This morning, a New York Times article stated that eBay has seen a 215-percent increase in the sales of chess sets and accessories since the October debut of Netflix's limited series. If it's indeed true that The Queen's Gambit is responsible for the uptick, I wouldn't be surprised if similar sales spikes are soon reported for mod mini-dresses, digital compilations of '60s pop hits, and boyfriends who look like Dudley Dursley from the Harry Potter movies.

Even in its one-joke way, the premise sounded promising: a high-school slasher flick in the guise of a body-switching comedy. (Or perhaps it's the other way around.) Unfortunately, though, the mild fun of writer/director Christopher Landon's Freaky pretty much ends with its set-up, and once that central conceit is established, what transpires is so oddly dull that it's like being disappointed by the same movie twice. I was hoping for Halloween meets Freaky Friday. What we get is closer to Prom Night meets Vice Versa.

Is it possible that, in our pandemic era, the cineplex experience won't be saved by young audiences for presumed blockbusters that may or may not open, but rather by dedicated groups of older moviegoers who are happy with simple stories well and elegantly told?

No modern horror movie, not even last November's mostly decent sequel Doctor Sleep, should have to be compared to Stanley Kubrick's 1980 masterpiece The Shining. Writer/director Jacob Chase's Come Play, however, is pretty much begging for the comparisons, given that its child lead, in many shots, looks uncannily like the tormented Danny Torrance, and its title – one that instantly conjures images of creepy twin girls in a hotel hallway – all but demands to be followed by “... with Us, Danny.” Needless to say, though, Come Play is not The Shining. Sadly, despite boasting a bunch of fine elements, it's not even Doctor Sleep.

What's the most subversive thing about Sacha Baron Cohen's anarchic comedy sequel Borat Subsequent Moviefilm? Cohen's jackass journalist, in disguise as Donald Trump, interrupting a Mike Pence speech to offer the vice president Borat's 15-year-old daughter as a gift? Borat, this time in Texas disguised as a rotund country crooner, inspiring a group sing-along about the “Wuhan flu” and chopping up journalists “like the Saudis do”? Rudy Giuliani, in a widely discussed scene, caught on camera tucking in his shirt (or “tucking in his shirt”) while lying on a hotel bed in front of a young female reporter?

With the exceptions of 12 Angry Men and maybe the first two Godfather flicks, I literally can't think of another movie so abundant with exceptional ensemble acting in juicy character roles; you could expand the Oscars' Supporting Actor roster from five nominees to 10 and still pack it solely with deserving Chicago 7 performers.

I think I'm speaking literally when I say that, had The War with Grandpa been released in any other year, I'd probably have found it close to unbearable. But this isn't any other year. And beyond being grateful simply for cineplexes – some of them, at least – staying open these days, I find myself inordinately appreciating the movie-going experience, which turns out to include the sound of other patrons, for 100 minutes, howling with delight at a dopey little comedy.

Despite the bitchiness and anguish inherent in the material, Netflix's new streaming version of The Boys in the Band is one of the very few releases of the last six months that feels absolutely suffused with joy. You won't necessarily find it in the characters, and certainly not in most of the things they say and do. But as a filmed reunion for the cast and director of Broadway's 2018 Tony Award winner – a revival of playwright Matt Crowley's iconic examination of urban gay life in 1968 – there's so much love baked into the presentation that you might find yourself grinning even when situations are at their most dire, and they frequently are.

Although Andrew Cohn's indie dramedy takes a more intriguing turn than you may initially expect, his film is almost pure formula, and formula you're likely familiar with: it's Chico & the Man; it's Superior Donuts; it's every entertainment in which a cranky (white) senior and a sassy upstart (of color) bicker and banter their way to mutual acceptance. But it stars Richard Jenkins, and that alone makes it more worthwhile than this well-meaning diversion might've otherwise been.

No matter how many Thin Red Lines or Person of Interests Jim Caviezel makes, he's always going to be identified as He Who Was Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ – which makes his casting in this political thriller so on-the-nose it may as well be a nostril.

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