— Michael O'Sullivan
It’s no accident that the frequently bloody events that occur in “The Devil All the Time” take place in and around a small Ohio town called Knockemstiff. It’s a real place, but what goes down in this fictionalized version of it (and parts of nearby West Virginia) seem entirely too deadly to be believed. Based on the 2011 debut novel by Donald Roy Pollock, who actually comes from Knockemstiff, and who provides the film’s colorful narration — in a gravelly drawl that sounds a little like Billy Bob Thornton’s — “Devil” features not one but two of the following things: suicide, serial killers and sinister preachers. More singular events include human crucifixion, animal sacrifice, death by cancer and, naturally, a corrupt sheriff. That last role is played by a pudgy-looking Sebastian Stan, who joins the top-notch cast, which includes Bill Skarsgard, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Harry Melling and Robert Pattinson, playing various wicked, misguided and/or unfortunate souls. Tom Holland and Eliza Scanlen anchor the story, which is bookended by World War II and the Vietnam War: orphans at the moral center of a swirl of corruption to which the world seems indifferent. Directed by Antonio Campos (“Christine”), who co-wrote the adaptation with his brother Paul Campos, it’s a gripping, dark and deeply ambivalent narrative. Call it hillbilly noir: an Appalachian-set story of good and evil in which there seems to be an unhealthy preponderance of the latter. R. Available on Netflix. Contains violence, bloody and disturbing images, sexuality, graphic nudity and crude language throughout. 138 minutes.
In “Blackbird,” Susan Sarandon plays a woman who calls her family together — including her husband (Sam Neil), two daughters (Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska) and other loved ones — to say farewell and announce that she is ending her long battle with ALS. Nerves fray, and there’s said to be a twist near the and of this seriocomic family drama, but the Guardian says, “It seems unnecessary, like an extra hurdle planted at a track-race finish line just to see if another runner or two can be made to stumble.” R. Available on various streaming platforms. Contains strong language, some drug use and brief sexual material.
The documentary “A Chef’s Voyage” follows David Kinch, the award-winning chef at the restaurant Manresa in California, as he and his staff prepare to travel to France to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the three-star Michelin restaurant with a collaboration with three French chefs. “It’s a feast,” according to the New York Times, “not just for the food shown in exquisite detail, but for the images of the countryside, the shore and the streets and markets.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. 90 minutes.
John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, Steve Van Zandt, Joe Perry and Alice Cooper are among the musicians celebrating the life and music of Chuck Berry in the documentary “Chuck Berry: The Original King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” PG. Available at themiracletheatre.com. 97 minutes.
Joe Pantoliano stars in “From the Vine,” the story of a CEO in midlife crisis who travels back to the Italy of his youth in search of new purpose. Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. In English and Italian with subtitles.
In the Israeli film “God of the Piano,” a pianist (Naama Preis) struggles to accept her deaf child. “The true hero in this film is music,” according to Tikkun. “It is everywhere — a young boy plays for the family, a grandfather shares his first masterpiece, a famous performer writes a piece for his new lover. Each composition is given a spotlight and time to develop and to communicate to us. This is not a film score in a traditional sense, but a hybrid between the medium of classical music and the medium of film. This is a movie not as much for a big screen as for a good sound system.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com and
virtualavalon.org. In Hebrew with subtitles. 80 minutes.
Set in Australia, and based on the award-winning book “My Life as an Alphabet” by Barry Jonsberg, “H Is for Happiness” tells the story of an optimistic 12-year-old girl’s determination to make her mother, father and uncle happy again, after a family tragedy. According to Variety, the film “provides feel-good entertainment for the entire family without pandering — and definitely without sacrificing style or substance.” Unrated. Available on various streaming platforms.
Alexandra Daddario (“Baywatch”) stars in “Lost Girls and Love Hotels,” a drama about an American in Tokyo who is trying to forget her painful past in the arms of a mysterious Yakuza (Takehiro Hira). The film is based on Catherine Hanrahan’s 2006 novel. R. Available on various streaming platforms. Contains strong sexuality, nudity and coarse language. 97 minutes.
“The Passion of Anna Magnani” is a documentary portrait of the Italian actress best known from “Rome, Open City” and “The Rose Tattoo.” The Hollywood Reporter writes: “One leaves this well-crafted bio wanting to delve deeper into a truly fascinating personality who left an indelible mark on Italian cinema.” Unrated. Available on MHz Choice. In Italian with subtitles. 90 minutes.
The documentary “Space Dogs” examines the legacy of Laika, the stray dog who became the first living being to orbit the Earth when she was launched into space on Sputnik 2, and other canine cosmonauts. The film mixes archival footage of the Soviet space program with footage photographed at ground level, with wandering camera movements that mimic a dog’s point of view. The New York Times says that the film “commits to its art-house pretensions. The result isn’t pleasant, but it does effectively provoke.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com and sunscinema.com. In Russian with subtitles. 91 minutes.
After an accident leaves a man in a wheelchair, the titular protagonist of the Spanish thriller “The Paramedic,” (Mario Casas) decides to take out his frustration and impotent rage on those who he perceives as having wronged him — particularly the girlfriend (Déborah François) who left him when he needed her most. TV-MA. Available on Netflix. In Spanish with subtitles. 94 minutes.
The documentary “This Is Paris” is a revaluation of the life and “career” of the purposefully blank public personality Paris Hilton. Variety says that the film “seems so intent on excavating her trauma, up to and including animated reenactments of her time in purgatorial prep school, that it loses sight of her.” PG-13. Available on YouTube. Contains some disturbing violent content and terror. 116 minutes.