The Beach House, Palm Springs, and more to watch this weekend | Movie Review | Chicago Reader

The Beach House, Palm Springs, and more to watch this weekend 

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click to enlarge The Beach House is now streaming on Shudder.

The Beach House is now streaming on Shudder.

Every week our film critics tackle the movies they're most excited to see. Some more than exceed our expectations, and some, well, some don't (this week we're looking at you, Desperados). Before you settle in to stream this weekend, check out what we have to say. More new releases, revivals, and currently streaming films can be found every week at Movies of Note, and you can dive deep into the Reader's film review archive here.

Archive
It’s the year 2038 as Archive opens, taking viewers through a snowy and serene shot on the way to a secret facility code-named “The Garden.” Situated halfway up a snow-capped mountain near Kyoto, this is where George Almore (Theo James) has spent almost three years attempting to build a “true human-equivalent android.” His work is virtually complete, except for the most sensitive phase, which poses a major problem. The issue stems from Almore’s desire to reunite with his dead wife, Jules (Stacy Martin). Thus begins an in-depth look at grappling with grief and artificial intelligence as immortality. While Archive doesn’t reward viewers with easy answers, it does take them on a surreal and surprising journey. Asking what happens if a machine replicates free will so well that it begins to form its own desires contrary to that of its creator, Archive is a unique take on love and loss. —Becca James 109 min. In wide release on VOD

R The Beach House
Jeffrey A. Brown’s The Beach House is a daring debut that proves you don’t need a big budget to make a captivating cosmic horror film. In an effort to save their tenuous relationship, Randall (Noah Le Gros) takes his girlfriend Emily (Liana Liberato) to his family’s isolated beach house—only to find that the house has been occupied by an older couple who knew Randall’s estranged father. Tensions rise as they navigate their interpersonal relationships, but they quickly discover there is something much more sinister bubbling under the surface—and time is running out before it spreads. The tension of The Beach House is amplified by a jarring score from Roly Porter and a truly electric editing style that pulls you into the narrative. Liberato is a commanding heroine, combating both the horrors of contagion and her gaslighting, emotionally absent boyfriend. Much of the film’s runtime may be slow building, but once it hits its crescendo it’s hard to not let it completely wash over you. —Cody Corrall 88 min. Shudder

Desperados
Nasim Pedrad stars as a lost woman looking for a job and a relationship in this L.P.-directed comedy. The plot has promise, but a lot of flopped jokes and cringy (in a bad way) moments prove the film to be desperate indeed. The leading lady and her two friends embark on a journey to Cancún, on a dummy mission to delete a message she sent to her boyfriend during an emotional breakdown. What could have been a light-hearted story about the things people will do to keep love turned into a series of odd conversations between friends that don’t transfer to real life. On the main character's dates and in other challenging scenarios throughout the film, many of her stumbles that were supposed to be jokes don't land. In fact, there weren’t many laughs to be had at all, a result of possibly trying too hard. Any funny film should also be relatable and have true stakes—this Netflix release failed to do either. —Janaya Greene 76 min. Netflix

R Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado
For decades, every day at 5:45 PM, 120 million Latinx TV viewers would tune in to watch Walter Mercado, a sensational gender nonconforming astrologer, dressed in an extravagant cape, adorned in jewelry, and mesmerizing audiences with a message of peace, love, and hope. He was campy, over-the-top, and beloved by all. Then one day he disappeared. Mucho Mucho Amor catches up with Walter in Puerto Rico where he spends his final years aging, reflecting, and preparing for one last dazzling appearance. This delightful, intimate documentary offers a glimpse into Walter’s remarkable career as well as a nostalgic journey for the millions in Latinx families who love him. Described as equal parts Oprah, Mr. Rogers, and Liberace, Walter was a pioneer whose flamboyance and mastery at connecting with people made him a worldwide icon. Directors Cristina Costantini (Science Fair) and Kareem Tabsch (The Last Resort) successfully elicit tender honesty from a man with 50 years of rehearsed lines. He perpetrated (remember 900 numbers?), and was a victim of, exploitation, but was always proud of who he was. “I never rehearse to be myself,” he said. He lived each moment fully, a fortune-teller who never wanted to know his own future. —Josh Flanders 96 min. Netflix

R The Old Guard
With this adaptation of Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez’s graphic novel The Old Guard (which was scripted by Rucka), director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights) delivers a big-budget comic book movie that’s both entertaining and affecting. The perennially badass Charlize Theron stars as Andromache of Scythia, aka Andy, the leader of a clandestine group of immortal warriors who come from different points in history. The film’s plot centers on the group acquiring a new member, Nile (KiKi Layne), and subsequently fighting back against a conniving pharmaceutical CEO who seeks to harvest their DNA. This succeeds where Prince-Bythewood has always excelled: focusing on strong women, especially women of color, like herself—Nile, a young, Black marine, is formidable, and there’s a backstory involving Vietnamese actress Veronica Ngo’s character that seems likely to spawn a sequel—and love, be it romantic—two of the male immortals (Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli) are in a millennia-long relationship—or familial. There’s an indescribable affection for and among the characters in Prince-Bythewood’s films that never feels contrived, and here it imbues even an action-packed tale with very real sincerity. With Matthias Schoenaerts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Harry Melling. —Kathleen Sachs 124 min. Netflix

R Palm Springs
This Sundance darling gained plenty of attention when it was bought for $22 million—far and away the biggest Sundance deal of all time. That’s a lot of hype to live up to, especially for something being billed simply as an Andy Samberg rom-com, but Palm Springs manages to live up to and even exceed it. That’s in part because of the film’s ability to seamlessly blend romance, comedy, science fiction, and heart-wrenching emotional drama. Samberg stars as Nyles, a seemingly fun-loving and carefree man who draws the attention of closed-off Sarah (Cristin Miloti) at a wedding reception in Palm Springs. What starts as a typical rom-com conceit very quickly reveals itself to be a time-loop movie that leans more toward Russian Doll than Groundhog Day, questioning the purpose of life, the many planes we might exist on, and the toll that sitting idly by instead of trying to figure it all out takes on one’s humanity. The continuing twists keep the story fresh, and the supporting cast—which includes Peter Gallagher, J.K. Simmons, and Camila Mendes (and the particularly hilarious Conner O'Malley)—are excellent in ever-changing time-loop scenarios. At the helm, though, it’s the perfect pairing of Miloti and Samberg, who both shine while showing off the depth of their comedic and dramatic chops. —Brianna Wellen 90 min. Hulu  v

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