What to Watch: The 13 Best New Movies and TV Shows From October
The latest Bond film, a documentary on the Jan. 6 insurrection, a look at the Velvet Underground and more
By WSJ Arts in Review StaffUpdated Nov. 3, 2021 10:09 am ETSAVEPRINTTEXT21Listen to articleLength11 minutesQueue
Here’s a roundup of the month’s most noteworthy movies and TV shows, as covered by The Wall Street Journal’s critics.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/03–3HM4YKc?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘Ghosts’
This CBS comedy about the diverse spirits haunting an upstate manor is scary good.
“There are certainly no shows on TV more spirited than ‘Ghosts’ right now and there may be none funnier. Making its debut with two episodes Thursday night, the show concerns a young couple, Jay and Sam (Utkarsh Ambudkar and Rose McIver ), who inherit a rambling, ramshackle, 300-year-old mansion in upstate New York. No strings. No tax burden. Free. ‘There’s gotta be something wrong with it,’ says Jay—at which point we already know enough to chuckle.”
Read the full review here.
An Icelandic drama follows isolated farmers who’ve lost a child but receive an ovine surrogate.
“Let’s start with one of the countless details, tiny and large, that make ‘Lamb’ a tale of hypnotic beauty—and one with a wild and woolly premise that could have gone howlingly wrong. It’s what we see immediately after the Icelandic heroine, María, sits down to calm herself by playing the piano. (She’s played powerfully in her turn by Noomi Rapace. ) As the first notes are heard, the camera peers inside the instrument at the hammers hitting the strings to make the music. What’s that all about? Well, the hammers are made of felt, which comes from wool, which comes from sheep.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/_-Kw5kAPSbk?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘The Rescue’
The story of the operation to save a Thai soccer team gets the documentary treatment in Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s gripping film.
“Claustrophobes beware, but even you may find ‘The Rescue’ enthralling. It’s a National Geographic documentary, playing in theaters, about the international effort, organized at a feverish pace in June 2018, to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand. The directors were Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. They won an Oscar in 2019 for ‘Free Solo,’ a literal cliff-hanger of a doc about a climber ascending the sheer wall of El Capitan, the 3,200-foot monolith in Yosemite National Park, without the usual array of climbing equipment or safety gear. Their latest film chronicles the skill and unfathomable courage of divers who descended into the darkness of a labyrinthine system of caves, risking entrapment in the tightest of spaces by rapidly rising water. The stuff of heroism is always mysterious. In this case it’s also marvelously strange.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/-NbcehOCClU?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘Jacinta’
Jessica Earnshaw’s moving documentary follows a young mother’s difficulty returning to the outside world after spending time in prison.
“In addition to a camera and a funding scheme, what a documentary like ‘Jacinta’ needs is access. Intimacy. Someone the filmmaker can talk to and who, more importantly, will talk back. Who will not only do astounding things but leave viewers astounded that they got to see them.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/vw2FOYjCz38?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘No Time to Die’
No Time to Die
In Daniel Craig’s last outing as the superspy, Bond must save the world from the weaponized DNA of Rami Malek’s villain.
“‘No Time to Die’ is the latest James Bond episode and the last one to star Daniel Craig. His performance elevates—all but ennobles—the dramatic core of an otherwise choppy narrative, a succession of impressive but impersonal action sequences and affecting interludes that lead to a stirring climax.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/6mw3Ev1CIt0?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’
Convergence: Courage in a Crisis
This Netflix documentary focuses on grass-roots efforts in the face of the pandemic and was shot by 10 different teams in locations around the world.
“The first, but hardly last, striking thing about the pan-global pandemic documentary ‘Convergence: Courage in a Crisis’ is how vast, uncluttered and even minimalist it looks. The surfaces and angles might have been scrubbed by cinematographers using disinfectant and rubber gloves; streets are vacant; silence reigns. This will change as bodies pile up and Covid-19 creates chaos. But the initial images are as visually arresting as the story will be dramatically compelling.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/hWq7a8Tin8g?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘The Velvet Underground’
The Velvet Underground
Todd Haynes’s new film celebrates the New York band fronted by Lou Reed that had a small audience but a large impact.
“The growth of streaming platforms has brought an enormous surge in documentary filmmaking, with a larger audience than ever before. ‘The Velvet Underground,’ the new film from director Todd Haynes (‘Carol,’ ‘Dark Waters’) about the iconic New York band fronted by Lou Reed—which opens Friday at theaters and will also stream on Apple TV+—stands out in this crowded field. It does the things most music documentaries do, detailing the group’s rise and fall with a mix of photographs, film clips, and commentary culled from recent interviews, including conversations with surviving members John Cale and Maureen Tucker. But it does so much more. ‘The Velvet Underground’ is a beautifully poetic meditation on the emotional and cultural power of rock and the allure of making a life in art.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/qlcdaAx5hu8?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘Four Hours at the Capitol’
Four Hours at the Capitol
The HBO documentary chillingly captures the events of Jan. 6
“There’s little that can be called surprising about the passions that drove Trump supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol this January in protest of Joe Biden’s certification as the winner of the 2020 presidential election—an invasion that caused lawmakers to crouch under their desks and reach for their gas masks. The same can be said of President Trump’s reaction to that disaster, which as ‘Four Hours at the Capitol’ (Wednesday, 9 p.m., HBO and HBO Max) suggests bordered on the serene. In this darkly observant documentary (director, Jamie Roberts ), a heady brew of the subtle and the merciless, each significant figure—their number is not small—manages to take stage center at once and keep it. All of which accounts, of course, for the extraordinary parade of militant activists who deliver the history that is the heart of this story—a history in which they took part. Most vital of all the powers of this marathon-like work whose life and intensity can be exhausting is the remarkably intimate photography—the point of view is always from inside the mob, never at a remove—that propels a viewer into impossible closeness to the events on screen.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/nrlVHVid-20?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘Bergman Island’
Mia Hansen-Løve’s brilliant new film lands a filmmaking couple on sacred cinematic ground.
“In the glory days of art-house cinema, movie lovers—I mean cinephiles—would chew over the latest Ingmar Bergman drama for every last shred of significance. Was it as bleak as it seemed? What was the meaning of it all? You don’t have to know the Bergman canon to enjoy ‘Bergman Island,’ playing in theaters, though the experience will be heightened if you do. This ingenious and beautiful film by Mia Hansen-Løve isn’t for chewing so much as savoring. The more you think back on its mysteries, the more pleasure it bestows.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/r7i_E6zm8lM?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘Found’
In Amanda Lipitz’s Netflix documentary, three adopted cousins find one another and then return to China to search for their past.
“‘Found’—about three very American girls who were adopted from China—introduces its subjects in a terrific sequence that bounces around their worlds: Chloe being bat mitzvahed in Jerusalem; Sadie taking orders at a Sonic in Nashville, Tenn.; Lily poised to graduate from a Catholic high school in Oklahoma City. Are they out of place? As the documentary makes clear, that’s the thing they have to decide for themselves.”
Read the full review here.
https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xzDr_tbL-es?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy star in this biopic about an eccentric, troubled illustrator.
“With its exuberant images (cats, oodles of cats), quaint Victorian settings, damask palette, odd camera angles and old-fashioned screen proportions, ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ might have been too clever by more than half, except for its startling tenderness and depth of feeling, and the brilliance of its starring performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy. This celebration of singularity—eccentricity doesn’t do the subject justice—was directed by Will Sharpe (the British dark-comedy series ‘Flowers’) from a screenplay he wrote with Simon Stephenson. It’s a love story folded gently into a feverish account of a man keeping chaos at bay, a fictionalized biography that leaves you wishing for a bit more, yet beguiled by what’s there. (Currently playing in select theaters, the film will stream on Amazon Prime starting Nov. 5.)”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/sbyoZ2KetYo?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘The Next Thing You Eat’
The Next Thing You Eat
David Chang delves into topics ranging from lab-grown meat to the survival of the restaurant industry in Hulu’s entertaining and informative series.
“David Chang—chef, restaurateur and food influencer—assumes the role of our culinary conscience in ‘The Next Thing You Eat,’ a six-part Hulu series with a built-in audience of seven-billion-plus earthlings. Who’s not interested in food? Or the issues raised in the show? Exploitative foods apps. The disappearance of restaurant workers. The disappearance of restaurants. Lab-grown meat. And the inescapable logic of vegetarianism—something the omnivorous Mr. Chang agrees makes sense. ‘I just don’t have that kind of moral integrity yet,’ he concedes. If that doesn’t win him sympathy, nothing will.”
Read the full review here.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/3PR_ZK57c54?hd=1&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0Watch a trailer for ‘The Souvenir: Part II’
The Souvenir: Part II
The sequel to Joanna Hogg’s semi-autobiographical 2019 feature picks up the story of a film student trying to overcome heartbreak while creating her graduation project.
“‘The Souvenir: Part II’ is Joanna Hogg’s sequel to her semi-autobiographical 2019 feature ‘The Souvenir,’ which starred Honor Swinton Byrne as Julie, a film-school student in 1980s England. Sequels are unusual in independent film—no superheroes available for marketing—but this one represented a twofold risk. How do you follow a film that seemed perfect in itself, a model of compression and self-containment about a ravaging love affair and the growing pains of a young artist at a pivot point in her life? The answer, playing in select theaters, turns out to be daringly intricate and beautifully simple. Ms. Hogg has outdone herself with an even stronger film about grief, self-discovery, the daunting uncertainties of the creative process and, before and after everything else, the mysterious power of the movie medium.”
Read the full review here.