Matt writes: Over the past couple weeks, I joined RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert and my fellow editors in featuring reviews, interviews and essays both new and republished on our site in allegiance with Black Lives Matter, the critical American movement upholding Black voices. You can find a complete round-up of our coverage in this annotated table of contents. For a growing resource list with information on where you can donate, connect with activists, learn more about the protests, and find anti-racism reading, click here. Below is an excerpt from one of our featured pieces, Roger Ebert’s original review of Spike Lee‘s 1989 masterpiece, “Do the Right Thing,” a film that is as timely today as it was three decades ago.
“Spike Lee‘s ‘Do the Right Thing’ is the most controversial film of the year, and it only opens today. Thousands of people already have seen it at preview screenings, and everywhere I go, people are discussing it. Some of them are bothered by it; they think it will cause trouble. Others feel the message is confused. Some find it too militant, others find it the work of a middle-class director who is trying to play street-smart. All of those reactions, I think, simply are different ways of avoiding the central fact of this film, which is that it comes closer to reflecting the current state of race relations in America than any other movie of our time. Of course it is confused. Of course it wavers between middle-class values and street values. Of course it is not sure whether it believes in liberal pieties or militancy. Of course some of the characters are sympathetic and others are hateful. And of course some of the likable characters do bad things. Isn’t that the way it is in America today? Anyone who walks into this film expecting answers is a dreamer or a fool. But anyone who leaves the movie with more intolerance than they walked in with wasn’t paying attention.”
The King’s Man (2020). Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Written by Matthew Vaughn and Karl Gajdusek (based on the comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons). Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Gemma Arterton, Daniel Brühl. Synopsis: As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them. Debuts on September 18th, 2020.
The Sunlit Night (2020). Directed by David Wnendt. Written by Rebecca Dinerstein. Starring Gillian Anderson, Jenny Slate, Zach Galifianakis. Synopsis: Set between New York City and the far north of Norway, the film follows American painter Frances and émigré Yasha as an unlikely pair who find each other in the Arctic circle. US release date is TBA.
Most Wanted (2020). Written and directed by Daniel Roby. Starring Josh Hartnett, Stephen McHattie, Jim Gaffigan. Synopsis: In 1989, a Canadian journalist investigates the circumstances surrounding the suspicious arrest of a heroin addict imprisoned in a Thai jail. US release date is TBA.
Palm Springs (2020). Directed by Max Barbakow. Written by Andy Siara. Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons. Synopsis: When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other. Debuts on Hulu on July 10th, 2020.
The Rental (2020). Directed by Dave Franco. Written by Dave Franco and Joe Swanberg. Starring Alison Brie, Jovani Ridler, Toby Huss. Synopsis: Two couples rent a vacation home for what should be a celebratory weekend get-away. Debuts on July 24th, 2020.
Desperados (2020). Directed by LP. Written by Ellen Rapoport. Starring Robbie Amell, Heather Graham, Nasim Pedrad. Synopsis: A panicked young woman, with her reluctant friends in tow, rushes to Mexico to try and delete a ranting email she sent to her new boyfriend. Debuts on Netflix on July 3rd, 2020.
Nobody Knows I’m Here (2020). Directed by Gaspar Antillo. Starring Nelson Brodt, Juan Falcón, Julio Fuentes. Synopsis: Memo lives on a remote Chilean sheep farm, hiding a beautiful singing voice from the outside world. A recluse with a glittery flair, he can’t stop dwelling on the past, but what will happen once someone finally listens? Debuts on Netflix on June 24th, 2020.
Beats (2020). Directed by Brian Welsh. Written by Kieran Hurley and Brian Welsh. Starring Cristian Ortega, Lorn Macdonald, Laura Fraser. Synopsis: Two teenage boys in Scotland in 1994, best friends with no control over their lives, risk everything to attend an illegal rave, hoping for the best night of their boring lives. Debuts on June 26th, 2020.
The Nest (2020). Written and directed by Sean Durkin. Starring Carrie Coon, Jude Law, Anne Reid. Synopsis: Life for an entrepreneur and his American family begin to take a twisted turn after moving into an English country manor. Debuts on September 18th, 2020.
Relic (2020). Directed by Natalie Erika James. Written by Natalie Erika James and Christian White. Starring Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote. Synopsis: A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home. Debuts on July 3rd, 2020.
Ghosts of War (2020). Written and directed by Eric Bress. Starring Brenton Thwaites, Theo Rossi, Kyle Gallner. Synopsis: Follows five battle-hardened American soldiers assigned to hold a French Chateau near the end of World War II. Formerly occupied by the Nazi high command, this unexpected respite quickly descends into madness when they encounter a supernatural enemy far more terrifying than anything seen on the battlefield. Debuts on July 17th, 2020.
Archive (2020). Written and directed by Gavin Rothery. Starring Theo James, Rhona Mitra, Toby Jones. Synopsis: 2038: George Almore is working on a true human-equivalent AI. His latest prototype is almost ready. This sensitive phase is also the riskiest. Especially as he has a goal that must be hidden at all costs: being reunited with his dead wife. Debuts on July 10th, 2020.
Dirt Music (2020). Directed by Gregor Jordan. Written by Jack Thorne (based on the novel by Tim Winton). Starring Kelly Macdonald, Garrett Hedlund, David Wenham. Synopsis: The stunning landscape of Western Australia is the backdrop for an impassioned tale of love and grief. US release date is TBA.
7500 (2020). Directed by Patrick Vollrath. Written by Patrick Vollrath and Senad Halilbasic. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Omid Memar, Aylin Tezel . Synopsis: A pilot’s aircraft is hijacked by terrorists. Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
The Burnt Orange Heresy (2020). Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi. Written by Scott B. Smith (based on the novel by Charles Willeford). Starring Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, Claes Bang. Synopsis: Hired to steal a rare painting from one of the most enigmatic painters of all time, an ambitious art dealer becomes consumed by his own greed and insecurity as the operation spins out of control. Returns to US theaters (supposedly) on August 7th, 2020.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020). Directed by David Dobkin. Written by Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele. Starring Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, Dan Stevens. Synopsis: When aspiring musicians Lars and Sigrit are given the opportunity to represent their country at the world’s biggest song competition, they finally have a chance to prove that any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for. Debuts on Netflix on June 26th, 2020.
Hamilton (2020). Directed by Thomas Kail. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (based on the novel by Ron Chernow). Starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr.. Synopsis: The real life of one of America’s foremost founding fathers and first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Filmed live on Broadway from the Richard Rodgers Theatre with the original Broadway cast. Debuts on Disney+ on July 3rd, 2020.
Happy Birthday Roger!
Matt writes: In honor of Roger Ebert’s birthday on June 18th, we republished a series of special articles and videos, all of which can be found in our table of contents. It is headed by the speech embedded above that was delivered by Roger upon accepting an honorary degree in 2004 at the AFI Commencement Ceremonies.
Remembering Ian Holm (1931-2020)
Matt writes: The brilliant and tirelessly versatile actor Ian Holm—star of such films as “Chariots of Fire,” “Brazil,” “Big Night” and “Lord of the Rings”—passed away last week and is eulogized here by Matt Zoller Seitz.
Dreamchild (1985). Directed by Gavin Millar. Written by Dennis Potter. Starring Coral Browne, Ian Holm, Peter Gallagher. Synopsis: Exploring the somewhat darker and more mysterious side of Lewis Carroll‘s classic book, the movie follows Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the book’s inspiration, as an old woman who is haunted by the characters, by whom she was once so amused. As she thinks back on it, she starts to see her relationship with Reverend Charles L. Dodgson/Lewis Carroll in a new way, and realizes the vast change between the young Alice and the old.
She’ll Be Wearing Pink Pyjamas (1985). Directed by John Goldschmidt. Written by Eva Hardy. Starring Julie Walters, Anthony Higgins, Jane Evers. Synopsis: Eight women attend one of Britain’s toughest survival schools to challenge themselves and conquer their fears. They learn that there is more to survival than passing the course.
Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life (1995). Directed by Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay. Written by Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay and Alan Passes (based on the novel by Robert Walser). Starring Mark Rylance, Alice Krige, Gottfried John. Synopsis: A young man goes to a school for servants run by a brother and sister. In the dreamlike and surreal world that he enters, how will his presence impact the people there and possibly even the school itself?