No Good Deed

Amirhossein Shojaei

A Hero (2021)

Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero” is yet another engrossing thriller in the vein of his “A Separation,” in which a few seemingly innocuous white lies spiral out of control and lead to dire consequences.

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Girls Trip

Courtesy photo

Revirginized (2021)

In “Revirginized,” Filipina superstar Sharon Cuneta stars as Carmela, and the film’s opening scene finds her arriving at the courthouse in a daze, seemingly dreading what is about to take place: her divorce proceedings. Just when you think her day has hit rock bottom though, her parked car gets booted.

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It Takes a Village

Concordia Studio

All These Sons (2021)

The documentary “All These Sons” looks at two Chicago nonprofits – Maafa Redemption Project and Inner-City Muslim Action Network’s Green ReEntry – working to deescalate the gun violence plaguing the city’s south and west sides. Billy Moore, life coach and case manager at IMAN, served a 20-year sentence for murder. Robert Ervin, life coach and program manager at Maafa and deacon of New Mount Pilgrim Church, is apparently also a former convict. Having been lured down the wrong paths themselves, these reformed men now serve as father figures to at-risk youths struggling with broken families, mental health issues and/or substance abuse, and help steer them in the right direction.

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Big Brother Is Watching

Courtesy photo

Annaatthe (2021)

When “The Irishman” digitally de-aged its stars – Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino – many complained they still moved like senior citizens. In “Annaatthe,” 70-year-old legendary Tamil superstar Rajinikanth is under a blow-dried ’80s rock band wig and an entire cake’s worth of concealer to appear decades younger, but at the very least he carries himself accordingly – which is not to say he hasn’t had help from some movie magic. During the requisite musical numbers, director-cowriter Siva employs the old Hype Williams trick of slowing down the music on set, then playing back at regular speed to make movements look a lot sharper. The result is almost seizure-inducing, much like “In the Heights.”

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Intolerable Cruelty


The Middle Man (2021)

Bent Hamer seems to specialize in charming tales about eccentric small-time characters, like “Kitchen Stories” and “O’Horten.” Without the charm, we’re sort of in Coen brothers territory. Such is the case with “The Middle Man,” his adaptation of Lars Saabye Christensen’s novel “Sluk.” Some imply – as can be seen in the Toronto International Film Festival programming notes – that it has a comedic tenor, though that’s not the impression it left on this reviewer.

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Crash and Burn

Alberto Novelli

Three Floors (2021)

Three decades ago, Nanni Moretti was dubbed the Italian Woody Allen on these shores. Fortunately, he reinvented himself as a Serious Filmmaker two decades ago with “The Son’s Room,” way ahead of Mr. Allen’s public fall from grace and Hong Sang-soo embracing his own Korean Woody Allen designation to the point of self-parody. Lately however, Mr. Moretti seems to be stuck in a rut. There’s a point in his new film, “Three Floors,” where he takes a literal beating. Enough! It’s something the Mr. Moretti from “Dear Diary” might have winced at. (Incidentally, he took to Instagram to let everyone know he winced at “Titane.”)

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The Poet as Hero


Benediction (2021)

“Benediction,” Terence Davies’s Siegfried Sassoon biopic, coalesces from nonlinear memory fragments, the device for which the filmmaker is best known. With this particular film, though, he seems oddly wistful for a time when people were terrible and terribly unhappy to boot.

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Broken Vessels

Janus Films

Drive My Car (2021)

“Performing allowed me to be someone other than myself. And I could revert back when the performance ended,” Haruki Murakami wrote in the short story “Drive My Car,” anthologized in “Men Without Women.” “But the self that one returned to was never exactly the same as the self that one had left behind.” These words are left unspoken by actor-director Yûsuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) to his chauffer, Misaki Watari (Tôko Miura), in the film adaptation directed and cowritten by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi. Rather, they are faithfully enacted.

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Daze on the Market


The Good House (2021)

An adaptation of the Ann Leary novel, “The Good House” centers on Hildy Good (Sigourney Weaver), an alcoholic real-estate agent with witchy powers and in a bit of a midlife crisis. Her ex-husband, Scott (David Rasche), left her for a man after 22 years; former assistant Wendy Heatherton (Kathryn Erbe) took her clients; and rent just went up in Brooklyn for her yet-dependent aspiring-artist daughter, Emily (Molly Brown). Hildy is working her deep knowledge of the fictional Wendover, Mass., (apparently stand-in for Ipswich) and personal relationships with its denizens to capacity in hopes of drumming up business. Though she has her finger on the pulse of this affluent coastal Boston suburb, she’s oblivious to the seriousness of her dipsomania to the point that an intervention needs to be staged.

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Putting It Together

Josh Barrett/A24

The Souvenir Part II (2021)

“The Souvenir Part II” is, in essence, the making of “The Souvenir,” Joanna Hogg’s maybe autography about Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne), the Sloane Ranger-y student enrolled at the Raynham Film School (stand-in for Ms. Hogg’s alma mater, the National Film and Television School) and living in Knightsbridge, who perpetually feigns a smile as her forehead tightens. The school seemingly expects her well-to-do folks (Tilda Swinton, Ms. Swinton Byrne’s real-life mum, and James Spencer Ashworth) to bankroll her student projects. They do, and in turn she takes some of the hard-begged handouts to support the drug habit and wastrel lifestyle of The Worst Fuckboi Ever, Anthony (Tom Burke).

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