Weekly Shots: New Movies and Shows to Watch This Weekend

This weekend, prepare for a cinematic journey with our top movie picks. From the touching narrative of Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” to the subtle ghost story in Paul Harrill’s “Light from Light,” the film landscape is rich with variety. Be prepared for laughter with Emma Seligman’s “Bottoms” and delve into the complex emotions of Meg Ryan’s “What Happens Later.” For action enthusiasts, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” by James Mangold offers a mix of adventure and nostalgia. Don’t miss Nelson George’s “Thriller 40,” a documentary that celebrates Michael Jackson’s iconic album. However, not all films make the cut. Be cautious with “A Good Person” by Zach Braff and McG’s “Family Switch,” which might not live up to expectations. As for TV, “Slow Horses” Season 3 on Apple TV Plus is a must-watch, while “Virgin River” Season 5 Part 2 on Netflix might be a skip for some. Choose wisely and enjoy your weekend viewing!

Movie Picks

The Holdovers (Alexander Payne)

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In “The Holdovers,” directed by Alexander Payne, the film presents a deeply touching narrative about unexpected connections and personal transformations. Paul Giamatti delivers a compelling performance as Paul Hunham, a stern professor at Barton Academy, alongside Carrie Preston and a standout Dominic Sessa, who portrays the sharp-witted student Angus. Da’Vine Joy Randolph shines in her role as Mary, a grief-stricken mother, earning her the Best Supporting Actress accolade from the New York Film Critics Circle. The film skillfully blends humor and poignancy, creating a story that resonates with its portrayal of makeshift familial bonds and life’s unpredictable journeys, making it a uniquely endearing and relatable experience.

Streaming on VOD

Light From Light (Paul Harrill)

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In “Light from Light,” directed by Paul Harrill, single mother Sheila, portrayed by Marin Ireland, juggles her dual roles as a car rental saleswoman and a paranormal investigator. However, her primary challenge lies in parenting her teenage son, Owen (Josh Wiggins), as they navigate the strains of impending separation with Owen’s transition to college. The plot thickens when Sheila takes on a new case involving a widower’s haunted house, offering a potential path for her and Owen to mend their fraying bond. This film stands out as a subtle ghost story that eschews typical supernatural elements, focusing instead on the emotional and psychic scars left by the departed. Through Harrill’s nuanced direction and the compelling performances of Marin Ireland and Jim Gaffigan as the widower, Richard, the film delves into themes of enduring loss and moving forward without resorting to clichés or heavy-handed analysis.

Streaming on Metrograph at Home

Bottoms (Emma Seligman)

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“Bottoms” is an audaciously humorous teen comedy starring Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott. The plot revolves around two high school friends who start a fight club for girls, leading to a series of hilarious and unexpected events. The film is marked by its absurd humor and strong performances, making it a standout comedy. While “Bottoms” might have found a more natural home in theaters, it remains a joyous and entertaining watch for those streaming it at home, showcasing Seligman’s skill in creating engaging, comedic narratives. Read our review here.

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Streaming on MGM+

What Happens Later (Meg Ryan)

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“What Happens Later,” is not exactly Meg Ryan’s return to the rom-com genre rather it is a showcase of her talents as director, actor, producer, and writer, and it offers a poignant exploration of love and life. This film, set in a single location, follows the story of two ex-lovers, played by Ryan and David Duchovny, who find themselves unexpectedly spending a night together at an airport. While the narrative is sprinkled with moments of awkward humor and an unusual fantasy twist that hints at purgatorial themes, the core of the story is steeped in a profound sense of regret and longing. Rather than a simple reprise of the romantic comedy formula that brought Ryan fame, the film delves into more complex emotional terrain, leaving a lasting impression of bittersweet introspection.

Streaming on VOD

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (James Mangold)

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“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” combines traditional Indiana Jones adventure with modern, sometimes jarring elements in its screenplay and direction. The narrative, set initially in 1944 and then fast-forwarding to 1969, follows Indy and his team in a globe-spanning chase to thwart a time-altering plot by former Nazi scientist Jürgen Voller. While the film offers nods to past entries and introduces new characters, it struggles with inconsistent pacing and underdeveloped character arcs. Despite these issues, James Mangold’s direction adds a distinct, grounded style to the action, creating a film that balances nostalgia and innovation, providing an entertaining, albeit mixed, experience for fans and newcomers alike.

Streaming on Disney+

Thriller 40 (Nelson George)

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Nelson George’s documentary Thriller 40 offers a celebratory exploration of Michael Jackson’s musical prowess, particularly focusing on his iconic album “Thriller.” Steering clear of Jackson’s controversial personal life, the film highlights his industry influence through interviews with renowned artists and behind-the-scenes insights. It emphasizes the album’s revolutionary impact, including its role in diversifying MTV’s artist lineup and its lasting influence on modern pop music. The documentary, while acknowledging Jackson’s past successes with The Jackson 5 and “Off the Wall,” mainly revels in the monumental success of “Thriller.” Key moments like Jackson’s Motown anniversary performance and the making of the “Thriller” music video are vividly brought to life, painting a picture of Jackson’s profound impact on music and pop culture.

Streaming on Paramount+ (w/Showtime) starting on December 2

Movie Skips

A Good Person (Zach Braff)

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“A Good Person” presents a complex narrative exploring themes of addiction, loss, and recovery. The film showcases compelling performances by Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman, standing out in an otherwise uneven storyline. While it has garnered mixed reviews, largely due to its lack of subtlety in critical moments, the film shines in scenes where Pugh and Freeman share the screen, bringing depth and emotion to their roles. This character-driven drama offers an insightful, if somewhat flawed, look at personal struggles and redemption.

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Streaming on Prime Video

Family Switch (McG)

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“Family Switch” offers a unique twist on the body-swap genre, envisioning a scenario where an entire family experiences the swap. Directed by McG, this holiday comedy attempts to carve its niche in the body-swap subgenre. Playing with the familiar premise seen in “Freaky Friday,” “Family Switch” promises to bring a fresh, humorous perspective to the concept, adding a festive touch to the mix. This film could be an entertaining pick for those looking for a light-hearted, family-centric comedy during the holiday season.

Streaming on Netflix

The Exorcist: Believer (David Gordon Green)

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“The Exorcist: Believer” is the first installment of a Blumhouse trilogy directed by David Gordon Green (director of the new Halloween trilogy). Despite its ambition to build upon the original “Exorcist” film, this sequel has been met with lukewarm reception, lacking the expected level of scares. Its underwhelming performance at the box office has set modest expectations for streaming viewers. Those curious about this latest addition to the “Exorcist” franchise can now see for themselves if it lives up to its legendary predecessor or falls short of the mark.
Streaming on Peacock

Silent Night (John Woo)

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John Woo’s return to North American cinema with Silent Night marks a significant, albeit mixed, reentry. The film, shot in Mexico and starring Joel Kinnaman, communicates its narrative through minimal dialogue, relying instead on expressive physicality and textual exchanges. This holiday-themed action flick, reminiscent of ’80s revenge films, combines Woo’s signature stylistic elements — slow motion, judicious edits, and symbolically charged birds — with a plot that feels somewhat pedestrian despite its ambitious setup. Kinnaman’s silent protagonist, embroiled in a vengeful quest following the tragic death of his son, embodies the film’s central theme of dialogue-free storytelling. While the film struggles to balance its gratuitous violence with meaningful narrative depth, Woo’s fans may still appreciate the kinetic action scenes and stylistic flourishes that echo his earlier works. Silent Night, despite its shortcomings, stands as a testament to Woo’s ability to craft visually arresting action sequences that challenge conventional storytelling techniques.

In theaters now

Candy Cane Lane (Reginald Hudlin)

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Eddie Murphy stars in “Candy Cane Lane,” a holiday film blending humor and festive spirit. Murphy plays a character determined to win a neighborhood Christmas decoration contest, but his plans take a whimsical turn when he encounters an elf who brings the 12 Days of Christmas to life. This film, reminiscent of holiday classics like “Deck the Halls” and “The Santa Clause,” promises to be a delightful addition to the holiday movie genre. It’s a test to see if this new release can become a seasonal staple, showcasing Murphy’s enduring appeal as a comedy icon.

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Streaming on Prime Video

TV Picks

Slow Horses (Season 3)

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Delving deeper into the world of espionage, “Slow Horses” Season 3 brings a fresh and thrilling narrative. Gary Oldman reprises his role as Jackson Lamb, the sharp-witted leader of a group of MI5 agents relegated to Slough House due to past mistakes. This season, adapted from Mick Herron’s novel “Real Tigers,” unfolds a story of betrayal and secrets. A covert operation in Istanbul becomes the catalyst for a dangerous revelation threatening MI5’s core. Lamb and his team of misfits are thrust into a high-stakes conspiracy, weaving a tale of intrigue and suspense. The ensemble cast, including Kristin Scott Thomas, adds depth to this darkly comic and gripping spy drama.

Streaming on Apple TV Plus

TV Skips

Virgin River (Season 5 Part 2)

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Season 5 of “Virgin River,” following the trend of split seasons on Netflix, concludes with two special holiday episodes. These episodes pick up the story from the previous September release, focusing on the startling discovery made by Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge). As she and her fiancé Jack (Martin Henderson) prepare for Christmas, Mel learns that her father might be a resident of Virgin River, a twist linked to her mother’s past affair in the very town Mel moved to after leaving Los Angeles. This revelation brings a tide of emotions and decisions for Mel, as she contemplates her future family plans, weighing the options of pregnancy, surrogacy, or adoption.

Streaming on Netflix.

Bookie (Season 1)

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“Bookie,” the latest sitcom from Chuck Lorre, teaming up with comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, marks a departure from Lorre’s usual style, aiming for a darker, edgier brand of humor. The show introduces us to Danny, a veteran Los Angeles bookie grappling with the threat of losing his business amid the potential legalization of sports gambling in California. Assisting him are his best friend and former NFL player Ray (Omar J. Dorsey), his resourceful sister Lorraine (Vanessa Ferlito), and Hector (Jorge Garcia), a reluctantly reformed drug dealer. The first two episodes, while not disastrously off the mark, lack the impressive hilarity or intrigue one might expect. The series is still finding its footing, a common trajectory for many comedies. However, Lorre seems somewhat out of his element, with the edgy humor often coming across more as ‘edgelord’ jokes misguided South Park fans endorse.

Streaming on Max.

The Golden Bachelor (Hulu) and The Great British Baking Show (Netflix) have their finales this weekend.

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