Pick of the Litter – March 2020


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Mulan

(Disney) Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Li Gong. Disney continues their series of live-action remakes of animated classics with an intriguing addition. While Mulan was never one of their biggest hits, this one might actually outpace the original as they reimagine the animated fantasy as a martial arts epic. Here, the daughter of an elderly man who is being conscripted into the army takes his place, hiding her identity as a girl. March 27

OTHER WIDE RELEASES TO WATCH FOR

Onward, March 6
The Way Back, March 6
Bloodshot, March 13
The Hunt, March 13
My Spy, March 13
A Quiet Place Part II, March 20
Saint Maud, March 27

INDEPENDENT PICKS

The Burnt Orange Heresy

(Sony Classics) Elizabeth Debicki, Claes Bang, Donald Sutherland, Mick Jagger. An ambitious young art dealer, aided by an alluring American, gets embroiled in an art heist from an enigmatic painter. Things being as they are, nothing is what it seems to be in this Giuseppe Capotondi erotic neo-noir thriller. March 6

Sorry We Missed You

(Zeitgeist/Kino-Lorber) Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor. Legendary English director Ken Loach looks at the economics of the English working class in the 21st century with this stark drama about a family, caught up in the gig economy, tries to make ends meet in an increasingly vicious marketplace. March 6

Spenser Confidential

(Netflix) Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger. Ex-cop and ex-con Spenser gets out of the slammer after being framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and with the aid of his roommate, the mercurial Hawk, aims to take down the corrupt cops and politicians who put him behind bars. This version of the Robert B. Parker character, formerly played by Robert Urich in Spencer: For Hire is the latest collaboration between Wahlberg and director Peter Berg. March 6

Swallow

(IFC) Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell, Denis O’Hare, Elizabeth Marvel. A newly pregnant housewife, frustrated by the control exerted on her life by her husband and his family, feels compelled to swallow dangerous objects. March 6

The Dog Doc

(Film Rise) Marty Goldstein, Jennifer Lenarz-Salcedo, Jacqueline Ruskin, Randie Shane. Veterinarian Dr. Marty Goldstein uses holistic healing methods that he practiced when battling cancer to use on dogs who have terminal conditions with astounding results. March 13;

Lost Girls

(Netflix) Amy Ryan, Gabriel Byrne, Dean Winters, Lola Kirke. Frustrated by police indifference when her daughter disappears, a mother does her own investigating and discovers that her daughter isn’t the only girl missing. Based on actual events. March 13

Human Nature

(Greenwich) Jennifer Doudna, Hank Greely, Dolores Sanchez, Emmanuelle Charpentier. One of the most amazing and controversial scientific discoveries of the early 21st century is CRISPR, which gives scientists the ability to manipulate genes. This could be used to eradicate certain diseases – and fundamentally change the human race from the DNA up. The ethical debate behind it may well determine the course of human evolution. March 13

The Roads Not Taken

(Bleecker Street) Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek, Laura Linney. A man floats through alternate lives he hasn’t led, while his daughter wrestles with her own future. The acclaimed Sally Potter (The Party) wrote and directed this. March 13

Deerskin

(Greenwich) Jean Dujardin, Adéle Haenel, Albert Delpy, Coralie Russier. A man who has been ignored and ridiculed buys himself a deerskin jacket which becomes an obsession. When he gets noticed, he attributes his change of fortune to the jacket and soon turns to a life of crime and murder. This one got a lot of attention at Fantastic Fest in Montreal last year. March 20

Dosed

(Golden Teacher) Adrianne, Paul Stamets, Nicholas Meyers, Tyler Chandler. A desperate and suicidal woman, addicted to opioids and homeless, uses illegal psychedelics to help cure her anxiety and desperation after prescription medication has failed. March 20

Military Wives

(Bleecker Street) Kristin Scott Thomas, Sharon Horgan, Jason Flemyng, Emma Lowndes. A group of military wives, whose husbands have deployed to the Middle East with the British Army, form a choir in order to give themselves something to do. They become media sensations and originators of a global movement. Inspired by true events. March 27

Resistance

(IFC) Jesse Eisenberg, Ed Harris, Edgar Ramirez, Clémence Poésy. Before he became the world’s most beloved mime, Marcel Marceau was a member of the French resistance who helped save the lives of ten thousand orphans, a story from the Second World War that few remember today. March 27

Pick of the Litter – February 2020


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

(Warner Brothers) Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez. The most memorable character from Suicide Squad finds herself a new team, the all-female Birds of Prey who are based in Gotham and take on the nefarious Black Mask. Harley Quinn, though, is the wild card in the proceedings. February 7

OTHER WIDE RELEASES TO WATCH FOR

Fantasy Island, February 14
Ordinary Love, February 14
Sonic the Hedgehog, February 14
Brahms: The Boy II, February 21
Call of the Wild, February 21
The Invisible Man, February 28

INDEPENDENT PICKS

And Then We Danced

(Music Box) Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishlivi, Ana Javakishvili, Giorgi Tsereteli. A young man, training to make the Georgian National Dance Ensemble with his partner Mary, is thrown for a loop by the arrival of a rebellious male dancer with near-perfect form who causes him to question the conservative mores of Georgian society and puts his relationships with his partner and family at risk.. February 7

The Lodge

(NEON) Riley Keough, Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone, Jaeden Martell. A woman is snowed in a remote Northern lodge with the children of her fiancée as frightening phenomenon and spectres from her past begin to make themselves known. February 7

Legend of Deification (Jiang Ziya)

(Well Go USA) A Chinese warrior is given the task by the Gods to execute the Nine-Tailed Fox Demon, despite the fact that in doing so this will destroy an innocent girl whose soul is linked with the demon. The warrior is faced with a terrible choice; do what the Gods command, or do what’s right. February 7

Olympic Dreams

(IFC) Alexi Pappas, Nick Kroll, Gus Kenworthy, Morgan Schild. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, an Olympic athlete at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea finds confidence and love in an unassuming team dentist. This is the first feature film to be allowed to shoot in the Olympic Village during the Games. February 14

Emma

(Focus) Anya Taylor-Joy, Josh O’Connor, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth Wealthy Emma Woodhouse is the alpha female in a small English village during the Regency era. Eager to get her married off, her parents arrange match after match, all of which are disastrous. She must navigate her way through in order to find the love that was right under her nose. Based on the Jane Austin novel. February 21

A White, White Night

(Film Movement) Ingvar Eggert Siggurdsson, Ida Mekkin Hlyndsdottir, Sara Dogg Asgeirsdottir, Bjorn Ingi Hilmarsson. An aging police chief begins to suspect that his late wife was having an affair with a local villager in their native Iceland. His obsession with finding out the truth will put himself and his loved ones at risk. February 28

Burden

(101 Studios) Forrest Whittaker, Garrett Hedlund, Andrea Riseborough, Tom Wilkinson. When the Ku Klux Klan opens a museum in a small South Carolina town, an idealistic pastor tries to keep the peace – even as he works on the Klan’s Grand Dragon to disavow his violent, racist past. Based on a true story. February 28

Pick of the Litter – January 2020


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Dolittle

(Universal) Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent. From the beloved series of children’s books comes this new re-imagining. Most remember the bloated musical version starring Rex Harrison if they remember it at all, but this one stars Iron Man himself as the vet who can talk to the animals, and generally prefers animals to people. January 17

OTHER WIDE RELEASES TO WATCH FOR

Grudge, January 3
1917, January 10
The Informer, January 10
Just Mercy, January 10
Underwater, January 10
Bad Boys 4 Life, January 17
The Gentlemen, January 24
The Turning, January 24
Gretel and Hansel, January 31
The Rhythm Section, January 31

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Three Christs

(IFC) Richard Gere, Peter Dinklage, Bradley Whitford, Walton Goggins. The story of the groundbreaking psychological study by Dr. Alan Stone of three paranoid schizophrenics at the Ypsilanti State Hospital in 1959. All three of them believed they were Jesus Christ. January 3

Les misérables

(Amazon) Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djebril Zonga, Issa Penca. A cop from the provinces moves to Paris and becomes entwined in a disturbing world of crime and brutality. The film was recently nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film award at the upcoming Golden Globes. January 10

Troop Zero

(Amazon) Mckenna Grace, Viola Davis, Alison Janney, Jim Gaffigan. A little girl in rural Georgia in 1977 dreams of outer space. When a chance to be part of NASA’s golden record to be sent out on Voyager for Birdie Scouts at the upcoming jamboree materializes, she founds a troop of fellow misfits hoping to achieve her dream but ends up finding something more lasting. January 17

Color Out of Space

(RLJE) Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Tommy Chong, Madeleine Arthur. A meteorite lands near a small town and brings with it devastating horror. From the mind of author H.P Lovecraft and the legendary B-movie director Richard Stanley. January 24

Beanpole

(Kino-Lorber) Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina, Andrey Bykov, Igor Shirokov  Two young women, living in the tattered majesty of post-World War II Leningrad, desperately search for hope and meaning among the ruins. This is Russia’s official submission to this year’s Foreign Language Oscar category. January 29

Incitement

(Greenwich) Yehuda Nahari, Amitai Yaish, Anat Ravnitski, Yoav Levi The story of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, as told through the eyes of the assassin. This was the most recent winner of the Israeli Academy Awards Best Picture and is also Israel’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year. January 31

Pick of the Litter – December 2019


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

(Disney) Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, John Boyega.  The saga of Star Wars comes to a final conclusion after 42 years following 12 movies along with untold animated episodes, television specials, novels and comic books. Director J.J. Abrams returns to the big chair to bring this all to a conclusion but fear not fans: a new trilogy will begin on December 16, 2022! December 20

OTHER WIDE RELEASES TO WATCH FOR:

Jumanji: The Next Level, December 13
Richard Jewell, December 13
Bombshell, December 20
Cats, December 20
1917, December 25
Little Women, December 25
Spies in Disguise, December 25

INDEPENDENT PICKS

A Million Little Pieces

(Momentum) Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Odessa Young, Giovanni Ribisi. A young writer, having hit rock bottom with his alcohol and drug addictions, checks into rehab. Based on the memoirs of James Frey (which he later admitted were largely fictitious), this is the account of a man who resigned to death, found hope instead. December 6

The Aeronauts

(Amazon) Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel, Phoebe Fox. An intrepid balloonist and a pioneer meteorologist ascend in a hot-air balloon to do weather research, but the ascent turns into a fight for survivor as they climb to the upper reaches of the atmosphere. December 6

In Fabric

(A24) Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill. Who would have thought that the scariest movie of 2019 might just be this English film about a cursed dress? Check the trailer out…but not while you’re alone at night. December 6

Marriage Story

(Netflix) Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda.  After a brief theatrical run, this Noah Baumbach film hits the streaming giant. Already creating a good deal of Oscar buzz, this movie chronicles the end of a marriage and the beginning of life. December 6

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

(NEON) Noémie Merlant, Adéle Haenel, Luána Bajrami, Valeria Golino. A young female painter gets a commission to paint the portrait of a prospective bride on a remote island in Brittany. The girl is terrified of her potential marriage and doesn’t want the painting to be completed, so the painter must work in secret, posing as a companion, a companionship that soon becomes genuine…and romantic. December 6

A Hidden Life

(Fox Searchlight) August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Michael Nyqvist, Matthias Schoenaerts. The story of Franz Jägerstatter, an Austrian who refused to fight for the Nazis during the Second World War – and what his refusal cost him. December 13

Rabid

(SHOUT!) Laura Vandervoort, Ted Atherton, Mackenzie Gray, Stephen McHattie. A young woman, horribly disfigured in a terrible accident, undergoes a radical untested stem cell treatment. As it turns out, the treatment seems to have been successful but there are unforeseen side effects. December 13

Seberg

(Amazon) Kristen Stewart, Margaret Qualley, Zazie Beetz, Anthony Mackie. Actress Jean Seberg became a star of the French New Wave. Her support for civil rights activism brought the wrath of J. Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I. upon her and they set out to destroy her career and life. December 13

The Two Popes

The Two Popes

(Netflix) Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce, Juan Minujin, Sidney Cole. Pope Benedict, a staunch conservative, is the leader of a Catholic church in crisis. He soon develops a relationship with the cardinal who would one day become Pope Francis, one who has sought to reform the Church. This is the latest from acclaimed director Fernando Meirelles, Oscar-nominated for City of God. December 20

The Song of Names

(Sony Classics) Tim Roth, Clive Owen, Jonah Hauer-King, Catherine McCormack. A Polish boy of Jewish faith is adopted by an English family and becomes an amazing violin player. On the eve of his international concert debut, he disappears. His adopted brother spends the rest of his life trying to find him. December 25

 

Pick of the Litter – November 2019


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Knives Out

(Lionsgate) Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette. Direct Rian Johnson delivers a delightful homage to Agatha Christie-style whodunnits with this parlor mystery about the murder of a family patriarch on the occasion of his birthday. An all-star cast highlights the festivities which look to be great fun. November 27

OTHER WIDE RELEASES TO WATCH FOR:

Terminator Dark Fate, November 1
Doctor Sleep, November 8
Ford v. Ferrari, November 15
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, November 22
Frozen 2, November 22
Queen and Slim, November 27

INDEPENDENT PICKS

American Son

(Netflix) Kerry Washington, Jeremy Jordan, Steven Pasquale, Eugene Lee. A frantic mother and her estranged husband reunite at a Florida police station in an attempt to help find their missing teenage son. Based on the acclaimed stage play. November 1

Harriet

(Focus) Cynthia Erivo, Janelle Monáe, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Tim Guinee. The story of American icon Harriet Tubman, focusing on her daring escape from slavery to freedom and the iron will it forged to make her into one of the leading abolitionists of her day. November 1

The Kingmaker

(Greenwich/Showtime) Imelda Marcos, Bongbong Marcos. The story of the controversial political career of Imelda Marcos who rose to power first as the First Lady of the Philippines and then to power in her own right. Now elderly, she is plotting to get her son Bongbong elected to the vice-presidency and is rewriting her family history of corruption and exploitation to do it. November 1

Honey Boy

(Amazon) Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, Laura San Giacomo. A child actor grows to young adulthood dealing with an overbearing father. He struggles to reconcile with his dad while dealing with his own mental health issues. November 8

The Report

(Amazon) Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Corey Stoll, Jon Hamm. An American Senator sets a recent graduate to look into files that were destroyed by the CIA and what he finds turns into a national scandal. Based on actual events. November 15

Waves

(A24) Taylor Russell, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Sterling K. Brown, Clifton Collins Jr. Two young couples in South Florida, facing a devastating loss, try to navigate love and forgiveness in the darkest of days. There are a lot of folks whispering that this might just be the best movie of 2019. November 15

When Lambs Become Lions

(Oscilloscope) Jon Kasbe. A small-time poacher, with the Kenyan government cracking down on his vocation and unable to feed his family, turns in desperation to his younger cousin, a park ranger who hasn’t been paid in weeks. November 22

The Irishman

(Netflix) Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano. Interesting that one of the year’s most anticipated movies is coming out on Netflix (and on a brief limited theatrical run beginning November 1). Legendary director Martin Scorsese looks at one of America’s most enduring mysteries: the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. November 27

 

 

Pick of the Litter – October 2019


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Joker

(Warner Brothers) Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Marc Maron, Zazie Beetz. Before he became the arch-nemesis of the Batman, Joker was Arthur Fleck, a man overlooked by society who followed a path to villainy and madness. The movie is the first “standalone” DC film, not a part of their Extended Universe. October 4

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Lucy in the Sky

(Fox Searchlight) Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dan Stevens. An astronaut returns home after a transcendent experience during a mission in space only to find that the world is no long enough for her. October 4

Pain and Glory

(Sony Classics) Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Asier Exteandia, Julieta Serrano. A world-renowned film director reflects on his life and the choices he’s made as both his past and present are crashing down around him. This newest film by Spanish legend Pedro Almodovar was a sensation at the most recent Cannes Film Festival and has been lauded as his best work in years. October 4

Fantastic Fungi

(Self-Released) Brie Larson (narrator), Paul Stamets, Tony D. Head, Michael Pollan. Beneath our feet is the magnificent mushroom and other fungi. These organisms can feed us, expand our consciousness and have surprising medicinal value. As the film explores the enthusiasm of mycologists – scientists who study fungi – it turns out that the lowly fungus may be the key to saving the planet. October 11

Parasite

(NEON) Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jyong Jo, Woo-sik Choi. A poor Korean family latches on to a wealthy one, providing “luxury services” for them and in return receiving financial survival. When a parasitic interloper threatens the poor family’s standing, they go to war to keep their cash cow alive. This is the latest from acclaimed Korean director Joon-ho Bong. October 11

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

(Saban) Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck. The legendary stoners return after an absence of I-can’t-remember-how-many years when they hear the despicable movie made based on their comic book characters is about to be rebooted. Characters from throughout the View Askew Universe guest star. October 15

Cyrano, My Love

(Roadside Attractions) Thomas Solivėres, Olivier Gourmet, Mathilde Seigner, Tom Leeb. This French comedy follows Edmond Rostand as he struggles to write a play that will eventually become symbolic of France itself.. October 18

Jojo Rabbit

(Fox Searchlight) Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson. A young boy, a soldier in the army of Nazi Germany, discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in her attic Did I mention that his imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler? October 18

The Laundromat

(Netflix) Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Sharon Stone. A recent widow, investigating insurance fraud, discovers that the money trail leads back to a pair of Panama City, Florida law partners who have been exploiting the financial system to keep their uber-wealthy clients rich while screwing the middle and lower classes. This new Steven Soderbergh film is based on true events. October 18

The Lighthouse

(A24) Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valeria Karaman. Two lighthouse keepers on a remote island off the coast of New England in the 1890s make a startling discovery which leads to horrifying consequences. October 18

My Name is Dolemite

(Netflix) Eddie Murphy, Wesley Snipes, Snoop Dogg, Keegan-Michael Key. The story of Rudy Ray Moore, a legendary black comic and original rapper whose Kung Fu pimp Dolemite became a Blaxploitation film cult favorite. The movie will undergo a brief theatrical run at the beginning of the month before moving over to Netflix. October 25

Kill Team

(A24) Nat Wolff, Alexander Skarsgǻrd, Rob Morrow, Adam Long. A soldier under the command of a sadistic squad leader witnesses the murder of civilians but as his team learns that someone has informed military authorities, he becomes increasingly concerned that his own squad might just kill him. Based on the incredible true story portrayed in a documentary of the same name that played the Florida Film Festival back in 2013. October 25

Pick of the Litter – September 2019


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

IT Chapter 2

(New Line) James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Skarsgǻrd, Bill Hader. The meeting of the Losers Club is now in session. The final chapter of the epic battle between the kids (now adults) of Derry, Maine versus the evil Pennywise the Clown is here as the grown-up versions of the kids from the 2017 hit It return to Derry to finish what they started. September 6

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Blink of an Eye

(1091) Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Richard Petty, Daryl Waltrip. The friendship between Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt was an odd one, considering their status in NASCAR; Dale was one of the greatest drivers ever and Waltrip had gone 462 races without a single win. Then, one magical Daytona 500 saw Waltrip break that streak – only moments later to see his friend die. September 6

Rapid Response

(Atlas) Stephen Olvey, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears. In 1966 when medical student and auto racing fan Steven Olvey was hired by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to assist on their medical team, one out of every seven drivers died each year. This is a look at how his protocols not only made auto racing safer but also made the cars we all drive safer as well. September 6

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

(Greenwich) Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris. In the 70s there was no bigger female rock and roller than Linda Ronstadt. The first woman to snag five number one albums in a row, she became known as an uncompromising perfectionist. Her effect on women in rock and roll was incalculable but she is rarely given the status she deserves. September 6

Monos

(Neon) Sofia Buenaventura, Julian Giraldo, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillon. On a remoter South American mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage. This was one of the more acclaimed films to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival with no less than Guillermo del Toro voicing his approval for the film and its director.. September 13

Neither Wolf Nor Dog

(Inyo) Dave Bald Eagle, Christopher Sweeney, Richard Ray Whitman, Roseanne Supernault. A Lakota elder, nearing the end of his life, engages a white writer to write a book about his life and wisdom. Both the writer and the relatives of the elder aren’t 100% sure that he picked the right man for the honor. September 13

Midnight Traveler

(Oscilloscope) Hasan Fazil, Nargis Fazil, Zahra Fazil, Fatima Hossaini. When Afghan film director Hasan Fazil makes a documentary critical of the Taliban, a price is put on his head. He and his family are forced to flee their home for an uncertain future. Their remarkable journey is documented on three cell phones and illustrates the obstacles facing refugees. September 18

Loro

(IFC) Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scarmarcio, Kasia Smutniak. Silvio Berlusconi was not only one of the wealthiest men in Europe but also Prime Minister of Italy. Known for his lavish parties and outrageous personality, this film covers the period of time when his second marriage was falling apart and tries to imagine what went on behind closed doors.. September 20

Villains

(Gunpowder & Sky) Bill Skarsgǻrd, Maika Monroe, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgewick. A pair of young lovers on the run from the law are on their way to Florida when their car breaks down. They break into a remote house hoping to find some new wheels to take them the rest of the way. Instead, they find a secret more twisted and terrifying than they could have imagined. September 20

First Love

(Well Go USA) Masataka Kubota, Nao Omori, Shota Sometani, Sakurako Konishi. Anarchic director Takashi Miike returns yet again with yet another film from the heart of Japanese darkness. A young boxer and a call girl fall in love but are caught in the crossfire when they are innocently caught up in a yakuza drug smuggling scheme. September 27