Matt writes: On Thanksgiving Eve, RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert released “I Remember People,” a song she wrote earlier this year to express how she and millions of Americans have been feeling as we have been forced to keep our distance for months due to COVID-19. She enlisted the aid of musician and composer Chris Nava, son of filmmaker Gregory Nava (“Selena“), in creating the music, and the song was performed in a spirited music video by Rashada Dawan (who portrayed Chaz in “The Black/White Love Play” at the Black Ensemble Theater, and Chaz’s own play, “The Great Debate: It’s Out of This World,” at Victory Gardens Theater) and her band, The Chicago Soul Spectacular.
You can read all about the song’s origins here, and view the music video embedded below.
Small Axe: Alex Wheatle (2020). Directed by Steve McQueen. Written by Steve McQueen and Alastair Siddons. Starring Sheyi Cole, Robbie Gee, Jonathan Jules. Synopsis: Follows the true story of award-winning writer, Alex Wheatle from a young boy through his early adult years. Debuts on Prime Video on December 11th, 2020.
The Mauritanian (2021). Directed by Kevin Macdonald. Written by Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani and M.B. Traven. Starring Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jodie Foster. Synopsis: A detainee at the U.S military’s Guantanamo Bay detention center is held without charges for over a decade and seeks help from a defense attorney for his release. Debuts in the US on February 19th, 2021.
76 Days (2020). Directed by Weixi Chen, Hao Wu and Anonymous. Synopsis: Raw and intimate, this documentary captures the struggles of patients and frontline medical professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan. Now available online.
Little Fish (2021). Directed by Chad Hartigan. Written by Mattson Tomlin (based on a short story by Aja Gabel). Starring Olivia Cooke, Jack O’Connell, Soko. Synopsis: A couple fights to hold their relationship together as a memory loss virus spreads and threatens to erase the history of their love and courtship. Debuts in the US on February 5th, 2021.
Sylvie’s Love (2020). Written and directed by Eugene Ashe. Starring Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eva Longoria. Synopsis: A woman working at her father’s record store in Harlem in the late 1950s meets an aspiring saxophone player. Debuts on Prime Video on December 23rd, 2020.
Our Friend (2021). Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Written by Brad Ingelsby. Starring Dakota Johnson, Jason Segel, Casey Affleck. Synopsis: After receiving life-altering news, a couple finds unexpected support from their best friend, who puts his own life on hold and moves into their family home, bringing an impact much greater and more profound than anyone could have imagined. Debuts in the US on January 22nd, 2021.
The Dig (2021). Directed by Simon Stone. Written by Moira Buffini (based on the novel by John Preston). Starring Lily James, Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes. Synopsis: An archaeologist embarks on the historically important excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938. Debuts in the US on January 29th, 2021.
The Marksman (2021). Directed by Robert Lorenz. Written by Robert Lorenz, Chris Charles and Danny Kravitz. Starring Katheryn Winnick, Liam Neeson, Juan Pablo Raba. Synopsis: A rancher on the Arizona border becomes the unlikely defender of a young Mexican boy desperately fleeing the cartel assassins who’ve pursued him into the U.S. Debuts in the US on January 21st, 2021.
Fatale (2020). Directed by Deon Taylor. Written by David Loughery. Starring Hilary Swank, Mike Colter, Michael Ealy. Synopsis: After a one-night stand, a successful married man finds himself entangled in a cunning police detective’s latest investigation. Debuts in the US on December 18th, 2020.
A Dog Called Money (2020). Directed by Seamus Murphy. Synopsis: Accompany PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy on a journey through the creative process behind PJ Harvey’s new album, conceived by their travels around the globe. Debuts in the US on December 9th, 2020.
Two of Us (2021). Directed by Filippo Meneghetti. Written by Filippo Meneghetti, Malysone Bovorasmy and Florence Vignon. Starring Barbara Sukowa, Martine Chevallier, Léa Drucker. Synopsis: Pensioners Nina and Madeleine have hidden their deep and passionate love for many decades, but their bond is put to the test when they are suddenly unable to move freely between each other’s apartments. Debuts in the US on February 5th, 2021.
Life in a Year (2020). Directed by Mitja Okorn. Written by Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews. Starring Cara Delevingne, Jaden Smith, Nia Long. Synopsis: The movie follows 17-year-old Daryn who finds out that his girlfriend is dying. He sets out to give her an entire life in the last year she has left. Now available on Prime Video.
Euphoria: Trouble Don’t Always Last (2020). Written and directed by Sam Levinson (based on the Israeli series created by Ron Leshem and Daphna Levin). Starring Zendaya, Colman Domingo, Hunter Schafer. Synopsis: In the aftermath of being left by Jules at the train station and relapsing, the first special episode follows Rue as she celebrates Christmas. Now available on HBO Max.
Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults (2020). Directed by Clay Tweel. Synopsis: A thorough examination of the infamous UFO cult through the eyes of its former members and loved ones. What started in 1975 with the disappearance of 20 people from a small town in Oregon, ended in 1997 with the largest suicide on US soil and changed the face of modern new age religion forever. Now available on HBO Max.
Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions (2020). Directed by Taylor Swift. Synopsis: Taylor Swift performs each song in order of her album, “folklore,” and reveals the stories and secrets behind all 17 songs. Now available on Disney+.
Wander (2020). Directed by April Mullen. Written by Tim Doiron. Starring Aaron Eckhart, Tommy Lee Jones, Katheryn Winnick. Synopsis: After getting hired to probe a suspicious death in the small town of Wander, a mentally unstable private investigator becomes convinced the case is linked to the same ‘conspiracy cover up’ that caused the death of his daughter. Now available in the US.
We Can Be Heroes (2021). Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Starring Pedro Pascal, Taylor Dooley, Boyd Holbrook. Synopsis: When alien invaders kidnap Earth’s superheroes, their children must team up and learn to work together if they want to save their parents and the world. Debuts in the US on January 1st, 2021.
The Prom (2020). Directed by Ryan Murphy. Written by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin (based on the musical created by Jack Viertel). Starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Keegan-Michael Key. Synopsis: A troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theater stars swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom. Debuts on Netflix on December 11th, 2020.
Aubrey Plaza on “Black Bear“
Matt writes: Actress, comedian and ace awards show host Aubrey Plaza recently spoke with Nick Allen about her brilliant performance in Lawrence Michael Levine’s endlessly fascinating meta indie, “Black Bear.” You can read their full conversation here, and also be sure to check out Sheila O’Malley’s three-and-a-half star review of the film.
Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet“
Matt writes: Our cherished contributor Roxana Hadadi recently penned an impassioned essay on why Baz Luhrmann’s audacious 1996 adaptation of Shakespeare’s immortal “Romeo & Juliet” is “as irreplaceable as ever.” It stands in stark contrast to the two-star review of the film penned by Roger Ebert, who preferred Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 adaptation (as evidenced by his four-star review).
Nelly’s Version (1983). Written and directed by Maurice Hatton (based on the novel by Eva Figes). Starring Eileen Atkins, Anthony Bate, Barbara Jefford. Synopsis: She remembers nothing before standing at a hotel reception and signing the first, and only, name that comes into her head – Nelly Dean. Then in her room, our mystery woman opens her suitcase to find it filled with a fortune in bank notes. Completely without memory, Nelly must try to unravel the chain of events that led her to the room.
The Dressmaker (1988). Directed by Jim O’Brien. Written by John McGrath (based on the novel by Beryl Bainbridge). Starring Joan Plowright, Billie Whitelaw, Pete Postlethwaite. Synopsis: In England during World War II, a repressed dressmaker and her sister struggle looking after their seventeen-year-old niece, who is having a delusional affair with an American soldier.
Bodysong (2003). Directed by Simon Pummell. Synopsis: This epic movie tells the story of a human life, using found footage from the last 100 years of cinema, cut to a powerful score by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead (future Oscar-nominated composer of “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master” and “Phantom Thread“).