“The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”

(Rated PG-13 for thematic material and strong language. Opens in select theaters on October 22 and available on Amazon Prime Nov. 5.)

The premise: In this true story of British artist Louis Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch), viewers learn how the eccentric artist’s charming illustrations helped transform the public’s perception of cats forever. Chronicling his life from the late 1800s through to the 1930s, director Will Sharpe uniquely captures Wain’s heroic efforts to provide for his mother and sisters, better understand his own life, and highlight the profound love he shared with his wife Emily Richardson (Claire Foy).

The verdict: As one might expect from a movie about a peculiar man, Sharpe’s film is quirky to an excessive degree. While it doesn’t quite reach Wes Anderson levels of twee, it could definitely be off-putting to viewers looking for a straightforward biopic.

Granted, the light touch Sharpe uses in the first hour of the film makes the darker moments in the second half hit that much harder. His direction adds visual flair to a mostly standard narrative — complete with hallucinogenic animation and some hilariously random subtitles — while the screenplay (which Sharpe co-wrote with Simon Stephenson) constructs a solid foundation that’s further strengthened by some engaging performances.

At this point, Cumberbatch can play weird, brilliant outsiders in his sleep, so his ostentatious work as Wain shouldn’t come as a shock to most viewers. While Foy also gets to be an oddball at times, her character is endearing and has a wonderful rapport with Cumberbatch’s character, providing a nice contrast to her co-star’s stylistic tics. Olivia Colman is delightful as the story’s narrator, while Andrea Riseborough continues her streak of looking unrecognizable from one movie to the next.

Although it doesn’t break new ground in the genre, “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” is still worth seeking out when it hits Amazon Prime in a couple of weeks. Unless you’re a die-hard Cumberbatch fan, that is — then you’ll want to seek it out in a theater.

Grade: B

“Halloween Kills”

(Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, grisly images, language and some drug use. Now playing in theaters and also available on Peacock.)

The premise: In this follow-up to David Gordon Green’s 2018 reinvention of the slasher franchise, the plot picks up moments after Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) thought they had finally killed the homicidal Michael Myers. Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believing her tormentor is gone for good. But he manages escape from Laurie’s trap and immediately resumes his killing spree.

The verdict: Coming from somebody who’s generally not a big slasher fan, “Halloween Kills” is gloriously stupid — but I had a lot of fun watching it. That doesn’t make it a good movie by any stretch, but at least it sheds the morose, ponderous tone that made its predecessor such a slog to get through.

Most importantly for flicks in this genre, returning director Green (who co-wrote the screenplay with Scott Teems and Danny McBride) stages some gory, creative kills, including one so dumb and outside Myers’ usual M.O. that it made me laugh out loud. The body count is ludicrously high this time around, making the six deaths (if you count the dog) in John Carpenter’s 1978 original feel downright quaint.

Still, “Halloween Kills” ultimately doesn’t matter in the long run (aside from a major death at the end) because the creators have already stated it’s the middle part of a trilogy. The plot has to spin its wheels so everything can wrap up with “Halloween Ends” next year. Heck, Curtis is barely in the flick at all because of the injuries her character sustained in the last film.

With the star sidelined and no way to tell the full story, there’s nothing much for Green and company to do other than explore the mythology a bit, ramp up the gore and add to the mountain of corpses.

There’s an attempt at a metaphor about Trump-era mob violence, but it’s so ham-fisted that it barely registers.

One thing’s for sure, the next sequel needs to explain this one’s final scenes. They make absolutely no logical sense, even in the dumb, turn-off-your-brain horror movie way. And because the flick ends on a massive cliffhanger, it leaves viewers angry, confused or both.

Grade: C+

“Becoming Cousteau”

(Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, disturbing images and smoking. Now playing in select theaters.)

The premise: In this National Geographic documentary, acclaimed filmmaker Liz Garbus dives deep (pun slightly intended) into the life and legacy of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. For decades, the adventurer, filmmaker, innovator, author, unlikely celebrity and conservationist was one of the planet’s most visible spokespeople for science and nature thanks to his undersea explorations.

The verdict: Although “Becoming Cousteau” is a pretty typical documentary, it’s worth checking out for the incredible archival footage alone. From the very beginning of Cousteau’s career, he was filming constantly, so there’s some astonishing, detailed recordings (even in black-and-white) that somehow survived the horrors of World War II and the decades that followed.

Garbus adds some artistic flair by animating and colorizing some of the underwater shots, which is entertaining, but unnecessary. It’s plenty compelling on its own.

The doc also doesn’t shy away from touching on some of Cousteau’s more disagreeable traits, like his unapologetic belief that work was his top priority — even above his wife and kids. Or that, although he eventually regretted the decision, he initially had no qualms with doing the oil industry’s bidding for years because they wrote him massive checks. While that money funded his research and conservation efforts, the information he gave them helped contribute to the climate change and pollution that continues to threaten the planet.

Grade: B

Home Video Spotlight “Audrey Hepburn 7-Movie Collection”

(Various ratings. Now available.)

Just in time for the 60th anniversary of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Paramount has released this impressive Audrey Hepburn Blu-ray set, which also includes six other films: “My Fair Lady,” “Funny Face,” “Sabrina,” “Roman Holiday,” “Paris When It Sizzles” and “War and Peace.”

The collection boasts digital copies of each movie and hours of bonus content, including audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, documentaries from historians and film critics; archival premiere footage; original trailers; and much more.

“Say Amen, Somebody”

(Rated G. Available on Oct. 26.)

“Say Amen, Somebody,” released in 1982, is one of the most acclaimed music documentaries of all time.

Directed by George T. Nierenberg, it’s a joyous, funny, deeply emotional celebration of African American culture.

The doc features the father of Gospel, Thomas A. Dorsey (the Villa Rica-born musician who wrote “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”); Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith; and performances by the Barrett Sisters, the O’Neal Twins, and Zella Jackson Price.

Unseen for decades, “Say Amen, Somebody” was recently restored, offering enhanced visual and sound quality.

The disc’s bonus features include never-before-seen outtakes of the Barrett Sisters in rehearsal at home; a new interview with Zella Jackson Price; Nierenberg introducing the doc at the Berlin Film Festival; and rare audio outtakes.

Twitter: @IAmJoshSewell

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