Release Radar – Nov. 17th, 2023

There aren’t as many movies coming out this weekend as some of the most densely populated release weekends, but this week might have the highest percentage of movies I want to see of any week this year (otherwise it’s up there with the most). Anyway, shall we?

New In Theaters

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Director: Francis Lawrence | Writer: Michael Lesslie, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Collins

Stars: Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage

I wasn’t a Hunger Games superfan from the original films, but there’s something about this trailer that has me very interested. Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage go a long way in that appeal and I just think the general style of the film and the tone in the trailer is more appealing than what I got from the original films. I’ll try to do a rewatch of the original series since I was half out on those the first time through, but I want to see this new one.

Next Goal Wins

Director: Taika Waititi | Writer: Iain Morris, Taika Waititi

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Oscar Kightley, Kaimana

Fassbender is back and I would say at this point he is a pretty good bet to compete for the Sheist Award for comeback performer of the year between this and The Killer. Granted, I haven’t seen this one yet so I can’t speak to the quality of his performance here but I am interested in seeing him do this kind of comedy. I don’t know if I can make time for much right now, but I am going to try.


Director: Eli Roth | Writer: Jeff Rendell, Eli Roth

Stars: Patrick Dempsey, Rick Hoffman, Gina Gershon

In the world of holiday-specific films, it seems like Thanksgiving usually is the odd one out. So, it’s nice to see that there is room and interest in a Turkey-Day bloodbath. I might save this one until close to the day itself but I usually enjoy Eli Roth’s films. Plus, Patrick Dempsey just got named Sexiest Man Alive by People so that’ll give this one some juice…maybe.

Trolls Band Together

Director: Walt Dohrn, Tim Heitz | Writer: Elizabeth Tippet, Thomas Dam

Stars: Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Timberlake

I am not the target demographic for this, but it looks funny and cute. If I had kids, I would certainly consider going to check this one out.

Limited Release


Written & Directed by: Emerald Fennell

Stars: Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Archie Madekwe

By many accounts, the horniest movie of the year. Apparently, it’s for the “sickos”…not that I have any idea what that means when trying to compute internet lingo. However, Emerald Fennell is back and set for her second feature after her first won her the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. I enjoyed Promising Young Woman and it looks like Fennell will again be pushing back against the institutional power dynamics of universities. I am always interested in seeing Barry Keoghan and this is another role for Archie Madekwe that could help propel him to Breakthrough Performer of Year (coupled with Gran Turismo).

May December

Director: Todd Haynes | Writer: Samy Burch, Alex Mechanik

Stars: Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Chris Tenzis, Charles Melton

I see that this one is tagged, categorically, as comedy and drama but there’s nothing that comes across funny in this trailer. That doesn’t mean I am not interested but the story of an actress going to do “research” on an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student that ended in marriage doesn’t strike me as particularly rich soil for jokes. Too Haynes is a good filmmaker, and I was in at Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore but I’ve gotta think it’s going to be dark, wry humor at best and primarily drama.

Fallen Leaves

Written & Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki

Stars: Martti Suosalo, Alma Pöysti, Jussi Vatanen

There’s a weird charm that I can’t quite put my finger on here, but it has a vintage quality to it that’s very appealing. I haven’t seen any of Kaurismäki’s work so I am going in completely blind, but I am interested and the consensus has been a solid positive so far. Whether or not I can find it playing anywhere is a different question, so I may be waiting to see it on Mubi.

The Disappearance of Shere Hite

Director: Nicole Newnham

Stars: Dakota Johnson, Shere Hite

If I could go back and do my education over again, I would probably study human sexuality, so this is right up my alley. At the time of The Hite Report in the mid-1970s, it was revolutionary and controversial. However, it seems like we’ve somehow circled back into that so now is a very appropriate time to put this documentary out.

When Time Got Louder

Written & Directed by: Connie Cocchia

Stars: Willow Shields, Lochlyn Munro, Elizabeth Mitchell

This is not what I anticipated when I saw that this was a story about a young man with autism. In fact, it doesn’t even appear to really be about that at all. More of a look at a family, the sister in particular, and how they function as individuals. In that way, it reminds me of CODA a bit and I liked that.

Streaming & Digital

Monsternado (VOD/Digital Nov. 14th)

Director: Tyler-James | Writer: Derek Miller

Stars: Derek Miller, Darcy Baker, Zara Bell

This is not a movie that I thought was going to take itself seriously, and maybe it doesn’t but the trailer suggests that it does. However, the CGI looks laughable and I have never heard of any of these people so I don’t know how seriously it can really take itself. It’s definitely a made-for-TV SyFy channel original type of film, no matter what the trailer tries. There’s room in the habits for stuff like this on occasion.

Wintertide (VOD/Digital Nov. 14th)

Director: John Barnard | Writer: Carrie-May Siggins, John Bernard

Stars: Sydney Sabiston, John B. Love, Marina Stephenson Kerr

This trailer has an aura to it that I really dig. I still don’t know what the movie is about, per se, I had to read that part separately. However, I do like the less-is-more approach and I’m intrigued.

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived (Max Nov. 15th)

Director: Dan Hartley

Stars: David Holmes, Daniel Radcliffe

It is nice to see more attention being paid to the stunt people behind the scenes who breathe life into films by risking their physical well-being and it’s sad to see the cost of that sometimes. However, as the trailer wants to make clear, it’s not a tragedy for David Holmes and I look forward to seeing his spirit of perseverance on the screen.

Best. Christmas. Ever! (Netflix Nov. 16th)

Director: Mary Lambert | Writer: Todd Calgi Gallicano, Charles Shyer

Stars: Heather Graham, Brandy Norwood, Jason Biggs

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is not the best Christmas ever, but it does fit a very familiar mold of Christmas film. It’s not my preference when it comes to selection, but I tend to enjoy the formulaic aspect of it once I press play. So, if you enjoy that mold then this is for you.

*Do Not Disturb – Editor’s Pick*

Written & Directed by: Cem Yilmaz

Stars: Cem Yilmaz Ashen Eroglu, Celal Kadri Kinoglu

I am going to have to seek out some of Cem Yilmaz’s other stuff because this one is striking a lot of the right chords with me. It looks fun and weird. I’m in.

Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain (Peacock)

Director: Paul Briganti | Writer: Martin Herlihy, John Higgins, Ben Marshall

Stars: Nichole Sakura, John Goodman, Gaten Matarazzo

While it sort of presents as a kids’ adventure film, I love the R-rated approach. I want everything to be Rated R and this isn’t something I would likely watch otherwise, but that trailer worked for me and I can check it out from home!

Rustin (Netflix)

Director: George C. Wolfe | Writer: Julian Breece, Dustin Lance Black

Stars: Colman Domingo, Chris Rock, Glynn Turman

I’ve been waiting for Colam Domingo to get his leading man opportunities after absolutely killing every supporting role I have seen him in over the past few years and now that movie is coming home to Netflix. I think it had a brief theatrical run, but I didn’t catch it. Giddy up.

Dashing Through the Snow (Disney+)

Director: Tim Story | Writer: Scott Rosenberg

Stars: Lil Rel Howery, Ludacris, Madison Skye Validum

This is, pardon the pun, exactly the kind of ludicrous kind of movie I want from the holiday season. Even rated PG, something about it is speaking my language.

Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story

Directors: Gelila Bekele, Armani Ortiz | Writer: Gelila Bekele

Stars: Ozzie Areu, Jerry Banks, Kenya Barris, Tyler Perry

I was never interested in the Madea franchise stuff, but I am not the target demo for that either. However, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tyler Perry and what he has accomplished, and I am very much interested in this. It is also a think where I feel like this will catalyze some interest in his films that I haven’t seen.

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