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Between “The Crown,” Kristen Stewart in “Spencer” and tabloid culture’s insatiable hunger for all things royal, viewers would be forgiven for thinking one more documentary about Princess Diana is gratuitous at best – or, being timed to the 25th anniversary of her death, morbidly opportunistic at worst. But “The Princess,” Ed Perkins’s absorbing, thoughtful documentary, might be the film we’ve been waiting for all along. Eschewing the usual conceits of talking heads, voice-overs and bio-fiction narrative tropes, Perkins simply assembles images from Diana’s life, entirely gleaned from archival footage. Those clips – her fairy-tale courtship with Prince Charles, their “wedding of the century,” the ensuing troubled marriage and breakup, her transformation from fey English rose to paparazzi catnip and, finally, her martyrdom at the hands of the media she both hid from and masterfully manipulated – build into something sad, sobering and surprisingly profound. Interrogating Diana as the “people’s princess” – a moniker that comes to have a discomfiting double meaning by the end of the film – Perkins’s essay becomes less about the mythologized icon of the title and more about celebrity, fandom and the public’s complicity in Diana’s misery and eventual destruction. “The Princess” might be the most poignant depiction of a figure who will always remain just out of reach; it’s definitely the most on-point, even at its most obliquely damning. TV-14. Available on HBO and HBO Max. Contains mature thematic elements. 109 minutes. – A.H.
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On paper, “Day Shift” sounds promising: Jamie Foxx plays Bud Jablonski, a humble pool cleaner who tends to the suburban homes of the San Fernando Valley, but whose true job is a vampire hunter. Bud’s kind of like an undercover cop. The job entails numerous rules and regulations, several of which Bud has flouted, leading him to be kicked out of the union and go freelance. But the need to pay for braces for his 10-year-old daughter (Zion Broadnax) sends him crawling back for forgiveness – and the higher premium paid by the union for vampire teeth (evidence of a kill). This leads Bud to be assigned a babysitter in the form of a nerdy union accountant (Dave Franco). It’s the setup of many a buddy-cop comedy, down to the criminal nemesis bent on revenge: a vampire (Karla Souza) whose daughter was killed by Bud in the line of duty. But the finished product isn’t funny or scary. (The vamps look like guests at a Halloween party.) Nor is it very well thought out. Why are there so many vampires, for instance, in Southern California? It seems like a missed opportunity to have fun with the predatory nature of the film biz … or something. And the film needlessly introduces extracanonical vampire lore. When these bloodsuckers are killed, they release a gas that, by leaving its traces on a human, allows that person to be tracked. So Bud has invented a special soap powder that – oh, never mind. It doesn’t go anywhere. Neither does the film, which only briefly springs back to life whenever Snoop Dogg appears as Bud’s cool, cowboy-hat-wearing comrade in arms, Big John. R. Available on Netflix. Contains strong violence, gore and coarse language. 113 minutes. – M.O.
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The worlds of three couples – Ryan Phillippe and Kat Graham, Dylan Flashner and Aisha Dee, and Jim Gaffigan and Drea de Matteo – intersect explosively at a Los Angeles restaurant in the thriller “Collide.” R. Available on demand. Contains strong language throughout and brief sexual material. 9o minutes.
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In the rom-com “My Favorite Girlfriend,” an eligible bachelor (Tyler Johnson) discovers that his charming new love interest (Bonnie Piesse) has multiple personalities. (Also starring Michael Nouri.) PG-13. Available on Amazon. Contains some strong language and sexual material. 94 minutes.
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“Post Malone: Runaway” is a concert-tour documentary about the Grammy-nominated rapper’s 37-date tour that launched in September 2019 before being shut down by the pandemic. 18-plus. Available on the Amazon Freevee platform. 65 minutes.
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