New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Without Remorse,’ ‘Percy vs Goliath,’ ‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’

The Marijuana Conspiracy (Craig Pryce)
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Where to Find It: Netflix
Where to Find It: Available on demand
Distributor: Aniplex of America, Funimation
— Amy Nicholson “Beast Beast” clatters to life with organic percussion: a stick rat-a-tatting against an iron fence, a skateboard scraping on concrete, a rifle pinging bullets against a defenseless tin plate. When the trio eventually – finally – intersect, it’s a fluke. “Beast Beast’s” plot twist is a swing at gravitas that disrupts the balance of Madden’s naturalistic character study. Together, these sounds combine into jazz, despite the discordance of the three teens making such a ruckus: Krista (Shirley Chen), Nito (Jose Angeles) and recently graduated gun-nut Adam (Will Madden). Suddenly the film accelerates from reality to sensationalism, and trades humanity for pulp.
Exclusive to Netflix
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Distributor: IFC Films
A Week Away (Chris Smith)
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A smart and sweet riff through “Grease,” “Footloose,” “High School Musical” and scads of other upbeat, teen-skewing entertainments, “Best Summer Ever” greatly impress with its deft balance of affectionate homage and exuberant inclusivity. The co-directors keep the mood so beguilingly light and bright, even during brief romantic setbacks, that it’s remarkably easy to suspend disbelief and gratefully delight in a world where racial divides and ableist prejudices are nonexistent, and just about the only negative stereotype on view is a mean-girl cheerleader. — Joe Leydon
Where to Find It: In theaters
The Virtuoso (Nick Stagliano)
Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas
Based on the adult-skewing manga “Gunjo” (Ultramarine), the film stars actor-model Kiko Mizuhara and actor-musician Honami Sato, whose graphic sex scenes and full-frontal nudity are bound to be a talking point in Japan. That’s a rarity in Japan’s studio-dominated, cookie-cutter entertainment industry, which explains its liberating, inexhaustible energy. In the spirit of “Thelma and Louise,” a lesbian fugitive and the woman she’d kill for hit the road with three stilettos and a blood-red BMW in “Ride or Die.” A glammed up, erotically-charged cocktail of amour fou and true romance, the Netflix production gives agency to full-blooded female protagonists. — Maggie Lee
— Peter Debruge Many a horror movie has taken place in the wake of a pandemic, but this is one of the first to fold a real-world outbreak into its own near-future vision of a world where no one talks about a return to normal. Wheatley started off making micro-budget short-film goofs, and that can-do attitude — to rattle us without resources — compelled him to get creative amid the constraints. This quickie was conceived, shot, cut and now delivered during the same viral outbreak that has ground so many other productions to a halt, as Wheatley finds a way to fold the anxieties of the moment into deeper, more primitive fears of nature turning on humankind.
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Where to Find It: Netflix
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Where to Find It: In select theaters
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Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
That’s because the tongue-in-cheek, “Terminator”-esque machine uprising isn’t really the hook here. If the sky-is-falling zaniness that surrounds the Mitchells’ road trip feels slightly familiar, that’s almost certainly because the movie was produced by “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Writing partners Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe are children of the pre-iPhone era, and together — aided by a small army of animators at Sony Pictures Animation — they’ve hatched a subversive delight that should appeal to Gen Y adults and tech-savvy kiddos alike. — Peter Debruge
Distributor: Zeitgeist Films, Kino Lorber
Plying emotionally attuned dialogue and deft delivery, director Jeff Rosenberg and co-writer Laura Jacqmin know their way around a laugh or two. “We Broke Up” catches a rom-com ripple and rides it toward sweet laughs and some authentic insights. He spent time on “The Good Place” and “Veep”; she wrote for “Get Shorty” and “Grace and Frankie.” The movie is one of those rare outings that really does prick any smugness about its characters, but also has zero interest in creating baddies in order to keep a couple apart. It even surprises — an increasingly hard thing to pull off in the genre. — Lisa Kenendy
Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
Limbo (Ben Sharrock)
Where to Find It: On DVD, Blu-ray and on demand
Distributor: Focus Features
Where to Find It: In select theaters and premium VOD
Distributor: IFC Films
Madame Claude (Sylvie Verheyde)
— Peter Debruge Fresh off his second Oscar win, Anthony Hopkins isn’t awful in “The Virtuoso,” but the movie that surrounds him is. The one glimmer of originality in James C. Wolf’s script comes from the idea that the virtuoso’s mentor (Hopkins) sees this suicide mission as an act of mercy. It’s a cut-rate thriller about a nameless hit man (Anson Mount) so busy telling audiences how professional he is — via such affirmational observations as, “You’re a professional, an expert dedicated to timing and precision” — that he doesn’t seem to notice his latest assignment is a setup.
Distributor: Juno Films
2021 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Live Action (various)
— Amy Nicholson Riding shotgun is Lil Rey Howery as Chris’ best friend Bud, and on their trail storms a terrifyingly incognito Tiffany Haddish. A squirm-worthy exercise in vicarious humiliation that welds the rom-com formula to a gross-out prank show, “Bad Trip” hands lovelorn loser Chris (Eric Andre, who co-wrote the film with Sakurai and Dan Curry) a safe word (“popcorn”) and the keys to a hot pink Crown Victoria, and sets the comedian loose to terrorize unsuspecting bystanders along a northbound interstate from Florida to Manhattan, where he intends to profess his love to his middle school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin).
Distributor: Lionsgate
Ride or Die (Aly Hardt)
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Where to Find It: Opening in New York, then expanding to other theaters, virtual cinemas and PVOD on April 30th
Where to Find It: In select theaters and virtual cinemas
Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital
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The gruesome details of the film’s deeply unsettling revenge sequence are best left unspoiled. — Tomris Laffly What’s provocative about “Violation” isn’t the presence of these triggers, but the way it handles them, knowing that real-life sexual perils are as likely to crop up within one’s close, trusted circle as they are in the company of strangers. A chamber piece with the existential mood of Lars von Trier, as well as a trope-defying revenge thriller with a mounting sense of terror, the dismembering, blood-draining frights of “Violation” — from tense familial grudges to an awful case of sexual assault and gaslighting that leads to brutal vengeance — aren’t easy to shake or describe.
My Wonderful Wanda (Bettina Oberli)
Where to Find It: Available on demand
Where to Find It: In theaters
Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas
It would be a great mistake, sight unseen, to pigeonhole “Paris Calligrammes” as just another nostalgia-filled personal documentary about how amazing life was in Paris in the 1960s. Largely composed of found footage, film clips and home movies, the film reflects the director’s generosity of spirit as well as the period’s bubbling cauldron of syncretic and opposing movements. Ottinger takes us through this formative time of her life in a way that deftly balances past and present to paint a picture of a threshold era of both positives and negatives. — Jay Weissberg
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The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Michael Rianda) CRITIC'S PICK
Marighella (Wagner Moura)
Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by digital and VOD on April 20
There is an eternal problem with this type of film, which tries to create satisfying drama out of senseless tragedy: There is no sense to be made, out of a day that would not have been so very different from any other in Reefa’s young life, had it not been distinguished by being his last. — Jessica Kiang Like in Ryan Coogler’s more dynamic but no less manipulated “Fruitvale Station,” “Reefa” is flummoxed by what to do with a hero whose story is mostly about all the things he never got to do, and so the understandable but fundamentally unreliable decision is made to treat everything as if it were moving toward that fateful night.
Distributor: Brainstorm Media
In “Monday,” the free-spiritedness of it all keeps getting out of hand, as these two attempt to keep the romantic party going, drink for drink. Yet the real problem is that as soon as they move in together, the director starts to the overload the screen with red flags. For a while, “Monday” gives you the fizzy sensation that it’s just what an indie romantic comedy should be: buoyant and real, full of the sexiness of smashed boundaries, with two alluring free spirits at its center. “Monday,” shot with a mostly Greek crew, has been made with a certain degree of lively flair, and the two actors have moments where they really fuse. — Owen Gleiberman
Available on HBO and HBO Max
That’s about as bad as it gets in demon fighting. It’s about the figure who’s fighting him. That day, Father Peter assisted in his first exorcism — and saw his mentor, Father Louis (Keith David), get stabbed in the neck by a flying crucifix, at which point Father Peter took over and watched his boy victim burst into flames and die. — Owen Gleiberman Guy Pearce plays Father Peter, a fabled exorcist whose initiation happened on Oct. In “The Seventh Day,” there’s a hint of an innovation to the exorcist movie genre, even if it’s not about the devil. And Father Peter has been making up for it ever since. 8, 1985, the day Pope John Paul II arrived in the U.S.
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Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache (Khyentse Norbu)
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In the Earth (Ben Wheatley)
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Distributor: Kino Lorber
After that glance, “Slalom” has fewer surprises to pull than fears to confirm, which is not a criticism — that the film remains compelling despite the depressing familiarity of its beats is impressive. There is a moment when the uneasy, sinking feeling that Favier’s debut has created to that point becomes an abrupt, stomach-dropping plunge. It’s when you realize that of course this was the story it was going to tell, and almost feel foolish for holding out the hope that its wildly imbalanced central relationship might play out any other way. — Jessica Kiang It’s also part of the point: We know how this story goes; doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be told.
For the Syrian protagonist of “Limbo,” a refugee stationed in a bleak safe house on the island while he awaits the mercy of the British government, it amounts to a kind of physical and spiritual quarantine in Scottish director Sharrock’s thoughtful, gentle-natured sophomore film, which dramatizes the refugees’ plight through deadpan comedy rather than issue-movie hand-wringing. The Uist Islands would be a disorienting place for most outsiders to find themselves stranded for an indefinite amount of time — and that’s without the additional, time-stretching uncertainty of a pending application for political asylum. — Guy Lodge
Where to Find It: In theaters and Alamo On Demand
Where to Find It: Netflix
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Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas via Kino Marquee
Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema
After Tamhane’s extraordinary debut “Court,” his second feature is more ambitious in scope and also more personal, though the Indian director’s approach, abounding in establishing shots, could distance viewers intimidated by their unfamiliarity with north Indian classical music. — Jay Weissberg For those able to set aside potentially daunting feelings of ignorance, this rich, multi-layered story of a young man’s dedication to mastering the spiritual and technical elements of “raga” singing offers much to ponder on teacher-pupil relations, the nature of performance and the consuming character of an artistic calling.
Where to Find It: Available in theaters, on demand and digital
Where to Find It: In select theaters and VOD
We Broke Up (Jeff Rosenberg)
And they get to imbibe without fear of the fuzz. But they’re joined by other young women who answer a call to participate in a research project. For moviegoers accustomed to stoner-dude protagonists, “The Marijuana Conspiracy” offers a nice change. The Canadian drama, set in 1972, is full of Mary Janes. Okay, really just one Mary and one Jane. For 98 days, Mary, Janice, Jane, Mourinda and Marissa will be able — more like required — to smoke dope. The movie also tussles with research malfeasance, the stuff of “The Experimenter” and “The Stanford Prison Project.” — Lisa Kennedy
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Exclusive to Netflix
Where to Find It: In theaters
Distributor: Vanishing Angle
Tom Clancy's Without Remorse (Stefano Sollima)
Shiva Baby (Emma Seligman)
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On Demand and in Select Theaters
Paris Calligrammes (Ulrike Ottinger)
Where to Find It: In select theaters
Jakob's Wife (Travis Stevens)
Targeting politically simpatico viewers and anyone they can convert on the other side of the aisle — while perhaps taking a page out of the former administration’s playbook — Allyn and Loeb present their own “alternative facts” as a definitive account of the famous court case, asserting that what we have been told about Roe v. Wade is a big lie. Far from impartial, their revisionist telling amounts to a sometimes sexist smear campaign, executed with roughly the competence of a cheaply assembled infomercial as it exploits religious guilt to disgrace a legal medical procedure. — Tomris Laffly
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Distributor: Utopia
Wade (Cathy Allyn, Nick Loeb) Roe v.
Where to Find It: Netflix
— Alissa Simon After the death of her dairy farmer husband, a middle-aged woman courageously sacrifices her livelihood to speak out against the corruption and injustice at work in her community in this audience-pleasing, humanist drama. The yin to that film’s yang, “The County” is full of feisty female energy and imagery, and sprinkled with rousing “you go girl!” comic moments. Like Hákonarson’s previous film “Rams,” it probes a deeply rooted rural culture that is closely connected to the Icelandic national spirit, while championing traditional Icelandic values over the exploitive underside of capitalism.
New Releases for the Week of April 23
One of the things that enhances a biography like this one is simply the passage of time, and if you saw Tina Turner live, or watched clips of her in the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s, you may have thought she was awesome (I’d wonder about you if you didn’t), but she blazed trails in such an uncalculated way that you almost need a film like “Tina” to stand back and reveal, with perspective, what a gigantic influence she was. I went into “Tina” feeling like I knew this story in my bones, but the film kept opening my eyes — to new insights, new tremors of empathy, and a new appreciation for what a towering artist Tina Turner is. — Owen Gleiberman
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Thunder Force (Ben Falcone)
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Distributor: Universal Pictures
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Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
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Nobody (Ilya Naishuller)
Beast Beast (Danny Madden)
Studios Distributor: Shout!
“Thunder Force” would like to skewer the genre, but it’s basically a whiffleball action comedy studded with middle-drawer Melissa McCarthy gags. Lydia (McCarthy) has super-strength; Emily (Spencer) can turn invisible. “Thunder Force” is the fifth McCarthy movie that her husband, Ben Falcone, has directed, and it will come as no surprise to consumers of their previous collaborations (“Tammy,” “The Boss,” etc.) that this one, too, is slapped together. The movie teams McCarthy and Octavia Spencer as estranged high-school pals who get back together after a reunion and turn themselves into a superhero team called Thunder Force. — Owen Gleiberman
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Bad Trip (Kitao Sakurai)
Four Good Days (Rodrigo García)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It: In theaters, on demand and digital
Bloodthirsty (Amelia Moses)
Exclusive to Netflix
Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (Haruo Sotozaki)
New Releases for the Week of April 2
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For parts of a nostalgically inclined audience, almost everything beyond that might be gravy. Offering up vintage backstage footage of Jim Henson and Frank Oz operating the Muppets feels a little like Henry Houdini coming back to reveal all his secrets. Yet that’s almost the least of the pleasures in a highly satisfying documentary that wisely places roughly equal emphasis on how the sausage was made and how the culture was changed. — Chris Willman “Street Gang” has the good fortune to be arriving with about a hundred more built-in advantages than most documentaries.
Where to Find It: Shudder
Mortal Kombat (Simon McQuoid)
Arlo the Alligator Boy (Ryan Crego)
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
— Owen Gleiberman It’s a ghost story, set in 1980, starring Amanda Seyfried and James Norton as Catherine and George Claire, a couple with a young daughter who move from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where George has just gotten his Ph.D in art history from Columbia, to the Hudson Valley, where he lands a job as a professor at a small private college. [The “American Splendor” directors’] latest offers their usual tease of look-we’re-honest-commercial-filmmakers-trying-to-aim-high. The film’s most interesting aspect is its scenes from a marriage that’s falling apart in slow motion.
Philip Clark isn’t a bad guy, but that he has messed up his life just enough to deserve a comeuppance. In “Every Breath You Take,” Casey Affleck plays a psychiatrist — or more to the point, he plays a movie psychiatrist, the sort of character who’s been around since Ingrid Bergman peered through wire-rimmed spectacles, offering repressed pensées about repression in Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” (1945). — Owen Gleiberman The movie carries you along, and it’s got some high-tension moments, but there are one too many coincidental running-into-each-other-in-town close encounters. He convinces us that Dr.
Think of this late-coming-of-age farce as a funny “Krisha” or the indoor apocalypse that takes place in “Mother!” — but with broken glass objects, a deafeningly screaming baby, a relentlessly suspicious wife and prying relatives instead of blood and guts — and you’ll get some sense of its edge-of-your-seat character. In writer-director Seligman’s hilarious, sneakily eruptive debut feature “Shiva Baby,” the acerbic Danielle is many things: an East Coast college senior majoring in gender studies; a young, bisexual Jewish woman; a sugar baby testing out the transactional powers of her sexuality. — Tomris Laffly
Where to Find It: Netflix
This one is an outer-space adventure, which these days makes you think that it must be a spectacle film. — Owen Gleiberman Director Joe Penna is a natural. He avoids the traps of making a fanciful piece of gleaming sci-fi like “Ad Astra” or the recent “Voyagers.” “Stowaway” is a modest genre film that stays tethered to flesh-and-blood concerns. But Penna takes a mission to Mars and unfurls it on a direct and intimate emotional level. “Stowaway” is only his second feature, and like the first, “Arctic” (2018), which starred Mads Mikkelsen as an explorer stranded in the frozen wilderness, it’s a tale of survival in extreme circumstances.
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Barely have you settled into its cockeyed cosmic view of human existence in all its infinite, cyclical tragicomedy than the credits are already rolling. With Andersson appearing to view our societal foibles as simple, consistent and doomed (or perhaps blessed) to eternal repetition, what might seem a vast topic ends up with rather a succinct essay from the 76-year-old veteran. Whether by accident or design, it is most characteristically droll of Swedish auteur Andersson to title his sixth fiction feature “About Endlessness,” only to have it clock in at just 76 minutes. — Guy Lodge
Where to Find It: Releases March 27 on HBO
Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by Netflix on April 30
“Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” is a lively formulaic action-hero origin story, dunked in combat grunge, that demonstrates how a resourceful lead actor (in this case, Michael B. The plot is sometimes murky, but more than that the Cold War tension is now a nostalgic shadow of its former self. Compared to a good “Bourne” film, “Without Remorse” feels generic; compared to the best of the Jack Ryan films, like “Patriot Games,” it will look right at home on the streaming venue of Amazon. Jordan) can bend and heighten the meaning of a commercial thriller. — Owen Gleiberman
Tiny Tim: King for a Day (Johan von Sydow) CRITIC'S PICK
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The Unholy (Evan Spiliotopoulos) CRITIC'S PICK
2021 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Animation (various)
Where to Find It: On demand and digital
Where to Find It: Netflix
Distributor: Film Movement
Where to Find It: Available in virtual cinemas, followed by theaters and VOD April 2
Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by VOD release on April 23
Where to Find It: In select theaters
Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital
Where to Find It: Netflix
Distributor: Neon
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Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital
Distributor: Vendian Entertainment
Where to Find It: In theaters now, followed by PVOD on April 16
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The rewards here are great, not just for the multi-layered screenplay but the impeccable performances by Andrea Bræin Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård. — Jay Weissberg Believe the accolades: Maria Sødahl’s perceptive, heartfelt “Hope” richly deserves all the attention it’s gotten at festivals and award ceremonies since premiering in Toronto in 2019. Naturally, any movie with such a title dealing with a terminal cancer diagnosis will have some kind of sting, but “Limbo” director Sødahl, who mined her own brush with cancer when writing the film, teases out the unexpected byways where hope is not just crushed but nurtured.
Where to Find It: On demand and digital
Nina Wu (Midi Z)
New Releases for the Week of April 30
What we didn’t know on Oscar night was how neatly Joaquin Phoenix’s speech would dovetail into his next screen credit: as an executive producer on Kossakovsky’s simple but entirely astonishing documentary “Gunda.” It’s not hard to imagine his words as the unspoken subtext to this wholly dialogue-free animal character study, in which an enormous sow on a Norwegian farmyard embarks on an emotive arc of motherhood without any need for human voiceover or twee anthropomorphism: just the still, searching power of an attentive camera. — Guy Lodge
The Rookies (Alan Yuen)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas
On Demand and in Select Theaters
Seaspiracy (Ali Tabrizi)
Low-budget necessity is often the mother of low-budget invention, but sadly not so much in “Jakob’s Wife,” a thin, half-hearted reworking of the vampire mythos that can’t quite decide if it’s spoofy or serious, and doesn’t have the smarts to be both. — Jessica Kiang While it’s theoretically promising to attempt a hybrid tone in which schlocky effects and spurting necks are offset by genuine psychological insight into the discontented life of a long-married small-town pastor’s wife, in practice, the impulses just cancel each other out, whittling down the movie’s stakes long before they’re plunged into anyone’s chest.
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Where to Find It: In theaters
Distributor: Crave
But “The Unholy” has a religious plot that actually works for it. It stars an unheralded actress named Cricket Brown, who plays a deaf-mute young woman named Alice, who has visions of what she thinks is the Virgin Mary. — Owen Gleiberman “The Unholy” is a good tight scary commercial theological horror film. Its spooks and demons unfurl within a pop version of Christianity, which makes it sound no more exotic than last week’s “Exorcist” knockoff or last year’s helping of the “Conjuring” franchise. Absorbing Mary’s spirit, Alice can suddenly hear and speak, and she can heal the sick, which attracts crowds of people to her rural town of Banfield, Mass.
The clunky plot centers on an undercover British agent who infiltrates the school disguised as a new teacher. Inspired by the real history of Bexhill-on-Sea’s Victoria-Augusta-College, a 1930s finishing school for the daughters of the Nazi elite, “Six Minutes to Midnight,” wants to be a Hitchcockian thriller, but merely manages a familiar pastiche peopled with stock characters that should divert less-discriminating viewers. — Alissa Simon His assignment is to discover if Deutschland plans on repatriating their young flowers of maidenhood and whether said Mädchen might serve as captive pawns in Britain’s diplomatic chess game.
Distributor: Paramount Pictures, Saban Films
Distributor: Lionsgate
Compared to past editions, this is a relatively weak year, though it’s always a treat to survey the range of offerings, released in theaters and on demand by ShortsTV. Those who typically scope the Academy Award-nominated shorts programs hoping to win the Oscar pool will have a particularly tough time of it with this year’s animated roster, as the options are wide-ranging but lack a clear frontrunner. A few of the talents have ties to Pixar, though only one short was actually developed at a studio, while the other four are far more personal, independent expressions with little in common, least of all technique. — Peter Debruge
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Where to Find It: Netflix
Where to Find It: In theaters
Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital
New Releases for the Week of April 9
Distributor: Freestyle Digital Media
Where to Find It: In select theaters and HBO Max
— Dennis Harvey The perfect storm of massive hype, a charismatic figurehead, an attractive-sounding idea and tons of money thrown down a bottomless pit make for a definitive 21st-century high-financial cautionary tale in “WeWork.” This documentary from “The China Hustle” director Rothstein charts the heady, then deadly first decade of an office space-sharing company whose much-promoted “revolutionary” idealism imploded in an old-school morass of hypocrisy, numbers shuffling and mass job/investment losses, making for a very entertaining postmortem.
Pictures Distributor: Warner Bros.
Six Minutes to Midnight (Andy Goddard)
Where to Find It: In Film Forum virtual cinema, then wide on April 30
— Jessica Kiang Although promising a deep-cut dash of contemporary topicality by reimagining the main character as an undocumented African immigrant, there is the sense that the unimpeachable craft and performances — especially from rivetingly charismatic lead Welket Bungué — ultimately add up to just too slick a package. The twin pillars of Alfred Döblin’s 1929 novel and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 15-hour miniseries together create an overarching shadow from which Qurbani’s relatively svelte three-hour contemporary reworking of “Berlin Alexanderplatz” struggles to escape.
Together Together (Nikole Beckwith)
Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Reefa (Jessica Kavana Dornbusch)
Undemanding genre fans might go for this Budapest-set hodge-podge about rookie secret agents tackling a deranged billionaire, but there’s not much here for anyone else. Instead, “The Rookies” opts for puerile dialogue and dumb physical comedy. — Richard Kuipers If played with a smart sense of humor and crisp comic timing, these colorful ingredients might have produced a zippy tongue-in-cheek action-adventure. Lame humor and incoherent plotting are among the shortcomings of “The Rookies,” an initially engaging but increasingly tedious Chinese action-comedy-thriller that not even kick-ass movie queen Milla Jovovich can breathe much life into.
Where to Find It: In theaters now, then on demand on May 7
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Toggling between earthy naturalism and suspended dream atmospherics as fluently as its life-weary 80-year-old protagonist (the superb Mary Twala Mhlongo) skims the real and spiritual realms, it’s the kind of myth-rooted, avant-garde Southern African storytelling that rarely cracks the international festival circuit. A haunted, unsentimental paean to land and its physical containment of community and ancestry — all endangered by nominally progressive infrastructure — this arresting third feature from Lesotho-born writer-director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese is as classical in theme as it is adventurous in presentation. — Guy Lodge
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Lange) The Seventh Day (Justin P.
Every Breath You Take (Vaughn Stein)
Pagglait (Umesh Bist)
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Where to Find It: Netflix
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
This is one of those rare, reframe-the-conversation films that take a very specific subculture and turn it into something universal and uplifting — only this one isn’t a documentary, despite the many real-world details that bring Staub’s exceptional father-son drama to life (among them, supporting roles for several genuine Fletcher Street cowboys and a range of North Philly locations that include the historic stables). — Peter Debruge Featuring an unforgettable performance from Idris Elba as Cole’s grizzled but caring father, Harp, this remarkable feature debut is all about giving at-risk young people a future.
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Distributor: Open Road Films, Briarcliff Entertainment
Available in Theaters and on HBO Max
If it seems a no-brainer, the achievement of “A Week Away” is to make us collectively wonder, after 90 minutes of aggressively wholesome hijinks, if juvie would be so bad after all. Say you’re a wild, wayward but ultimately gold-hearted teen with a choice of correctional penalty: an extended spell in juvenile hall, or one summer of singing, swimming and mild soul-searching at a Christian youth camp. This innocuous but character-free tuner shamelessly copies and crosses the formulae of “High School Musical” and “Camp Rock” down to the last, sequel-prompting detail. Which do you choose? — Guy Lodge
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Enter the poker-faced Anna (Patti Harrison), a lonesome, cynical 20-something in need of the surrogacy funds to get her life back on track by pursuing an accelerated college degree. — Tomris Laffly An awkwardly endearing tech developer, Matt (Ed Helms) has decided not to wait for the right partner to come along, but to make his fatherhood dreams come true via surrogate pregnancy instead. What if, Beckwith’s delightful if imperfect film asks, all this fuss about a biological clock isn’t exclusive to women? What if a single, aging heterosexual male can realize he has an internal timer of sorts, too?
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Where to Find It: Available on Amazon, iTunes and premium VOD
Berlin Alexanderplatz (Burhan Qurbani)
Concrete Cowboy (Ricky Staub) CRITIC'S PICK
Exclusive to Netflix
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Distributor: Neon
Exclusive to Netflix
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— Peter Debruge You’re either already on the “Demon Slayer” train or you’re not, and the hit Japanese feature — arriving stateside having surpassed “Spirited Away” as the highest-grossing anime movie of all time — is hardly the vehicle for the popular franchise to pick up new passengers. But it will be hard for newbies to follow a fan-service sequel that relies heavily on the complex mythology established by the 26-episode show. That doesn’t mean the action-packed toon won’t appeal to those curious to check out the sensation that has earned more than $415 million internationally.
And as the first directly #MeToo-related narrative to play in this context, it is a deeply challenging one, perhaps destined to be misinterpreted in some quarters, as it resists, even contradicts the simplification of its central act of violation into an obviously empowering, triumph-over-adversity arc. — Jessica Kiang “Nina Wu” was written by its luminous star, inspired by her own experiences as a young actress and by the Harvey Weinstein scandal — much of which happened in plush hotel rooms not far from the Cannes theater where this fascinating, glitchy, stylish, and troublesome title had its debut.
Where to Find It: Netflix
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime
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Secret Magic Control Agency (Aleksey Tsitsilin)
Distributor: Screen Media
WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn (Jed Rothstein)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
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The County (Grímur Hákonarson)
(Fredrick Munk) Why Did You Kill Me?
Where to Find It: Available on demand and DVD
I'm Going to Break Your Heart (Annie Bradley, Jim Morrison)
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Things Heard & Seen (Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)
Distributor: ShortsTV
Distributor: Artmattan Prods.
Distributor: KimStim
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On Demand and in Select Theaters
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Where to Find It: Netflix
On Demand and in Select Theaters
Where to Find It: In select theaters
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Find more movies and TV shows to stream here. Let Variety help you find that next well-earned bit of escapism, whether it’s watching Oscar nominee Glenn Close fight to save her drug-addicted daughter (in “Four Good Days”) or best actor winner Anthony Hopkins phone it in (with “The Virtuoso”). Here’s a rundown of the films opening this week that Variety has covered, along with information on where you can watch them.
Violation (Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli) CRITIC'S PICK
— Alissa Simon Singapore writer-director Chen again proves himself a perceptive observer of life and social class in his tropical nation-state and a sensitive chronicler of issues confronting women. Like his 2013 debut, “Ilo Ilo,” this bittersweet sophomore feature draws on details from his personal life and further benefits from the casting of two of that film’s leading players. Set during monsoon season, Chen’s delicate, nuanced portrait of the heartbreaks afflicting a dedicated schoolteacher and dutiful wife is suffused with love and humor, and directed with striking maturity and restraint.
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Exclusive to Netflix
Once again he’s also used nonprofessional actors to good effect. Though playing upon Tibetan Buddhist concepts, this latest film from Bhutan-born writer-director Norbu doesn’t use traditional religious mythology as a springboard for horror. — Dennis Harvey As in his prior features, religious teachings are seldom spelled out, but gently sublimated in an anecdotal progress of ingratiating, whimsical appeal. Told he’s been cursed and will die within a week, a Kathmandu man desperately seeks the elusive spirit that might save him. Instead, his beguiling and visually beautiful Nepalese feature offers a droll, leisurely, if cryptic journey toward individual enlightenment.
Stowaway (Joe Penna)
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Gunda (Victor Kossakovsky)
Distributor: Dekanalog
Distributor: IFC Films
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— Dennis Harvey While decently paced (frequent Øie collaborator Sjur Aarthun is both editor and cinematographer here), the film also settles into an inevitable eventual rut when there is little real action, just searching and waiting. We’re all too aware, once a late additional peril arrives to endanger nearly-rescued protagonists, that it’s been grafted on to yank the slackened narrative tension taut again. Solidly crafted if a bit uninspired, Pål Øie’s thriller is like a horizontal, colder, sootier “Towering Inferno” minus the all-star-cast, though their soap-operatics are intact.
Best Summer Ever (Michael Parks Randa, Lauren Smitelli)
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
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As two young outsiders — a Muslim woman shaking off the oppressive minding of her elders, and an unhinged, mask-wearing victim of property redevelopment — meet, fall in love, and rage against the capitalist machine, “Funny Face” goes in for blunt social metaphor, heightened Brechtian allegory and neon-lit nightmare visions: a stew of approaches that is sometimes seductive and often gratingly affected. — Guy Lodge The script’s banal, minimalist dialogue does little to fuel the flickering chemistry between leads Cosmo Jarvis (“Lady Macbeth”) and appealing newcomer Dela Meskienyar as best it could.
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With traditional release patterns still in turmoil as Hollywood and the world adjust to the pandemic, it can be intimidating to keep up with when and where new films are being released — but the truth is, there are more movies coming out each week now than ever before. It’s just a question of where to look.
His latest, alas, fails to successfully prove that case, and worse, its story about a recently widowed single father struggling with supernatural phenomena is a dull and misogynistic affair that imagines multiple types of women as malevolent fiends who terrorize supposedly sympathetic men. “Separation” lacks both basic logic and formal polish, with certain sequences looking as chintzy and graceless as they are nonsensical. — Nick Schager Arriving on the heels of his “The Boy” and “Brahms: The Boy II,” Bell’s “Separation” reconfirms the director’s belief that nothing is scarier than creepy killer dolls.
Wet Season (Anthony Chen)
Where to Find It: Available in select theaters and VOD
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Exclusive to Shudder
Where to Find It: In theaters, on demand and digital
Vanquish (George Gallo)
Distributor: IFC Films
Percy vs Goliath (Clark Johnson)
The Dry (Robert Connolly)
Only in Theaters
Tina (Dan Lindsay, TJ Martin)
The Vault (Andy Goddard)
Distributor: Screen Gems
There’s nothing really wrong with this glossy tale of a “mission impossible” raid on a heavily fortified Madrid bank to retrieve treasure It’s just that a caper of this type needs tense set pieces, surprising twists, idiosyncratic characters or charismatic stars — ideally, all the above — to distinguish itself, and this one falls short in all those departments. — Dennis Harvey Spanish heist “The Vault” stubbornly remains one of those movies you know you’ll be forgetting almost as soon as you finish watching it. Viewers who really love this sort of thing may get caught up in the procedural aspects of the story anyway.
Distributor: Icarus Films
Distributor: RLJE Films
Where to Find It: Netflix
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On Demand and in Select Theaters
Where to Find It: In select theaters and virtual cinemas
Only in Theaters
Distributor: ShortsTV
Where to Find It: Available on Amazon, iTunes and digital platforms
Or we wouldn’t have a movie. A Sundance drama of addiction that’s sensitively written and staged (by Garcia) and performed with lacerating honesty by its two leads, Glenn Close and Mila Kunis, “Four Good Days” tells the story of an addict, Molly (Kunis), who shows no signs of recovering. — Owen Gleiberman She’s been in and out of detox 14 times, but she always goes back to getting high. It’s a question at once valid and vaguely annoying, since the only answer is that what’s going to be different this time is that the movie needs a different outcome. What’s going to make this time different?
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Exclusive to Hulu
Such ruthless finishing moves may be the selling point here, but it’s the more nuts-and-bolts backstory that matters if the studio hopes to build a fresh film franchise around the property. — Peter Debruge Now, “Mortal Kombat” gets the R-rated reboot its fans feel the property deserves, which entails being as graphic as the game was when it comes time for the pugilists to eliminate their opponents, whether that means ripping out their hearts or buzz-sawing them in twain with a razor-sharp hat. True to the game, the violence is both ghoulishly creative and gratuitously extreme.
A piercing, perfectly formed film, “Moffie” examines prejudice from the stunned, stifled perspective of an English-descended soldier as a closeted, terrified teenager is conscripted and sent to war on the Angolan border in 1981. Following three fine features of steadily increasing ambition, “Moffie” is Hermanus’ masterpiece in the true sense of the term: the film that consolidates all the promise and preoccupations of his previous work into one quite stunning feat of formal and narrative artistry, establishing him quite plainly as South Africa’s most vital contemporary filmmaker. — Guy Lodge
Available in Theaters and on HBO Max
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On Demand and in Select Theaters
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New Releases for the Week of April 16
Exclusive to Amazon Prime
The barren earth surrounding a drought-stricken Aussie town provides fertile ground for mystery, suspense and punchy emotional drama in “The Dry.” This enthralling adaptation of Jane Harper’s international bestseller stars a spot-on Eric Bana as a city detective whose investigation of an apparent murder-suicide in his hometown triggers renewed suspicion about his involvement in a mysterious death that’s haunted the community for two decades. Expertly directed, “The Dry” has all the character intrigue, clever plot twists and red herrings to keep viewers guessing. — Richard Kuipers
Where to Find It: In select theaters
Separation (William Brent Bell)
Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand
With everyone in the cast wearing black T-shirts, the movie suggests Ridley Scott shooting the world’s most expensive and visionary Gap commercial. “Voyagers” hums along, but without much excitement. There are too many tropes you’ve seen too often, like a spacewalk shot through with an undercurrent of doom. “Voyagers” isn’t badly made, and a handful of the actors have some flair, yet there’s something rote, schematic, and a bit monotonous about it. “Voyagers” is a dutiful thriller about the beast within, but there’s not a lot of surprise to it. — Owen Gleiberman Even when the characters let themselves go, the drama remains mostly in lockdown.
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Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
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— Alissa Simon Money can buy outside help, opportunity and material possessions, but not happiness in this punchy satire from “Late Bloomers” director Oberli. Naturalistically shot and structured as three chapters and an epilogue, it’s an engaging, mostly well-acted tale, full of surprising twists, even if some seem a bit too on the nose. Taking a wry but empathetic approach to the phenomenon of care migration, Oberli and her co-writer Cooky Ziesche focus on the changing relationship between one privileged Swiss family and their financially fragile Polish home-care worker over nine months.
Distributor: Dekanalog
Hope (Maria Sødahl) CRITIC'S PICK
— Owen Gleiberman The film gives you a sensation I’ve scarcely encountered outside of a Richard Linklater film — that jocks, even the ones who rule over high-school society, can be pensive and soulful and lost. It’s set in the woodsy enclave of an unnamed town in North Carolina, and the two main characters are high-school baseball players — Bobby and Adam, played by Jack Irving and Ben Irving, who are brothers, and who look just enough alike that it takes a few scenes to sort out which one you’re watching. It’s a drama in the unlikely form of a 73-minute slice-of-life tone poem focused on the interior world of teenage jocks.
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Where to Find It: On demand and digital
Not exactly. It’s got a hero (Bob Odenkirk) who starts off as a workaday family man, with a nice wife (Connie Nielsen) and two nice kids. You might say that “Nobody” follows every rule of the genre. Is it a good movie? Then he’s attacked by criminals in his own home. “Nobody” is a thoroughly over-the-top and, at times, loony-tunes entry in the live-and-let-die vengeance-is-mine genre. After which he starts to play dirty, give into his death wish, and walk tall. But its 90 minutes fly by, and it’s a canny vehicle for Odenkirk, the unlikeliest star of a righteous macho bloodbath since Dustin Hoffman got his bear trap on in “Straw Dogs.” — Owen Gleiberman
This enticing documentary captures the delightful insanity of how Tiny Tim, the kind of elfin novelty act you could imagine getting booed off the stage at an open-mic night, became, for a while, the biggest star on the planet. Was he a fluke? As the documentary captures … Watching him now, 50 years later, you can scarcely take your eyes off him. Yet he didn’t happen out of nowhere. — Owen Gleiberman In a way. One of the strange things the documentary captures is that Tiny Tim was one of those people who always knew he was going to be a star. he possessed a singular charisma.
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The Tunnel (Pål Øie)
Voyagers (Neil Burger)
Only in Theaters
The Disciple (Chaitanya Tamhane) CRITIC'S PICK
— Peter Debruge Law and order, and the lack thereof, were impossible to ignore amid last year’s “defund the police” protests, and the same tensions are reflected in the Oscar-nominated live-action shorts lineup. Some of the entries predate the George Floyd killing, while another was shot in direct reaction to that tragedy last summer; two more were made abroad, touching on themes that transcend borders. It’s not unusual for finalists in this category to come pushing a political agenda, and yet, this crop doesn’t feel like agitprop, but sincere, activist storytelling, well worth seeking out.
Monday (Argyris Papadimitropoulos)
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New Releases for the Week of March 26
While well cast and plenty compelling (including feisty turns from Christopher Walken and Christina Ricci), this reductive farmer drama deals in emotions more than explanations as it seeks to convey what it means for a little-guy grower like Percy Schmeiser to go up against Big Agro. Director Clark Johnson clearly had such stirring anti-corporate environmental crusades as “Erin Brockovich” and “Promised Land” in mind, portraying Monsanto as a greedy near-monopoly (which isn’t necessarily false) without properly explaining what Percy is being accused of. — Peter Debruge
The Good Traitor (Christina Rosendahl)
Where to Find it: In theaters, followed by digital on May 11
Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
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Distributor: Saban Films, Paramount
Where to Find It: Netflix
Giants Being Lonely (Grear Patterson)
Moffie (Oliver Hermanus) CRITIC'S PICK
That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? — Jay Weissberg For whatever one might think of the film’s merits as an adrenaline-filled shoot-‘em-up hagiographic biopic of a resistance-fighter/terrorist, the penultimate scene, in which a woman picks up a machine gun and looks directly at the camera, is unambiguous in its deeply troubling message.
Where to Find It: In select theaters and HBO Max
Whether it’s staging a rumpus on the high seas or a donnybrook in downtown Hong Kong, Wingard has the vision to deliver iconic fight scenes in a movie with multiple surprises up its sleeve (including another classic opponent to unite the rivals), while mercifully clocking in at under two hours. The director intends for you to be impressed, but also to care about these non-speaking characters (but especially Kong, the obvious underdog here). — Peter Debruge Eyes wide, brains off, ears bleeding — that’s how Wingard wants his audience. Meanwhile, the human ensemble is made up mostly of conspiracy quacks and pseudo-science hacks.
But within its modest boundaries, “Bloodthirsty” does a creditable enough job balancing supernatural suspense with the drama of a young artist’s insecurities at a key early career juncture. The script is by producer Wendy Hill-Tout and her daughter, singer-songwriter Lowell, who make the pressures of the music industry integral to the story. — Dennis Harvey To a degree, that emphasis may disappoint horror fans who want more of the fanged action that takes its time arriving here. After putting a youthful, female-centric spin on vampiredom in “Bleed With Me,” Canadian director Moses does the same favor for werewolves.
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection (Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese)
Just as Vicky (Ruby Rose) has discovered her daughter requires expensive medical treatments, her employer (Morgan Freeman) announces he’ll pay for them — if she uses “some of your old skills” to collect and/or steal money. — Dennis Harvey The script is so by-the-numbers, the performers can hardly hide their disinterest, a feeling soon to be shared by viewers lured by the promise of these stars in a violent revenge tale. Should she refuse, he says she’ll never see her daughter again. “Vanquish” isn’t bad so much as inert — nothing here is convincing, tense, kinetic, outrageous, or silly enough to give the movie even fleeting life.
Where to Find It: Hulu
Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (Marilyn Agrelo)
Songwriting collaborations are so often portrayed as mystical unions that those of us who aren’t in the room where it happens have to wonder if there aren’t just as many instances where oil and water refuse to mesh. At last, the testiness that can result when writing sessions go south is portrayed on screen in this documentary about Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk, who comprise the duo Moon Vs Sun. for a songwriting retreat on the French island of Saint Pierre, only to be constantly rubbing each other the wrong way in the collaborative process. — Chris Willman The two escape from L.A.
About Endlessness (Roy Andersson)
Distributor: Abramorama
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Kong (Adam Wingard) Godzilla vs.
Slalom (Charlène Favier)
Unfortunately, the details of Kauffmann’s wheeling and dealing are continually undercut by the film’s concentration on his rather unusual personal life, rendered here in trite narrative clichés. The film centers on the life of diplomat-gone-rogue Henrik Kauffmann (Ulrich Thomsen), who was posted to Washington, D.C., as Danish Ambassador in 1939. The alternation between the personal and political stories rarely allows either to build up a head of steam. — Alissa Simon Fascinating backroom politics circa WWII are undermined by banal marital melodrama, resulting in a so-so period drama that raises more questions than it answers.
Where to Find It: In theaters and virtual cinemas
Funny Face (Tim Sutton)

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