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The Power of the Dog and every new movie you can stream at home this weekend

Jane Campion’s acclaimed Western drama finally comes to Netflix

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Benedict Cumberbatch in a cowboy hat, standing in a field in The Power of the Dog Photo: TIFF

This weekend sees the release of Benedetta, the historical erotic drama from acclaimed Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Robocop). But if a biographical drama about a lesbian nun in a 17th-century Italian covent doesn’t quite move the needle for you, there’s still plenty of new and exciting releases to watch on VOD and streaming this weekend.

Jane Campion’s western drama The Power of the Dog starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst finally makes its long-awaited debut on Netflix following its limited theatrical premiere. Plus there are a few new animated films — one aimed at kids, and the other firmly for adults.

To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the new movies you can watch with the click of a button this weekend.


The Power of the Dog

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons on horses in The Power of the Dog Photo: TIFF

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank, a charismatic yet ruthless rancher who sets his sights on tormenting Rose (Kirsten Dunst), a widow and her impressionable son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). When Phil’s brother George marries Rose, his desire and method of intimidating them only intensifies ... that is, until he takes the young Peter under his wing. Does Phil harbor some unrequited, ill-communicated love for Rose and her son, or are there darker motives behind his strange behavior? From our review,

No seismic events occur in The Power of the Dog. There are no gun fights or cattle stampedes. Its meditative quality makes its abrupt ending feel even more sudden. But this is one of those movies that invites rewatches, and Campion is one of those directors who rewards careful subsequent viewing. On a second watch, the connective tissues surrounding the narrative’s tendons don’t just become apparent, they gain a muscular meaning, a robustness that makes the film’s one major reveal even more enlivening. The Power of the Dog doesn’t just mark Campion’s return — it’s the best movie of 2021 so far. This psychological Western’s themes of isolation and toxic masculinity are an ever-tightening lasso of seemingly innocuous events, and they import more horror and meaning on every closer inspection, corralling viewers under an unforgettable spell.

The Summit of the Gods

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Image: Jullianne Films / Folivari / Mélusine Productions / France 3 Cinéma / AuRA Cinéma

Based on Jiro Taniguchi’s manga series of the same name, Patrick Imbert’s animated drama The Summit of the Gods follows the story of young Japanese reporter whose quest for the truth behind the first attempted expedition to climb Mount Everest leads him to embark on his own climb of the fabled mountain. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this past summer, Imbert’s film has garnered significant acclaimed for its stunning visuals, deft pacing, and and impressive characters.

Dune

Where to watch: Available to rent for $24.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

a close-up of Paul (Timothee Chalamet) wearing gold armor in Dune Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Set in the year 10,191, Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of the celebrated Frank Herbert sci-fi epic stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, son and heir to the powerful Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), who is forced to leave the planet of his birth to become the newly appointed stewards of Arrakis, a desert planet home to a coveted resource known as melange. There are sword fights, politics, intrigue, betrayal, drama, and oh — these colossal creatures called sandworms that burst out of the ground before devouring people. Honestly, there’s way too much to explain about Dune than can fit in a single paragraph, which is why we so lovingly put together this handy-dandy guide to explain its vast and strange universe. But enough of all that, let’s hone in on the biggest question: should you set aside time this weekend to watch Villeneuve’s latest, hulking sci-fi extravaganza? From our review,

If you can get lost in the cocoon of production, costume, and art-design opulence, and sink into the Big Event angle of it all — which is why people go to the movies, isn’t it? — the film, styled as Dune: Part One, can be overwhelmingly evocative. The problem, though, is the film’s pervasive emotional emptiness. Villeneuve and his co-writers, Jon Spaihts (of Passengers and Prometheus) and Eric Roth, rush through character journeys, and shortchange ostensible hero Paul Atreides (wild-hair-haver Timothée Chalamet). They skip over explaining most of the dense mythology of this world, instead collapsing entire communities into thinly rendered versions of other recognizable pop-culture figures. (The Fremen more or less become Tusken Raiders; the Bene Gesserit are Macbeth’s witches.) And the result of all that streamlining is that the connective thread linking all these disparate elements into a cohesive whole is nowhere to be found. The film is a splendid, threadbare tapestry that unravels as you’re watching it.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Where to watch: Available to stream on Disney Plus

Greg and Rowley in Diary of a Wimpy Kid Image: Disney Plus

Based on Jeff Kinney’s coming-of-age book series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid follows Greg Heffley, a mischievous young student with an overactive imagination who worries about the challenges of navigating his first year of middle school. Together with his best friend Rowley, Greg tries to fit and make new friends, all while tripping into one misadventure after another. For a children’s film, the trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid has some pretty impressive animation and some genuinely clever humor. If you’ve never read or seen anything of the series, don’t worry — this new movie recounts the events of the first book alone so you won’t miss anything.

Castle Falls

Where to watch: Available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon; $6.99 on Apple

[L-R] Dolph Lundgren as Ericson and Scott Adkins as Mike in the action/thriller film, Castle Falls. Photo: Shout! Studios.

Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV) directs and stars in Castle Falls, an action thriller centered on the story of rival gangs looking for a stash of millions of dollars hidden in a luxury condominium on the verge of demolition. Hidden by a now-imprisoned gang leader, three desperate parties now vie for the prize: A prison guard (Lundgren) looking to use the money to pay for his daughter’s cancer treatment; a blue-collar demolition man (Scott Adkins) who accidentally discovers the money; and the gang whose leader stashed the cash away in the first place. With only 90 minutes to go before the condo is destroyed, the question of who will get out with the money quickly becomes as much a question as who will get out alive at all. Normally we wouldn’t bet against Adkins, but Lundgren did direct the movie...

And here’s what dropped last Friday:


Bruised

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Jackie Justice (Halle Berry) fighting in Bruised. Photo: John Baer / Netflix

Directed and starring Halle Berry, and produced by Basil Iwanyk (John Wick, Sicario), Bruised tells the story of Jackie Justice, a now disgraced MMA fighter who agrees to a brutal underground fight in order to win her way back into spotlight, all while attempting to wrestle with her inner demons and reconcile with her son Manny whom she abandoned years before. The trailer features Berry, bruised and bloodied, as she struggles to lift herself from the mat after a devastating defeat. According to one report, Berry threw herself into the role — and broke two ribs in the process. “[It was] kind of a crazy injury,” stunt coordinator Eric Brown told Entertainment Weekly in August. “But that was just her intensity … Halle’s a special case. I’ve worked with tons of actors, and almost none of them have that kind of work ethic.”

Raging Fire

Where to watch: Available to rent for $4.99 on Amazon, Apple; $3.99 on Vudu

Donnie Yen running with a gun in hand in Raging Fire, Image: Well Go USA Entertainment

If you’re looking for an explosive, action-packed, exquisitely well-shot Hong Kong crime drama to watch this holiday weekend, you may want to turn to Raging Fire. Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) stars as Cheung Sung-bon, an officer of the Regional Crime Unit who finds himself at odds with Yau Kong-ngo (Nicholas Tse), a former protégé who embarks on a bloody mission of revenge for his mentor’s betrayal. You like high-speed chases, tense interrogation scenes, frenetic gun fights, and stylish explosions? Of course you do, go watch Raging Fire!

Black Friday

Where to watch: Available to rent for $6.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Devon Sawa, Bruce Campbell, Michael Jai White, Ivana Baquero, Ryan Lee, and Stephen Peck in Black Friday. Image: Screen Media Films

If you don’t want to enter the battleground of Black Friday shopping, consider checking out this new horror comedy headlined by Devon Sawa, Ivana Baquero, Michael Jai White, and Bruce Campbell. Set at a big-box toy store, the typical horrors of seasonal shoppng season escalate when an alien goop turns some of the employees into frothing undead. While anyone who’s worked retail already knows the feeling, director Casey Tebo looks to have put enough of a genre spin on it to make this one a treat.

The Beatles: Get Back

Where to watch: Available to stream on Disney Plus

a young John Lennon at the microphone of a recording session, with guitar, in 1969 Image: Walt Disney Studios

The latest film from The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is gong straight to the Extended Edition: After planning to release a two-hour version of the documentary, the filmmaker decided to chop up the film — which draws from more than 60 hours of unseen footage shot in 1969 by the director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and 150 hours of unheard audio — into a multi-part Disney Plus special. But we’re still putting it on our list of the week’s movie offerings because of Jackson’s original vision and inevitable, cinematic touch. So there!

Spencer

Where to watch: Available to rent for $19.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in Spencer Photo: Neon

Pablo Larraín’s psychological drama Spencer centers on the life of Diana, Princess of Wales who, while struggling with her mental health and the corrosive influence of the royal family, decides to end her decade-long marriage to Prince Charles. Kristen Stewart has received significant praise for her portrayal of the late princess, and the film as a whole has been heralded by several critics as one of the year’s best. From our review,

This is a biopic acutely concerned with parsing Diana’s psychology, and specifically, her many demons. But not in a salacious way. While heading to Sandringham Estate, she sees a scarecrow standing in the middle of a field, wearing her father’s red coat. (In real life, her father, John Spencer, died three months after that Christmas, of a heart attack.) She goes to retrieve the outerwear, hoping to have it cleaned. Diana grew up on the Queen’s estate in Park House, making her journey to the Christmas festivities both a heartening homecoming and an unfortunate duty, causing a wellspring of grief to affect her in varying fashions.

8-Bit Christmas

Where to watch: Available to stream on HBO Max

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Jakubowski, 8-Bit Christmas is yet another consumerist-driven holiday children’s comedy à la A Christmas Story or Jingle All The Way, following the story of young boy named Jake Doyle growing up in the suburbs of Chicago who yearns for his very own Nintendo Entertainment System. Narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, who plays an older version of Jake recounting the story to his young daughter in the present-day, the trailer looks charming and outrageous — the perfect kind of movie to get in the mood for the winter holidays.

Reminiscence

Where to watch: Available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Hugh Jackman sits at a table with a video camera pointed at his offscreen subject while Thandiwe Newton stands behind him in Reminiscence Photo: Ben Rothstein/Warner Bros. Pictures

Hugh Jackman (Logan) stars in Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy’s feature directorial debut Reminiscence as Nick Bannister, a private investigator who alongside his assistant Watts (Thandiwe Newton) specializes in navigating the minds of his clients in search of answers. Think Inception, but less emphasis on corporate espionage and impossible architecture. After crossing paths with a mysterious client (Rebecca Ferguson), Nick’s quest to solve her disappearance morphs into an obsessive odyssey that blurs the lines between past, present, reality, and fiction. From our review,

As a noir mystery, Reminiscence is certainly solid, with a series of complications and surprising reveals, and a genre-friendly helping of double-crossings and double-dealings, of slimy mobsters and rich monsters. It mostly fails through its character dynamics, especially for anyone who isn’t swooning over Nick’s monomania. Nick’s soppy voiceover not only steers the audience toward maudlin self-pity, it overexplains things better left subtle and up to interpretation, and it prevents viewers from just quietly soaking in the movie’s elaborate dystopian spectacle. It’s an irritating, intrusive drag, constantly trying to steer the audience and tell them what to think or how to feel. Joy’s symbolism can be equally heavy-handed: a bit of business with a recurring lost queen from a deck of cards is a ridiculously gratuitous bit of stagecraft in a story about a missing woman.

The Strings

Where to watch: Available to stream on Shudder

Teagan Johnston as Catherine in The Strings giving a death stare through sleepy eyes Photo: Shudder

Just need to freak out the whole family gathered for the holidays? In Shudder’s new release, Catherine, a budding musician, heads to a remote cottage to work on new material in solitude. But according to Shudder’s description, “Soon after, strange and seemingly supernatural occurrences begin to manifest at the cottage, escalating each night and dangerously eroding Catherine’s sense of reality.”

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