If you or anyone in your household is under the age of 30, you probably know what movie you’re going to see this weekend. The hype for this week’s “Spider-Verse” sequel is unlike anything the superhero genre has seen since…well, honestly, the last “Spider-Man” movie. That being said, the weekend doesn’t just exist in the Spider-Verse. In fact, looking at the weekend’s releases, it’s surprising how many movies this weekend (and the distributors releasing them) had the nerve to go up against the friendly, neighborhood webslinger. None of them are going to pull in the beaucoup bucks that Spidey is expecting to make, but these might be worth checking out if every “Spider-Verse” showing near you is sold out.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (In Theaters June 2nd)
It’s finally here, everybody. Five years after 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” shocked everyone into caring about superhero movies again — even the people who were already really over them (me) — Miles Morales is back for a two-part adventure that will, in total, run about five hours. The films have been in the works for quite some time now and, judging by early reactions, the first of the story’s two parts was not only worth the wait but is maybe much better than it had any right to be. With more action, more Spideys, and more insane animation, “Across the Spider-Verse” is exactly what everyone’s been asking for…and much, much more.
“The Boogeyman” (In Theaters June 2nd)
Stephen King adaptations are always pretty hit and miss. And now that last year’s “Smile” has more or less revived the whole “The Ring” format, whereby supernatural horror films double as procedurals, it’s going to be a rough few years for studio horror. That being said, what “The Boogeyman” has on “Smile” is that it actually looks scary. King himself said it’s one of the most terrifying adaptations of his own work that he’s seen. Judging by the trailer, we’re inclined to believe him. Nobody is expecting “The Boogeyman” to reinvent the wheel, but when so much of the best horror happens within the low-budget indie scene, it’s a relief to see studios still care about horror movies that actually, you know, scare people.
“Padre Pio” (In Theaters June 2nd)
Listen, I’m not going to blame you if you straight-up refuse to watch another movie that stars Shia LaBeouf. There’s no reason to argue against that, especially after hearing some of the graphic and truly upsetting stories from FKA Twigs about their recent relationship. One could absolutely make the argument that he did not take enough time away from the spotlight to actually do anything meaningful about his history of abusive behavior. And I try my best to find the best in every movie I profile each week — like, come on, I even found the silver lining in “Mafia Mamma” — but I have little to say about a critically-panned movie starring a known abuser who has, admittedly, showed some contrition but has not seemed to do much beyond that. Engage at your own peril!
“Concerned Citizen” (In Theaters June 2nd)
Getting back to movies not starring abusers, this Israeli drama is about a liberal, gay man who gets a rude awakening when it comes to his own political leanings. The film dissects, with honesty and empathy, the complexities of white privilege in the face of increasing political awareness and those who consider themselves activists and allies in the fight against bigotry. The film has been the subject of acclaim since its February 2022 premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. Now, a year later, US audiences will be able to experience writer-director Idan Haguel’s masterful satire for themselves. It’s a film worth seeking out, even if it is a 45-minute drive to the closest indie theater.
“Past Lives” (In Theaters June 2nd)
It’s rare for a quiet, romantic drama to attract the kind of mainstream attention that “Past Lives” has in the last few weeks, but it’s for a good reason. Some are already calling this the best movie of the year thus far and, judging by the reactions, I’m inclined to believe them. “Past Lives” is the kind of devastatingly hushed love story that only comes around once in a while and seems to capture the hearts of everyone with a pulse. Like 2013’s “Her” before it, “Past Lives” investigates how the line between love and heartbreak can be blurred during a period of indecision and uncertainty. The praise across the board for everything from acting to cinematography is not to be ignored. And with the rise of AAPI-centric films winning big during awards season, there’s a good chance “Past Lives” is 2023’s first Best Picture frontrunner. See it in theaters while you can and you absolutely will not regret it.
Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.