create. It’s immediately clear why — every second is mesmerizing.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Couch Cinema: 'Normal People'

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2020 at 5:00 PM

HULU ORIGINALS
  • Hulu Originals
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The series:
“Normal People” (Season 1, 12 episodes, 2020)

Where to see it:
Hulu

The deal:
Based on the best-selling 2018 novel by Sally Rooney, “Normal People” follows the evolving relationship between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), who grew up in the same town in Ireland’s County Sligo. We meet them as high schoolers: Both are intellectual achievers, but Connell is a beloved athlete and Marianne a pariah. Social class separates them, too: Connell’s mom (Sarah Greene) cleans the mansion where Marianne’s mom (Aislín McGuckin) presides.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Couch Cinema: 'Upload'

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Nathan (Robbie Amell) discovering his new world in "Upload" - COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS
  • Courtesy of Amazon Studios
  • Nathan (Robbie Amell) discovering his new world in "Upload"
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The series:
“Upload” (season one, 10 episodes, 2020)

Where to see it:
Amazon Prime Video

The deal:
In 2033, no one has to die — no one who can afford to have their consciousness digitized and uploaded to a virtual afterlife, anyway. Twentysomething tech bro Nathan Brown (Robbie Amell) hasn’t yet made provisions for his own untimely demise, which occurs in the pilot episode when his self-driving car rams itself into a truck.

Luckily (or unluckily) for him, his image-obsessed girlfriend, Ingrid (Allegra Edwards), comes from a 1 percent family with “unlimited data.” As medical personnel fight for Nathan’s life, she persuades him to let himself be preemptively uploaded to the swanky Horizen Lakeview, a rustic grand hotel inside a computer server. (Exteriors were filmed in a real place: Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y.)

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Couch Cinema: 'What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael'

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2020 at 5:56 PM

PHOTO COURTESY OF DEBORAH FEINGOLD
  • Photo Courtesy of Deborah Feingold
Where do we find entertainment these days? On our laptops and in our living rooms. The streaming options are overwhelming — and not always easy to sort through. So, in this weekly feature, I review a movie or series that might otherwise be easy to overlook.

The movie:
What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (2019)

Where to see it:
Until May 15, stream the movie for $10 per household as part of the Vermont International Film Foundation’s Virtual Cinema program. On VTIFF’s page, you’ll find instructions for viewing the movie on your TV, plus an interview with the director from Seven Days contributing writer Luke Baynes.

The deal:
If you were a movie lover in the 1970s or ’80s, you already know the work of Pauline Kael (1919-2001), who reviewed for the New Yorker from 1968 to 1991. Her opinions were strongly worded, contrarian and frequently very funny. They carried so much power that Bob Fosse and George Lucas, both directors she’d skewered, inserted parodic references to her into their work (remember evil “General Kael” from Willow?).

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