Release Radar – May 6th, 2022

We have arrived at one of the biggest release weekends of the entire year, but that’s due to the latest entry into the official Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not good business to go toe-to-toe with an MCU film at the box office and you see the respect that the brand has across the industry. The demographic appeal is so wide that there’s not another film that’s even going to try to compete until the end of the month and there are only two other films even slated for this weekend, both small-market foreign films.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Theaters)

Writer: Michael Waldron | Director: Sam Raimi

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, and Chiwetel Ejiofor

It has been 15-years since Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy came to an end and nine years since he has helmed a feature, but it’s funny how things have a tendency to come full circle. While those web-slinger films started outside of the MCU, it was essentially a proof of concept trilogy that paved the road for the kind of cohesive cinematic universe that he now finds himself squarely in the middle of. From what we’ve seen in the previews, it’s a much darker film than the original Doctor Strange and should be right in Raimi’s wheelhouse. Some new characters are going to get folded in, the cast is obviously stacked already, and it appears that Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch is going to play a massive role in the future of the MCU after this film. I’m much more excited for this one than I was for the first film and since the bar has been raised on multiverse movies and so I am very curious to see it all play out. I’ve already got tickets for Sunday, so I will touch base after the weekend.

*Happening (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick*

Writers: Marcia Romano & Audrey Diwan (adapted screenplay), Annie Ernaux (novel)

Director: Audrey Diwan

Starring: Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet Klein, and Luàna Bajrami

The adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s memoir of the same name tells the story of a young woman who has an unwanted pregnancy in France during the 1960s when abortion was still very illegal. She struggles to make a decision for her own life while nobody wants to help her due to the legal ramifications. This is the second feature for Audrey Diwan, who has tackled social taboos before, and it comes at a time that civil unrest is once again ignited over abortion rights in the United States. This film was already on the calendar before the recent US Supreme Court leak, so it’s not some secret ploy to sway public opinion. It’s not even an American film so let’s just not even entertain that. From what I can gather, the film’s message is ultimately one of sympathy, because it should be, but those who could benefit from that aren’t going to see it anyway. This film won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival (the Golden Lion) and has had great word of mouth up until this point. Based on my personal taste, Doctor Strange is more my type but it already has plenty of visibility with or without my help so that’s why I gave this one my Editor’s pick.

The Twin (Theaters + VOD)

Writer: Aleksi Hyvärinen and Taneli Mustonen | Director: Taneli Mustonen

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Steven Cree, and Barbara Marten

Finnish horror seems to be gaining some momentum this year. This movie, which is in English, sees a mother grieving and who isn’t coping well with the loss of one of her twin boys. The cinematography looks strong from what I saw in the trailer and I am always curious to see how filmmakers incorporate grief into their storytelling. That said, I still probably wouldn’t prioritize this in theaters because it’s available on demand now as well.

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