Release Radar – Nov. 19th, 2021

I would have expected a bit of a slow down heading into Thanksgiving week as many people have travel plans, but that’s not the case at all. There are a dozen new releases this week and another dozen coming spread out across the holiday next week. There are a number of interesting offerings so, let’s get to it.

The Power of the Dog (Theaters Nov. 17th & Netflix Dec. 1st)

Written by: Thomas Savage (novel), Jane Campion (screenplay) | Directed by: Jane Campion

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Jesse Plemmons

Oscar-winning writer Jane Campion adapted the Thomas Savage novel about a wealthy and powerful rancher who weaponized his loneliness against his brother’s new wife and her son. Set in the early part of the 20th century, there are some similarities to Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood which I love. The cast is excellent as well and it appears to be beautifully shot as well, so there are a lot of things drawing me to this film. I don’t know if I’m going to see it during its theatrical run since it’ll be on Netflix in the not-too-distant future, but I will definitely be checking this one out.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Theaters)

Writers: Jason Reitman & Gil Kenan | Director: Jason Reitman

Starring: Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Carrie Coon

Jason Reitman takes up the mantle of the iconic franchise his father helmed as he steps into the director’s chair for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Truth be told, I don’t even know that this film would have been made if it weren’t for the 2016 Ghostbusters movie by Paul Feig that was a hollow repackaging of a beloved property. It’s not even that Feig’s movie was bad, despite how I felt initially, it was just a transparent cash-grab. This new movie is a sequel to Ghostbusters 2 and folds the lineage into the story rather than shoehorning in some desperate cameos. Bringing in Finn Wolfhard is certainly a decision to bring in the Stranger Things crowd and having People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” Paul Rudd certainly doesn’t hurt. Despite my love for the first and second Ghostbusters movies, I’m not particularly excited about this one and I don’t know why. I’m definitely going to see it and I’ve heard it’s good, but I’m happy to wait until after the opening weekend.

King Richard (Theaters)

Writer: Zach Baylin | Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Starring: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellie, and Jon Bernthal

Given the massive success of Venus and Serena Williams as global sports icons, I find it strange and backhandedly dismissive that the first movie made about them has their father cast as the lead. It still looks like it’s going to be good and Will Smith will likely be great as the titular character, but it still seems weird given everything that these women have accomplished. This one drops on HBO Max along with its theatrical release, so it’s a very strong option heading into the weekend.

C’mon C’mon (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Mike Mills

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Gabby Hoffman, and Woody Norman

Joaquin Phoenix is one of the best actors of his generation so I always keep my eye on the project he’s working on. In Mike Mills’ newest he plays a journalist who’s on the road with his nephew. That may not sound like the most interesting film on its surface, but Mills makes films that are very emotionally robust and full of heart. That’s what I’m expecting here and the black-and-white is a nice touch that infers some level of romanticization. This will likely be one I go to theaters for between now and Thanksgiving.

The First Wave (Theaters)

Director: Matthew Heineman

Starring: Nathalie Douge

This year has been filled with documentaries, and this week will see several new ones released, but this one from Matthew Heineman is at the front of the line. It may be coming a little soon for a lot of people, and I can’t blame them, as it’s a look inside the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City and the struggles of the first responders. Nat Geo usually does a very good job with their documentary features, so I have confidence it will be well-made and well-told. I don’t know that I’m quite ready for this one just yet, but we do have a frontline nurse in the family and I feel like I owe it to her to watch this.

The Feast (Theaters + VOD)

Writer: Roger Williams | Director: Lee Haven Jones

Starring: Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, and Julian Lewis Jones

This Welsh film is just the right kind of folk eco-horror we all need right before Thanksgiving. I’m a fan of high-concept minimalism, so the small cast and crew add some intrigue. When a young woman is hired to serve at a dinner party for some wealthy elites, they have no idea what they are in for. I love weird and obscure horror like this and I’m very curious to see how all the elements come together. This will likely be one to watch at home as it’ll likely be in very limited release but, fortunately, that’s an option with video-on-demand.

Boiling Point (Theaters + VOD)

Writers: Philip Barantini and James Cummings | Director: Philip Barantini

Starring: Stephen Graham, Vinette Robinson, and Alice Feetham

Philip Barantini’s sophomore feature looks like it has the potential to be something unique and wonderful. Immersion has always been a key element of the cinematic experience but that idea has evolved over time. This film uses a continuous “one-shot” technique to bring the audience into the tense world of a high-end restaurant kitchen on its busiest day. If this film was indeed filmed in one continuous take, it’s an incredible feat of filmmaking that brings the risk and reward of stage performance to the screen. Stephen Graham is a fantastic performer who has sharpened his skills mainly as a character actor and I’ve been a fan of his since run on Boardwalk Empire, so I’m very excited to see him get a lead role like this. As a fan of filmmaking, I am very excited to check this one out. I’ll likely go with VOD since I can’t find it near me in theaters.

What Else Is New

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Radu Jude

Starring: Katia Pascariu, Claudia lermeia, and Olimpia Malai

This Romanian film by Radu Jude has a very odd title that may be a translation thing, but it looks quirky and pretty funny. A school teacher has her personal sex tape leaked but refuses to succumb to pressure and winds up in a tug of war with concerned parents. There’s definitely some context about cancel culture and personal freedom, so I’m curious but it’ll probably be hard to find as well.

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time (Theaters + VOD)

Writer: Robert B. Weide | Directors: Robert B. Weide and Don Argott

Starring: Jerome Klinkowitz, Sidney Offit, and Morley Safer

The remarkable life of author Kurt Vonnegut as told by his friend of 25-years, Robert B. Weide. It seems like the idea for this documentary was in the works for a long time and even in development for another 14 years after Vonnegut’s death in 2007. If you are a fan of his literature, I’m sure this movie will hold extra significance.

Procession (Netflix)

Director: Robert Greene

Starring: Joe Eldred, Mike Foreman, and Ed Gavagan

Netflix isn’t backing down on the documentary front and they are closing out the year with a massive push. This documentary follows a group of victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic church and their journey to justice and recovery. It’s definitely going to be painful, but I imagine it will be pretty cathartic as well.

The Real Charlie Chaplin (Theaters)

Writers: Peter Middleton, James Spinney, and Oliver Kindberg

Directors: Peter Middleton and James Spinney

Starring: Pearl Mackie, Jeff Rawle, and Paul Ryan

We will be able to look back on 2021 and refer to it as the documentary wars. There are so many intriguing options and only so much time. Charlie Chaplin was the world’s first real movie star but very little was known about the man behind the mustache. This film looks at his life and his legacy.

Zeros and Ones (Theaters + VOD)

Written & Directed by: Abel Ferrara

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Valerio Mastandrea, and Cristina Chiriac

Ethan Hawke is another one of those actors who I’m always curious to see what he’s working on but the early word for this movie hasn’t been positive. Abel Ferrara has been making films since the 70s, some of which I’ve liked, but I haven’t seen most of them. I trust Hawke to but the trailer for this film isn’t the best sales pitch.

tick, tick…Boom! (Netflix debut Nov. 19th)

Writers: Steven Levenson (screenplay), Jonathan Larson (musical) | Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, and Robin de Jesus

Lin Manuel-Miranda’s directorial debut about Jonathan Larson’s creation of the musical Rent lands on Netflix.

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