As our local cinemas are still temporarily closed, this week’s Freeze Frame will concentrate on NEW movies that can be streamed at home.
Elisabeth Moss, easily one of the best actresses working today, turns in yet another impressive portrayal the drama “Shirley.” This fictionalized biopic focuses on a difficult period in the life of acclaimed horror author Shirley Jackson, best-known for her stories like “The Lottery” and “The Haunting of Hill House.” In the early 1950s, Jackson is suffering from debilitating depression and writer’s block. Her manipulative college professor husband, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, invites a young couple, played by Logan Lerman and Odessa Young, to move in and help out. The resulting drama plays out like a gothic version of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”
While Moss is obviously terrific, Young also delivers a strong performance and Stuhlbarg is authentically oily.
“Shirley” is slow-moving and erratic, but it’s an interesting and edgy experiment buoyed by a great cast.
And speaking of edgy, “Judy & Punch” is a weird and wacky dark feminist comedy set in 16th Century rural England. Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman star in this violent tale about a self-absorbed alcoholic puppeteer and his long-suffering wife. As is the tradition of the old slapstick puppets Punch and Judy, the stick-wielding violence is played for laughs. However, “Judy and Punch” is definitely not for children. This tale of revenge spotlights bullying, boozing, spousal abuse and serial philandering. Oh, and also infanticide. While it has moments of demented originality, it will have limited audience appeal. If the Renaissance Festival had an R-rated attraction, it might look like “Judy and Punch.”
Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, screenland.com, fineartsgroup.com and drafthouse.com.