This weekend, Paramount brings us the Reed Morano-directed The Rhythm Section, while MGM tackles an old tale with a twist in Gretel and Hansel. Many theater chains will also be showing the Oscar-nominated short films in blocks, and I've added a guide to those at the bottom of this week's post.
The films listed are from studios other than the “Big Six” - Paramount, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Columbia/Sony and Disney. Note that some of the movies listed are in their first week or two of limited release in the USA, so it may take them a few more weeks (or months) to show up in your local arthouse theater or on VOD. Check out the posts from the past few weeks for more movies that may have just opened near you: January 24th, January 17th, and January 10th.
Stars: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth
Writer/Director: Kitty Green
Plot: A searing look at a day in the life of an assistant to a powerful executive. As Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the insidious abuse that threatens every aspect of her position.
What you should know: The film premiered at Telluride in 2019 to positive reviews.
Opens in: Select cities
Director: Lana Wilson
Storyline: A look at iconic pop artist Taylor Swift during a transformational time in her life as she embraces her role as a singer/songwriter and harnesses the full power of her voice.
What you should know: Director Lana Wilson has previously helmed documentaries about Buddhism and abortion.
Opens in: Select theaters and on Netflix
Stars: Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina, Andrey Bykov, Igor Shirokov
Writer: Kantemir Balagov, Aleksandr Terekhov
Director: Kantemir Balagov
Genre: Drama, War
Plot: 1945, Leningrad. WWII has devastated the city, demolishing its buildings and leaving its citizens in tatters, physically and mentally. Two young women search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.
What you should know: The film was Russia’s submission for Best International Feature Film at the 2020 Oscars.
Opens in: NYC
Stars: Enrique Salanic, Ana Cecilia Mota, Manolo Herrera
Writer: Li Cheng, George F. Roberson
Director: Li Cheng
Genre: Drama, LGBT
Plot: José lives with his mother in Guatemala City. It is a poor and sometimes dangerous country where, dominated by conservative religion, living one’s life as an openly gay man is hard for José to imagine. When he meets attractive and gentle Luis, he experiences passion, pain, and self-reflection that push him to rethink his life.
What you should know: It’s in Spanish, and was filmed entirely on location in Guatemala.
Opens in: Select cities
Stars: Mayu Matsuoka, Anne Watanabe, Kumiko Asô, Nao Tôyama
Writer: Miho Maruo, based on the novel by Sachiko Kashiwaba
Director: Keiichi Hara
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family
Plot: On the day before her birthday, Akane meets a mysterious alchemist Hippocrates and their student Pipo, who both tell her they're on a mission to save the world. Together, they set out from the basement for "Wonderland," and Akane finds herself labelled Wonderland's savior.
What you should know: It’s in Japanese.
Opens in: Select cities
Stars: Yehuda Nahari Halevi, Amitay Yaish Ben Ousilio, Anat Ravnitzki, Yoav Levi
Writer: Yaron Zilberman, Ron Leshem, Yair Hizmi
Director: Yaron Zilberman
Plot: Details the year leading to the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995), from the point of view of the assassin.
What you should know: It’s in Hebrew.
Opens in: NYC
Stars: Pierfrancesco Favino, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fausto Russo Alesi, Maria Fernanda Cândido
Writer: Marco Bellocchio, Valia Santella, Ludovica Rampoldi, Francesco Piccolo, Francesco La Licata
Director: Marco Bellocchio
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama
Plot: The real life of Tommaso Buscetta, the so called "boss of the two worlds", who was the first mafia informant in 1980's Sicily.
What you should know: The film is a variety of languages - Italian, Sicilian, Portuguese, and English
Opens in: Select cities
Also opening: Coda (Trailer), Gul Makai (Trailer), Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words (Trailer)
Several theater chains (including AMC) and independent theaters are screening the Oscar-nominated short films categorized in blocks - documentary, live-action, and animated. So make sure you choose the block you are interested in seeing! Below are brief descriptions of each film taken from the Oscar website, and links to the IMDB page and trailer or film of each short if you don't feel like leaving your house.
Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts
Learning to Skate in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) (Trailer): By Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva
Over the course of 15 years, a class of young girls from disadvantaged neighborhoods in war-torn Kabul, learn to read and write, and grow together in confidence through the joy of skateboarding.
In the Absence (Full film): By Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam
When the MV Sewol ferry sank off the coast of South Korea in 2014, over three hundred people lost their lives, most of them schoolchildren. Years later, the victims’ families and survivors are still demanding justice from national authorities.
Life Overtakes Me (Trailer): By John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
Hundreds of refugee children in Sweden who have fled with their families from extreme trauma in their home countries have become afflicted with Resignation Syndrome. Facing deportation, they withdraw from the world into a coma-like state, as if frozen, for months or even years.
St. Louis Superman (Trailer): By Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
Bruce Franks Jr., a leading Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected to the overwhelmingly white and Republican Missouri House of Representatives, must overcome both personal trauma and political obstacles to pass a bill critical to his community.
Walk Run Cha-Cha (Full film): By Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt
Chipaul and Millie Cao reunited in 1980s Los Angeles after being separated by the Vietnam War. Forty years later, they become ballroom dancers to reconnect again and make up for lost time.
Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts
Brotherhood (Full film): By Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon
Mohamed is deeply shaken and suspicious when his estranged eldest son Malek returns home to rural Tunisia with a mysterious young wife in tow. The emotional complexities of a family reunion and past wounds lead to tragic consequences.
Nefta Football Club (Full film): By Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi
In south Tunisia, two football fan brothers bump into a headphones-wearing donkey in the desert on the border of Algeria. Unaware that two men are waiting for the donkey and its hidden drug stash, the brothers take the animal back home with them.
The Neighbors’ Window (Full film): By Marshall Curry
The life of a middle-aged woman with small children is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-somethings move in across the street.
Saria (Trailer): By Bryan Buckley and Matt Lefebvre
Inseparable orphaned sisters Saria and Ximena are fighting against daily abuse and unimaginable hardship at the Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home in Guatemala when a tragic fire claims the lives of 41 orphaned girls.
A Sister (Trailer): By Delphine Girard
An emergency services dispatcher must tap into all her professional skills when she receives a call from a woman in a desperate situation.
Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts
Daughter (Trailer): By Daria Kashcheeva
In a hospital room, the Daughter recalls a difficult childhood moment when as a little girl she tried to share her experience with an injured bird with her Father.
Hair Love (Full film): By Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver.
An African-American father learns to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.
Kitbull (Full film): By Rosana Sullivan and Kathryn Hendrickson
A fiercely independent stray kitten and a chained-up pit bull experience friendship for the first time.
Memorable (Trailer): By Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre
Painter Louis and his wife Michelle are experiencing strange events. Their world seems to be mutating. Slowly, furniture, objects, and people lose their realism. They are “destructuring,” sometimes disintegrating.
Sister (Trailer): By Siqi Song.
A man remembers his childhood and growing up with an annoying little sister in 1990s China. How would his life have been if things had gone differently?
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What have you been watching lately, ONTD? Seeing anything this weekend?