Confinement Film Festival
Since we're all stuck inside anyway, we asked local amateur filmmakers, artists, and creative people to send us short homemade movies that demonstrate how we are living, surviving (and occasionally thriving) under quarantine and social distancing orders... and oh boy! DID YOU DELIVER! We received a poop-ton of fantastic, funny, poignant, and mind-bending submissions, and narrowed it down to the 25 best of the bunch to bring you the CoFF film fest. But it gets even better—because after watching CoFF, YOU'LL BE ABLE TO VOTE FOR THE WINNERS OF CASH PRIZES IN A VARIETY OF CATEGORIES! For even more info, go here and get your tickets, because the debut of CoFF happens this FRIDAY, MAY 22 at 8 pm and continues for the following three weekends. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
A Streetcar Named Desire
One of the unexpected benefits to being sheltered-in-place is that access to great theater has become just a little bit easier. National Theatre Live is a big part of that, taking recorded performances they'd usually earmark for theatrical exhibition and putting them on YouTube for free. And this week's installment is a goddamn monster: The Young Vic's 2014 staging of Tennessee Williams' landmark play A Streetcar Named Desire, with Gillian Anderson (!) as Blanche DuBois, Vanessa Kirby as Stella, and Ben Foster as Stanley Kowalski. Jesus Christ that's one stacked cast, and you've got one week to set aside the three-and-a-half-hours needed to experience it. We'd suggest just dropping everything right now and hitting play as soon as you can.
Of all the movies that have been pulled out of theatrical release thanks to COVID, and relocated to streaming, The Lovebirds (Streaming May 22, Netflix) is maybe the most promising. Granted, that's not saying much when the comparison points are Trolls: World Tour and Scoob!, but seriously, check the stats: Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, directed by Michael Showalter, in a screwball-romantic-comedy-action-murder-mystery (whew!) that takes place in one long, perilous, hilarious night? That's pretty much all the premise you need, really. Now it's just a matter of navigating to Netflix, hitting play, and seeing if that shakes out as entertainingly as it's almost guaranteed to... or maybe you'll wish you'd watched Scoob, who knows!
For those who fear that The Great—Hulu's original series about empress of Russia, Catherine the Great—is a stuffy, historical bore-fest that will have you clawing your eyes out... well, this definitely ain't that. Elle Fanning stars as Catherine in this historically inaccurate comedy about a forward thinking and wildly optimistic French girl who's sent to marry Emperor Peter III of Russia (a fantastic Nicholas Hoult) and finds her world turned upside down—and then turns the world rightside up in response. Written by The Favourite screenwriter Tony McNamara, The Great provides top notch performances, gorgeous costumes, and a whip-smart script filled with sex, violence, poop talk, and just a smidge of education—if that's okay with you. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Your Sister's Sister
Jack (Mark Duplass) is a sad sack of a guy who commemorates the one-year anniversary of his brother's death by drunkenly shouting at the friends who insist on romanticizing his dead sibling. Afterward, he's cornered by his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), who firmly instructs him that after a year of grieving, it's time to get his head together. She sends him off to enjoy some quiet time at her family cabin, but solitude isn't on the agenda: Jack arrives to find the house already occupied by Iris' half-sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who's drowning her own breakup-related sorrows in tequila. Most of writer/director Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister (Now available, multiple platforms, $3.99 to rent, $9.99 to buy) is about interpersonal relationships, about characters figuring out who they are in relationship to one another, even when things get weird. ALISON HALLETT
Usually, the whole point of Awards Season—aside from that whole "industry lovingly washing its own genitals for four hours on ABC" thing—is to provide deserving films a gentle boost in reputation and (most importantly) receipts. Rocketman (Streaming May 22, Amazon Prime) however, is a rare case of Oscar-bait being best served by distance from Awards Season. Now that it's not being relentlessly compared to the previous year's Bohemian Rhapsody, and built up as some sort of deeply-meaningful drama about the perils of stardom and celebrity, it gets to just be what it actually is: A fizzy, fun, visually-interesting gloss on the fabulous life of Elton John, with a pair of rock-solid performances (Taron Egerton as Elton, Jamie Bell as songwriter Bernie Taupin) making it go.
Summer Camp Retrospective
Normally, Memorial Day weekend plays host to a big ol' Summer Camp experience at Three Sisters Park in Illinois, and not the "catch poison oak, eat bad food in a tent, get neglected by teenage counselors" type of Summer Camp experience. But the "get lifted, listen to a lot of jam bands, learn about permaculture and sustainability" type of experience, which is now going online (Fri-Sun, $24.99)to celebrate 20 years of doing summer camp right, with live music, throwback performances, panels, and prizes to give away. Hosted by Andy Frasco and Jonathan Schwartz, with music sets from Moe., Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Big Something, Sunsquabi, Twiddle, and many more.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Listening to Carly Rae Jepsen sounds like victory. It feels like experiencing the season finale of your own life. A life spent inside Lisa Frank's world, after making an offering to the great goddesses Belinda Carlisle and Cyndi Lauper, and our reward is a rapture away from this hellscape we call Earth, thanks to the blessed power of Carly Rae Jepsen's music. She just dropped her follow-up to Dedicated without warning on Thursday. Achieve pop nirvana by putting Dedicated Side B on loop for all of Memorial Day Weekend.