‘Western’ and other movie picks for April 20


Movie recommendations from critics Justin Chang and Kenneth Turan.

Annihilation Natalie Portman plays a biologist who joins an all-female expedition into the heart of an environmental disaster zone in this eerily beautiful and hypnotically unsettling mind-bender from “Ex Machina” writer-director Alex Garland. (Justin Chang) R.

A Quiet Place John Krasinski’s thrillingly intelligent post-apocalyptic horror movie, in which he stars with Emily Blunt as a couple trying to protect their family from monsters who hunt by sound, is walking-on-eggshells cinema of a very high order. (Justin Chang)


The Rider Brady Jandreau, a Lakota cowboy from South Dakota, enacts a version of his own harrowing story of loss and recovery in writer-director Chloé Zhao’s stunningly lyrical western, a seamless and deeply moving blend of narrative and documentary film techniques. (Justin Chang) R.

The Shape of Water Magical, thrilling and romantic to the core, a sensual and fantastical “Beauty and the Beast” tale with moral overtones, Guillermo del Toro’s film plays by all the rules and none of them, going its own way with fierce abandon. (Kenneth Turan) R.

Western Valeska Grisebach’s slow-to-boil drama, about a group of German construction workers building a hydroelectric power plant in the Bulgarian countryside, is a faultlessly observed piece of realism, a brooding study in toxic masculinity and a sly tribute to the genre of its title. (Justin Chang) NR.

Where Is Kyra? Michelle Pfeiffer gives one of her most finely chiseled performances as a divorced, unemployed New Yorker who descends into despair and petty criminality in Andrew Dosunmu’s bleakly compelling psychological portrait, beautifully shot by cinematographer Bradford Young. (Justin Chang) NR.

You Were Never Really Here This grim, artful New York crime thriller about a tormented thug-for-hire (a rivetingly contained Joaquin Phoenix) confirms writer-director Lynne Ramsay (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) as one of the most exciting and exacting film stylists of her generation. (Justin Chang) R.


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