New offerings include a second installment of Tom Holland's Spider-Man portrayal, a glimpse into musician Leonard Cohen and his muse, and a Swedish midsummer ritual to scare audiences.
Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters this week, continuing the Marvel Universe storyline following the events of Avengers: Endgame. In this film, Peter Parker is on a school trip to Venice, trying to avoid Spider-Man work but ultimately being forced into it.
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love follows the relationship of Canadian musician Leonard Cohen and his muse and lover, Marianne Ilhen. The documentary shows a friendship and love between the two, despite being separated due to the musician's stardom.
A contrast to the other films, Midsommar, from Ari Aster, the director of Hereditary, paints an idyllic picture of remote Northern Sweden and a group of Americans’ involvement in a cult’s midsummer rituals. The flowery landscape changes quickly to a survival race.
Here’s what The Hollywood Reporter critics thought of this week’s films.
This documentary reflects the intimate relationship of musician Leonard Cohen and his lover and muse, Marianne Ihlen, with their story starting on the Greek island of Hydra, with an enclave of expat artists, writers and musicians. The film follows their love as their relationship is interrupted by Cohen’s stardom, leaving Marianne to stay with her young son.
From the British documentary director of Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac and Whitney: Can I Be?, and also himself a brief lover of Ihlen, Nick Broomfield draws from his actual footage of the two to weave the film together.
THR film critic Todd McCarthy noted that "the doc swells with wonderful archival footage that immerses you in the hedonistic environment the principals occupied, but in ranging wide it somehow doesn’t go deep, or at least deep enough, into its twin protagonists to satisfy as the full story."
The film, for McCarthy, “more makes note of the depth and complexities of Cohen’s life than it gets to the bottom of it all."
He added: "Bulking the film out to feature length are a host of interviews with some of Cohen’s surviving professional cohorts, who have been encouraged to recall in detail the drug-addled concerts, tours and especially the singer-songwriter’s sexual escapades, which they agree were legendary."
From the mind of Hereditary director Ari Aster, the filmmaker’s sophomore effort focuses on a strange Swedish cult's summer rituals. A group of Americans venture to remote Northern Sweden to witness a special nine-day solstice festival that takes place only once every nine years, where the picturesque landscape quickly turns into a horrifying scene with mind games and distorted realities.
In John DeFore’s THR review, he wrote that Midsommar is “more unsettling than frightening, [but] it's still a trip worth taking." He added that "Aster's conception of this community and its folkways benefits from an attention to detail whose grounding in real-world cultures supports some of its more lurid imaginings."
DeFore wrote that “nothing about this two-and-a-half-hour picture can be called hurried, but the film is expansive enough in this section to do justice to its scholar-protagonists' curiosity.” Meanwhile, “frequent doses of hallucinogens (sometimes ceremonial and sometimes just for fun) augment this exploration, and Aster enjoys letting his VFX crew subtly distort nature: Grass grows through Dani's (Florence Pugh) hand, faces warp and forested hilltops undulate."
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is so reluctant to do work as Spider-Man that he does not take a call from Nick Fury ( Samuel L. Jackson) and boards a flight for his high school trip to Venice, where he wants to get closer to MJ (Zendaya). After landing in Italy, the students are interrupted by a destructive storm cloud ripping through the floating city, an attack later discovered to be initiated by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).
In Todd McCarthy’s THR review, he wrote that audiences “must be content with enjoying the passing wit of the screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, which is agreeable if hardly dazzling,” adding that “without a proper, full-on villain, as well as an adequate substitute for Robert Downey Jr.'s late, oft-mentioned Tony Stark, this comes off as a not-so-glittering star in the Marvel firmament.”
McCarthy further noted that “compared with what we've seen Spider-Man do in previous outings, there is a contrived, even mechanical aspect to the storms Mysterio whips up to wreak havoc, which in the process renders him one of the least persuasive and intriguing bad boys in the annals of cinematic Marvel.”