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New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Shirley,’ ‘Becky,’ ‘Tommaso’

Shirley
Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Thatcher Keats

Movies are slowly starting to trickle back into theaters, emphasis on the word “slowly.” For the time being, audiences’ options are still better at home, as this week’s crop of new films includes outrageous new genre fare — such as “Becky,” from the directors of “Cooties,” which plays a bit like a hard-R version of “Home Alone” — and festival standouts such as Hong Sang-soo’s “Yourself and Yours.”

“The Invisible Man” star Elisabeth Moss elaborates on her ever-widening scope of tortured women in the wildly unconventional Shirley Jackson biopic, a movie which portrays the author of “The Lottery” as the kind of character one might discover in her mind-bending horror tales.

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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Becky Quiver Distribution

Playing in drive-ins and extremely limited release:

Becky (Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott)
Distributor: Quiver Distribution
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Thirteen can be a petulant age, but hell hath no fury like the pubescent heroine of “Becky,” who has the ill luck to confront a gang of escaped cons — though that’s definitely worse luck for them, as it turns out. Offering fairly brutal action on the verge of black comedy, this indie thriller is lean, mean, nasty fun that will appeal to genre fans with hard-edged tastes. It may be less appealing to surprised fans of comedian Kevin James, who’s a long way from “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” as the sadistic chief villain here.      — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Max Winslow and the House of Secrets (Sean Olson)
Distributor: 3DLive AXO
Where to Find It: Now playing exclusively in these theaters.
A group of five teenagers must compete against one another to win a billionaire’s mansion, not expecting to be locked in to fend for themselves.

Mighty Oak (Sean McNamara)
Distributor: Paramount
Where to Find It: Now playing exclusively in theaters.
“Soul Surfer” director McNamara helms this inspirational story of a producer who discovers a young musical prodigy (played by Tommy Ragen) who reminds her of the brother she lost in a car accident.

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Judy & Punch Courtesy, Sundance Film Festival

Independent films, directly on demand:

Dreamland (Bruce McDonald)
Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment, Dark Star Pictures
Where to Find It: Available in select theaters, on demand and digital.
Apparently aiming for a kind of seamy Lynchian vibe but lacking the meticulous imagination and uncanny internal logic that underpins even Lynch’s most surreal outings “Dreamland” cooks up an unsavory child sex trafficking storyline as the framework on which to hang its garish jumble of genre stereotypes. Plot-wise, the screenplay seems to be grabbing at hitman-saves-a-kid touchpoints like “The Professional” and “You Were Never Really Here,” but only ever coming away with a handful of random pages.           — Jessica Kiang
Read the full review

Feral (Andrew Wonder)
Distributor: 1091 Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
No one would guess that Annapurna Sriram’s Yasmine is homeless. By all appearances, she’s rather closer to the cliché of the college-educated, gentrifying if still “quirky” Brooklyn hipster — a deceiving appearance that’s one of the few things she has left to turn to her advantage. This first narrative feature by cinematographer and documentarian Andrew Wonder is an intriguingly offbeat character sketch that falls somewhere short of a fully-rounded portrait. Nonetheless, his arresting subject matter and refined aesthetic make for a promising debut worthy of discerning viewers’ attention. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Hammer (Christian Sparkes)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
This Canadian thriller puts its characters through a Rube Goldbergian obstacle course of peril in the immediate hours after a hijacked drug deal. The pileup of disasters is such that this tale might easily have been spun as some kind of grotesque comedy. But “Hammer” plays it straight. The result isn’t a knockout, falling between the territories of crime meller and family drama without quite maximizing either element. But it works well enough in that middle ground, making for a succinct, well-crafted suspense exercise likely to satisfy most home viewers — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Judy & Punch (Mirrah Foulkes)
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Located somewhere on the fanciful continuum between Wiccan fable and Monty Python farce, this is a tale of domestic-violence revenge set in a satirical-whimsical land of never-was. The core narrative is rather simple, and the political metaphor not especially subtle. But the overall concept, from Foulkes and her trio of story collaborators, has a bracingly original air, from the film’s period anachronisms to its impressive design elements. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

The Price of Desire (Abby Ainsworth)
Distributor: Giant Pictures
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Even tantalizing glimpses of 20th-century Anglo-Irish modernist Eileen Gray’s most iconic designs, including scenes shot in the seminal E-1027, a seaside villa she built for her former lover Jean Badovici on France’s Côte d’Azur, fail to compensate for the rest of the treacle comprising “The Price of Desire.” This tedious 2014 production is essentially a recounting of how envious Swiss architect Le Corbusier effectively undermined Gray’s artistry and for many years obscured her place in the design pantheon. — Alissa Simon
Read the full review

Shirley (Josephine Decker) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Dark Star Pictures
Where to Find It: Stream free on Hulu or rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Shirley Jackson was a real person, a writer best known for her twisted short story “The Lottery,” although the version presented in Josephine Decker’s “Shirley” feels more like a character from one of her own novels. Featuring “The Handmaid’s Tale” actor Elisabeth Moss in the title role, this queer, hard-to-quantify psychological study isn’t a biopic so much as a séance — a quasi-occult attempt to invoke the spirit of such a singular author, who reinvented a genre before her death half a century ago, via a film that seeks to channel her unsettling style. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Tommaso (Abel Ferrara)
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
Willem Dafoe, who also starred in Ferrara’s “Pasolini,” plays Tommaso, an American indie director living in Rome. The film was shot in Ferrara’s own apartment there, and it costars his wife, Cristina Chiriac, and the couple’s three-year-old daughter. Scene for scene, “Tommaso” feels alive as a movie. Dafoe won’t let a scene go by without finding an angle on it; he keeps you watching. The film, disappointingly, draws almost nothing from Ferrara’s decades of experience as a filmmaker. The movie, instead, is Ferrara’s cautionary slow-burn tale of a relationship in breakdown. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Yourself and Yours (Hong Sang-soo)
Distributor: Cinema Guild
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
At least two female doppelgangers drink coffee and soju, flirt with various men, and spark gossip and mass confusion in Hong’s “Yourself and Yours,” a wise and gently absurdist allegory about how best to approach relationships. An inspired reversal of Luis Buñuel’s “That Obscure Object of Desire,” which had two different actresses playing the same woman, the film casts one actress playing multiple versions of herself — or so it would seem. The film reps a confident return to the low-key pleasures of Hong’s recent work, graced by a swooning romantic spirit. — Scott Tobias
Read the full review

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Spelling the Dream Netflix

New to Netflix

The Last Days of American Crime (Olivier Megaton)
Where to Find It: Netflix
These days, searching for solace amid a global pandemic and nationwide protests, film critics frequently find themselves referring to “the movie we need right now,” lavishing that cliché description on anything that offers the slightest comfort or context in a world turned upside-down. This is not that movie. Instead, it’s an offensive eyesore in which looting and anarchy are treated as window dressing, law and order come in the form of mind control, and police brutality is so pervasive as to warrant a trigger warning. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Spelling the Dream (Sam Rega)
Where to Find It: Netflix
This entertaining documentary begins with arguably its most exuberant moment: 2019’s Scripps National Spelling Bee in which, after 20 rounds, eight kids tied for the title. Seven of the winners were of South Asian or Indian descent; just one was white. “Spelling the Dream” provides some answers to the question of “What gives?” Twelve straight national championships? Twenty-seven of the last 35 winners? Really? Featuring four determined competitors for the 2017 competition, the doc celebrates – and genially interrogates — that impressive run. — Lisa Kennedy
Read the full review

Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai (Anurag Kashyap)
Where to Find It: Netflix
A working-class Maharashtrian woman trying to figure out how to make ends meet discovers a source of money in a most unexpected place in this Indian movie.

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And We Go Green 1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right

Exclusive to Hulu

And We Go Green (Fisher Stevens, Malcolm Venville)
Where to Find It: Hulu
Co-produced by (and featuring a cameo appearance from) Leonardo DiCaprio, this documentary about the fourth year of the Formula E motorsport circuit presents itself as a planet-conscious endorsement of clean-energy technology, but is mostly about the brash personalities competing for the championship. It’s the type of engaging-but-shallow sports doc that pops up frequently on streaming services, which seem the finish lines it will ultimately cross. — Scott Tobias
Read the full review

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The Collini Case

Other releases debuting on streaming this week

2040 (Damon Gameau)
Distributor: Together Films
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
Gameau, director of “That Sugar Film,” composes an optimistic forecast of the world 20 years from now, if people were to embrace environmental practices.

The Accompanist (Frederick Keeve)
>Distributor: Dark Star Pictures
Where to Find It: Available on demand.
In this gay love story, a pianist hits it off with a ballet dancer, sparking a rivalry with the man’s jealous lover.

A Clear Shot (Nick Leisure)
Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
Four criminals invade an electronics store, debating among themselves how to surivive the situation in this TV-grade thriller starring Mario Van Peebles.

The Collini Case (Marco Kreuzpaintner)
Distributor: Capelight, Dark Sky
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
A novice public defender takes a case representing a murderer who refuses to speak, unaware just how deep the man’s motives reach into Germany’s dark past.

Juice: How Electricity Explains the World (Tyson Culver, Robert Bryce)
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
In 80 informative minutes, this documentary delves into the way inequality, women’s rights and climate change are impacted by questions of access to electricity.

Made in Bangladesh (Rubaiyat Hossain)
Distributor: ArtMattan Prods.
Where to Find It: Watch via the Curzon Home Cinema site.
After a factory fire results in a colleague’s death, Dhaka-based laborer Shimu finds herself motivated to unionize in this dramatic look at issues of emerging markets.

Parkland Rising (Cheryl Horner)
Distributor: Abramorama
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support.
This isn’t the first — and certainly won’t be the last — doc spotlighting the activism against gun violence that arose from the 2018 shooting at a Florida high school.

Punching and Stealing (Ryan Churchill)
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Where to Find It: Rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
An IT guy joins a vigilante group to recover stolen pension funds from white collar criminals in this thriller inspired by an actual financial case.

Searching Eva (Pia Hellenthal)
Distributor: Syndicado
Where to Find It: Stream on Mubi, or rent on Amazon and other on-demand platforms.
A young person’s exploration of identity unfolds in public view in this vérité look at a complex personality that doesn’t fit into comfortable categories.