Movie and TV Reviews

Reviews for New Releases: January 5 – February 23, 2024

Altered Reality (Photo courtesy of K Street Pictures)
Apolonia, Apolonia (Photo courtesy of Grasshopper Film)
Argylle (Photo by Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures/Apple Original Films)
Ayalaan (Photo courtesy of KJR Studios)
Bad Hombres (Photo courtesy of Screen Media)
The Beekeeper (Photo by Daniel Smith/Amazon MGM Studios)
Bob Marley: One Love (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
The Book of Clarence (Photo by Moris Puccio/Legendary Entertainment/TriStar Pictures)
Breaking the News (Photo by Heather Courtney/PBS)
Colao 2 (Photo courtesy of Spanglish Movies)
Cult Killer (Photo courtesy of Saban Films)
Dune: Part Two (Photo by Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures)
Fighter (Photo courtesy of Viacom18 Studios)
Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive (Photo courtesy of Fathom Events)
Hanu-Man (Photo courtesy of PrimeShow Entertainment)
How to Have Sex (Photo courtesy of MUBI)
I.S.S. (Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street)
Johnny Keep Walking! (Photo courtesy of Tiger Pictures Entertainment)
Land of Bad (Photo courtesy of The Avenue)
Lisa Frankenstein (Photo by Michele K. Short/Focus Features)
Lover, Stalker, Killer (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
Madame Web (Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures)
Mean Girls (Photo by Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures)
Merry Christmas (Photo courtesy of Pen Marudhar Entertainment)
Miller’s Girl (Photo by Zac Popik/Lionsgate)
Naa Saami Ranga (Photo courtesy of Srinivasaa Silver Screen)
Night Swim (Photo by Anne Marie Fox/Universal Pictures)
The Night They Came Home (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)
Ordinary Angels (Photo by Allen Fraser/Lionsgate)
Out of Darkness (Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street)
The Painter (Photo courtesy of Paramount Global Content Distribution)
Perfect Days (Photo courtesy of Neon)
Scrambled (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)
Sometimes I Think About Dying (Photo courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories)
The Storm (Image courtesy of CMC Pictures)
The Taste of Things (Photo courtesy of IFC Films)
Time Still Turns the Pages (Photo courtesy of Illume Films)

Complete List of Reviews

1BR — horror

2/1 — drama

2 Graves in the Desert — drama

2 Hearts — drama

2 Minutes of Fame — comedy

5 Years Apart — comedy

7 Days (2022) — comedy

8 Billion Angels — documentary

8-Bit Christmas — comedy

The 8th Night — horror

9 Bullets (formerly titled Gypsy Moon) — drama

9to5: The Story of a Movement — documentary

12 Hour Shift — horror

12 Mighty Orphans — drama

17 Blocks — documentary

20 Days in Mariupol — documentary

21mu Tiffin — drama

32 Sounds — documentary

37 Seconds — drama

65 — sci-fi/action

76 Days — documentary

80 for Brady — comedy

88 (2023) — drama

The 355 — action

The 420 Movie (2020) — comedy

499 — docudrama

1000% Me: Growing Up Mixed — documentary

1920: Horrors of the Heart — horror

2040 — documentary

7500 — drama

Abandoned (2022) — horror

Abe — drama

About Endlessness — comedy/drama

About My Father (2023) — comedy

Above Suspicion (2021) — drama

The Accursed (2022) — horror

A Chiara — drama

Acidman — drama

An Action Hero — action/comedy

The Addams Family 2 — animation

Adipurush — fantasy/action

The Adults — comedy/drama

Adverse — drama

Advocate — documentary

The Affair (2021) (formerly titled The Glass Room) — drama

Afire — drama

After Class (formerly titled Safe Spaces) — comedy/drama

After Death (2023) — documentary

After Parkland — documentary

Aftershock (2022) — documentary

Aftersun (2022) — drama

After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News — documentary

After Yang — sci-fi/drama

Afwaah — action

Ailey — documentary

Air (2023) — drama

AKA Jane Roe — documentary

Akelli — action

Algorithm: Bliss — sci-fi/horror

Alice (2022) — drama

Alice, Darling — drama

Alienoid — sci-fi/action

Aline (2021) — drama

All Day and a Night — drama

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt — drama

All I Can Say — documentary

All In: The Fight for Democracy — documentary

All Light, Everywhere — documentary

All My Friends Hate Me — comedy/drama

All My Life (2020) — drama

All My Puny Sorrows — drama

All of Us Strangers — drama

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) — action

All Roads to Pearla (formerly titled Sleeping in Plastic) — drama

All That Breathes — documentary

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed — documentary

All the Bright Places — drama

Almost Love (2020) (also titled Sell By) — comedy/drama

Almost Love (2022) — drama

Alone (2020) (starring Jules Willcox) — horror

Alone (2020) (starring Tyler Posey) — horror

Alone Together (2022) — comedy/drama

Alpha Rift — action

The Alpinist — documentary

Altered Reality (2024) — sci-fi/drama

Amalgama — comedy/drama

Amanda (2023) — comedy/drama

Amazing Grace (2018) — documentary

Ambulance (2022) — action

American Fiction — comedy/drama

American Fighter — drama

American Gadfly — documentary

American Murderer — drama

An American Pickle — comedy

American Street Kid — documentary

American Symphony (2023) — documentary

American Underdog — drama

American Woman (2020) — drama

Amigos (2023) — action

Ammonite — drama

Amsterdam (2022) — drama

Amulet — horror

Anaïs in Love — comedy/drama

Anatomy of a Fall (2023) — drama

The Ancestral — horror

And Then We Danced — drama

Animal (2023) — action

Annette — musical

Another Round — drama

Anselm — documentary

Antebellum — horror

Anthem (2023) — documentary

Anthony — drama

Anth the End — drama

Antlers (2021) — horror

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Anyone But You (2023) — comedy

Apocalypse ’45 — documentary

The Apollo — documentary

Apolonia, Apolonia — documentary

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — sci-fi/fantasy/action

The Arbors — sci-fi/horror

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. — comedy/drama

The Argument — comedy

Argylle — action

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe — drama

Armageddon Time — drama

Army of the Dead (2021) — horror

Artemis Fowl — fantasy

The Artist’s Wife — drama

Ascension (2021) — documentary

Ask for Jane — drama

Ask No Questions — documentary

As of Yet — comedy/drama

The Assistant (2020) — drama

Asteroid City — comedy

Athena (2022) — action

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal — documentary

Athlete A — documentary

Attack of the Murder Hornets — documentary

Aurora’s Sunrise — documentary/animation

Avatar: The Way of Water — sci-fi/action

Ayalaan — sci-fi/action

Aye Zindagi (2022) — drama

Azor — drama

Baby (2023) — drama

Baby God — documentary

Babylon (2022) — drama

Baby Ruby — drama

Babysplitters — comedy

Babyteeth — drama

Bacurau — drama

Bad Axe — documentary

Bad Behaviour (2023) — comedy/drama

Bad Boys for Life — action

Bad Detectives (formerly titled Year of the Detectives) — drama

Bad Education (2020) — drama

The Bad Guys (2022) — animation

Badhaai Do — comedy/drama

Bad Hombres (2024) — action

Bad Therapy (formerly titled Judy Small) — comedy/drama

Back on the Strip — comedy

The Baker (2023) — action

Ballad of a White Cow — drama

Banana Split — comedy

Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art — documentary

A Banquet — horror

The Banshees of Inisherin — comedy/drama

Barbarian (2022) — horror

Barbarians (2022) — horror

Barbie (2023) — comedy

Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar — comedy

The Batman — sci-fi/action

The Battle at Lake Changjin — action

The Battle at Lake Changjin II — action

Beanpole — drama

Beast (2022) — horror

Beast Beast — drama

Beastie Boys Story — documentary

The Beatles: Get Back — documentary

The Beatles: Get Back—The Rooftop Concert — documentary

Beau Is Afraid — drama

Beba — documentary

Becoming — documentary

The Beekeeper (2024) — action

Behind You — horror

Being the Ricardos — drama

Belfast (2021) — drama

Belle (2021) — animation

The Bell Keeper — horror

Beneath Us — horror

Benedetta (also titled Blessed Virgin) — drama

Benediction (2021) — drama

Bergman Island (2021) — drama

Best Sellers (2021) — comedy/drama

The Beta Test — comedy/drama

Better Nate Than Ever — comedy/drama

Between the Rains — documentary

Bhediya — horror/comedy

Bheed — drama

Bholaa — action

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 — horror/comedy

Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World — drama

Big Time Adolescence — comedy/drama

The Big Ugly — drama

Billie (2020) — documentary

Bill & Ted Face the Music — sci-fi/comedy

The Binge — comedy

Bingo Hell — horror

Biosphere (2023) — sci-fi/comedy/drama

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) — fantasy/action

Bitconned — documentary

Bitterbrush — documentary

Black Adam — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Black as Night — horror

Black Barbie: A Documentary — documentary

Black Bear — drama

BlackBerry (2023) — comedy/drama

Blackbird (2020) — drama

Black Box (2020) — horror

Black Box (2021) — drama

The Blackening — horror/comedy

Black Is King — musical

Blacklight — action

Black Magic for White Boys — comedy

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — sci-fi/fantasy/action

The Black Phone — horror

Black Widow (2021) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Blast Beat — drama

The Blazing World (2021) — horror

Blessed Child — documentary

Blithe Spirit (2020) — comedy

Blonde (2022) — drama

Blood and Money — drama

Blood Conscious — horror

Blood on Her Name — drama

Bloodshot (2020) — sci-fi/action

Bloodthirsty (2021) — horror

Bloody Hell — horror

Blow the Man Down — drama

Blow Up My Life (formerly titled Dead End) — drama

Blue Bayou (2021) — drama

Blue’s Big City Adventure — live-action/animation/musical

Blue Jean — drama

Blue Story — drama

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island — horror

The Bob’s Burgers Movie — animation

Bob Marley: One Love — drama

Bodies Bodies Bodies — horror

Body Cam — horror

The Body Fights Back — documentary

Bố Già (Dad, I’m Sorry) — comedy/drama

Bones and All — drama

The Boogeyman (2023) — horror

Boogie — drama

Book Club: The Next Chapter — comedy

The Book of Clarence (2024) — comedy

The Booksellers — documentary

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm — comedy

Born to Fly (2023) — action

The Boss Baby: Family Business — animation

Both Sides of the Blade (formerly titled Fire) — drama

Bottoms (2023) — comedy

The Box (2022) — drama

Box of Rain — documentary

The Boy and the Heron — animation

Boyfriend for Hire — drama

The Boys (first episode) — fantasy/action

The Boys in the Boat — drama

Brahmāstra Part One: Shiva — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Brahms: The Boy II — horror

Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power — documentary

Breaking (2022) (formerly titled 892) — drama

Breaking Fast — comedy

Breaking News in Yuba County — comedy

Breaking the News (2024) — documentary

Breakwater (2023) — drama

Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists — documentary

Brian and Charles — comedy/drama

The Broken Hearts Gallery — comedy

Broker (2022) — drama

Bros (2022) — comedy

Brothers by Blood (formerly titled The Sound of Philadelphia) — drama

Browse — drama

Bruiser (2022) — drama

Brut Force — drama

BS High — documentary

Bubblegum (2023) — drama

Buckley’s Chance — drama

Buffaloed — comedy

Bullet Train (2022) — action

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn — documentary

Bunker (2023) — horror

Burden (2020) — drama

The Burial (2023) — drama

Burning Cane — drama

The Burning Sea — action

Burn It All — drama

The Burnt Orange Heresy — drama

Cactus Jack — horror

Cagefighter — drama

Calendar Girl (2022) — documentary

Call Jane — drama

The Call of the Wild (2020) — live-action/animation

A Call to Spy — drama

Call Your Mother — documentary

Camp Hideout — comedy

Candy Cane Lane (2023) — fantasy/comedy

Candyman (2021) — horror

Cane River — drama

Capone — drama

The Card Counter — drama

Carmen (2023) — drama

Carmilla — drama

Carol & Johnny — documentary

Casa Susanna — documentary

Cassandro — drama

Castle in the Ground — drama

Catch the Bullet — action

Catch the Fair One — drama

Cat Daddies — documentary

Catherine Called Birdy — comedy/drama

The Cellar (2022) — horror

Censor (2021) — horror

Centigrade — drama

Cha Cha Real Smooth — comedy/drama

Champions (2023) — comedy

Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring World — documentary

Changing the Game (2021) — documentary

Chasing the Present — documentary

Chasing Wonders — drama

Chehre — drama

Cherry (2023) — comedy/drama

Chevalier (2023) — drama

Chick Fight — comedy

The Childe — action

Children of the Mist — documentary

Children of the Sea— animation

Chinese Doctors — drama

A Christmas Story Christmas — comedy

Chop Chop — horror

Circus of Books — documentary

Cirkus (2022) — comedy

City of Lies — drama

Clara Sola — drama

Clean (2022) — drama

The Cleaner (2021) — drama

The Clearing (2020) — horror

Clementine — drama

Clerks III — comedy

Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021) — live-action/animation

Cliff Walkers (formerly titled Impasse) — drama

The Climb (2020) — comedy/drama

Close (2022) — drama

Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun — documentary

Cloudy Mountain (2021) — action

Clover — drama

C’mon C’mon — drama

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert — documentary

Cobweb (2023) — horror

Cocaine Bear — action/comedy

CODA — comedy/drama

Coded Bias (formerly titled Code for Bias) — documentary

Code Name: Tiranga — action

Coffee & Kareem — comedy

Colao 2 — comedy

Collective — documentary

Color Out of Space — sci-fi/horror

The Color Purple (2023) — musical

The Columnist — horror

Come as You Are (2020) — comedy

Come Out Fighting (2023) — action

Come Play — horror

Come to Daddy — horror

Come True — sci-fi/drama

Coming 2 America — comedy

Compartment No. 6 — drama

Confess, Fletch — comedy

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It — horror

Connect (2022) — horror

Consecration (2023) — horror

Console Wars — documentary

The Contractor (2022) (formerly titled Violence of Action) — action

Copshop (2021) — action

The Cordillera of Dreams — documentary

Corsage — drama

Count Basie: Through His Own Eyes — documentary

A Couple (2022) — drama

The Courier (2021) (formerly titled Ironbark) — drama

Cow (2022) — documentary

The Craft: Legacy — horror

Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words — documentary

The Creator (2023) — sci-fi/action

Creed III — drama

Creem: America’s Only Rock’n’Roll Magazine — documentary

Crimes of the Future — horror

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution — documentary

Crisis (2021) — drama

Critical Thinking — drama

Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan — documentary

The Croods: A New Age — animation

Crown Vic — drama

CRSHD — comedy

Cruella — comedy/drama

Cry Macho — drama

Cryptozoo — animation

Cult Killer— drama

The Cursed (2022) (formerly titled Eight for Silver) — horror

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw — horror

The Curse of La Patasola — horror

Cut Throat City — drama

Cypher (2023) — comedy

Cyrano (2021) — musical

Da 5 Bloods — drama

Dada (2023) — drama

Daddy Issues (2020) — comedy

Dads — documentary

Dalíland — drama

Dangerous Lies — drama

Dangerous Waters (2023) — action

The Daphne Project — comedy

Dara of Jasenovac — drama

Darby and the Dead (formerly titled Darby Harper Wants You to Know) — fantasy/comedy

The Dark Divide — drama

Dark Web: Cicada 3301 — action/comedy

Dasara (2023) — action

Dating & New York — comedy

Dave Not Coming Back — documentary

Dawn Raid — documentary

A Day in the Life of America — documentary

Days of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont — documentary

Days of the Whale — drama

DC League of Super-Pets — animation

Dead Girls Dancing — drama

A Deadly Legend — horror

Deadstream — horror

Dealing With Dad — comedy/drama

Dear David (2023) — horror

Dear Evan Hansen — musical

Dear Santa — documentary

Death in Texas — drama

Death of a Telemarketer — comedy

Death on the Nile (2022) — drama

Decade of Fire — documentary

Decibel (2022) — action

Decision to Leave — drama

The Deeper You Dig — horror

Deep Water (2022) — drama

The Deer King — animation

Deerskin — comedy

The Delicacy — documentary

Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil — documentary

Demonic (2021) — horror

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba The Movie: Mugen Train — animation

Denise Ho—Becoming the Song — documentary

Descendant (2022) — documentary

Desolation Center — documentary

Desperados — comedy

The Desperate Hour (formerly titled Lakewood) — drama

The Devil Below (formerly titled Shookum Hills) — horror

The Devil Conspiracy — horror

Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge — horror

Devil’s Peak — drama

Devil’s Pie—D’Angelo — documentary

The Devil You Know (2022) — drama

Devotion (2022) — drama

Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy — documentary

Die in a Gunfight — action

Dicks: The Musical (formerly known as Fucking Identical Twins) — musical

Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over — documentary

Disappearance at Clifton Hill — drama

The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu — comedy/drama

The Disappearance of Toby Blackwood — comedy

Disclosure (2020) — documentary

The Divine Protector: Master Salt Begins — fantasy

Diving With Dolphins — documentary

The Djinn — horror

Dobaaraa — sci-fi/drama

Doctor G — comedy/drama

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Dog (2022) — comedy/drama

The Dog Doc — documentary

Dolittle — live-action/animation

Dolphin Island — drama

Dolphin Reef — documentary

Do Not Reply — horror

Don’t Breathe 2 — horror

Don’t Look Back (2020) (formerly titled Good Samaritan) — horror

Don’t Look Up (2021) — comedy

Don’t Worry Darling — sci-fi/drama

Donyale Luna: Supermodel — documentary

The Doorman (2020) — action

Dosed — documentary

Double XL — comedy/drama

Downhill — comedy

Downton Abbey: A New Era — drama

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero — animation

Dream Horse — drama

Dreaming Walls: Inside the Chelsea Hotel — documentary

Dreamland (2020) (starring Margot Robbie) — drama

Dream Scenario — comedy/drama

Drishyam 2 (2022) — drama

Drive My Car (2021) — drama

Driven to Abstraction — documentary

Driveways — drama

Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America — documentary

The Dry — drama

The Duke (2021) — comedy/drama

Dumb Money (2023) — comedy/drama

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves — fantasy/action

Dune (2021) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Dune: Part Two — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Dunki — comedy/drama

Duran Duran: A Hollywood High — documentary

Duty Free — documentary

Earth Mama — drama

Earwig — horror

The East (2021) — drama

Easter Sunday (2022) — comedy

Easy Does It — comedy

Eggs Over Easy — documentary

Eiffel — drama

The Eight Mountains — drama

Eileen (2023) — drama

El Cuartito — comedy/drama

Elemental (2023) — animation

Elephant (2020) — documentary

Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things — documentary

Ellis — documentary

Elvis (2022) — drama

Emancipation (2022) — drama

Embattled — drama

Emergency (2022) — comedy

Emergency Declaration — action

Emily (2022) — drama

Emily the Criminal — drama

Emma (2020) — comedy/drama

The Emoji Story (formerly titled Picture Character) — documentary

Empire of Light — drama

Encanto — animation

Endangered Species (2021) — drama

End of Sentence — drama

The End of Sex — comedy

Enemies of the State (2021) — documentary

Enforcement (formerly titled Shorta) — drama

Enhanced (2021) (also titled Mutant Outcasts) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Enola Holmes — drama

Enter the Clones of Bruce — documentary

Entwined (2020) — horror

Enys Men — horror

EO — drama

Epicentro — documentary

The Equalizer 3 — action

Ernest & Celestine: A Trip to Gibberitia — animation

Escape From Mogadishu — drama

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions — horror

Escape the Field — horror

The Eternal Daughter — drama

The Eternal Memory — documentary

Eternals (2021) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

The Etruscan Smile (also titled Rory’s Way) — drama

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga — comedy

Every Body (2023) — documentary

Everything Everywhere All at Once — sci-fi/action

Everything Under Control — action/comedy

Evil Dead Rise — horror

Evil Eye (2020) — horror

The Evil Next Door — horror

The Ex-Files 4: Marriage Plan — comedy

The Exiles (2022) — documentary

Exit Plan — drama

The Exorcist: Believer — horror

Extraction (2020) — action

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) — drama

F3: Fun and Frustration — comedy

F9: The Fast Saga — action

The Fabelmans — drama

Facing Monsters — documentary

Falcon Lake — drama

Fall (2022) — drama

A Fall From Grace — drama

Falling (2021) — drama

Falling for Figaro — comedy/drama

The Fallout — drama

Family Camp — comedy

Family Matters (2022) — drama

Family Squares — comedy/drama

Fancy Dance (2024) — drama

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore — fantasy

Faraaz — drama

Farewell Amor — drama

Fast Charlie — action

Fast X — action

Fatal Affair (2020) — drama

Fatale — drama

The Father (2020) — drama

Father Stu — drama

Fatima (2020) — drama

Fatman — comedy

Fear (2023) — horror

Fear of Rain — horror

The Feast (2021) — horror

Ferrari (2023) — drama

The Fight (2020) — documentary

Fighter (2024) — action

Finch — sci-fi/drama

Finding Kendrick Johnson — documentary

Finding You (2021) — drama

Firebird (2021) — drama

Firebrand (2023) — drama

Fire Island (2022) — comedy

Fire of Love (2022) — documentary

Firestarter (2022) — horror

First Cow — drama

First Date (2021) — comedy

Fist of the Condor — action

The Five Devils — sci-fi/drama

Five Nights at Freddy’s — horror

Flag Day — drama

The Flash (2023) — sci-fi/action

Flashback (2021) (formerly titled The Education of Frederick Fitzell) — drama

Flee — documentary/animation

Flipped (2020) — comedy

Flux Gourmet — comedy/drama

Foe (2023) — sci-fi/drama

Fool’s Paradise (2023) — comedy

Force of Nature (2020) — action

The Forever Purge — horror

The Forgiven (2022) — drama

For the Animals — documentary

For They Know Not What They Do — documentary

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko — animation

The Forty-Year-Old Version — comedy

Four Good Days — drama

Four Kids and It — fantasy

Four Samosas — comedy

Fourth of July — comedy/drama

Framing John DeLorean — documentary

Frank and Penelope — drama

Freaky — horror

Freedom’s Path — drama

Free Guy — sci-fi/action

Freelance (2023) — action/comedy

Free Skate — drama

The French Dispatch — comedy

French Exit — comedy/drama

Fresh (2022) — horror

Freud’s Last Session — drama

Friendsgiving — comedy

From the Hood to the Holler — documentary

From the Vine — comedy/drama

Full River Red — action

Funhouse (2021) — horror

Funny Pages — comedy/drama

Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down — documentary

Gadar 2 — action

Gaia (2021) — horror

Game of Death (2020) — horror

Ganden: A Joyful Land — documentary

Gandhada Gudi: Journey of a True Hero — documentary

Gandhi Godse – Ek Yudh — drama

Gap Year (2020) — documentary

The Garden Left Behind — drama

The Gasoline Thieves — drama

The Gateway (2021) — drama

Gay Chorus Deep South — documentary

The Gentlemen — action

Get Duked! (formerly titled Boyz in the Wood) — comedy

Get Gone — horror

Ghoomer — drama

Ghostbusters: Afterlife — comedy/horror

The Ghost of Peter Sellers — documentary

Ghosts of the Ozarks — horror

Gigi & Nate — drama

A Girl From Mogadishu — drama

A Girl Missing — drama

Give Me Five (2022) — sci-fi/comedy/drama

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — comedy/drama

A Glitch in the Matrix — documentary

Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive — documentary

The God Committee — drama

God Is a Bullet — drama

God Save the Queens (2022) — comedy/drama

God’s Country (2022) — drama

God’s Creatures — drama

God’s Time — comedy

Godzilla Minus One — sci-fi/fantasy/horror/action

Godzilla vs. Kong — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project — documentary

The Go-Go’s — documentary

Gold (2022) — drama

Golda (2023) — drama

Golden Arm — comedy

Goldie — drama

Gone in the Night (2022) (formerly titled The Cow) — drama

Good Girl Jane — drama

The Good Half — comedy/drama

The Good House — comedy/drama

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande — comedy/drama

The Good Mother (2023) (formerly titled Mother’s Milk) — drama

The Good Neighbor (2022) — drama

Good Night Oppy — documentary

The Good Nurse — drama

A Good Person — drama

Good Posture — comedy

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind — documentary

The Graduates (2023) — drama

The Grandmaster of Kung Fu — action

Gran Turismo (2023) — action

Grasshoppers — drama

Greed — comedy/drama

The Green Knight — horror/fantasy

Greenland — sci-fi/action

Gretel & Hansel — horror

Greyhound — drama

The Grudge (2020) — horror

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Guest of Honour — drama

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio — animation

The Guilty (2021) — drama

A Guilty Conscience (2023) — drama

Gumraah — drama

Gunda — documentary

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant — action

Hachiko (2023) — drama

Half Brothers — comedy

The Half of It — comedy

Halloween Ends — horror

Halloween Kills — horror

Halloween Party (2020) — horror

Hannah Ha Ha — drama

Hanu-Man — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Happening (2021) — drama

Happiest Season — comedy

The Harder They Fall (2021) — action

Hard Luck Love Song — drama

Hatching — horror

The Hater (2022) — comedy/drama

Haunted Mansion (2023) — comedy/horror

A Haunting in Venice — horror

Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics — documentary

Have You Got It Yet? The Story of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd — documentary

Hawa (2022) — horror

Haymaker (2021) — drama

Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation — documentary

He Dreams of Giants — documentary

Held — horror

Hell Camp: Teen Nightmare — documentary

Hell Hath No Fury (2021) — action

Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful — documentary

Here After (2021) (formerly titled Faraway Eyes) — drama

Here Are the Young Men — drama

Here Today — comedy/drama

A Hero — drama

Hero Dog: The Journey Home — drama

Hero Mode — comedy

Herself — drama

The High Note — comedy/drama

The Hill (2023) — drama

Hi Nanna — drama

His House — horror

His Only Son — drama

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard — action

HIT: The First Case (2022) — action

HIT: The 2nd Case — action

Hive — drama

Hocus Pocus 2 — fantasy/comedy

The Holdovers — comedy/drama

Hold Your Fire — documentary

A Holiday Chance — comedy/drama

Holiday in the Vineyards (formerly titled A Wine Country Christmas) — comedy

Holler — drama

Holly Slept Over — comedy

Home Coming (2022) — action

Honest Thief — action

Hong Kong Family — drama

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. — comedy

Hooking Up (2020) — comedy

Hope Gap — drama

Horse Girl — sci-fi/drama

The Host (2020) — horror

Hosts — horror

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania — animation

Hot Seat (2022) — drama

The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 — comedy/horror

House of Gucci — drama

House of Hummingbird — drama

The House of No Man (also titled Ms. Nu’s House) — drama

House Party (2023) — comedy

How It Ends (2021) — comedy

How to Blow Up a Pipeline — drama

How to Build a Girl — comedy

How to Fix a Primary — documentary

How to Have Sex — drama

How to Please a Woman — comedy/drama

Huda’s Salon — drama

Huesera: The Bone Woman — horror

Human Capital (2020) — drama

Human Nature (2020) — documentary

The Humans (2021) — drama

A Hundred Billion Key — action

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes— fantasy/action

Hunt (2022) — action

The Hunt — horror

Hunter Hunter — horror

Hypnotic (2023) — sci-fi/action

Hypochondriac (2022) — horror

Hysterical (2021) — documentary

I Am Human — documentary

I Am Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story — drama

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation — action

IB 71 — action

I Carry You With Me — drama

If I Can’t Have You: The Jodi Arias Story — documentary

I Hate New York — documentary

I Hate the Man in My Basement — drama

I Love My Dad — comedy

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me — documentary

iMordecai — comedy/drama

Impractical Jokers: The Movie — comedy

I’m Thinking of Ending Things — drama

I’m Totally Fine — sci-fi/comedy

I’m Your Man (2021) — sci-fi/comedy/drama

I’m Your Woman — drama

Incitement — drama

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny — action

India Sweets and Spices — comedy/drama

Infamous (2020) — drama

The Infiltrators — docudrama

Infinite Storm — drama

Infinity Pool (2023) — horror

The Informer (2020) — drama

InHospitable — documentary

Initials SG — drama

Inna De Yard: The Soul of Jamaica — documentary

The Innocents (2021) — horror

In Our Mothers’ Gardens — documentary

Inside (2023) — drama

Insidious: The Red Door — horror

The Inspection — drama

Inspector Sun (also titled Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow) — animation

Instaband — documentary

The Integrity of Joseph Chambers — drama

In the Earth — horror

In the Footsteps of Elephant — documentary

In the Heights — musical

In the Rearview — documentary

Intrusion (2021) — drama

Inu-Oh — animation

The Invaders (2022) — documentary

The Inventor (2023) — animation

In Viaggio: The Travels of Pope Francis — documentary

The Invisible Man (2020) — horror

The Invitation (2022) — horror

The Iron Claw (2023) — drama

Iron Mask (formerly titled The Mystery of the Dragon Seal) — fantasy/action

Irresistible (2020) — comedy

I.S.S. — sci-fi/drama

Is That Black Enough for You?!? — documentary

I Still Believe — drama

Italian Studies — drama

It Lives Inside (2023) — horror

It Takes a Lunatic — documentary

It Takes Three (2021) — comedy

I Used to Go Here — comedy/drama

I’ve Got Issues — comedy

I Want My MTV — documentary

I Will Make You Mine — drama

Jackass Forever — comedy

Jailer (2023) — action

Jakob’s Wife — horror

Jane (2022) — drama

The Janes — documentary

Janhit Mein Jaari — comedy/drama

January (2022) — drama

Jawan (2023) — action

Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey — comedy/drama

Jayeshbhai Jordaar — comedy

Jay Myself — documentary

Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story — documentary

Jesus Revolution — drama

Jethica — comedy/drama

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey — musical

Jiu Jitsu — sci-fi/action

Jockey (2021) — drama

Joe Bell (formerly titled Good Joe Bell) — drama

John and the Hole — drama

John Henry — action

John Lewis: Good Trouble — documentary

Johnny Keep Walking! — comedy

John Wick: Chapter 4 — action

JonBenét Ramsey: What Really Happened? — documentary

A Journal for Jordan — drama

Journey to Bethlehem — musical

Joyride (2022) — comedy/drama

Joy Ride (2023) — comedy

Judas and the Black Messiah (formerly titled Jesus Was My Homeboy) — drama

Judy & Punch — drama

Judy Blume Forever — documentary

Jugjugg Jeeyo — comedy/drama

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 — animation

Jules (2023) — sci-fi/comedy/drama

Jungle Cruise — fantasy/action

Jungleland (2020) — drama

Jurassic World Dominion — sci-fi/action

Kabzaa (2023) — action

Kajillionaire — comedy/drama

Kalaga Thalaivan — action

Kandahar (2023) — action

Karen (2021) — drama

Kat and the Band — comedy

Kaye Ballard: The Show Goes On! — documentary

Keedaa Cola — comedy

Kehvatlal Parivar — comedy/drama

The Kerala Story — drama

Kicking Blood — horror

Kid Candidate — documentary

Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections — documentary

The Killer (2023) — drama

Killer Among Us — horror

Killers of the Flower Moon — drama

Killer Therapy — horror

Killian & the Comeback Kids — drama

The Killing of Two Lovers — drama

The Kill Team (2019) — drama

Kill the Monsters — drama

Kim’s Video — documentary

The Kindness of Strangers — drama

Kindred (2020) — drama

King Coal (2023) — documentary

King of Killers — action

King of Kotha — action

The King of Staten Island — comedy/drama

King Otto — documentary

King Richard — drama

The King’s Daughter (formerly titled The Moon and the Sun) — fantasy/drama

The King’s Man — action

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan — action

Knights of the Zodiac (2023) — fantasy/action

Knock at the Cabin — horror

Kokomo City — documentary

Kompromat — drama

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time — documentary

Kuttey — action

Laal Singh Chaddha — drama

Lady Chatterley’s Lover (2022) — drama

La Guerra Civil — documentary

Lair — horror

La Llorona — horror

Lamb (2021) — horror

Land (2021) — drama

Land of Bad — action

Landscape With Invisible Hand — sci-fi/drama

Lansky (2021) — drama

The Last Duel (2021) — drama

The Last Full Measure — drama

The Last Glaciers — documentary

Last Night in Soho — horror

Last Sentinel — sci-fi/drama

The Last Vermeer — drama

The Last Voyage of the Demeter — horror

Laththi (also titled Laththi Charge) — action

The Lawyer — drama

The League (2023) — documentary

Leave the World Behind (2023) — drama

Leftover Women — documentary

The Legend of Maula Jatt — action

Legions (2022) — horror

Les Misérables (2019) — drama

The Lesson (2023) — drama

Let Him Go — drama

Licorice Pizza — comedy/drama

The Lie (2020) — drama

Life in a Day 2020 — documentary

Lighting Up the Stars — comedy/drama

Lightyear — animation

Like a Boss — comedy

Limbo (2021) — comedy/drama

Limerence — comedy

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice — documentary

Lingua Franca — drama

Lisa Frankenstein — comedy

Little Fish (2021) — sci-fi/drama

The Little Mermaid (2023) — fantasy

Little Richard: I Am Everything — documentary

The Little Things (2021) — drama

Living (2022) — drama

The Locksmith (2023) — drama

The Lodge — horror

The Longest Wave — documentary

Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos — documentary

Long Weekend (2021) — sci-fi/drama

Lorelei (2021) — drama

Lost Bayou — drama

The Lost City (2022) — comedy

The Lost Daughter (2021) — drama

Lost Girls — drama

Lost in the Stars (2023) — drama

Lost Love (2023) — drama

Lost Transmissions — drama

The Lost Weekend: A Love Story — documentary

Los Últimos Frikis — documentary

A Lot of Nothing — comedy/drama

Love Again (2023) — comedy/drama

Love and Monsters — sci-fi/horror/action

The Lovebirds — comedy

Love Is Love Is Love — drama

Lovely Jackson — documentary

Love Never Ends — drama

Lover, Stalker, Killer — documentary

Love Sarah — comedy/drama

A Love Song — drama

Love Suddenly (2022) — comedy/drama

Love Type D — comedy

Love Wedding Repeat — comedy

Low Tide — drama

Luca (2021) — animation

Lucky Grandma — action

Lucy and Desi — documentary

Lux Æterna — comedy/drama

Luz: The Flower of Evil — horror

LX 2048 — sci-fi/drama

Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over — documentary

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile — comedy

M3GAN — horror/comedy

Maamannan — action

Maaveeran (2023) — fantasy/action

Ma Belle, My Beauty — drama

The Machine (2023) — action/comedy

Mack & Rita — comedy

Madame Web — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Mad Fate — drama

Madres (2021) — horror

Maestra (2023) — documentary

Maestro (2023) — drama

Mafia Mamma — comedy/drama

Magic Mike’s Last Dance — comedy/drama

Mai Khoi & the Dissidents — documentary

The Main Event (2020) — action

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound— documentary

Malignant (2021) — horror

Mallory (2021) — documentary

Malum (2023) — horror

Mama Weed — comedy/drama

Mami Wata (2023) — drama

A Man Called Otto — comedy/drama

Mandibles — comedy

Mank — drama

The Manor (2021) — horror

The Man Who Sold His Skin — drama

The Many Saints of Newark — drama

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — drama

Marathon (2021) — comedy

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On — live-action/animation

Mark, Mary & Some Other People — comedy

The Marksman (2021) — action

Marlowe (2023) — drama

Marry Me (2022) — comedy

The Marsh King’s Daughter — drama

Mars One — drama

Martha: A Picture Story — documentary

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words — documentary

The Marvels — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Masquerade (2021) — horror

Mass (2021) — drama

Master (2022) — horror

Master Gardener — drama

The Matrix Resurrections — sci-fi/action

Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back — documentary

The Mauritanian — drama

Maybe I Do — comedy/drama

Mayday (2021) — action

May December — drama

Mean Girls (2024) — musical

Measure of Revenge — drama

Meat Me Halfway — documentary

Medieval (2022) — action

Medusa (2022) — drama

Medusa Deluxe — comedy/drama

Meg 2: The Trench — drama

Memoria (2021) — sci-fi/drama

Memory (2022) — action

Memory (2023) — drama

Men (2022) — horror

The Menu (2022) — horror

Merry Christmas (2024) — drama

Michael (2023) — action

Mid-Century (2022) — horror

Midnight in the Switchgrass — drama

Mighty Ira — documentary

Mighty Oak — drama

Migration (2023) — animation

Mili (2022) — drama

Military Wives — comedy/drama

Miller’s Girl — drama

Milli Vanilli — documentary

The Mimic (2021) — comedy

Minari — drama

The Mindfulness Movement — documentary

Minions: The Rise of Gru — animation

The Miracle Club — drama

Misbehaviour — drama

Miss Americana — documentary

Missing (2023) — drama

Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One  — action

Miss Juneteenth — drama

The Mitchells vs. the Machines — animation

Mixtape Trilogy: Stories of the Power of Music — documentary

MLK/FBI — documentary

Moffie — drama

The Mole Agent — documentary

Monday (2021) — drama

Money Back Guarantee (2023) — action/comedy

Monica (2023) — drama

Monster Family 2 — animation

Monster Hunter — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Monsters of California — sci-fi/comedy

Monstrous (2022) — horror

Montana Story — drama

Moonage Daydream — documentary

Moonfall (2022) — sci-fi/action

Moon Man (2022) — sci-fi/comedy/drama

Morbius — horror/action

Mortal — sci-fi/action

Mortal Kombat (2021) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Most Dangerous Game — sci-fi/action

Most Wanted (formerly titled Target Number One) — drama

Mother, I Am Suffocating. This Is My Last Film About You. — docudrama

Mothering Sunday — drama

A Mouthful of Air — drama

Move Me (2022) — documentary

Moving On (2023) — comedy/drama

Mr. Malcolm’s List — comedy/drama

Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway — drama

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris — comedy/drama

Mr. Soul! — documentary

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado — documentary

Mulan (2020) — fantasy/action

Mummies (2023) — animation

Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story — documentary

Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story — documentary

Music Pictures: New Orleans — documentary

My Animal (2023) — horror

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 — comedy

My Boyfriend’s Meds — comedy

My Country, My Parents (also titled My Country, My Family) — drama

My Dad’s Christmas Date — comedy/drama

My Darling Vivian — documentary

My Father Muhammad Ali — documentary

My Happy Ending — comedy/drama

My Love (2021) — comedy/drama

My Octopus Teacher — documentary

My Old School — documentary

My Salinger Year (also titled My New York Year) — drama

My Spy — comedy

Mystify: Michael Hutchence — documentary

Naa Saami Ranga — action

Naked Singularity — drama

The Nan Movie — comedy

Nanny — horror

Napoleon (2023) — drama

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind — documentary

National Champions — drama

Navalny — documentary

Needle in a Timestack — sci-fi/drama

Neeyat (2023) — drama

Nefarious (2023) — drama

The Nest (2020) — drama

Never Forget Tibet — documentary

Never Gonna Snow Again — drama

Never Rarely Sometimes Always — drama

Never Say Never (2023) (also known as Octagonal) — drama

Never Stop (2021) — drama

Never Too Late (2020) — comedy

New Gods: Yang Jian — animation

New Order (2021) — drama

News of the World — drama

Next Goal Wins (2023) — comedy/drama

Next Exit — comedy/drama

A Nice Girl Like You — comedy

The Night (2021) — horror

The Night House — horror

Nightmare Alley (2021) — drama

Night of the Kings — drama

The Night Owl (2022) — drama

Nightride (2022) — drama

Night Swim (2024) — horror

The Night They Came Home — action

Nina Wu — drama

Nine Days — drama

Nitram — drama

Noah Land — drama

Nobody (2021) — sci-fi/action

Nocturne (2020) — horror

No Exit (2022) — drama

No Hard Feelings (2023) — comedy

Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin — documentary

Nomadland — drama

No Man’s Land (2021) — drama

No More Bets (2023) — drama

Nope —sci-fi/horror

The Northman —fantasy/action

No Small Matter — documentary

No Time to Die (2021) — action

Notturno — documentary

The Novice (2021) — drama

The Nowhere Inn — comedy/drama

The Nun II — horror

The Oath (2023) — drama

Objects — documentary

Occupied City — documentary

Of an Age — drama

The Offering (2022) — horror

Official Competition — comedy/drama

Old — horror

The Old Guard — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Old Henry (2021) — drama

Olympia — documentary

Olympic Dreams — comedy/drama

OMG 2 — comedy/drama

On Broadway (2021) — documentary

Once Upon a River — drama

Once Upon a Time in Uganda — documentary

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band — documentary

One and Only (2023) — comedy/drama

One Day as a Lion — action

One Hour Outcall — drama

One Man and His Shoes — documentary

One Night in Bangkok — drama

One Night in Miami… — drama

One Piece Film Red — animation

One Ranger — action

One True Loves (2023) — comedy/drama

One Week Friends (2022) — drama

On Fire (2023) — drama

Only — sci-fi/drama

The Only One (2021) — drama

On the Come Up — drama

On the Record — documentary

On the Rocks (2020) — drama

On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries — documentary

Onward — animation

Open — drama

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre — action

Oppenheimer (2023) — drama

Ordinary Angels (2024) — drama

Ordinary Love — drama

Origin (2023) — drama

Origin of the Species (2021) — documentary

Orphan: First Kill — horror

Otherhood — comedy

The Other Lamb — drama

Other Music — documentary

The Other Zoey — comedy

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles — documentary

Our Father, the Devil — drama

Our Friend (formerly titled The Friend) — drama

Our Ladies — comedy/drama

Our Son — drama

Our Time Machine — documentary

The Outfit (2022) — drama

Out of Blue — drama

Out of Darkness — horror

The Outpost — drama

Out Stealing Horses — drama

Over My Dead Body (2023) — comedy

Paap Punyo —drama

Paint (2023) —comedy

The Painter (2024) — action

The Painter and the Thief — documentary

The Pale Blue Eye — drama

Palm Springs —sci-fi/comedy

Paper Spiders — drama

The Paper Tigers — action

Paradise Highway — drama

Parallel (2020) — sci-fi/drama

Parallel Mothers — drama

Paranormal Prison — horror

Pareshan — comedy/drama

Paris, 13th District — drama

Parkland Rising — documentary

Passing (2021) — drama

Past Lives (2023) — drama

A Patient Man — drama

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie — animation

PAW Patrol: The Movie — animation

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank — animation

Pearl (2022) — horror

The Peasants (2023) — animation

Perfect Days (2023) — drama

A Perfect Enemy — drama

The Persian Version — drama

The Personal History of David Copperfield — comedy/drama

Personality Crisis: One Night Only — documentary

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway — live-action/animation

Petite Maman — drama

Petit Mal (2023) — drama

The Phantom of the Open — comedy/drama

Phobias (2021) — horror

Phone Bhoot — comedy

The Photograph — drama

Pichaikkaran 2 — sci-fi/action

Pig (2021) — drama

Piggy (2022) — horror

Ping Pong: The Triumph — drama

Pinocchio (2022) — live-action/animation

The Place of No Words — drama

Plane — action

The Planters — comedy

Playing God (2021) — comedy

Pleasure (2021) — drama

Plucked — documentary

Plus One (2019) — comedy

The Pod Generation — comedy/drama

The Point Men (2023) (also titled Bargaining) — action

Polite Society — action/comedy

The Pollinators — documentary

Poor Things — fantasy/comedy/drama

The Pope’s Exorcist — horror

Pornstar Pandemic: The Guys — documentary

Port Authority (2019) — drama

Possessor Uncut — sci-fi/horror

The Power of the Dog — drama

Premature (2020) — drama

Prem Geet 3 — action

Pretty Problems — comedy/drama

Prey (2022) — sci-fi/horror

The Prey (2020) — action

Prey for the Devil (also titled The Devil’s Light) — horror

The Price of Desire — drama

The Price We Pay (2023) — horror

The Princess (2022) — documentary

Prisoner’s Daughter — drama

Prisoners of the Ghostland — sci-fi/action

The Procurator — drama

Profile (2021) — drama

Project Power — sci-fi/action

Project Wolf Hunting — sci-fi/horror/action

Promising Young Woman — comedy/drama

The Protégé (2021) — action

Proxima — sci-fi/drama

P.S. Burn This Letter Please — documentary

Public Enemy Number One — documentary

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish — animation

PVT CHAT — drama

Quaid-e-Azam Zindabad — action

Queenpins — comedy

¡Que Viva México! (2023) — comedy

The Quiet Girl — drama

The Quiet One (2019) — documentary

A Quiet Place Part II — sci-fi/horror

The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie — animation

Quo Vadis, Aida? — drama

The Racer — drama

Radical (2023) — drama

Radioactive — drama

Raging Fire — action

Raging Grace — horror

Raid on the Lethal Zone — action

Railway Children (formerly titled The Railway Children Return) — drama

A Rainy Day in New York — comedy

Raising Buchanan — comedy

Ram Setu — action

Ransomed (2023) — action

Rare Beasts — comedy

Rare Objects (2023) — drama

Ravanasura — action

Ravening (formerly titled Aamis) — drama

Raya and the Last Dragon — animation

Rebel (2022) — drama

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks — documentary

Rebuilding Paradise — documentary

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project — documentary

Redeeming Love — drama

Red Penguins — documentary

Red Rocket — comedy/drama

Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs — animation

Refuge (2023) — documentary

A Regular Woman — drama

Relic — horror

Remember (2022) — action

Reminiscence (2021) — sci-fi/drama

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé

Renfield (2023) — horror/comedy

The Rental (2020) — horror

Rent-A-Pal — horror

The Rescue (2021) — documentary

The Rescue List — documentary

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City — horror

Resistance (2020) — drama

Respect (2021) — drama

Resurrection (2022) — horror

Retaliation (formerly titled Romans) — drama

The Retirement Plan (2023) — comedy/action

The Retreat (2021) — horror

Return to Seoul — drama

Rewind — documentary

The Rhythm Section — action

The Ride (2020) — drama

Ride Like a Girl — drama

Ride On — comedy/drama

Riders of Justice — drama

Ride the Eagle — comedy/drama

The Right One — comedy

Riotsville, USA — documentary

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It — documentary

River City Drumbeat — documentary

RK/RKAY — comedy

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain — documentary

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical — musical

Roald Dahl’s The Witches — horror/fantasy

Robert the Bruce — drama

Robots (2023) — sci-fi/comedy

Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani — comedy/drama

Ron’s Gone Wrong — animation

The Rookies (2019) — action

Room 203 — horror

Rounding — drama

The Roundup (2022) — action

The Royal Hotel — drama

Rubikon (2022) — sci-fi/drama

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken — animation

Rule of Two Walls — documentary

Run (2020) — drama

Runner — documentary

Running the Bases — drama

Run Rabbit Run (2023) — horror

Run With the Hunted — drama

Rushed — drama

Rustin (2023) — drama

Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words — documentary

Rye Lane — comedy

Safer at Home — drama

Saint Frances — comedy/drama

Saint Maud — horror

Saint Omer — drama

Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire — action

Saloum — horror

Saltburn — comedy/drama

Sam Bahadur — drama

Sam & Kate — comedy/drama

Samrat Prithviraj (formerly titled Prithviraj) — action

Sanctuary (2023) — drama

Santa Camp — documentary

Satyaprem Ki Katha — drama

Save Yourselves! — sci-fi/horror/comedy

Saving Paradise — drama

Saw X — horror

Say Hey, Willie Mays! — documentary

Say I Do to Me — comedy

The Scheme (2020) — documentary

Scheme Birds — documentary

School’s Out Forever — horror

Scoob! — animation

Scrambled (2024) — comedy/drama

Scrapper (2023) — comedy/drama

Scream (2022) — horror

Scream VI — horror

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street — documentary

Screened Out — documentary

Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth (formerly titled Seahorse) — documentary

Seberg — drama

The Secret: Dare to Dream — drama

A Secret Love — documentary

The Secrets We Keep — drama

See for Me — horror

See How They Run (2022) — comedy/drama

See Know Evil — documentary

See You Yesterday — sci-fi/drama

Selah and the Spades — drama

Selfiee — comedy

Sell/Buy/Date — documentary

Separation (2021) — horror

Sergio (2020) — drama

Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days — documentary

Settlers (2021) — sci-fi/drama

The Seventh Day (2021) — horror

Shabaash Mithu — drama

Shadows (2023) — horror

Shadows of Freedom — documentary

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Shattered (2022) — drama

Shazam! Fury of the Gods — sci-fi/fantasy/action

She Came to Me — comedy/drama

She Dies Tomorrow — drama

Shehzada (2023) — action

She Is Love — drama

Shelter in Solitude — drama

She Said — drama

She’s in Portland — drama

She Will — horror

The Shift (2023) — sci-fi/drama

Shine Your Eyes — drama

Shining for One Thing (2023) — drama

Shirley — drama

Shithouse — comedy/drama

Shiva Baby (2021) — comedy/drama

Shonibar Bikel (Saturday Afternoon) — drama

Shortcomings (2023) — comedy

Shortcut — horror

The Short History of the Long Road — drama

A Shot Through the Wall — drama

Showbiz Kids — documentary

Showing Up (2023) — comedy/drama

The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock — documentary

Siberia (2021) — drama

Sidney — documentary

Significant Other (2022) — sci-fi/horror

Silent Night (2021) (starring Keira Knightley) — comedy/drama

Silent Night (2023) — action

The Silent Party — drama

The Silent Twins — drama

Silk Road (2021) — drama

A Simple Wedding — comedy

Simulant (2023) — sci-fi/action

Sing 2 — animation

The Sinners (2021) (also titled The Virgin Sinners; formerly titled The Color Rose) — horror

Sissy — horror

Sisu (2023) — action

Six Minutes to Midnight — drama

Skate Dreams — documentary

Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story — documentary

Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons — documentary

Skin Walker — horror

Skyman — sci-fi/drama

Slay the Dragon — documentary

Slotherhouse — horror

Small Engine Repair (2021) — comedy/drama

Smile (2022) — horror

Smiley Face Killers — horror

Smoking Causes Coughing — sci-fi/comedy

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Sniper: The White Raven — action

Sno Babies — drama

A Snowy Day in Oakland — comedy/drama

Soft & Quiet — drama

Somebody Up There Likes Me (2020) — documentary

Some Kind of Heaven — documentary

Some Like It Rare — horror/comedy

Sometimes Always Never — comedy/drama

Sometimes I Think About Dying (2024) — drama

Somewhere in Queens — comedy/drama

The Son (2022) — drama

The Sonata — horror

Songbird — sci-fi/drama

Sonic the Hedgehog — live-action/animation

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 — live-action/animation

Son of Monarchs — drama

Sorry We Missed You — drama

Soul — animation

Soulmates (2021) — comedy

The Sound of Identity — documentary

Sound of Metal — drama

Sound of Silence (2023) — horror

The Sound of Violet (formerly titled Hooked) — drama

Southern Gospel — drama

The Souvenir Part II — drama

Space Jam: A New Legacy — live-action/amination

Spaceship Earth — documentary

The Sparks Brothers — documentary

The Sparring Partner — drama

Spell (2020) — horror

Spelling the Dream (formerly titled Breaking the Bee) — documentary

Spencer — drama

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse — animation

Spider-Man: No Way Home — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Spinning Gold — drama

Spiral (2021) — horror

Spirited (2022) — musical/comedy

Spirit Untamed — animation

Spoiler Alert (2022) — drama

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run — live-action/animation

Spontaneous — sci-fi/horror/comedy

Sputnik — sci-fi/horror

Spy (2023) — action

Standing Up, Falling Down — comedy/drama

Stardust (2020) — drama

The Starling Girl — drama

Stars at Noon — drama

Starting at Zero — documentary

The State of Texas vs. Melissa — documentary

Stay Awake (2023) — drama

Stealing School — comedy/drama

Stevenson Lost & Found — documentary

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie — documentary

Still Here (2020) — drama

Stillwater (2021) — drama

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry — drama

The Storm (2024) — animation

The Story of Soaps — documentary

The Stranger (Quibi original) — drama

Strange World (2022) — animation

Stray (2021) — documentary

Strays (2023) — drama

Stray Dolls — drama

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street — documentary

Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash — drama

Studio 666 (2022) — horror/comedy

The Stylist — horror

Subho Bijoya — drama

Subjects of Desire — documentary

Sublime — documentary

Sugar Daddy (2021) — drama

The Suicide Squad — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Summering — drama

Summerland — drama

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) — documentary

Summoning Sylvia — horror/comedy

Sundown (2022) — drama

The Sunlit Night — comedy/drama

The Super Mario Bros. Movie — animation

Supernova (2021) — drama

Super Punjabi — comedy

The Surrogate — drama

Survive — drama

Swallow — drama

Swallowed (2023) — horror

Swan Song (2021) (starring Mahershala Ali) — sci-fi/drama

Swan Song (2021) (starring Udo Kier) — comedy/drama

Sweetheart Deal — documentary

Sweet Thing (2020) — drama

Sweetwater (2023) — drama

The Swerve — drama

The Swing of Things — comedy

Sylvie’s Love — drama

Sympathy for the Devil (2023) — comedy/drama

Synchronic — sci-fi/horror

Table for Six (2022) — comedy/drama

Take Back — action

Take Me to the River: New Orleans — documentary

Talk to Me (2023) — horror

Tango Shalom — comedy/drama

Tankhouse — comedy

Tape (2020) — drama

Tar — horror

TÁR — drama

A Taste of Hunger — drama

A Taste of Sky — documentary

The Taste of Things — drama

Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music — documentary

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour — documentary

The Teachers’ Lounge (2023) — drama

Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman — horror

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem — animation

The Tender Bar — drama

Ten Minutes to Midnight — horror

Terrorizers — drama

Tesla — drama

Tetris (2023) — drama

Thank God (2022) — comedy/drama/fantasy

Thanksgiving (2023) — horror

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime the Movie: Scarlet Bond — animation

Theater Camp (2023) — comedy

Then Came You (2020) — comedy

There There — comedy/drama

They Call Me Dr. Miami — documentary

They Wait in the Dark — horror

The Thing About Harry — comedy

Think Like a Dog — comedy/drama

Third World Romance — drama

Thirteen Lives — drama

This Is Personal — documentary

This Is Stand-Up — documentary

This Is the Year — comedy

Thor: Love and Thunder — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Those Who Wish Me Dead — drama

A Thousand and One — drama

A Thousand Cuts (2020) — documentary

A Thread of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy — documentary

Three Headed Beast — drama

Three Minutes—A Lengthening — documentary

Three Thousand Years of Longing — fantasy

Through the Night (2020) — documentary

Ticket to Paradise (2022) — comedy

Tick, Tick…Boom! — musical

Tiger 3 — action

Tiger Nageswara Rao — action

Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison — comedy

Till — drama

Time (2020) — documentary

Time Is Up (2021) — drama

The Times of Bill Cunningham — documentary

Time Still Turns the Pages — drama

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made — comedy

The Tinder Swindler — documentary

Titane — horror

The Tobacconist — drama

To Catch a Killer (2023) (formerly titled Misanthrope) — drama

Together (2021) — comedy/drama

Together Together — comedy/drama

To Kid or Not to Kid — documentary

To Kill a Tiger — documentary

To Kill the Beast — drama

Tom and Jerry — live-action/animation

Tommaso — drama

Tom of Your Life — sci-fi/comedy

Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers — documentary

Too Late (2021) — horror/comedy

Top Gun: Maverick — action

The Torch (2022) — documentary

Totally Under Control — documentary

To the Moon (2022) — drama

Trafficked: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare — drama

The Tragedy of Macbeth — drama

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts — sci-fi/action

Traveling Light (2022) — drama

The Trial of the Chicago 7 — drama

Triangle of Sadness — comedy/drama

The Trip to Greece — comedy

Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts — documentary

Trolls Band Together — animation

Trolls World Tour — animation

Troop Zero — comedy

The True Adventures of Wolfboy — drama

The Truffle Hunters — documentary

Trust (2021) — drama

The Truth — drama

Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar — comedy

The Turning (2020) — horror

Turning Red — animation

The Tutor (2023) — drama

‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas — documentary

Twas the Night (2021) — comedy

The Twentieth Century — comedy

Two of Us (2020) — drama

Tyson (2019) — documentary

Tyson’s Run — drama

Ultrasound — sci-fi/drama

Umma (2022) — horror

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent — action/comedy

Unbelievable (premiere episode) — drama

Uncaged (also titled Prey) – horror

Uncharted (2022) — action

Unconditional (2023) — documentary

Uncorked — drama

Under the Volcano (2021) — documentary

Underwater — sci-fi/horror

Undine (2020) — drama

Unfavorable Odds — comedy

Unhinged (2020) — action

The Unholy (2021) — horror

The United States vs. Billie Holiday — drama

Un Rescate de Huevitos — animation

The Unthinkable — drama

Until We Meet Again (2022) — drama

Up From the Streets: New Orleans: The City of Music — documentary

Uprooting Addiction — documentary

Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own — documentary

Utama — drama

Uunchai — drama

Vaalvi — comedy/drama

Vaathi (also titled Sir) — drama

Vadh — drama

Val — documentary

Valley Girl (2020) — musical

The Vanished (2020) (formerly titled Hour of Lead)— drama

Vanquish (2021) — action

The Vast of Night — sci-fi/drama

Veetla Vishesham — comedy/drama

Vengeance (2022) — comedy/drama

Vengeance Is Mine (2021) — action

Venom: Let There Be Carnage — sci-fi/fantasy/action

A Very Good Girl — comedy/drama

The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee — comedy

The Vigil (2021) — horror

Vijayanand — drama

Vikram (2022) — action

The Village in the Woods — horror

Violent Night — action/comedy

Violet (2021) — drama

Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations — documentary

The Virtuoso (2021) — drama

Vivarium — sci-fi/drama

Voyagers — sci-fi/drama

Waikiki (2023) — drama

Waiting for Bojangles — comedy/drama

Waiting for the Barbarians — drama

Waiting for the Light to Change (2023) — drama

Wander Darkly — drama

The Wandering Earth II — sci-fi/action

Warrior King — animation

The War With Grandpa — comedy

Watcher (2022) — horror

Watson — documentary

The Way Back (2020) — drama

We Are Freestyle Love Supreme — documentary

We Are Little Zombies — comedy/drama

We Are Many — documentary

We Are the Radical Monarchs — documentary

Weathering With You — animation

We Broke Up — comedy

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story — comedy

Welcome to Chechnya — documentary

We Need to Do Something — horror

Werewolves Within — horror/comedy

Wes Schlagenhauf Is Dying — comedy

West Side Story (2021) — musical

The Whale (2022) — drama

What Happens Later — comedy/drama

What’s Love Got to Do With It? (2023) — comedy/drama

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali — documentary

What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? — documentary

What We Do Next — drama

What We Found — drama

What Will Become of Us (2019) — documentary

The Wheel (2022) — drama

When I Consume You — horror

When the Streetlights Go On — drama

When You Finish Saving the World — comedy/drama

Where the Crawdads Sing — drama

Whisper of the Heart (2022) — drama

The Whistlers — drama

White Noise (2022) — comedy/drama

The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell — action

A White, White Day — drama

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody — drama

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America — documentary

Widow of Silence — drama

Wig — documentary

Wildcat (2022) — documentary

Wildflower (2023) — comedy/drama

Wild Indian — drama

Wild Men (2021) — comedy/drama

Wild Mountain Thyme — drama

Willy’s Wonderland — horror

The Windermere Children — drama

Wine Crush (Vas-y Coupe!) (formerly titled Vas-y Coupe!) — documentary

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey — horror

Wish (2023) — animation

The Witch 2: The Other One — sci-fi/horror/action

Witch Hunt (2021) — horror

Wojnarowicz — documentary

Wolf (2021) — drama

The Wolf and the Lion — drama

The Wolf House — animation

The Wolf of Snow Hollow — horror

The Woman King — action

Woman on the Roof — drama

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem — documentary

Women (2021) — horror

Women Talking — drama

The Wonder (2022) — drama

Wonder Woman 1984 — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Wonka — musical

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation — documentary

Words on Bathroom Walls — drama

Work It — comedy/drama

The World to Come — drama

The Worst Person in the World — comedy/drama

Worst to First: The True Story of Z100 New York — documentary

Wrath of Man — action

The Wretched — horror

A Writer’s Odyssey — fantasy/action

The Wrong Missy — comedy

A Wu-Tang Experience: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre — documentary

Wyrm — comedy

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse — horror

X (2022) — horror

XY Chelsea — documentary

Yaara Vey — drama

Yakuza Princess — action

¿Y Cómo Es Él? — comedy

The Year Between — comedy/drama

Yellow Rose — drama

Yesterday Once More (2023) — drama

You Are Not My Mother — horror

You Cannot Kill David Arquette — documentary

You Don’t Nomi — documentary

You Go to My Head — drama

You Hurt My Feelings (2023) — comedy

You Should Have Left — horror

You Were My First Boyfriend — documentary

You Won’t Be Alone — horror

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn — documentary

Zack Snyder’s Justice League — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Zappa — documentary

Zara Hatke Zara Bachke — comedy/drama

Zeros and Ones — drama

Zola — comedy/drama

Zombi Child — horror

The Zone of Interest — drama

Zwigato — drama

Review: ‘Dune: Part Two,’ starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken and Javier Bardem

February 21, 2024

by Carla Hay

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in “Dune: Part Two” (Photo by Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Dune: Part Two”

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Culture Representation: Taking place in the year 10,191, on the fictional planets of Giedi Prime and Arrakis, the sci-fi action film “Dune” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some black people, Asians and Latinos) representing heroes, villains and people who are in between.

Culture Clash: House Atreides royal leaders Paul Atreides and his mother Jessica, who are refugees from their planet Caladan, get suspicion from and ultimately join forces with the native Fremen people of Arrakis, to battle against House Atreides rivals in House Harkonnen from the planet of Giedi Prime.

Culture Audience: “Dune: Part Two” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the “Dune” novel and to people who like epic sci-fi adventures with stunning visuals and good acting.

Austin Butler and Léa Seydoux in “Dune: Part Two” (Photo by Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Dune: Part Two” is a masterful technical achievement that surpasses its predecessor movie on a storytelling level. It’s less cluttered with characters than 2021’s “Dune” and has a more compelling villain and higher emotional stakes. Fans of the the “Dune” franchise will have their expectations met or surpassed with “Dune: Part Two,” a sci-fi epic worth seeing on the biggest screen possible with the best sound system possible.

Directed by Denis Villenueve, “Dune: Part Two” (co-written by Villenueve and Jon Spaihts) is the second part of Villenueve’s movie triology adaptation of Paul Herbert’s densely packed 1965 novel “Dune.” (Villenueve’s “Dune” adaptations are far superior to 1984’s disastrously awful “Dune” movie, directed by David Lynch.) The first part of Villenueve’s “Dune” movie, released in 2021, was an introduction to the main characters and had a lot to do with showing the combat training and the rise of main “Dune” hero Paul Atreides (played by Timothée Chalamet), a royal leader from House Atreides.

Is it necessary to know about the “Dune” book and/or know what happened 2021’s “Dune” to completely enjoy “Dune: Part Two”? Yes. There are many references to 2021’s “Dune” in “Dune: Part Two” that will be confusing to viewers who don’t know what happened in 2021’s “Dune.” Viewers who watch “Dune: Part Two” who don’t know anything about the “Dune” story can still enjoy “Dune: Part Two,” but they will feel like they’ve started reading a book from the middle, not from the beginning.

In “Dune: Part Two” (which takes place in the year 10,191), Paul and his mother Jessica (played by Rebecca Ferguson), who is pregnant with a daughter, are refugees from their home planet Caladan, which has been devastated by a genocidal attack from House Harkonnen. The attack killed Paul’s father/Jessica’s live-in partner Leto Atreides (played by Oscar Isaac), a duke who passed on his legacy to Paul before Leto died. Leto was ordered to be the fief ruler of Arrakis, a desert planet with harsh terrain that is the only place to find a priceless treasure: melange, also known as spice, a dusty substance that can enhance and extend human life.

Because spice is the most sought-after substance in the universe and can make people wealthy, people will go to extremes to get it and to be in charge of Arrakis, whose native people are called Fremen. Prolonged exposure to spice can turn humans’ eyes blue in the iris. Harvesting spice can be a deadly activity because gigantic sandworms ferociously guard the spice. “Dune: Part Two” begins with this caption: “Power over spice is power over all.”

House Atreides and House Harkonnen have been in a bitter rivalry over getting control of spice. House Harkonnen was behind the attack that killed Leto and several of his people. The evil leader of House Harkonnen is a baron named Vladimir Harkonnen (played by Stellan Skarsgård), an obese and ruthless tyrant, who likes to spending time in saunas filled with a tar-like substance. Vladimir’s closest henchman is his sadistic nephew Glossu Rabban (played by Dave Bautista), who doesn’t hestitate to kill anyone for any reason.

The person who orderd Leto to rule over Arrakis was his adoptive cousin: Padishah Emperor of House Carrino named Shaddam Corrino IV (played by Christopher Walken), who was not seen in 2021’s “Dune,” but he has a prominent role in “Dune: Part Two.” In the beginning of “Dune: Part Two,” Shaddam’s daughter Princess Irulan (played by Florence Pugh) can be heard in a voiceover commenting on the night of the House Atreides massacre: “Since that night, my father hasn’t been the same.”

Why? It’s because Shaddam set up Leto as ruler of Arrakis, knowing that House Harkonnen wold respond with a brutal attack on House Atreides. This betrayal (which isn’t spoliler information) becomes a layer in the conficts that exist in “Dune: Part Two.” There is also a big family secret that is revealed that has to do with House Atreides and House Harkonnen.

Meanwhile, Paul and Jessica have made their way to Arrakis, with the help of Stilgar (played by Javier Bardem), the leader of the Fremen tribe called Sietch Tabr. Stilgar is the translator, and negotiator when the Fremens become suspicious of the arrival of Paul and Jessica, who ar ebelieved by many Fremens to be spies. Stilgar, who is convinced that Paul is the messiah from a prophecy, is often the movie’s comic relief in how he how tries to convince his skeptical Fremen people to trust Paul and Jessica and to believe that Paul is the messiah.

In 2021’s “Dune,” Paul met an independent and outspoken young Freman woman named  Chani (played by Zendaya), who kept appearing in his dreams before he met her. In “Dune: Part Two,” Paul and Chani develop a romance that heats up quickly, as Chani teaches Paul how he can better navigate avoiding sand worms while walking in the desert. (“You sand walk like a drunk lizard,” she chastises Paul.) Before the movie is half over, Paul and Chani are kissing each other, and he declares his love for her. None of this is spoiler informaton, since this love affair is part of the marketing of “Dune: Part Two.”

However, the relationship between Paul and Chani doesn’t happen without problems. There’s the difference in their social classes: Chani is more uncomfortable with Paul is about the fact that he’s a royal and she’s a commoner. Chani also has to spend a lot of time defending Paul to Fremen skeptics, such as her close friend Shishakli (played by Souheila Yacoub), who is a perceptive and brave fighter. All of the female supporting characters in “Dune” are capable but obviously not meant to outshine Chani.

Meanwhile, House Harkonnen has heard stories that Paul and Jessica are still alive. And you know what that means: There’s going to be another big showdown. And guess who conveniently shows up? Paul’s no-nonsense mentor Gurney Halleck (played by Josh Brolin), who was one of the teahcers in Paul’s fight training. Gurney is still loyal and mostly stoic. He doesn’t really become a father figure to Paul, but Gurney the closest male connection that Paul has to Leto, since Gurney and Leto knew and respected each other.

For the big showdown in “Dune: Part Two,” House Harkonnen has enlisted the help of a vicious killer named Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (played by Austin Butler), Vladimir’s nephew whose weapon of choice is a massive knife. A seductive psychic spy named Lady Margot Fenring (played by Léa Seydoux) has a plan to seduce and get pregnant by Feyd-Rautha, for reasons that are explained in the movie. She also does this seduction to find out what Feyd-Rautha’s weaknesses are.

The 2021 version of “Dune” was nominated for 10 Oscars and won six Oscars: Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Production Design, Best Sound, Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects. Without question, “Dune: Part Two” is also award-worthy in these categories as well. Everything in “Dune: Part Two” is done on a grand, immersive scale that are stellar examples of excellence in cinematic world building of a fictional universe. “Dune: Part Two” (which was filmed in Hungary, Abu Dhabi, and Jordan) has scenes taking place in the sand that are truly unforgettable.

As for the relationships between the characters, Paul sees a more vulnerable side to his mother Jessica, when she is pressured into becoming a reverend mother, which is a responsibility with physical and emotional burdens that Jessica is reluctant to have. In the first half of the movie, Jessica shows her powerful fight skills, but after she transforms into a reverend mother, Jessica ctually becomes passive, as she sits by and watches other people fight. Reverend Mother Mohiam (played by Charlotte Rampling), who was in 2021’s “Dune,” has a more scheming side that is revealed in “Dune: Part Two.”

“Dune: Part Two” might have more appeal than 2021’s “Dune” for people who want to see the romance of Paul and Chani that didn’t exist in 2021’s “Dune.” This romance is very chaste, with a “first love” tone to it. The “Dune” trailers already revealed much of the dynamics in this romance, where Paul respects Chani and wants to treat her as his equal. However, will Paul’s royal lineage and duties get in the way of this budding romance?

Chalamet and Zendaya are quite good in their roles as Paul and Chani, but nothing about their performances is worthy of prestigious awards. Paul is depicted as a sensitive and somewhat tortured hero. He tells Chan that he keeps having nightmares of thousands of people dying of starvation because of him. Chani is kind of a stereotypical “tough woman in an action film” who wants to act like she doesn’t fall in love easily, but of course she does just that with Paul.

A characteristic of an above-average sci-fi/fantasy film is the portrayal of the chief villain or villains. Skarsgård as Vladimir Harkonnen and Bautista as Glossu Rabban have less screen time in “Dune: Part Two” than they did in 2021’s “Dune” and don’t really do anything new with their performances. Butler as Feyd-Rautha is the “Dune: Part Two” villain who is the obvious standout, since it’s already been revealed in the movie’s trailers that the climactic battle scene includes a one-on-one fight with Paul. “Dune: Part Two” lacks susbtance by not telling more about Feyd-Rautha’s background. He’s an enigma for the entire movie.

“Dune: Part Two” will no doubt have multiple viewings from fans of the franchise. As for winning over new fans, the movie has a tone that seems to be saying, “You either understand what you’re watching , or you dont. And we don’t have time to explain it all to you.” If you’re unfamiliar with the “Dune” franchise, and you’re the type of person who doesn’t like the idea of dong homework-like research before seeing a sc-fi movie that has a complex story, then “Dune: Part Two” probably isn’t for you. For everyone else, “Dune: Part Two” will fill up your senses with an absorbing story whose cliffhanger ending hints at how this excellent cinematic adaptation continues.

Warner Bros. Pictures will release “Dune: Part Two” in outside the U.S. on February 28, 2024, and in U.S. cinemas on March 1, 2024.

Review: ‘Land of Bad,’ starring Liam Hemsworth, Russell Crowe, Luke Hemsworth, Ricky Whittle and Milo Ventimiglia

February 21, 2024

by Carla Hay

Liam Hemsworth and Luke Hemsworth in “Land of Bad” (Photo courtesy of The Avenue)

“Land of Bad”

Directed by William Eubank

Culture Representation: Taking place in Southern Asia, the action film “Land of Bad” features a predominantly white and Asian cast of characters (with a few African Americans and Latinos) portraying U.S. military people and Asian terrorists.

Culture Clash: A four-man Delta Force team (a special unit of the U.S. Army) gets attacked by terrorists in a South Asian jungle, and a drone pilot in a far-away control room must guide them out of their predicament.

Culture Audience: “Land of Bad” will appeal primarily to fans of the movie’s headliners and mindless military films.

Russell Crowe in “Land of Bad” (Photo courtesy of The Avenue)

“Land of Bad” should’ve been titled “Land of Bad Filmmaking.” This woefully inept military action flick wants viewers to believe that remote voices from a portable device cannot be drowned out by massive explosions. Russell Crowe’s career has also devolved into doing awkward comedy in terrible non-comedy movies. Much of the movie’s ludicrous action relies entirely on showing people running for their lives in a jungle with bombs or guns going off around them while still being able to chat on walkie-talkie audio levels with someone who can see everything on a drone video monitor in a far-away control room.

Directed by William Eubank, “Land of of Bad” was co-written by Eubank and David Frigerio. The movie is just one fake-looking scene after another, with juvenile dialogue that is just plain embarrassing if it’s supposed to represent the U.S. military. There are shallow video games that are better than this dreck.

“Land of Bad” has this captioned statement in the introduction: “Currently, the Sulu Sea is home to some of the most violent extremist groups in Southern Asia. Intelligence agencies from around the world work together in a global struggle where men and women put their lives on the line every day. We are in a war … we just don’t know it.”

First of all, there are no “intelligence agencies from around the world” working together in this movie. The only “heroes” and “rescuers” are from the U.S. military. It’s an example of shoddy screenwriting that this introductory statement doesn’t match what’s actually in the film.

Second, the movie has a running “joke” that most of the U.S. military people who are supposed to look out for the “people who put their lives on the line” in this story would rather watch a basketball game on TV and ignore potential emergency phone calls in their control center instead of doing their jobs. It’s pathetic.

“Land of Bad” begins by showing the four-man Delta Force squad that is being sent to an unnamed jungle area in Southern Asia, where they are on a vague mission to capture terrorists. (“Land of Bad” was actually filmed in Queensland, Australia.) And by the way, as the squad leader mentions in an offhand manner, a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) asset has been captured in this jungle, so if they have time, they might as well find him too. Too bad the filmmakers of “Land of Bad” didn’t take the time to make a good movie.

The four men in the squad are:

  • JJ Kinney (played by Liam Hemsworth), a 27-year-old former U.S. Air Force sergeant, who is new to the U.S. Army because he left the Air Force due to “stomach problems,” he tells the other guys. Don’t expect further details.
  • John “Sugar” Sweet (played by Milo Ventimiglia), a master staff sergeant, who is the no-nonsense squad leader.
  • Sergeant Abell (played by Luke Hemsworth, an older brother of Liam Hemsworth in real life), a wisecracking jokester who doesn’t have a first name in the movie.
  • Sergeant Bishop (played by Ricky Whittle), who is stern and judgmental and doesn’t have a first name in the movie.

Monitoring this operation in a control room on a military base is a cynical grouch named Eddie Grimm, nicknamed Reaper (played by Crowe)—as in, “grim reaper” (wink wink, nudge nudge)—a captain who is a drone operator watching their every move on video screens. If the squad finds the terrorist hideout that the U.S. military is looking for, there is a plan to launch a missile bomb at this hideout. At one point in the movie, Reaper mentions that he could’ve been a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, but he mouthed off too much to his commanding officers, so his military career stalled.

Reaper still mouths off a lot, which is supposed to be the movie’s “comic relief,” but his jokes fall flatter than a military buzzcut. Here’s an example of one of the so-called jokes: Reaper complains to JJ that Reaper’s wife is a strict vegan. Reaper says to JJ, “How do you know someone is vegan?” JJ replies, “I don’t know.” Reaper says, “They will tell you.”

During the course of this ludicrous movie, because of all the self-absorbed yakking that Reaper does, viewers will hear more than they need to know about Reaper’s personal life and almost nothing about the squad members whose lives are in danger. Reaper has been married and divorced three times and is married to his fourth wife Lucy, who is pregnant and due to give birth at any moment. (Lucy is never seen in the movie.) The baby will be his ninth child. His eight other children are from his previous marriages.

Reaper has a loyal military sidekick named Nia Branson (played by Chika Ikogwe), a staff sergeant who is the only military woman in this movie. Nia has invited Reaper to her upcoming wedding. Later, when the mission becomes a life-and-death situation for the squad, Nia is by Reaper’s side in helping with drone video monitor duties.

This is JJ’s first Tier One (highly secretive) mission. Abell is friendly and welcoming to JJ. By contrast, Bishop gives JJ a hard time over JJ’s lack of experience in this type of work and is openly skeptical that JJ has what it takes to successfully complete the mission. And as soon as Bishop shows that he underestimates JJ, you just know who’s going to be the main “hero” of the story.

Bishop snarls at JJ: “Do me favor: Keep up. And don’t fuck up. The last thing we need in this ops is to save your ass.” For reasons that are never explained or shown, JJ has been given the nickname Playboy. However, in the beginning of the mission, JJ gets worried because he can’t find his mini-box of Fruit Loops cereal, so Bishop somewhat taunts JJ by calling him Fruit Loop instead of Playboy.

The four men parachute into the jungle. It isn’t long before they get in a shootout with terrorists who have beheaded some people. It’s enough to say that the squad members get separated, and not everyone in the squad makes it out alive. At least one of the squad members gets captured, and it’s up to the “hero” squad member to come to the rescue. This person manages to escape explosions and shootouts with hardly any wounds for most of the movie.

Meanwhile, back in the military base control room, most of the people on duty are watching a basketball game on a TV in the break room. The people who are watching the game include Colonel Duz Packett (played by Daniel MacPherson), who is hardly seen doing any real work. Reaper clashes with Duz (who is Reaper’s commanding officer) because Duz thinks Reaper is being too uptight for yelling at the guys in the room because they turned down the volume on the landline phone in the room. Duz says they need to be able to hear the phone in case his wife Lucy calls when she goes into labor. Later, there’s another big reason why the phone needs to be heard when someone calls.

“Land of Bad” has a very generic terrorist as the main villain. His name is Saeed Hashimi (played by Robert Rabiah), and he doesn’t have most of his scenes until the last third of the movie. That’s because “Land of Bad” spends a mind-numbing amount of time showing JJ by himself in the jungle. Reaper bonds with JJ over their remote chats when Reaper finds out that they’re both from cities that are only a few miles apart in Ohio. (Reaper is from Brook Park. JJ is from Middleburg Heights.) The only other tidbit of personal information that is revealed about JJ is that his father recently died.

When JJ is not dodging bullets and bombs, he’s hiding out in the jungle with potential captors nearby. Even when JJ is supposed to be hiding in silence, Reaper keeps yapping away on the remote communications device that JJ has. Somehow, Reaper’s voice can be heard by JJ during the loud explosions and gunshots (even though JJ is not wearing hearing devices), but then when Reaper talks during moments where JJ has to be quiet because enemies are close enough to find him, somehow these enemies can’t hear these voice sounds coming from JJ’s communications device. That tells you all you need to know about how stupid “Land of Bad” is and how stupid the movie expects viewers to be when watching this junk.

The Avenue released “Land of Bad” in U.S. cinemas on February 16, 2024.

Review: ‘Ordinary Angels’ (2024), starring Hilary Swank, Alan Ritchson, Nancy Travis and Tamala Jones

February 20, 2024

by Carla Hay

Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson in “Ordinary Angels” (Photo by Allen Fraser/Lionsgate)

“Ordinary Angels” (2024)

Directed by Jon Gunn

Culture Representation: Taking place in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1993 and 1994, the dramatic film “Ordinary Angels (inspired by real events) features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and one Asian) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: An alcoholic hair stylist feels compelled to help a 5-year-old girl, who is dying from a liver disease and whose family can’t afford her medical expenses, which include a liver transplant that’s needed to save her life.

Culture Audience: “Ordinary Angels” will appeal primarily to fans of star Hilary Swank and faith-based movies that over-exaggerate true stories.

Alan Ritchson and Emily Mitchell in “Ordinary Angels” (Photo by Allen Fraser/Lionsgate)

“Ordinary Angels” is supposed to be based on a true story, but it has plot holes and a fluffy fantasy that all you need to erase medical expenses is a woman who can make $435,000 in hospital bills disappear with sweet talking and blueberry muffins as gifts. There is literally a scene where the protagonist convinces a hospital to cancel this debt by asking a hospital administrator in a meeting how it would feel if the administrator had a sick daughter and couldn’t pay her medical bills. That’s just one of many eye-rolling “only in a movie” scenarios that “Ordinary Angels” tries to shove down viewers’ throats and expect people to swallow as the whole truth.

It’s condescending and gross pandering that will only work with people who want to ignore or forget that medical care in places without universal health insurance has disturbing inequalities for people who aren’t in certain demographics. The end of the movie also has a hokey “race against time” during a blizzard that looks like a real event was very exaggerated in the movie for dramatic purposes. And in other parts of the movie, the truth and reality are over-simplified in order to manipulate certain emotions out of viewers.

Directed by Jon Gunn, “Ordinary Angels” was written by Kelly Fremon Craig and Meg Tilly. The movie takes place in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1993 and 1994. (“Ordinary Angels” was actually filmed in Manitoba, Canada.) In other words, this story took place before the existence of the Internet and social media, which are now common ways for people to raise funds for medical expenses. And the story also takes place before the Affordable Care Act existed in the United States, because the family experiencing the child medical crisis in this story did not have health insurance at the time.

The protagonist of “Ordinary Angels” has the disease of alcoholism and is estranged from her young adult son (her only child) because of her alcoholism. However, she is presented in this unrealistic-looking movie as someone who is a crusading angel in all other aspects of her life, where everything conveniently falls into place because she’s able to talk her way into getting what she wants. On her road to redemption, she has chosen a dying girl to be her obsessive “pet project.”

“Ordinary Angels” begins in 1993, by showing a talkative divorcée named Sharon Stevens (played by Hilary Swank) at a bar, doing something that she’s done many times in her life: Get drunk and call attention to herself with her drunken antics. She wakes up with a hangover and finds out that her boss/close friend Rose (played by Tamala Jones) brought her home from the bar the night before, because Sharon was too drunk to get home on her own. Rose owns the hair salon Shear Elegance, where Sharon works as a hair stylist.

Rose sternly lectures Sharon about this drunken blackout that Sharon has had: “This can’t happen again. I’m officially worried.” Shortly after this incident, Rose persuades Sharon to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, where Sharon defiantly declares to everyone: “I’m not an alcoholic. I’m just a pissed-off hairdresser with a splitting headache and an annoying friend.”

Swank has done this type of “sassy with grit” character many times before (see most of the movies where she’s had a starring role), so there’s nothing new or surprising about her performance. Just like the other performances in “Ordinary Angels,” it’s serviceable and predictable. “Ordinary Angels” is a faith-based movie, so expect to see a lot of references to God and praying. That’s not what’s offensive about this movie. What’s offensive is how it relentlessly insults viewers’ intelligence about how medical crises can be solved in the real world.

After leaving the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Sharon sees a front-page newspaper story about a 35-year-old mother named Theresa Schmitt (played by Amy Acker, shown in flashbacks), who has died of Wegener’s disease and has a daughter who needs a liver transplant. (The real Theresa Schmitt actually died of the Wegener’s disease in 1992, at the age of 29.) Theresa’s surviving family members include her husband Ed Schmitt (played by Alan Ritchson) and their two daughters: 5-year-old Michelle Schmitt (played by Emily Mitchell) and Ashley Schmitt (played by Skywalker Hughes), who’s about 7 or 8 years old.

Both children are cute and adorable, but the movie unrealistically shows them as having no personality flaws. These two siblings also don’t get into any arguments and don’t show any rivalry with each other, which is another example of how phony this movie looks. “Ordinary Angels” completely ignores what can happen when a sick child in the family gets almost all the attention and any other children in the family might start to feel neglected or resentful. In real life, Michelle was 3 years old when she needed a transplant, but the movie made her 5 years old, because a 5-year-old is more capable than a 3-year-old of saying precocious lines of “cute kid” dialogue, as Michelle does in this movie.

Michelle has a rare liver disease called biliary atresia. Ed, who works as an independent-contractor roofer, is overwhelmed with debts of more than $435,000 in medical bills for Michelle and his late wife Theresa. He has these medical bills because he does not have health insurance for himself or his family. Ed also has the burden of other expenses for himself and his family. After the death of Theresa, Ed’s retired mother Barbara Schmitt (played by Nancy Travis) has moved into the home to help Ed with Michelle and Ashley.

Sharon sees the news story about ailing Michelle and immediately feels like she wants to do something to help the Schmitt family. Sharon starts by going to Theresa’s funeral. And when Ed asks her who she is, Sharon awkwardly explains that she’s a stranger who wants to give her condolences. Ed uncomfortably thanks her and thinks that will be the last he’ll see of Sharon. But there would be no “Ordinary Angels” movie if that was the last time Ed saw Sharon.

After the funeral, Sharon throws herself full-force into raising money for the Schmitt family. She has a fundraising event at the hair salon. She hands out flyers. She tells everyone she knows about the fundraiser. The fundraiser gets more than $3,250. She then goes over to the Schmitt home to deliver the money, which Ed reluctantly takes, because (as the movie repeats often, to irritating levels) Ed doesn’t feel right about taking charity from this lady whom he thinks is kind of a mess.

Barbara is more open to accepting this help. She’s the one who persuades Ed to invite Sharon into the house for dinner when Sharon delivers the fundraising money as a surprise. “Ordinary Angels” makes it clear that Sharon does not have the ulterior motive of trying to have a romantic relationship with physically attractive Ed, who is still deep in grief over the loss of Theresa. However, Sharon inserts herself into the Schmitt family’s life like a volunteer nanny/business manager/life coach, including helping take care of Michelle and Ashley; sorting out Ed’s bills and explaining his finances to him; and giving career tips and pep talks to Ed when he comes up with an idea of how he can make more money as a roofer.

Sharon even accompanies Ed to a sales pitch meeting with a potential employer, and she speaks for Ed like she’s a publicist. At one point in the story, Ed privately comes right out and tells overzealous Sharon that he resents all the help she’s giving because he thinks he should be the one to give the most help to his family. Sharon just smiles and says that Ed can just keep on resenting while she keeps on helping. It’s a very glib answer that glosses over the way that Sharon has fixated so fast on this family.

Yes, Sharon is a do-gooder, but the way she goes about it is kind of stalker-ish. There’s a scene where she calls the hospital where Ed owes money and pretends to be his accountant sister (who doesn’t really exist), just so she can find out how much money Ed owes for his medical bills. (It’s how she finds out he owes $435,000.) It’s a huge invasion of privacy on Sharon’s part, not to mention a HIPAA violation for the hospital to give out this information, but the person on the other line tells Sharon this information, because the movie wants people to believe that “ordinary angel” Sharon is who she is and can be dishonest and violate people’s privacy in order to get what she wants.

Sharon’s overly perky and ultra-helpful persona is a mask for some deep-seated issues in her own personal life. A scene in the movie shows Sharon going to a bar where her musician son Derek (played by Dempsey Bryk) is setting up some musical equipment before his band’s performance. Sharon seems to want to make amends for whatever she did to hurt him, but Derek’s hostile reaction makes it obvious he’s not interested in a reconciliation at that moment. It’s mentioned later in the movie that Sharon’s ex-husband (who is also a musician and not seen in the movie) abandoned Sharon and Derek when Derek was a child.

It’s unclear when Sharon became an alcoholic, but this alcoholism caused her to be a parent who did a lot of emotional damage to Derek. The movie hints at but never goes into details about this abuse, because those details would ruin the movie’s narrative that Sharon is an “ordinary angel” who wants to redeem herself. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to know that one of the main reasons why Sharon is doing this charity work is out of guilt for her own failures as a parent.

One of the other reasons why Derek is estranged from Sharon is because she won’t admit that she’s an alcoholic and won’t get help for this disease. Derek knows that Sharon has been spending a lot of time helping the Schmitt family. He makes a cutting remark, which is one of the best lines in an otherwise corny movie. Derek says to Sharon about Sharon’s obsession with helping Michelle: “That girl, I feel sorry for her, not because she’s sick but because she’s counting on you for help.”

Sharon is able to overcome big obstacles with some very trite montages of her calling up people or by going to people’s offices, usually with blueberry muffins as gifts. At one point in the movie, viewers might ask themselves, “Does Sharon even work at her salon job anymore?” That question is answered in another part of the movie, when Rose gets upset with Sharon for not showing up to work for weeks, because Sharon wants to spend her time helping the Schmitts. Most people in the real world would get fired over this chronic absenteeism, but “ordinary angel” Sharon guilt-trips Rose into not firing her, because she lectures Rose by saying Rose should be more understanding of Sharon’s charity crusade.

Perhaps one of the worst things about “Ordinary Angels” is how it portrays Ed as a gruff and reluctantly grateful parent who bizarrely refuses to accept any more donations at a time when Michelle needed the money the most for a liver transplant. At this point in the movie, he comes across as a selfish parent who has put his own personal pride over his child’s health. It’s completely heinous, but the movie excuses Ed’s parental attitude problem. It just becomes another plot device for “ordinary angel” Sharon to show Ed that she’s more generous and more capable of solving his family’s problems than he is.

There’s also an unspoken narrative in the movie that the “Ordinary Angels” filmmakers don’t want you to think about: Cute kids with deadly diseases are more likely to get help and donations from strangers, compared to other people with deadly diseases who aren’t cute kids. Does that make the lives of those “other people” less of a priority for people like Sharon Stevens? According to the way Sharon acts in this movie, the answer is “yes.” The harsh reality is that this “ordinary angel” was very selective in whom she wanted to give all of this help to that went above and beyond what most people in her situation would do.

It’s obvious that the filmmakers and stars of the movie made “Ordinary Angels” as an inspirational film with the intention to win awards. (There’s nothing Oscar-worthy about this movie though.) “Ordinary Angels” does a disservice to people who are going through real-life medical crises by warping the truth and exaggerating real circumstances to make this story look like a fairy tale. The only award that “Ordinary Angels” deserves is Most Likely to Give False Hope.

Lionsgate will release “Ordinary Angels” in U.S. cinemas on February 23, 2024.

Review: ‘Lover, Stalker, Killer, starring Dave Kroupa, Nancy Raney, Jim Doty, Ryan Avis, Tony Kava, Amy Flora and Chris LeGrow

February 19, 2024

by Carla Hay

Dave Kroupa in “Lover, Stalker, Killer” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

“Lover, Stalker, Killer”

Directed by Sam Hobkinson

Culture Representation: Taking place in Nebraska and Iowa, the documentary film “Lover, Stalker, Killer” features an all-white group of people representing the working-class and middle-class discussing a case involving stalking and murder.

Culture Clash: A bachelor, who works as an automative employee, looks for love online and has the nightmarish experience of getting involved with a woman who stalked him and his loved ones and committed murder. 

Culture Audience: “Lover, Stalker, Killer” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in true crime documentaries that have an uncluttered, cohesive storytelling style.

Dave Kroupa and Amy Flora (both in back row) with their two children in an undated archival photo from the 2000s in “Lover, Stalker, Killer” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

“Lover, Stalker, Killer” is a skillfully told true-crime documentary that keeps its perspective centered entirely on the victims, their loved ones and law enforcement. It’s a bizarre and fascinating case that doesn’t glorify the perpetrator. The perpetrator’s point of view isn’t really needed since there are no legitimate excuses for the heinous crimes committed in this case.

Directed by Sam Hobkinson, “Lover, Stalker, Killer” has an uncluttered, easy-to-follow style that is gripping from beginning to end, even if viewers already know the answers to the mystery and how the case ended after it went to trial. The documentary does not have interviews with the perpetrator, the perpetrator’s friends or family, or any defense attorneys. These omissions might irritate some viewers who want to know more about the perpetrator, but the more important takeaway from this documentary is how the survivors of these crimes coped with their ordeals and sought justice.

“Lover, Stalker, Killer” is told mainly from the perspective of Dave Kroupa, a longtime mechanic/automotive technician in Nebraska, who became one of the targets of a homicidal stalker. He is the main narrator of the documentary, which is formatted like a “whodunit mystery” to keep viewers in suspense if they don’t know the whole story. Kroupa’s online dating activities were the catalyst for the perpetrator to cause the murder and mayhem that damaged many people’s lives.

The problems started in 2012, when Kroupa had recently moved to Omaha, Nebraska, after a breakup with a former co-worker named Amy Flora, who was his live-in partner. Kroupa and Flora became a couple in 2000, and had two children (a son and a daughter) together. Flora and Kroupa both say in the documentary that their breakup was because they eventually grew apart.

Kroupa describes how his love life was in 2012 this way: “I was wild and free at 35, and I was determined to enjoy it.” He went on multiple dating websites, including Plenty of Fish, which is the only dating website mentioned in the documentary. Through these online dating sites, he met several women. Early on in his online dating experiences, he dated two women (both single mothers) around the same period of time. Both women were about the same age as Kroupa was at the time.

Kroupa says in the documentary that he made it clear to both women from the beginning that he didn’t want to be in a committed or monogamous relationship and he was only interested in casually dating them. He says that both women willingly agreed to this arrangement. Kroupa describes his relationships with both women as fun and compatible in the beginning.

The woman he dated first was Shanna “Liz” Golyar, who had a son and a daughter and owned a cleaning company in Omaha. When things started to cool down between Kroupa and Golyar, Kroupa began dating Cari Farver, an office worker with an interest in computers and who had a son. Farver lived in Macedonia, Iowa, but she worked in Omaha, near the automotive company where Kroupa had been working at the time.

Shortly after Kroupa began dating Farver (about two weeks), Golyar unexpectedly came over to Kroupa’s house to pick up something that she left behind. Kroupa and Farver happened to be on a date at Kroupa’s place at the time. Farver also sometimes stayed overnight at Kroupa’s home since it was close to her job. The two women were briefly introduced, and then Golyar left.

It wasn’t long after this incident when Kroupa began getting harassing messages by text and email from someone identifying herself as Farver. The messages would have insults and other derogatory remarks about Kroupa and Golyar. Kroupa ended the relationship with Farver, but the harassment escalated and eventually included stalking; arson of Golyar’s home; a break-in and burglary of Kroupa’s home; vandalism of Kroupa’s car and Golyar’s car; and violent threats to Kroupa, Golyar, Flora, and the children of Kroupa and Flora.

Meanwhile, Farver couldn’t be located after the harassment began, even when law enforcement did extensive stakeouts and investigations. Farver’s mother Nancy Raney (who is interviewed in the documentary) reported to law enforcement that she received messages by social media, email and text from someone identifying as Farver who was using Farver’s phone and accounts for email and social media. The messages said that Farver had taken a job (with an annual salary of $100,000) in Nebraska and that she didn’t want anyone looking for her. The messages also said that Farver expected her mother to look after Farver’s son.

Farver had bipolar disorder, but Raney insisted to investigators that this mental illness was not the reason why Farver disappeared. Raney also firmly believed that Farver was not doing the harassing and had a feeling that something bad must have happened to Farver, who would not willingly abandon her son. Raney reported Farver as a missing person to authorities, because Raney had not seen or spoken to her daughter by phone after getting these written-only messages.

The news media and investigators at the time could only point to Farver as the main suspect in the harassment, which continued over the course of three years. Farver still could not be located, and there was no proof that she was still alive. It’s at this point in the documentary that it’s easy to figure out who the culprit is and the real motives for these crimes.

By 2015, the case took a turn through the diligent efforts of three people working at the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office in Iowa: Jim Doty, a sergeant; his best friend Ryan Avis, an investigator; and Tony Kava, who worked in the information technology department. What’s even more remarkable is that Kava did most of his work while having a brain tumor, but he decided to delay having brain surgery until an arrest had been made in the case. Doty, Avis, and Kava are interviewed in the documentary to given an inside account of how they were able to solve the case.

Other people interviewed are Chris LeGrow (who was a detective at the time for the Omaha Police Department) and Brenda Beadle, a chief deputy at Douglas County Attorney’s Office in Nebraska. All of the interviewees in the documentary give their crucial views and their step-by-step process in this disturbing case. Ultimately, “Lover, Stalker, Killer” is a compelling story about how crime victims and law enforcement can work together to get justice.

Netflix premiered “Lover, Stalker, Killer” on February 9, 2024

True Crime Entertainment: What’s New This Week

The following content is generally available worldwide, except where otherwise noted. All TV shows listed are for networks and streaming services based in the United States. All movies listed are those released in U.S. cinemas. This schedule is for content and events premiering this week and does not include content that has already been made available.

February 19 – February 25, 2024

TV/Streaming Services

All times listed are Eastern Time/Pacific Time, unless otherwise noted.

The CW’s docuseries “Crime Nation” premieres on Tuesday, February 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. 

Monday, February 19

“America’s Most Wanted”
“Georgia’s Biggest Drug Ring”
Monday, February 19, 9 p.m., Fox

“Contraband: Seized at the Border”
“Dashing Through the Snow” (Episode 311)
Monday, February 19, 9 p.m., Discovery

“Death by Fame”
“To Tell the Trut5” (Episode 204)
Monday, February 19, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Fatal Attraction”
“The Blade of a Broken Heart” (Episode 1417)
Monday, February 19, 9 p.m., TV One

“Killer Performance”
“Chris Watts” (Episode 103)
Monday, February 19, 9 p.m., Reelz

“Killer Performance”
“Chacey Poynter” (Episode 104)
Monday, February 19, 10 p.m., Reelz

“For My Man”
“A Family Affair” (Episode 707)
Monday, February 19, 10 p.m., TV One

“Bad Romance”
“Deadly Night” (Episode 105)
Monday, February 19, 10 p.m., ABC

“The Playboy Murders”
“Horror in the Hamptons” (Episode 205)
Monday, February 19, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Tuesday, February 20

“Crime Nation”
“A Town Torn Apart by Murder” (Episode 101) **Series Premiere**
Tuesday, February 20, 9 p.m., The CW

“My True Crime Story”
“Allen Lindsey” (Episode 214)
Tuesday, February 20, 9 p.m., VH1

“Real Time Crime”
“Trigger Warning” (Episode 210) **Season Finale**
Tuesday, February 20, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Body Cam: On the Scene”
“Running From the Law” (Episode 320)
Tuesday, February 20, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Wednesday, February 21

“Can I Tell You a Secret?” (Two-episode docuseries)
Wednesday, February 21, 3 a.m. E?12 a.m. PT, Netflix

“Dateline”
“Twisted Tale”
Wednesday, February 21, 8 p.m., Oxygen

“Court Cam”
(Episode 717)
Wednesday, February 21, 9 p.m., A&E

“See No Evil”
“The Big Guy” (Episode 1207)
Wednesday, February 21, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Trafficked: Underworlds With Mariana van Zeller”
“Migrant Smugglers” (Episode 106)
Wednesday, February 21, 9 p.m., National Geographic

“Court Cam”
Top Five Courtroom Confrontations
Wednesday, February 21, 9:30 p.m., A&E

“Murder Under the Friday Night Lights”
“Breaking Bonds” (Episode 307)
Wednesday, February 21, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Booked: First Day In”
“Occasional Adult” (Episode 207)
Wednesday, February 21, 10 p.m., A&E

Thursday, February 22

“Death in the Dorms” (Season 2)
Thursday, February 22, 3 a.m./12 a.m. PT, Hulu

“Dateline”
“Point Blank”
Thursday, February 22, 8 p.m., Oxygen

“The First 48”
“Inside the Tape Special”
Thursday, February 22, 8 p.m., A&E

“Taking the Stand”
“Delinor Dumercy” (Episode 306)
Thursday, February 22, 9 p.m., A&E

“Undercover: Caught on Tape”
“The Cost of Happiness” (Episode 107)
Thursday, February 22, 10 p.m., A&E

Friday, February 23

“The Indrani Mukerjea Story: Buried Truth” (Four-episode docuseries)
Friday, February 23, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Netflix

“On Patrol: First Shift”
TBA
Friday, February 23, 8 p.m., Reelz

“On Patrol: Live”
TBA
Friday, February 23, 9 p.m., Reelz

“20/20”
TBA
Friday, February 23, 9 p.m., ABC

“Hustlers Gamblers Crooks”
“The Master of Disguises” (Episode 106) **Season Finale**
Friday, February 23, 9 p.m., Discovery

Saturday, February 24

“Cold Justice”
“Beloved Veteran” (Episode 701) **Season Premiere**
Saturday, February 24, 8 p.m., Reelz

“On Patrol: First Shift”
TBA
Saturday, February 24, 8 p.m., Reelz

“Sin City Murders”
(Episode 101) **Series Premiere**
Saturday, February 24, 8 p.m., Oxygen

“On Patrol: Live”
TBA
Saturday, February 24, 9 p.m., Reelz

“48 Hours”
TBA
Saturday, February 24, 10 p.m., CBS

Sunday, February 25

“Snapped”
“Jennifer Faith” (Episode 3316)
Sunday, February 25, 6 p.m., Oxygen

“Evil Lives Here”
“Terror in the Wilderness” (Episode 1503)
Sunday, February 25, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“The United States of Scandal With Jake Tapper”
“John Edwards” (Episode 103) **Series Premiere**
Sunday, February 25, 9 p.m., CNN

“Signs of a Psychopath”
“‘I’m Not Your Typical Murderer” (Episode 701) **Seasom Premiere**
Sunday, February 25, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Movies in Theaters or on Home Video

No new true crime movies released in theaters or no home video this week.

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Review: ‘Bad Hombres’ (2024), starring Diego Tinoco, Hemky Madera, Thomas Jane, Luke Hemsworth and Tyrese Gibson

February 17, 2024

by Carla Hay

Hemky Madera and Diego Tinoco in “Bad Hombres” (Photo courtesy of Screen Media)

“Bad Hombres” (2024)

Directed by John Stalberg Jr.

Some language in Spanish with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in New Mexico, the action film “Bad Hombres” features Latino and white characters (with a few African Americans) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: An undocumented immigrant and a ranch worker go on the run from a ruthless criminal and his nephew, who have committed murder. 

Culture Audience: “Bad Hombres” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in action films that are nothing but mindless “shoot ’em up” flicks.

Paul Johansson in “Bad Hombres” (Photo courtesy of Screen Media)

“Bad Hombres” is a soulless and violent 21st century Western that is just a bunch of terribly staged chase scenes, obnoxious characters and cliché-filled shootouts. It’s time-wasting junk that has nothing interesting to show or tell. There’s not much that is worth remembering because the movie doesn’t have much of a story.

Directed by John Stalberg Jr. and written by Rex New and Nick Turner, “Bad Hombres” was filmed on location in New Mexico. It’s where an undocumented Ecuadoran immigrant named Felix (played by Diego Tinoco) has illegally crossed over the border into the United States, because he’s searching for work and a better life. In the beginning of the movie, Felix is in a group of other adult migrants who are waiting in a parking lot and hoping to be chosen for a roofing job. Felix is with a friend named Oscar (played by Steve Louis Vellegas), who is among those who are selected.

Felix is not chosen for the job. He’s dejected by not completely discouraged. Felix goes into a nearby True Value hardware store to fill up a bottle with water at a public drinking fountain. A store employee (played by Kevin Moccia) yells at Felix, “You can’t solicit in here!,’ even though Felix isn’t selling anything and is minding his own business. There are racial undertones to this employee’s hostile reaction because the employee is white, and Felix is Hispanic.

A customer nearby notices that Felix is being harassed, so the customer shames the employee to stop harassing Felix. The employee then backs off and leaves Felix alone. This seemingly helpful customer is a native of Australia. His name is Donnie (played by Luke Hemsworth), and he strikes up a conversation with Felix. From this conversation, Donnie finds out that this is Felix’s first day in the United States.

Donnie (who is talkative to the point of being very irritating) correctly assumes that Felix is an undocumented immigrant when it becomes obvious that Felix is looking for a job that can pay in cash. Donnie says that he has an uncle who’s a ranch owner looking to hire someone to do some work at the ranch. Donnie says that his uncle is a “conspiracy nut” but is mostly harmless.

Felix eagerly takes this job offer without getting many details of what type of job he will be doing, except knowing that it will involve manual labor. The person who gives Felix a ride to the ranch is another ranch employee named Alfonso (played by Hemky Madera), who happens to be waiting in the parking lot of True Value. Alfonso is standoffish when Felix tries to start a conversation with him. Of course, Felix finds out too late that this job offer is too good to be true.

At the ranch, which is in a desert area, Donnie’s uncle Steve Hoskins (played by Paul Johansson) bizarrely sits in a car parked outside and watches as Donnie, Alfonso and Felix talk nearby. Felix is told that the job he has to do will be digging large holes in the hard ground. A little later, Donnie shows he’s actually a racist when he says to Felix in a taunting voice about how to pronounce Latinx: “Hey, Felix. I forgot to ask you: Is it ‘Latin-ex’ or ‘Latin-inks’?”

An unnamed rancher (played by Kevin Carrigan) rides up on a horse and demands to know what these four men are doing there, because he says that all four of them are trespassing on his private property. Donnie says that they are there to bury four bodies, which will now be five bodies. Steve then shoots and kills the unnamed rancher. And that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Alfonso overtakes Steve and kicks him so hard that he passes out. Alfonso then stabs Donnie in the head with a pick axe. Donnie shoots at Alfonso and Felix, as Alfonso and Felix drive away in Steve’s car. Felix has been shot in his right leg. Despite the serious injuries sustained by Steve and Donnie, you just know it’s not going to be the last you’ll see of these two villains. The rest of the movie is essentially about Steve and Donnie trying to find and kill Alfonso and Felix.

Some of the people who get caught up in this mayhem are Alfonso’s friend Rob Carlton (played by Thomas Jane); Rob’s friend Dr. Dean “Growler” Graulich (played by Nick Cassavetes); and a killer listed in the end credits as The Man With No Name (played by Tyrese Gibson). That’s really all there is to this simple-minded story, where all the characters are two-dimensional and utterly tedious, with stale or non-existent personalities. “Bad Hombres” is a film lacking in originality or the ability to make viewers really care about any of the characters. In the end, it’s a movie that is as empty as an unloaded gun.

Screen Media released “Bad Hombres” in select U.S. cinemas, digital and VOD on January 26, 2024. The movie will be released on DVD on March 12, 2024.

Review: ‘Altered Reality’ (2024), starring Tobin Bell, Charles Agron, Alyona Khmara, Krista Dane Hoffman, Ed Asner and Lance Henriksen

February 17, 2024

by Carla Hay

Charles Agron and Lance Henriksen in “Altered Reality” (Photo courtesy of K Street Pictures)

“Altered Reality” (2024)

Directed by Don E. FauntLeRoy

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the sci-fi/drama film “Altered Reality” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans, Asian and Latin people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A medical research executive, whose daughter has been kidnapped and murdered, discovers a way to go back in time and change events. 

Culture Audience: “Altered Reality” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching time-traveling movies, no matter how incoherent and poorly made they are.

Krista Dane Hoffman and Alyona Khmara in “Altered Reality” (Photo courtesy of K Street Pictures)

Plagued by a disjointed screenplay, horrible acting and unfocused direction, “Altered Reality” is a muddled drama about time traveling and a mystery of a murdered girl. The movie concludes with an unimaginative ending that looks rushed and tacked-on, in order to pander to what the filmmakers think would be the most crowd-pleasing outcome. The only altered reality is the filmmakers thinking this low-quality film is any good.

Directed by Don E. FauntLeRoy and written by Charles Agron, “Altered Reality” takes place in an unnamed U.S. city. (The movie was actually filmed in Georgia.) It begins by showing a girl, who’s about 5 or 6 years old, sitting by herself and a table in a wooded area near her house, as she is making some drawings. Someone dressed entirely in black, including a hooded sweatshirt, appears to be stalking her.

Viewers soon find out that the girl’s name is Katy Cook (played by Quincy Faler), and she has been kidnapped by this stalker. “Altered Reality” tells the sequence of events in a very jumbled way, but viewers who are paying attention will see what led up to this kidnapping. It’s also revealed in the “Altered Reality” trailer that Katy was murdered.

Katy’s parents are a business executive named Oliver Cook (played by Agron) and a homemaker named Caroline Cook (played by Alyona Khmara), who were experiencing some marital problems even before Katy was abducted. Oliver is the owner and leader of a medical research company that is developing medication that can cure terminal illnesses. He is a workaholic who spends a lot of time away from home.

Oliver’s workaholic ways have put a strain on his marriage to Caroline and his relationship with Katy. Caroline feels neglected, and she suspects that Oliver has been cheating on her, because she notices that he gets calls and text messages on his phone from women she doesn’t know. It’s also mentioned at one point that Katy has been feeling depressed because she thinks Oliver doesn’t love her.

On the day that Katy disappeared, Oliver had promised that he would go bike riding with Katy. But instead, he backed out of that promise and was celebrating at a party with work colleagues because his company has had a major breakthrough in its research. Clinical trial results have shown that the company’s medication has cured all 5,000 people with terminal illnesses who were part of the most recent clinical trial.

In a meeting that previously took place between Oliver, the company’s cynical attorney Cooper Mason (played by Tobin Bell) and two other people named Dr. Ross (played by Demi Castro) and Spencer Ross (played by Kamran Shaikh), Oliver finds out that the medication (which comes in the form of pills) can be sold for $50,000 per pill. The company is expected to make billions of dollars after it goes public. Oliver and Cooper are understandably ecstatic, as Oliver tells Cooper how Oliver plans to spend some of these probable riches.

At the same time that Oliver was celebrating this business success at a party, Katy had been kidnapped. Caroline feels guilty because she had been looking after Katy but had taken her eyes off of Katy for only a few minutes. Caroline frantically tried to reach Oliver by phone many times after Katy went missing, but he ignored her messages because he was too busy partying with his colleagues.

Oliver eventually gets Caroline’s messages and rushes home. But it’s too late. Katy has disappeared, and there are no clues about who kidnapped her and why. The movie shows that nine months later, Katy kidnapping is still a mystery, with no progress in the case, although Oliver eventually finds out that Katy has been murdered.

In the nine months since the kidnapping, Oliver has become very wealthy because of his company’s “miracle drug.” However, Oliver and Caroline are heartbroken and feel guilty over the disappearance of Katy and have not given up hope of finding her. The marriage of Caroline and Oliver has been unraveling because Oliver has been coping with his grief by spending even more time away from home than he did before Katy’s kidnapping.

One of the things that Oliver did after he became rich is buy a bed-and-breakfast resort called Spring Manor, a place that has happy memories for him because he has been going there every year since he was a child. Oliver continued the tradition after he became a husband and father. His attorney Cooper advised that Oliver should not buy Spring Manor, which Cooper described as “a bottomless pit of repair bills,” but the sentimental value of Spring Manor had too much appeal to Cooper, so he bought the property anyway.

The Spring Manor parts of the plot are among the weakest links in an already poorly constructed screenplay. At Spring Manor, Oliver has been friendly for years with the manor’s elderly custodian Jack (played by Lance Henriksen), who is obviously a ghost, as viewers see when Jack shows an ability to vanish and appear suddenly. Oliver is so unobservant, he doesn’t think it’s strange that Jack appears out of nowhere like a ghost.

Jack also claims to have known Oliver’s ancestors who died hundreds of years ago. Oliver marvels out loud to Jack about how Jack has looked the same the entire time that Oliver has known Jack. “How do you do it?” Oliver asks Jack about why Oliver doesn’t seem to get older. Jack replies, “I see a lot of strange things here.” Oliver says, “It’s the energy of this place.”

As soon as these things are revealed, you just know that Jack has some secrets that have to do with Oliver’s ancestors, and there will be a time-traveling element that centers on Spring Manor. The cinematography lighting turns brown in the time-traveling scenes. It’s all so hokey and predictable. The musical score by Andrew Morgan Smith is trying to evoke noirish thrillers from the 1950s, but it sounds very out-of-place in a movie that takes place mostly in the 2020s.

One day, Oliver and Jack are having a private conversation outside at Spring Manor. Jack takes out a pill bottle after Oliver says he has a headache, and he gives Oliver a pill. Jack tells Oliver to take the pill only after Oliver finds out what the ingredients are. Oliver says he’s had these headaches for a while—and the reason why he has these headaches is the most obvious reason when Oliver predictably finds out that he can time travel. It takes an awfully long time in the movie (after two-thirds of the movie have passed) before he discovers this time-traveling ability.

After Oliver gets this pill from Jack, there’s trouble in the Cook household when Oliver comes home to find out that a woman (whose face isn’t on camera in this scene) is in the living room, is claiming to be Oliver’s mistress, and has exposed their alleged affair to Caroline. This self-described mistress shows Caroline proof on her phone that Oliver has been cheating on Caroline. Caroline is devastated and immediately tells Oliver that she wants a divorce. This scene is shown early in the movie’s jumbled timeline, and the scene is revisited much later to reveal the identity of this “mistress.” This identity reveal is also no surprise.

Oliver is so distraught over Caroline wanting a divorce, he becomes suicidal. Before he goes somewhere with the intent to hang himself, he stops off at a strip club and gives a wad of cash to a stripper named Brittany, whose stage name is Vixen (played by Kayla Adams), and he tells her to use to money for the future college education of Brittany’s underage daughter. Oliver met Brittany on the night he went to this strip club with Cooper and Cooper’s date Alex Parker (played by Krista Dane Hoffman, also known as Krista Dane King), a seductive fashion executive who happens to know Caroline casually because they’re in the same yoga class.

All of these storylines and subplots are shown or explained in a very messy way in “Altered Reality,” which clumsily mishandles flashbacks with sloppily edited scenes that take place in the present day. There’s also a pivotal plot development involving someone from the past named Kate (played by Kate Reilly), who has a personal connection to certain people in the story. Ed Asner shares top billing in “Altered Reality,” but his screen time in the movie (as Jack’s family member Mike Wilson) consists of less than five minutes.

As the writer, star and one of the producers of “Altered Reality,” Agron looks like he made a vanity project, because his acting performance is among the worst in a movie filled with bad acting. The movie tries to blend several different story ideas into one big concept, but it just doesn’t work, like pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit. Even without all the plot holes and unanswered questions, “Altered Reality” is a very dull movie that’s supposed to be a sci-fi thriller but is really just a sci-fi clunker.

K Street Pictures released “Altered Reality” in select U.S. cinemas on February 16, 2024.

Review: ‘How to Have Sex,’ starring Mia McKenna-Bruce, Lara Peake, Samuel Bottomley, Shaun Thomas, Enva Lewis and Laura Ambler

February 16, 2024

by Carla Hay

Mia McKenna-Bruce and Shaun Thomas in “How to Have Sex” (Photo courtesy of MUBI)

“How to Have Sex”

Directed by Molly Manning Walker

Culture Representation: Taking place in Greece, the dramatic film “How to Have Sex” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some black people) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Three British female friends, who are in their late teens, go on vacation together in Greece, where they party a lot, and one of the women gets sexually assaulted by a young British man who became one of their party acquaintances. 

Culture Audience: “How to Have Sex” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in well-acted movies about “date rape” and its psychological effects.

Lara Peake, Enva Lewis and Mia McKenna-Bruce in “How to Have Sex” (Photo courtesy of MUBI)

“How to Have Sex” is a realistic drama about sexual awakening and sexual assault during a vacation revolving around carefree intoxication. It’s not a preachy movie, but it’s a candid observation of confusion, regret and peer pressure in sexual experiences. “How to Have Sex” is told from the perspectives of people in their late teens and early 20s, but the themes in the film can apply to anyone.

Written and directed by Molly Manning Walker, “How to Have Sex” is her skillfully made feature-film debut. The movie had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Un Certain Regard prize. “How to Have Sex” also screened at several other film festivals in 2023, such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival. “How to Have Sex” also won three prizes at the 2023 British Independent Film Awards: Best Lead Performance (for Mia McKenna-Bruce); Best Supporting Performance (for Shaun Thomas); and Best Casting (for Isabella Odoffin).

In “How to Have Sex” (which takes place in an unnamed part of Greece), three British female best friends, have recently graduated from high school and are on a summer vacation. The three pals are vacationing together at a resort that’s popular with other young people who want to do a lot of partying. The three besties are charismatic Tara (played by McKenna-Bruce), bossy Skye (played by Lara Peake), and friendly Em (played by Enva Lewis), who all consider themselves to be fun-loving free spirits. However, in the beginning of the story, Tara is a virgin and is somewhat embarrassed about it, because she doesn’t want anyone else outside of this trio of friends to know that she is a virgin.

Tara, Skye and Em all share the same room together at the resort hotel. The first third of the movie consists of scenes of the three women having a lot of drunken antics and hangovers. Their personalities, which become more apparent in their interactions with people, affect how they react to certain situations.

Skye thinks of herself as the leader of this trio. She constantly wants to know what other people are doing in their sex lives and gives unsolicited advice. Skye is very manipulative, since she says and does things to either bring people together in hookups that she wants to happen, or steer people away from hookups that she doesn’t want to happen. During a drinking game of “Never Have I Ever,” Skye seems to be the most sexually experienced of the three friends.

Tara, who is nicknamed Taz, is the talkative and somewhat goofy charmer of the group. Early on in the movie, there’s a scene where Em unsuccessfully asks the hotel’s front-desk receptionist (played by Eleni Sachini) if the three friends could switch to a room that overlooks the hotel’s swimming pool. The receptionist insists that there is no such room available. But then, Tara immediately comes along, introduces herself to the receptionist with a smile, and talks the receptionist into giving them this room by saying that Skye has been learning to swim, and having a room with the view of the swimming pool will give Skye more confidence.

Em is the quietest one of the trio, which doesn’t mean that she’s not talkative. Em just doesn’t call attention to herself as much as Tara and Skye do. There are hints that Em comes from an affluent family, because she says at one point, “I miss my BMW.” Em is also queer, since her main hookup during this vacation is a butch-looking young British woman named Paige (played by Laura Ambler), who is staying with some British friends at the hotel room next door.

Paige is sharing the room with two guys who are about the same age (late teens or early 20s) and who are also doing a lot of partying. Best friends Badger (played by Thomas) and Paddy (played by Samuel Bottomley) are enthusiastic participants in all the drunken debauchery taking place during this vacation. Not much is revealed about the backgrounds of Badger and Paddy, which is the movie’s way of showing how encounters in this type of environment are often superficial and aren’t about getting to know people better outside of partying and meaningless flings.

Badger, with his tattoos and messy bleach-blonde hair, looks and acts like a stereotypical stoner/drunkard who over-indulges in marijuana and alcohol. The only things he reveals about himself and his life outside of the bubble of this vacation is that his job is “driving vans” (he doesn’t give further details) and that his mother and Paddy’s mother are also best friends. Paddy is more clean-cut and less of a loudmouth than Badger. Paddy often acts like he’s Badger’s “wing man,” since Badger is more likely to take the lead in approaching women.

Badger first sees Tara the morning after a night of heavy partying. They both happen to be on their balconies of their respective rooms at the same time. Badger immediately flirts with Tara, but she doesn’t seem that interested in him, but she accepts his invitation for Tara and her friends to meet up with Badger and his friends at a party. It’s at this party where Tara meets Paddy, and she’s instantly attracted to him, but he doesn’t seem very interested in Tara.

Meanwhile, Skye notices that Badger has been heavily flirting with Tara, who is slowly warming up to Badger’s attention. When Tara and Badger get drunk together, she likes to make him laugh with silly jokes. However, observant viewers will notice that Skye is attracted to Badger, even though Skye doesn’t say so out loud. When Skye finds out that Tara prefers Paddy, Skye encourages Tara to flirt more with Paddy.

At first, “How to Have Sex” shows a lot of intoxicated reveling at places like nightclubs, hotel rooms or swimming pools. It looks repetitive, but it’s the movie way of showing how people in these situations can be lulled into thinking that life is one big party and the worst thing that can happen to them is maybe getting lost or having a hangover. It’s not the movie giving criticism of partying, but it shows how intoxicated partying can impair people’s judgments to the point where they will do things differently or get themselves in situations that they wouldn’t be in if they were clear-minded and sober.

Even in scenes showing a lot of young people partying as if they don’t have a care in the world, there is an underlying sense that sexual antics could go too far and cross the line into sexual assault. At nightclubs and gatherings at swimming pools, party hosts have games requiring participants to take off items of their clothing or do sexually suggestive things, such as place a beer bottle in a crotch area (while clothed) and serve the beer into the open mouth of another participant. No one is shown being forced to participate in these games, but the women who participate are more at risk than men of being perceived as “promiscuous” for playing these games.

During one of these games in a swimming pool, Badger volunteers to be licked and kissed by several women volunteers (who are strangers to him) at the same time in the pool. One of the women ends up giving him oral sex in front of everyone who can see it, although the graphic details are not shown in the movie. Tara sees all of this going on, and she looks uncomfortable. It’s not like she thinks Badger is her boyfriend, but it’s an eye-opening incident for her to find out that this is the kind of thing he’ll do when he’s drunk. The next day, Badger says he has no memory of what happened in the swimming pool.

The prevailing attitude about sexual hookups during all of this partying is: “If it feels good, and it’s consensual, why not?” But what if someone is too intoxicated to consent? That’s where problems can occur, especially if people can’t agree on what it means to be “too intoxicated” in the context of the situation. There’s also peer pressure, since this is the type of vacation where the partiers don’t want to be perceived as being uptight and prudish. Skye and Tara almost have a big argument when Skye drops hints to people that Tara is a virgin.

It’s enough to say that the possible love triangle between Badger, Tara and Paddy turns into something that is definitely not love. Tara loses her virginity to one of them in a consensual encounter. She then regrets it when he acts like the encounter didn’t mean much to him, so she becomes quiet and withdrawn. He then wants to have another sexual encounter with her, but she says no. However, when she’s half-asleep one morning, he crawls into bed with her and starts to have sex with Tara, without her consent, under the covers. He stops only because Skye walks in and unknowingly interrupts this assault.

The rape of Tara happens so quickly, she’s in shock. The tone of “How to Have Sex” then changes from being upbeat to sobering to borderline depressing. The movie does an excellent job of showing the psychological effects this rape has on Tara, as the shock wears off, and she begins to understand that what happened to her wasn’t a drunken mistake: She was deliberately raped.

Does Tara report this rape? It’s a dilemma that many rape victims often face: How do you report a rape when the rapist is someone who can claim it was consensual sex, because the victim had previously had consensual sex with the rapist on another occasion? It’s also a “he said/she said” situation, because no one except Tara and her rapist saw what happened.

Skye is too self-absorbed to notice the personality change in Tara, but Em notices and is a compassionate friend who takes the time to listen to a friend in need. Because Tara is the main character in “How to Have Sex,” the heart and soul of the movie is in the performance of McKenna-Bruce, who does an admirable job of conveying all the emotions of someone who goes from being a bubbly party girl to a vulnerable rape survivor. Whether or not the rapist is punished for the crime is not the point of this movie. The main intent of “How to Have Sex” is to show how easily a sexual-assault crime can happen and how the crime victim chose to cope with it.

MUBI released “How to Have Sex” in select U.S. cinemas on February 2, 2024. The movie was released in the United Kingdom and other countries in 2023.

Review: ‘Perfect Days’ (2023), starring Kôji Yakusho

February 15, 2024

by Carla Hay

Kôji Yakusho and Arisa Nakano in “Perfect Days” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Perfect Days” (2023)

Directed by Wim Wenders

Japanese with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Tokyo, the dramatic film “Perfect Days” features a predominantly Asian cast of characters (with a few white people and black people) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: An elderly sanitation worker, who is a quiet loner, spends his days and nights trying to live a harmonious existence when he’s with other people, but he sometimes battles loneliness and being misunderstood. 

Culture Audience: “Perfect Days” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in a “slice of life” movie that focuses on a specific individual.

Arisa Nakano and Kôji Yakusho in “Perfect Days” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Perfect Days” is a “slice of life” movie about an elderly sanitation worker who is a quiet loner. Viewer appreciation will rest entirely on whether or not this person is worth watching. For most people, the answer is “yes.” However, because “Perfect Days” is a slow-paced movie, it won’t have much appeal to viewers with short attention spans or those who have no interest in seeing this insularly focused movie about this type of person.

Directed by Wim Wenders (who co-wrote the “Perfect Days” screenplay with Takuma Takasaki), “Perfect Days” had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, where star Kôji Yakusho won the prize for Best Actor. The movie then made the rounds at numerous film festivals in 2023, including the Telluride Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. “Perfect Days” was nominated for Best International Feature Film for the 2024 Academy Awards.

Yakusho, who stars as “Perfect Days” protagonist Hirayama, gives the type of performance where he has to do a lot of acting with his facial expressions and body language, since Hirayama doesn’t talk at all for a great deal of the film. When he does talk, he does so sparingly, without saying his inner feelings out loud. It’s the type of performance that will make viewers want to know more about Hirayama—not in a way where the movie feels incomplete, but in a way that indicates there’s a lot more to Hirayama than he shows to the people he sees on a regular basis.

“Perfect Days” shows what amounts to about two weeks of Hirayama’s life. He works for a company called The Tokyo Toilet, and his job is to clean outdoor public toilets in Tokyo, where he lives. He is very responsible, prompt and thorough in his work. It doesn’t take long for viewers to see that Hirayama likes to keep his life uncomplicated and is happy with finding comfort in life’s simple pleasures.

Very little is known about Hirayama before this story takes place. What were his hopes and dreams when he was younger? Has he been married? Does he have children? What types of jobs did he have before his current job? Don’t expect answers to these questions, although because Hirayama lives alone and doesn’t mention having any children, it can be assumed that he’s a bachelor with no children.

A few things become apparent about Hirayama from his interactions with people. He’s kind, he’s generous, and he likes his daily routines. He has a pattern that he sticks to of going to his job, a local park for lunch, his favorite cafe and bar when he’s not working, and then going home. He likes listening to classic rock, reading, and taking outdoor photos. He keeps his photos neatly filed in boxes labeled according to the months that the photos were taken.

Hirayama shows his generosity by lending a co-worker in his 20s named Takashi (played by Tokio Emoto) some money so that Takashi can court a girlfriend named Aya (played by Aoi Yamada), whom Takashi wants desperately to impress. Takashi gets the money by whining to Hirayama that the Tokyo Toilet job doesn’t pay Takashi enough money to take Aya out on the dates that he thinks Aya deserves. At first, Takashi tried to persuade Hirayama to sell off a large part of Hirayama’s music collection (he has mostly cassettes and vinyl albums) to get the money, but Hirayama decides to just give Takashi the wanted cash instead. Takashi shows up late for work sometimes. When Hirayama has to pick up the slack for Takashi’s flakiness, Hirayama does so without complaining.

Music is a big part of “Perfect Days,” since Hirayama listens to classic rock from the 1960s and 1970s for enjoyment, and it becomes a way that he bonds with certain people in the movie. Patti Smith’s breakthrough 1975 album “Horses” is prominently featured as part of the story. Other music heard in the movie’s soundtrack (which is the soundtrack to Hirayama’s life) are songs such as Lou Reed’s plaintive 1972 ballad “Perfect Day,” Van Morrison’s classic 1967 love song “Brown Eyed Girl” and the Kinks’ 1966 jaunty hit “Sunny Afternoon.”

A turning point in the story comes with the unexpected visit of Hirayama’s teenage niece Niko (played by Arisa Nakano), who shows up at Hirayama’s home because she’s having problems with her mother, who is Hirayama’s younger sister. This visit is a catalyst for Hirayama to look at his life from Niko’s perspective, and it opens up some old emotional wounds and certain feelings in Hirayama. “Perfect Days” is not a perfect movie, but it’s a wonderful example of a contemplative movie about someone who usually isn’t the main character of a movie and is the type of person who is often overlooked or forgotten in real life.

Neon released “Perfect Days” in New York City on November 10, 2023, with a wider expansion to more U.S. cinemas on February 9, 2024. The movie was released in Japan and other countries in 2023.

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