The coronavirus has forced most area movie theaters to close temporarily, but some studios are making movies available to viewers at home. So far, these are confirmed recent releases that will be available to purchase on streaming platforms.
TOP PICK OF THE WEEK
*** Critics panned it. The president hated it. But I found myself elated by The Hunt, a social satire that uses provocation as ammunition, with both sides of the political divide in its crosshairs. Since this is a riff on 1932's The Most Dangerous Game, expect a bunch of humans to be hunted, and every viewer to be grazed by the hilarious dialogue. In one corner are the "rednecks," a pack of whites in flannels who wake up gagged in a field and are then shot at. These early scenes are remarkably well orchestrated, making us believe someone is a main character, only to show their brains turn into a cloud of red mist seconds later. In the other corner are the "liberal elites," hunters who care more about podcasts than human lives. The thorn in their side is a woman named Crystal who speaks with a Southern twang and becomes a backwoods hero, played by GLOW's Betty Gilpin with a ferocity that matches Charlotte Christensen's cinematography. The harsh reviews that fly in the face of The Hunt's brilliant performances and smart satire only drive home the point of the movie: Narrow-minded political divisiveness drives pretty much everything these days. R. ASHER LUBERTO. On Demand.
*** Jane Austen fans, rejoice! In Autumn de Wilde's adaptation of Emma.—yup, that's a full-stop period on purpose—the meddling matchmaker is back in a cheerful, gentle work of art. The 1815 novel might not be everyone's favorite Austen comedy of manners, but the movie, which is kinder to its characters than the source material, is made with such exquisite attention to detail even cynics will have a blast watching it. This latest retelling does still very much stick to the classic narrative: The title character (Anya Taylor-Joy) is more interested in meddling with her friends' love lives—particularly that of bestie Harriet (Mia Goth)—than finding a suitor for herself. When not engaged in social engineering, the privileged, and sometimes snobbish, Emma spends her days wandering the grounds of her splendid estate in elaborate period attire, creating a decadent tableau. Eventually, coming to terms with the consequences of her actions helps our heroine mature, and that's when de Wilde gives the story an updated twist before the final resolution. That small tweak and the lavish sets make this a period piece you'll want to visit not just because it's brimming with visual beauty; Emma still holds relevance two centuries and dozens of versions later. PG. ASHER LUBERTO. On Demand.
The Invisible Man
*** The most recent version of H.G. Wells' famed story The Invisible Man, which had been in development since 2007 and was originally slated to feature Johnny Depp (no thanks) as a possessive, psychotic husband who fakes his own suicide, is now informed by the #MeToo movement. The brilliant Elisabeth Moss embodies the invisibility of abused women whose reports are often disbelieved with a typical top-shelf performance as Cecilia. It's a bit surprising that director Leigh Whannell, known mostly for writing the Saw films, was given such a project, but he mostly guides the film ably, particularly with his use of negative space to ratchet up the intensity of scenes featuring the title character. Whannell also scores points for realizing this is Moss' vehicle and letting his talented star shine, but many of the characters around her are poorly written and, minus a charming turn by Aldis Hodge as Cecilia's supportive friend, are painfully two-dimensional. While The Invisible Man never quite reaches the Hitchcockian heights it aims for, it is a largely successful, if flawed, thriller that further cements Moss as a generational talent. R. DONOVAN FARLEY. On Demand.
** Pixar Animation Studios may have found sublime pathos in stories of cars, fish, superheroes and toys, but it fails to do the same for road-tripping elves. Set in an alternate reality where magic spells and mundane technologies coexist, Onward chronicles the misadventures of two elf brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) on a quest for a gem that will resurrect their dead father for one day. The film is filled with glorious sight gags, from a gargantuan cheese puff that the pair use as a boat to a concrete dragon that's as scary as it is silly. What Onward lacks is the emotional ferocity of Pixar wonders like The Incredibles, Inside Out and WALL-E. The film's elvish antics are mildly amusing, but when a studio known for daring both kids and adults to face the terror and beauty of intense feelings settles for making a mechanically cheery movie like Onward, it isn't just a comedown. It's cowardice. PG. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Disney+, Movies Anywhere, On Demand.