Movie theatres are closed for the foreseeable future, so here are some movies you can watch at home:

The following are this week’s new releases available on digital platforms:

Swallow (2019) R

Swallow

Photo courtesy of IFC Films

Hunter (Haley Bennett) is a pregnant housewife who finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. Feeling the pressure from her husband (Austin Stowell) and her family, she must come to terms with the dark secret that is behind her new obsession. Swallow Website

What to Watch For: Haley Bennett won the Best Actress award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

Word on the Street: This is the first narrative feature film from writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis.

My Take: Some of my fellow film critics say this was one of the best films they saw last year at a film festival.

 

Blow the Man Down (2019) R

Blow the Man Down

Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

In a fishing village on Maine’s coast, two sisters (Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor), grieving the loss of their mother, cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man. To keep their crime a secret, the sisters must go into the criminal underbelly of their hometown and uncover some of the town’s darkest secrets. Blow the Man Down Website

What to Watch For: Writer/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy were nominated for Best First Screenplay at the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Word on the Street: Sophie Lowe, was nominated for an AFI Award for Best Lead Actress in her feature film debut, the 2009 film Beautiful Kate.

My Take: Morgan Saylon is best known for her role as Dana Brody on the series Homeland.

 

Here are my reviews of movies just released this week on DVD/BluRay:

Jumanji: The Next Level (first reviewed Dec. 13, 2019) PG-13

Jumanji: The Next Level

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

The gang (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan) is back, and this time it’s a rescue mission. In order to escape the most dangerous game, they will have to go into an unknown country full of arid deserts and snowy mountains. While not quite as fun and inventive as the first film in this series, it’s still a thrilling and hilarious ride. The same characters are back, but there is a twist (quite a good one) that lets everyone in the cast have a blast. I don’t want to give away who or what Awkwafina plays in the film, but as with everything she is in, she steals the film from the regular cast. If you enjoyed the first film or even the original Jumanji that starred Robin Williams, I think you will have a great time on this adventure.   My Rating: Full Price 

Richard Jewell (first reviewed Dec. 13, 2019) R

Richard Jewell

Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers

A security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is initially hailed a hero when he saves thousands from an exploding bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Soon the FBI and the press believe that Richard is not a hero but the bomber himself. Clint Eastwood, in the last ten years, has had somewhat up and down success with the movies he has directed. There were a couple of winners with The Mule (2018) and American Sniper (2014), but too often his films lately have felt like Eastwood has just been going through the motions, like the horrible Jersey Boys (2014) and the boring The 15:17 to Paris (2018). While not the quality of Eastwood’s earlier work like Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) or Million Dollar Baby (2004), Richard Jewell is still a good film with some outstanding performances. Paul Walter Hauser does an exceptional job as Jewell, a man who wanted so badly to be a law enforcement officer who, when given chances to become one, blew it by being overzealous in his methods. Kathy Bates is almost sure to get a supporting actress nomination for her portrayal of Richard’s mother, a woman who always believed her son was a hero. For me, the actor that hit it out of the park was Sam Rockwell, as Jewell’s attorney, a crusty lawyer who sees that Richard is the victim of a system looking for a quick villain to prosecute. My one problem with the film is the two characters that are instrumental with Richard being persecuted; Olivia Wilde’s reporter character, who will go as far as to sleep with someone for inside information and Jon Hamm, playing the lead FBI agent who is willing to give her that information. Both characters feel like something out of a bad daytime soap opera and bring the story down quite a bit. These two characters lessen the film’s impact, but the film still has the performances of Hauser, Bates, and Rockwell to keep it upright. My Rating: Full Price

 

Universal is releasing on the VOD platform films that were playing in movie theatres when the shutdown occurred. Here are my reviews of those films:

The Hunt (first reviewed on Mar. 13, 2020) R

The Hunt

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing and don’t have any idea where they are or how they got there. They are about to find out why they have been chosen, chosen for ‘The Hunt.’ I can’t say too much about this film because, right from the start, this wacky and fun gorefest breaks a lot of rules in creating an inventive storyline that I really enjoyed. If you have seen the commercials or the trailer, you may think you know what this film is about, but I am telling you that you are probably wrong. I can tell you that Betty Gilpin, who has shown some spark in the TV series GLOW, is brilliant as a woman who decides that she is going to take charge and survive. My only regret about the film is I wish they had played up the comedy (think absurd plot lines) a bit more. Still, I had such a good time watching this film, that I told one of the critics after the screening, that I wanted it to be longer so I could enjoy the crazy world the film created.  My Rating: Full Price

 

The Invisible Man (first reviewed on Feb. 28, 2020) R

The Invisible Man

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) is in an abusive relationship with her husband (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and with the help of her sister (Harriet Dyer), and their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge), she escapes and goes into hiding. When her husband takes his own life, Cecilia is the sole beneficiary of his will, leaving her millions of dollars. Cecilia was always told by her husband that he would hunt her down if she ever left him, even from the grave. Now Cecilia is convinced that her husband has figured out a way to become invisible, making her life a living hell. Over the past couple of months, I have seen some incredibly crappy films that have tried, very unsuccessfully, scare me. I am happy to tell you that finally, we have a suspense film (its not quite a horror film) that, through a smart and skillful script, creates scenes that are filled with tension and fear. In the age of ‘Me Too,’ it is refreshing that a film captures the real horror and panic of a woman being terrorized, and no one will believe her side of the story. What I love about this film is that while most of the characters, including some of Cecilia’s closest friends, feel that she is going nuts, we, the audience know that what Cecilia is experiencing isn’t a figment of her mind, but something that is really happening to her. The film deftly treats Cecilia as a strong woman who has legitimate fears of what her husband is capable of, even if it seems that he is attacking her from beyond his grave. Moss is perfect as the everywoman who is determined to solve what is happening to her, even if she has to do it by herself, powered on by only her wits and will power.   My Rating: Full Price

 

Emma. (first reviewed on Feb. 28, 2020) PG

Emma

Photo courtesy of Focus Features

Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a young, beautiful woman, who much to the delight of her father, Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy), refuses to marry. Instead of matrimony for herself, she feels it is her mission to play matchmaker for her friends and family. Emma’s plans don’t always work out, and Emma may find that love may be just around the corner, whether she wants it or not. Anya Taylor-Joy brightens up the screen in every scene she is in, making it so much fun to watch her character weave her magic with her friend’s lives. Emma is a beautiful film to watch, filled with luscious scenery and amazing costumes. The film is a delight for not only your eyes but is filled with very amusing situations as Emma tries to influence everyone she encounters with her ideas about relationships. And, any film that has Bill Nighy as a hypochondriac father who is always on the lookout for a draft that he is convinced is in every corner of his household, is worth the price of admission. This Jane Austin adaptation is a film that the words delightful and enchanting kept coming into my mind as I was watching it.   My Rating: Full Price

 

My movie rating system from Best to Worst:  1). I Would Pay to See it Again  2). Full Price  3). Bargain Matinee  4). Cable  5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again

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