This weekend sees the release of Benedetta, the historical erotic drama from acclaimed Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Robocop). But if a biographical drama about a lesbian nun in a 17th-century Italian covent doesn’t quite move the needle for you, there’s still plenty of new and exciting releases to watch on VOD and streaming this weekend.
Jane Campion’s western drama The Power of the Dog starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst finally makes its long-awaited debut on Netflix following its limited theatrical premiere. Plus there are a few new animated films — one aimed at kids, and the other firmly for adults.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the new movies you can watch with the click of a button this weekend.
The Power of the Dog
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank, a charismatic yet ruthless rancher who sets his sights on tormenting Rose (Kirsten Dunst), a widow and her impressionable son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). When Phil’s brother George marries Rose, his desire and method of intimidating them only intensifies … that is, until he takes the young Peter under his wing. Does Phil harbor some unrequited, ill-communicated love for Rose and her son, or are there darker motives behind his strange behavior? From our review,
No seismic events occur in The Power of the Dog. There are no gun fights or cattle stampedes. Its meditative quality makes its abrupt ending feel even more sudden. But this is one of those movies that invites rewatches, and Campion is one of those directors who rewards careful subsequent viewing. On a second watch, the connective tissues surrounding the narrative’s tendons don’t just become apparent, they gain a muscular meaning, a robustness that makes the film’s one major reveal even more enlivening. The Power of the Dog doesn’t just mark Campion’s return — it’s the best movie of 2021 so far. This psychological Western’s themes of isolation and toxic masculinity are an ever-tightening lasso of seemingly innocuous events, and they import more horror and meaning on every closer inspection, corralling viewers under an unforgettable spell.
The Summit of the Gods
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Based on Jiro Taniguchi’s manga series of the same name, Patrick Imbert’s animated drama The Summit of the Gods follows the story of young Japanese reporter whose quest for the truth behind the first attempted expedition to climb Mount Everest leads him to embark on his own climb of the fabled mountain. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this past summer, Imbert’s film has garnered significant acclaimed for its stunning visuals, deft pacing, and and impressive characters.
Where to watch: Available to rent for $24.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu
Set in the year 10,191, Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of the celebrated Frank Herbert sci-fi epic stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, son and heir to the powerful Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), who is forced to leave the planet of his birth to become the newly appointed stewards of Arrakis, a desert planet home to a coveted resource known as melange. There are sword fights, politics, intrigue, betrayal, drama, and oh — these colossal creatures called sandworms that burst out of the ground before devouring people. Honestly, there’s way too much to explain about Dune than can fit in a single paragraph, which is why we so lovingly put together this handy-dandy guide to explain its vast and strange universe. But enough of all that, let’s hone in on the biggest question: should you set aside time this weekend to watch Villeneuve’s latest, hulking sci-fi extravaganza? From our review,
If you can get lost in the cocoon of production, costume, and art-design opulence, and sink into the Big Event angle of it all — which is why people go to the movies, isn’t it? — the film, styled as Dune: Part One, can be overwhelmingly evocative. The problem, though, is the film’s pervasive emotional emptiness. Villeneuve and his co-writers, Jon Spaihts (of Passengers and Prometheus) and Eric Roth, rush through character journeys, and shortchange ostensible hero Paul Atreides (wild-hair-haver Timothée Chalamet). They skip over explaining most of the dense mythology of this world, instead collapsing entire communities into thinly rendered versions of other recognizable pop-culture figures. (The Fremen more or less become Tusken Raiders; the Bene Gesserit are Macbeth’s witches.) And the result of all that streamlining is that the connective thread linking all these disparate elements into a cohesive whole is nowhere to be found. The film is a splendid, threadbare tapestry that unravels as you’re watching it.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Where to watch: Available to stream on Disney Plus
Based on Jeff Kinney’s coming-of-age book series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid follows Greg Heffley, a mischievous young student with an overactive imagination who worries about the challenges of navigating his first year of middle school. Together with his best friend Rowley, Greg tries to fit and make new friends, all while tripping into one misadventure after another. For a children’s film, the trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid has some pretty impressive animation and some genuinely clever humor. If you’ve never read or seen anything of the series, don’t worry — this new movie recounts the events of the first book alone so you won’t miss anything.
Where to watch: Available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon; $6.99 on Apple
Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV) directs and stars in Castle Falls, an action thriller centered on the story of rival gangs looking for a stash of millions of dollars hidden in a luxury condominium on the verge of demolition. Hidden by a now-imprisoned gang leader, three desperate parties now vie for the prize: A prison guard (Lundgren) looking to use the money to pay for his daughter’s cancer treatment; a blue-collar demolition man (Scott Adkins) who accidentally discovers the money; and the gang whose leader stashed the cash away in the first place. With only 90 minutes to go before the condo is destroyed, the question of who will get out with the money quickly becomes as much a question as who will get out alive at all. Normally we wouldn’t bet against Adkins, but Lundgren did direct the movie.