#406 May 11, 2021

Matt writes: On May 1st, we lost the brilliant actress Olympia Dukakis, who passed away at age 89. Her portrayal of Rose, the mother of Loretta (Cher) in Norman Jewison’s 1987 crowdpleaser “Moonstruck” was one for the ages, earning her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (you can watch her acceptance speech in the video embedded below). Roger Ebert praised Dukakis’ work in both his original four-star review of the film as well as his Great Movies essay penned in 2003. We recommend you read our contributor Jessica Ritchey’s obituary for Dukakis here as well as an excerpt of Ebert’s review below…

Grudges and vendettas and old wounds and hatreds are everywhere in this film. The mother knows, for example, that her husband is having an affair. She asks from the bottom of her heart why this should be so, and a friend replies, “Because he is afraid of dying.” She sees at once that this is so. But does that cause her to sympathize with her husband? Hardly. One night he comes home. She asks where he has been. He replies, “Nowhere.” She tells him she wants him to know one thing: “No matter where you go, or what you do – you’re gonna die.” Some of these moments are so charged with tension they remind us of the great opening scenes of “Saturday Night Fever” (and the mother from that movie, Julie Bovasso, is on hand here, as an aunt). But all of the passion is drained of its potential for hurt, somehow, by the influence of the moon, which has enchanted these people and protects them from the consequences of their frailties. Jewison captures some of the same qualities of Ingmar Bergman’s “Smiles of a Summer Night,” in which nature itself conspires with lovers to bring about their happiness.


The Amusement Park (1973), 4K restoration. Directed by George A. Romero. Written by Wally Cook. Starring Lincoln MaazelHarry AlbackerPhyllis Casterwiler. Synopsis: An elderly gentleman goes for what he assumes will be an ordinary day at the amusement park, only to find himself in the middle of a hellish nightmare instead. US release date is TBA.

Benedetta (2021). Directed by Paul Verhoeven. Written by Paul Verhoeven and David Birke (based on the book by Judith C. Brown). Starring Charlotte RamplingLambert WilsonVirginie Efira. Synopsis: A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She is assisted by a companion, and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair. US release date is TBA.

Undine (2021). Written and directed by Christian Petzold. Starring Paula BeerFranz RogowskiMaryam Zaree. Synopsis: Undine works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water. Debuts in the US on June 4th, 2021.

Holler (2021). Written and directed by Nicole Riegel. Starring Jessica BardenPamela AdlonAustin Amelio. Synopsis: To pay for her education, and the chance of a better life, a young woman joins a dangerous scrap metal crew. Debuts in the US on June 11th, 2021.

Georgetown (2021). Directed by Christoph Waltz. Written by David Auburn. Starring Christoph WaltzVanessa RedgraveAnnette Bening. Synopsis: Ulrich Mott, an ambitious social climber, marries a wealthy widow in Washington D.C. in order to mix with powerful political players. US release date is TBA.

Blue Miracle (2021). Directed by Julio Quintana. Written by Chris Dowling and Julio Quintana. Starring Dennis QuaidBruce McGillRaymond Cruz. Synopsis: To save their cash-strapped orphanage, a guardian and his kids partner with a washed-up boat captain for a chance to win a lucrative fishing competition. Debuts on Netflix on May 27th, 2021.

Plan B (2021). Directed by Natalie Morales. Written by Joshua Levy and Prathiksha Srinivasan. Starring Mason CookMichael ProvostVictoria Moroles. Synopsis: Follows a straight-laced high school student and her slacker best friend who, after a regrettable first sexual encounter, have 24 hours to hunt down a Plan B pill in America’s heartland. Debuts on Hulu on May 28th, 2021.

The Last Letter from Your Lover (2021). Directed by Augustine Frizzell. Written by Nick Payne and Esta Spalding (based on the book by Jojo Moyes). Starring Shailene WoodleyFelicity JonesJoe Alwyn. Synopsis: A pair of interwoven stories, set in the past and present, follow an ambitious journalist determined to solve the mystery of a forbidden love affair at the center of a trove of secret love letters from 1965. Debuts on Netflix on July 23rd, 2021.

Ghost Lab (2021). Directed by Paween Purijitpanya. Written by Paween Purijitpanya, Vasudhorn Piyaromna and Tossaphon Riantong. Starring Thanapob LeeratanakachornParis IntarakomalyasutNuttanicha Dungwattanawanich. Synopsis: After witnessing a haunting in their hospital, two doctors become dangerously obsessed with obtaining scientific proof that ghosts exist. Debuts on Netflix on May 26th, 2021.

Songs for a Sloth (2021). Directed by Bradley Hasse. Written by Bradley Hasse and Richard Hollman. Starring Richard HollmanBrian McCarthyAva Eisenson. Synopsis: On the verge of a nervous breakdown, Maxwell meets a talking sloth in his dreams and becomes obsessed with saving the animal’s habitat in his waking life by returning to his first passion of music. US release date is TBA.

State Funeral (2021). Directed by Sergey Loznitsa. Synopsis: The enigma of the personality cult is revealed in the grand spectacle of Joseph Stalin’s funeralDebuts in the US on May 7th, 2021.

Oslo (2021). Directed by Bartlett Sher. Written by J.T. Rogers. Starring Ruth WilsonAndrew ScottJeff Wilbusch. Synopsis: Recounts the true-life, previously secret, back-channel negotiations in the development of the pivotal 1990s Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Debuts on HBO on May 29th, 2021.

American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally (2021). Directed by Michael Polish. Written by Michael Polish, Darryl Hicks and Vance Owen (based on the book by Vance Owen and William E. Owen). Starring Al PacinoMeadow WilliamsThomas Kretschmann. Synopsis: An American woman named Mildred Gillars broadcast Nazi propaganda during World War II. She was dubbed Axis Sally by the American GIs who simultaneously loved and hated her. The story plunges the viewer into the dark underbelly of the Third Reich’s hate-filled propaganda machine, Sally’s eventual capture, and subsequent trial for treason in Washington D.C. after the war. Debuts in the US on May 28th, 2021.

Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue (2021). Directed by Zhangke Jia. Synopsis: Filmmaker Jia Zhangke chronicles his local literature festival in Shanxi, China which includes a multi-generational roster of the country’s most esteemed writers. Debuts in the US on May 28th, 2021.

Wrath of Man (2021), red-band trailer. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Written by Guy Ritchie, Marn Davies, Ivan Atkinson, Nicolas Boukhrief and Éric Besnard. Starring Jason StathamHolt McCallanyJosh Hartnett. Synopsis: The plot follows H, a cold and mysterious character working at a cash truck company responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars around Los Angeles each week. Debuts in the US on June 4th, 2021.

Awake (2021). Directed by Mark Raso. Written by Mark Raso and Joseph Raso. Starring Shamier AndersonJennifer Jason LeighAriana Greenblatt. Synopsis: After a devastating global event wipes out all electronics and eliminated people’s ability to sleep, a former soldier may have found a solution with her daughter. Debuts on Netflix on June 9th, 2021.

A Quiet Place Part II (2021). Written and directed by John Krasinski (based on characters created by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods). Starring Emily BluntMillicent SimmondsCillian Murphy. Synopsis: Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path. Debuts in the US on May 28th, 2021.

Luca (2021). Directed by Enrico Casarosa. Written by Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones. Starring Jacob TremblayJack Dylan GrazerMaya Rudolph. Synopsis: On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human. Debuts in the US on June 18th, 2021.

David Oyelowo on “The Water Man

Matt writes: “Selma” star David Oyelowo spoke with Assistant Editor Nell Minow about his feature directorial debut, “The Water Man,” which was praised by our critic Sheila O’Malley. You can read their full conversation here.

Films of Endearment

Matt writes: Author Michael Koresky spoke with Sheila O’Malley about his new book, Films of Endearment: A Mother, a Son and the 80s Films That Defined Us, which features such beloved movies as Colin Higgins’ “9 to 5.” You can read their conversation here and find an exclusive excerpt from the book here.

Free Movies

Pot o’ Gold (1941). Directed by George Marshall. Written by Walter DeLeon. Starring James StewartPaulette GoddardHorace Heidt. Synopsis: Jimmy goes to work with his uncle, the owner of a food factory. Before he gets there, he befriends an Irish family who happens to be his uncle’s worst enemy because of their love for music and in-house band who constantly practices.

Watch “Pot o’ Gold”

Doll Face (1945). Directed by Lewis Seiler. Written by Leonard Praskins and Harold Buchman (based on the play by Gypsy Rose Lee). Starring Vivian BlaineDennis O’KeefePerry Como. Synopsis: A Burlesque star makes it in the big time.

Watch “Doll Face”

Born to Win (1971). Directed by Ivan Passer. Written by David Scott Milton and Ivan Passer. Starring George SegalKaren Black, Robert De Niro. Synopsis: A smart-mouthed junkie and loser known as J.J. spends his days looking for just “one more fix”.

Watch “Born to Win

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