Even though movie theaters are slowly reopening, this week is stuck in a strange limbo. Tenet is in theaters instead of HBO Max, but one of the year’s biggest releases, Mulan, is skipping a big release for Disney Plus. The new trailer for the upcoming James Bond movie, No Time to Die, swears it’s headed to theaters in November.
Meanwhile, new productions are still being announced, including an adaptation of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem for Netflix. Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are set to helm the live-action series, alongside The Terror: Infamy’s Alexander Woo.
While the state of movie theaters remains in flux, here are the movies you can watch at home this weekend.
Where to watch it: Streaming on Disney Plus via Premier Access for $29.99
The 1998 animated film, based on “The Ballad of Mulan,” gets a live-action remake from director Niki Caro, with Liu Yifei in the title role. Reactions may vary. From our review:
The best point of comparison, however, remains The Rise of Skywalker. Mulan handily clears the bar set by live-action duds like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, but it still fails to recapture the magic of the movie it’s adapting. It forgoes the strongest ideas in the animated film (the songs and the humble origins of heroism) in order to try to tell a more conventional story. In the animated film, the emperor says of Mulan: “You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.” She’s an unfollowable act. So is the 1998 movie.
Feels Good Man
The documentary Feels Good Man focuses on the cartoon Pepe the Frog, created by Matt Furie, who went viral and became a political symbol. As our review from Sundance puts it, the movie might be the most important political doc of the year:
With an election looming, it’s hard to watch Feels Good Man without feeling like we’ve run out of time. The grand experiment of the internet was a failure, but there’s no turning it off. In 2016, the cult of Pepe turned to the Egyptian frog god Kek in order to cripple Hillary Clinton with psychic energy. (And they think it worked.) Presumably 2020 will have its own meme-fueled, amateur technocracy pulling strings on a world that many believe stills works the way it did 50 years ago. Even if Hong Kong protestors manage to reshape Pepe’s image once again, there always seems to be something new lurking in the shadows.
Measure for Measure
Where to watch it: Buy on digital, $14.99 on Apple
This new adaptation of Measure for Measure takes place in contemporary Melbourne, n a housing estate rife with racial tension and drug trade. The film stars Hugo Weaving as Duke, and centers on the burgeoning romance between a young Muslim woman and a local musician.
The King of Staten Island
After debuting earlier this summer for a premium VOD price, Judd Apatow’s latest movie is now available to rent a more typical rental rate. The King of Staten Island 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.
Children of the Sea
Ruka once saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium at which her father works. Now a junior high school student, she encounters a mysterious pair of brothers at the aquarium, and the trio begin to investigate supernatural marine events. From our review:
The movie portrays water in such a breathtaking way that it’s difficult to not get drawn in. Every gil, dorsal fin, and flipper feels so vividly drawn that it’s like being in the actual ocean. As the film progresses, the underwater scenes grow in complexity, highlighting the ocean’s natural beauty. But these scenes feel earned rather than overwhelming, as if the entire film has been building up to the unification of the ocean and the audience.
New on Netflix this weekend
- Charlie Kaufman’s adaptation of the novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things
- The interactive special The Boss Baby: Get That Baby!
- The documentary series Chef’s Table: BBQ
- Wallander, but young, in Young Wallander
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) return three decades after we last saw them. They’re stuck in a rut, but are shaken out of it by the revelation that they have just over an hour to compose the song that will save the universe. From our review:
Like its predecessors, Bill & Ted Face the Music is ultimately just friendly fluff, but Winter and Reeves are charming together, and the need for Bill and Ted to grow up a little helps give the film a backbone. It’s a slight movie, but a sweet way of revisiting the franchise, and easy enough to follow for audience members unfamiliar with the first two films. (Though some of the appeal might be lost on them.) More significantly, it seems like a send-off for Winter and Reeves. Bill and Ted are still the Wyld Stallyns, but they’ve aged out of being wild stallions, and Bill & Ted Face the Music is at its best when it focuses on what happens when they finally figure that out.
Megan Fox stars in Rogue as a mercenary whose latest job sends her to Africa. She and her squad are tasked with rescuing a group of hostages, but the mission soon goes awry, both with the gang of rebels they encounter, and with a pack of bloodthirsty lions who also arrive on the scene. It’s Megan Fox vs. lions. What more do you want?
Where to watch it: Streaming on Amazon
This black comedy tells the story of four boys who go on a character-building camping trip in the Scottish Highlands. Three of them initially see it as an excuse to goof off, while the last member of the group wants to take it seriously. Their awkward group dynamic is forced to coalesce when it becomes clear that something is hunting them through the wilderness.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
The story at the center of You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a strange and compelling one. You may know the actor from his role in the Scream movies or in Never Been Kissed. You may not know that he’s also had a professional wrestling career. This documentary follows Arquette as he attempts to return to wrestling as his acting career stalls — and as he attempts to earn a little respect from the world.
The debut thriller from director Brendan Walsh traps a wife and husband in a car frozen solid. They have 12 days of rations and only prayers to guide them. Can they survive the physical and psychological test? Our review suggests that either way, viewers are in for something immersive and startling.
Though [the main character] Matt uses his swiss army knife to notch the dashboard, and Walsh provides time stamps, even the number of days runs away from the couple and the viewers. Soon, only deliberate pans across the suv’s dashboard and center console show the accumulation of ice and the passage of time. The makeup, when combined with the film’s later harsh lighting, displays their frostbite and weariness in stark relief. At first kinetic, to demonstrate the pair’s initial shock at their situation, Bradley J. Ross’ editing slows to a patiently paced crawl to exemplify the husband and wife’s dwindling endurance. In a film with a limited setting, storytelling through crafts rises to the occasion.