Where to Watch This Week’s New Movies, Including ‘Poor Things’ and ‘The Boy and the Heron’

It’s a heavy-hitting weekend at the box office, as no less than three of the year’s best films (all IndieWire Critic’s Picks, naturally) arrive in theaters, and they could not be more different. We’re talking the latest Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone joint, the brazen and totally original period sex comedy “Poor Thing”; Hayao Miyazaki’s alleged final film “The Boy and the Heron”; and the stirring animated entry “The Peasants.”

Each film is now available in a theater near you or in the comfort of your own home (or, in some cases, both, the convenience of it all). Browse your options below.

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Week of November 27 – December 3

New Films in Theaters

“Anselm” (directed by Wim Wenders)
 Sideshow and Janus Films
Where to Find It: Select theaters

Wim Wenders’ psychologically scant but visually immersive documentary argues that Anselm Kiefer is among the very few German artists, living or dead, to take such an uncompromising gaze at his nation’s own dark histories and complicity in evil. The empty spaces where corpses once were are impressed upon otherwise traditional landscapes, and his sculptures and paintings are often made of literally burnt raw materials, rubble, and molten steel to evoke the ravages of World War II. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Boy and the Heron” (directed by Hayao Miyazaki) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Where to Find It: Theaters

It’s true that “How Do You Live?” — which tells an original story that borrows its title from Genzaburo Yoshino’s 1937 novel of the same name, and has been inexplicably rechristened “The Boy and the Heron” for its international release at Studio Ghibli’s behest… despite the fact that Yoshino’s book acts as a crucial plot point in a film whose climax hinges upon an obvious stand-in for its writer-director literally asking the audience “How do you live?” — isn’t Miyazaki’s best film. It lacks the full kineticism of “The Castle of Cagliostro,” the fury of “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” the adventure of “Castle in the Sky,” the Totoro of “My Neighbor Totoro,” the effervescence of “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” the romance of “Porco Rosso,” the grandeur of “Princess Mononoke,” the beguilement of “Spirited Away,” the floridness of “Howl’s Moving Castle,” the hamminess of “Ponyo,” or the emotional mega-wattage of “The Wind Rises.”

Crucially, however, “The Boy and the Heron” contains aspects of all of those things (in addition to more overt references to the anime godhead’s previous work). And while this dream-like warble of a swan song may be too pitchy and scattered to hit with the gale-force power that made “The Wind Rises” feel like such a definitive farewell, “The Boy and the Heron” finds Miyazaki so nakedly bidding adieu — to us, and to the crumbling kingdom of dreams and madness that he’ll soon leave behind — that it somehow resolves into an even more fitting goodbye, one graced with the divine awe and heart-stopping wistfulness of watching a true immortal make peace with their own death. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Plus: Read IndieWire’s feature on how the English-language dub of the film came together, with lots of input from the stars; our interview with composer Joe Hisaishi; and much more

"The Boy and the Heron"
“The Boy and the Heron”Studio Ghibli

“Concrete Utopia” (directed by Tae-hwa Eom)
 815 Pictures
Where to Find It: Select theaters

“Can’t people just be humane, peace-loving citizens?,” Min-sung (Park Seo-joon) asks at the beginning of “Concrete Utopia,” wondering aloud why the hundreds of apocalypse survivors using his apartment building as makeshift shelter can’t simply share resources and work together.

It’s a lovely sentiment, but writer/director Tae-hwa Eom appears to take his protagonist’s rhetorical question as a personal attack. From there on out, he devotes every subsequent frame of his film to explaining why humans are apparently incapable of doing anything good for each other. In the film’s view, only one human institution is strong enough to stand steadfast when our innate barbarism rears its ugly head: the condo board.

“Concrete Utopia” opens with a brutal earthquake that reduces Seoul to rubble and instantly forces its surviving population to revert to a hunter-gatherer society. The film wisely wastes zero time explaining why the disaster took place, forcing audiences to adjust to the new reality as hastily as its characters. The only structure in Seoul that seems to have withstood he seismic shock is Hwang Gung Apartments, a luxury residence that remained untouched after the earthquake. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The End We Start From” (directed by Mahalia Belo)
 Republic Pictures
Where to Find It: Select theaters, with expansion to follow

Are disaster movies about climate change getting more realistic, or is the real world simply starting to resemble a disaster movie about climate change? To judge by Mahalia Belo’s “The End We Start From,” a despairing and all-too-conceivable thriller in which an unnamed woman (Jodie Comer) struggles to protect her newborn baby after a massive flood makes the whole of England go a little “Children of Men,” the answer to that question is regrettably “both.” Ah, how I long for the days when a Hollywood blockbuster about Jake Gyllenhaal trying to survive a now-routine New York weather system was marketed as a piece of escapism.

There are no giant waves in this small-scale British film about an entire society coming apart at the seams — no shots of the London Eye being knocked into the Thames, nor scenes in which panicked scientists look over data so ominous they can only lift their heads towards the lens and say things like “God help us all.” On the contrary, “The End We Start From” leaves most of its spectacle to the imagination (radio news reports handle the lion’s share of the heavy lifting), freeing Belo to train her camera on the whirlwind of emotions that storm across Comer’s face as her character gradually comes to realize that none of this is just for now. Read IndieWire’s full review.

The End We Start From
“The End We Start From”Republic Pictures for distribution by Paramount Global Content Distribution

“Fast Charlie” (directed by Phlilip Noyce)
Where to Find It: Select theaters, plus various VOD platforms

The short and shaggy tale of an aging hitman (Pierce Brosnan) who realizes it’s time to either get out of the game or die trying, Phillip Noyce’s “Fast Charlie” is the kind of movie you’ve seen a thousand times before. It was adapted from the 2003 Victor Gischler novel “Gun Monkeys,” which is the kind of book you’ve read a thousand times before. And yet, the difference here — the most crucial reason why this particular version of that well-weathered story is weirdly charming instead of trite — is that Noyce’s film treats its ultra-familiar tropes as more of a feature than a bug. They’re the lingua franca of a Southern-fried thriller set in the clogged drain at the bottom of the criminal underworld; a place that everybody talks about leaving, but nobody ever seems to escape. Not while they’re still breathing, anyway.

Most of these Elmore Leonard rejects let go of that dream a long time ago, choosing to fight over their slice of purgatory rather than make a break for something better. Besides, they wouldn’t have anyone to share it with if they did. The only other people they care about — if they care about other people at all — are stuck in Biloxi right alongside them. Read IndieWire’s full review.

“The Peasants” (directed by ) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
 Sony Pictures Classics
Where to Find It: LA and NY theaters, with expansion to follow

Here’s the best kind of cinematic double down: One that doesn’t just repeat a past triumph, but goes deeper. “Loving Vincent” was a dreamy plunge into the art of Vincent Van Gogh, which directors D.K. Welchman and Hugh Welchman created via tens of thousands of oil paintings, each frame of the animated film a full-size work on canvas you could hang on a wall. They’ve said that they’re always asked, “When are we getting ‘Loving Vincent II’?” As in, another animated film about another artist rendered in that artist’s style.

Instead, the wife-and-husband directorial team swerved and delivered something infinitely more ambitious, if commercially more challenging. Their long-awaited follow-up is “The Peasants,” a sensuous, richly immersive adaptation of Nobel laureate Wladislaw Reymont’s early 20th-century novel about life in a rural Polish village. D.K. Welchman is Polish (“Loving Vincent” is technically the highest-grossing Polish film of all time at the international box office), and she reconnected with Reymont’s novel while listening to it on audiobook when she was creating oil paintings for the previous film. And yes, “The Peasants” is also an animated work, with actors filmed in live action and then 40,000 oil paintings created on top of the photographic images. Read IndieWire’s full review.

"The Peasants"
“The Peasants”Sony Pictures Classics

“Poor Things” (directed by Yorgos Lanthimos) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
 Searchlight Pictures
Where to Find It: Theaters

Emma Stone is a woman who gets to start from scratch in Yorgos Lanthimos’ unbound and astonishing new feature, “Poor Things.” For most of us, life is comprised of knowledge and circumstance that take decades to accumulate until we die. For Stone’s Bella Baxter, that process happens in very fast motion, thanks to a reanimating procedure that finds her, once a dead woman floating in a river, now alive again with her unborn child’s brain inside her head.

Bella, née Victoria, is a living breathing tabula rasa unfettered by societal pressures, propriety, or niceties. And Stone, in her most brazenly weird performance to date, plays her like a toddler taking its first steps and saying its first words — until by the end of “Poor Things” she’s speaking fluent French and studying anatomy, her eyes and ears full of worldliness.

Boldly realized with taffy-colored production design, brain-bending sets stuffed with enough easter egg unrealities to fill the most difficult 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and wildly over-the-top Victorian costumes that look as if made by a schizoid seamstress on too many tabs of acid, “Poor Things” is also hysterically funny and the raunchiest movie you’re likely to see all year. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Plus: Read IndieWire’s interview with filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos and much more.

“Total Trust” (directed by Jialing Zhang)
 Film Movement
Where to Find It: Select theaters

The number of people credited as “Anonymous” in Jialing Zhang’s documentary “Total Trust” is chilling. Banned from China after making the documentary “One Child Nation,” Zhang relied on those in the country to help bring to life this examination of life in a surveillance state. The fear is real; in a coda at the end, we’re told that Sophia Xueqin Huang, a reporter critical of the government and one of the three women upon which the documentary focuses, was arrested on her way to study in the U.K. on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.”

In ways big and small, “Total Trust” tells audiences, the Chinese government is watching its citizens. CC TV does its part; biometrics also plays a major role. But the true villains turn out to be the Chinese citizens who eagerly police their own neighbors. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“A Father’s Promise” (directed by Rick Korn)
Where to Find It: NYC theaters, with expansion to follow

“Lord of Misrule” (directed by William Brent Bell)
 Magnet Releasing
Where to Find It: Theaters, plus various digital platforms

“Rose” (directed by Niels Arden Oplev)
 Game Theory Films
Where to Find It: LA theaters, with expansion to follow and a digital release on December 26

“Your Fat Friend” (directed by Jeanie Finlay)
Where to Find It: NYC’s DCTV Firehouse

New Films on VOD and Streaming, Including Premium Platforms and Virtual Cinemas

“Leave the World Behind” (directed by Sam Esmail)
Where to Find It: Streaming on Netflix

When Barack and Michelle Obama made the unusual post-presidential move of partnering with Netflix to launch Higher Ground Productions, it was often reported that they cited “Get Out” as the kind of film they were interested in making. Invoking Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning debut, which uses horror tropes to make an unambiguously progressive point about race relations in America, sent a clear message to potential collaborators. The Obamas wanted it known that they had something to say, but weren’t interested in producing cinematic homework.

It was a lofty goal, but their first slate never quite achieved it. Since signing with Netflix in 2018, the Obamas have largely stuck to the kinds of projects you might expect from a post-White House entertainment venture: odes to the national park system, dramas about the Civil Rights movement, and nuanced documentaries that call Americans to look past their differences. But the company’s latest project, Sam Esmail‘s “Leave the World Behind,” strikes a wildly different tone.

The apocalyptic drama — which is fueled by a J.J. Abrams-style mystery box and features Julia Roberts going absolutely apeshit on a pack of hypnotized deer — is the most ambitious thing the former first couple has produced so far. A pulpy piece of genre fare that’s also a sprawling attempt to comment on everything from micro-aggressions and disinformation to cybersecurity and geopolitics, “Leave the World Behind” is Higher Ground’s first project in the same vein as “Get Out.” Or at the very least, it tries to be. Read IndieWire’s full review.

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND, from left: Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali, Myha'la Herrold, 2023. © Netflix /Courtesy Everett Collection
“Leave the World Behind”©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection

“The Sacrifice Game” (directed by Jenn Wexler)
Where to Find It: Streaming on Shudder

‘Tis the season of abundance! Celebrate more being more with director Jenn Wexler’s “The Sacrifice Game,” a campy new Shudder release that imagines what would happen if the cast of “The Holdovers” got a Christmas visit from the Manson Family at an all-girls boarding school with a witchy secret.

Co-written by Wexler and Sean Redlitz, this grab-bag seasonal period flick — shot in snowy Canada and set in 1971 — is more gruesome than scary and takes a handful of decidedly silly turns. Be it fruit cake, stuffed stocking, whatever your holiday metaphor, the fantasy horror adventure of students Samantha (Madison Baines) and Clara (Georgia Acken) gifts audiences steadily stranger fun almost all the way through. It’s a genre blend that’s delightful, baffling, and surprisingly ruthless in its decisive direction with a holiday twist that isn’t necessary for the plot but certainly ties the zany concept together. Read IndieWire’s full review.

Also available this week:

“The Archies” (directed by Zoya Akhtar)
Where to Find It: Streaming on Netflix

Plus: Read IndieWire’s interview with filmmaker Zoya Akhtar.

“Great Photo, Lovely Life” (directed by Amanda Mustard and Rachel Beth Anderson)
Where to Find It: Streaming on Max

“Merry Little Batman” (directed by Mike Roth)
 Amazon Studios
Where to Find It: Streaming on Prime Video

“We Live Here: The Midwest” (directed by Melinda Maerker)
Where to Find It: Streaming on Hulu

Check out further listings on the next page by hitting “Next.”

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