Pick of the week: “Goodnight Mommy“ (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Creepy twin boys. A mysteriously bandaged mother. A remote country house. These are the elements for a terrifically creepy Austrian horror film, which deliberately plays against genre conventions by working without creepy music, in broad daylight. Along with the descent into a nasty third act, the film never loses sight of its emotional underpinnings, its exploration into how family bonds can warp under stress.
“I’ll See You In My Dreams“ (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Blythe Danner gets a rare and welcome lead role as a widowed ex-teacher who slowly reconnects with life thanks to a friendly pool boy (Martin Starr) and a dashing new suitor (Sam Elliott). Writer-director Brett Haley avoids sentiment and goes for understatement and truth; when Elliott’s character professes “I think I like you, a little bit,” it packs the emotional punch of a hundred “You complete me” speeches.
“The Shining“ (Netflix) — Stephen King hates it, but Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of his novel remains a brilliantly chilly exercise in terror with a gonzo Jack Nicholson performance and enough loose ends to fill a documentary (“Room 237”) with conspiracy theorists.
“Constantine“ (Netflix) — I’m quite a fan of this 2005 action-fantasy starring Keanu Reeves as sort of a paranormal John Wick, hounding demons back to Hell. It has lots of visual wit and some great supporting performances, especially Tilda Swinton as a glam-rock angel.
“Intolerable Cruelty“ (Netflix) — With “Hail, Caesar!” coming in a few weeks, it’s a good time to revisit the Coen Brothers’ 2003 collaboration with George Clooney, who plays an amoral divorce lawyer unmanned by femme fatale Catherine Zeta-Jones. The Coens didn’t write it, but it’s got their sense of humor all over it.