Review: Noomi Rapace on Netflix, a real-life Ted Lasso, and more movies to watch this weekend
Given that there’s an actual war raging in Europe right now, this may seem like a strange time to watch the dystopian Swedish action picture “Black Crab,” which is set in a near-future world where ordinary citizens have been drafted into armed conflict. But perhaps that’s why director Adam Berg’s punchy thriller has become one of the most-watched movies on Netflix since it debuted last week. It feels more like an escapist fantasy than a ripped-from-the-headlines cautionary tale.
Noomi Rapace stars as Caroline, who in the movie’s opening scene is driving her daughter through a tunnel when suddenly shots ring out and soldiers rush in, surrounding the cars. The story then jumps ahead to a country ravaged by what seems to be a long and un-winnable apocalyptic battle. There, Caroline gets assigned to what could be a suicide mission, joining a team of skilled skaters who have been ordered to deliver two potentially war-ending packages to an iced-in archipelago — where the heroine’s long-lost child may be held.
Berg makes the most of the “special forces on skates” gimmick (adapted by Berg and screenwriter Pelle Rådström from a Jerker Virdborg novel), shooting lots of long, tense sequences of Caroline and company gliding urgently across an eerie frozen landscape. The movie is less successful at making its plot feel genuinely meaningful, rather than a simple delivery device for chases and shootouts. Still, for those who could use a break from real explosions on the news, the fake ones in “Black Crab” are well-crafted, exciting and mostly harmless.
In Swedish with subtitles (also available dubbed in English)
Running time: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Playing: Available now on Netflix
In the gripping Irish supernatural thriller “You Are Not My Mother,” Hazel Doupe plays Char, a lonesome and frequently bullied Dublin teenager who spends much of her time looking after the two women in her life: her gruff and superstitious grandmother Rita (Ingrid Craigie) and her depressed mother Angela (Carolyn Bracken). When Angela disappears one day and returns with an entirely different personality — alternately sweetly upbeat and alarmingly odd — Char isn’t sure what to make of Rita’s insistence that this “Angela” is actually a changeling, and must be destroyed.
Writer-director Kate Dolan — making an incredibly promising feature filmmaking debut — sets this story just before Halloween, at a time when Char’s neighbors and teachers are inclined to tell stories from folklore. Like a lot of the best recent horror films, “You Are Not My Mother” is rooted in the idea that a lot of our oldest scary stories are really just the ways our ancestors explained dire illness, unimaginable trauma and actual evil. This at once deeply creepy and strangely moving movie is ultimately about a girl in distress, unsure of what to do when the change she’s been desperate for turns out to be worse than the misery she’s already learned to handle.
'You Are Not My Mother'
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Glendale; Harkins 18, Chino Hills; Jurupa 14, Riverside; also on VOD
Based on a novel by Michael Koryta — a best-selling author whose books often tread the thin line between gritty true crime and paranormal adventure — “So Cold the River” stars Bethany Joy Lenz as Erica Shaw, a struggling filmmaker and journalist who takes a well-paying gig as an archivist, hired to make a movie celebrating a dying plutocrat. She investigates her patron’s past while staying in a funky old resort hotel, where she discovers some disturbing truths about her subject and begins to have strange visions induced by the local spring water.
Writer-director Paul Shoulberg effectively captures the spooky, “Shining”-like vibe of Koryta’s story; although given the rich source material, this movie should be a lot grabbier than it is. The story proceeds along a fairly straight path, as Erica consults with the locals and gets closer to the heart of her employers’ darkness, one slow step at a time. Still, the film has a striking look, filled with deep shadows, shimmering light, and flashes of color. “So Cold the River” also captures the ethical complications facing a reporter who begins to realize that the nature of her assignment may keep her from telling the public what they really need to know.
'So Cold the River'
Rated: R, for some violence, bloody images, and language
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Playing: Lumiere Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also available on VOD
Christopher André Marks’ entertaining sports documentary “King Otto” tells the story of an unlikely European football hero: Otto Rehhagel, a veteran German player and manager who had a solid if largely undistinguished career before he signed on to coach the Greek national team, where his defense-focused style flummoxed opponents. The squad’s legendary run through the 2004 European Championship cemented his reputation as a strategist and a leader, who was either incredibly lucky or subtly brilliant. “King Otto” features a lot of thrilling old footage from the pitch, along with new interviews that dig into the ways this real-life Ted Lasso used a cultural gap to his advantage, counting on his players to raise their game whenever they couldn’t understand what he was saying. It’s a great story, crisply told.
In German, Greek, French and English with subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Royal; West Los Angeles; also available on VOD
Also on VOD
“All My Friends Hate Me” is a deftly written and acted black comedy — bordering on horror — starring Tom Stourton as a man who joins his old college chums for a weekend in the country and then makes one nightmarish social blunder after another.
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray
“Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight) is director Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-nominated, visually dazzling, uncompromisingly unnerving interpretation of William Lindsay Gresham’s classic “carnival noir” novel, previously adapted to the big screen in 1947. Bradley Cooper plays an amoral drifter who learns a few con artist tricks, turns them into a lucrative nightclub act, and then gets into trouble when he tries to pass himself off as a psychic.
“The Flight of the Phoenix” (Criterion) features one of James Stewart’s last great performances, playing a cargo plane pilot whose crew tries to survive in the desert — while building a functioning aircraft from spare parts — after a crash leaves them stranded. Director Robert Aldrich’s 1965 film is a rousing adventure with an all-star cast.
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