Recent online releases include romance, science and dark comedy.
“Radioactive” debuted online last week, and “The Secret: Dare to Dream” was released on demand yesterday. “Sometimes Always Never” came out in 2018, but has only recently been available online.
THE SECRET: DARE TO DREAM (2020)
Based on the 2006 bestseller “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, the formulaic romantic drama succeeds because of the charismatic leads. Katie Holmes is Miranda Wells, a young Louisiana widow with three children. Josh Lucas plays the enigmatic Bray Johnson who arrives just in time to help Miranda and her family.
Although she becomes engaged to her boss Tucker (Jerry O’Connell), Miranda obviously is attracted to Bray, the handsome stranger who volunteers to rebuild her roof. Miranda’s mother-in-law Bobby (Celia Weston) remains suspicious of the helpful and charming Bray.
Obviously, this movie with its Southern setting, attractive protagonists and predictable romance follows the formula perfected by writer and sometimes filmmaker Nicholas Sparks. But Sparks’ name is not included in the credits. “The Secret” is directed by Andy Tennant and was written for the screen by Tennant, Bekah Brunstetter and Rick Parks.
While not boasting a particularly fresh plot, the feature provides comfortable escapist entertainment.
Rated PG 3 Stars
British actress Rosamund Pike proves her remarkable versatility once again. Her excellent recent performances include “Gone Girl,” “Hostiles” and “A Private War.” Now Pike gives an in-depth and fascinating portrayal of brilliant scientist Marie Curie in “Radioactive.”
Although she was eventually recognized for her scientific achievements, the woman from Poland struggled with anti-immigrant prejudice and sexism from the stuffy and dismissive scientific scholars at the Sorbonne.
With her husband Pierre Curie (Sam Riley), she discovered radioactivity. While initially ignored by the Nobel committee, eventually she was named as the co-winner of the Nobel Prize. When her husband died, she was left to raise her two young daughters and to continue her scientific work.
Filmmaker Marjane Satrapi peppers the biopic with the jarring future horrors of radiation including the atomic bomb and the disaster at Chernobyl. Both of the Curies had been concerned about their discovery being used for dangeruus purposes.
Kudos go to cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and the recreation of Paris in the early part of the twentieth century.
Rated PG-13 3 Stars
SOMETIMES ALWAYS NEVER (2018)
In a darkly comic tale of tragedy and whimsy, British treasure Bill Nighy is well cast as Alan, a father and grandfather whose son Michael went missing years earlier.
Unfortunately, his relationship with his other son Peter (Sam Riley) remains dysfunctional. When Peter agrees to accompany his father on the sad mission to identify a recovered body, their relationship doesn’t improve. Alan’s lifetime obsession with the game of Scrabble drives Peter crazy, and he discovers that his dad is actually a Scrabble hustler! Peter is further upset when Alan invites himself for an extended visit at Peter’s home.
Screenwriter Frank Cottrell and director Carl Hunter manage to make this offbeat story heartfelt and compelling. Some of the settings are stylized and surreal. Along with Nighy and Riley, the excellent cast includes Alice Lowe as Peter’s wife Sue, Louis Healy as their teen son Jack, and veteran actress Jenny Agutter as Margaret.
Rated PG-13 3 Stars
Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.