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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES

“Distant Voices, Still Lives” and “Let the Corpses Tan” Top This Week’s Must-Watch Movies

Each week, the Village Voice reviews the dozen or so films that open in theaters both locally and nationwide. Because we understand that you probably won’t read every single one of these reviews (although we think you should give it a try), here’s the definitive guide to what you should watch.

You Should Definitely Watch

DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES

“Like Davies’s spiritually aligned and similarly song-rich The Long Day Closes (1992), Distant Voices, Still Lives opens with a downpour; here, the raindrops fall on a front step stocked with fresh milk bottles. Unlike that later movie, which maintains a mostly childhood-specific p.o.v., Distant Voices, Still Lives loops with abandon through the years and personalities, observing deaths, births, hospital visits, weddings, holidays.” — Danny King (full review)

LET THE CORPSES TAN

“Most of the story takes place within a tense 24-hour shootout among the ruins in the hills. Characters are split up into different bunkers and lookouts, and the story will often rewind itself to examine the same scene from a different character’s point of view. This method also allows viewers to gain a surety of space — the ruins are almost labyrinthine.” — April Wolfe (full review)

Worth Watching

THE LITTLE STRANGER

“Like many gothic tales, The Little Stranger hangs tantalizingly between genres: It has elements of haunted-house thriller, of doomed romance, of psychological thriller, of historical allegory. This also presumably makes it a hard sell, as it never quite fully becomes any of these things.” — Bilge Ebiri (full review)

PICK OF THE LITTER

“As the filmmakers check in intermittently on the progress of all five sweet, sweet, good, good boys and good girls, yes they are, the critic’s mind might start worrying over questions like, ‘Wait, why did this one rambunctious puppy get moved to a new family?’ or ‘Why don’t the filmmakers slow down and show us what exactly the day-to-day life of these volunteer trainers is like and how much work goes into it?’ But, no dopes, the filmmakers instead emphasize the puppies themselves — such good boys and girls they are! — and the high emotions shared by their temporary human companions at meetings and partings.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

The Rest

DESTINATION WEDDING: “In Destination Wedding, nary a human being outside the forever-bantering co-stars utters a single word in the hour-and-a-half running time.” — Danny King (full review)

ACTIVE MEASURES: “Active Measures is an assault on the eyes, the ears, the mind. By coming on so strong, so fevered, Bryan achieves the dubious feat of making his host of documented facts, reasonable inferences, and alarming subjects for further research all seem seem less persuasive than if they had been presented more soberly.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

OPERATION FINALE: “In Operation Finale’s best scenes, Weitz dramatizes the tension that’s always there in Isaac’s face, emphasizing the difference between the breezy caper films we might wish we could live in and the brutal messiness of actual life.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

REPRISAL: “You can tell that the filmmakers only had Willis for a limited number of days during filming. Despite sharing top billing with Grillo, the man only shows up in a few scenes — mostly all set in the same interior location — giving the minimum number of fucks.” — Craig D. Lindsey (full review)

INVENTING TOMORROW: “Though [director Laura Nix’s] film shares a lot with the hit student-achievement doc Spellbound, her focus on the [International Science and Engineering Fair] somewhat blunts her impact. We’re privy to the students’ backgrounds and get a tiny glimpse into their futures, but the film skims a lot in favor of showcasing the ISEF gathering.” — Daphne Howland (full review)

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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES Uncategorized

Must-Watch (and Maybe-Watch) Movies This Week

Each week, the Village Voice reviews the dozen or so films that open in theaters both locally and nationwide. Because we understand that you probably won’t read every single one of these reviews (although we think you should give it a try), here’s the definitive guide to what you should watch.

You Should Definitely Watch

CRIME + PUNISHMENT

“Through sensitive portraiture and vigorous investigative reporting, it tracks the struggle of minority police officers within the NYPD to reshape the culture of law enforcement itself. ‘The reality of it is law enforcement uses black bodies to generate revenue,’ bluntly states one officer.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

ANDREI RUBLEV

“Over the course of his journeys, the film’s protagonist, the legendary Russian monk and icon painter Andrei Rublev, confronts jealousy, pettiness, carnality, and unspeakable violence. He even kills a man himself, in an attempt to save a woman from rape and murder during a brutal Tartar raid. Once criticized for the lack of emotion in his icons — his work, we’re told early on, is technically brilliant and subtle, but has ‘no awe…no faith that comes from the depths of his soul’ — he finds himself unable to paint, even unwilling to speak. Rublev is a mesmerizing portrait of an artist and cleric undone by a world that is cruel, chaotic, unexplainable.” — Bilge Ebiri (full review)

SUPPORT THE GIRLS

“Writer-director Andrew Bujalski frames most of Support the Girls as an almost real-time delineation of chaos, but his storytelling elegance — delicate, nearly invisible foreshadowing; cogent evocations of backstory — adds reflective layers to the surface anarchy.” — Danny King (full review)

Worth Watching

PAPILLON

“This new version, directed by Danish filmmaker Michael Noer, brings to the story a refreshing intensity and sweep, and even a sense of adventure. It’s also unflinching when it comes to violence, misery, and gore: We feel the savagery of the heat and the hatred, the sheer primordial guck in which these prisoners toil. That in turn makes the call of freedom that much more enthralling, and the rough, barbed alliance between Charrière (Charlie Hunnam) and Louis Dega (Rami Malek) that much more convincing.” — Bilge Ebiri (full review)

JOHN MCENROE: IN THE REALM OF PERFECTION

“The footage, like most of the searching cine-essay John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection, was shot in competition at the French Open in the early 1980s by Gil de Kermadec, a filmmaker specializing in the study of tennis technique. The whir of the specialized camera equipped for slow-motion shots seemed a roar on a hushed tennis court, another distraction for the sensitive champion to rail against. De Kermadec, we learn, had come to believe that the performance of athletes in competition differed from their performance in drills or tutorials, so he captured them in actual matches. He produced a contemporary study of McEnroe’s technique, complete with early Eighties computer animation charting every pivot of his serve.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

The Rest

THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS: “So, a couple of decades from now, it might be interesting to watch this often glum detective procedural in which the populations who have endured American racism have been Find-Replaced with horny puppets.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

THE BOOKSHOP: “Writer-director Isabel Coixet’s period drama The Bookshop, for instance, is so bloody British that the story’s central concern is that an aristocratic heiress is quietly making it difficult for a young widow to run a bookshop in a small fishing town.” — April Wolfe (full review)

SEARCHING: “The film has promise, but the tech keeps getting in the way of the performances.” — April Wolfe (full review)

MAISON DU BONHEUR: “The film is a portrait of a woman, Juliane Sellam, 77 at the time of filming, and her home, dedicated to processes — behold her recipe for bread for Shabbat — and striking still-life shots. Here are fruit and herbs in bowls before an open window, a breeze easing through them; here are the fashionable Sellam’s pumps and heels, a collection Galapagan in abundance and variety.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

ARIZONA: “Director Jonathan Watson’s super-violent Arizona is a well-done but chilly and essentially unlovable black comedy with one tiny spark of warmth — Rosemarie DeWitt’s performance as Cassie, a real estate broker who finds herself underwater financially after the 2006 housing market collapses.” — Chris Packham (full review)

AN L.A. MINUTE: “Daniel Adams’s An L.A. Minute makes you suffer through its satire of celebrity culture and never redeems itself, despite the potentially interesting duo of Gabriel Byrne and Kiersey Clemons as leads. The stars seem out of place with each other and in this movie, with creators who have no idea what they want to say.” — Kristen Yoonsoo Kim (full review)

WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE: “What Keeps You Alive’s ability to keep going and going and going is impressive, but seasoned low-budget-genre director Colin Minihan (Extraterrestrial) grounds the twisty shenanigans in something deeper — or at least gives it the old college try.” — Matt Prigge (full review)

THE OSLO DIARIES: “The Oslo Diaries is a striking document, mixing never-before-seen footage shot by the negotiators themselves and current reflections from participants, including the final interview of former Israeli president Shimon Peres.” — Jordan Hoffman (full review)

BLUE IGUANA: “While writer-director Hadi Hajaig says he was inspired by acclaimed, quirky-but-scary movies like Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild and George Armitage’s Miami Blues, this new Iguana appears more like the work of someone who has watched Guy Ritchie’s early, Tarantino-knockoff films too damn much.” — Craig D. Lindsey (full review)

HOT TO TROT: “Hot to Trot is the wrong title for this engaging movie, not least because it was used thirty years ago for a Bobcat Goldthwait vehicle about a talking horse.” — Elizabeth Zimmer (full review)

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CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES

The Movies to Watch This Week

Each week, the Village Voice reviews the dozen or so films that open in theaters both locally and nationwide. Because we understand that you probably won’t read every single one of these reviews (although we think you should give it a try), here’s the definitive guide to what you should watch.

You Should Definitely Watch

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — FALLOUT

“A cinematic centrifuge of acrobatic stunt work, breakneck chases, and immersive action, Mission: Impossible — Fallout is a perfectly calibrated piece of filmmaking that plays the viewer like a drum right from the start. Here’s a goofy dream vision to catch you up on the important emotional stakes. Got that? Good. Now, here’s some impenetrable blather to let you know that, yeah, it’s OK just to sit back and enjoy the ride.” — Bilge Ebiri (full review)

GOOD MANNERS

“In exploring the differences between Clara, a Brazilian of African descent whose nursing career was thwarted, and Ana, shamed by her family and suffering in opulent isolation, Rojas and Dutra (Hard Labor) dissect ingrained social disparities that persist even when the women develop a relationship that shatters conventional barriers.” —Serena Donadoni (full review)

THE CAPTAIN

“The moment Herold (Max Hubacher) finds a Nazi captain’s uniform in the back of an abandoned car, his demeanor morphs. His chubby cheeks seem slimmer somehow, his cheekbones more pronounced, his back straightened, as though he’s dropped whatever weight of hunger and fear had once hunched him over. Hubacher’s performance is a masterful physical feat.” — April Wolfe (full review)

Worth Watching

PRAIRIE TRILOGY

Henry Martinson, an activist for the Socialist Party in the 1900s and in North Dakota’s more successful Nonpartisan League in the teens, gets his close-up in John Hanson and Rob Nilsson’s “Prairie Trilogy.”

“[John] Hanson and [Rob] Nilsson’s arresting Prairie Trilogy, a feature-length assemblage of three shorts created in the late 1970s, capture the moment when the history of Dakota socialism was fading from memory, a time when even some of the old-timers who once fought for farmers were now griping about people on welfare.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

The Rest

KILLER BEES: “Directors/brothers Ben and Orson Cummings aspire to shine a light on the Hamptons as a microcosm of how our society lavishes and enables the haves and ignores the have-nots. Unfortunately, the narrative focus constantly shifts and never coalesces.” — Craig D. Lindsey (full review)

14 CAMERAS: “Unfortunately, [Neville ] Archambault’s churlishly over-the-top performance makes it impossible to take 14 Cameras seriously, no matter how you interpret Gerald’s actions.” — Simon Abrams (full review)

DEAD NIGHT: “Too bad, then, that Dead Night‘s characters lack personality. All we really know about its two ill-fated teen girls is that one is slightly more “bad” because she smokes and has dark hair, while the other is a blonde who wants to call home.” — Abbey Bender (full review)

HOT SUMMER NIGHTS: “[Director Elijah] Bynum also makes a lot of corny choices — jump cuts to mirror drug-addled paranoia, saccharine needle drops, and inserts of photos that force-feed you nostalgia.” — Kristen Yoonsoo Kim (full review)

93QUEEN: “Watching Ruchie [Frier] rally her troops and overcome Hatzolah’s mafioso-like scare tactics is engaging, but the dramatic moments feel staged and are undercut with obvious late inserts.” — Jordan Hoffman (full review)

DETECTIVE DEE: THE FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS: “The equally thrilling and exhausting Hong Kong martial arts fantasy Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings boasts more inventive weapons, monsters, and plot twists than most Western audiences will know what to do with.” — Simon Abrams (full review)

THE BLEEDING EDGE: “Prepare to be scared shitless of vaginal mesh or high-tech surgery robots. Through a series of personal stories from both qualified medical professionals and laypeople, the film explores just what exactly the word complications means on a device’s warnings.” — April Wolfe (full review)

Film Series

THE FEMALE GAZE, Film Society of Lincoln Center: “Featuring 36 movies shot by 23 women, this summer series runs the gamut from mainstream blockbusters (like Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan’s Rocky spin-off Creed) to international art-house films (like Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance, about the final days of an upscale Parisian brothel at the end of the nineteenth century).” —Tatiana Craine (full review)

THE FUTURE OF FILM IS FEMALE, Museum of Modern Art: “The program is a beautiful vessel allowing us to collectively grapple with, applaud, and support the future of women in filmmaking and storytelling.” — Fariha Róisín (full review)

LGBTQ BRAZIL, Museum of the Moving Image: “That these contemporary LGBTQ movies were made in Brazil is timely and of the utmost importance. Although the gay community has great visibility there, and gay marriage enjoys legal status … the opposition to alternative lifestyles, perspectives, and identities is only getting worse under the conservative government currently in power. In this context, the Museum of the Moving Image’s two-day series ‘LGBTQ Brazil’ — curated by Ela Bittencourt (a Voice contributor) and co-presented by Cinema Tropical — couldn’t be more necessary.” — Tanner Tafelski (full review)

Recommended and Still in Theaters

  1. WANDA
  2. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
  3. MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN
  4. BLINDSPOTTING
  5. MCQUEEN