“Orphan: First Murder”
The 2009 hit horror film “Orphan” was an effective “creepy little kid” thriller with two strong twists. First things first: the “kid” turned out not to be a child at all, but rather a ferociously evil woman with a disorder that made her look like a 9-year-old kid. The other twist was on the production side. “Orphan” featured a stellar cast — including Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard and phenomenal newcomer Isabelle Fuhrman — bringing unexpected nuance to a pulpy tale of murder and deception.
Fuhrman returns for the prequel, “Orphan: First Kill,” but because the actor is now in his mid-twenties, practical effects were used to make his pint-sized psychopath have the looking suitably small. The results aren’t “realistic” per se, but they are effective enough, if you keep in mind that something is supposed to be a little weird about this kid. More importantly, the effects keep Fuhrman in the franchise…and Fuhrman has gotten even better in the twelve years since she last played this character.
“First Kill” is an origin story that dates back to when villainous Leena Klammer escaped from an Estonian mental hospital and posed as Esther Albright, the long-lost daughter of a wealthy American family. . Once the scam is underway, “First Kill” falls into a similar pattern to its predecessor as “Esther” settles into her new home and then begins to act strangely, manipulating people to get what she wants and putting endangers those who distrust her. way.
But director William Brent Bell and screenwriter David Coggeshall create a surprise halfway through the film, and from there, “First Kill” plays with the audience’s sympathies, pitting several terrible people against each other, regularly toppling our rooting interests. The movie is both smart and trashy, made for people who like to see really good actors play really bad people.
“Orphan: first murder”. R, for bloody violence, language and brief sexual content. 1 hour 38 minutes. Available on Paramount+
Along with the loss of intimacy, celebrities often lose the power to control their own story; the press and public turn them into broadly drawn types, pressed into soap opera tales filled with romance, betrayal, heroism and villainy. Director Ed Perkins’ documentary “The Princess” is a harrowing inside look at this phenomenon, seen through the dual perspectives of the British royal family and the people who watch their every move – sometimes adoringly, sometimes cynically.
Avoiding narration, new interviews or on-screen headlines, Perkins (best known for the heartbreaking documentary “Tell Me Who I Am”) covers the life of Princess Diana, from her marriage to Prince Charles to her death, using only news clips and home movie footage. to underline the pressures of fame. One of the most notable revelations is how Diana handled the constant questions and camera clicks. Married shy in her first public appearances, the Princess later used the spotlight to draw attention to children’s charities and public health issues. But as the tabloid scandals mounted, it seemed like everyone who had access to a microphone had an opinion on his choices and his motives.
“The Princess” is absorbing and surprisingly intimate, considering the sources Perkins uses. But it’s also a cautionary tale, one that doesn’t let anyone off the hook. Even the many people who loved and supported Diana – who far outnumbered the skeptics – robbed her of a part of her humanity, simply by treating her like an icon.
‘Princess.’ TV-14, for mild violence, adult language and adult content. 1 hour 49 minutes. Available on HBO Max
“The Legend of Molly Johnson”
Actress Leah Purcell reinterprets Australian writer Henry Lawson’s “woman against nature” classic short story “The Drover’s Wife” in “The Legend of Molly Johnson,” which she previously adapted into a play and a novel. Purcell wrote and directed the film and also stars as Molly, a pregnant mother left alone on a small farm with her children while her husband is away. After dismissing her children with her district attorney, Sgt. Klintoff (Sam Reid) – to protect them as she prepares to give birth – Molly befriends a fugitive Aborigine, Yadaka (Rob Collins), who knows some secrets about her past.
While Lawson’s story was about an unnamed woman protecting her cub from a deadly snake, Purcell’s film (which isn’t an adaptation, to be clear) fleshes out the reality of Molly’s life. Here, the woman is a steel outsider, surrounded in the bush by poisonous neighbors tainted with chauvinism, racism and suspicion. “The Legend of Molly Johnson” is too rhythmic and too visually bland to stand with the great cinematic westerns – American or Australian. But Purcell gives a heartbreaking performance, playing a woman whose iron will may not be able to withstand the prejudice of the crowd.
‘The Legend of Molly Johnson.’ Unclassified. 1 hour 49 minutes. Available on VOD
“Look Both Ways”
The “Sliding Doors” storyline is updated in the romantic comedy-drama “Look Both Ways,” which uses a pregnancy test as a path for a graduate about to begin her adult life. The pregnant version of Natalie Bennett (Lili Reinhart) returns to live with her parents in Austin, Texas, while the other Natalie leaves for Los Angeles to try to break into animation. Screenwriter April Prosser and director Wanuri Kahiu follow the stories of the two Natalies with an eye to the larger question of whether there’s something about people — or a force in the universe — that ultimately points them where they must be.
The original title of ‘Look Both Ways’ was ‘Plus/Minus’, which better conveys what the filmmakers were aiming for here: to explore the ups and downs that every young adult faces, while suggesting that something good may come out. of any situation. It’s a nice message for what is, overall, a good movie. But it’s too easy to connect deeply. Everything in Natalie’s life is depicted on the surface: motherhood, work, romance, friendship and even her passion for drawing. The differences between his two selves never seem too great as both are barely grounded in reality. The two women, in the end, are just characters in a movie, getting jolted on the way to the end.
“Look both ways.” TV-14, for substances, adult language and suggestive dialogue. 1h50. Available on Netflix
‘Learn to swim’
The visually arresting musical drama “Learn to Swim” leaps in time, loosely and sometimes too flippantly sketching the portrait of an erratic Toronto saxophonist named Dezi (Thomas Antony Olajide). At various points in the story, Dezi is either a passionate and vital contributor to an up-and-coming jazz combo or a brooding crank who faces a lot of pain. First feature director Thyrone Tommy (who also co-wrote the film with Marni Van Dyk) keeps coming back to the protagonist’s unhappy affair with Selma (Emma Ferreira) – a singer who inspires and drives him crazy both – to hint at one of the reasons he ends up becoming so distraught. More often though, Tommy sticks to riffing loosely, mimicking the whimsical, improvisational style of classic jazz as he works rich variations on the all-too-common story of an artist overthrown by a brutal romance.
‘Learn to swim.’ TV-MA, for adult language, nudity and smoking. 1h33. Available on Netflix
“The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist”
Netflix’s weird-but-true sports documentary series “Untold” is back for a second season, culminating in the two-hour episode “The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist,” directed by Ryan Duffy and Tony Vainuku. The film looks back at a baffling scandal from 10 years ago, when the irreverent sports and culture site Deadspin published an article revealing Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o had told the press a fictional story about a deceased girlfriend. Even weirder: Te’o himself had been the victim of a prank, because he had never met the person he thought he was dating. Duffy and Vainuku pieced together the pieces of this puzzle, addressing all of the principals – including Te’o – before returning to the main point behind Deadspin’s original piece. The doc is an indictment of a modern sports media outlet seemingly more invested in argument, analysis and smug mockery than verified reporting.
“The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.” TV-MA, for adult language. 2 hours, 4 minutes. Available on Netflix
Also on VOD
“Glorious” stars JK Simmons as the voice of a mysterious supernatural Lovecraftian entity, speaking through a hole in a public restroom stall to a lovesick guy named Wes (Ryan Kwanten) and demanding an unspeakable favor. The film features frame-up scenes and flashbacks, but for the most part it stays in the toilet, letting a gross storyline inspire choppy horror-comedy. Available on Frisson
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray
“Daddy Long Legs” is a 2009 independent comedy-drama from Josh and Benny Safdie, who have since become among the most acclaimed filmmakers of their generation, thanks to their stylish and gripping films ‘Good Time’ and ‘Uncut Gems’. Loosely based on the brothers’ own childhood, “Daddy Longlegs” stars Ronald Bronstein as a lazy father whose do-it-all approach to raising his children is – in typical Safdies fashion – both hilarious and horrifying. Criteria