Kneel Before VOD: August 29th
One of the year's best blockbusters is a massive course correction for DC's Extended Universe. Patty Jenkins took Zack Snyder's pre-established dark themes and injected some much needed levity without sacrificing anything that makes the world unique. Gal Gadot is inspired, a paragon of virtue in a world taken over by evil. Chris Pine also impresses as a US soldier who becomes Wonder Woman's helpful companion and guide to the unfamiliar world. Visually expressive and full of exciting action, Wonder Woman is a must-see.
Although I don't believe It Comes at Night is even close to the movie it was marketed as, it's still a stellar exercise in tension and dread. The film follows a family surviving in the woods of a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by disease. Despite the patriarch's (Joel Edgerton) trepidation, they invite another family into their cabin. The two groups quickly grow wary of each other and tensions mount. The film is quietly effective low-budget horror. We never see much of the devastation on screen, but it's implied so well that you have no question that things are horribly wrong.
Boasting an impressive comedic cast, including Kevin Hart, Kristen Schaal, Thomas Middleditch, and Nick Kroll, and impressively stylish and fluid animation, Captain Underpants is sure to satisfy kids and parents alike. The film is a fairly faithful adaptation of the beloved series of kids books about two comic-obsessed kids who hypnotize their principal (Ed Helms) into becoming one of their created characters, Captain Underpants. The kids get wrapped up in Professor Poopypants's plot to take down their town and it's up to them to stop him.
Netflix: Death Note
Adam Wingard (The Guest, You're Next) directs Netflix's highly anticipated adaptation of the popular anime about a high schooler, Light (Nat Wolff), who discovers a book that gives him the power to kill whoever he imagines. Light uses his newfound power to take down criminals, ultimately gaining the attention of L (Lakeith Stanfield), a detective determined to put an end to the teen's vigilante justice. A strong cast including Shea Whigham and Willem Dafoe do their best and Wingard's steady direction shine through, but Death Note is still left in a weird position; it's too different to alienate fans and too complicated to welcome in newcomers.
Amazon Prime: High Noon
I have yet to cover a western in this column, so what better place to start than with a classic. Gary Cooper is Will Kane, a Marshal of a small town in New Mexico on the verge of retirement. Kane is nearly out the door with his wife, Amy (Grace Kelly), before he finds out Frank, a violent bandit whom he locked up years before, is back in town. Amy gives him an ultimatum: she's taking the next train out of town, and Will has to choose between leaving or taking down an old foe for good. The film remains a powerful rumination on the benefits (or lack thereof) of revenge, something that made it controversial at the time.
HBO Go: Jackie
Natalie Portman outdoes herself with her incredibly accurate performance as Jacqueline Kennedy. Pablo Larraín's biopic focuses on the former First Lady in the aftermath of the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy. She has to come to terms with her husband's death as the weight of the country is on her shoulders. It's an important and captivating chapter from history brought to life through Portman's effortlessly flawless performance and cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine's beautiful compositions.
Hulu Plus: Florence Foster Jenkins
Meryl Streep shines as the titular Florence, a New Yorker with aspirations of becoming an opera singer, a problem considering she's a terrible singer. Florence hears her voice as beautiful, but to the outside world she's nearly unlistenable, a fact her husband (Hugh Grant) hides from her. Against all odds, Florence gets booked at Carnegie Hall, and her manager (Simon Helberg) scrambles to find a way to make her voice tolerable. Streep's performance in this chipper comedy earned her her 20th Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Also Streaming: Hill Street Blues
FilmStruck: Maitresse (1973)
Maitresse (French for 'mistress') follows a thief, Olivier (Gérard Depardieu), who breaks into a supposedly empty house only to run into the owner, Ariane (Bulle Ogier), who's a dominatrix. The two end up falling for each other as Olivier starts to help Ariane with her work. Once he discovers that she has a child, he pledges to help her make a new life, an idea she doesn't seem into. Maitresse is a sexually-charged complex drama, a much more subversive and sex-positive romance than 50 Shades of Grey.
Also Streaming: A Scandal In Paris