THE SECOND BEST
A funny, wonderful, romantic reinvention of the time loop Groundhog Day narrative device, Palm Springs is both another absurdly hysterical Lonely Island romp and a sweet, thoughtful rumination on life, relationships, and existential quandaries. Andy Samberg and Cristin Miliotti are perfectly matched as partners-in-crime in said time loop, both guests at a Palm Springs wedding weekend that won’t end. Samberg is Niles, a cynical goof with a code of ethics for his little repeating corner of the world, having lived in it for years, possibly decades. He’s tried everything to get out, and experienced much too much in trying to get something out of it. Miliotti is Sarah, the Maid of Honor and sister to the bride who follows Niles into a mysterious cave only to find herself, like him, looping for eternity. She’s also not resigned to her fate, and possibly the key to getting them back to their actual fate. Combining kooky high-concept science fiction, the Groundhog Day device, and rom-com tropes proves to be a refreshing spin on each of those. Doesn’t hurt that we get to spend time with two endearing comic actors who enjoy the sort of chemistry rom-com writers dream of.
DA FIVE BLOODS
Da 5 Bloods is one big welcome-back for Delroy Lindo, one of Hollywood’s most unsung, an ode from Spike Lee to one of his oldest friends. From French colonialists to descendants of the Vietcong making trouble, not to mention flashbacks to the 1970’s, it’s also a Vietnam war movie set in 2020. Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. are old friends reunited in Vietnam, having returned to seek out the gold they buried so many years ago during the war. They’re also back to visit the hollowed ground of their fallen comrade (Chadwick Boseman), a brash, honorable, well-spoken leader who for them was MLK and Malcolm X in one man. Donning a crummy red MAGA hat and rambling about foreigners, Lindo’s Paul is the most complex interpretation of Trumpism we’ve seen out of Lee, whether in his own films or his fervent comments in interviews. Spike has other thoughts too, such as what decades of disappointment can rain upon men at their worst. What happens to veterans, specifically black veterans, when they’ve grown old and discovered their glory days were all for nothing? Such themes, as well as a delightful cast and masterful suspense, aid the great Delroy Lindo in making Da 5 Bloods another entertaining entry in Lee’s burgeoning oeuvre.
Guy Ritchie had sold his soul a wee bit when tackling the mediocre re-imagining of King Arthur or the terrible reboot of Aladdin. The Gentlemen is a welcome return to form, a return to scintillating dialogue, quirky Cockney comedy, and splashes of violence. This is the Guy Ritchie where men and women preen for screen time, where energy and affable monologues come together to produce criminal drama that almost rivals the best of Tarantino. Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, and Colin Farrell take turns stealing scenes from one another, and it’s two hours in underworld well spent. Bonuses: Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, and Henry Golding provide lively support as fiery personalities on the fringes of McConaughey’s world.