Here are some reviews of films coming out at the theater this week as well as others that may be in theaters or newly on home video.
Opening: Oct. 16, 2020
Wide (United States)
Limited (United States)
- Excerpt: What keeps us engaged is Marinelli’s commitment, the film’s old world romance as conveyed by cinematographers Alessandro Abate and Francesco Di Giacomo and the period trappings of an unspecified era as realized by a bygone one.
- Excerpt: The film sometimes almost lapses into ‘Sundance twee,’ but Raiff comes across as so emotionally honest in his performance that as a filmmaker he manages to stay grounded.
2020 Films In Theaters Now In Select Areas
The War with Grandpa
32 Malasana Street
- Excerpt: Fans of supernatural hauntings will find a lot to appreciate with the genuinely unsettling ’32 Malasaña Street’, a deftly-directed and smartly acted humanist horror movie that remixes familiar elements to laudable ends.
American Murder: The Family Next Door
- Excerpt: True-crime documentaries have become a cottage industry for Netflix. This one really captured the public’s attention.
Antyhing for Jackson
- Excerpt: Though ‘Anything for Jackson’ cannot seem to decide how seriously you ought to take it, the horror/kind-of-comedy from Justin G. Dyck manages nonetheless to remain an entertaining outing defined by solid practical effects and a poignant examination of the hierarchy of power between old and young.
Anything for Jackson
- Excerpt: They’re an adorable older couple, they’re Satanists, they get in way over their head conjuring dark forces.
- Excerpt: A mother board of high tech digital human spirit may be the answer or it may be something else.
- Excerpt: ‘Bloody Hell’ relishes in the feisty nature of Australian horror, delivering an irreverent and hugely entertaining midnight movie that’s sure to get audiences blood boiling and fists pumping. Star Ben O’Toole is a blast in the pole position and director Alister Grierson proves himself someone to watch out for.
Books of Blood
- Excerpt: In the spirit of seeing something Clive Barker-adjacent, it’s a serviceable fix.
The Boys in Band
- Excerpt: …the play’s controversial take on homosexual self-loathing doesn’t feel fresh or enlightening. There is no reflection; no revision. It is as if 50 years have gone by without a single original thought about how to tell this story beyond including flashes of penis.
The Dark and Wicked
- Excerpt: A creepy, visceral horror tale that sticks around in a deep, hidden place.
- Excerpt: A powerful debut from Italian writer-director Emanuela Rossi, ‘Darkness’ uses a manufactured threat to speak to the potency of parental gaslighting as a headstrong daughter attempts to break from the bondage of manipulation. Written and performed with great sensitivity, Rossi tackles an unsettling topic with genre appeal.
Death of Nintendo
- Excerpt: errible CGI and a muddled narrative keep ‘Detention’ from realizing its ambition to mix history and horror to convincing results.
Dinner in America
- Excerpt: A middle-finger-flying, punk-rock-f*&k-you of a love story
Dinner in America
- Excerpt: ‘Dinner in America’ is a rough-around-the-edges ode to love on the fringes of society, where a criminal punk rocker and a bizarre loner court an unlikely flirtation, all while navigating the suburbs, musical aspirations and the law. Expect a brash curb-stomp of a coming-of-age saga and prepare for impact.
Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars
Don’t Read This on a Plane
- Excerpt: Reading it anywhere else might be just as bad.
The Emperor of Broadway
- Excerpt: Brilliantly written, brilliantly portrayed, brilliantly directed and perfectly timed, “Black Emperor of Broadway” is the film of the year. It combines the thoughts of the BLM movement, Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an AntiRacist” and Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” in a moving depiction of white privilege and arrogance that compromised the lives of black people in America through time.
- Excerpt: Predictable stuff that errs well on the side of inoffensive while promoting positive mother-daughter bonding.
- Excerpt: While it may not be the most biting critique of the Christian film industry, it’s a charming, funny, and very likable exploration of filmmaking and friendship.
Fall Back Down
- Excerpt: the cinematic personification of living in a big punk house with a ton of roommates. It’s fun and chaotic, random and strange, frustrating and complicated, full of wild characters, and leads you into all sorts of off-kilter adventures.
The Girl Who Left Home
The Girl with a Bracelet
- Excerpt: A verdict will be reached before the final credits roll, but the key interest in The Girl with a Bracelet lies not in Lise’s guilt or innocence, but in the relationships among the members of her family.
- Excerpt: Once we get to Steinem kicking the patriarchy’s ass – which began when she wrote an undercover piece about the awful working conditions of the “bunny” cocktail waitresses at New York’s Playboy Club in the 1960s – the movie sabotages its own momentum by doubling back to one of the less interesting segments.
- Excerpt: “Hubie Halloween” is a cheerfully silly and mildly spooky Adam Sandler-led celebration of the spooky, witchy season.
- Excerpt: Ugly, vapid moral center aside, Hunted is just a barren artistic effort; the allusions to fairy tales end at aesthetic mimicry, giving the feature a raggedy, slapdash quality, with so many discordant accents that you’ll have no idea where it’s supposed to take place.
Kingdom of Silence
- Excerpt: It has been a while since I was quite so turned off by a documentary as quickly as I was by Kingdom of Silence. Well-intentioned in its exploration of the special relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and how journalist Jamal Khashoggi came to be executed, but built in a fashion that mimics some sort of Tony Scott crime thriller from the 1990s. Using every trick in the book when the story at its core is so interesting only seeks to diminish its impact.
Kingdom of Silence
- Excerpt: This is not so much who killed Khashoggi but why? Khashoggi was brutally executed during a time when he was working with an investigation headed by families of 9/11.
- Excerpt: An impressive outing, full of absorbing, of-the-moment themes and concerns, up there with some of the best of the year, until that finale.
- Excerpt: Head-scratching non-ending aside, ‘Lapsis’ creates a fascinating world and fills it with intrigue and colorful, compelling characters. One of the most original, thematic sci-fi efforts of recent history (fans of Black Mirror will certainly adore Hutton’s creation), Lapsis’ slapdash conclusion may leave viewers feeling like they’ve sat through an incomplete story, even if the journey itself more than justifies a watch.
- Excerpt: Parents play games with the family and family plays games with them.
- Excerpt: Director Natasha Kermani is onto an intriguing germ of an idea with Lucky, a message movie masquerading as a thriller, but the execution is simply not there.
- Excerpt: Come final summations, following a shocking moment of brutality as court orderlies assault Howe and Crichlow, the impact of this fight for justice lands with a wallop.
The Mortuary Collection
- Excerpt: While horror can be a hall of mirrors for the human condition, “The Mortuary Collection” is just good, old-fashioned macabre fun.
- Excerpt: Too much name dropping and tossing about of classical music submarine this light duty horror cartoon.
One Night in Miami
- Excerpt: An intelligent, funny and necessary film for this moment, this is a memorable night out.
Over the Moon
- Excerpt: …while there are valuable lessons for children to be found in a movie they will surely enjoy, the film is a Frankenstein assemblage from other sources ranging from its own Pearl Studios’ “Abominable” to the obvious influence of Wells’s favorite film “The Wizard of Oz.”
The Paper Tigers
- Excerpt: Delivers humor, heart, and face-kicking.
- Excerpt: Though “Pearl” is about Pearl, the name of the girl who is tested by trauma, “Pearl” can also mean what this teenage girl has the potential to become. Going even further with the metaphor, “Pearl” describes this film — a glistening, lovely, rare pearl of a movie dedicated in the ending credits “to our daughters.”
The Queen of Black Magic
- Excerpt: Creepy, dark, and bleak, with a decided mean streak running through the entire film.
Queen of Black Magic
- Excerpt: With ‘The Queen of Black Magic’, Indonesian horror cranks the savagery and blood-thirst up to new gut-churning levels. Though the film from Kimo Stamboel revels in the gore, Joko Anwar’s script keeps things just grounded enough to invest audiences in the human element.
A Rainy Day in New York
- Excerpt: Despite good performances, it feels like a retread of so many of Woody Allen’s previous efforts.
- Excerpt: Everything about this production is dialed up a notch or two and jogged slightly sideways, at times bordering on camp. It is certainly an eye opening new look at a story we may only think we remember.
Rose Plays Julie
- Excerpt: A dark and dramatic glimpse of a family torn apart by sexual assault, ‘Rose Plays Julie’ is a blunt and uncomfortable character study that features strong performances from Ann Skelly, Orla Brady and Aidan Gillen.
- Excerpt: A Kickstarter funded hodge-podge of uninspired dream logic and imagery.
- Excerpt: It’s an effective and oddly moving genre-bender. With a ton of style, energy, and personality to spare, it’s a remarkable directorial debut from Brian Duffield.
Totally Under Control
- Excerpt: But none feel quite as spontaneous and ambitious as Totally Under Control from directors Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger. A feature-length documentary that takes its title from one of many Donald Trump quotes that should theoretically haunt him for years to come (if he was capable of shame or regret, that is) and which examines the United States’ response to the still very present COVID-19 pandemic and just what went wrong.
Totally Under Control
- Excerpt: If you’ve been paying attention, not much is surprising in muckraker Alex Gibney’s timeline-driven rundown of Trump’s COVID crimes. But there is immense value in seeing it all laid out so clearly.
- Excerpt: Any possibility of convincing moderate or liberal viewers is pretty much zero, thanks to unreliable commentators and manipulation of basic facts.
We Are Many
- Excerpt: “We Are Many” examines the 2003 march, the invasion into Iraq and the aftermath in virtual theaters beginning Sept. 25.
- Excerpt: When confronted with the horrors their words have incited, each waffles, walks back or folds, each and every one a coward of their convictions.
- Excerpt: The resulting film, with its spritely pace, joyous spirit, fanzine aesthetic and punk rock soundtrack, is a hopeful testament to what can be achieved by ordinary citizenry.
Wine and War: The Untold Story of Wine in the Middle East
- Excerpt: …a documentary about the perseverance of wine-making amidst chronic wars, conflicts, and chaos.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow
- Excerpt: The film is hilarious and thrilling, and it’s constructed in a way that is effective and incredibly tight, without an ounce of fat or filler, balancing tone, character, and story to an often dazzling effect.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow
- Excerpt: If you’ve ever watched the Coen brothers’ Fargo and thought it would be even more awesome if it had a werewolf, then The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a movie you will want to see immediately.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow
- Excerpt: Though it’s still mildly entertaining, getting in a few zingers now and then, it’s miles away from reaching Fargo–its ultimate destination.
- Excerpt: It’s an engaging and thoughtful slice-of-life picture that explores a specific experience in a way that is full of authentic details and a strong emotional throughline. Eva Noblezada delivers a star-making performance.
- Excerpt: A movie filled with heart and soul.
Healing from Hate
- Excerpt: “Healing from Hate” shows that “the amount we dehumanize others is the extent to which we are dehumanized inside.”
- Excerpt: Suburban Birds’ may be enjoyed by fans of slow, obliquely mystical cinema in the mold of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Bi Gan, but I found it took far too long in developing its enigmas, which didn’t seem worth the journey.