socially distanced times.
This weekend, director Regina King goes back to the 1960s for her knockout period piece centering on four Black icons, while Martin Luther King Jr.’s history with the FBI is explored in a new documentary. Carey Mulligan crushes a role as a woman on a vengeful mission in a darkly comic thriller, and Anthony Mackie and Damson Idris team up for a sci-fi action film. And Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor are a COVID-era couple having relationship troubles – but plan a heist anyway – in a pandemic romantic comedy with a bunch of celebrity cameos.
If that’s not enough to get you online and watching movies, Universal’s “Fear” YouTube channel is streaming classic horror movies for a week each – and for free – beginning this weekend. “Dracula” and “The Mummy” are available Friday, “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein” arrive Saturday, and “The Wolf Man,” “The Invisible Man” and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” start Sunday.
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Here’s a rundown of new movies hitting streaming and on-demand platforms this week, for every cinematic taste:
In her engaging and dazzling drama, King takes us back to the civil-rights era for a fictional night spent in 1964 with four famous friends: newly crowned boxing champ Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), football star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), soul singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir). Their powerful conversation is moving and all four actors are top notch as legends humanized by their emotional depth.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
In writer/director Emerald Fennell’s feature-film debut, Mulligan is sensational as Cassie, a med-school dropout who slings coffee by day and at night teaches a thing or two to guys willing to take advantage of a drunk woman. Like Batman but with better fashion sense and a more withering stare, Cassie has rights to wrong from her past in a slick and satisfying work that weaves thriller tropes with themes of sexual assault and consent.
The futuristic sci-fi tale centers on a cocky drone pilot (Idris) who makes a last-second decision on a mission that angers his superiors. To avoid a court martial, he’s sent to Ukraine and assigned to work up close on the battlefield with a high-tech android officer (Mackie) to keep old Soviet nuclear silos out of enemy hands. Come for the neat effects and thought-provoking plot, stay for Mackie tapping into the same macho charm that makes him so enjoyable in Marvel movies.
Where to watch: Netflix
Doug Liman (“Mr. Mrs. Smith”) directs the best movie so far made about the pandemic during the pandemic. (Sorry, “Songbird.”) Hathaway (who rages and dances a lot) and Ejiofor play a London couple – she a stressed-out, Zooming businesswoman, he a furloughed van driver – already on the verge of breaking up before the coronavirus hit, and forced cohabitation has pretty much deepened the split. But a bonkers plan to steal a valuable diamond at Harrods gives them new romantic life.
Where to watch: HBO Max
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover famously worried of a “Black messiah,” and he had a mission to discredit the work and influence of civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., whom he once deemed the “most dangerous” Black man in America. Both illuminating and infuriating, director Sam Pollard’s documentary uses recently declassified files to dig into Hoover’s dirty tricks and surveillance methods, drawing parallels to the current political climate while also leaning into King’s undeterred fight for equality.
Where to watch: Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play
“Persepolis” co-director Vincent Paronnaud crafts this gripping survival thriller and gives it a ton of style, plenty of gore and a touch of absurdity. Lucie Debay stars as a woman saved from a creep by a seemingly kind dude (Arieh Worthalter) but that guy turns out to be a total predator who kidnaps her and crashes in the woods. A cat-and-mouse chase kicks off when she gets loose, turning from damsel in distress to absolute rage machine.
Where to watch: Shudder
In this forgettable military thriller, “CSI” veteran Gary Dourdan plays a Marine captain home from war and still dealing with a traumatic attack when he has go back on a new rescue mission. This one’s personal, though: His archaeologist wife (Serinda Swan) has been kidnapped by terrorists while on a dig in Morocco. The action is stale, the plot is all over the place, and even an 11th-hour, Southern-fried cameo from Robert Knepper can’t save this thing.