While moviegoers cope with being shut indoors, HBO Max has a film that could have you feeling even more stir-crazy. “Locked Down” sequesters audiences for nearly two hours with an unhappy couple (played by Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor), who vent for a time, before hatching a plan to steal a huge diamond from Harrods. While hardly the antidote for confinement, it’s a creative response to the limitations COVID has placed on the world — which extends to how the film was shot, with big names like Ben Stiller and Ben Kingsley supplying cameos via Zoom.
With plenty of indoor time ahead on this long holiday weekend, why not fill it with a new movie or two? Amazon has timed the Prime Video release of Regina King’s acclaimed “One Night in Miami…” to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The film — which imagines a 1964 reunion of old friends Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcom X in a Florida hotel — earned many champions on the festival circuit last fall and is now being discussed as a serious Oscar contender.
Also fitting for the holiday is the historical documentary “MLK/FBI,” about the American government’s plot to spy on King — just one of a few fest-anointed docs opening this weekend. Another critics’ darling was “Some Kind of Heaven,” which focuses on several singular residents of The Villages in Florida, the world’s largest retirement community.
Action fans can find their pleasure on Netflix, where sci-fi war movie “Outside the Wire” features Anthony Mackie as a robot super-soldier. And of course, not a year goes by with Liam Neeson playing a tough loner charged with taking on heavily armed baddies, so why shouldn’t 2021 start off with him protecting an undocumented Mexican orphan from violent cartel types? If that’s your speed, “The Marksman” is available exclusively in theaters.
Here’s a rundown of those films opening this week that Variety has covered, along with links to where you can watch them. Find more movies and TV shows to stream here.
New Releases in Theaters
The Dig (Simon Stone) Distributor: Netflix Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by Netflix release Jan. 29 An homage to such films as “Howards End,” this gentle and almost painfully polite British drama unfolds in 1939 on the cusp of World War II, and it rather poetically places the turbulence of the then-present conflict within the perspective of the millennia of human experience that came before. The characters can feel the looming threat of war, and they surely remember the cost of the previous one, and yet they are humbled by the discovery of a remarkably intact 7th-century Anglo-Saxon ship. At the center of this unhurried yet engaging project are two meticulously calibrated performances from Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes. — Peter Debruge Read the full review
The Marksman (Robert Lorenz) Distributor: Open Road Films Where to Find It: In theaters With the arrival of “The Marksman,” Liam Neeson’s latest piece of watchable-product-that’s-not-as-good-as-he-is, the current movie season has now given us no less than three dramas in which stalwart adults partner with children who wind up showing them the way: the meandering Tom Hanks Western “News of the World”; George Clooney’s flatly dystopian “The Midnight Sky”; and now “The Marksman,” in which Neeson, he of the bone-lean gaze and solitary skills, bonds with a just-arrived-from-over-the-border Mexican boy he’s shielding from cartel goons. — Owen Gleiberman Read the full review
New Releases on Demand and in Select Theaters
Acasa, My Home (Radu Ciorniciuc) Distributor: Zeitgeist Films, in association with Kino Lorber Where to Find It: In theaters or in virtual cinemas via Kino Marquee Long ago and far away, the fictional Swiss Family Robinson carved out an idyllic life for themselves on a tropical island. As Radu Ciorniciuc’s deeply embedded documentary begins, the Romanian family Enache — father Gică, mother Niculina and their nine children — seem to be doing something similar. In sun-flared shots, giggling, lithe, rough-and-tumble kids pull fish from lake waters with their bare hands and set switches of wood aside to dry, so they’ll be ready for use as fishing rods “by next year.” — Jessica Kiang Read the full review
American Dream (Robert Adetuyi) Distributor: Lionsgate Where to Find It: Watch via Laemmle virtual cinema Back in 2000, Steven Spielberg’s trusty DP made an ignominious helming debut with “Lost Souls,” an incoherent occult horror that wasn’t even the tasty kind of trash. Two decades later, things haven’t overly improved with “American Dream,” a thriller in which the American pursuit of happiness is no match for the dogged chase given by ticked-off Russian mobsters. “American Dream” sporadically flirts with a non-linear structure, but just as often band-aids successive scenes together with little cumulative rhythm or anxiety. — Guy Lodge Read the full review
American Skin (Nate Parker) Distributor: Film Movement Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support The movie is about police brutality — and, specifically, the police shooting of an unarmed young black man. It’s not a documentary; it’s a work of fiction. Yet it’s meticulous in its re-creation of the contours and details that have been repeated, over and over, in a grisly horrific pattern in incidents like this one. The film fully immerses us in the terror, the agony, the rage, and the thirst for justice that have come to be symbolized by the #BlackLivesMatter movement.— Owen Gleiberman Read the full review
MLK/FBI (Sam Pollard) CRITIC’S PICK Distributor: IFC Films Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand At a moment when the personal lives of artists and celebrities are being placed under the spotlight as almost never before, the secret life of Martin Luther King Jr. now seems like more than the disquieting semi-submerged footnote it once did. It’s long been public knowledge that King, during most of the time of his leadership, had many adulterous affairs, and that the FBI, starting in 1963, put him under surveillance, surreptitiously recording hours and hours of King with his mistresses and other women in hotel rooms. How does this reality affect our perception of King’s greatness as a leader? — Owen Gleiberman Read the full review
My Little Sister (Stéphanie Chuat, Véronique Reymond) Distributor: IFC Films Where to Find It: Pick a virtual cinema to support When it comes to stories of adult siblings, cinema tends to remain overwhelmingly gender-divided. Great films about brotherly love and sisterly strife (or, of course, vice versa) are plentiful, but tender brother-sister studies are a rarer breed. “My Little Sister,” then, is a welcome, warm-hearted addition to the ranks of “You Can Count on Me”: a modestly scaled, intimately observed domestic drama that doesn’t reinvent any wheels in its portrayal of family frictions, midlife ennui and the anguish of terminal illness, but handles all this potentially sticky material with clear-eyed grace. — Guy Lodge Read the full review
Skyfire (Simon West) Distributor: Screen Media Where to Find It: Available on demand and digital It’s no great leap forward in filmmaking, but the big-budget disaster movie “Skyfire” does prove that China is now capable of producing its own brand of utterly preposterous and enjoyably trashy popcorn entertainment for a global audience. This thrill-packed tale about an angry volcano wreaking havoc on thinly written characters at a luxury island resort plays like a souped-up and much better remake of Irwin Allen’s 1980 turkey “When Time Ran Out.” It speeds along with such cheerful disregard for logic and plausibility that it simply won’t bother many viewers. — Richard Kuipers Read the full review
Some Kind of Heaven (Lance Oppenheim) Distributor: Magnolia Pictures Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand Those nostalgic for the fond portraits of eccentric Americana in Errol Morris’ early work — and pretty much everyone else — will be delighted by Oppenheim’s first feature. It’s a peek at life in The Villages, an increasingly vast Central Florida retirement community where those who can afford it spend their twilight years “being on vacation every day.” This highly entertaining documentary captures the near-surrealism of a prefab senior playground, while also finding some poignant human interest in focusing on a few personalities for whom the concept isn’t quite working. — Dennis Harvey Read the full review
Exclusive to Amazon Prime
One Night in Miami... (Regina King) CRITIC’S PICK Where to Find It:Prime Video “One Night in Miami” is one of those dramas with a hooky, irresistible meeting-of-the-minds premise that places four legends in a single room, all so that we can sit back and watch the verbal-philosophical fireworks fly. The movie takes place on Feb. 25, 1964, the night that Cassius Clay, at 22, won the world heavyweight championship. To celebrate, he heads over to the modest, rather shabby small suite where his friend Malcolm X is staying at the Hampton House. There, the two are joined by the football superstar Jim Brown and the soul legend Sam Cooke. — Owen Gleiberman Read the full review
Exclusive to HBO Max
Locked Down (Doug Liman) Where to Find It:HBO Max It was likely, if not downright inevitable, that in the year of our lockdown, somebody would make a drama called “Locked Down,” about a handful of people in lockdown. The director Doug Liman and the screenwriter Steven Knight conceived their movie in July, sold it in September and had completed shooting it, in London, by the end of October. Steven Knight (“Locke”) has written an exuberantly verbose screenplay that allows Hathaway and Ejiofor to attack their characters as if they were acting on stage in some delirious Sam Shepard two-hander. — Owen Gleiberman Read the full review
Exclusive to Hulu
The Ultimate Playlist of Noise (Bennett Lasseter) Where to Find It:Hulu Someday, somebody will write an academic thesis about why so many YA tales hinge on events of grandiose misfortune. Fatal cases of cancer, cataclysmic car accidents, or, here, a sweet handsome menschy suburban teenager, Marcus Lund (Keean Johnson), who must undergo a brain operation that will leave him deaf. You could argue that the darkness of these stories is a way of respecting young audiences, a way of forcing them to confront how tough life can be. This is a movie about the psychodramatics of hearing loss that makes “Sound of Metal” sound like a mild case of tinnitus. — Owen Gleiberman Read the full review
Available on Netflix
Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy (Stanley Nelson) Where to Find It:Netflix “Crack” brings the images of the crack plague roaring back … the way that cocaine, formerly a drug of the elite, suddenly became available for the price of a kid’s allowance. Yet Nelson, who has the ace documentarian’s flair for making history far more interesting than the mythologies it’s cutting through, has directed a film that stays true to the epic devastation crack left in its wake and, at the same time, examines all the ways that the government and the media used the grim reality of crack, turning it against the very people who were being victimized by it. — Owen Gleiberman Read the full review
Outside the Wire (Mikael Hafstrom) Where to Find It:Netflix “Outside the Wire” plays like Netflix’s version of “Gemini Man.” It doesn’t star Will Smith and it wasn’t directed by Ang Lee, so the budget’s a lot smaller and so is the ambition. But the plot’s actually pretty similar and the movie takes itself every bit as seriously about how much the world has to fear military technology — and especially the idea of cyborg/clone/robot soldiers. Unlike “Gemini Man,” “Outside the Wire” was always designed for home viewing, and you can tell by the small-screen-quality visual effects. — Peter Debruge Read the full review