Movies

New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘The Lovebirds,’ ‘Body Cam,’ ‘The Trip to Greece’

Traditionally, the long Memorial Day weekend is the territory where Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies — or else massive tentpoles such as “Mission: Impossible” and “Aladdin” — plant the stake for a blockbuster summer season. But there’s nothing traditional about the release schedule this year. With the coronavirus pandemic still posing a public health threat, Hollywood studios are holding their big offerings for a future date. But there are still a few big-budget movies to watch — including “The Lovebirds” and Mary J. Blige’s “Body Cam” — and no shortage of smaller streaming titles. Here are the week’s new releases, with excerpts from reviews and links to where you can watch them.

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Body Cam
Paramount Pictures

High-profile on-demand studio and indie offerings:

Body Cam (Malik Vitthal)
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Where to Find It:
Rent on Amazon, iTunes and other on-demand platforms.
With the ongoing coverage of the killing of Kentucky EMT Breonna Taylor by Louisville police, this week may seem an awkward one to open a movie in which the victims of violence are police officers. But, like other recent horror films that leverage race, “Body Cam” intends to offer lessons about where we are as a society. It has a star (in Mary J. Blige) and director who bring nuance to the work, injecting understated gravity into an entertaining, unsettling movie. The downside: the sense that it’ll take supernatural intervention to make things right between black citizens and their police. — Lisa Kennedy
Read the full review

Military Wives (Peter Cattaneo)
Distributor:
Bleecker Street Media
Where to Find It:
Rent on Amazon, iTunes and other on-demand platforms.
To distract themselves from negative thoughts, the anxious [wives of active-duty soldiers deployed to Afghanistan] form a choir under the leadership of two officers’ wives (Sharon Horgan and Kristin Scott Thomas), who jockey to decide whether they’ll sing pop songs or hymns. Cattaneo, the director of the 1997 hit “The Full Monty,” could conduct this kind of charming, predictable entertainment with one hand while the theater hums along. If you’ve seen even one based-on-a-true-story British misfit hobbyists movie, you already know the tune. — Amy Nicholson
Read the full review

The Trip to Greece (Michael Winterbottom)
Distributor:
IFC Films
Where to Find It:
Rent on Amazon, iTunes and other on-demand platforms.
In the opening scene, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take note of the fact that they’ve been going on their culinary road trips together for close to 10 years. Each of the “Trip” films is a pared-down version of a six-episode BBC television series, and when you settle in to watch a new one, it’s to see which famous-actor impersonations Coogan and Brydon are going to try to top each other with this time. “The Trip to Greece” marks a spirited and convivial return to form, even if the film is lofty enough to present Coogan and Brydon’s six-day Grecian journey as a retracing of the path of Odysseus. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

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Independent films, directly on demand:

The Painter and the Thief (Benjamin Ree) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Neon
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
Incredible. That’s the word that comes to mind with Benjamin Ree’s “The Painter and the Thief,” a stranger-than-fiction friendship story in which vérité techniques produce unbelievable results. I don’t mean to imply that this astonishing documentary isn’t truthful. Rather, I’m in awe of how things played out, and fully aware that there was a certain amount of manipulation — not necessarily of the facts, but certainly in the way they’re presented — required to produce the cinematic equivalent of a cubist portrait, in which an artist and her unlikely muse are made to overlap, revealing unexpected dimensions of one another over time. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Lucky Grandma (Sasie Sealy)
Distributor: Good Deed Entertainment
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
Nearly as attention-grabbing (if not necessarily as consistently impressive) as an early-career Guy Ritchie lark, Sealy’s high-attitude debut stars Tsai Chin of “The Joy Luck Club” as a surly, age-toughened widow who, reluctant to accept that it’s time to move in with her son (Eddie Yu), follows her fortuneteller’s advice and takes her life savings to the casino. At the tables, things do not go at all as we might expect. But on the bus ride home from her rowdy gambling escapade, a satchel full of money literally falls into Granny’s lap. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Inheritance (Vaughn Stein)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Discovering a man held captive in a bunker for 30 years should be more compelling than it proves in “Inheritance.” This overlong tale spends most of its nearly two hours as a somewhat draggy, talky mystery before finally deciding to be a thriller, with credibility lacking throughout. Questionable lead casting further undermines this second directorial feature for Stein, which is an improvement on his first (“Terminal”) but doesn’t find terra much more firma in Matthew Kennedy’s tepid potboiler of a script. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy (Elizabeth Carroll)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
At a moment when debates over cultural appropriation in the culinary world have entered the mainstream, Kennedy’s legacy merits fresh appraisal. As a white British woman who has made a career of documenting, disseminating and teaching indigenous Mexican recipes, Kennedy is vulnerable to such charges. Yet the film, via an ensemble of awed talking heads, positions her less as an individual cookery queen than as a kind of gastronomical anthropologist — “an Indiana Jones of food,” notes one Mexican chef. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

Joan of Arc (Bruno Dumont)
Distributor: KimStim
Where to Find It: Opens virtually at Lincoln Center, “expanding” in coming weeks.
The sequel to 2017’s “Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc” puts away all manner of childish things to austerely see its heroine through the downturn of her military career, her extended trial for heresy and her fiery execution. Though it picks up where “Jeannette” left off, the new film doesn’t exactly play like part two of a bigscreen miniseries. Rather, “Joan of Arc” is its own separate, self-contained film, distinct in its starched storytelling rhythm, husk-dry comic sensibility and sort-of-musical scoring and staging. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

Survive the Night (Matt Eskandari)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
That Bruce Willis grimace. It’s almost as much a trademark as his smirk. When the actor’s mouth tightens and his eyes squint in “Survive the Night,” you’d like to think it’s because his character is feeling the pain. Emotionally, Frank’s estranged from his son. After a run-in with the movie’s two baddies, the retired sheriff will be hurting physically, too. Not long into the action, a grimace becomes the only appropriate response to this try-hard flick, about what happens when two brothers on the lam violently enlist the surgical services of Frank’s son. — Lisa Kennedy
Read the full review

Ovid and the Art of Love (Esmé von Hoffman)
Distributor: Level 33 Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Von Hoffman relocates the story of the ancient Roman poet Ovid (played by springy, likable “High School Musical” alumnus Corbin Bleu) to a semi-contemporary Detroit of concrete lots, college cliques and slam poetry nights. Her script dedicates itself to the notion of “practical poetry” by mixing its more solemn academic lines of inquiry with goofier strains of modern whimsy. The result isn’t dull, but it’s unclear at any point whether “Ovid and the Art of Love” is pitching its subject to high school students, college students or more esoterically inclined enthusiasts. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

Villain (Philip Barantini)
Distributor: Saban Films
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
A solid Brit gangster film more in the old-school vein of “Get Carter” and “Mona Lisa” than the dog-on-hind-legs Guy Ritchie idiom, “Villain” provides a snug fit for Craig Fairbrass as a convict whose return to society naturally runs smack into familiar trouble. Title notwithstanding, our protagonist is an upstanding kind of tough guy — but the criminal world isn’t about to let him go straight. Actor Philip Barantini’s first directorial feature is nothing wildly original in content or style. Still, it punches both elements across with a satisfying low-key confidence. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Waterlily Jaguar (Melora Walters)
Distributor: Shoreline Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Vimeo and select VOD platforms.
In actress Walters’ first feature as writer-director, James Le Gros plays a commercially successful author facing some sort of life crisis that makes him tough to be around, particularly for wife Mira Sorvino. But while the film spend much time noting his dyspeptic demeanor and its effect on others, this muddled character study provides scant insight into what its protagonist is going through. Intriguingly offbeat to a point, the movie ultimately seems like a rough draft for something Walters hadn’t fully worked out before filming, then attempted to fix via improvised scenes and editorial gambits. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

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“The Lovebirds”
Courtesy of Netflix

New to Netflix

The Lovebirds (Michael Showalter)
Where to Find It: Netflix
A comedy about two people who love each other but have fallen into a fatal power duel, “The Lovebirds” would like to be a love story that’s also a cheeky crime story, where the laughs crackle with anxiety and the more recklessly out there the situation becomes, the more it draws the two characters together. Yet we have to be able to believe what we’re watching — or, at least, in a good movie we do. And “The Lovebirds” quickly descends into the kind of synthetically plotted, harmless-at-its-core caper that may remind you of a ramshackle Hollywood action comedy like “Date Night.” — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Mutiny of the Worker Bees (Rebelión de los Godinez) (Carlos Morett)
Where to Find It: Netflix
This Mexican workplace comedy is meant to serve Netflix’s Spanish-language subscribers, although reports suggest hardly anyone will find it funny.

Father Soldier Son (Leslye Davis, Catrin Einhorn)
Where to Find It: Netflix
The filmmakers commit nearly a decade following Sgt. First Class Brian Eisch, who is wounded in Afghanistan while his family copes with life back home.

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Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl
Alamo on Demand

Other releases debuting on streaming this week

Chameleon (Marcus Mizelle)
Distributor: Freestyle Digital Media
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
A pair of criminals hatch a scheme to seduce and then kidnap wealthy Los Angeles wives for ransom in this straight-to-streaming thriller.

The Haunted (David Holroyd)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
A caregiver shows up for her first day of work at a remote Engish mansion, only to discover that the home is possessed.

Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl (Amy Goldstein)
Distributor: Alamo on Demand
Where to Find It: Available exclusively through Alamo’s virtual cinema platform.
After achieveing pop stardom at a young age, Kate Nash crashed and burned. This doc observes her attempts to rebuild her career.

Man in Camo (Ethan H. Minsker)
Distributor: Freestyle Digital Media
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Visual artist-cum-filmmaker Ethan Minsker recounts the motives and obstacles that have shaped his career in this cinematic self-portrait.

Point Defiance (Michael Murphy)
Distributor: Shoreline Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Vimeo and select VOD platforms.
Derek Phillips and Josh Crotty play siblings forced to “dig up” family secrets when one brothers returns from Afghanistan while the other is under house arrest.

A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps (Alana DeJoseph)
Distributor: First Run Features
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
This documentary provides a beginner’s guide to understanding the Peace Corps, from how it was formed to the good it has done, absent more critical considerations.

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