“Catherine Called Birdy” (directed by Lena Dunham) — IndieWire Critic’s Pick
Where to Find It: Select theaters, streaming on Prime Video on October 7
Who could have possibly anticipated that, nearly a decade ago when “Girls” creator and star Lena Dunham announced in an early episode of the ground-breaking HBO series that her Hannah Horvath might “be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice. Of a generation” that she really meant that she was the voice of…medieval tweens?
Dunham’s fourth film adapts Karen Cushman’s lauded 1994 YA novel “Catherine, Called Birdy” (Dunham’s title does away with the comma, one of many smart changes she uses to freshen up the story) into a wildly entertaining coming-of-age comedy that captures both Dunham’s spirit and the thrust of Cushman’s novel. Starring “Games of Thrones” breakout Bella Ramsey in the title role, the film — set in medieval England — follows young Catherine (called “Birdy,” of course) as she navigates her way through a world uninterested (and unaccustomed) to caring about the whims and wishes of its women. Read IndieWire’s full review.
“Don’t Worry Darling” (directed by Olivia Wilde)
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Where to Find It: Theaters
It would be easy to kick off a review of Olivia Wilde’s sophomore feature, “Don’t Worry Darling,” by toe-dipping into the world Wilde created — one that boasts some of the year’s most gorgeous craft work, from Arianne Phillips’ costumes to Katie Bryon’s production design to John Powell’s score — by tossing off something like, “In Olivia Wilde’s glittering ’50s fairy tale, set in the fictional desert idyll of Victory, all is not what it seems,” because that’s the entire point of this transparently designed cinematic nightmare.
It also would be incorrect, because everything actually is what it seems in Victory. “Don’t Worry Darling” is so clearly, so obviously not set in an idyllic ’50s community that to say the film packs a twist is not at twist at all. It’s disingenuous, easy, cheeky — much like the film itself, which starts off strong before crumbling into baffling storytelling choices made worse by the revolting intentions behind them. More frustrating is that the film also offers stunning craft work, a wonderfully immersive quality, and one of star Florence Pugh’s best performances yet. Too bad about the rest of it.