See it in theaters: 'Old Henry'
The Western is a quintessentially American art form, actor Tim Blake Nelson tells A.frame in a feature this week: "It endures because we can keep reinventing it," he explains. "Right after the Second World War, Westerns were really Manichean, in that there was good and evil juxtaposed against each other. And then, in the '60s, you started to get really flawed characters, and they would dress in black, and there was this sort of counterculture feel to the Western hero." Nelson's latest project, Old Henry, aims to be a new kind of Western altogether, a fresh take on the form—though it doesn't shy away from repurposing many of the quintessential Western tropes. Written and directed by Potsy Ponciroli, the film stars Nelson as a widowed farmer who takes in a mysterious man with a bag of money—played by Scott Haze—who may not be who he says he is. Also stars Gavin Lewis and Trace Adkins.
PLUS: Check out Nelson's A.frame list of his six all-time favorite Westerns.
Catch it in theaters or stream it on HBO Max: 'The Many Saints of Newark'
Tony Soprano is back, except this time it's 1960s Newark, he's still a kid, and there's a new Gandolfini playing the iconic role—James' son, Michael. A Sopranos prequel written by the creator of the legendary series, David Chase, along with Academy member Lawrence Konner, The Many Saints of Newark charts the turbulent times of North New Jersey organized crime as Tony is just getting his footing, centering on Dickie Moltisanti, Christopher's father, played by Alessandro Nivola. Younger incarnations of many of your favorite characters also appear, including Corey Stoll playing Uncle Junior, Billy Magnussen as Paulie "Walnuts" and John Magaro taking on Silvio Dante. Simply a can't-miss event for any Sopranos fan. Directed by veteran prestige TV director Alan Taylor, who helmed nine episodes of the original series.
In theaters: 'Venom: Let There Be Carnage'
From prequel to sequel we go, with the latest out of the MCU—it's the second Marvel vehicle for Venom, directed by Academy member Andy Serkis and featuring a story by fellow member Tom Hardy, aka Venom himself, along with Kelly Marcel. In the second edition, journalist Eddie Brock (otherwise known as Venom's Earthling host) runs afoul of budding megavillain Carnage, who attaches himself to an escaped serial killer whom Brock had been interviewing. Holy smokes. Also stars another trio of Academy members, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson—as Carnage incarnate.
Also in theaters: 'Titane'
The big winner out of Cannes this year, Titane is director Julia Ducournau's second feature—and first Palme d'Or. A bizarre and inventive horror film, full of ingenuity and surprise, Titane stars Agathe Rousselle as a somewhat unlikely serial killer bearing a metal plate in her head from a childhood car accident—an event that also seemingly triggered a sexual interest in cars. Working as a showgirl at an auto show, she murders a man who awkwardly comes on to her, and, well, that's really just the beginning of an impressive streak of exceptionally strange mayhem. Also starring Vincent Lindon and Garance Marillier. Ducournau wrote the screenplay.
Pick it up on Criterion Blu-ray: 'Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films'
Legendary filmmaker, musician, novelist, playwright—you name it, really—Melvin Van Peebles died last week at the age of 89, leaving behind a generous and uncompromising legacy for us to sift through. Right on cue, Criterion is doing its part with a beautiful release of a quartet of his movies: Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, The Story of a Three Day Pass, Watermelon Man and Don't Play Us Cheap. It's difficult to sum up Van Peebles' incredibly varied and prodigious output, but at minimum he's an utterly American original who harnessed a relentless creativity to burrow eccentrically into the Black American experience, leaving us all the richer for it. Pick up the Blu-ray today.