We’ve watched a few streaming movies over the last few days – one was great, one fair, and a third, although popular on Netflix, didn’t quite inspire. Check out our reviews and let us know what you think.
Finch – Tom Hanks has upgraded his co-star from a volleyball (Wilson in Castaway) to Jeff the robot and a charming dog named Goodyear (disturbing product placement, indeed). The apocalyptic story on Apple TV+ starring Hanks got a lot of buzz out of the gate, but I wasn’t overly impressed. The story seemed tired, as did Hanks, although in the film, he is suffering from radiation poisoning due to a solar flare and a weakening of the ozone layer that began ten years or so earlier… so we’ll give him a break.
Hanks and Goodyear live on their own in an underground facility until they are forced to leave due to an impending superstorm. There are only glances of other humans who survived the disaster, and Hanks doesn’t want to see them anyway. Without much explanation, he laments “the solar flare didn’t kill us, we did it to ourselves.” Feels a bit cliché. Hanks’ star power carries the film, and the best moments come in his times of self-reflection, when his character reacts to (what’s left of) the world around him. 3 stars.
Passing is a fascinating period piece about an African American woman who passes as Caucasian in 1920’s Harlem. The movie is filmed elegantly in black and white, although the film has multiple (real and figurative) shades of gray. She’s even fooled her husband, who is proud to declare his own deep seeded racism. There’s tension throughout, as her secret is always close to being revealed.
Written and directed by Rebecca Hall, the Netflix film features strong performances from co-stars Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. Based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella, Passing is one of the best films about I’ve seen in a long time – challenging viewers on multiple levels with themes of race, gender and sexuality. It’s certain to be a awards season contender, for its performances as well as its presentation. 4.5 stars -highly recommended.
Love Hard is a holiday season rom-com on Netflix that tries way too hard to be relevant but fails miserably. The title combines two popular Christmas movies, and the film contains numerous references to Love Actually and Die Hard. It tells the story of a down on her luck romance writer, played by Nina Dobrev. She is “catfished” in her online search for love and ends up traveling from LA to Lake Placid, NY, where she spends the holiday with a Chinese-American family. The comedy isn’t very funny and the spark of romance just doesn’t develop.
The film also tries desperately to save the disgraced Christmas tune, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” even introducing newer, more acceptable lyrics. Sorry, that’s not gonna do the trick, especially in a film where the premise has a woman traveling 3000 miles after being catfished by her suitor. Might it have been easier to just choose a different song? I suppose Love Hard is considered a “feel good” movie, but at times, it felt more like “feeling queasy.” 1.5 stars.