Film

Must-Watch (and Maybe-Watch) Movies This Week

Does “The Happytime Murders” make the cut? Or will it get overshadowed by smaller films like “Crime + Punishment” and “Papillon”?

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Each week, the Village Voice reviews the dozen or so films that open in theaters both locally and nationwide. Because we understand that you probably won’t read every single one of these reviews (although we think you should give it a try), here’s the definitive guide to what you should watch.

You Should Definitely Watch

CRIME + PUNISHMENT

“Through sensitive portraiture and vigorous investigative reporting, it tracks the struggle of minority police officers within the NYPD to reshape the culture of law enforcement itself. ‘The reality of it is law enforcement uses black bodies to generate revenue,’ bluntly states one officer.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

ANDREI RUBLEV

“Over the course of his journeys, the film’s protagonist, the legendary Russian monk and icon painter Andrei Rublev, confronts jealousy, pettiness, carnality, and unspeakable violence. He even kills a man himself, in an attempt to save a woman from rape and murder during a brutal Tartar raid. Once criticized for the lack of emotion in his icons — his work, we’re told early on, is technically brilliant and subtle, but has ‘no awe…no faith that comes from the depths of his soul’ — he finds himself unable to paint, even unwilling to speak. Rublev is a mesmerizing portrait of an artist and cleric undone by a world that is cruel, chaotic, unexplainable.” — Bilge Ebiri (full review)

SUPPORT THE GIRLS

“Writer-director Andrew Bujalski frames most of Support the Girls as an almost real-time delineation of chaos, but his storytelling elegance — delicate, nearly invisible foreshadowing; cogent evocations of backstory — adds reflective layers to the surface anarchy.” — Danny King (full review)

Worth Watching

PAPILLON

“This new version, directed by Danish filmmaker Michael Noer, brings to the story a refreshing intensity and sweep, and even a sense of adventure. It’s also unflinching when it comes to violence, misery, and gore: We feel the savagery of the heat and the hatred, the sheer primordial guck in which these prisoners toil. That in turn makes the call of freedom that much more enthralling, and the rough, barbed alliance between Charrière (Charlie Hunnam) and Louis Dega (Rami Malek) that much more convincing.” — Bilge Ebiri (full review)

JOHN MCENROE: IN THE REALM OF PERFECTION

“The footage, like most of the searching cine-essay John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection, was shot in competition at the French Open in the early 1980s by Gil de Kermadec, a filmmaker specializing in the study of tennis technique. The whir of the specialized camera equipped for slow-motion shots seemed a roar on a hushed tennis court, another distraction for the sensitive champion to rail against. De Kermadec, we learn, had come to believe that the performance of athletes in competition differed from their performance in drills or tutorials, so he captured them in actual matches. He produced a contemporary study of McEnroe’s technique, complete with early Eighties computer animation charting every pivot of his serve.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

The Rest

THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS: “So, a couple of decades from now, it might be interesting to watch this often glum detective procedural in which the populations who have endured American racism have been Find-Replaced with horny puppets.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

THE BOOKSHOP: “Writer-director Isabel Coixet’s period drama The Bookshop, for instance, is so bloody British that the story’s central concern is that an aristocratic heiress is quietly making it difficult for a young widow to run a bookshop in a small fishing town.” — April Wolfe (full review)

SEARCHING: “The film has promise, but the tech keeps getting in the way of the performances.” — April Wolfe (full review)

MAISON DU BONHEUR: “The film is a portrait of a woman, Juliane Sellam, 77 at the time of filming, and her home, dedicated to processes — behold her recipe for bread for Shabbat — and striking still-life shots. Here are fruit and herbs in bowls before an open window, a breeze easing through them; here are the fashionable Sellam’s pumps and heels, a collection Galapagan in abundance and variety.” — Alan Scherstuhl (full review)

ARIZONA: “Director Jonathan Watson’s super-violent Arizona is a well-done but chilly and essentially unlovable black comedy with one tiny spark of warmth — Rosemarie DeWitt’s performance as Cassie, a real estate broker who finds herself underwater financially after the 2006 housing market collapses.” — Chris Packham (full review)

AN L.A. MINUTE: “Daniel Adams’s An L.A. Minute makes you suffer through its satire of celebrity culture and never redeems itself, despite the potentially interesting duo of Gabriel Byrne and Kiersey Clemons as leads. The stars seem out of place with each other and in this movie, with creators who have no idea what they want to say.” — Kristen Yoonsoo Kim (full review)

WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE: “What Keeps You Alive’s ability to keep going and going and going is impressive, but seasoned low-budget-genre director Colin Minihan (Extraterrestrial) grounds the twisty shenanigans in something deeper — or at least gives it the old college try.” — Matt Prigge (full review)

THE OSLO DIARIES: “The Oslo Diaries is a striking document, mixing never-before-seen footage shot by the negotiators themselves and current reflections from participants, including the final interview of former Israeli president Shimon Peres.” — Jordan Hoffman (full review)

BLUE IGUANA: “While writer-director Hadi Hajaig says he was inspired by acclaimed, quirky-but-scary movies like Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild and George Armitage’s Miami Blues, this new Iguana appears more like the work of someone who has watched Guy Ritchie’s early, Tarantino-knockoff films too damn much.” — Craig D. Lindsey (full review)

HOT TO TROT: “Hot to Trot is the wrong title for this engaging movie, not least because it was used thirty years ago for a Bobcat Goldthwait vehicle about a talking horse.” — Elizabeth Zimmer (full review)

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