Though states have slowly been reopening, movie theaters are still closed. The big recent news in the movie industry, meanwhile, has been tied to reactions to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. Last week, several films made by Black filmmakers about Black American history, such as Selma and Just Mercy, were made free to rent.
This week, Netflix launched a Black Lives Matter collection of movies and TV shows, “highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience.” Meanwhile, films such as Gone with the Wind and shows including Little Britain and Fawlty Towers have been removed or had episodes pulled from streaming; Gone with the Wind was cited as a racist “a product of its time;” Little Britain was pulled for its use of blackface; and Fawlty Towers had an episode removed from streaming for use of racial slurs.
The reassessment of old movies and TV series, however, doesn’t mean a pause in new content. Here are the new movies you can watch at home this week.
The King of Staten Island
Judd Apatow’s latest movie stars Pete Davidson as a loosely fictionalized version of himself, and addresses the typically Apatovian story beats of growing out of arrested development and assuming responsibility through Davidson’s sharp lens. From our review:
When 20-year-old Pete Davidson made his debut on Saturday Night Live in 2014, he drew notice through his appearances on “Weekend Update,” where, as himself, he spoke on topics ranging from gender-neutral bathrooms to his mental health. Though he also performed in sketches, his monologues were more compelling. His blasé way of addressing heavy topics, such as his experiences getting sober and dealing with suicidal thoughts, made them feel less taboo and more approachable and relatable. And while he played it all casually, his frankness still revealed his more vulnerable side. Director Judd Apatow banks on that appeal in his new VOD movie The King of Staten Island, which stars Davidson (who also co-wrote the script with Apatow and Dave Sirus) as a loosely fictionalized version of himself, and proves his capabilities as a leading man.
Where to watch it: Streaming on Disney Plus
The film adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s young-adult series about a young criminal mastermind arrives on Disney Plus after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for its big-screen release. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a mess. From our review:
Disney’s adaptation of Artemis Fowl feels like it has holes punched out of it. At 97 minutes long, the relentless action comes across as breathless, and the deceptively minimal plot feels abridged. Eoin Colfer’s young-adult series is made up of eight books, each focused on a 12-year-old prodigy and his dealings with fairies, dwarves, trolls, and other fantastical creatures. It’s a world ripe for adapting into a movie franchise. Disney’s take, helmed by Kenneth Branagh (who previously dipped a toe into fantasy with Disney’s live-action 2015 Cinderella), does feature a few genuinely fun setpieces and entertainingly grotesque character designs, but can’t quite smooth out its rough edges.
Sometimes Always Never
Where to watch it: Rent on digital $12 through virtual cinemas
Sometimes Always Never stars Bill Nighy as Alan, a man whose emotional stagnation manifests in his obsession with and penchant for Scrabble. His son Michael went missing long ago, and he doesn’t know how to communicate with his other son Peter (Sam Riley), who is still living. When a body is found, Alan and Peter set off on a road trip to see if the body might be Michael, and try to open up to each other along the way.
Where to watch it: Rent on digital $10.49 through virtual cinemas
Aviva tells its story through dance. As a couple fall in love and get to know each other, they’re portrayed by different actors, portraying their masculine and feminine sides. Aviva is played by Zina Zinchenko and Or Schraiber, and her love Eden is played by Tyler Phillips and Bobbie Jene Smith. Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans) directs, with choreography by Smith.
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
Where to watch it: Rent on digital $9.99 through virtual cinemas
Marona’s Fantastic Tale centers on a small dog named Marona, and recounts the humans she’s come to love over the course of her life. From our review:
The first moments of Marona’s Fantastic Tale set up the movie for heartbreak. The latest animated film from New York distribution house GKids is told by a small dog named Marona as she dies, lying on the street after being hit by a car. She thinks back to the first moments of her existence — and before that, as she describes the first meeting between her parents, a purebred and a mutt. And she considers her many owners, and how each of them became something different to her. Romanian director Anca Damian weaves a beautifully poignant story of a little dog and the humans she loves. With a rich visual language that demands every ounce of attention, Marona’s Fantastic Tale is a heartwarming, heartbreaking journey that lingers afterward.
New on Netflix this weekend
- Spike Lee’s new movie Da 5 Bloods
- The second season of Pose
- Season 4 of Bill Burr’s F is for Family
- The second season of animated series Kipo and the Wonderbeasts
- Comedy special Jo Koy: In His Elements
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Ava DuVernay’s historical drama recounts the events surrounding the 1965 voting rights marches in which nonviolent activists marched from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery. The protest was an effort to register black voters in the South. David Oyelowo stars as Martin Luther King Jr., with Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper.
Happy to share: Paramount Pictures is offering SELMA for free rental on all US digital platforms for June, starting today. We’ve gotta understand where we’ve been to strategize where we’re going. History helps us create the blueprint. Onward. @SelmaMovie. https://t.co/mxhGpfQeIP— Ava DuVernay (@ava) June 5, 2020
Just Mercy tells the true story of Walter McMillian, a man wrongly convicted of murder, who managed to overturn his conviction with the help of defense attorney Bryan Stevenson. Jamie Foxx stars as McMillian, and Michael B. Jordan stars as Stevenson, with Short Term 12’s Destin Daniel Cretton at the helm.
We believe in the power of story. #JustMercy is one resource we can offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society. For the month of June, #JustMercy will be available to rent for free on digital platforms in the US. @eji_org pic.twitter.com/3B2IHMNk7E— Just Mercy (@JustMercyFilm) June 2, 2020
A young girl must defend herself and her family from a group of neo-Nazi convicts in this gory horror-thriller. From our review:
Becky’s fight against the Nazis invading her family’s home gets very bloody very quickly. Dominick’s initial tactic of torturing Becky’s father with a campfire skewer soon seems like child’s play as fake blood and guts go flying everywhere, thanks to Becky’s improvised weapons. (Warning to the squeamish: the worst scene involves an exposed ocular nerve.) Milott and Murnion shoot it all nimbly, using shifting focuses, roving shots, and reflections to ramp up tension, and making their distinct touch known from the start by cross-cutting so smoothly between Becky and her father’s road trip to the house and the convicts’ eventual escape that it dispels any sense of ease or knowing what’s coming next.
Elisabeth Moss stars as author Shirley Jackson in Josephine Decker’s biographical drama, which focuses on Jackson’s process working on her novel Hangsaman. From our review:
While Shirley doesn’t offer a lot of insight into the specifics of the writing process, it’s at least able to visualize and physicalize that process, and the toll it takes on an author who’s also dealing with expectations about how women should behave. It’s a shame that current conditions are limiting the movie to a VOD release: The modest scale would be more immersive on a big screen, and Decker’s focus tricks look smudgier on a small one. Her color scheme still pops, though: the rich greens, yellows, and blues of the interiors make Shirley’s house resemble, at times, an overgrown garden. It’s an apt metaphor for the movie, too, even before a character named Rose starts literally writhing around in the soil. Jackson’s life and talent aren’t orderly or simple; they grow wild, beautiful, and sometimes unnerving.
Judy & Punch
The traditional puppet show of Punch and Judy finds Mr. Punch and his wife Judy engaging in a fit of slapstick comedy. The movie Judy & Punch puts a new, darker spin on the story. Judy (Mia Wasikowska) and Punch (Damon Herriman) are puppeteers. Though their marionette show begins to gain popularity though Judy’s deft puppetry, Punch’s drinking problem threatens to detail both the show and their lives. When, in a drunken rage, he kills their baby and leaves Judy for dead, Judy sets out for vengeance.
... and more on the Criterion Channel
The Criterion Channel, normally a subscription-based service, has lifted the paywall on “films that focus on Black Lives.” The newly available films include Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, Maya Angelou’s Down in the Delta, and Agnès Varda’s Black Panthers, and are currently highlighted on the Criterion Channel’s front page.