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New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Palm Springs’ on Hulu, ‘The Old Guard’ on Netflix

Variety — J. Kim Murphy

This unusual summer movie season continues this weekend with a particularly diverse batch of high profile releases hitting a variety of streaming platforms, along with the flow of independent and foreign films continuing to premiere on video-on-demand services.

The romantic comedy “Palm Springs” made headlines when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Hulu and Neon purchased rights to the comedy for $17,500,000.69, breaking the record for the biggest sale at the festival by just $0.69. Though Neon had originally planned a theatrical release, the movie will only be at a few drive-in theaters nationwide. However, it is available to stream for anyone with a Hulu subscription. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti star as two wedding guests caught in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again.

Tom Hanks has also veered into the streaming realm with “Greyhound,” a WWII naval thriller which Hanks wrote and stars in. Apple TV Plus purchased distribution rights to the film back in May.

Netflix is also debuting a big-budget project this weekend with “The Old Guard,” an adaptation of the comic book by the same name. The superhero movie follows a group of immortals being mysteriously hunted. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s prospective franchise starter features a star-studded cast of Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Here’s a complete rundown of the week’s new releases, with excerpts from reviews and links to where you can watch them. Find more movies and TV shows to stream here.

Exclusive to Hulu

Palm Springs (Max Karbakow)   CRITIC’S PICK
Where to Find It: Streaming on Hulu, playing at drive-in theaters
The repetition — typically the most frustrating aspect of this genre — becomes a kind of metaphor for the drudgery of real life here. But “Palm Springs” is to time-loop movies as “Zombieland” was to the undead genre: It’s an irreverent take on a form where earlier iterations were obliged to take themselves seriously. And somehow that liberates what felt like a slick but ironic riff on a tired genre to do something sincere, both with the connection between its two lead characters and also in a scene where we see Roy’s home life. It asks: If life’s routine is like a lousy carousel ride, repeating itself over and over, who would you want by your side?  — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Exclusive to Netflix

The Old Guard (Gina Prince-Bythewood)
Where to Find It: Netflix
“The Old Guard” is at once a conventional action thriller; an origin story that’s trying, in its utilitarian Netflix way, to launch a badass franchise; and an “elegiac” late episode of that same franchise. It’s a genre movie that, if anything, takes its characters a lot more seriously than the audience does.   — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado (Cristina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch)
Where to Find It: Netflix
The documentary also deifies Mercado, breezing past his faults. It never, for example, talks to a victim who might have spent money they didn’t have hoping for a miracle. The negativity is fobbed onto Mercado’s former manager Bill Bakula, who appears in the film to defend writing a contract where Mercado naively forked over his image and name in perpetuity. The doc gives Mercado’s story back to Mercado. Better, it shows that Mercado is still the same spiritualistic, highfalutin’ fashion-plate as a retiree eating breakfast at home as he was on TV.— Amy Nicholson
Read the full review

Exclusive to Apple TV Plus

Greyhound (Aaron Schneider)
Where to Find It: Apple TV Plus
Though much of the action is set in the open air of the ship’s command perch, the film often feels like a submarine thriller: tense, tight, boxed-in. A lot of the battleships-at-sea images are digital, and you can tell, yet even so the film does a scrupulous job of recreating actual war footage. The fetishistic military detail is, in many ways, more potent than the drama, since “Greyhound,” which was scripted by Hanks and produced by his company, Playtone, hews to a diary-like discipline in depicting the humdrum dailiness of war. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

New Releases Coming to Virtual Cinemas

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross)
Distributor: Utopia
Where to Find It: Available on Film at Lincoln Center’s virtual cinema
The Ross brothers have gambled that they can edit together a dramedy from organic ingredients. It’s an arthouse twist on the Murray-Bunim reality TV cocktail: Stir a dozen or so hand-picked heavy-drinkers into an actual bar with actual alcohol, and with a spritz of plot setup, these extroverts start talking about life, love, sex, war, family, politics, aging and regret. Though the title cautions violence, it’s evident that these hard-living folks — whether in their 20s, 70s, or so weary they simply look like they’re in their 70s — prefer self-inflicted pain, gulped down shot by shot, year by year.  — Amy Nicholson
Read the full review

First Cow (Kelly Reichardt)
Distributor: A24
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand services
Reichardt specializes in pared-down narratives, sometimes stripping away so much that boredom sets in. “First Cow” may be lean, but it offers ample room to ruminate in the comparison between its two time periods. Reuniting with “Meek’s Cutoff” DP Christopher Blauvelt, Reichardt once again confines the West’s panoramic potential to a nearly square cinematic frame — although in this case, the boxed-in Academy ratio serves to shift our focus from the land to the special bond between these two characters, which is a beautiful thing. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Guest of Honor (Atom Egoyan)
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support
In terms of craft, it’s at least proficient, with Paul Sarossy’s autumn-chill lensing and Mychael Danna’s overbearing but glassily ornate score even providing sporadic glimpses of Egoyan’s former frosty artfulness. Performances, meanwhile, range from capable to overwrought. You can forgive any of the actors for not knowing how to play things: At once overplotted and under-reasoned, hysterical and stiffly earnest, the film is finally one of those strenuously diagrammatic mysteries in which everything notionally connects, which isn’t quite the same as everything making even marginal emotional sense. — Guy Lodge
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Never Too Late (Mark Lamprell)
Distributor: Blue Fox Entertainment
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support
While “Never Too Late” goes for a few too many old-folk chuckles, it also aims to probe the serious. You don’t put POWs front and center and not tempt darkness. The services of hardboiled fiction writer Luke Preston, who wrote the screenplay, held promise; he may even be responsible for the movie’s edgier moments concerning the brutality — and legacy — of a North Vietnamese POW camp commander, only that storyline feels oddly grafted onto director Mark Lamprell’s more familiar old-dudes-make-a-break-for-it rhythms. — Lisa Kennedy
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Olympia (Harry Mavromichalis)
Distributor: Abramorama
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support
Although peppered with tantalizingly salty-mouthed anecdotes and wry observations on aging, sexuality, outsider status and the art of performance, the film is hampered by its overly fannish tone, too dazzled by the self-described “octogenarian motherf—er” to be able to meet her own forthright, iconoclastic, penetrating gaze without looking quickly away again.  — Jessica Kiang
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The Tobacconist (Nikolaus Leytner)
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support
“The Tobacconist” makes for the sort of satisfying middlebrow art house-friendly movie that, in a time before COVID-19, would have done well with elderly, educated patrons drawn to stories of World War II and the Holocaust. Whether those same audiences are able to find “The Tobacconist” on streaming is another question — though it’s worth the effort, as this German-language melodrama amounts to a relatively accessible if grossly oversimplified portrayal of a horrific period, brightened by the chemistry between [Bruno] Ganz and lead actor Simon Morzé. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Widow of Silence (Praveen Morchhale)
Distributor: Oration
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support
No one can question the film’s excellent intentions, designed to shine light on the nightmarish situation of women in Kashmir whose husbands have been arrested or killed during decades of conflict but are in legal limbo because they’re unable to obtain a death certificate without a body. Known as half-widows, they’re in a Kafkaesque position that keeps them powerless and in penury, and drawing attention to their plight is commendable. Yet “Widow of Silence” is a classic example of festival filler, the sort of issue-driven art-house film that masks a plodding obviousness of intent beneath a thick varnish of righteousness and attractive visuals. — Jay Weissberg
Read the full review

Independent Films Now On Demand

Archive (Gavin Rothery)
Distributor: Vertical
Where to Find It:
Available on Amazon and video-on-demand services
Set in 2038, “Archive” convincingly jumbles eras of futurism, as somewhat quaint old-school robotics give way to more uncannily sinuous forms. Cinematographer Laurie Rose, a regular Ben Wheatley collaborator, paints it all in serene, frozen silvers, shifting to garish electric neons as the outside world intrudes on George’s secluded techno-shrine. “Gravity” composer Steven Price’s score, meanwhile, blends sparse strings and glassy synths, reflecting the marriage of human touch and metallic industrial sheen in George’s mad-scientist meddlings. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

The Beach House(Jeffrey A. Brown)
Where to Find It: Shudder
Writer-director Jeffrey A. Brown’s first feature is neither fish nor fowl in terms of fitting snugly into any given genre slot — perhaps it’s best taken as a fantasy-tinged, low-key apocalyptic drama à la “Bird Box,” albeit on a smaller cast and budgetary scale. In any case, it’s skillful enough to satisfy most viewers, if not quite sufficiently original in concept or striking in execution to leave a lasting imprint — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo (Brett Harvey)
Distributor: Universal
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand services
The documentary tells the fascinating, and moving, tale of how Trejo got off the road to ruin and became the unlikeliest of Hollywood character actors. In his black T-shirt, Crucifix pendant, and goatee, with his long hair tucked under a baseball cap, Trejo wanders around Pacoima, where he still lives, recalling his journey, and we also see him speaking to recovery meetings and groups of prisoners, which for him is a holy mission.  — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Ode to Passion (Jack Danini)
Distributor: Jack Danini Productions
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon on July 10, other VOD platforms to follow
The strategy of letting the actors’ faces sell the emotion behind frequently corny lyrics saves the day in Jack Danini’s “Ode to Passion,” a micro-budget contemporary rock musical conceived for the screen that could only work in that context. Not as a concert (the songs aren’t good enough) and not on stage (the book’s as thin as they come). But as an indie movie, the project turns the earnestness of all involved into an asset.  — Peter Debruge
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Relic (Natalie Erika James)
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand services
This talented debut writer-director has unusual confidence in her storytelling and beds its more lurid excesses so deeply in the cleanly drawn psychologies of her three actors that it feels like it grows out of them organically, like a twisted tree. And here she’s capably abetted by Mortimer, Heathcote and Nevin’s excellent performances that draw the intergenerational relationships between grandmother, mother and daughter with lived-in subtlety and insight. — Jessica Kiang
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Volition (Tony Dean Smith)
Distributor: Giant
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand services
You can sense the accumulated expertise that makes “Volition” at once lean and densely packed. It’s not the most profound, spectacular, funny or novel of recent time-travel movies. But it’s the one that best exploits this subgenre’s twisty potential while remaining faithful to the tenor and aesthetic of a traditional, enjoyably humble crime meller. The sci-fi angle that separates it from a noirish 1940s B-pic or a street-smart 1970s thriller is underlined by Matthew Rogers’s pulsing synth score. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

We Are Little Zombies (Makoto Nagahisa)
Distributor: Oscilloscope
Where to Find It: Rent from distributor online
At two crammed hours in length, the film runs a little long, and at some point the vertiginous fear sets in that Nagahisa can’t possibly maintain his fever-pitch of inventiveness right through. And indeed he does not, opting instead for a graceful slowdown (after a fake-out ending — stay in your seats, people!) that movingly delivers a final piece of surprisingly zen wisdom: Be it the good stuff, like friendship, family and home, or the bad stuff, like isolation, dissociation and grief, nothing lasts forever.   — Jessica Kiang

Read the full review

Selected theaters and drive-ins

Parallax (Michael W. Bachochin)
Distributor: The Primal Group
Where to Find It: Selected theaters and drive-ins
An artist wakes up in a new life she doesn’t recognize and is tormented by nightmares of drowning.

Other releases debuting on streaming this week

Batsh*t Bride (Jonathan Smith)
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Where to Find It: Available on Apple and other video-on-demand platforms
An April Fools’ Day prank goes wrong when a bride-to-be says to her fiancé that they should break up and he agrees.

Battlefield 2025 (Joseph Mbah)
Distributor: Uncork’d
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand platforms
A group of strangers must work together when a hostile visitor descends on their small Arizona town.

Browse (Mike Testin)
Distributor: FilmRise
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand platforms
A solitary man becomes convinced that someone has hacked into all of his devices and taken control of him.

Carmilla (Emily Harris)
Distributor: Film Movement
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support
Based on the Gothic novel of the same name, this lesbian love story follows two young women who fall for one another before one falls mysteriously ill.

A Deadly Legend (Pamela Moriarty)
Distributor: Kimstim
Where to Find It: Available to rent on Amazon and other video-on-demand platforms soon
A real estate developer buys an old summer camp, which turns out to have a history of human sacrifice.

Deany Bean Is Dead (Mikael Kreuzriegler)
Distributor: Global Digital Releasing
Where to Find It: Watch on Tubi
A woman tries to win back her ex-boyfriend at his engagement party, without revealing the body of her strangled boss in the trunk of her car.

Marshawn Lynch: A History (David Shields)
Distributor: Topic
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand platforms
This video collage features footage of professional football player Marshawn Lynch.

M.O.M. Mothers of Monsters (Tucia Lyman)
Distributor: IndieRights
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon Prime Video
A mother suspects her teenage son is plotting a school shooting and is forced to take matters into her own hands.

Money Plane (Andrew Lawrence)
Distributor: Quiver Distribution
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand platforms
A professional thief must rob a futuristic airborne casino to save his family and clear his debt

My Senior Year (Joe Carlini)
Distributor: Indie Rights
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon Prime Video
This romantic comedy touches on topics of teenage suicide as its characters prepare to exit high school.

Secret Weapon (Kostya Stat)
Distributor: Abramorama
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon and other video-on-demand platforms
A group of 8 soldiers in the Red Army venture to prevent their brother in arm from falling into the hands of the Germans during World War II.

White Riot (Rubika Shah)
Distributor: Films We Like
Where to Find It: Virtual preview screenings at the Irish Film Institute
This documentary explores the Rock Against Racism movement of the 1970s and the rising National Front at the time.

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