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New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Da 5 Bloods,’ ‘The King of Staten Island’

DA 5 BLOODS (L to R)
DAVID LEE/NETFLIX

This is the biggest weekend yet for new movies. Not only are more cinemas re-opening nationwide, but three relatively huge titles from big-name directors — Judd Apatow, Spike Lee and Kenneth Branagh — find their way straight to streaming as well, offering movie buffs myriad options to feed their appetite.

The largest of these new releases is “The King of Staten Island,” which was supposed to open the SXSW Film Festival back in March, until that event was canceled by the coronavirus outbreak. Universal has since decided to go the same “home premiere” route that it did with “Trolls World Tour,” pricing digital rentals at $19.99.

But the movie of the moment is Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” which coincides with nationwide demonstrations over the death of George Floyd. The drama interweaves the largely untold story of Black servicemen in the Vietnam War with a modern-day adventure plot, as four veterans return to the jungle to collect the remains of a fallen comrade — along with a trunk full of gold. More importantly, it offers valuable context to a conversation that has left many Americans rushing to educate themselves on everything they don’t know about the Black experience, making this an entertaining place to start.

Here’s a complete rundown of the week’s new releases, with excerpts from reviews and links to where you can watch them. Find more movies and TV shows to stream here.

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The King of Staten Island Photo credit: Mary Cybulski / Un

Studio movie, straight to streaming:

The King of Staten Island (Judd Apatow)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Where to Find It: Lots of options on Universal’s website.
Scott Carlin (Pete Davidson), the loser hero of “The King of Staten Island,” is a 24-year-old trash-talking punk stoner who lives with his mother in Staten Island and has no plans whatsoever — for a career, a life, or the next five minutes. He’s a slacker, a lout, and a self-pitying anger-management case who has never gotten over the death of his firefighter father 17 years ago. If there were any lingering doubts that Pete Davidson has what it takes to be a terrific actor, this movie should dispel them. Here, he holds the screen with his blinkered, scurrilous, and oddly innocent “I did what?” personality, and for the first time he makes the sociopathic goofball he’s playing a fully dimensional presence.     — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

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Da 5 Bloods DAVID LEE/NETFLIX

New to Netflix

Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Through the Trojan horse of a treasure-hunt adventure movie, Lee explores the mindset of Black soldiers who fought for their country at a time when African Americans were being oppressed at home. With one foot in the past and the other striding in sync with the Black Lives Matter movement, Lee interweaves potent social critique with escapist B-movie thrills as four veterans return to ’Nam to claim the loot they were ordered to retrieve decades earlier, but stashed for themselves instead.     — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

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Artemis Fowl Disney

Exclusive to Disney Plus

Artemis Fowl (Kenneth Branagh)
Where to Find It: Disney Plus
“Artemis Fowl” was supposed to be Disney’s “Harry Potter,” the kick-off installment in a young-adult fantasy franchise that might have spawned sequels and merch and its own corner of the company’s theme-park kingdom. Instead, it arrives 20 years on, a very late addition to an already overcrowded genre, adding little but noise, garish CGI and more convoluted mythology about the supposedly real civilizations of magical folk — fairies and goblins and trolls — that live among us.     — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

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Marona’s Fantastic Tale GKIDS

Independent films, directly on demand:

Exit Plan (Jonas Alexander Arnby)
Distributor: Screen Media
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
“When Animals Dream” director Jonas Alexander Arnby and writer Rasmus Birch reunite. But again, the Danish duo seem more interested in chilly atmospherics and idiosyncratic details than narrative cogency or psychological depth. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a terminally ill man who commits himself to a mysterious, isolated resort for assisted suicide, it’s a handsome, well-acted cipher that offers the pleasures as well as the frustrations of a high-end puzzle designed to be unsolvable.     — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Hill of Freedom (Hong Sang-soo)
Distributor: Grasshopper Film
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
The title could not be more of a red herring in Hong Sang-soo’s 2014 feature, its noble implications lending outward grandeur to a romantic triangle that reps a cream puff even by Hong’s trifling standards. Save for a cute structural gimmick that is probably best sustained in a film this slight, there’s little to stop this agreeable bit of festival filler from evaporating from memory before the next Hong joint comes down the pike.     — Joe Leydon
Read the full review

Infamous (Joshua Caldwell)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: Select drive-in theaters, or on Amazon.
There’s something perversely fascinating about a film as aggressively off-putting as “Infamous,” a lovers-on-the-run crime drama that practically defies you to develop a rooting interest in its two dim-bulb lead characters. Writer-director Joshua Caldwell borrows freely and indiscriminately from several earlier and superior examples of its sub-genre — particularly “Gun Crazy,” “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Natural Born Killers” — while attempting to craft some kind of cautionary tale about the many and varied ways social media can turn the dangerously discontented into sociopathic celebrity-seekers.     — Joe Leydon
Read the full review

Marona's Fantastic Tale (Anca Damian) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: GKids
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
Eye-tickling in its design, occasionally tear-jerking in its execution, “Marona” feels vibrant and upbeat even in moments of melancholy — like diving into an artistic child’s sketchbook and watching the illustrations splash to life all around. If this were a painting, we might classify it as “primitivism,” although the pseudo-naïve approach (a collaboration with Belgian artist Brecht Evens, whom Damian enlisted to work on his first animated project) works perfectly with such a protagonist. Marona views things differently from people, and the movie reflects that.     — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

The Short History of the Long Road (Ani Simon-Kennedy)
Distributor: FilmRise
Where to Find It: Select drive-in theaters, or on streaming starting 6/16.
A cozy and affecting tale about living off the grid. Evidently raised on the road by her father Clint (Steven Ogg), the well-taught and self-sufficient Nola (singer-actress Sabrina Carpenter) could be a spiritual sister of Thomasin McKenzie’s character in Debra Granik’s “Leave No Trace,” another unassuming cinematic ode to those who live on the high-stakes fringes of American civilization.     — Tomris Laffly
Read the full review

The Surrogate (Jeremy Hersh) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Monument Releasing
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
This indie drama about a young African American woman who agrees to become pregnant for her gay interracial-couple best friends, and the fallout when that arrangement unravels, touches vividly on numerous hot ethical and identity-politics topics without sermonizing in any direction. It’s an engrossing, very well-acted (primarily by New York stage talent, naturally) tale that will need viewer word of mouth to get the audience this “virtual theater” release deserves, given a lack of marquee names behind or before the camera.     — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

You Don't Nomi (Jeffrey McHale)
Distributor: RLJE Films
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
When “Showgirls” opened in the fall of 1995, it was mocked and damned with more derision than the usual movie debacle. Twenty-five years later, to say that there’s been a critical reassessment of “Showgirls” would be an understatement. “You Don’t Nomi” is an avid and entertaining critical documentary about “Showgirls.” It’s not about the making of the film. It’s more of a mediation, a feature-length appreciation of the phenomenon of “Showgirls” and all the ways the movie is now appraised and experienced.     — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

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Amazon Prime Video

Only on Amazon Prime

Gulabo Sitabo (Shoojit Sircar)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime
This comedy’s strategy of releasing straight to Amazon after its Indian release was canceled by the coronavirus suggests a turning point for Hindi cinema. The film co-stars popular local actors Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, who are the last residents in a decaying house.

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Sometimes Always Never

Other releases debuting on streaming this week

Aviva (Boaz Yakin)
Distributor: Outsider Pictures with Strand Releasing
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
A quartet of dancers alternate roles in order to explore dimensions of two lovers in this experimental, rule-bending modern romance.

Black Ops (aka The Ascent) (Tom Paton)
Distributor: Mosley Studios
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Heavily armed soldiers find themselves caught in an endless staircase full of creepy obstacles in this low-budget horror movie.

Born in Evin (Maryam Zaree)
Distributor: Syndicado
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Actress Zaree sets out to learn more about the Iranian prison in which she was born, probing into uncomfortable corners of the country’s history.

Darkness Falls (Julien Seri)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Shawn Ashmore stars in one of those “this time it’s personal” cop movies about a detective investigating/avenging his wife’s suicide.

The Departure (Merland Hoxha)
Distributor: Self-distributed
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
As if long-distance relationships aren’t hard enough already, a jealous boyfriend tests his partner’s loyalty by asking a friend to hit on her.

The Dinner Party (Miles Doleac)
Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
A wealthy creep brings together various guests for what seems like an innocuous social gathering, but the evening turns dark in this horror film.

For They Know Not What They Do (Daniel Karslake)
Distributor: First Run Features
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
“For the Bible Tells Me So” director Karslake profiles four religious families with LGBT kids, examining how they deal with this challenge to their faith.

Here Awhile (Tim True)
Distributor: 1091 Media
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
A terminally ill woman goes to Oregon to end her own life, attempting to repair things with her estranged younger brother before she dies.

In My Blood It Runs (Maya Newell)
Distributor: Sentient Art Cinema
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
While America examines its own racist history, this vérité doc illuminates the situation in Australia, observing an Arrernte Aboriginal boy in Alice Springs.

Picture a Scientist (Ian Cheney, Sharon Shattuck)
Distributor: Ro*Co Films
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
This documentary profiles women in research fields, challenging the notion that science is a profession for which men are somehow better suited.

Return to Hardwick (Michael Sellers)
Distributor: Together Films
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Michael Cudlitz narrates this documentary about how World War 2 veterans who served in the 93rd Bomb Group keep in touch and try to educate others.

Sometimes Always Never (Carl Hunter)
Distributor: Blue Fox
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
Bill Nighy plays a father determined to make amends to the Scrabble-obsessed son he lost touch with years before in this poignant British drama.

The Soul Collector  (Harold Hölscher)
Distributor: Shout! Studios
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Set in South Africa, this horror movie about a family confronted with an evil demon played the international genre festival circuit last fall.

A Thousand Miles Behind (Nathan Wetherington)
Distributor: Level 33
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Starring a member of the Blue Man Group, this indie drama follows a grieving man on a journey of healing, after a motorcycle materializes at his doorstep.