— Michael O'Sullivan
Writer-director Shatara Michelle Ford makes a promising debut with “Test Pattern,” a delicate character study about a woman navigating a tangle of obstacles and contradictions in the wake of a sexual assault. Brittany S. Hall (“Ballers”) delivers a magnetic central performance as Renesha, a development executive who meets an endearing tattoo artist named Evan (Will Brill) during a raucous girls’ night out. In a series of brief but well-judged epigrammatic scenes, Ford traces Renesha and Evan’s burgeoning relationship, which reaches a crucial pivot point when Renesha and her bestie Amber (a terrific Gail Bean) zip out for a cocktail or two. What ensues recalls Michaela Coel’s devastatingly effective series “I May Destroy You,” as channeled through Ford’s distinctive cinematic language, which favors intuitive, nonlinear storytelling and plenty of space for the viewer’s own interpretation — especially when it comes to the race, gender and class dynamics that inform nearly every unspoken moment. The film is just as subtle when it comes to the story’s setting in Austin: “Test Pattern” doesn’t give its characters hipster cred as much as it provides a whiff of the city’s culinary and cultural scene. This is an assured arrival on the part of a filmmaker with the confidence to leave some blanks unfilled. Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com, virtualavalon.org and sunscinema.com. Contains drinking, drug use, sexual situations and mature themes. 82 minutes.
— Ann Hornaday
Inspired by a nonfiction book about the Canadian mob, the fictionalized “Mafia Inc” concerns a Montreal Mafioso (Sergio Castellitto) who attempts to legitimize his operation by investing in a bridge project connecting Sicily with southern Italy. According to the New York Times, the film hews closely to the tropes of other mobster movies, but “the cruelty and ingenuity of the violence are what most distinguish ‘Mafia Inc,’ which can be tough to watch even for this genre.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. In English, French and Italian with subtitles. 143 minutes.
The Chinese drama “A First Farewell” centers on the lives of three Uighur children living in a village in northwestern China. Variety calls the first film by Chinese writer-director Wang Lina an “outstanding debut feature.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. In Uighur and Mandarin with subtitles. 86 minutes.
The music documentary “Everything — The Real Thing Story” follows the career of the Brit-soul band the Real Thing, a Liverpool pop group dubbed the Black Beatles. The Guardian calls it a “solid, efficient” documentary tribute. Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. 93 minutes.
“My Darling Supermarket” takes a documentary look at the employees of a bright, colorful Brazilian supermercado in São Paulo. Slant magazine says the film, which is closer to a “reverie” than cinema verite, “humanizes an often-invisible workforce.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. In Portuguese with subtitles. 80 minutes.
Middle school students with cameras in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis — the poorest neighborhood in mainland France — are both the subjects and collaborating filmmakers in Eric Baudelaire’s documentary “Un Film Dramatique.” The Guardian calls the project, which followed the children over four years, “worthwhile, inspiring.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. In French with subtitles. 114 minutes.