'Palm Springs' and 'The Old Guard' - Movies Right for These Times


    17 July 2020

    COVID-19 has forced moviemakers away from traditional releases at theaters across the United States and in other countries. But two American media companies have captured the "summer blockbuster" tradition with new films.

    Netflix released The Old Guard, an action/superhero film from critically acclaimed director Gina Prince-Bythewood. And Hulu targeted the romantic-comedy market with the release of Palm Springs from director Max Barbakow.

    Both Hulu and Netflix report that large numbers of people have visited the media sites to watch the films since their release a week ago.

    Charlize Theron and Andy Samberg
    Charlize Theron and Andy Samberg

    The Old Guard stars Academy Award winner Charlize Theron and newcomer KiKi Layne as members of a team of "immortals" -- people who cannot die. The immortals have fought in many wars over the centuries to protect humanity. They have somehow kept their special power known only to themselves. But now their secret is out and under threat.

    Gina Prince-Bythewood is best known for her film Love & Basketball, which she wrote as well as directed. The Old Guard, however, is based on a comic book, a short story of few words with pictures on every page. Its writer, Greg Rucka, reworked the story for the film version.

    The superheroes of The Old Guard do not wear special clothing, fly through the air or possess x-ray eyesight. And unlike traditional heroes, they are not always sure their special power serves them well. In fact, Theron's character questions if immortality is a curse or a blessing.

    The Old Guard's superheroes are more real, more like normal human beings. They get tired. They feel hopeless. They fight on. In the age of COVID-19, that might be their appeal to critics and other movie watchers.

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    Palm Springs seems to hit a similar note on the current health reality in our world today.

    Actors Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg play guests at a wedding party in Palm Springs, a beautiful California town popular with travelers.

    But its appeal shrinks quickly for Milioti and Samberg's characters, who are stuck in a "time loop" experience together. They wake up on the same day over and over.

    The two characters in this dark comedy fall in love during their never-ending day of no responsibilities in the perfect vacation town. But the trap of the day-in, day-out repetitive nature of their experience is deeply trying and tiring.

    And that is something many people can relate to right now, trapped in their homes for months to avoid the new coronavirus.

    I'm Caty Weaver.

    Caty Weaver wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    blockbuster – n. something that is very large, expensive, or successful

    romantic-comedy – n. a funny love story

    character – n. a person who appears in a story, book, play, movie, or television show

    curse – n. a cause of trouble or bad luck

    blessing – n. something that helps you or brings happiness

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