There is a rhythm to the seasons, and we’re in that dead part of the movie calendar between the “end of summer” (as if) and the autumnal prestige season. So there’s not much to be had out there in the theater right now.

Except, you might think “The Equalizer 3,” in which two-time Oscar-winner Denzel Washington returns for another (and presumably final) turn as retired U.S. Marine and intelligence agency op Robert McCall, whose hobby is Charles Bronson-style vigilantism, might be a little promising.

Well, yes — anything with Denzel is worth watching for a little while. But the first two entries in the triology found this excellent actor (teamed with his “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua) saddled with a rote geri-action role and there’s little reason to believe the third time will be the charm. Early reviews suggest “The Equalizer 3” is violent and replete with product placements. Someone has already called “Top Gun: Maverick” a feature-length Cialis commercial so we can’t use that line here, but it probably applies.

On the other hand, “Top Gun: Maverick” was an entertaining movie that delivered exactly what it promised to its ready-made audience and we’d be hypocritical if we pretended we weren’t at least a little bit interested in watching Washington prove that age is just a number in the mind of a weak person and that he can still quip and tussle with expendable baddies half his age.

The Guardian review suggests “Fuqua wants a little bit of that Shakespearean gravitas from Washington, who evinces a clear understanding of his rudimentary character: He does bad things for good reasons, meting out punishment only to those who deserve it and feeling duly guilty for his dirty work afterward. McCall has a conflicted relationship to violence, but his film does not. The big distinguishing factor in the final piece of a profitable trilogy … is a hysterical hunger for carnage in turns fun and sickening, just a notch or two away from the high standard set by ”Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.” Fuqua and cinematographer Robert Richardson go out of their way to show us the wanton gore, often modulating a shot so that the camera can get the most unobstructed view of ruptured arteries or knives sticking out of faces. In one moment suggesting a superior cut willing to go all in on mutilation, McCall gouges an enemy’s eyeball out, jams a gun barrel in the hole, and shoots another assailant through the skull.”

Oh. So maybe not.

Or, if you’d rather, have at it. It’s still bloody hot out there.


“Portrait of the Queen” (not rated, 1 hour, 20 minutes, On Demand Sept. 5) A tantalizingly visual documentary in which an original portrayal of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is told through revealing photographic portraits of her, as shared by the extraordinary photographers who accompanied and often created the image of the British monarchy itself. Featuring interviews with photographers Brian Aris, Jason Bell, Julian Calder, Chris Levine, David Montgomery and John Swannell. Narrated by Charles Dance, with appearances by Susan Sarandon, Isabella Rossellini, curator Emma Blau and stylist Pierpaolo Piccioli; directed by Fabrizio Ferri.

“We Kill for Love” (not rated, 2 hours, 43 minutes, On Demand) This clever and insightful cultural documentary by Anthony Penta investigates what’s left of the direct-to-video erotic thriller, a genre that traces its origins in film noir to its heyday during the 1980s and 1990s home video explosion when it dominated late-night cable TV and popular rentals at neighborhood video stores. With Andrew Stevens, Monique Parent, Amy Lindsay, Jim Wynorski.

“America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston” (not rated, six episodes, PBS, Wednesday). Hosted by New York Times bestselling author (“How to Be Black”), podcaster and outdoor enthusiast Baratunde Thurston, this six-part series takes viewers on a journey across the U.S. to discover how nature shapes the way Americans work, play and interact with the outdoors. The second season, starting Sept. 13, is dedicated to Arkansas, where just about everyone you meet is into the outdoors, yet to many outside the state it barely registers as an outdoor destination. In this episode Baratunde heads south to find out why this hidden gem has stayed hidden for so long.

“Ariel: Back to Buenos Aires” (not rated, 1 hour, 36 minutes, On Demand Sept. 12) Using dance, music, mystery, romance and social themes, this entertaining drama follows brother and sister Davie and Diana Vega as they return to their home country of Argentina for the first time in their adult lives where they discover the reason for their parents’ emigration (and a lot of other family baggage) in the glamorous tango clubs of Buenos Aires. With Raphael Grosz-Harvey, Christina Rosato, Eleonora Wexler; written and directed by Alison Murray, who won the Buenos Aires Tango Championship with her partner Carlos Boeri in 2014. Subtitled.


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