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Fifteen New Movies You Can Watch in February That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming

Including a wild French horror film, the new 'Matrix' movie and a documentary about dogs.
By Sarah Ward
February 11, 2022
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By Sarah Ward
February 11, 2022
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Before the pandemic, when a new-release movie started playing in cinemas, audiences couldn't watch it on streaming, video on demand, DVD or blu-ray for a few months. But with the past few years forcing film industry to make quite a few changes — widespread movie theatre closures and plenty of people staying home in iso will do that — that's no longer always the case.

Maybe you've had a close-contact run-in. Perhaps you haven't had time to make it to your local cinema lately. Given the hefty amount of films now releasing each week, maybe you simply missed something. Film distributors have been fast-tracking some of their new releases from cinemas to streaming recently — movies that might still be playing in theatres in some parts of the country, too. In preparation for your next couch session, here's 15 you can watch right now at home.

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TITANE

Eye roll-inducingly terrible bumper stickers be damned; no one honks if they're horny in Titane. Revving when aroused is more this petrol-doused body-horror film's style, spanning characters both flesh and chrome. When she's seen writhing in fishnets atop a flame-adorned vintage Cadillac, the stony-gazed Alexia (debutant Agathe Rousselle) is working. She's titillating a Fast and Furious-style car crowd with her sexed-up display, but the car model still seems to hum with every gyration. After wrapping up, murdering a grab-happy fan with the metal chopstick keeping her hair up and then showering off the gooey, gory evidence, she's soon purring rhythmically inside that gleaming vehicle. Yes, in a plot detail that spilled the instant Titane premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it won the prestigious Palme d'Or, this is the French car sex flick.

How does someone fornicate with an automobile? In her sophomore effort after the also-phenomenal teen cannibal film Raw, writer/director Julia Ducournau isn't too interested in those specifics. Instead, she's more concerned with shrewdly linking mechanophilia with agency and control, particularly over one's feelings and body. Her narrative starts its drive in Alexia's childhood, then speeds forward to her time as a fugitive posing as a fire chief's (Vincent Lindon, At War) long-missing son — and proves not just the French car sex film, nor merely a car sex movie about a woman partly forged from titanium (and with a penchant for piercing her way through those who block her road), but a ferocious and unflinching thriller that's also beautiful, tender and compassionate. If Ducournau had made her script out of metal, she'd be moulding it in its molten form. If her feature was a car instead, it'd be that libidinous, fire-emblazoned Cadillac, which arrives with a bang, lures Alexia in and then lets loose.

Titane is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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ZOLA

It wasn't just a Twitter thread — it was the Twitter thread. Whether you read Aziah 'Zola' King's viral 148-post stripper saga live as it happened back in October 2015, stumbled across the details afterwards as the internet lost its mind or only heard about it via Zola's buzzy trailer, calling this stranger-than-fiction tale a wild ride will always be an understatement. Its instantly gripping opening words, as also used in Janicza Bravo's (Lemon) savvy, sharp, candy-hued tweet-to-screen adaptation, happen to capture the whole OMG, WTF and OTT vibe perfectly: "you wanna hear a story about how me and this bitch fell out? It's kind of long, but it's full of suspense."

In the film, that phrase is uttered aloud by Zola's eponymous Detroit waitress (Taylour Paige, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom). The other person that Zola refers to in her initial statement is the cornrow-wearing, blaccent-sporting Stefani (Riley Keough, The Lodge), who she serves at work, then joins on a jaunt to Florida. They immediately hit it off, which is what inspires the invite to head south — a "hoe trip" is how Zola describes it — however, what's meant to be a girls' getaway for a stint of lucrative exotic dancing in Tampa soon gets messy. The drive is long, and Stefani's boyfriend Derreck (Nicholas Braun, Succession) quickly dampens the mood with his awkward, try-hard schtick. Then there's X (Colman Domingo, Candyman), who, while introduced as Stefani's roommate, is actually her pimp. Trafficking Zola into sex work is the real plan of this working holiday, she discovers, but she's ferociously adamant that she won't be "poppin' pussy for pennies".

Zola is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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THE CARD COUNTER

Another Paul Schrader film, another lonely man thrust under a magnifying glass as he wrestles with the world, his place in it and his sense of morality. The acclaimed filmmaker has filled the screen with such characters and stories for more than half a century — intense tales of men who would not take it anymore — as evidenced in his screenplays for Martin Scorsese's brilliant Taxi Driver and Bringing Out the Dead, and also in his own directorial efforts such as Light Sleeper and First Reformed. You can't accuse Schrader of always making the same movie, however, as much as his work repeatedly bets on the same ideas. Instead, his films feel like cards from the same deck. Each time he deals one out, it becomes part of its own hand, as gambling drama The Card Counter demonstrates with potency, smarts and a gripping search for salvation.

The film's title refers to William Tell (Oscar Isaac, Scenes From a Marriage), who didn't ever plan to spend his days in casinos and his nights in motels. But during an eight-year military prison stint, he taught himself a new skill that he's been capitalising upon modestly now that he's back out in the world. Anchored not only by Schrader's reliably blistering probing, but also by Isaac's phenomenal performance — a portrayal that's quiet, slippery and weighty all at once — The Card Counter unpacks the storm brewing behind Tell's calm facade. His status quo is punctured by fellow gambler La Linda (Like a Boss' Tiffany Haddish, in a career-best performance), and also by the college-aged Cirk (Tye Sheridan, Voyagers) and his quest for revenge; however, as the movie delves into Tell's murky history, it also lays bare America's rot and emptiness.

The Card Counter is available to stream via YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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THE FRENCH DISPATCH

Editors fictional and real may disagree — The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun's Arthur Howitzer Jr (Bill Murray, On the Rocks) among them — but it's easy to use Wes Anderson's name as both an adjective and a verb. In a sentence that'd never get printed in his latest film's titular tome (and mightn't in The New Yorker, its inspiration, either), The French Dispatch is the most Wes Anderson movie Wes Anderson has ever Wes Andersoned. The immaculate symmetry that makes each frame a piece of art is present, naturally, as are gloriously offbeat performances. The equally dreamy and precise pastel- and jewel-hued colour palette, the who's who of a familiar cast list, the miniatures and animated interludes and split screens, the knack for physical comedy, and the mix of high artifice, heartfelt nostalgia and dripping whimsy, too. The writer/director knows what he loves, and also what he loves to splash across his films, and it's all accounted for in his tenth release.

An ode to magazines, their heyday and their rockstar writers, The French Dispatch draws four of its five chapters from its eponymous publication, even badging them with page numbers. But this is also a tribute to everything Anderson holds The New Yorker to stand for, and holds dear — to everything he's obsessed over, internalised and absorbed into the signature filmmaking style that's given such an exuberant workout once again. One scene, involving two versions of murderer-turned-artist Moses Rosenthaler (Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Benicio Del Toro, No Sudden Move), crystallises this so magnificently that it's among the best things Anderson has ever put on-screen. Also delightful: the picture's bookending story steps into Howitzer's offices in the fictional French town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, a dive into a student revolution and a police cuisine-turned-kidnapping story, all with a cast that also spans Tilda Swinton (Memoria), Owen Wilson (Loki), Timothée Chalamet (Dune), Adrien Brody (Succession), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Léa Seydoux (No Time to Die), Jeffrey Wright (also No Time to Die), Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man), Saoirse Ronan (Ammonite), Edward Norton (Motherless Brooklyn), Willem Dafoe (Nightmare Alley) and Jason Schwartzman (Fargo).

The French Dispatch is available to stream via Disney+. Read our full review.

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THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS

Hordes of imitators have spilled ones and zeros claiming otherwise, but the greatest move The Matrix franchise ever made wasn't actually bullet time. Even 22 years after Lana and Lilly Wachowski brought the saga's instant-classic first film to cinemas, its slow-motion action still wows, and yet they made another choice that's vastly more powerful. It wasn't the great pill divide — blue versus red, as dubiously co-opted by right-wing conspiracies since — or the other binaries at its core (good versus evil, freedom versus enslavement, analogue versus digital, humanity versus machines). It wasn't end-of-the-millennia philosophising about living lives online, the green-tinged cyberpunk aesthetic, or one of the era's best soundtracks, either. They're all glorious, as is knowing kung fu and exclaiming "whoa!", but The Matrix's unwavering belief in Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss is far more spectacular.

Lana goes solo on The Matrix Resurrections — helming her first-ever project without her sister in their entire career — but she still goes all in on Reeves and Moss. The fourth live-action film in the saga, and fifth overall counting The Animatrix, this new instalment doesn't initially give its key figures their familiar character names, however. Rather, it casts them as famous video game designer Thomas Anderson and motorcycle-loving mother-of-two Tiffany. One of those monikers is familiar, thanks to a surname drawled by Agent Smith back in 1999, and again in 2003 sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. But this version of Thomas Anderson only knows the agent from his own hit gaming trilogy (called The Matrix, naturally). And he doesn't really know Tiffany at all, instead admiring her from afar at Simulatte, their local coffee shop.

The Matrix Resurrections is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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GOLD

Gold's title doubles as an exclamation that Australian filmmakers might've made when Zac Efron decamped to our shores at the beginning of the pandemic. Only this outback-set thriller has put the High School Musical, Bad Neighbours and Baywatch star to work Down Under, however, and he definitely isn't in Hollywood anymore. Instead, he's stuck in "some time, some place, not far from now…", as all-caps text advises in the movie's opening moments. He's caught in a post-Mad Max-style dystopia, where sweltering heat, a visible lack of shelter, a cut-throat attitude, water rationing, and nothing but dirt and dust as far as the eye can see greets survivors navigating a rusty wasteland. But then his character, Man One, spots a glint, and all that glisters is indeed gold — and he must guard it while Man Two (Anthony Hayes, also the film's director) seeks out an excavator.

Exactly who stays and who goes is the subject of heated discussion, but Gold is an economical movie, mirroring how its on-screen figures need to be careful about every move they make in such unforgiving surroundings. As a filmmaker, helming his first feature since 2008's Ten Empty, Hayes knows his star attraction — and he's also well-aware of the survivalist genre, and its history, that he's plonking Efron into. Almost every male actor has been in one such flick or so it can seem, whether Tom Hanks is talking to a volleyball in Castaway, Liam Neeson is communing with wolves in The Grey or Mads Mikkelsen is facing frosty climes in Arctic. Although Gold purposefully never names its setting, Australia's vast expanse is no stranger to testing its visitors, too, but Hayes' version slips in nicely alongside the likes of Wake in Fright, The Rover and Cargo, rather than rips them off.

Gold is available to stream via Stan. Read our full review.

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THE 355

They're globe-hopping, ass-kicking, world-saving spies, but women: that's it, that's The 355. When those formidable ladies are played by a dream international cast of Jessica Chastain (Scenes From a Marriage), Lupita Nyong'o (Us), Penélope Cruz (Pain and Glory), Diane Kruger (In the Fade) and Fan Bingbing (I Am Not Madame Bovary), the tickets should sell themselves — and Chastain, who suggested the concept and produces, wasn't wrong for hoping that. Giving espionage moves the female-fronted spin that Bond and Mission: Impossible never have isn't just this action-thriller's quest alone, of course, and nothing has done so better than Atomic Blonde recently, but there's always room for more. What The 355 offers is an average affair, though, rather than a game-changer, even if director/co-writer Simon Kinberg so evidently wants to do for its genre what Widows did for heist flicks.

The film still starts with men, too, causing all the globe's problems — aka threatening to end life as we know it via a gadget that can let anyone hack anything online. One nefarious and bland mercenary (Jason Flemyng, Boiling Point) wants it, but the CIA's gung-ho Mason 'Mace' Browne (Chastain) and her partner Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) head to Paris to get it from Colombian intelligence officer Luis Rojas (Édgar Ramírez, Jungle Cruise), who's gone rogue and is happy to sell; however, German operative Marie Schmidt (Kruger) is also on its trail. The French connection goes wrong, the two women get in each other's ways, but it's apparent — begrudgingly to both — that they're better off together. They need ex-MI6 cyber whiz Khadijah Adiyeme (Nyong'o) to help, while Colombian psychologist Graciela Rivera (Cruz) gets drawn in after making the trip to stop Luis going off the books.

The 355 is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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STRAY

In gorgeous and glorious 2016 documentary Kedi, Istanbul's stray cats received their moment in the cinematic spotlight, and also expressed much about the Turkish city and its human inhabitants in the process. The result was perfect — purrfect, even — regardless of whether you're normally a feline fan. Indeed, it's the defining movie about mousers, and also about their relationship with both places and people (even trying to put the likes of Garfield, Cats, A Street Cat Named Bob and its sequel A Christmas Gift from Bob, some of cinema's other go-to kitties, in the same company is thoroughly pointless). With Stray, it's now their canine counterparts' time to shine, so animal-adoring film lovers can spread their love between cats and dogs equally. Where Kedi elicited purrs of elation, this dog-centric delight is a piece of tail-waggingly tender and thoughtful cinema, too.

Istanbul isn't just an arbitrary choice of setting for this compassionate film; it has a 'no kill, no capture' law when it comes to the dogs roaming its streets, which is why there's more than 100,000 of them scampering around. That leaves documentarian Elizabeth Lo spoiled for choice, but she only spends time with a few of those woofers. They span street veterans Zeytin and Nazar, both of whom prowl the pavement as comfortably as they would someone's home, as well as puppy Kartal. As they sniff and scurry their way through their days, Lo stitches together a perceptive and textured portrait of their lives, of the city around them, and of the people who help and are helped by them — and, just like in Kedi (which she wasn't affiliated with at all), there's plenty of two-legged Istanbulites who prove forever changed by these canines' presence. Here, there's a group of young street-dwelling Syrian refugees that are especially touched by Zeytin, Nazar and Kartal as well.

Stray is available to stream via Docplay. Read our full review.

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BLUE BAYOU

Blue Bayou isn't Justin Chon's first film as an actor, writer, director or producer, but it's a fantastic showcase for his many talents nonetheless. It's also a deeply moving feature about a topical subject: America's immigration laws, which are complicated at best and draconian at worst. Worlds away from his time in all five Twilight flicks — because Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Anna Kendrick aren't the franchise's only breakout stars — Chon plays Antonio LeBlanc. While the Korean American tattoo artist has lived in Louisiana since being adopted as child, the name he was given upon his arrival in the US still sparks cognitive dissonance, as the job interview that opens the movie illustrates. It also doesn't stop both the casual and overt racism frequently directed his way, or the deportation proceedings that spring after he's accosted in a supermarket by New Orleans police officers.

Helming and scripting as well as starring, Chon layers Antonio's situation with complexity from the outset. He's getting by, just, but his criminal record makes it difficult to secure more work — which he needs given his wife Kathy (Alicia Vikander, The Green Knight) is pregnant. He's a doting stepdad to her daughter Jessie (Sydney Kowalske, Doom Patrol), but her birth father Ace (Mark O'Brien, Marriage Story) is one of those aforementioned cops. Also, Ace has a bigoted partner, Denny (Emory Cohen, Flashback), who makes antagonising Antonio his daily mission. And, after that grocery store run-in, the latter discovers that his adoptive parents didn't ever complete the paperwork required to naturalise him as a US citizen. His life, his wife, his kids, that he has no ties to Korea: sadly, it all means nothing to the immigration system.

Blue Bayou is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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LAST NIGHT IN SOHO

Edgar Wright must own a killer record collection. Weaving the perfect playlists into his films has ranked high among the British writer/director's trademarks ever since he made such a horror-comedy splash with Shaun of the Dead, and his own love of music is frequently mirrored by his protagonists, too. This is the filmmaker who set a zombie-killing scene to Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now', and had characters wield vinyl as weapons. He made zoning out the world via iPod — and teeing up exactly the right track for the right moment — a key trait of Baby Driver's eponymous getaway driver. Earlier in 2021, Wright also turned his avid fandom for Sparks into his delightful first documentary The Sparks Brothers, because wearing his love for his favourite songs on his sleeves infiltrates everything he makes. So, the fact that his second film of this year is about a giddy devotee of 60s tunes really doesn't come as the slightest surprise.

Cilla Black, Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield: these are the kind of talents that Last Night in Soho's Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog) can't get enough of, even though she's a Gen Z aspiring fashion designer; they're also the type of stars that aforementioned blonde bombshell Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen's Gambit) wants to follow onto London's stages. Last Night in Soho starts with its wannabe fashionista, who's first seen donning her own 60s-inspired designs in her Cornwall bedroom that's plastered with posters and pictures from the period, and also dancing to 'Peter & Gordon's 1964 track 'A World Without Love'.  Soon, Eloise is off to college in the big and, hopefully, working towards the fashion world. Then she meets Sandie, but only in her dreams. Actually, as she slumbers, she becomes Sandie — and navigates her chiffon-adorned quest for stardom, her breathy 'Downtown' covers and her thorny relationship with slippery bar manager Jack (Matt Smith, Official Secrets).

Last Night in Soho is available to stream via YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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NEW ORDER

If only one word could be used to describe New Order, that word would be relentless. If just two words could be deployed to sum up the purposefully provocative film by writer/director Michel Franco (April's Daughter), savage would get thrown in as well. Sharing zero in common with the band of the same name, this 2020 Venice Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winner dreams up a dystopian future that's barely even one step removed from current reality. And, in dissecting class clashes, and also examining the growing discontent unsurprisingly swelling worldwide at the lavish lives indulged by the wealthy while so much of the world struggles, the mood and narrative are nothing less than brutal. Screens big and small have been filled with eat-the-rich stories of late — Parasite, Us, Candyman, Ready or Not, The White Lotus, Nine Perfect Strangers and Squid Game among them — but New Order is its own ravenous meal.

The place: Mexico City. The setup: a wedding that goes undeniably wrong. As the ceremony gets underway at a compound-style residence that's jam-packed with the ultra-wealthy and ultra-corrupt, the chasm between the guests and the staff is glaring. Case in point: bride-to-be Marianne (Naian González Norvind, South Mountain) couldn't be more stressed when she's asked for money to help ex-employee Rolando's (Eligio Meléndez, La Civil) ailing wife, who also worked at the house, and plenty of her family members are dismissive, arrogant and flat-out rude about their former servant's plight. Then activists start making their presence known outside, as well as further afield in the city's streets — and interrupting the nuptials by storming the mansion, too. The military respond swiftly and brutally, sparing no one in their efforts to implement the movie's telling moniker.

New Order is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies and iTunes. Read our full review.

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BEST SELLERS

Best Sellers is the latest case of casting-by-internet, or so it seems, at least: pairing up Aubrey Plaza and Michael Caine smacks of a feverish film Twitter dream. They both turn in fine performances, too, with the former coming off career-best work in Black Bear to play independent publishing house editorial director Lucy Stanbridge, and the latter getting a meatier role than his last Christopher Nolan-directed bit-part (that'd be Tenet) as cantankerous writer Harris Shaw. Lucy needs a big bestseller to save the business, which she took over from her father. Harris has been typing out manuscripts for the five decades since his sole success, which made the elder Stanbridge, but hasn't submitted the one he's under contract for to the company. Enter Lucy's solution to her pressing problem, and one that the reclusive Harris only goes along with because he's short on cash.

Knowing how Best Sellers will turn out is as easy as knowing which marks the always-likeable Plaza and Caine usually hit. Indeed, it's knowing why their team-up instantly sounds like a winner on paper, and obviously did to actor-turned-directing first-timer Lina Roessler and screenwriter Anthony Grieco — Plaza is acerbic, albeit in a slightly lighter mode than seen in her breakthrough Parks and Recreation role, while Caine relishes being a curmudgeonly, outdated drunk who yells "bullshite!" so much that it's soon a viral catchphrase. There's plenty to like about their scenes together, especially when sweetness seeps into the surrogate grandfather-granddaughter bond that develops while Lucy and Harris are on tour spruiking his new book anywhere and everywhere they can. In their solo moments, they both find rich notes of yearning and melancholy in their unlikely duo, too, cementing the film's tender but comic look at odd-couple kindred spirits.

Best Sellers is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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DEAR EVAN HANSEN

Dear Dear Evan Hansen: don't. If a movie could write itself a letter like the eponymous figure in this stage-to-screen musical does, that's all any missive would need to communicate. It could elaborate, of course. It could caution against emoting to the back row, given that cinema is a subtler medium than theatre. It could advise against its firmly not-a-teenager lead Ben Platt, who won one of the Broadway hit's six Tony Awards, but may as well be uttering "how do you do, fellow kids?" on the big screen. It could warn against director Stephen Chbosky, who has a history with disaffected youth thanks to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, shooting the bulk of the feature like it's still on a stage but with more close-ups. Mostly, though, any dispatch from any version of Dear Evan Hansen — treading the boards or flickering through a projector — should counsel against the coming-of-age tale's horrendously misguided milk-the-dead-guy narrative.

A anxious, isolated and bullied teen who returns from summer break with a fractured arm, the titular Evan (Platt, The Politician) might be the last person to talk to Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan, one of the Broadway production's understudies). It isn't a pleasant chat, even if Connor signs Evan's cast — which no one else has or wants to. In the school library, Evan prints out a letter to himself as a therapy exercise, but Connor grabs it first, reads it, then gets furious because it mentions his sister Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever, Dopesick). Cue days spent fretting on Evan's part, wondering if he'll see the text splashed across social media. Instead, he's soon sitting with Cynthia Murphy (Amy Adams, The Woman in the Window) and her husband Larry (Danny Pino, Fatale), who inform him of Connor's suicide — and that they found Evan's 'Dear Evan Hansen' note on him, and they're sure it's their son's last words.

Dear Evan Hansen is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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THE HATING GAME

Misery loves company in the world of publishing industry-set toxic romance novels, which just keep coming — as do film adaptations of such books. After the Fifty Shades franchise fittingly came After movies, doubling down on idealising unhealthy relationships cast against a literary background. Now, as based on Sally Thorne's tome of the same name, The Hating Game follows the same broad concept as well as the same path from page to screen. For anyone who loves words, there's a sense of romance about the business of immortalising them in print, so perhaps that's why these tales keep plunging into the publishing realm. Or, if you're turning destructive ideas about love into fiction, maybe using the industry responsible as a backdrop just feels apt? As more keep arriving, including this dull affair from director Peter Hutchings (Then Came You) and screenwriter Christina Mengert (the filmmaker's co-scribe on The Last Keepers), it could simply be the easiest and laziest choice.

Narrating The Hating Game, Lucy Hutton (Lucy Hale, Son of the South) is upfront about her disdain for Joshua Templeman (Austin Stowell, Swallow) from the outset. She hails from Gamin Publishing, home to weighty works that exemplify literature as an art form, while he comes from Bexley Books, purveyor of ghost-written sports autobiographies. Creativity meets commerce in this business marriage of convenience; however, since the two organisations joined forces, The Hating Game's chalk-and-cheese central pair have dedicated as much time to annoying each other as they have to their jobs. The dangling carrot that is a big promotion not only ups the stakes but sees Lucy and Josh ramp up their animosity, but then their bickering begets an unexpected kiss. Afterwards, she struggles with lusting after the enemy while still trying to beat him out for her dream position.

The Hating Game is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY

It's the franchise about zombies that just won't die. The series with a disdain for big corporations and the chaos they wreak that keeps pumping out more instalments, too. After six movies between 2002–16 that consistently proved a case of diminishing returns — and the original horror flick was hardly a masterpiece to begin with — welcoming viewers back to the Resident Evil realm smacks of simply trying to keep the whole saga going at any cost. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City does indeed extract a price from its audience, stretching their fondness for the video game-to-film franchise, their appetite for John Carpenter-inspired riffs and their penchant for overemphasised 90s nostalgia. Primarily set in 1998, and endeavouring to reboot the series without its previous star Milla Jovovich, it strenuously tests patience as well.

After an orphanage stint filled with familiar Resident Evil figures — siblings Claire and Chris Redfield as kids, plus nefarious Umbrella Corporation scientist Dr William Birkin (Neal McDonough, Sonic the Hedgehog) — writer/director Johannes Roberts (47 Metres Down and 47 Metres Down: Uncaged) has Welcome to Raccoon City first get gory en route back to its titular town. The now-adult Claire (Kaya Scodelario, Crawl) hitches a ride with a trucker, who then hits a woman standing in the road. The victim still gets up afterwards, because unnaturally shuffling along after you've been killed comes with the territory. The walking dead are a new phenomenon in the desolate locale, however, following Umbrella's decision to shut up shop and leave the place a crumbling shell. Of course, the night that Claire arrives back to reunite with Chris (Robbie Amell, Upload), who's now a local cop, is the night that a virus zombifies Raccoon City's residents.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is available to stream via Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.

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Looking for more at-home viewing options? Take a look at our monthly streaming recommendations across new straight-to-digital films and TV shows.

Published on February 11, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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