Noovie's Alt. Movies: 'Malcolm & Marie' and Other Gems

Relationships on the brink and questions about what's real are the running themes through the great new indie movies now available to watch.

By Matthew Lissauer

Zendaya and John David Washington in "Malcolm & Marie."

© Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

Pandemic life is seeping further into the art of movies as this week's crop of new indies examine heady relationships and profound life questions. It may sound a bit too heavy for weekend viewing, but don't worry -- it's all hidden under the veneer of great entertainment. Here are our picks for the best newly available independent movies you can watch right now.

  • Noovie's Alt. Movie Pick: Malcolm & Marie

    © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    As we covered when highlighting what to watch this month on Netflix, "Malcolm & Marie" was shot in secret during the lockdowns at the start of the pandemic. John David Washington and Zendaya are the eponymous Malcolm and Marie, a filmmaker and his girlfriend who go through a whirlwind night as Malcolm awaits reviews following the premiere of his latest project. Featuring just two characters in one setting, the film has an air of an intimate play.

Malcolm & Marie

Drama / 2021

Smoldering tensions and painful revelations push a filmmaker and his girlfriend toward a romantic reckoning.

  • Falling

    © Quiver Distribution / Courtesy Everett Collection

    When his aging father (Lance Henriksen) comes to visit him and his partner, John (Viggo Mortensen) hopes for a reconciliation. The two, however, could not be more at odds with each other. This is a Mortensen triple threat, in which he writes and stars and makes his directorial debut. "Falling" premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival.


    Drama / 2020

    A conservative father moves from his rural farm to live with his gay son's family in Los Angeles.

  • Earwig and the Witch

    © Fathom Events / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Studio Ghibli makes its first foray into full CG-animation with this fantasy following Earwig, an orphan girl, who is adopted by a selfish witch. She soon discovers her biological mother was a witch herself, and she also learns that a mysterious song might unlock even greater powers.

    Earwig and the Witch

    Animated / 2020

    A headstrong orphan discovers a world of spells and potions while living with a selfish witch.

  • Bliss

    © Amazon Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Filmmaker Mike Cahill ("Another Earth," "I Origins") is mainly known for dramatic and heady sci-fi, but here he lightens the mood a bit. Recently divorced Greg (Owen Wilson) encounters the mysterious Isabel (Salma Hayek), who convinces him that life itself is just a computer simulation.


    Science Fiction / 2021

    An unfulfilled man and a mysterious woman believe they are living in a simulated reality, but when their newfound "Bliss" world begins to bleed into the "ugly" world, they must decide what's real and where they truly belong.

  • A Glitch in the Matrix

    © Magnolia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Filmmaker Rodney Ascher ("Room 237") takes the premise of "Bliss" into the real world, as he talks to scientists and philosophers to answer the question "what if we are living in a computer simulation?" "A Glitch in the Matrix" recently premiered to great buzz at the virtual Sundance Film Festival.

    A Glitch in the Matrix

    Documentary / 2020

    Filmmaker Rodney Ascher dives down the rabbit hole of science and philosophy to examine the theory that humans live in a simulation and the world as people know it is not real.

  • Little Fish

    © IFC Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Written and shot before the pandemic, and slated to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival before COVID changed plans, this eerie thriller from Chad Hartigan ("Morris From America") follows a couple (Olivia Cooke and Jack O'Connell) who struggle to maintain their relationship as the world is gripped by a deadly virus that causes memory loss. Consider this a sort of creepy, freaky bookend to "Malcolm & Marie."

    Little Fish

    Drama / 2020

    A couple fight to hold their relationship together as a memory loss virus spreads and threatens to erase the history of their love and courtship.

Hot Indie Trailer: Night of the Kings

Philippe Lacôte's compelling fantasy drama is a prison movie unlike any other. The film follows a young man who is sent to the infamous La MACA prision in Abidjan, along the Ivroy Coast. There he must use the power of his storytelling to survive. "Night of the Kings" has been making waves on the festival circuit, with premieres at the Venice, Toronto, New York, and most recently Sundance film festivals.

  • In theaters and Virtual Cinemas Feb. 26

Night of the Kings

Drama / 2020

A new arrival to an Ivory Coast prison is unaware that his storytelling skills will determine his life or death.