Normally, The A.V. Club uses this space to preview all the major films coming to a theater near you. But with the world in the grips of a pandemic, nothing’s coming to a theater near you; theaters have closed their doors, and studios have pushed back their releases. So for the time being, we’ll instead be previewing movies going straight to VOD and streaming services. We’ll also note the films that definitely won’t be, as they’ve been officially postponed. These days, we’re all watching movies at home. Consider this now a source of the new releases coming to a living room near you.
Hulu, VOD, and digital platforms June 5
Elisabeth Moss has been absolutely killing it for a few years now, delivering powerhouse performances in everything from TV’s The Handmaid’s Tale to last year’s Riot Grrrl backstage drama Her Smell to this spring’s multiplex hit The Invisible Man. Her winning streak continues with Shirley, starring the Mad Men alum as reclusive “The Lottery” author Shirley Jackson, whose creative juices start flowing again after a young couple (Odessa Young and Logan Lerman) comes to stay in the house she rarely leaves. Michael Stuhlbarg costars as Jackson’s compatibly venomous husband in this charged psychodrama from director Josephine Decker (Madeline’s Madeline).
Virtual theaters June 5
Abel Ferrara, the punk poet of inner turmoil, returns with another drama about a tortured soul—in this case, Ferrara himself! Acting alongside the director’s real-life wife and daughter, frequent collaborator Willem Dafoe stars as a thinly veiled alter ego of Ferrara: an ex-bad-boy Italian American director who has cleaned up his act and is now trying to lead a better life in Rome. Ferrara’s greatest films (including Bad Lieutenant) rank with the most lacerating character studies of addictive and self-destructive behavior. Since kicking drugs and booze, he has been an insightful chronicler of the moral struggle to stay sober.
VOD and digital platforms June 5
Kevin James gets his Green Room moment with Becky, which casts the King Of Queens star as a violent neo-Nazi, just like the one Patrick Stewart played in Jeremy Saulnier’s 2015 thriller. This time around, however, it’s not a punk band taking on jackbooted criminals but a 13-year-old girl—the title character, played by Lulu Wilson, whose trip to the family lake house with her dad (Joel McHale) and his new girlfriend (Amanda Brugel) is interrupted by the arrival of skinhead thugs. This genre-movie scenario—and the casting stunt at the center of it—has been orchestrated by Cooties and Bushwick directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion. The film’s gory but also pretty silly.
Yourself And Yours
Virtual theaters June 5
South Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo has made so many movies in the last decade—often remixing the same plot points—that it’s sometimes hard to keep up. Yourself And Yours, from 2016, is in fact just one of two long-delayed Hong features to get a belated American release this month (2014’s Hill Of Freedom, arguably his funniest and most accessible film, opens on June 12). This one’s another of the filmmaker’s experiments in doubling and variation, in which an insecure artist’s anxieties about his girlfriend are manifested in an assortment of doppelgängers.
We Are Freestyle Love Supreme
Hulu June 5
Years before he was Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony-winning creator of Hamilton, the “Room Where It Happens” composer was just another New York-based improviser, making a name for himself with his (and long-time collaborator Thomas Kail’s) off-the-cuff rap team, Freestyle Love Supreme. Hulu’s new documentary (directed by Andrew Fried) charts the group’s history, including appearances at Edinburgh and other top-tier comedy festivals, up to its eventual, Hamilton-powered reunion in 2019—which eventually became a Broadway sensation in its own right. It’s a crowd-pleaser, provided your own tastes don’t transform the words “Lin-Manuel Miranda,” “rap,” and “improvised” into an automatic dealbreaker.
VOD and digital platforms June 5
Canadian favorite Stephen McHattie stars in a dual role, playing both an unnamed, heroin-addled jazz trumpeter and Johnny Deadeyes, an assassin working for a menacing sex trafficker named Hercules (Henry Rollins). There’s more cult icons and bizarre character (including Juliette Lewis as flamboyant socialite who’s brother is a literal vampire) in this latest cult item from Pontypool director Bruce McDonald.
Édgar Ramírez is Graham Bricke, a bank robber facing the end of his career as the government prepares to activate a sonic weapon that makes it physically impossible to commit illegal acts. (The science of such a signal remains blissfully unarticulated in the trailer.) That puts Graham in a race against The Man for one last score—with some help, though, from trust-fund gangster Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt) and expert hacker Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster). This Netflix vehicle comes from a specialist in the genre: perfectly named French director Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3, the Taken sequels), looking to potentially add a political dimension to his signature action absurdity.
Having already helped make movie stars out of small-screen alums Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and Amy Schumer, comedy kingpin Judd Apatow builds a big-screen platform for the self-deprecating comedy stylings of Pete Davidson. The SNL player co-wrote this loosely autobiographical vehicle about a wannabe tattoo artist struggling, as nearly all Apatow protagonists do, to grow up; one culprit for his delayed maturation is lingering grief over the death of his firefighter father years earlier—an element plucked from Davidson’s real life. The typically Apatovian (read: protracted) runtime accommodates a typically sprawling supporting cast, including Marisa Tomei, Steve Buscemi, Bel Powley, Bill Burr, and the great character actor Kevin Corrigan.
Spike Lee chases his rollicking BlackKklansman, which won him a very overdue Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, with another film that links the 1970s to today. It’s a drama about a group of veterans (played by Delroy Lindo, Norm Lewis, and The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Clarke Peters) who return to Vietnam decades later, searching for both the remains of their squad leader and some gold they buried during their tour of duty. The last time Lee went to war, the result was one of his most leaden efforts, but Da 5 Bloods looks much livelier, at least judging from the trailer. And now feels like a pretty damn good time for a new Spike Lee joint, doesn’t it?
Originally slated for a theatrical release, Kenneth Branagh’s latest trip to fantasy land has become Disney’s most high-profile sacrifice to the streaming gods to date. Based on the bestselling YA series from Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl follows a would-be tween supervillain (Ferdia Shaw) who stumbles into a massive conspiracy involving fairies, dwarves, and a supernatural police force that unashamedly calls itself LEPrecon. (Really.) Josh Gad, Colin Farrell, and Judi Dench are all on hand to lend the project some name recognition, while Lara McDonnell and Tamara Smart round out its cast of younger leads.
French director Olivier Assayas reunites with Édgar Ramírez, star of his 2010 miniseries Carlos, for another based-on-a-true-story thriller about the world of international intrigue. Adapted from Fernando Morais’ nonfiction book The Last Soldiers Of The Cold War, Wasp Network stars Ramírez, Wagner Moura, and Gael García Bernal as Cuban spies who infiltrated anti-Castro paramilitary groups in Florida in the 1990s by posing as defectors. Reception at its premiere at last year’s Venice Film Festival was mixed, but given Assayas’ ability to bring both energy and ambiguity to similar subject matter, we’re looking forward to it.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been largely absent from movie screens for the past few years—his last starring role was in 2016’s Snowden. Appearing to return the actor to the Premium Rush zone of modestly scaled thrillers, 7500 casts him as an American co-pilot on a Berlin-to-Paris flight that’s besieged by terrorists. Much of the film takes place within the plane’s cockpit, where Levitt’s character is trapped with one of the hijackers. German writer-director Patrick Vollrath is making his feature debut following a number of shorts (including one Oscar nominee), and while it’s a little discomfiting to think about wringing thrills from a premise that sounds like a “fun” United 93, a handful of reviews from its festival debut last year have been encouraging.
Two different types of doomed young-adult romances hook up in Babyteeth: Milla (Eliza Scanlen) is a young cancer patient who has a chance meeting with Moses (Toby Wallace), a slightly-less-young drug dealer. Naturally, Milla’s parents (Australian all-stars Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis) disapprove of this match that falls somewhere between The Fault In Our Stars and Heaven Knows What. But beyond that familiar dynamic, short and TV director Shannon Murphy’s first feature is otherwise unconventional, with four central characters whose different forms of pain have surprising (and sometimes surprisingly funny) dimension.
Writer-director Jon Stewart engineers a Daily Show reunion by teaming up with former correspondent Steve Carell for a political satire. Carell plays a Democratic strategist who tries to help a left-leaning veteran (Chris Cooper) win a mayoral race in a right-wing town; the RNC promptly sends its own operative (Rose Byrne) to nip this promising candidacy in the bud. Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Debra Messing, and Natasha Lyonne round out an impressive cast, but it’s Carell’s mixture of broad comedy chops and serious-actor aspirations that generates the real suspense: Will this be the rare Hollywood-born political satire to score substantial laughs, or will it torpedo a comic sensibility with deadly self-importance?
Conceived, presumably, as a way to get two of Hollywood’s most toxic men out of circulation for at least a couple of weeks, this Die Hard-in-a-hurricane riff pits Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch against baddies taking advantage of a natural disaster to rob $55 million from a safe hidden in a Puerto Rico apartment complex. Kate Bosworth and David Zayas co-star, and Michael Polish directs, but the obvious draw here (for better or worse) is Gibson, in full aging action star mode as a stubborn, retired cop who just might have a thing or two to teach the younger generation about the finer points of gunning down mooks.
Greek-French actress Ariane Labed, who’s appeared in a couple of Yorgos Lanthimos’ movies, makes her directorial debut with Cannes competitor Olla (MUBI, June 1), about a young woman who moves from Ukraine to the French suburbs to live with a man she meets on a dating website. Like an unofficial sequel to the documentary Spellbound, Spelling The Dream (Netflix, June 3) follows four Indian American students preparing for the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee. Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street (Shudder, June 4) looks back on the legacy and gay subtext of Freddy Krueger’s second rampage, partially through the eyes of its star, Mark Patton. Sofia Bohdanowicz and star/co-director Deragh Campbell complete a trilogy of docu-dramas with MS Slavic 7 (MUBI, June 4), the follow-up to Never Eat Alone and Veslemøy’s Song. Mia Wasikowska plays a puppeteer trying to resurrect the live show she performs with her husband in the Australian dark comedy Judy & Punch (VOD, June 5). You Don’t Nomi (VOD and digital platforms, June 9) examines the critical reappraisal of Paul Verhoeven’s once-panned, now increasingly celebrated Showgirls. Joining Samara’s cursed VHS tape in the video store of hell is the “ghost film”—that is, a film directed by a ghost—of Warning: Do Not Play (Shudder, June 11). Israeli American filmmaker Boaz Yakin, whose eclectic resume includes Remember The Titans and the script for Now You See Me, returns with Aviva (virtual theaters, June 12), a conceptually ambitious, dance-centric romance. The latest animated import to be released Stateside by GKIDS is Marona’s Fantastic Tale (virtual theaters, June 12), a European fable about a stray dog reflecting on the various masters she’s had over the year. A ride-share driver is tasked with stopping a demonic invasion in the buzzed-about indie horror film Driven (digital platforms and VOD, June 16). A father grapples with his teen daughter’s suicide attempt in Berlin Film Festival selection The Day After I’m Gone (MUBI, June 18). The horror anthology tradition lives on with Scare Package (Shudder, June 18), featuring seven vignettes from seven up-and-coming directors. Disney Channel starlet Sofia Carson plays a dancer who returns to her Wisconsin hometown to coach a team of hoofing misfits in Feel The Beat (Netflix, June 19). Just in time for Father’s Day, Bryce Dallas Howard directs a documentary tribute to Dads (Apple TV+, June 19), including her own famous one. June also brings Miss Juneteenth (VOD and digital platforms, June 19), a Sundance selection about a single mother preparing her teenage daughter for a pageant celebrating the abolition of slavery in Texas. Europa Europa director Agnieszka Holland returns with Mr. Jones (digital platforms, June 19), a historical/journalism drama starring James Norton, Peter Sarsgaard, and Vanessa Kirby. Athlete A (Netflix, June 24), the new documentary from Bonni Cohen and John Shenk (Audrie & Daisy, An Inconvenient Sequel), takes a close look at the Larry Nassar scandal. Yummy (Shudder, June 25), which was supposed to premiere at SXSW this year, is a zombie movie set in an Eastern European hospital. And Phoenix star Nina Hoss plays a violin teacher who becomes obsessed with a new student in The Audition (virtual theaters, June 26).
Warner Bros. is now optimistically eyeing August 14 for the theatrical debut of Wonder Woman 1984, which jumped around the release calendar even before COVID scuttled plans to open it in June. Top Gun: Maverick, the other ’80s-adjacent sequel originally slated for this coming month, has moved to Christmas. Sony Pictures has sold Greyhound, a military-themed drama starring another famous Tom (that would be the blessedly recovered Hanks), to Apple TV+, which plans to release the film digitally at a later date. Horror fans will now have to wait until at least September 25 for writer-producer Jordan Peele’s revival of Candyman. It will be another whole year before In The Heights, based on the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical that’s not Hamilton, hits theaters. And the next Pixar movie, Soul, is now tentatively scheduled for Thanksgiving.