Now Playing! June 2021

    With awards season over and summer blockbusters on their way, June is a quieter month for new releases. This month’s column features what’s new in action and animation, along with some truly one-of-a-kind gems you may not have known were available to stream. Whether you’re looking for an action film that follows in the footsteps of the classics or a zombie movie that’s not at all what it seems, this month’s column has you covered.

    The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)

    Dir. Michael Rianda – Netflix

    Rick and Linda Mitchell are proud of their daughter Katie when she gets into film school, but they want a chance to bond as a family one last time before she leaves the nest. Much to their daughter’s dismay, they decide to set out on a road trip with even the family pug along for the ride. Unfortunately, their plans are cut short by none other than a robot uprising. As the only humans left to stop robots from capturing and shooting all of humankind into space, it’s up to the Mitchells to save the day. This animated feature is fresh and exciting, with beautifully bright animation and an incredible cast of voice actors, including Abbi Jacobson, Maya Rudolph, Danny McBride, and Eric Andre. 

    Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021)

    Dir. Taylor Sheridan – HBO Max

    Taylor Sheridan’s latest action film doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, but it is fun and exhilarating, nonetheless. The movie stars Angelina Jolie as Hannah Faber, a wildland firefighter left haunted by the people she was not able to save in past fires. On her daily patrol through the Montana wilderness, Hannah finds Connor Casserly, a young boy who witnessed the murder of his father at the hands of two mysterious assassins (Nicholas Hoult and Aidan Gillen). Promising to save the young boy, the two embark on a dangerous journey to outrun both the assassins looking for him, as well as a looming forest fire. With a plot like that, it’s sure to please any fans of over-the-top action, even if the film itself is a little lacking in innovation.

    Stop Making Sense (1984)

    Dir. Jonathan Demme – Amazon Prime 

    If you’re growing impatient for the return of live music, Jonathan Demme’s groundbreaking concert film of the Talking Heads is sure to hold you over. Shot at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, the film takes place over the course of four nights during the band’s Speaking in Tongues tour. The performance starts with lead singer David Byrne alone with an acoustic guitar. As each song progresses, both the stage setup and the number of band members increase, leading to a positively massive performance of “Burning Down the House.” The full cast of collaborators includes the rest of the band, guitarist Alex Weir, vocalists Lynn Mabry and Ednah Holt, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, and percussionist Steve Scales. The rhythm and movement of the set is invigorating, with David Byrne’s riotous stage presence on full display. Anytime the film cuts to the crowd, the audience is standing and dancing in their seats. You may be tempted to do just that while watching at home. 

    One Cut of the Dead (2017)

    Dir. Shin’ichirõ Ueda – Shudder

    At a first glance, One Cut of the Dead seems like an interesting take on the standard zombie movie. It’s true, but what the film actually feels like is a complete deconstruction of the genre itself. The film follows a small cast and crew making a zombie film, only to discover actual zombies roaming the set. Rather than running for their lives, the director (wonderfully played by Takayuki Hamatsu) keeps the camera rolling, declaring, “This is true filmmaking!” The movie is hilarious, and filled with even more twists and turns as the story progresses. Its humor and ability to constantly turn the tables on its audience make it one of the most unique zombie movies ever made. It’s also surprisingly touching, with a story that reveals its true heart by the end of the film.