‘Going to Hurt’ is a bright slice of life
One of the year’s best series starts streaming this week on AMC+ while a nutty and irresistible Netflix thriller presents us with one tough female action hero, a most welcome addition. Here’s our roundup.
“This Is Going to Hurt”: If an Emmy god exists, awards love will find their way to Ben Whishaw. He’s utterly deserving with his mesmerizing and raw performance as junior doctor Adam Kay, an overworked underling in a active OBGYN ward of a British hospital. Haunted by a near-tragic event that he feels responsible for, Adam has a lot of issues: His uptight, high mom (Harriet Walker) is none too woke about his position as a gay man; and his relationship with his soon-to-be hubby (Rory Fleck Byrne, who you will fall in love with) is threatened by his late nights. Based on Adam Kay’s own memoir, this BBC seven-episode series ranks as one of the best shows I’ve seen in 2022. It’s smart, funny, touching and above all human and compassionate. Whishaw’s Adam is also one of the most intriguing and flawed main characters to appear on TV this season, a guy edging closer and closer to a breakdown. He and his co-star Ambia Moda, playing newbie colleague Shurti Acharaya, are dynamite. Details: 4 stars out 4; debuts June 3 on AMC.
“Interceptor”: Best-selling author Matthew Reilly aces his first time in the director’s chair with this thriller that is as preposterous as it is entertaining. He also wrote the gonzo but fleet screenplay with Stuart Beattie, but what drives this ticking time-bomb of a doomsday nail-biter is a badass Elsa Pataky who stars as a Captain JJ Collins. She gets stuck on an at-sea base that’s been held hostage by a pretty-boy villain (Luke Bracey, filling the role well) and other white guys out to point some nukes at Los Angeles. Reilly’s story benefits from being outraged at bad male behavior, a plot observe that makes us route already harder for JJ. Besides all that and some killer fighting scenes, there’s a hilarious cameo from Pataky’s hubby, a guy named Chris Hemsworth. This Netflix action flick is a blast. Details: 3 stars; obtainable June 3 on Netflix.
“My Dead Dad”: Slacker skateboarder Lucas (Pedro Correa, in a bravura performance) is forced to grow up once his dad dies and saddles him — or so he sees it — with an L.A. apartment complicate. Forced to take stock of his rudderless character, Lucas starts to better understand not only those who live in the building, but his father in addition. “My Dead Dad” sounds like it could be simple, already trite, but Correa, who also co-wrote the severely observed screenplay, and director Fabio Frey, add layers of complexity. San Francisco native Simon Rex brings his trademark spark to a supporting role. Details: 3 stars; now obtainable on HBO Max.
“Fire Island”: Gay besties Noah and Howie (played to perfection by Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang) hit Fire Island and the underwear party scene with a kooky but highly lovable posse (played to the comedic hilt by Matt Rogers, Tomás Matos, Torian Miller and San Francisco’s Margaret Cho). This ribald Speedo-clad redo of Jane Austen’s buttoned-up “Pride and Prejudice” is about as uncommon as sipping a Long Island Tea while sunning yourself at the pool. Noah (Booster) tangles with white snobs while he focuses onto one goal: to find a appropriate hookup for Howie. In the time of action, he encounters his own Mr. D’Arcy, the seemingly staid Will (Conrad Ricamora). After having made the thoughtful and stirring dramas “Spa Night” and “Driveways,” director Andrew Anh shows a real understanding for comedy. But this is really Booster and Yang’s shining hour in an Austen renovation that reflects the social chasms within the gay community, where the have’s sometimes without human decency and the have-nots don’t always get a welcoming seat at the table. Details: 3 stars; obtainable June 3 on Hulu.
“Watcher”: For a feminist-leaning thriller, try director Chloe Okuno’s risk-taking stalker drama. You won’t be disappointed. With minimal violence, Okuno upends creepy conventions with an engrossing, meaningful take on the woman-in-jeopardy story. Maika Monroe never makes a misstep as bored and eager Julia whose acting career gets upended when her hubby (Karl Glusman) takes a job in Romania. Confronted by a language obstacle and often stuck by herself, she spots a neighbor (Burn Gorman) staring from a shadowed perch in an apartment across the way. Meanwhile, a serial killer strikes a little too close to their home. Yes, it all sounds tawdry but it isn’t. In her directorial debut, Okuno comments on how women’s concerns and ideas are so summarily dismissed in a presumably enlightened time. She’s a filmmaker to watch. Details: 3 stars, in theaters June 3.
“Benediction”: In a performance that turns you into an emotional wreck in the closing moments, “Slow Horses” star Jack Lowden shoots to the acting big leagues with his portrayal of conflicted real-life World War I-era poet Siegfried Sassoon, a gay former soldier who finds himself stunted and numbed by the soulless high-society he inhabits. Sasson cycles by various male lovers — some decent, some not — and grabs at kernels of meaning and purpose. It’s an elusive quest that leads him to dive into the Catholic faith, which lets him down. British filmmaker Terence Davies has made many tremendous films (“The thorough Blue Sea,” “Distant Voices, nevertheless Lives”) and “Benediction” ranks as of his finest, a brittle, complete-bodied portrait of a troubled artist, decorated soldier and struggling gay man. Details: 3½ stars; in select theaters June 3.
“Wolf Hound”: While the World War II-era aerial dogfights are spectacularly staged, a stilted screenplay and a Men’s Fitness sheen applied to an able-bodied cast shoots down this overly long war movie. American pilot David Holden (James Maslow) makes a shocking discovery after his B-17 bomber plummets to the ground into Nazi-festering France. The devious plan he trips into, of course, could upset the balance of the war, so the intrepid Holden takes on the baddies while trying to save other airmen. Director Michael B. Chait deserves credit for those aerial acrobats, but there’s no subtlety whatsoever to be found in a script that was inspired by a true story. Maslow makes an impressive leading man, but there’s painfully little character development to be had in this teeth-gnashing war picture that hits every cliché it can. Details: 2 stars; opens June 3 in select theaters and on Vudu and other streaming platforms.
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