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Catch up with Zendaya’s big 2-movie start for 2024

By Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
Published: May 24, 2024, 5:53am

With summer movie season already in full-swing, thanks to “The Fall Guy,” “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” and “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” bringing big-screen spectacle to theaters, it’s also a time to look back on the best films from the first half of the year and catch up with some of the titles that you may have missed.

Two of the biggest movies of 2024 so far happened to star Zendaya, and also happened to open this spring after their fall release dates were pushed back to accommodate the actors strike last year. Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic sequel “Dune Part Two” dropped on Max this week, so if you missed the adventures of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) on Arrakis, now is the time to catch up with it at home. Zendaya stars as Paul’s Fremen love interest, Chani, who remains suspicious of his messiah-like ascent to power.

She’s also the center of Luca Guadagnino’s certified cinematic phenomenon “Challengers.” Though the sexy tennis movie is still in theaters (and it deserves the big-screen experience), the film is now available for premium rental on Amazon Prime, iTunes and Google Play. Zendaya stars as a teen tennis phenom who finds herself caught up in a steamy love triangle with a pair best friends and doubles partners, played by Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor. With a pounding techno score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and dizzying direction by Italian director Guadagnino, “Challengers” is the movie event of the spring, so catch up with the hype if you haven’t already.

If more Josh O’Connor is what you desire post-”Challengers,” rent or buy Alice Rohwacher’s beautifully poignant “La Chimera.” The English actor stars as a grieving archaeologist who falls in with a group of Italian grave robbers, who steal and deal in antiquities. This poetic and lyrical film is almost impossibly beautiful, like the artifacts themselves. A wholly unique film and a turn from O’Connor that proves he indeed has the range, “La Chimera” also co-stars Isabella Rossellini. Rent or buy it on all digital platforms for $5.99.

Also available on premium VOD rental is Rose Glass’ mesmeric, fantastical desert noir “Love Lies Bleeding,” starring Kristen Stewart as Lou, a gym manager name in a Southwestern town who falls in lusty love with a transient bodybuilder, Jackie (a star turn from newcomer Katy O’Brian). The star-crossed pair find themselves in a desperate situation, and attempting to elude Lou’s entrenched crime family, led by her father (Ed Harris). Sexy, gory and strangely funny, “Love Lies Bleeding” must be seen to be believed.

There are a few smaller indie titles that have gone under the radar as well, like Goran Stolevski’s sensitively observed portrait of a queer found family in North Macedonia, “Housekeeping for Beginners,” which is available on premium VOD on all platforms.

Julio Torres’ “Problemista” is a delightfully absurd and surreal film about a young El Salvadoran immigrant who falls in with a chaotic New York City art critic, played by Tilda Swinton. This quasi-memoir takes a fantastical tack to the exploration of the Sisyphean task of gaining U.S. citizenship, and while Torres’ film is hilariously funny, it is also incredibly moving, and grounded in its exploration of work and belonging. Rent it on all platforms at a premium VOD price.

And Adam Rehmeier’s incredibly charming slice of nostalgia, “Snack Shack” is the perfect way to kick off the summer, with this coming-of-age story about a couple of teens in 1990s Nebraska who run a pool snack shack for their summer get-rich-quick scheme. “The Fabelmans” star Gabrielle LaBelle co-stars opposite Conor Sherry and Mika Abdalla as the intriguing girl next door. Rent or buy it on all platforms for $5.99.

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