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On Demand: Immigrant story ‘The Donut King’; festive LGBT romantic comedy ‘Happiest Season’

Matt Shiverdecker
Special to the American-Statesman
"Happiest Season" is on Hulu this week.

Here is an interesting new release available now for online rental through the Violet Crown Cinema, as well as a holiday title available for streaming.

Video on Demand

"The Donut King": The power of the American Dream and everything it embodies is expertly presented in this first-rate documentary from Alice Gu. Donuts are a quintessentially American sweet treat, and Gu introduces us to Ted Ngoy, a man who came to this country as a Cambodian refugee in 1975 escaping Pol Pot and the horrific genocide led by the Khmer Rouge. Ngoy ended up sponsoring over 100 refugee families to live here and build a future by owning and operating donut shops. It is an empire that began slowly. He received training from the Winchell's donut chain in a program that was designed to increase minority hires. He opened his first store in 1977, and over the course of the decade that followed, he kept expanding stores until he become a millionaire. We follow the ups and downs of his career, from unlikely success to a gambling addiction that nearly destroyed his life. Gu's film is a passionate love letter to the immigrants who have shaped our country. (Available now to rent from Violet Crown's virtual cinema)

Also on streaming services:

"Happiest Season": Clea DuVall has been a scene-stealing actress for years in films like "But I'm a Cheerleader" and television series like "Veep." Her second feature as director is an endearingly comic Christmas tale with a queer twist. Abby (Kristen Stewart) is planning to propose to her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) over the holidays. Her plans are foiled when Harper admits that she isn't actually out to her conservative family. By the time they arrive to the family homestead, it is crystal clear that having a lesbian daughter isn't what Harper's father, who is running for mayor of their small Pennsylvania town, would like to hear. And so begins a charade, at least temporarily, that puts an instant strain on the relationship and pushes them both back into the closet. It's easy to judge Harper for her actions, which become increasingly cruel against the person she supposedly loves, but it is an all-too-real reflection of how many people in the LGBT community have to hide who they are for the approval of others. The supporting cast includes outstanding performances from Mary Steenburgen as Harper's mom, Tipper, always striving for perfection, and "Schitt's Creek" co-creator Dan Levy, who turns the gay best friend trope on its head with some of the film's best dialogue. Add in a hysterically intense Alison Brie and the spot-on comic timing of Aubrey Plaza and you have a festive romantic comedy with a high rewatchablility factor. (Premieres Nov. 25 on Hulu)