What’s new to theatres, VOD and streaming this weekend: July 30-August 1, 2021

Including Jungle Cruise, Watch The Sound With Mark Ronson, Still Water and Enemies Of The State


Our picks for the best new movies coming out this week. Plus Everything new to VOD and streaming platforms for the weekend of July 30.

Jungle Cruise

(Jaume Collet-Serra)

The Pirates Of The Caribbean movies made a ridiculous amount of money, so every Disney theme-park attraction must be adapted to the big screen. The studio’s been working on a Jungle Cruise movie for a decade and a half, and this film is a decent enough adventure picture until it gets bogged down in elaborate mythology and CGI. The plot is a buffet-style reworking of The African Queen, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and the 1999 remake of The Mummy, set in 1916 and starring Emily Blunt as a plucky English botanist who carts her posh brother (Jack Whitehall) to the Amazon in search of a mythical tree whose petals “can cure any illness or break any curse;” Dwayne Johnson is the irreverent riverboat skipper whose vessel she charters for the expedition, and Jesse Plemons – somehow – is a German aristocrat determined to get there first. It’s ridiculous, but the leads are having fun and it’s all staged with verve by Collet-Serra, who’s clearly enjoying the opportunity to goof around after a decade of clenched Liam Neeson thrillers. There are even some attempts to blunt the colonialism and outright racism of the original material – though not all of them work as well as Disney might have hoped. Baby steps, I guess. 127 min. Some subtitles. Now in theatres and available to stream on Disney+ with Premier Access. NNN (Norman Wilner)

The Green Knight

(David Lowery)

Writer/director Lowery’s rendition of the Arthurian legend – in which the young Gawain (Dev Patel) accepts a Christmas challenge from a mystical warrior (Ralph Ineson), and one year later must surrender himself to a supernatural retribution – is artfully realized, expansively told and weirdly hollow. After the mesmerizing sadness of A Ghost Story, Lowery’s latest experiment in slow cinema strives for similar gravitas but doesn’t quite reach it; the visual details are exquisite, but the myth being told is so slight and simple that expanding it into a movie that runs over two hours snuffs out its spark, as Lowery adds new complications and digressions that serve to overcomplicate the story or negate its meaning entirely. Still, Patel’s performance as a naive young man forced to contemplate his own mortality far too soon is one of his best, and his co-stars Alicia Vikander, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, Erin Kellyman and Joel Edgerton all understand the spell Lowery is working to cast. I expect The Green Knight will live on as a midnight movie and a stoner classic… but taken straight, it’s a little much. 130 mins. Now in theatres. NNN (NW)

Stillwater

(Tom McCarthy)

Matt Damon plays the gentle side of Trump’s America in Stillwater. The fish-out-of-water narrative plucks Damon’s gun-owning, red state figure Bill Baker and sends him abroad, exploring how the rest of the world might find common ground with a white man from such a polarizing culture. How Stillwater gets there takes some bending over backwards. Bill’s daughter Allison (Abigail Breslin) is serving time in Marseilles, convicted for murdering her roommate in circumstances that closely mirror Amanda Knox’s conviction. Bill travels to Marseilles for a visit, but soon gets drawn into a lone-wolf journey trying to discover a culprit that got away with murder and left his daughter behind bars. Director Tom McCarthy has a hard time making the thriller and procedural elements convincing. They intrude on what is otherwise a tender and warm human drama, where Bill slowly forges a connection with a theatre actor and single mother named Virginie (Camille Cottin) and her precocious daughter Maya (Lilou Siauvaud). There is also something funny about a movie that makes someone from Trump country relatable by removing that person from Trump country. 140 mins. Now in theatres.  NNN (Radheyan Simonpillai)

Watch The Sound With Mark Ronson

(Mark Ronson, Morgan Neville)

Arriving just weeks after Apple’s epic dive into the music and culture of 1971, the streamer’s latest music doc is a much more casual affair, as producer and DJ Ronson – who gave Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black its vintage sound, among other things – wanders around exploring the specific tools of the recording trade, with individual episodes devoted to Auto-Tune, sampling, reverb, synthesizers, drum machines and distortion. It’s a music nerd’s delight, as Ronson chats with the likes of Paul McCartney, Questlove, Dave Grohl, Charlie XCX, King Princess, T-Pain, Gary Numan, Beastie- Boys Mike D and Ad-Rock and others about how they do what they do, illustrating the results with archival footage, recording sessions and the occasional performance clip. It’s not as revelatory as other music docs, but that’s okay; Ronson and Neville aren’t trying to surprise us with new information, just enhance our understanding of the elements of an art form that too often goes underappreciated. And there’s at least one wonderful thing in every episode, like footage of Ronson and Lady Gaga figuring out the structure of “Shallow” in the studio or a sequence in which Ronson farts around in a decommissioned oil-storage tank in the north of Scotland that’s now the world’s largest reverb chamber. All six episodes now available to stream on Apple TV+. NNNN (NW)

Enemies Of The State

(Sonia Kennebeck)

The mesmerizing new documentary from National Bird director Kennebeck tells the story of Matt DeHart, a former drone operator with the Air National Guard turned hacktivist for Anonymous. In 2010, when DeHart was 25, the family home was raided by police seeking evidence of child pornography: Matthew insisted the FBI was behind the operation, using the child-porn warrant to search his hard drives for high-value intelligence he’d been sent by a whistleblower within the intelligence community. When Matthew was released, he and his parents fled to Canada in 2014 to claim political asylum – and the story gets even stranger from there. Kennebeck and editor Maxine Goedicke craft a compelling story of government overreach, legal brinksmanship and family ties stretched to the breaking point. The narrative is straight out of a paranoid thriller: how far would the state go to keep a terrible secret from getting out? But the stakes are painfully real: how far would parents go to keep their son safe? Enemies Of The State offers a clear answer to one of those questions, at least, and leaves many, many others hanging by design. Like I said, this story is stranger than you can imagine. 105 mins. Now streaming on IFC Film Unlimited on Amazon Prime Video Canada and available to rent on Apple TV. NNNN (NW)

Available on VOD

Enemies Of The State

Documentary directed by Sonia Kennebeck

Read NOW’s TIFF review

Apple TV, IFC Films Unlimited on Amazon Prime Video Canada

The Exchange

Ed Oxenbould, Avan Jogia, Justin Hartley; directed by Dan Mazer

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

F9: The Fast Saga

Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena; directed by Justin Lin

Read NOW’s review

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

For Madmen Only: The Stories Of Del Close

Documentary directed by Heather Ross

Hot Docs At Home

Fully Realized Humans

Jess Weixler, Joshua Leonard, Beth Grant; directed by Joshua Leonard & Jess Weixler

Apple TV, Google Play

Lorelei

Pablo Schreiber, Jena Malone, Gretchen Corbett; directed by Sabrina Doyle

Apple TV, Cineplex

Masquerade

Bella Thorne, Mircea Monroe, Alyvia Alyn Lind; directed by Shane Dax Taylor

Apple TV, Google Play

Nemesis

Julian Glover, Bruce Payne, Nick Moran; directed by James Crow

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

Ride The Eagle

Jake Johnson, J.K. Simmons, D’Arcy Carden; directed by Trent O’Donnell

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

Twist

Michael Caine, Lena Headey, Rita Ora; directed by Martin Owen

Apple TV, Google Play

Streaming guides

Everything coming to streaming platforms this month:

Netflix July / August

Crave July / August

Amazon Prime Video Canada July / August

Disney+ July / August

CBC Gem July

Shout! Factory's new Blu-ray edition of David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone.

Disc of the week

The Dead Zone (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)

Almost 40 years after its release, David Cronenberg’s muted adaptation of Stephen King’s best-seller – starring Christopher Walken as a New England schoolteacher who emerges from a five-year coma with the ability to see the future, and becomes convinced that only he can stop a fanatical populist from eventually ending the world – stands as one of the best movies ever made from King’s work, and a key turning point for Cronenberg, who used it as a lever to demonstrate he could handle a complex studio picture without sacrificing the intensity or audacity of his earlier films. Having Walken on board as Johnny Smith, with Brooke Adams as his lost love and Sheen as the genuinely unnerving Greg Stillson, certainly helped; so did Michael Kamen’s elegiac score, which positions this story as a tragedy from its very first bars.

For whatever reason, The Dead Zone didn’t make it to Blu-ray in North America until last fall, when Paramount released it in a five-disc Stephen King collection along with the original TV adaptation of The Stand, both versions of Pet Sematary and the 80s werewolf thriller Silver Bullet. (I reviewed it here.) That marked an improvement over the existing DVD, but this new disc – mastered from a new 4K scan – is the restoration the movie deserves: cleaner, sharper, moodier, with richer colour depth that makes the occasional splash of red land vividly in Mark Irwin’s pale, wintry cinematography. This release also includes the original 2.0 stereo soundtrack in addition to the 5.1 DTS-HD remix produced for Paramount’s Blu-ray.

Irwin discusses his visual choices at length in one of four (!) new audio commentaries; horror journalist Michael Gingold is on the second, and documentary filmmakers Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr admire the movie on the third. The fourth offers Michael Kamen’s isolated score with composer Daniel Schweiger providing some thoughtful observations. Production manager John Eckert and associate producer Jeffrey Chernov share stories about the shoot in Niagara-on-the-lake for a 20-minute retrospective documentary; a separate featurette catches up with co-star Adams. Shout’s also rescued the four decent featurettes produced for Paramount’s special-edition DVD release in 2006, which didn’t make it onto last year’s Blu-ray. So yeah, you’re gonna need this. (NW)

@normwilner

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