The 2020 iteration of San Diego Comic-Con began this week, with all events and panels happening virtually after the physical convention was canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The big reveals so far are the entire first scene from the long-delayed The New Mutants, as well as a first look at the second season of His Dark Materials and an early season 3 renewal for Amazon’s superhero show The Boys.
The rest of the release calendar for 2020, however, remains in limbo. Some movies which were originally scheduled for theatrical releases, like Bill & Ted Face the Music, are now headed directly to VOD and any open theaters, rather than waiting for multiplexes to be ready nationwide. Others, like Mulan, have been pulled from the calendar entirely, even though AMC theaters have announced a tentative reopening date in August.
While the major release calendar continues to transform, here are the new movies you can watch this week.
Dave Franco’s directorial debut focuses on two couples (played by Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand, and Jeremy Allen White) who rent a vacation home, but begin to suspect that the house’s owner is spying on them. From our review:
In film, voyeurism is only as interesting as the person committing the act. [...] Because voyeurism films are psychological to a fault, they often lead to rich character studies by asking why the antagonist or protagonist is spying on someone. Because of a paraphilia? Because of a latent trauma? Or are they just nosy? The Rental, the directorial debut of actor Dave Franco (Now You See Me, The Disaster Artist) sidesteps those questions to its own detriment while following two couples renting a lavish coastal home for the weekend. The dialogue-heavy script, written by Franco and Joe Swanberg (Netflix’s Easy), positions The Rental as a character drama rather than a prototypical thriller. As the story unfolds, it reveals simmering tensions between the couples, due to their respective secrets.
Romola Garai also makes her directorial debut this week with Amulet. The film, which Garai also wrote, stars Alec Secăreanu as a homeless ex-soldier who is offered a place to stay by a young woman and her dying mother. The ramshackle house they inhabit, however, seems to be home to an eerie, supernatural force as well.
This romantic comedy tells a sort of fish-out-of-water story as Danny, a cynical big-city music executive, falls for a prank that involves his signing a group of shanty-singing fishermen. His attempt to bring them to stardom comes into conflict with their insistence on putting their community first and how little they care about fame, but ends up teaching him the importance of friendship and love.
Where to watch it: Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Rosamund Pike stars as Marie Curie in this biopic of the pioneering chemist. The film, directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), is based on the graphic novel by Lauren Redniss, covers both Curie’s work and her personal life, from her discovery of polonium and radium to her relationships with her partner Pierre (Sam Riley) and her colleague Paul Langevin (Aneurin Barnard).
New on Netflix this weekend
- The Last Dance, ESPN’s documentary series about Michael Jordan and his legendary career
- The comedy special Jack Whitehall: I’m Only Joking
- A new season of Street Food, this time traveling through Latin America
- The teen romance The Kissing Booth 2
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
The Sunlit Night
Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $6.99 on Apple
The Sunlit Night, based on the Rebecca Dinerstein novel of the same name, stars Jenny Slate as Frances, an aspiring painter who leaves New York City for Arctic Norway in search of fresh inspiration for her work. Her assignment brings her into contact with a number of colorful locals, including fellow New Yorker Yasha (Alex Sharp), who wants to give his late father a proper Viking funeral. The only Vikings available, however, are a local troupe of re-enactors led by the Chief (Zach Galifianakis), who has traveled to Norway from Cincinnati.
Where to watch it: Rent for free on Apple, Amazon, Redbox On Demand; stream on Hulu
Spurred by the conversations around Black Lives Matter and incarceration in America, indie distributor Neon has released its 2019 film as a free-to-watch title on a number of digital services. In the film, Alfre Woodard (Cross Creek, Luke Cage) plays, to quote Neon’s synopsis, “a prison warden whose worn down by years of carrying out death-row executions. As she prepares to execute another inmate, she must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.”
The Painted Bird
Václav Marhoul’s new film caused walkouts at its screenings at film festivals in Venice, Toronto, and London for its brutal content. The film, which takes place during World War II, includes scenes of sexual assault, pedophilia, self-harm, bestiality, and graphic violence, and has become a source of controversy for just how extreme it is. The story focuses on a young boy wandering through an unspecific stretch of Eastern Europe, struggling to survive.
Garrett Hedlund and Kelly Macdonald fall into a forbidden affair in Dirt Music, a romantic drama set in Australia. Macdonald plays Georgie, the live-in girlfriend of a drug kingpin (David Wenham) who feels frustrated and stifled in her current situation. When she meets a mysterious fisherman (Hedlund), she’s immediately attracted to him, but they both have demons they need to work through, as well as the trouble that comes along with being unfaithful.
Enter the Fat Dragon
Donnie Yen’s new movie sees the martial arts action star donning a fatsuit to play Fallon Zhu, a police officer who becomes overweight after being posted to the evidence room and struggling with handling his emotions. His chance at a transfer comes in the form of a mission to Japan, where he becomes a crimebuster thanks to his martial arts prowess and the aid of a translator.