Friday, 14 June 2024

‘The Holdovers’ bittersweet dramedy; Lifetime movie slate on TV


Released late last October, “The Holdovers” achieved almost universal acclaim, and yet seemingly did not snare a wide audience. With possibly limited commercial appeal, the film may have been too thought-provoking to catch on in theaters.

Fortunately, “The Holdovers” is now streaming exclusively on Peacock, a platform that gives this wonderfully bittersweet holiday story more exposure. The film reunites “Sideways” director Alexander Payne and star Paul Giamatti.

The time is December 1970 at the Barton Academy boarding school in New England. Giamatti’s Paul Hunham, a stern taskmaster, teaches ancient history to privileged, disinterested students bored out of their minds with the subject matter.

Worse still, the pupils intensely dislike the curmudgeonly instructor, and not just because a good grade is hard to achieve. These pampered kids come from wealthy families, and their sense of entitlement is grating to someone like Hunham, even though he’s a Barton grad himself.

As the Christmas break approaches, the irascible teacher also finds himself out of favor with Headmaster Woodrup (Andrew Garman) for having the temerity to flunk the son of a senator, who just happens to be a major donor.

With four students, for various reasons, having to spend the holiday break staying on campus, Hunham is assigned the duty of babysitter, and you can be sure his charges are not thrilled to discover they are stuck in an educational detention camp.

Among the holiday hostages are the brash Teddy Kountze (Brady Hepner) and laidback jock Jason Smith (Michael Provost), and two younger students. Not long into the break, they are freed by Smith’s family for a ski trip.

Not so lucky is the last-minute addition of upperclassman Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa) as a holdover, because his remarried mother (Gillian Vigman) decided that a Caribbean vacation with her new husband would be better off without her son.

Failing to get parental permission to join the other students on a ski excursion, Angus is stuck with a teacher he despises and school cook Mary Lamb (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), a grieving mother whose son died in Vietnam.

An interesting dynamic emerges between the damaged, brainy troublemaker and the crusty teacher who seemingly has no life outside the boundaries of the school. An unlikely bond slowly forms when Angus needs medical care and they are both invited to a Christmas party.

The true beauty of “The Holdovers” is driven by sharp dialogue and meaningful character development. The film proves to be a bittersweet dramedy with truly humorous touches. Paul Giamatti deserves a Best Actor Oscar.


A “Ripped from the Headlines” movie, “Girl in the Video” examines the story of widowed mother Mo (Cush Jumbo) who is managing parenting two teens the best she can. Her daughter Krissy (Tia May Watts) has begun secretly chatting online with a boy she believes is a cute high school senior.

Krissy sneaks out one night to meet him at a party. When Mo discovers her daughter is missing the next morning, Mo and her son Robbie start an all-out search for her and alert local detectives.

As the case garners media attention, an anonymous tip reveals Krissy is being held captive and exploited in sexually abusive live streams for money on the dark web. Racing to find Krissy before she is murdered, Mo and Robbie track down every clue they can to try to bring her home.

Inspired by true events, “Dying in Plain Sight” tells the emotional story of overweight high school student Morgan Cruz (Raffa Virago) and her mother Kim (Nicola Correia-Damude), who both harbor dark secrets that lead to devastating circumstances.

When Kim leaves her cheating husband, she becomes so focused on “clean eating” that she doesn’t notice that Morgan has stopped eating altogether. While Morgan receives positive validation for her changing body, privately she begins to experience the terrible side effects of her disorder.

Morgan’s cries for help seem to fall on deaf ears until she’s hospitalized for life-threatening malnutrition, leading Kim to finally realize how her own disordered eating was a terrible influence on Morgan, pushing her to the brink of death.

Inspired by real stories, “Confessions of a Cam Girl” follows the eighteen-year-old fashion savant Kristen (Megan Best) who is set to become the first in her family to graduate from college.

Her working-class parents are furious when she reveals a plan to attend fashion school instead of college. Her parents refuse to use her college fund for her farfetched dream.

Determined to pay for fashion school herself, Kristen secretly creates an online explicit content page to raise $10,000 for her dream program. Confident she can keep her side hustle under wraps, Kristen’s secret unravels and threatens not just her future, but the safety of her family as well.

The Lifetime Channel is known for its movies based on true stories, and some as the Internet will tell you are so outrageous that you won’t believe they are based on real life. There will be more to come.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Upcoming Calendar

Flag Day
06.14.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Middletown Days team roping
06.14.2024 8:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Kelseyville High School commencement ceremony
06.15.2024 8:00 am - 06.16.2024 1:00 am
Middletown Days
06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.15.2024 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Art Center exhibit opening
Father's Day
06.16.2024 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
Middletown Days
06.16.2024 9:00 am - 11:30 am
Moose Lodge Father’s Day breakfast
06.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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