Hollywood goes livestream: A guide to 'shelter-in-place' home entertainment | News | Mountain View Online |


Hollywood goes livestream: A guide to 'shelter-in-place' home entertainment

Our film critic recommends high-quality new films for children, humorous content for adults

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"The Invisible Man" is among the newly released movies that Universal Studios has sent to video on demand for home viewing. Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.

In tough times, we crave comfort food. Now that staying home is vital to doing our part to stall the spread of COVID-19, home entertainment will taste like chicken soup for the soul at the end of an emotionally exhausting day of telecommuting, teleschooling, obsessive CNN watching and household-surface sanitizing.

Smart TVs, laptops and phones can access not only Netflix but also Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, soon-to-launch Quibi and old-stalwarts HBO and Showtime, among every other basic and premium channel in the TV marketplace.

Kids can find a couple of high-quality new films on Disney+: In addition to the newly added "Frozen II," there's the utterly charming mystery-comedy "Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made" and the heartwarming dog-sled adventure "Togo," starring Willem Dafoe.

For slightly more grown-up fare, I recommend the best medicine: laughter. Netflix Is A Joke, the official hub for the company's comedy specials, is a great place for laughs, whether it be the standup of Wanda Sykes, Tom Papa or Patton Oswalt, or binge-worthy sitcoms like "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and the underseen, but terrific, "Lady Dynamite" and "Great News."

New theatrical releases

In an unprecedented move reacting to the closure of movie theaters, Universal Studios has sent its current crop of theatrical releases to video on demand. As of today, gory, tongue-in-cheek blue-state-versus-red-state thriller "The Hunt," psychological thriller "The Invisible Man," and the Jane Austen revamp of "Emma" can be streamed online for $19.99 or less.

All have their virtues if you're jonesing for the latest Hollywood product. "Trolls: World Tour," and no doubt other studio-banked films, will soon follow the same path.

You can also watch new films from home while simultaneously supporting your favorite local shuttered indie cinema. Starting today at phoenixoregonmovie.com, you can buy a virtual ticket to the James Legros/Lisa Edelstein comedy "Phoenix, Oregon," and select which indie cinema should benefit from your purchase.

Indie films have offered quick on-demand access for quite some time, although they are increasingly being snapped up for exclusive streaming windows on streaming platforms. Today, for example, Amazon Prime Video premieres the indie gem "Blow the Man Down," a feminist drama in the key of The Coen Brothers (think "Fargo" meets "Steel Magnolias").

Last Friday, Hulu released the coming-of-age dramedy "Big Time Adolescence," starring Pete Davidson of "Saturday Night Live."

Netflix also has launched the superb true-crime drama "Lost Girls," starring the brilliant Amy Ryan, and is premiering two foreign acquisitions — Spanish thriller "The Platform" and Italian drama "Ultras" — as well as Formula One documentary "A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story."

Original web series

My personal favorite recommendation has enough content to last you for weeks. The "On Cinema at the Cinema" web series is a sprawling comedy masterpiece that includes 12 seasons of bite-sized movie-review spoofery, each culminating in a disastrous live-Oscar special.

The web series also has produced the spinoff series "Decker" and the truly incredible five-hour "Trial of Tim Heidecker." All are available for free on YouTube or at Adult Swim.

Stay safe — and stay at home, everyone!

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The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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