A limp, dull animated sequel that pretty much ignores everything that made its predecessor a low key charmer, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a film that only exists to sell merchandise to kids and adults in the laziest possible way.
The darkly comedic biopic The Polka King is a well made example of a “straight to Netflix” film. This “stranger than fiction” look at a former oom-pah-pah baron and Grammy nominee who perpetrated massive amounts of fraud in the 1990s is lean, fast paced, almost completely devoid of filler, and likely works better at home than it would in the confines of a theatre. Netflix is the perfect place for a film like The Polka King, and that’s not in any way a knock against the talent and effort that went into making it.
Replicating the dated style, tone, and pacing of a mid-90s indie comedy sounds like a recipe for disaster by today’s standards, but for her second feature, Landline, filmmaker Gillian Robespierre finds a way to make such outmoded and overdone techniques into something charming and compulsively watchable. It moves and feels like a film that could have been made in 1995 in addition to being set back then, and while that isn’t always a positive aspect to lean on, there’s a likability to Robespierre’s work that’s undeniable.
Chris Evans might be recognized best as Marvel Superhero, Captain America, but the actor plays a different kind of hero in his new drama, Gifted.