The Best (and Worst) New Movies to Watch This Weekend

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The Best (and Worst) New Movies to Watch This Weekend

It’s one thing to rank the movies out on the various streaming services, assemble the best films now on demand or—when it’s once again safe to go to the movie theater (a time that, for me, will begin next week)—the best new movies on the marquee. It’s another to give a more total picture of cinema’s new releases week by week, especially considering the diversity of distribution that’s now common for film. The best film of any given week could be a VOD release, a movie that had a limited theatrical run before landing on a streamer or an obscure original living on a niche service.

If you don’t really mind if a movie’s old or new, we’ve got plenty of lists documenting the best films on the services (Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Shudder, Paramount+, Peacock, Redbox) and premium channels (Starz, Showtime, Cinemax). But for those who’re after the latest and greatest, please enjoy our weekly updated list, which ranks The Best of the newcomers and bestows one terrible, rotating shame upon The Worst.

Here are the best (and worst) new movies to watch this weekend:


The Best

1. About Endlessness

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Director: Roy Andersson
Stars: Martin Serner, Jessica Louthander, Tatiana Delaunay, Anders Hellström, Jan Eje Ferling, Bengt Bergius, Thore Flyge
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 76 minutes

Available for rent

What’s confusing at first about Roy Andersson’s latest is that it’s not very funny. Known for his wry deadpan—he’s a master at crafting absurdist humor out of seemingly banal situations—the acclaimed Swedish writer-director, who turned 78 last month, is noticeably in a far less jocular mood for About Endlessness. You can find stray chuckles in this slim, quietly moving treatise on the utter futility of everything, but the laughs are overshadowed by the somber realization that Andersson’s typically bereft characters are left to their own devices even more so than usual. Rather than punchlines, we get glimpses of melancholy lives stuck in limbo. About Endlessness doesn’t appear to be that much different than Andersson’s earlier movies, but its tone is more funereal and compassionate. The people we meet aren’t oddballs or objects of derision—they’re struggling too much to be merely “quirky,” and Andersson’s heart goes out to them, even if he doesn’t give them a happy ending. (Truth is, most of them don’t get an ending at all.) If before you marveled at his tightly choreographed dioramas, here you look beyond the stellar precision of his filmmaking. The human beings are front and center. We meet a dentist (Thore Flygel) who, for unknown reasons, is having a bad day. A pair of lovers (Tatiana Delaunay and Anders Hellström) fly silently over a bombed-out city, wrapped in an embrace that’s more protective than warmly romantic. A priest (Martin Serner) has dreams of being crucified. A woman gets off a train, expecting that no one will be there to pick her up. A defeated army trudges through the snow to a prison camp. A man holds a dead, bloodied woman, a knife in his hand. Did he kill her or just stumble upon the crime? This might make About Endlessness sound like a joyless bummer, and yet what’s remarkable is how it produces its own curious form of exhilaration. Partly, it’s due to Andersson’s rigorous filmmaking style, which presents us with these gorgeous little jewel boxes as each mini-portrait plays out in front of his locked-down camera. But also, it’s the inventiveness of the scenarios: Andersson cuts to the core of myriad mundane human experiences in order to find something resonant about, say, an overattentive waiter or a random run-in with an old classmate. The observations are so trenchant that they keep sadness at bay. Yes, we are these people. Their problems are our problems. But they’re still alive, and so are we. Sometimes, we don’t need the patina of humor. We’re strong enough to accept Andersson’s unhappy worldview unfiltered. It’s a slow-burn stunner.—Tim Grierson


2. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train

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Director: Haruo Sotozaki
Stars: Natsuki Hanae, Akari Kito, Hiro Shimono, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Satoshi Hino, Daisuke Hirakawa, Hiroshi Kamiya
Genre: Action/Drama
Runtime: 117 minutes

Available in theaters only, VOD on June 22

A new anime sensation is sweeping audiences off their feet: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. The series follows Tanjiro, a young man on a quest for vengeance against the demons who slaughtered his family. In his quest, he joins the Demon Slayer Corps—the force sworn to protect humanity from demons—and learns the way of the Demon Slayers through intensive training. Yet, the series is about so much more than vengeance: It is about found family, processing grief, coping with trauma, and inner strength. Amidst the beautiful battle choreography and animation are quiet, emotional moments that give the characters a complexity not often seen in male-oriented manga, or shonen. Now, months after the end of the hit first season, American audiences can now experience the season-capping film, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train. Mugen Train begins with Tanjiro (Natsuki Hanae) and his companions Zenitsu (Hiro Shimono)—a perpetual scaredy cat—and Inosuke (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka)—who wears a boar mask and has an explosive temper—boarding the Mugen Train as part of their next mission. Once on the train, the trio find Rengoku (Satoshi Hino), a high ranking soldier in the Demon Slayer Corps with expert fighting techniques, to receive their next mission. There is something demonic on board consuming passengers and it’s up to this group of four to protect those on the train. They also quickly learn this threat is more than just a regular demon, but a much more powerful one who can manipulate dreams. The tone of these sequences fluctuate both in subject matter and animation style, and yet it all comes together as each dream—and their aesthetics—teaches the audience even more about these characters, their pasts and their deepest desires. Mugen Train is a feast for the eyes with its bright colors, meshing of animation styles and meticulously designed environments that emphasize the action. It’s a gorgeous film that expands the universe of Demon Slayer, but because it is canonical and provides a bridge between seasons, it is not a film meant for newcomers to the franchise.—Mary Beth McAndrews


3. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

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Director: Mike Rianda, Jeff Rowe (co-director)
Stars: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Mike Rianda, Olivia Colman
Genre: Comedy/Sci-Fi
Runtime: 113 minutes

Watch on Netflix

Animated generational divides have never been more like a sci-fi carnival than in The Mitchells vs. the Machines. Writer/director Mike Rianda’s feature debut (he and co-writer/director Jeff Rowe made their bones on the excellently spooky, silly show Gravity Falls) is equal parts absurd, endearing and terrifying. It’s easy to feel as lost or overwhelmed by the flashing lights and exhilarating sights as the central family fighting on one side of the title’s grudge match, but it’s equally easy to come away with the exhausted glee of a long, weary theme park outing’s aftermath. Its genre-embedded family bursts through every messy, jam-packed frame like they’re trying to escape (they often are), and in the process create the most energetic, endearing animated comedy so far this year. And its premise begins so humbly. Filmmaker and animator Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is leaving home for college and, to get there, has to go on a road trip with her family: Rick (Danny McBride), her Luddite outdoorsy dad; Linda (Maya Rudolph), her peacemaking mom; and Aaron (Rianda), her dino-freak little brother. You might be able to guess that Katie and her dad don’t always see eye-to-eye, even when Katie’s eyes aren’t glued to her phone or laptop. That technocriticism, where “screen time” is a dirty phrase and the stick-shifting, cabin-building father figure wants his family to experience the real world, could be as hacky as the twelfth season of a Tim Allen sitcom. The Mitchells vs. the Machines escapes that danger not only through some intentional nuance in its writing, but also some big ol’ anti-nuance: Partway through the trip, the evil tech companies screw up and phone-grown robots decide to shoot all the humans into space. This movie needed something this narratively large to support its gloriously kitchen-sink visuals. The Sony film uses some of the same tech that made Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse look so crisp and unique, adding comicky shading to its expressive CG. In fact, once some of the more freaky setpieces take off, you wouldn’t be surprised to see Miles Morales swing in to save the day. The Mitchells vs. the Machines’ spin on the Spidey aesthetic comes from meme and movie-obsessed Katie, whose imagination often breaks through into the real world and whose bizarre, neon and filter-ridden sketchbook doodles ornament the film’s already exciting palette with explosive oddity. This unique and savvy style meshes well with The Mitchells vs. the Machines’ wonderfully timed slapstick, crashing and smashing with an unexpected violence, balanced out with one truly dorky pug and plenty of visual asides poking fun at whatever happens to be going on.—Jacob Oller


4. Golden Arm

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Director: Maureen Bharoocha
Stars: Mary Holland, Betsy Sodaro, Olivia Stambouliah, Eugene Cordero
Genre: Comedy/Sports
Runtime: 90 minutes

Available for rent

Danny (Betsy Sodaro) is a truck driver and familiar face in the arm wrestling scene, a la Over the Top. She’s scrappy, animated and sexy in this “I’m going to punch you in the face and you’re going to love it” way that is two parts hilarious to every one part heartwarming. Danny’s top-knot, graphic tees and potty mouth heavily contrast with her best friend Melanie (Mary Holland), a baker. After Danny sustains a wrist injury during a bout with vicious champion (and cheater) Brenda the Bonecrusher (Olivia Stambouliah), she convinces Melanie to take a week off of work to help her complete a truck delivery. Little does Melanie know, Danny truly intends to train Melanie to defeat Brenda the Bonecrusher and win the Oklahoma City Women’s Arm Wrestling competition’s $15,000 cash prize. The titular “golden arm” refers to an arm wrestler who fits Melanie’s description: Seemingly petite and unintimidating, but with surprising strength. The film constantly buttresses its comedic elements with the dramatic, character-building facets of its sport, while the pace of the film is kept succinct by Danny and Melanie’s constant travels and Maureen Bharoocha’s direction. Once Danny and Melanie are on the road and Melanie has agreed to give arm wrestling a go, they stop at multiple dive bars and lamp-lit clubs where Danny’s notoriety allows her to enlist the help of fellow arm wrestlers to train Melanie as they get closer to Oklahoma City, where the championships take place. This stop-hopping translates to swift pacing that helps build narrative momentum as Melanie approaches geographical proximity to, and emotional preparedness for, the wrestling competition. Along the way, Golden Arm’s tightly edited, quintessential training montages contain some of its strongest moments and effectively showcase the strength of the film’s character actors who deliver refreshing, sharp performances. They all compliment Holland and Sodaro, who have such compatible comedic chemistry that the juxtaposition of their polar opposite characters and interconnected personal journeys are a reliably funny bedrock (especially good in silly brace-faced flashback sequences) upon which the film rests despite its classic construction. Golden Arm is a winner. It is a comedy that’s simple premise is elevated by its standout performances, the delivery of the talented cast and its savvy blend of genres.—Adesola Thomas


The Worst

Without Remorse

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Director: Stefano Sollima
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Luke Mitchell, Jack Kesy, Brett Gelman, Colman Domingo, Guy Pearce
Genre: Action/Thriller
Runtime: 109 minutes

Watch on Amazon Prime

There have to be better ways to secure your financial future than Without Remorse, which has next to nothing in common with the 1993 Tom Clancy novel of the same name aside from Clancy’s dad-targeting revenge fantasy nonsense and a central character named John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan). A plot involving Vietnam, drugs and sex work has been jettisoned in director Stefano Sollima’s film in favor of one that vaguely gestures at America’s baddies du jour, Russia. But whatever might’ve been edgy or exciting about this character has been sandpapered down, stuffed into a laughably formulaic thriller and trafficked solely on star power—and neither Clancy nor Jordan’s name can make it stand out. John, in this reimagining written by neo-Western staple Taylor Sheridan (with whom Sollima worked on Sicario: Day of the Soldado) and Will Staples (best known for writing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which should be a major clue), is your run-of-the-mill Navy SEAL great at shooting anyone and everyone. He’s duped into shooting the wrong people (Russians instead of Syrians) and, in true cinematic fashion, his pregnant wife is punished for it: Gunned down (along with the pillows covered in blankets next to her, which the professional killers couldn’t tell wasn’t a human in the first of the film’s countless tropes) after a little retirement party straight out of a Mission: Impossible. This tragic home invasion is at least the one part of the film that feels unpredictable or, at the very least, cruelly human enough that the gloom and doom actually affects us rather than bores us with its bland moral and aesthetic greyscale. If Without Remorse wasn’t so dull, it might be more helpful to criticize it for being stupid, with a belabored chess metaphor providing unintentional humor throughout. But in its current form, the groan-inducing stereotypes in its script are the only things that elicit any reaction from a viewer, so they have to be kept in. Making it just a little bit smarter—taking out perhaps just one of its multiple, intelligence-insulting ending clichés—could make its plot simply boring rather than asinine, which would make the film dangerously forgettable, able to inflict 100-minute gaps into moviegoers’ memories at distances of up to 500 yards. In fact, if Without Remorse was simply mediocre, we might be in danger of it truly sparking a lucrative franchise that would lock one of our most talented actors up in a cinematic military recruitment game for years. For that reason alone, it’s good that the film is solidly terrible, so that—perhaps—Jordan and company can remove themselves from this troubling association without having to change their identities to do so.—Jacob Oller

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