New Movies: Release Calendar for December 2, Plus Where to Watch the Latest Films

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It’s a very holly, jolly weekend at the multiplex if you’re into, well, Santa Claus beating up just a lot of bad guys. Otherwise, pickings are a bit more slim. Film fans looking for holiday content with a rough-and-tumble spin will likely adore David Harbour as the aforementioned naughty Santa Claus in “Violent Night,” but other spirit remains in short supply. Still, there are always gems to enjoy, from the expanded run of Laura Poitras’ Venice winner “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” “Squid Game” star Lee Jung-jae’s directorial debut “Hunt,” and Joanna Hogg and Tilda Swinton’s latest team-up, “The Eternal Daughter.”

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Over on Netflix and Hulu, some more possibilities, with the latter offering up a spooky YA feature about a girl who can talk to ghosts, and the former rolling out a steamy D.H. Lawrence adaptation and a loving tribute to Robert Downey, Sr., care of Robert Downey, Jr. Send in the blockbusters! We need them!

Each film is now available in a theater near you or in the comfort of your own home (or, in some cases, both, the convenience of it all). Browse your options below.

Week of November 28 – December 4

New Films in Theaters

As new movies open in theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will continue to review them whenever possible. We encourage readers to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Additionally, our coverage will provide alternative viewing options whenever they are available.

“2nd Chance” (directed by Ramin Bahrani)
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Where to Find It:
 Theaters

We think we’re looking at the kind of eccentric that America’s individualistic ethos has allowed this country to mass produce for the last 250 years, but subject Richard Davis prefers to think of himself as just another humble participant in the arms race that’s been unfolding on this planet for the last 500 million years. “In 500 million years,” director Ramin Bahrani interjects in the affectless tone that will come to define his first documentary, “Richard Davis is the only man to shoot himself 192 times.”

One imagines that’s almost certainly true, but Bahrani’s carnival barker approach to non-fiction cinema suggests that fact-checking wasn’t a top priority here. An acolyte of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris who’s leveraged the neorealism of his early films (“Chop Shop,” “Man Push Cart”) into a much broader series of portraits and parables about the evils of capitalism (“99 Homes,” “The White Tiger”), Bahrani isn’t shy about editorializing Davis’ story — the story of a man who made a fortune by endangering the very customers he claimed to keep safe. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” - Credit: Courtesy of Neon
“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” - Credit: Courtesy of Neon

Courtesy of Neon

“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” (directed by Laura Poitras) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Distributor: Neon
Where to Find It:
 Expanding in theaters, further expansion on Friday, December 9

Laura Poitras has leveled up with a towering and devastating work of shocking intelligence and still greater emotional power. “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” is about the life and art of Nan Goldin and how this led her to found P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), an advocacy group targeting the Sackler family for manufacturing and distributing OxyContin, a deeply addictive drug that has exacerbated the opioid crisis. It is about the bonds of community, the dangers of repression, and how art and politics are the same thing. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Emancipation” (directed by Antoine Fuqua)
Distributor: AppleTV+
Where to Find It:
 Select theaters, streaming on AppleTV+ on Friday, December 9

“Emancipation” is based on the true story of Gordon (here referred to as Peter), a man whose keloid-scarred image was captured on a series of carte de visite photographs that were taken at a Union camp in Baton Rouge after he escaped from a plantation some 40 miles away and survived a 10-day trek across deadly swampland; the sight of his mutilated back was then used to help the abolitionist movement convey the atrocities of slavery to a disbelieving world.

The unrelentingly brutal film that Antoine Fuqua has made about him aspires to have the same effect on modern audiences, whose imaginations might struggle to comprehend the most visceral sins of the 19th century, and/or recognize the very real perils that America’s unresolved prejudices continue to pose as we move deeper into the 21st. That’s a noble ambition for a movie to have, but it’s not an ambition this movie was built to achieve. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Eternal Daughter” - Credit: A24
“The Eternal Daughter” - Credit: A24

A24

“The Eternal Daughter” (directed by Joanna Hogg)
Distributor: A24
Where to Find It:
 Select theaters

An elegantly slender phantom of a film that channels a spooky hotel’s worth of gothic horror tropes into the heartrending story of a woman trying to see her own ghost, “The Eternal Daughter” finds Hogg returning to the haunted corridors of her personal experience — and, unexpectedly, to the fictional version of herself that she invented to walk through them. Yes, Julie Hart is back, with Tilda Swinton taking over the role that her daughter originated in “The Souvenir” (that was set in the ’80s, this in the present day).

But that alone wouldn’t be enough of a meta-casting mind-fuck for this deceptively straightforward movie, in which Hogg interrogates her right and ability to make a movie about her mother by making a movie in which her on-screen avatar interrogates her right and ability to make a movie about her mother. So not only does Swinton play the middle-aged version of Julie, she also reprises her role as Julie’s now-widowed mother, Rosalind, the actress embodying both women as they retreat for a stay at the fictional Moel Famau hotel in Flintshire, Wales. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Zackary Drucker in “Framing Agnes” - Credit: Sundance
Zackary Drucker in “Framing Agnes” - Credit: Sundance

Sundance

“Framing Agnes” (directed by Chase Joynt)
Distributor: Film Forum
Where to Find It:
 Select theaters

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but when it comes to experimental archival documentaries, just because something worked once doesn’t mean it will work again. In the burgeoning canon of queer and trans documentaries, filmmakers face a unique challenge: How do you tell a story that has either been deliberately erased, or filtered through a lens that views you as abnormal at best, abhorrent at worst? It’s a dilemma that has been handled elegantly in recent documentaries like “Disclosure,” “The Lady and the Dale,” and “No Ordinary Man.” Unfortunately, “Framing Agnes” gets too wrapped up in the questions surrounding storytelling to do any actual storytelling. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Hunt” (directed by Lee Jung-jae)
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Where to Find It:
 Theaters, plus various VOD platforms

An energetic yet hopelessly convoluted espionage thriller that doesn’t tell a story so much as it chronically bumps into one, “Hunt” — the directorial debut of “Squid Game” star Lee Jung-jae, who also co-wrote the script and plays the lead role — begins with a premise so primed for spy-vs-spy mind games that you can almost hear John le Carré licking his lips from beyond the grave.

It’s the early 1980s, North and South Korea are locked in a paranoia-driven cold war, and the Gwangju Uprising (during which hundreds, if not thousands, of South Korean students were killed while demonstrating against martial law) is still fresh in everyone’s minds. In fact, the massacre has left such a stain on the nation’s psyche that it even seeps into the Tarantino-esque alternate history that Lee spins here, providing some extra sogginess at the bottom of a self-serious popcorn movie in which the South Korean president is only a symbolic representation of the real Chun Doo-hwan. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Last Film Show”
“Last Film Show”

“Last Film Show” (directed by Pan Nalin)
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Where to Find It:
 Theaters

Cinephiles have long been conditioned to roll their eyes at mawkishly uplifting movies about the magic of cinema. The worst of these tend to come from people who can’t find any other way to make the same point, so it’s understandable if the ultra-earnest title card at the start of Pan Nalin’s “Last Film Show” inspires you to put your head between your knees and brace for a long two hours. “Gratitude for illuminating the path…” it reads, followed by a short list of names that consists of the Lumière brothers, Eadweard Muybridge, David Lean, Stanley Kubrick, and Andrei Tarkovsky.

In the moment, that feels like both way too much and not enough. By the end of Nalin’s sweet but wistful bildungsroman, however, the decision to open with such a hokey tip of the hat seems entirely justified (and not just because all five of those filmmakers are paid cute homage along the way). This is a story by and about someone who truly needs that light to see the way forward, and has always been able to find it in places where few others were even willing to look. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies” (directed by Michael Showalter)
Distributor: Focus Features
Where to Find It:
 Theaters, expansion to follow

One of the more memorable episodes of Michael Ausiello’s 2017 memoir finds the television journalist (and obsessive) visiting the Brooklyn set of “The Americans” on the same afternoon his longtime boyfriend, photographer Kit Cowan, sees a colorectal specialist about the severe pain he was experiencing. Mere seconds before sitting down for a chat with stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, Ausiello receives a text informing him that Cowan’s doctor has found a growth; already traumatized by watching his mother die from cancer when he was a child, Ausiello jumps to the worst possible conclusion.

Time would tragically justify such catastrophizing (Ausiello’s book is called “Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies”), but for the moment, he can only sit through an interview he’d been too excited about to reschedule, his mind entirely in Manhattan as he struggles to do a job that often seemed more like a fantasy. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Spoiler Alert”
“Spoiler Alert”

“Tantura” (directed by Alon Schwarz)
Distributor: Reel Peak Films
Where to Find It:
 Select theaters

To Israelis, it was the War of Independence. To Palestinians, it was the Nakba — the catastrophe. “Tantura,” from Israeli documentarian Alon Schwarz, begins with audio from the 1948 U.N. Declaration that led to the founding of Israel and the subsequent clearing of Arab populations from the region. While it aims to contextualize self-perpetuated myths of national glory, it focuses more specifically on the tiny Palestinian fishing village of Tantura, the site of an alleged massacre by the IDF, and one Israeli researcher’s squashed attempts to expose that history 50 — now almost 75 — years later.

Though it features brief moments of confrontation with elderly Israeli subjects — some of them soldiers who were present at the time — the film depends too greatly on its sense of academia to unearth its story, and it struggles to fully engage with the explosive topic at hand for its first hour. However, in the final stretch of its 85-minute runtime, this approach proves foundational for chilling revelations and quiet, cinematically self-evident questions about the way we remember history. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Violent Night” (directed by Tommy Wirkola)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Where to Find It:
 Theaters

We’re scarcely five minutes into Tommy Wirkola’s naughty new Christmas tale “Violent Night” before David Harbour’s chubby, drunk, and righteously pissed off St. Nick is puking off his sleigh onto one very confused bartender and revealing himself to, yes indeed, be the jolly one himself. If you can vibe with that whiplash-inducing comedic opening — gallons of vomit mixed with some magical holiday sweetness — you just might be in the right frame of mind to receive what’s to come in this hyper-violent, occasionally funny, and often oddly charming holiday trifle.

The big draw of “Violent Night” is, of course, right there in the title: the violence! Wirkola has often delighted in turning basic-ish ideas into bloody good fun with the addition of head-bashing twists. You can practically hear the elevator pitches: “It’s a horror movie about Nazis…who are also zombies” or “It’s Hansel and Gretel…but also they’re witch hunters.” Santa Claus is a natural fit for that sort of sensibility, and with the added zip and zeal of production shingle 87North (“Bullet Train,” “Nobody”), it’s got the bone-crunching stunts to match Santa’s panache for killing baddies. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“The Balcony Movie” (directed by Pawel Lozinski)
Distributor: MUBI
Where to Find It:
 Theaters

“Christmas with the Campbells” (directed by Clare Niederpruem)
Distributor: AMC+, RLJE Films
Where to Find It:
 Theaters, plus streaming on AMC+

“Four Samosas” (directed by Ravi Kapoor)
Distributor: IFC Films
Where to Find It:
 Theaters

“Marlowe” (directed by Neil Jordan)
Distributor: Open Road
Where to Find It:
 Theaters

New Films on VOD and Streaming, Including Premium Platforms and Virtual Cinema

“Darby and the Dead” (directed by Silas Howard)
Distributor: Disney+
Where to Find It:
 Streaming on Hulu

What’s a teen to do when she witnesses her bully electrocute herself with a hair straightener in the high school locker room? If she’s a medium who sees dead people, she’ll have to infiltrate the popular girls and throw a birthday bash of her dreams so her new frenemy can move on to afterlife, obviously. That’s the tenuous and cliche-ridden premise of “Darby and yhe Dead,” 20th Century Studios’ generic teen comedy arriving on Hulu just in time for the holidays. Starring “Moana” voice star Auli’i Cravalho as a bubbly sharp-tongued bully, “Darby and the Dead” mashes up a host of YA movie tropes into a snappy but ultimately forgettable ride. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” - Credit: Netflix
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” - Credit: Netflix

Netflix

“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre)
Distributor: Netflix 
Where to Find It:
 Streaming on Netflix

When D.H. Lawrence’s final novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” was widely published for the first time in 1960 (other versions circulated in 1928 and 1929), the book ignited a firestorm that eventually led to an obscenity trial (won by its publisher) and massive sales. Decades later, the novel remains a source of titillation for many (including those who turned it into dozens of R- and X-rated films and TV series), even if its reputation has generally faded into “It’s smutty, right?” It is, of course, so much more.

When Penguin Books was prosecuted under the UK’s Obscene Publications Act 1959, it wasn’t just the book’s language (including the repeated use of many “unprintable” four-letter words) or the explicit sex scenes. Lawrence’s also lovers dared to cross class lines in a time when that was a shocking act of its own. In this latest adaptation, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s gorgeous, dreamy, very sexy take on the material, much of that drama has been flattened. Instead, it offers the chance to probe the emotional texture of the story and gives stars Emma Corrin (who uses they/them pronouns) and Jack O’Connell two of the best roles of their careers. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“Sr.” (directed by Chris Smith)
Distributor: Netflix 
Where to Find It:
 Streaming on Netflix

“Sr.,” a portrait of Robert Downey Sr. in the last years of his life as he races to finish a biographical documentary about his own life, feels the fleetest whenever it features father and son together in the same frame. These scenes transparently evince a dynamic that clearly goes back decades: While Sr. constantly tries to direct his own scenes in front of the camera, encouraging director Chris Smith to push in here or block subjects there, Robert Downey Jr. hams it up with the extended family. When the two of them shoot B-roll and interview footage together, Sr. always tries to tinker with the footage while Jr. cracks jokes about his dad’s behavior.

Similarly, the stories of Jr.’s unconventional childhood are plainly amusing, whether it’s Jr. reminiscing about how he would fall asleep to the sound of dailies because his dad placed his crib in the editing bay, or Sr. talking about calling a distributor to compel a ticket taker to allow his son to see Marco Ferreri’s X-rated “Le Grande Bouffe.” Read IndieWire’s full review.

Check out more films to watch on the next page.

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