It has been a weird week in the movie industry, to say the least, but the good news is that another weekend of new releases is always around the corner. There is one high-profile title on the marquees, but several interesting options beyond that. Let’s get into it.
Writers: Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless | Director: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, and Adria Arjona
The highly-anticipated entry into Sony’s Spider-Verse-adjacent realm is getting dunked on pretty brutally so far. Reviews were not kind to Venom either but that went on to do just fine and maybe the negative press will help stir up some morbid curiosity. I was never particularly hyped for Morbius but it looked entertaining enough. Maybe Jared Leto was too intense of an actor for the lead. I won’t know until I see it, which I certainly still will.
The Contractor (Theaters + VOD)
Writer: J.P. Davis | Director: Tarik Saleh
Starring: Chris Pine, Gillian Jacobs, Ben Foster, and Keifer Sutherland
After being honorably discharged but stripped of his pension, a former U.S. Special Forces sergeant is recruited into a private company that puts his skills to good use. But who is really calling the shots? I have seen similar setups before but I do like Chris Pine and Ben Foster in these roles. This movie isn’t going to be about what’s new but rather how well it can hit its marks. If you are in the mood for an action shoot-em-up, this fits the bill.
Nitram (Theaters March 30th)
Writer: Shaun Grant | Director: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Caleb Landry Jones, Judy Davis, and Anthony LaPaglia
A methodical and unnerving descent into madness. Nitram takes a look back at the events preceding the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania where 35 people were killed and another 23 were injured. I haven’t seen Caleb Landry Jones in a while but he looks nearly unrecognizable here and I heard that he worked on this character for a long time. I get some strong We Need To Talk About Kevin vibes from this one, so just be prepared.
*Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood (Netflix) – Editor’s Pick*
Writer/Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Zachary Levi, Jack Black, and Glen Powell
A Scanner Darkly is one of my favorite weird films of all time, and I was always hoping I would get to see Richard Linklater make another rotoscope film. Here we are. Netflix may get a lot of flack on occasion, but I appreciate them giving a platform to this kind of filmmaking. The story looks to be pretty interesting, balancing growing up in the late 60s with a fantastical version of childhood aspirations. It looks like it blends humor, fantasy, and family in carefully measured amounts. Just watch the trailer, but it’s atop my watchlist for this weekend.
The Bubble (Theaters + Netflix)
Writers: Judd Apatow, Pam Brady | Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal, Leslie Mann, David Duchovny, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, Iris Apatow, and Maria Bakalova
On the other side of the Netflix coin, Judd Apatow’s latest movie about filming during the Covid pandemic is dunked on about as hard as Morbius. I really like the cast, so that’s a shame to hear. My expectations were never going to be set particularly high and watching from my couch seems like the right way to check this out.
You Won’t Be Alone (Theaters)
Writer/Director: Goran Stolevski
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Alice Englert, and Anamaria Marinca
Noomi Rapace starring in a creepy Macedonian horror film. Say no more! Set in an isolated 19th-century mountain village, a young girl is kidnapped and turned into a witch by an ancient spirit. Curiosity gets the best of her and, with blood on her hands, she takes some extreme measures to try and understand humanity. This one looks beautifully weird in all the right ways and if I hadn’t already made my choice, this would be my Editor’s Pick. This one may be tough to find, but keep an eye out.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW…
Memoria (Theaters) *Special Note*
Writer/Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Elkin Díaz, and Jeanne Balibar
The trailer is just Tilda Swinton walking up to a window, so I passed on that but she is always taking weird and interesting roles. In this case, a woman traveling in Colombia hears a loud noise and begins to experience some bizarre and unexpected sensory syndrome. According to IMDB, “In an unconventional move, art-house film distributor Neon is releasing Memoria “from city to city, theater to theater, week by week, playing in front of only one solitary audience at any given time.” And furthermore, according to IndieWire (10/5/21) the film will only play in theaters and it will not become available on DVD, on-demand, or on streaming platforms.” If you have any interest, you are going to have to go find it, but that does make it more intriguing.
Boon (Theaters + VOD)
Writers: Neal McDonough, Derek Presley | Director: Derek Presley
Starring: Neal McDonough, Tommy Flanagan, and Christina Ochoa
Boon has left his old life behind, or so it seems. When he crosses paths with a widow and her son, they end up taking on a local criminal organization. Neal McDonough helped write the story, so I think he’ll be a good fit for the lead. Tommy Flanagan, who I think plays the crime boss, is an underrated performer and I am curious to see what he does here. It’s not exactly new territory, but if the execution is high enough this could still be a good take on the classic Western.
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