Streaming reviews November 5 to 9: Finch & What Happened, Brittany Murphy?

EMOTIONAL: Tom Hanks plays the title character in Finch, a film about a survivor of a solar apocalypse who builds a robot to look after his dog. Below, Brittany Murphy's life and death are explored in a new two-part documentary.
EMOTIONAL: Tom Hanks plays the title character in Finch, a film about a survivor of a solar apocalypse who builds a robot to look after his dog. Below, Brittany Murphy's life and death are explored in a new two-part documentary.

FINCH

Apple TV+

IF there's anyone in Hollywood who can elicit emotion out of a robot it's Tom Hanks.

The two-time Academy Award-winning actor famously spoke to a coconut for a large portion of Cast Away, but at least he had some scenes with other actors.

In post-apocalyptic drama, Finch, Hanks is literally the only person in the film, as he interacts throughout the two-hour movie with his dog Goodyear and amiable robot Jeff.

Hanks plays Finch, a robotics engineer and one of the only surviving people after a cataclysmic solar event turns the world into a wasteland. Finch and Goodyear live in a underground bunker in St Louis where he searches for leftover food and supplies inside a radiation suit. It's an existence the introverted and untrusting Finch enjoys.

However, Finch knows he's dying of radiation poisoning so he builds a robot to look after his beloved dog.

Jeff's inquisitive nature and exuberance for life comes into conflict with Finch's cynicism when they set out for San Francisco to escape a super storm.

Finch naturally plays to a sentimental tone, but in Hanks' safe hands it doesn't slip into sappy territory. It is essentially an odd couple film, an unusual theme for a sci-fi environment, but here it delivers pleasing results.

TRAGIC: Brittany Murphy's life and death are explored in a new two-part documentary.

TRAGIC: Brittany Murphy's life and death are explored in a new two-part documentary.

WHAT HAPPENED, BRITTANY MURPHY?

Binge

WHAT'S more captivating than the tragic end to a beautiful Hollywood starlet in the prime of her life and career?

The mystery and conspiracy theories surrounding the star's demise. It's a story that's been replayed countless times through stars like Marilyn Munroe, Heath Ledger and River Phoenix.

On December 20, 2009, actress Brittany Murphy joined that regrettable club when the Clueless, 8 Mile and Just Married star died aged 32 of pneumonia.

The two-part documentary What Happened, Brittany Murphy? directed by the Emmy-nominated Cynthia Hill (Private Violence) explores the toxic culture of Hollywood in the '90s and 2000s and how Murphy struggled with eating disorders and prescription drug abuse.

Murphy's husband, Simon Monjack, who died six months after his wife, also of pneumonia, is painted as the villain of her demise. A conman who manipulated and controlled his wife and kept her alienated.

Hill assembled all the major players in Murphy's sad story, including her former directors, acting friends, publicists, police, the coroner who investigated her death, entertainment journalists and Monjack's mother and brother.

The one notable exception is Murphy's mother, Sharon, who has been reclusive since Monjack's death.

The use of video blogs from conspiracy theorists, while illustrating the craziness surrounding Murphy's death, only cheapens what is otherwise a slick and compelling documentary.

Hill is also heavy handed on the use of famous movie quotes from Murphy's career such as "I'll never tell" from Girl, Interrupted to speculate on the actress' frame of mind at the time.

What Happened, Brittany Murphy? doesn't contain any smoking gun into Murphy's death, but it does a capable job of illustrating how easily avoidable her tragic ending was.

This story Nothing robotic about Hanks' performance in Finch first appeared on Newcastle Herald.