Matt writes: Martin Scorsese’s 1999 film, “Bringing Out the Dead,” starring Nicolas Cage as an overworked ambulance paramedic in Manhattan, was recently analyzed by two terrific writers, Scout Tafoya and Willow Maclay, who discussed its newfound relevance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read their essay here, and also be sure to revisit Roger Ebert’s four-star review, excerpted below…
“Nicolas Cage is an actor of great style and heedless emotional availability: He will go anywhere for a role, and this film is his best since ‘Leaving Las Vegas.’ I like the subtle way he and Scorsese embody what Frank has learned on the job, the little verbal formulas and quiet asides that help the bystanders at suffering. He embodies the tragedy of a man who has necessary work and is good at it, but in a job that is never, ever over. ‘Bringing Out the Dead’ is an antidote to the immature intoxication with violence in a film like ‘Fight Club.’ It is not fun to get hit, it is not redeeming to cause pain, it does not make you a man when you fight, because fights are an admission that you are not smart enough to survive by your wits. ‘Fight Club’ makes a cartoon of the mean streets that Scorsese sees unblinkingly.”
Mama Weed (2021). Directed by Jean-Paul Salomé. Written by Jean-Paul Salomé and Antoine Salomé (based on the novel by Hannelore Cayre). Starring Isabelle Huppert, Hippolyte Girardot, Farida Ouchani. Synopsis: A translator working for the police gets involved in the other side of drug dealing. US release date is TBA.
Swan Song (2021). Written and directed by Todd Stephens. Starring Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans. Synopsis: A formerly flamboyant hairdresser takes a long walk across a small town to style a dead woman’s hair. US release date is TBA.
The Duke (2021). Directed by Roger Michell. Written by Roger Michell and Clive Coleman. Starring Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Matthew Goode. Synopsis: In 1961, Kempton Bunton, a 60 year old taxi driver, steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. US release date is TBA.
The Harder They Fall (2021). Directed by Jeymes Samuel. Written by Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin. Starring Regina King, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield. Synopsis: When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western. US release date is TBA.
Beckett (2021). Directed by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino. Written by Kevin A. Rice. Starring John David Washington, Alicia Vikander, Boyd Holbrook. Synopsis: Following a tragic car accident in Greece, Beckett, an American tourist, finds himself at the center of a dangerous political conspiracy and on the run for his life. Debuts on Netflix on August 13th, 2021.
Lorelei (2021). Written and directed by Sabrina Doyle. Starring Jena Malone, Pablo Schreiber, Gretchen Corbett. Synopsis: A working-class fable about a biker, a mermaid and three shades of blue. US release date is TBA.
Jolt (2021). Directed by Tanya Wexler. Written by Scott Wascha. Starring Kate Beckinsale, Jai Courtney, Stanley Tucci. Synopsis: A bouncer with a slightly murderous anger-management problem that she controls with the help of an electrode-lined vest she uses to shock herself back to normalcy whenever she gets homicidal. After the first guy she’s ever fallen for is murdered, she goes on a revenge-fueled rampage to find the killer while the cops pursue her as their chief suspect. Debuts on Prime Video on July 23rd, 2021.
Mandibles (2021). Written and directed by Quentin Dupieux. Starring Grégoire Ludig, David Marsais, Adèle Exarchopoulos. Synopsis: Two simple-minded friends discover a giant fly in the trunk of a car and decide to domesticate it to earn money with it. US release date is TBA.
The Evening Hour (2021). Directed by Braden King. Written by Elizabeth Palmore (based on the novel by Carter Sickels). Starring Lili Taylor, Ashley Shelton, Kerry Bishé. Synopsis: Adaptation of Carter Sickels’ 2012 novel. US release date is TBA.
The Story of My Wife (2021). Written and directed by Ildikó Enyedi (based on the novel by Milán Füst). Starring Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, Jasmine Trinca. Synopsis: A sea captain makes a bet in a cafe with a friend that he will marry the first woman who walks in. US release date is TBA.
Blood Red Sky (2021). Directed by Peter Thorwarth. Written by Peter Thorwarth and Stefan Holtz. Starring Graham McTavish, Dominic Purcell, Peri Baumeister. Synopsis: A woman with a mysterious illness is forced into action when a group of terrorists attempt to hijack a transatlantic overnight flight. Debuts on Netflix on July 23rd, 2021.
The Many Saints of Newark (2021). Directed by Alan Taylor. Written by Lawrence Konner and David Chase. Starring Michael Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Vera Farmiga. Synopsis: A look at the formative years of New Jersey gangster, Tony Soprano. Debuts on HBO Max on October 1st, 2021.
The Pursuit of Love (2021). Written and directed by Emily Mortimer (based on the novel by Nancy Mitford). Starring Lily James, Dominic West, Emily Mortimer. Synopsis: Set in Europe before World War II, the story follows the adventures of the charismatic and fearless Linda Radlett, and her best friend/cousin Fanny Logan. Consumed by a desire for love and marriage, they both seek out the ideal husband. Debuts on Prime Video on July 30th, 2021.
Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021). Directed by Walt Becker. Written by Jay Scherick, David Ronn and Blaise Hemingway (based on characters created by Norman Bridwell). Starring Darby Camp, John Cleese, Tony Hale. Synopsis: A young girl’s love for a tiny puppy named Clifford makes the dog grow to an enormous size. Debuts in the US on September 17th, 2021.
Sing 2 (2021). Written and directed by Garth Jennings. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon. Synopsis: Buster Moon and his friends must persuade reclusive rock star Clay Calloway to join them for the opening of a new show. Debuts in the US on December 22nd, 2021.
Jungle Cruise (2021). Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Starring Emily Blunt, Dwayne Johnson, Jesse Plemons. Synopsis: Based on Disneyland’s theme park ride where a small riverboat takes a group of travelers through a jungle filled with dangerous animals and reptiles but with a supernatural element. Debuts in the US on July 30th, 2021.
Halloween Kills (2021). Directed by David Gordon Green. Written by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Scott Teems (based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill). Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Anthony Michael Hall, Judy Greer. Synopsis: The saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode continues in the next thrilling chapter of the Halloween series. Debuts in the US on October 15th, 2021.
Matt writes: Celebrated filmmaker Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver“) joined musical duo Ron & Russell Mael to discuss their new documentary, “The Sparks Brothers,” with RogerEbert.com Assistant Editor Nick Allen. Read their conversation here, and Brandon Towns’ four-star review here.
Leigh Janiak on “Fear Street”
Matt writes: Director Leigh Janiak (“Honeymoon“) spoke with our contributor Kristy Puchko about her new horror trilogy on Netflix, which is an adaptation of R.L. Stine’s “Fear Street” (read their conversation here). The first installment is now streaming and was recommended by Nick Allen.
The Duke is Tops (1938). Directed by William L. Nolte. Written by Ralph Cooper and Phil Dunham. Starring Lena Horne, Ralph Cooper, Laurence Criner. Synopsis: A theatrical producer puts aside his own success to boost the career of a talented singer.
In Search of America (1971). Directed by Paul Bogart. Written by Lewis John Carlino. Starring Jeff Bridges, Vera Miles, Kim Hunter. Synopsis: A college dropout convinces his family to re-examine its goals and gets them to leave it all for a cross-country odyssey in a 1928 Greyhound bus.
Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring (1971). Directed by Joseph Sargent. Written by Bruce Feldman. Starring Sally Field, Eleanor Parker, Lane Bradbury. Synopsis: After finding out that the hippie lifestyle isn’t as glamorous as the media makes it look, Dennie comes home to find disapproval and judgment at every turn, and her sister Susie wanting to follow in her footsteps.