Wondering what to watch? The new month brings with it a varied host of cinematic spoils available on streaming, such as the South London-set rom-com Rye Lane, landing on Disney+ following its brief theatrical run.
Elsewhere, NOW and Sky Cinema also add a new rom-com in Ticket to Paradise, a reunion of George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the kind of low stakes mid-budget film in which their star power shines brightest.
Read more: Everything new on Netflix in May
It’s also the cinematic release week of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, to go with that, the first Guardians of the Galaxy film has been made available to watch on BBC iPlayer, while Prime Video adds his DC film The Suicide Squad.
Please note that a subscription may be required to watch.
Rye Lane (2023) | Disney+ (pick of the week)
In what feels as much like a love letter to the contours of South London as well as the stagnating traditions of the romantic comedy, Raine Anne-Miller’s Rye Lane stands out because of a few kinds of scarcity: firstly, a general lack of black-led films that aren’t dramas about historical injustice. Secondly, an absence of romantic-comedies that aren’t going straight to streaming.
It’s also a pretty funny, easygoing time – again, something that can feel all too rare for black-led films. Having met by chance in a bathroom, two Londoners Dom and Yes bond over their respective breakups, and so Rye Lane takes a sort of “one crazy afternoon” format, observing the two as they encourage each other to do increasingly ill-advised things in order to move forward. And, of course, they fall for each other at the same time.
Read more: Everything new on Disney+ in May
The script can feel like it’s going through the motions a bit — following closely to traditional generic patterns — but it’s a nice one to happily meander along with.
Watch: Raine Anne-Miller talks to Yahoo about Rye Lane
The curious choice of an ever-present, extremely wide angle lens feels like an odd aesthetic choice at first but becomes more suitable over time, filling the space with vibrant colour.
The high point — other than an out-of-left-field cameo from another British rom-com darling — is a deeply uncomfortable restaurant meet-up between Dom and his insufferable ex-girlfriend, who hooked up with his doofus best friend from school: a sort of parlay that goes completely wrong.
Rye Lane sort of just coasts along after this point, but it’s pleasing to the eye and bolstered by an enjoyable supporting cast of oddballs.
Also new on Disney+: Peter Pan and Wendy (2023), The Insider (1999)
Ticket to Paradise (2022) | NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership
Speaking of the slow death of romcoms, another film marking the resurgence of this much-under-appreciated lynchpin of mid-budget cinema is Ticket to Paradise. New on Sky Cinema this week, this 2022 film is a throwaway romcom directed by Ol Parker (known for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again) but more importantly, it stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts, reuniting again after a run of great films together, including the monumental Ocean’s 11.
Read more: Everything new on NOW in May
That long-held chemistry keeps Ticket to Paradise afloat, the two playing a divorced couple scheming to sabotage the wedding of their daughter in Bali, thinking she’s rushing into things. Unlike the bespoke charms of something like Rye Lane, Ticket to Paradise is not particularly well-made nor well-written, but it’s got that crucial thing for a film of its kind: two bonafide movie stars throwing their glamour and charisma around.
Also new on NOW: The Old Way (2023)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) | BBC iPlayer
2014's Guardians of the Galaxy —which began an upward career trajectory for much of its cast and crew – is a highlight of Marvel Studios’ increasingly overstuffed library. At the time, considered far too niche and strange to translate for audiences, this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy is now one of the best known teams in Marvel's comics division too.
Beyond the (slight) surprise of its success — it was a real litmus test as to what source material Kevin Feige could mine in his mission to print money — Guardians of the Galaxy works because it’s actually sincerely invested in the emotional arc of its peculiar and standoffish aliens. Of all things, a mouthy talking raccoon, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), becomes the series’s most tragic figure while his best buddy, the talking tree Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), becomes its heart.
Rather than simply lean into the Guardians as edgy outlaws, Gunn leverages his own misfit background and digs down into what made the likes of Star-Lord and his companions this way (mostly daddy issues – these are superhero films after all) and why they might find kinship in each other. It does however suffer from a number of the frustrations that befall many films of its kind: an over-reliance on MacGuffins, as well as the obligations of the MCU’s aggressive world-building, with intrusive cameos from future big bad Thanos and a near literal slideshow explanation of the Infinity Stones as setup for its decade-long Avengers arc.
Still, it’s one of only a few MCU movies that can genuinely be called soulful with such actual emotional investment in its characters, Marvel films too often treating them like action figures and shrinking away from earnestness, shielding itself with quips.
With Guardians of the Galaxy, Gunn showed it’s still better to simply give a damn.
Also on iPlayer: Apocalypse Now (1979), Moana (2016), Booksmart (2019)
The Suicide Squad (2021) | Prime Video
While less of a standout than Gunn’s own Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the circumstances that lead to The Suicide Squad are amusingly labyrinthine. The success of 2014's quippy Guardians led DC to put out its own film about an anti-hero team of super criminals: 2016's Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, which was a critical flop, but a billion dollar hit.
Later, Gunn was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 over some misjudged historical tweets (he eventually landed back in the driver’s seat). Sensing an opportunity, DC swept in, and Gunn was hired to do The Suicide Squad, a more warmly-received soft reboot sequel. Gunn is now the head of DC Studios as their own Kevin Feige — a long way from his days as a low budget provocateur.
Read more: Everything new on Prime Video in May
In any case, The Suicide Squad is pretty fun, even if Gunn’s schtick feels a little more played out here with no producer notes reigning him in. It swings from gleefully anarchic to poignant to a little too juvenile, but there’s easily worse cape movies out there — and it’s fun to see a big shark man in shorts brutally stumble his way through action sequences.
It’s not all nihilism and (somewhat dicey) reflections on the evil foreign interventionism of US intelligence agencies, as it even inherits Gunn’s angle on the Guardians of the Galaxy, uniting its super-criminals through shared parental traumas.
Also new on Prime: One True Loves (2023), Beautiful Disaster (2023)