The rich take it on the chin in two new movies this week, while an AMC series pumps new blood into Anne Rice’s iconic vampire novel and a shocking Peacock true-crime series is certain to make jaws drop.
Here are some recommendations on what to stream or see at the movies this week.
“Triangle of Sadness”: The clueless rich — 1 percenters so preoccupied with satisfying their preposterous needs they don’t value anyone or anything else — get slammed to the tarmac time after time in director/writer Ruben Ostlund’s outrageously bananas cathartic black comedy. Two pouty model/social influencer types (Harris Dickinson and the late Charlbi Dean) board a yacht stuffed with privileged fools who treat the beleaguered crew as if they are playthings. Ostlund’s ferocious dismantling of the wealthy is zealous about its intentions and does run on too long, but this redemptive voyage stays afloat even when that central ship doesn’t, a development that finds the tables getting turned and the “help” becoming saviors and wielding new power. Woody Harrelson lends some strong comedic sidekick support as a Marxist captain who holes away most of the time drunk in his cabin. But this is supporting player Dolly De Leon’s shining hour as fireball Abigail, the yacht’s toilet manager who takes advantage of her sudden position once the needy passengers have abandoned ship. “Triangle” is not as narratively adventurous as Ostlund’s “Force Majeure” and “The Square,” but it pummels its points decisively, convincingly and with a ferocity you’ve just gotta admire. Details: 3½ stars out of 4; in theaters Oct. 7.
“Interview with the Vampire”: Let’s be honest. It was actually the hunk factor (Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas) that really drew us to Neil Jordan’s 1994 gorgeous take on Anne Rice’s sensual New Orleans-set vampire classic. The new AMC reboot sinks its fangs into richer substance and taps a deeper vein. While Jordan’s version toyed around with the attraction between Lestat (Cruise) and Louis de Pointe du Lac (Pitt), Rolin Jones’ series doesn’t tiptoe one bit. This “Interview” commits to that point in the first episode of a series that is lively, fresh, wickedly funny and intensely erotic. By making Louis de Pointe due Lac (Jacob Anderson) Black and gay and Lestat (Sam Reid) more menacing and even more of a sexualized manipulator/predator, “Interview with the Vampire” ups the stakes and addresses homophobes and racists while staying true to Rice’s Gothic vision. The abiding love for both the source material and New Orleans itself is evident in every frame and Anderson and Reid have a strong connection, putting their own stamp on iconic characters. Ditto Eric Bogosian as a rogue journalist who meets Louis in Dubai for the “interview” segments; he throws on extra sauce on every smart line he’s given. Details: 3½ stars; on AMC now.
“A Friend of the Family”: Peacock’s exceptional nine-episode true-crime shocker gets ever more twisted and disturbing as it progresses. Anna Paquin and Colin Hanks star as the small-town ‘70s Idaho parents Mary Ann and Bob Broberg, sincere good folk who become chummy, to everyone’s detriment, with their irresistibly handsome neighbor Robert (Jake Lacy) and his wife Gail (Lio Tipton). Robert, though, possesses a dark side that emerges as his actions become devious and unhinged. He draws not only mom and dad into his messed-up lair but daughter Jan (Hendrix Yancey as the younger version and McKenna Grace, in later years) as well. Executive produced by pros Nick Antosca, Eliza Hittman and Alex Hedlund, “A Friend of the Family” breaks down a sensational story to show how a deceptively helpful and sweet guy such as Robert can infiltrate a family and make them do things that so-called “reasonable” people couldn’t fathom. Lacy deserves an Emmy nomination for his chilling portrayal. Details: 3½ stars; available Oct. 6 on Peacock.
“Pretty Problems”: An assortment of self-absorbed types hang out at a wine country estate to soak up the sun, flirt and drown their problems out by downing pinot. Kestrin Pantera’s shish-kebabbing of the vineyard rich isn’t as venomous as, say, “Triangle of Sadness,” but the comedy and the cast make it go down smoothly even when its low budget shows at times. As a less-than-rich couple that gets invited to this beautiful region (the camera all but caresses the vineyards), co-writer Michael Tennant and Britt Rentschler make for fine comedic foils, both easily tempted to misbehave with their hosts (J.J. Nolan and Graham Outerbridge). It’s very funny and best watched with a little bubbly. Details: 3 stars; opens Oct. 7 in select theaters and various streaming platforms.
“Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”: Stephen King’s novella — part of his “If It Bleeds” collection — gets turned into a film that’s more eerie than scary and earns most of it points from the two main performances: Donald Sutherland as Mr. Harrigan, the billionaire Luddite who adores having literary works read to him, and Jaeden Martell as Craig, the teen who befriends Mr. Harrigan and reads to him at his mansion. King’s story isn’t violent but this is King so there’s menace to be had. John Lee Hancock adapted the novella and directs with a sense of wistfulness in this handsome nostalgic parable. “Harrigan” celebrates the written word, both in literary and journalistic form, and reminds us of the fickleness of fate and death. It won’t keep you up at night, but it is a solid and surprisingly poignant effort. Details: 2½ stars; available now on Netflix.
“Piggy”: In this twisted, uncompromising feature debut from Carlota Pereda, a mercilessly bullied teen Sara (Laura Galan in a fully committed performance) witnesses a stranger commit violent acts against her tormentors during a sunny summer day in the Spain countryside. Rather than go to the police, Sara keeps what she saw to herself, an action that heightens a bizarre connection she has with a killer (Richard Holmes) at large. Make no mistake, Pereda’s expansion of her own short film is a gory slasher film. But it’s also gutsy, exposing how excessive bullying can lead to unforeseen consequences for the tormentors. Details: 3 stars; showing Oct. 7 at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco; expands and is available to stream on Oct. 14.
Contact Randy Myers at [email protected]
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