The week’s main film releases reunite outdated adversaries and two Boston buddies.
Jamie Lee Curtis tangles together with her arch nemesis Michael Myers (no relation to this author) in “Halloween Kills,” whereas the Oscar-winning screenwriting duo of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are featured, together with Nicole Holofcener, in “The Final Duel,” directed by Ridley Scott and co-starring Damon and Affleck.
Right here’s a rundown on what to observe this week, together with a trio of excellent documentaries served up on streaming companies.
“The Final Duel”: Telling a narrative a few crime from varied views is nothing new. Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” stays the textbook instance for adopting that method and doing it proper. However screenwriters Holofcener, Affleck and Damon deserve their due, too, nimbly dealing with a difficult narrative construction on this absorbing, infuriating he stated/he stated/she story about an alleged rape in 14th-century France. Veteran director Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Gladiator”) proves equally adroit at coping with the difficult materials, reimagining what occurred based on every of three key gamers.
Scott narrows in on small however telling particulars — such because the flutter of an eyelid — in addition to bigger implications to unspool clashing interpretations of a pair’s intercourse life. What stays constant all through is the disturbing incontrovertible fact that males take into account ladies little greater than servants to whet their each urge for food. Be ready for powerful scenes, together with two express however by no means gratuitous reenactments of the alleged rape. Though “Final Duel” may have dropped no less than 10 minutes from its 2½ hour operating time, the excellent ensemble forged anchored by Jodie Comer retains us engaged. The story is framed three chapters, every culminating within the sexual assault of Marguerite (Comer), spouse of tax-burdened Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), by the good-looking, boastful rake Jacques Le Gris (an distinctive Adam Driver), Jean’s former buddy. “Gladiator” devotees shall be happy by Scott’s occasional outbursts of blood-drenched sword and arrow play. However “Duel,” primarily based on actual occasions, is extra involved with the battles fought in properties and puppet courts. “Duel” attracts its richest blood not from the climatic duel itself (staged nicely) however in its depiction of Marguerite’s violation and the reactions to it, a smirk from King Charles VI (Alex Lawther) and a sneer from the orgy-loving, high-powered chum of Jacques’ — Rely Pierre of Alençon (Affleck, in blonde-hair mode). Particulars: 3 stars out of 4; in theaters Oct. 15.
“Convergence: Braveness in Disaster”: With COVID-19 remaining a deadly international presence, do we actually must revisit the early months of a pandemic that continues to be so so recent in our minds? Sure, when documentary-maker Orlando von Einsiedel (“Virunga,” “The White Helmets”) is on the helm. What makes this poignant, surprisingly inspiring documentary so extraordinary is its intimate telling of 9 tales about individuals of shade, starting from a dedicated volunteer serving to ambulances find the sick in a Brazilian slum to an overworked Miami physician serving to the unhoused inhabitants. It’s among the finest documentaries of 2021. Particulars: 4 stars; obtainable on Netflix.
“Jacinta”: Whereas Ron Howard’s “Hillbilly Elegy” lowered poor rural America to a Hollywood cliché, this terrific Hulu documentary on drug habit is rooted in the true deal. It’s an unflinching portrait of a Maine mom caught in an infinite cycle of lies, thefts and drug abuse. Filmmaker Jessica Earnshaw gained unprecedented entry from 26-year-old Jacinta, the digicam is at all times there to depict her stop-and-go makes an attempt to remain clear after her launch from the Maine Correctional Middle. The deck is stacked towards her, due to “buddies” who’re enablers and a mom with a rap sheet who’s doing time in the identical lock-up. The scenes between Jacinta and her daughter, Caylynn, are destined to interrupt you. My solely criticism is the documentary sprints too quick close to the top. Particulars: 3½ stars; obtainable on Hulu.
“The Velvet Underground”: Todd Haynes (“Far From Heaven,” “Darkish Waters”) places his progressive stamp on the rock-band documentary, a style usually given to less-than-illuminating gushing. Haynes definitely respect one in every of rock’s most influential teams, however that doesn’t cease him from wanting on the disharmony amongst its edgy members (Lou Reed comes throughout as a temperamental genius) whereas acknowledging their creative successes. Advised in impressionistic, avant-garde thrives that mirror the adventurous artistic panorama in Sixties New York, “Underground” is as a lot an announcement of the instances because the personalities of these concerned. Particulars: 4 stars; opens Oct. 15 in choose theaters and on AppleTV+; additionally screens Oct. 17 on the Mill Valley Movie Competition with Haynes in an onstage dialog, www.mvff.com.
“Muppets Haunted Mansion”: If the family-friendly “Addams Household 2” didn’t precisely go away you snapping your fingers, flip to Disney+ for this Halloween-themed providing. That includes unique ditties — one of the best being one carried out by Darren Criss amongst tombstones, “Relaxation in Peace” — and quite a few cameos (together with the late Edward Asner) — this spirited 93-minute deal with finds the up-for-anything Nice Gonzo teaming up with the smarmy King Prawn to spend a terror-filled evening in The Haunted Mansion, one in every of Disney’s theme rides. Will Arnett, Yvette Nicole Brown and Taraji P. Henson appears to be having a grand time and make all of it irresistible, as do the Muppets. Particulars: 3 stars; obtainable on Disney+.
“Blur ”: Shorter than “Haunted Mansion,” however sure to make you cry buckets is AppleTV+’s 14-minute quick — a husband’s remembrance of his spouse and mom of his kids. This Skydance Animation Movie is a particular, wordless portrait of affection and loss set on a desolate planet that will get enriched by the presence of a spritely being who has the flexibility to remodel land and the lifetime of one other astronaut. It’s completely beautiful. Particulars: 3½ stars; obtainable on AppleTV+.
“Mass”: On this four-person chamber piece, still-stunned mother and father (Reed Birney and Ann Dowd) of a useless highschool shooter meet in a church room with the mother and father (Jason Issacs and Martha Plimpton) of a son killed within the assault. The goal is to not solely achieve perception about how this occurred however to share within the grieving and therapeutic course of. Actor Fran Kranz’ writing and directing debut makes for an uncomfortable, usually tortuous movie. The performing is noteworthy with Isaacs and Plimpton giving their all as anguished mother and father who don’t at all times need to be in that room. However despite the fact that the intentions of “Mass” — born out of the 2018 Parkland, Florida, shootings — are well-meaning, the state of affairs comes throughout as stagy and disingenuous and appears to be shouting out at us at each flip. Particulars: 2 stars, opens Oct. 15 in choose theaters.
“Bergman Island”: You needn’t be a disciple of iconic Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman to swoon over this adventurous, frequently shocking ode to the fickle artwork of creativity. However it will assist. Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth are a delight as a filmmaking couple searching for artistic mojo on the island of Faro, the setting for a lot of of Bergman’s most exceptional works. Director Mia Hansen-Love’s spry tribute comes with quite a few layers to peel again together with the parallel story. All of it’s playfully informed and with a grasp’s contact. Particulars: 3½ stars; in theaters Oct. 15; obtainable to stream Oct. 22.
“The Rescue”: Depart it to the Oscar-winning husband/spouse directing duo of Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (“Free Solo”) to get us squirming in our seats. Their newest documentary is chew-your-nails intense because it plunges us into Thailand’s Tham Luang Nang Non cave to catalogue the daring 2018 retrieval of 12 teenagers and their soccer coach. As harrowing as it’s shifting, “The Rescue” recounts a deadly mission that turned cave divers into heroes. You’ll need to rise up and cheer by the top. Particulars: 3½ stars; in theaters Oct. 15.
Contact Randy Myers at [email protected]