By Tony Beal

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”
Desperate for cash and work, Nicolas Cage takes a gig to appear at a millionaire fan’s birthday party, only to be pulled into something far more dangerous and bizarre. “Unbearable Weight” is like a movie pitch that you would hear on Twitter or Reddit. From the well-loved actor playing himself to its “Paddington 2” jokes, it’s a movie that could easily be a disaster in the making. However, there’s a sincere charm to the film, helped mainly by how our leading man commits so much to this caricature of himself and his chemistry with Pedro Pascal’s excited but dweebish fanboy. There’s also some surprisingly smart filmmaking here, particularly in its editing style that seems to change scene by scene based on the tone. It’s a nice example of a film that has fun but doesn’t make fun of its topic, even if it does stretch out that main joke.
“The Northman”
A prince of a once noble kingdom seeks vengeance on the man who killed his father and kidnapped his mother. There’s a sort of ticking clock that can’t be heard but is felt throughout “The Northman.” Each moment there’s the possibility of sudden chaos, terror and death for any of the characters. How the film plays with your expectations of something grandiose, only for it to be more simplistic and grounded, also really plays into the tense nature of the film. It’s delicious, watching Amleth plot every move against Fjölnir and seeing the fear and hatred in his eyes. Meanwhile, every other character is working on their own and constantly on their feet; and the characters act in ways you wouldn’t expect for their archetype, particularly Claes Bang as the villain. There’s a terror to the film present from Robert Eggers’ previous films but it’s primarily about the brutality of revenge and a cruel world. You will be impressed by the balance of scale and intimacy of the film, but still feel a sense of horror from what you watched.

“Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness”
The master of the mystic arts returns to assist a mysterious girl who is being chased by an evil force. Despite being his first directorial feature in nearly ten years, it’s as if Sam Raimi never stopped. The cheerful terror and insanity of his many works can be seen here; from laughing devils, creative editing and camerawork, grotesque visuals, and so much more. It elevates the film from a very weak script, one that’s mostly guided by Benedict Cumberbatch’s quality performance as the titular character, but unfortunately leaves the other characters out. This film doesn’t leave much room for the viewer to figure things out for themselves and could have resulted in a worse movie in the hands of a different director. But there are some themes of happiness and responsibility present here that are thankfully explored, making Strange and Wanda Maximoff’s journeys feel fulfilling and even heartbreaking. I’ve been down on the MCU a lot lately, but “Multiverse Of Madness” is mostly a welcome change of pace.

A woman who moves to Bucharest grows a fear of her neighbor who may or may not be a killer. Chloe Okuno is going to be a director to keep an eye on if her debut film “Watcher” is anything to go on. The gloomy, muted streets of Bucharest are often photographed as being populated with few or no extras, adding to the lonely and hunted feeling our lead is given. It’s dripping with fear and in the film’s scariest moments we feel like we are there looking over our shoulders. Our lead in question is played excellently by Maika Monroe, finally given a truly great role since her breakout in “It Follows.” The real standout though is Burn Gorman, who despite not being in it much, is terrifying and delivers one of the best monologues of the year. It takes a bit to get going, but those who stick around will be rewarded with one of the best thrillers of the year.

June 3:
• “Crimes Of The Future” (Limited)
• “Watcher” (Limited)
• “Dashcam” (Limited)
• “Fire Island” (Hulu)
June 8:
• “Hustle” (Netflix)
June 10:
• “Jurassic World: Dominion”
June 17:
• “Lightyear”
• “Brian And Charles”
• “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (Limited, Apple TV+)
• “Spiderhead” (Netflix)
• “Good Luck To You, Leo Grande” (Hulu)
June 24:
• “Elvis”
• “The Black Phone”
• “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” (Limited)
• “Flux Gourmet” (Limited)
July 1:
• “Minions: The Rise Of Gru”
• “The Forgiven” (Limited)
July 8:
• “Thor: Love and Thunder”
July 15:
• “Where The Crawdads Sing”
• “Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris”
• “Bed Rest”
• “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank”
• “She Will” (Limited)
July 22:
• “Nope”
• “The Gray Man” (Netflix)
July 28:
• “House Party” (HBO Max)
July 29:
• “Vengeance”
• “DC League Of Super-Pets”