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New Movies: Release Calendar for May 20, Plus Where to Watch the Latest Films

With Cannes eating up airtime, stateside cinephiles can still find a few treats at the theater and home, like a new Alex Garland, a "Downton" trip, and even a nutty-fun reboot.

Men

“Men”

A24

Week of May 9 – May 15

New Films in Theaters

As new movies open in theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will continue to review them whenever possible. We encourage readers to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Additionally, our coverage will provide alternative viewing options whenever they are available.

“The Innocents” (directed by Eskil Vogt)
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Where to Find It:
Select theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms

The latest entry in the child horror genre, Eskil Vogt’s “The Innocents,” opts to take a very different path. Instead of juxtaposing childhood innocence against adult evils, it seamlessly combines the two. The kids we’re supposed to fear may have been born with deadly powers, but they’re simply children in the process of growing up. They play and explore, they experiment and make mistakes. They demonstrate the capacity for profound kindness and cruelty in equal measures. And when they kill people using telekinesis, it’s fair to wonder if the incidents are as preventable as a child falling while running with scissors.

“The Innocents” is a film about childhood as much as it is about murder, sharing as much DNA with “Boyhood” as it does “The Bad Seed.”Specifically, it’s a film about contemporary childhood and, in a dangerous world that forces kids to grow up faster and faster, whether innocence is even still possible. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Montana Story” (directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel)
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Where to Find It:
Select theaters

Both Owen Teague and Haley Lu Richardson are perfectly cast in this sibling drama. Both have the kind of rough and tumble exteriors you’d expect from a person living in the present-day American West. While not a prototypical Western, there are no gunfights or lawmen, this neo-Western covers the new (but familiar) confrontations happening among the mountains and the brush: Indigenous land stripped of resources and white men as a destructive, toxic influence. Amid the big sky, and wide landscapes captured by cinematographer Giles Nuttgens is a modest, tempestuous narrative. Co-directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s “Montana Story” is a patient, captivating portrait of the past that stays with us long after the wind stops blowing. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“On the Count of Three” (directed by Jerrod Carmichael) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: United Artists
Where to Find It:
Select theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms

Jerrod Carmichael’s “On the Count of Three” isn’t super heavy on the kind of koan-like quips that have always lent his confrontational standup comedy its velvet punch, but this one — delivered in the opening minutes of his suicide-dark but violently sweet directorial debut — resonates loud enough to echo throughout the rest of the film: “When you’re a kid they tell you the worst thing in life is to be a quitter. Why? Quitting’s amazing. It just means you get to stop doing something you hate.”

Lifelong best friends Val (Carmichael) and Kevin (Christopher Abbott) are both ready to give up. The first time we see them they’re standing in the parking lot outside an upstate New York strip club at 10:30 a.m. with handguns pointed at each other’s heads as part of a double-suicide pact. Nobody’s laughing, but you can already feel the love between them; something about the look in their eyes reads more like “sisters who are pregnant at the same time” than it does “strangers who are about to shoot each other in the face.” Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Pleasure” (directed by Ninja Thyberg) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: Neon
Where to Find It:
 Theaters

A husky-voiced Swedish Kesha look-alike lands at LAX and walks up to the customs booth wearing a furry, multi-colored jacket that screams “look at me!” while also whispering “but not too hard.” We already suspect that she’s a porn star, or at least in Los Angeles to become one — there has to be some reason why the opening credits were soundtracked by the unmistakable sounds of performative deep-throats and flesh T-boning against bare thighs — and so we’re in on the gag when the customs agent asks if our girl is in town for business or pleasure. She waits for a beat, and then responds with the naive smile of someone who doesn’t realize she might be giving the wrong answer: “Pleasure.”

Though never again posed in quite such obvious terms, some form of that question is at the heart of every scene in Ninja Thyberg’s debut feature of the same name, a slick if overly streamlined tale of one woman’s quest to fuck her way through the patriarchy and maybe even out the other side. But “Pleasure” — which is almost by default the most knowing and honest commercial film that’s been made about the modern American porn industry — is determined to avoid framing pleasure and business in binary terms. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“Firestarter” (directed by Keith Thomas)
Distributor: Universal 
Where to Find It:
Theaters, plus streaming on Peacock

“Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story” (directed by Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern)
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics 
Where to Find It:
Theaters

“The Last Victim” (directed by Naveen A. Chathapuram)
Distributor: Decal
Where to Find It:
Theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms

“Mau” (directed by Benji and Jono Bergmann)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It:
Theaters

“Monstrous” (directed by Chris Sivertson)
Distributor: Screen Media
Where to Find It:
Theaters, plus various VOD platforms

New Films on VOD and Streaming, Including Premium Platforms and Virtual Cinema

“Operation Mincemeat” (directed by John Madden)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It:
Streaming on Netflix

Around halfway through “Operation Mincemeat” — a busy yet somewhat rousing WWII spy thriller based on the English military scheme of the same name — I began to appreciate why this might be John Madden’s best movie since “Shakespeare in Love”: It’s a story about a bunch of British men (and a smattering of British women) who are trying to stage an elaborate show in the face of escalating crises. Except this time, their audience isn’t the Queen of England, a crowd of rowdy peasants, and a pissed-off Colin Firth. This time, their audience is the Nazi intelligence network, and their lead actor is a pissed-off Colin Firth. And unlike “Shakespeare in Love,” much of this story is actually true. How embarrassing for Hitler. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Senior Year” (directed by Andrew Hardcastle)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It:
Streaming on Netflix

It stands to reason that Stephanie Conway, the Aussie outcast at the center of Alex Hardcastle’s “Senior Year” would have seen “Never Been Kissed.” Released in 1999 — almost exactly when Hardcastle’s film starts — Drew Barrymore’s high school rom-com followed a well-meaning, dorky kid as she embarks on a do-over after a humiliating teen experience. Such is also the case in “Senior Year,” which lightly resets the charm of “Never Been Kissed” thanks to a wacky coma subplot, but finds little new in the process. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“Flint” (directed by Anthony Baxter)
Distributor:
Cargo Releasing
Where to Find It: 
Various digital platforms

“Our Father” (directed by Lucie Jourdan)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It:
Streaming on Netflix

Week of May 2 – May 8

New Films in Theaters

As new movies open in theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will continue to review them whenever possible. We encourage readers to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Additionally, our coverage will provide alternative viewing options whenever they are available.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (directed by Sam Raimi)
Distributor: Disney
Where to Find It:
Theaters

Sam Raimi is the ideal person to offer Marvel the gentle gut-check it’s needed for so long, the ideal person to tell a story about what happens after you open Pandora’s box, and to do so in a way that allows the MCU and its fans to find a measure of peace in the idea that they have to move forward — no matter how much it hurts.

That’s not enough to make “Multiverse of Madness” a great movie, but it is enough to make it a real Sam Raimi movie. Slowly, gradually, and then with great enthusiasm, what begins as a staid tale of people hurling CGI at larger pieces of CGI while yammering on about whatever new thing is threatening all existence evolves into something less familiar: A violent, wacky, drag-me-to-several-different-hells at once funhouse of a film that makes good on the reckoning Chiwetel Ejiofor promised at the end of the original by cutting away the safety net that previous installments of the MCU have tried to pretend wasn’t there. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Happening” (directed by Audrey Diwan) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: IFC Films
Where to Find It:
Theaters

At many points in “Happening,” a weighty, naturalistic drama, Annie (Anamaria Vartolomei) opens her eyes wide. Her pupils shrink into tiny pinpoints. If she were a Marvel character, these would be the moments she transforms into her heroic alter-ego. But for Annie, a French literature student in 1963, power comes not from superhuman brawn but strength of will: She’s several weeks into an unwanted pregnancy, and though abortions are illegal — punishable with prison time — she’s determined to find a way to terminate it.

Not even a decade ago, a film this clear-eyed about abortion might have seemed groundbreaking, and in certain circles, controversial. But “Happening” arrives after “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “Unpregnant,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (the magnificent Luàna Bajrami, who plays Sophie in that film, also appears in “Happening”), and even the first season of “Yellowjackets.” At this point, the jarring discomfort of watching young women punch their stomachs, bleed out on mattresses, or sterilize long, sharp utensils to insert into themselves has been somewhat blunted by its familiarity. Distress lingers, but we’ve been numbed to the shock. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Lux Æterna” (directed by Gaspar Noé)
Distributor: Yellow Veil Pictures
Where to Find It:
Theaters

It’s hard to imagine that Gaspar Noé could serve any master other than himself, and it comes as no great surprise that his recent assignment to make a 15-minute commercial for Yves Saint Laurent went awry when Noé turned it into his own weird thing: “Lux Æterna,” a 50-minute psychedelic mockumentary about a film shoot gone wrong, distills Noé’s talents to a more palatable serving size. Anyone who appreciated the craft of “Enter the Void” but found the running time unwieldy will be grateful for this much tighter dose. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“The Ravine” (directed by Keoni Waxman)
Distributor: Cinedigm
Where to Find It:
Select theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms

“The Sanctity of Space” (directed by Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It:
Select theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms

“Shepherd” (directed by Russell Owen)
Distributor: Saban Films
Where to Find It:
Select theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms on May 10

New Films on VOD and Streaming, Including Premium Platforms and Virtual Cinema

“Along for the Ride” (directed by Sofia Alvarez)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Netflix

Bolstered by the dreamy, music-heavy direction of “To All the Boys” screenwriter Sofia Alvarez, here making her directorial debut, and a collection of adorable performances from its young leads, “Along for the Ride” doesn’t hit the giddy highs of Alvarez’s previous trilogy. Still, its genuine, gentle charm holds far more appeal than the icky “Kissing Booth” series. Has Netflix saved the YA romance? Not quite, but the streamer’s choices have surely made a strong case for its viability as low-key entertainment for teenage audiences and beyond. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Inbetween Girl” (directed by Mei Makino)
Distributor:
Utopia
Where to Find It:
Various VOD and digital platforms

Independent cinema has long been enamored with the coming-of-age story. Especially for early career filmmakers, the rough road from adolescence to some semblance of adulthood offers the ultimate hero’s journey — mired in unexpected obstacles both external and within. There’s another reason so many first-time filmmakers choose this narrative path: they’re usually quite close to it themselves.

In her scrappy feature debut “Inbetween Girl,” writer/director Mei Makino shows small town America through the experience of a biracial Chinese American teenager as she navigates first love, sexuality, family upheaval, and artistic ambitions. With so many irons in the fire, “Inbetween Girl” bites off more than it can chew, and the amateur cast does it no favors, but it is bursting with heart and vision. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Takedown” (directed by Louis Leterrier)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Netflix

Despite reuniting the two main characters from 2012’s “On the Other Side of the Tracks,” “The Takedown” requires absolutely zero awareness of the previous film (I can personally attest to the fact that it’s possible to watch and enjoy this thing without even knowing that it’s a sequel). To that end, it helps that Stéphane Kazandijan’s script is a topical but straightforward “Lethal Weapon” rip-off that reskins Riggs and Murtaugh as a mismatched pair of Paris cops, sends them off to solve a murder in an extra-racist pocket of Marine Le Pen’s France, and then makes virtually zero additional changes to the classic Shane Black formula. I’ve seen Geico commercials with more complicated plots. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“All My Puny Sorrows” (directed by Michael McGowan)
Distributor: Momentum Pictures
Where to Find It:
Various VOD and digital platforms

“Amira” (directed by Mohamed Diab)
Where to Find It:
Laemmle Virtual Cinema

“Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known” (directed by Michael John Warren)
Distributor: HBO Max
Where to Find It:
Streaming on HBO Max

“The Twin” (directed by Taneli Mustonen)
Distributor:
Shudder
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Shudder

Week of April 25 – May 1

New Films in Theaters

As new movies open in theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will continue to review them whenever possible. We encourage readers to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Additionally, our coverage will provide alternative viewing options whenever they are available.

“Anais in Love” (directed by Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Where to Find It:
Select theaters

Sometimes all you need to get a movie — and maybe even to love it — is an opening shot of a willowy young woman sprinting down the sidewalks of Paris with a crushed bouquet of flowers under her arm while a sun-shower of classical piano music sprinkles over the soundtrack at twice the pace of her footsteps. Much like its harried blithe spirit of a heroine (Anaïs Demoustier, as captivating here as Renate Reinsve was in Joachim Trier’s similarly headstrong “The Worst Person in the World,” and twice as restless), Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s “Anaïs in Love” simply refuses to waste any time. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Firebird” (directed by Peeter Rebane)
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Where to Find It:
Select theaters

Not that we needed a reminder, but Russia’s recent human rights violations — while flagrant — are sadly not a new phenomenon. David France’s “Welcome to Chechnya” documented the horrific genocide being waged against LGBTQ people in what is now a Russian Republic, a terrifying sign of what could lay in store for LGBTQ Ukrainians. Taking an altogether different tack, the stately period drama “Firebird” tells the true story of an ill-fated military romance between two men in Soviet-occupied Estonia during the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Based on a memoir by Sergey Fetisov, the steamy Cold War drama honors this lost chapter of gay history with a handsome rendering that only occasionally stumbles under the weight of historical accuracy. The film’s tragic throughline won’t break any molds, but with smoldering performances by its two strapping young leads, the target audience is unlikely to care. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Hatching” (directed by Hanna Bergholm)
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Where to Find It:
Select theaters

Tjina (Siiri Solalinna) seems to like animals, but they don’t much take to her, from the squawky crow that crashes straight into her house to the chubby new French bulldog next door. Mostly, the rail-thin Finnish tween seems to be seeking connection outside the fraying bonds of her family, including her simpering father (Jani Volanen), annoying (but probably sanest of the bunch) little brother Matias (Oiva Ollila), and her morally empty mother (Sophia Heikkilä). The foursome are the stars of Tjina’s unnamed mother’s blog, hilariously titled “Lovely Everyday Life,” and as Hanna Bergholm’s clever, confounding “Hatching” opens, those lives are about to cease being lovely.

The seemingly lovely, potentially everyday family is shooting a discomfiting new bit for said blog when “Hatching” kicks off, a surreal-ish opening that blends jittery, handheld video for the blog with an off-kilter setting (their home is nearly baroque, with hideous wallpaper and far too many breakable objects for one family). That squawking crow disrupts all that peace, smashing straight into a window and catching Tjina’s attention. When she opens the window to see what’s happened, she unwittingly lets a nightmare — a darkly funny one, to be sure — right inside the already decaying family abode. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Memory” (directed by Martin Campbell)
Distributor: Open Road
Where to Find It:
Theaters

At a time when each new Liam Neeson action thriller has become utterly indistinguishable from the last, Martin Campbell’s “Memory” would at least seem to have a unique hook: In this one, the lanky Irishman plays a contract killer who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Surely that should be enough to help the latest page in the Redbox chapter of Neeson’s career stand out from the likes of “The Ice Road,” “The Marksman,” and the rest of the post-“Taken” glut.

Mix in Monica Bellucci as the Jeffrey Epstein-esque queenpin of a child prostitution ring, Guy Pearce — no stranger to stories about anterograde amnesia — as a mustached FBI agent prone to wearily saying things like “Memory’s a motherfucker,” and pliable source material (the 2003 Belgian thriller “The Alzheimer Case”) that’s enriched by its new setting along Texas’ southern border, and it sounds like the recipe for a solid little programmer. It sounds like the kind of C+ B-movie that’s just good enough to convince you that Neeson still has some skin in the game. “Memory” even boasts a last-minute cameo from America’s sweetheart, Jake Tapper! Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Pompo the Cinephile” (directed by Takayuki Hirao)
Distributor: GKIDS
Where to Find It:
Select theaters

The title of “Pompo the Cinephile” — a bright and sparkly new anime feature adapted from Shogu Sugitani’s ongoing manga of the same name — is misleading on at least a couple of levels. For one thing, the movie isn’t really about Joelle Davidovich “Pompo” Pomponett, an eternally prepubescent girl who happens to be the most powerful super-producer in all of Nyallywood (basically Hollywood, but cuter and full of cats). For another, Pompo is more of a mogul than a cinephile. The studio that she inherited from her grandfather has built its success by making explosive junk that adheres to a simple mantra: “As long as the lead actress looks attractive, it’s a good movie.” Also, anything that runs longer than 90 minutes is disrespectful to the audience’s time. As a different character puts it towards the end of this upbeat and pleasantly childish paean to the power of creative obsession: “There’s no profit in dreams.” Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Vortex” (directed by Gaspar Noé)
Distributor: Utopia
Where to Find It:
Select theaters

Gaspar Noé is the kind of mad scientist filmmaker whose very name invites expectations of provocative experimentation. “Vortex,” which clocks in at 142 minutes and spends almost all of them in split screen, would appear to be consistent with that trend. Yet this quiet, slow-burn look at an elderly couple suffering from dementia and other ailments is a grounded, emotional variation of “Amour,” as well as the the most sensitive and accessible work from a filmmaker for whom those descriptors rarely apply.

A world apart from the dazzling psychedelic rides of “Climax” and “Enter the Void,” Noé’s latest doesn’t always justify the formalist gimmicky at its center, but it doesn’t overplay the gimmick, either. A world apart from Mike Figgis’ “Timecode” or anything in Brian De Palma’s oeuvre, “Vortex” introduces its split screen within the opening minutes and simply lets it sit there as a statement on the dueling life stories at its center. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“Fortress: Sniper’s Eye” (directed by Josh Sternfeld)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It:
Select theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms

“Hello, Bookstore” (directed by A.B. Zax)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It:
Select theaters

New Films on VOD and Streaming, Including Premium Platforms

“365 Days: This Day” (directed by Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Netflix

When it landed on Netflix in the summer of 2020, Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes’ smash hit “365 Days” offered the streamer something special: its very own spin on “Fifty Shades of Grey,” complete with paper-thin plots, supposedly kinky sex, and a popular book series that included two more books ripe for the film treatment. Two years later, the popular — but controversial — film series chugs onward with its first sequel, a nearly two-hour affair that doesn’t just push the boundaries of tasteful entertainment, but simply steamrolls right over them in service to an even more problematic outing that’s alternately hilarious and boring. Sexy, right? Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Crush” (directed by Sammi Cohen)
Distributor:
Hulu
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Hulu

The film stars Rowan Blanchard as an aspiring high school artist who’s been nursing the same crush since fifth grade. The twist — if it even can be called that anymore — is that she’s queer and her crush is another girl. But unlike the try-hard mom, “Crush” definitively lays to rest any of those pesky tropes we’re so used to seeing in queer fare: There’s no tired coming out drama, no pining after a seemingly straight paramour, and certainly no kill your gays ending to this uplifting teen comedy. “Crush” is, for better or worse, just like every other teen rom-com, extraordinary in its ordinariness. It succeeds at what it sets out to do: Give queer kids a totally enjoyable, and often quite funny, mainstream love story with a happy ending. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes” (directed by Emma Cooper)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Netflix

Marilyn Monroe would surely be unsurprised by the morbid fascination that followed (and continues to follow) her shocking death at the age of 36 in 1962 — after all, the public’s insatiable appetite for her private dramas was a constant presence throughout the last 15 years of her life, and a contributing factor to the barbiturate overdose that cut it short. Monroe understood better than anyone how dehumanizing it was to become a symbol. What Monroe may not have been able to anticipate is how that obsession would eventually outlast the mediums that had defined it — that not even the demise of cheap tabloids or the movies themselves would be enough to let her rest in peace. Hard as it was for her to be newspaper copy, Monroe could never have fathomed the absurdity of becoming internet content. It’s one thing for someone to be grist for the rumor mill, and quite another to be the subject of a feature-length Netflix documentary that lightly perfumes their memory across 100 minutes of hot air. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“Bubble” (directed by Tetsurō Araki)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Netflix

“I Love America” (directed by Lisa Azuelos)
Distributor:
Amazon 
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

“Polar Bear” (directed by Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson)
Distributor:
Disney
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Disney+

“Silverton Siege” (directed by Mandla Dube)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Netflix

Week of April 18 – April 24

New Films in Theaters

As new movies open in theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will continue to review them whenever possible. We encourage readers to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Additionally, our coverage will provide alternative viewing options whenever they are available.

“The Duke” (directed by Roger Michell)
Distributor: 
Sony Pictures Classics
Where to Find It:
Theaters

“The Duke” is a very British heist movie, a true-crime caper with no guns, no car chases, toad in the hole for dinner, and Gracie Fields warbling a song called “A Nice Cup of Tea” on the soundtrack. It’s so British, in fact, that its central character is named Kempton Bunton, but at least he has the good grace to joke about it. The film’s director is Roger Michell, best known for “Notting Hill,” and who recently made the luvvie love-in documentary, “Tea with the Dames.” The cast boasts two of the UK’s national treasures, Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren. If you suspect “The Duke” is on the cozy and nostalgic side of the cinematic spectrum, you might be right. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Hit the Road” (directed by Panah Panahi) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: 
Kino Lorber
Where to Find It:
Select theaters

A family road trip movie in which we never quite know where the film is heading (and are often lied to about why), “Hit the Road” may be set amid the winding desert highways and gorgeous emerald valleys of northwestern Iran, but Panah Panahi’s miraculous debut is fueled by the growing suspicion that its characters have taken a major detour away from our mortal coil at some point along the way. “Where are we?” the gray-haired mom (Pantea Panahiha) asks into the camera upon waking up from a restless catnap inside the SUV in which so much of this film takes place. “We’re dead,” squeaks the youngest of her two sons (Rayan Sarlak) from the back seat, the six-year-old boy already exuding some of the most anarchic movie kid energy this side of “The Tin Drum.” Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Marvelous and the Black Hole” (directed by Kate Tsang)
Distributor: 
FilmRise
Where to Find It:
Theaters

At 13 you’re too young to be treated like an adult, and you’re also not fully out of the weeds of those icky preteen years. Being stuck in that unstable place can lead to acts of rebellion and bad behavior, and in “Marvelous and the Black Hole,” Kate Tsang’s cute coming-of-age comedy, Sammy (Mia Cech) is about as insufferable as anyone could be on the verge of 14. She skips class, smokes cigarettes, badmouths her father, and spews venom at any authority figure in her path. That is, until she meets Margot (Rhea Perlman), a kooky magician who hasn’t entirely matured either. Their unlikely bond forms the basis for this twee trifle that opens a window into the pangs of growing up, and though well-meaning, leaves a saccharine aftertaste. Still, it’s grounded by newcomer Cech, who effectively channels the angst of teendom into an offbeat tale. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Northman” (directed by Robert Eggers) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: 
Focus Features
Where to Find It:
Theaters

All you really need to know about “The Northman” — a $90 million Viking revenge saga directed by Robert Eggers — is that every single minute of it feels like a $90 million Viking revenge saga directed by Robert Eggers. Both parts of that equation are worth celebrating outside of and in addition to the movie’s other merits.

Even if “The Northman” had been a dreadful bore — and not a primal, sinewy, gnarly-as-fuck 10th century action epic that starts with a hallucinogenic Viking bar mitzvah, features Björk’s first narrative film performance since “Dancer in the Dark,” and ends with two mostly naked men fighting to the death atop an erupting volcano — the simple fact that financiers had the chutzpah to bankroll such a big swing in the face of our blockbuster-or-bust theatrical climate would have felt like a (pyrrhic) victory against the forces of corporate homogenization, no matter who was behind the camera. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Petite Maman” (directed by Celine Sciamma) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: 
Neon
Where to Find It:
Theaters

Celine Sciamma’s characters open like pores soaked in hot water, and the hyper-real worlds around them — from the apartment complexes of contemporary Paris in “Girlhood” to the ravishing coast of 18th century Brittany in her masterpiece “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” — reveal themselves with such an acute sense of discovery that even the most everyday moments assume a life-altering charge.

That’s never been more palpable than it is in Sciamma’s jewel-like “Petite Maman,” which finds the filmmaker literally returning to her roots for another exquisite coming-of-age story about a young girl on the precipice of some new self-understanding. Or would it be more accurate to call it a negation-of-age story? It’s true that Nelly grows up over the course of the movie, but — as Sciamma’s title suggests — the high-concept plot hinges more on Nelly’s mother getting smaller. Turning back into a dinosaur, so to speak. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Saturday Fiction” (directed by Lou Ye)
Distributor: 
Strand Releasing
Where to Find It:
Theaters

Lou Ye — one of the most famous and least consistent of the so-called “Sixth Generation” of Chinese filmmakers — has been compelled by a Hitchcockian notions of romantic obsession ever since 2000’s “Suzhou River,” in which the actress Zhou Xun played two different women who the unseen narrator ultimately conflates with each other. The mesmeric but frustrating “Saturday Fiction” unfolds like a luminous new riff on the same idea, as Lou is clearly still fascinated by the various roles that we play, and the notion that people are often so enamored by what they want that they can lose sight of who they want it from. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Stanleyville” (directed by Maxwell McCabe-Lokos)
Distributor: 
Oscilloscope
Where to Find It:
Theaters

If a dead ringer for Sparks brother Ron Mael walked up to you at a shopping mall while you were sitting in a massage chair and contemplating the sad inertia of your existence and, with great excitement, announced that you had been chosen from among hundreds of millions of people to participate in a unique competition designed to “probe the very essence of mind-body articulation” — well, you’d probably be willing to entertain his sales pitch. Maria (“Goodnight Mommy” star Susanne Wuest) hangs on every word, as if she’s been waiting to hear them for her entire adult life.

Yes, “Squid Game” essentially started the same way, but the 40-something woman at the heart of Maxwell McCabe-Lokos’ “Stanleyville” doesn’t seem like she’s up to speed on the latest Netflix shows. She was born into one of those deadpan cities that filmmakers always use to satirize the absurdity of zombie capitalism; the kind of retro-modern purgatory where the pronounced absence of digital technology is meant to articulate its dehumanizing effect, and self-understanding has become so elusive that people can see everything except their own reflection. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (directed by Tom Gormican) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: 
Lionsgate
Where to Find It:
Theaters

Depending on your taste, the idea of Nicolas Cage playing himself either sounds like a self-indulgent disaster or the most fun you’ve had at a movie in years. Fortunately, even the most Cage-ambivalent will have to admit “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is solidly the latter. The meta-comedy sees the fictional movie star “Nick Cage” working with the CIA to solve a political kidnapping by the Spanish mafia, all while having a cinephile bromance with a mega-fan played by Pedro Pascal. Though movie references and Cage quotes abound, there’s something for everyone in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” It’s one of the funniest movies of the year. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“9 Bullets” (directed by Gigi Gaston)
Distributor: Screen Media
Where to Find It:
Select theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms

“The Bad Guys” (directed by Pierre Perifel)
Distributor: 
DreamWorks Animation
Where to Find It:
Theaters

“The White Fortress” (directed by Igor Drljača)
Distributor: Game Theory Films
Where to Find It:
Select theaters, plus various VOD and digital platforms

New Films on VOD and Streaming, Including Premium Platforms

“Sexual Drive” (directed by Kôta Yoshida)
Distributor:
Film Movement
Where to Find It: 
Various VOD and digital platforms, plus virtual cinema options

An impotent Japanese man who hasn’t slept with his wife in more than five years receives a house call from her secret lover, who tortures — and arouses — the husband with pungent descriptions of his partner’s vaginal secretions, which he lustfully compares to the stink and stringiness of fermented soybeans. A beautiful woman stricken with panic attacks runs over a familiar pedestrian on her way to buy some mapo tofu, only to discover that her masochistic victim might know how to alleviate her anxiety. A handsome executive who’s sick of his mistress receives a phone call that she’s been abducted, and is forced to listen to her captor ramble on about the missing woman’s carnal appetites as he slurps noodles in a ramen bar where talking is strictly forbidden.

Hardcore food porn for (or at least about) sexually repressed people, Kôta Yoshida’s 70-minute “Sexual Drive” serves up an explicit yet tasteful triptych of semi-connected shorts, all of which leverage the visceral pleasures of food in a way that allows frustrated husbands and wives to eat away at their self-denial and satisfy the less socially acceptable cravings that can make someone mad with hunger. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch” (directed by Alison Klayman)
Distributor:
Netflix
Where to Find It: 
Streaming on Netflix

As the film itself ultimately concludes, Abercrombie is less compelling as a case study of some bygone American bullshit than it is as a symbol of the comfortably racist culture that helped spark the country’s latest reckoning with its own self-image. In the astute words of history professor Dr. Treva Lindsey: “Abercrombie & Fitch is illustrative more so than it is exceptional.”

But Alison Klayman, whose documentary work ranges from sublime (“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”) and/or controversial (“Jagged,” “The Brink”) acts of portraiture to wildly reductive summations of generational phenomena (the Adderall exposé “Take Your Pills”), seems happy to settle for the most obvious, snackable, watch it to numb your brain while you work out telling of this American horror story. Cathartic and outrageous as it can be to hear the juicy — but wildly unsurprising — details of how Abercrombie operated behind the scenes, Klayman’s film doesn’t ground them in any greater sociopolitical context. Read IndieWire’s full review.

 

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