Flamin’ Hot

STREAMING REVIEW:

Hulu/Disney+;
Searchlight;
Comedy;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some strong language and brief drug material.
Stars Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Emilio Ribera, Vanessa Martinez, Hunter Jones, Dennis Haysbert, Tony Shalhoub, Pepe Serna.

Wanting to feel the artificial love generated by Awards Season®, I paged through this year’s Oscar nominees and in no time landed on my favorite category: Best Song. Infidels see the performances of the nominated songs as the perfect time to freshen up their cocktail or dash to the bathroom and snort another rail. Who needs narcotics when the memory of Paula Abdul’s tribute to The Little Mermaid (complete with swampy choreography and scuba divers in tap shoes) or Rob Lowe cavorting with Snow White weren’t intoxicating enough? This year you can keep the theme from Scorsese’s apology to women and the lyrical contributions of the entire cast of hipster babysitter Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City. And didn’t the Academy already honor Barbie for Hotel Terminus? I love Cheetos, those delectable aurantiaceous styrofoam snacking chips that turn a muncher’s fingers oranger than the right fist of tRump’s proctologist. Flamin’ Cheetos arrived on the scene in 1989, the brainchild of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia) an enterprising janitor at Frito-Lay’s whose invention instantly became a staple in grade school lunch pails. (A friend’s kid would drench them in Tapatio before washing them down with a shot of Tabasco.) Frito-Lay’s nutritionless munchies and director Eva Longoria’s Flamin’ Hot are each made up of heavily processed corn and in both cases, all the more delectable for it.

For a feel-good picture that goes out of its way not to offend, the sour note that brings up the curtain does so with nauseating aplomb. What Fox Searchlight has done to Alfred Newman’s emblematic 20th Century Fox logo music with stringed CinemaScope addendum is clearly a manifestation of madness. For her debut feature behind the lens, Longoria doesn’t direct so much as she speeds things up to keep pace with the scattergun narration. Opening in an upscale restaurant, the one specific trait Longoria establishes without relying on dialog is that Montañez is not the guy working the kitchen, he’s a customer. Viewers of celebrity biopics spend a great deal of time checking to see how close the performer came to xeroxing the subject. Being unable to pick the real-life Montañez out of a line-up contributes greatly to the enjoyment. When he first meets his future bride, Judy (Annie Gonzalez), the pair stick out like “two sore brown thumbs” in an otherwise lily white high school. What choice do they have but to spend their lives together?

Abuelito (Pepe Serna, Hispanic royalty) stresses the only thing his grandson has in life is his name. Even before the credits roll, Richard describes himself as a “self-professed, most uneducated, successful vato you’ll ever meet. (To our delight, the script interjects chicano slang with the greatest of ease.) A born pusher, Richard won over the school bully by getting the gringo hooked on his mother’s burritos. Success led to his arrest when the cops nabbed the brown kid with too much green. He observed, when the world treats you like a criminal, you become one. The wall-to-wall narration and hyper-editing can become oppressive. Amid the swish-pans and fervent cutting, Longoria slows down long enough to paint a nostalgic portrait of Reagan-era America. One gets the feeling that the auteurs in the pack are the real-life Richard and Judy Montañez, both of whom received a “based on the life stories of” credit.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, Montañez’s version of his inventing the piquant crunchers rang false enough to set the former janitor’s asbestos Dickies on fire. Contrary to his claim, the flaming junk snack was whipped up by a “team of food professionals” in Frito-Lay’s Plano Texas Headquarters, approximately 1.319 miles east of Yucca Flats as the crow flies. Frito-Lay credited Montañez with “pitching several successful snacks developed for Latino customers while working as a machine operator.”

As for the Best Song nominee, did I miss it? That’s what I get for ducking out before the credits roll.

Sports Comedy ‘Next Goal Wins’ Due on Digital Jan. 16, Disc Feb. 27

Searchlight Pictures’ sports comedy Next Goal Wins will be released on digital Jan. 16 and on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 27.

The film earned $10.5 million at the global box office.

Directed by Academy Award winner Taika Waititi (Thor: RagnarokJojo RabbitWhat We Do in the Shadows), the film is inspired by the true-life story of soccer underdogs American Samoa and their stumbling attempts to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

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The film stars Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, The Killer) as Thomas Rongen, the maverick coach with the near-impossible task of trying to turn one of the world’s worst soccer team into winners. The international ensemble cast also includes Oscar Kightley, Kaimana, David Fane, Rachel House, Beulah Koale, Uli Latukefu, Semu Filipo, Lehi Falepapalangi, Will Arnett and Elisabeth Moss.

Searchlight’s Historical Drama ‘Chevalier’ Due Digitally June 16

Searchlight Pictures’ historical drama Chevalier will be available via digital retailers June 16.

The film is inspired by the true story of composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) rises to improbable heights in French society as a celebrated violinist-composer and fencer, complete with an ill-fated love affair and a falling out with Marie Antoinette (Lucy Boynton) and her court.

Extras include the behind-the-scenes featurette “Chevalier: Note By Note,” exploring the untold story of Bologne.

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‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ Headed to Digital Dec. 13, Disc Dec. 20

Searchlight Pictures’ The Banshees of Inisherin will be released through digital retailers Dec. 13, and on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 20 from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

From acclaimed filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), the tragicomedy is an immersive tale of friendship and folly starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. 

In the film, although Pádraic (Farrell) and Colm (Gleeson) have been lifelong friends, they find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, bringing alarming consequences for both of them.

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The film made its world premiere in September at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Best Screenplay Award for McDonagh and the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for Farrell. It went on to release theatrically in October, earning the highest opening per screen average of the fall, according to Disney.

Bonus features include the featurette “Creating The Banshees of Inisherin” and deleted scenes.

‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ Available Digitally Nov. 2, on Disc Nov. 16

Searchlight Pictures’ biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye will be available on digital Nov. 2 and on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 16 from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is an intimate look at the rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker (Jessica Chastain). In the 1970s and ’80s, Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield) built a burgeoning religious broadcasting network and theme park — until rivals, financial wrongdoing and scandal toppled their empire.

Bonus features include the making-of featurette “A Look Inside The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”

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‘Nomadland,’ ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ Top New Disc, Digital Releases April 27

Oscar Best Picture winner Nomadland, from Disney’s Searchlight Pictures, tops the list of new disc releases April 27, while Warner’s Judas and the Black Messiah leads the list of new digital releases.

The critically acclaimed Nomadland, an exploration of modern-day van life on the road starring Oscar winner Frances McDormand, is available on Blu-ray Disc two days after winning three Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for Chloé Zhao, and Best Actress for McDormand. Due to the pandemic limiting its theatrical run, it is also the lowest-grossing Best Picture winner ever, with just over $5.45 million worldwide. It was made available on Hulu concurrently with its theatrical run and released for digital sellthrough April 13. Read a review here.

Also arriving April 27 on DVD and Blu-ray is the crime thriller Vanquish, from Lionsgate. The film stars Morgan Freeman as a retired cop who forces a former drug courier (Ruby Rose) to do his bidding by kidnapping her daughter.

Oscar winner Judas and the Black Messiah becomes available for digital purchase April 27 before its Blu-ray Disc and DVD release May 4 from Warner. The story follows FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), who infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their chairman, Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). O’Neal soon finds his loyalties divided between Hampton’s message and the FBI’s orders to take him down. Kaluuya won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and the film also won the Oscar for Best Original Song (“Fight For You”).

The Liam Neeson action thriller The Marksman is available for digital purchase starting April 27 before shooting to Blu-ray and DVD May 11 from Universal Pictures. Neeson plays Jim Hanson, an ex-Marine and hardened Arizona rancher who simply wants to be left alone as he tries to make a living on an isolated stretch of borderland. But everything changes when he witnesses migrants fleeing from a band of assassins sent by a ruthless drug cartel.

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases the DC Comics-based animated superhero movie Justice Society: World War II for digital sellthrough April 27. The 42nd entry in the DC Universe line of animated movies finds The Flash (voiced by Matt Bomer), prior to the formation of the Justice League, speeding back in time to find the Golden Age’s top superhero team, the Justice Society of America, locked in an epic battle against the Nazis. It arrives on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 11.

Robin Wright’s directorial debut Land, in which she also stars, arrives on digital April 27 from Universal Pictures. The drama tells the story of one woman’s search for meaning in the vast and harsh American wilderness. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD May 11.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Golden Globe Winning ‘Nomadland’ Arrives on Digital April 13, Blu-ray Disc April 27

Searchlight Pictures and Chloé Zhao’s critically acclaimed Nomadland, an exploration of modern-day van life on the road starring Oscar winner Frances McDormand, will be available through digital retailers April 13 and on Blu-ray Disc April 27 from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

The film just won two prestigious Golden Globe awards, best drama and, for Zhao, best director.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray Disc include the mini-documentary “The Forgotten America,” several deleted scenes, and a Telluride Premiere Q&A with McDormand and Zhao.

After premiering at the Venice Film Festival in September, Nomadland won the Golden Lion. It then went on to win the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, making it the first film to ever win the top prize at both festivals. Certified “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, Nomadland continues to receive high acclaim from critics and fans alike.

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The film was recently awarded Critics Choice Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography. And McDormand is nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.