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This week is quiet on the new release front, as streaming services gear up for a higher profile slate in September.
Still, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to watch - from horror gems to 90s teen comedies, even the better entries of the seemingly never-ending Marvel Studios slate.
Please note that a subscription may be required to watch.
Sweet Girl - Netflix
In the latest of Netflix’s weekly original releases, this film from director Brian Andrew Mendoza follows Ray Cooper (Jason Momoa), a devastated husband who vows to bring justice to the people responsible for his wife’s death, while protecting his daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced), the only family he has left.
Sweet Girl would feel like a parody of a conspiracy thriller if not for its utter self-seriousness, a collection of clichés that starts with Ray falling into the water in slow motion and remembering his dead wife.
There are some bright spots. Even as the film as a whole is marred by drab colour grading, the action design is sometimes fun if a bit disorientating, and its attempts to make Momoa seem like someone who might actually lose in a fight are impressive.
Plus, evil pharmaceutical companies and the capitalist rot of the US healthcare system is at least a noble target for Cooper’s violent rampage.
Ray is not a particularly smart character – the man announces a death threat on live television – and so the film soon puts him on the run.
The main twist in other “ordinary man gets in over his head” thrillers (the likes of which Netflix just released last week with Beckett) is that Ray’s daughter is on the road with him. It makes for a different dynamic with another life at stake for each action scene, as well as someone actively trying to stop the revenge mission at least, but it’s not enough to keep Sweet Girl from feeling generic.
Also on Netflix: The Lego Movie: The Second Part
Iron Man 3 (Sat 21st) - BBC iPlayer
One of the few Marvel Studios movies that feels like it both has an actual personality in charge of it as well as one with an actual point of view, Iron Man 3 of course got the short end of the stick from the studio’s fans.
This was mostly over annoyance at director and co-writer Shane Black’s extremely wise and correct handling of The Mandarin, a racist Fu Manchu character from Marvel Comics.
With his deployment of Ben Kingsley, Black repurposed The Mandarin into both an excellent gag and an astute, walking representation of post-9/11 American xenophobia and Islamophobia, the film’s true villain utilising this in service of creating a profitable forever war.
Throw in Robert Downey Jr, clearly energised by his re-partnering with Black (the two worked together on the excellent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) as a PTSD-addled Tony Stark, and you’ve got what’s by all means Marvel Studio’s best work.
Also on BBC iPlayer: 99 Homes
Jakob’s Wife - Shudder
While not without its faults, Travis Steven’s Jakob’s Wife finds thrilling emancipation in its low-budget vampire action and in Barbara Crampton’s deliriously fun performance, though sometimes it feels like the film itself is barely keeping up with her.
Anne (Crampton) is married to a small-town Minister named Jakob (horror mainstay Larry Fessenden), her marriage to the holy man having become stifling and disempowering in its conservatism over their 30 year relationship, despite Jakob’s gentle and well-meaning nature.
After a brutal and bloody encounter with 'The Master' (Bonnie Aarons), Anne discovers a new sense of power and an appetite as a vampire, now looking to live with more freedom than ever before.
Of course, this freedom comes with with a body count and plenty of blood, Jakob’s Wife playing up some delightful practical gore effects as the vampires chew through people and Crampton chews through the scenery.
Also on Shudder: Hell Night, Dave Made A Maze
Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion - Disney+
It’s a film that a lot of people might not expect to like on a first glance at it but Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion has plenty of capacity to surprise: driven by a self-awareness and canniness with its characters and satire that will remind many of the likes of Clueless.
Based in part on the stage play Ladies Room written by the film’s screenwriter Robin Schiff (and also starring Lisa Kudrow), Romy And Michele follows the two eponymous (and not entirely bright) party girls as they reinvent themselves for their 10 year high school reunion.
That includes the use of a borrowed Jaguar, and a made up story of their success as the inventors of Post-It notes.
It’s a film that slyly uses its own facade as a straight-laced teen comedy, building some deceptively smart satire on to it through its exploration of these two characters.
While far from subtle, Romy And Michele has a lot more going on under its seemingly stereotypical surface than one might expect.
Also on Disney+: Hidalgo, Stuber