Irvine Weekly’s (Streaming) Movie Guide is your look at the hottest films available on your TV sets and electronic devices — from indie art house gems to popcorn-perfect blockbusters to new movies garnering buzz that moved from theaters (still closed in Orange County) to digital Video on Demand (VOD) and streaming subscription services. Check this guide regularly as you shelter at home during the pandemic.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend | Netflix

Quirky Kimmy is back and in this all new feature-length film, and we get to decide her fate. If you’ve missed the hilarious cast of Unbreakable, you’re not alone. This novel, choose-as-you-go story is fun, but it also makes for some pressure, especially for hardcore fans who know that Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) doesn’t always make the best choices on her own. Like Netflix’s ground-breaking Black Mirror: Bandersnatch episode, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend is a twisted tale providing multiple outcomes and viewer choices along the way. Most are likely to get everyone to the happy(?) ending eventually, in which our wonderfully wacky Miss Schmidt walks down the aisle with Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, playing an equally naive English prince here. But before that can happen Kimmy must call on her fellow “mole women” (Tip: Avoid “the Taco Snake” phone option at all costs!) to solve a mystery concerning her puppet-like purple backpack and a mysterious book she finds hidden inside of it belonging to the “reverend,” Jon Hamm’s cult leader/Kimmy’s captor from the last few seasons. It seems the evil Rev might have abducted a new group of gals, so it’s up to Kimmy and her bodacious bestie Titus Andromedon to save the women, trekking by foot and pimped-out bike and hitting up a hicksville bar (Another tip: Choose the option where Titus actually knows the words to “Freebird” and you won’t be disappointed.). Final tip: Watch this movie more than once for an array of storylines and Easter eggs from the warped minds of producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Unbreakable the series is over, so this movie and its multiple versions are all we got. —Lina Lecaro


The Wrong Missy | Netflix

In the past decade or so, Adam Sandler movies have been very hit or miss, especially the ones his Happy Madison Production company has made for Netflix. But his latest, The Wrong Missy, starring still-effective straightman David Spade and the spastic Lauren Lapkus, is a laugh-out-loud hit. Sandler’s usual suspects are all here (Rob Schneider, Nick Swardson) but he is nowhere in sight and that seems like it was a good choice. Instead, Spade plays the unlikely romantic lead Sandler might have, and the casting really works. Recalling the chemistry the actor had with Chris Farley back in the SNL days, this silly slapstick-driven comedy works its wacky magic from scene one, when the two leads go on a blind date from hell. It’s all pretty predictable about 15 minutes in, but thanks to some gorgeous Hawaiian locales (Sandler loves his vacay/island flicks) this one fits in nicely with alongside classics like Just Go With It and 50 First Dates. But none of it would be such a scream without an utterly electric performance by Lapkus, who steals the show here as a woman whose lack of boundaries, filters and self-restraint make for a full and shockingly funny take on life that’s so “wrong,” it’s right. —Lina Lecaro

CAPONE (Vertical Entertainment)

Capone | VOD

Al Capone, the 20th century gangster responsible for dozen of brutal murders, died in 1947 after spending years fading away in his Florida mansion, lost to dementia brought on by syphilis. In his daring new film, writer-director Josh Trank (Chronicle) sends Tom Hardy on a journey into the famed thug’s fractured mind, as violent memories from his glory days jumble up to create fantasies of what’s happening in the present. To their credit, Hardy and Trank don’t soften Capone’s bullying edges though he’s clearly puzzled by the extremes of what his memory bank has to offer, as when Capone relives the death by torture of an enemy that he himself ordered. All grunts and chomping cigar, Hardy gives a performance that’s all in the eyes — fine work from a fearless actor. The film itself may disappoint those hoping for an action epic on par with The Untouchables. Capone doesn’t have much plot, despite the awkward inclusion of a long-lost son seeking reconciliation and FBI agents on the trail of missing money. Individual scenes, particularly two music-tinged sequences early on, impress but don’t quite land. Trank is always dashing on to the next fantasia, and after a while, seems to be moving in circles, which may be the point. Inside the horror of dementia, life is on repeat and nothing lands. —Chuck Wilson

BLUE STORY (Paramount)

Blue Story | VOD

“Hey ho, let me introduce you to Timmy.” In the opening scene of his debut feature as writer-director, the English rapper known as Rapman sits on the kitchen counter of the film’s hero, serving as narrator for all that’s to follow. Breaking the fourth wall is innovative but also necessary since the complex London-specific gang war being depicted, combined with the characters’ slang-heavy local accents (be sure to activate your screen’s subtitle option) can make this a disorienting film. But the persistent will be rewarded by an involving final third, which finds Timmy (Stephen Odubola) and Marco (Micheal Ward), lifelong friends turned enemies, acting out a tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions. —Chuck Wilson


Driveways | VOD

In a role that must have felt to him like a great gift, actor Brian Dennehy, who died last month at age 81, gives one of his finest performances in the new film from director Andrew Ahn (Spa Night). Dennehy is Del, a widowed vet who reluctantly befriends a little boy (Lucas Jaye) and his mother (Hong Chau) who’ve come to pack up his late neighbor’s house. Ahn has an eye for detail — the boy using his sneaker to press out the cigarette his mother drops to the ground — and trusts that the viewer will build those details into a fuller narrative he need not state explicitly. This movie is only 80-minutes long but inspires a fullness of feeling that makes it seem epic. —Chuck Wilson

HOPE GAP (Roadside Attractions)

Hope Gap | VOD

One week from their 29th wedding anniversary, and Edward (Bill Nighy) leaves his wife, Grace (Annette Bening). He’s in love with someone else. Grace is enraged and sinks into eternal bitterness, calling the divorce a “murder.” Inspired by his own family’s story, writer-director William Nicholson (Shadowlands) gives his ace cast, including Josh O’Connor as the son, dialogue that’s self-consciously literate and a post-divorce arc for Grace that feels underdeveloped, as if he couldn’t imagine the mother breaking free of self-imposed traps. Still, we see these things for the acting, don’t we? This trio — aces all. —Chuck Wilson

BECOMING (Netflix)

Becoming | Netflix

Like her memoir of the same name, Becoming tells the story of Michelle Obama in a personal way that’s fascinating because of the subject, not because of any revelatory information or even any particularly new perspectives. Made by Higher Ground Productions — the former first lady and her husband President Barack Obama’s production company — it is a detailed chronicle of an extraordinary life, a powerful love story and a journey filled with challenges and disappointments, all of which are meant to show the kind of character and strength we might all achieve by example. And although Mrs. Obama is never really put in the hot seat the way Hillary Clinton is in her Hulu doc series Hillary, she doesn’t hold back either, especially when sharing her experiences as a black woman and her disappointment in her fellow black women for not voting, allowing Donald Trump to snag the presidency. “After all that work, they just couldn’t be bothered to vote at all – that’s my trauma,” she says earnestly yet matter of factly. Though Michelle doesn’t dig too deep into the Trump stuff (lord knows there’s a lot of call him out for; the man has proven he is obsessed with her husband, after all) the entire documentary is somewhat of a wistful watch if you miss the class, the humor, the empathy and the lack of pretense of the former first family in the White House. —Lina Lecaro

Thousand Pieces of Gold | VOD

A little-seen gem from 1990, newly restored, and screening online to benefit the American Cinematheque, Thousand Pieces of Gold stars a superb Rosalind Chao as Lalu, a young Chinese woman who is sold into slavery in the 1880s by her father and sent to America. A fact-based historical drama that also happens to tell a marvelous love story (featuring a dashing young Chris Cooper), this top-tier debut feature from director Nancy Kelly is like curling up with a good thick novel. —Chuck Wilson

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