Downloads and streaming: New films to enjoy at home
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Reviews of films newly released for home viewing.
Kajillionaire (Cert 12, 105 mins)
Streaming from February 1 on Amazon Prime Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services
Old Dolio Dyne (Evan Rachel Wood, picuted right) is a 26-year-old shrinking violet, who carries out petty thefts with her parents, Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger).
The trio lives hand-to-mouth in a squalid office space, which is blighted by persistent leakage from the neighbouring Bubbles, Inc factory.
To keep a roof over their heads, the Dynes intend to fake the loss of luggage during a round-trip to New York and claim back $1575 on their travel insurance.
During the turbulent return flight, they meet bubbly chatterbox Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), who is thrilled to learn the tricks of the con trade.
Old Dolio initially harbours resentment towards Melanie but pangs of jealousy are gradually supplanted by fascination and simmering sexual desire.
Weird is exceedingly wonderful in artist and filmmaker Miranda July’s off-kilter comedy drama about a family of small-time crooks, who operate on the frayed fringes of present-day Los Angeles.
Imagining Ocean’s Eleven with a trio of emotionally stunted, thrift shop charlatans, Kajillionaire dissects the toxic ties that bind a grown-up daughter to her parents as they steal mail and falsify identities to make ends meet.
July infuses her gently paced story of self-enlightenment with trademark visual flourishes like the teardrops of pink chemical foam that ooze down the office walls and Old Dolio’s amusingly elaborate gymnastics routine to evade security cameras.
Light-fingered characters reek of dysfunction and July’s beautifully calibrated script sketches their foibles in precise, delicate strokes, compelling us to pity the low-rent chancers as we marvel at their gall and ingenuity.
The Dig (Cert 12, 111 mins)
Streaming from January 29 exclusively on Netflix
Terminally-ill widow Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) is convinced that treasures lie beneath the surface of the grassy burial mounds on her estate in Suffolk.
With the Second World War beckoning, she hires pipe-smoking archaeologist Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to excavate the site.
“I’ve been on digs since I was old enough to hold a trowel,” he confides warmly.
Tirelessly working the land, Basil makes an amazing historic discovery: an Anglo-Saxon ship burial.
British Museum archaeologist Charles Phillips (Ken Stott) and various members of the London establishment descend on Sutton Hoo to stake their claim to a site of national interest.
As a tug of war ensues between Basil and well-to-do academics, passions stir between Edith’s cousin Rory (Johnny Flynn) and the unhappily married wife (Lily James) of one of the visiting scholars (Ben Chaplin).
Based on John Preston’s novel and written for the screen by Moira Buffini, The Dig is a handsomely crafted drama about the precious things that lurk beneath the surface of emotionally scarred people and the undulations of our green and pleasant land.
The first half, which concentrates on the dynamic between Mulligan and Fiennes, is the most compelling, galvanised by understated yet winning performances from the two leads.
Once the film’s canvas broadens to include a larger company of supporting characters, emotional rewards become less plentiful although Mike Eley’s cinematography retains its warming glow.
Director Simon Stone evokes the period with elan and offers constant reminders of the spectre of war that could wrench apart fragile relationships across the class divide.
Palmer (Cert 15, 111 mins)
Streaming from January 29 exclusively on Apple TV+
After 12 years behind bars for an act of attempted murder, Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake, pictured right) returns home to stay at the home of his loving grandmother Vivian (June Squibb).
Every two weeks, he checks in with a parole officer and takes a drugs test.
When neighbour Shelly (Juno Temple), who lives in a trailer on Vivian’s land, disappears on one of her drug-fuelled benders, she leaves behind her precocious seven-year-old son Sam (Ryder Allen).
The boy is bullied mercilessly at school for playing with dolls and liking the same Princess Penelope cartoon series as his female best friend.
Eddie is initially reluctant to become Sam’s guardian (“He ain’t my problem!”) but the youngster’s untainted sweetness and innocence are a balm to Eddie’s tortured soul.
Palmer is a contemplative, life-affirming drama that traces a familiar path to redemption for a quietly spoken man who has served his time.
Timberlake conveys his ex-con’s inner turmoil with lowered eyes and hunched shoulders rather than words, catalysing a winning screen chemistry with exuberant young co-star Allen, who has a rare talent for breaking hearts.
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