For a film to get its own page on the main 2021 links page, it must receive at least 5 link submissions from our members with few exceptions. Here is a list of all films that haven’t quite reached that threshold yet. When it does, it will be moved to the main page and removed from this page.
- Excerpt: Sarah Pirozek weaves an elegant, noirish tragedy on a micro budget, but it’s far more effective as a portrait of the miserable discomposure of modern teen life than as a feminist vigilante thriller.
- Excerpt: 4×4 is an engrossing film, and it takes you on a really strange yet compelling ride within its limited setting while also touching on bigger ideas.
Acasa, My Home
- Excerpt: Ciorniciuc provides all we need by simply documenting the Enaches as society’s vice perpetually tightens around them.
- Excerpt: Strong camera work follows a family from paradise to the promise, as yet unfulfilled, of urban upward mobility.
Amundsen: The Greatest Expedition
- Excerpt: In attempting to fit a lifetime of legendary adventure and personal upheaval into a mere two-hour film, Amundsen: The Greatest Expedition doesn’t manage to tell us that much about any of it.
- Excerpt: …the film is carried by Ricci, a magnetic actress appearing in only her second role, who is wholly believable as a teenager whose greatest strengths, including her insistence on absolutes and her tendency to react with her heart rather than her head, are also her greatest weaknesses.
- Excerpt: Beautifully shot and impeccably cast, Sode Yukiko’s third feature unfolds in bookish chapters to give a portrait of a life, well…lived.
As We Like It
- Excerpt: A near-future spin on Shakespeare continues to play with gender roles, but gets a little lost in their exits and their entrances.
- Excerpt: Filmed in an exaggerated widescreen in a series of single long takes, often static, Vasyanovych uses the horizon to contrast before and after, in one sequence three horizontal perspectives moving in opposite directions.
- Excerpt: Written, directed, shot, and edited by filmmaker Valentyn Vasyanovych, the film follows one veteran as he tries to overcome the horrors of the past despite being surrounded by reminders in the present. Yet despite some artistic merit and admirable intentions, Atlantis left me as cold as the barren Ukrainian plains depicted in the film.
- Excerpt: An artillery shell of an antiwar movie and a vibrant cautionary tale about the military-industrial complex born anew.
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
- Excerpt: A wild and wacky comedy with bold splashes of the fantastical — including a murder plot involving mosquitos — Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is the vacation from reality we all need and deserve.
- Excerpt: An instant comedy classic.
- Excerpt: This isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but if you’re prepared to surrender to the silliness, you’ll find yourself goofily grinning from ear to ear, even if it’s against your better judgment.
Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry
- Excerpt: Cutler has ostensibly strung together all the feel-good moments that resonate with fans in a way that allows them to live vicariously through her experiences.
- Excerpt: Who is the dreamer and who dreams the dream? Queena Li’s film is all about the journey, beautiful photography, an eclectic cast of characters and one possibly spiritual lobster.
The Blazing World
- Excerpt: Whether or not we’re all fake computer simulations, Cahill offers a simple and effective reminder through his new film to interact with the world in a more carefree manner; not amoral, but a bit more live and let live.
- Excerpt: It’s as though the filmmakers enjoyed the first half of Coward’s play so much that they decided to make a movie out of it and relegate the second half to epilogue status.
- Excerpt: O’Toole’s gleefully deranged dual performance (Rex’s conscience, a device which allows the actor dialogue when alone) and the stylish energy Grierson brings to the film are often reminiscent of Ryan Reynolds’ “Deadpool.”
- Excerpt: Its ideas get stretched too thin, and sometimes the nuance gets lost in the process. However, the story is an engaging one, and the performances keep things together.
- Excerpt: While certain elements might initially seem alienating or inexplicable, especially if you’re not super aware of some of the cultural nuances, Bombay Rose is an evocative and inspired piece of animation.
- Excerpt: Luckily the familial and personal stuff has the strength to stick in our heads when the battle on the court fades because the work the actors put in is effective.
- Excerpt: While Frank Grillo is a perfectly competent grizzled action star, “Boss Level” is a sad attempt at anything flirting with competency.
- Excerpt: An absolute blast of nonstop action.
- Excerpt: It’s thus a violent lark playing fast and loose with its science fiction so Grillo can have a blast.
Amir Siregar @ Amir at the Movies [Indonesian]
- Excerpt: A fun and fast-paced movie that will hold your attention for ninety minutes.
Brothers By Blood
- Excerpt: Brothers By Blood is an engaging slow burn with a bleak atmosphere that is carried by a weary yet engrossing performance from Matthias Schoenaerts.
- Excerpt: Caged features plenty of compelling sequences and interesting ideas, though it doesn’t cohere into a satisfying whole. Edi Gathegi manages to use his solitary space as way to really show off his range as a performer.
- Excerpt: Joe and Anthony Russo treat the material with a flashy visual style which, combined with Holland’s constant narration, give the impression the film was adapted from a graphic novel or comic – perhaps a grittier approach was in order here.
- Excerpt: The Russo Brothers are committing the cardinal sin of telling us to feel rather than earning that feeling as a result of what they’ve put on-screen. It’s all just pretend.
- Excerpt: At two and a half hours, ‘Cherry’ attempts to tackle war values, PTSD, drug addiction, teen romance, and crime but the decently-entertaining character study settles to skim the surface of the issues it sets out to challenge. Tom Holland is genuinely good but the Russo Bros need to sharpen their dramatic directorial skill if they want to step away from solely commercial projects.
City of Lies
- Excerpt: City of Lies is outstanding at provoking outrage and an urgent sense of anger at the LAPD. However, the dialogue is so coarsely written and shoddily edited together, this should not be the final work on trying to piece together how and why Death Row Records corrupted LAPD cops to allegedly murder Biggie Smalls.
- Excerpt: A spellbinding drama.
- Excerpt: The lesson is solid even as the huge production fails to generate the chemistry promised by its cast and crew.
- Excerpt: Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, and the rest of the wonderful cast make ‘CODA’ hit the highest of high notes. Writer-director Sian Heder delivers a feel-good knock-out about a deaf family with a hearing daughter who aspires to sing that has so so much to say, even if it communicates differently.
- Excerpt: Outside of the shared shadow phenomenon, there’s an unpolished quality to the screenplay with too many loose ends…or untethered one-offs…preventing it from wholly clicking…Stone, who resembles a young Lillian Gish, is quite compelling in the lead
- Excerpt: It’s rare that a movie’s final shot can undo all the good it’s done up until that point, but ‘Come True’ manages that trick, turning a film that was headed for a mild recommendation into a recommended pass.
Coming 2 America
- Excerpt: while the original’s screenwriters Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield have done little but flip their script, catching up with Akeem, Simmi and the colorful My-T-Sharp barbershop crew is a good-natured trip down memory lane.
- Excerpt: The nicest thing I can say is that Ruth Carter’s costumes are spectacular!
- Excerpt: Everyone wants another Prince Akeem Queens and Zamunda experience. None of us should be remotely surprised or even concerned that the result is more like a knock-off from the McDowell’s menu instead of the real thing.
- Excerpt: Coming 2 America may only have a residue of the magic of the original, but it is still there, which is something.
- Excerpt: director Ricky Staub pairs a coming-of-age tale with a real, legendary Black urban equestrian institution and many of its members, giving his film a rich environment while providing an awareness boost for the stables.
- Excerpt: A complete upending of the Western, about not wide open spaces but close-in intimacy, with an unusual female gaze and a hugely provocative dare to gender expectations. Both ironic and transformative.
- Excerpt: Cowboys supplies [these characters] the chance to open their eyes with an authenticity that’s not without its tragedies, but hope is never far behind.
- Excerpt: a flat-footed attempt to apply Soderbergh’s “Traffic” supply chain approach to the current opioid epidemic. Ironically the best performance is featured in the least believable of Jarecki’s three story strands.
- Excerpt: We need well-researched introductions to the topic’s nuts and bolts as much as dramas amplifying its human cost. Just don’t expect this to be both.
- Excerpt: No hope in sight
Dara of Jasenovac
- Excerpt: Director Predrag Peter Antonijevic (“Savior”) shines a light on a little known part of WWII history from the point of view of a young girl in a meticulous and artfully shot production that tells a tale so bleak, “The Painted Bird” seems less relentless in retrospect.
- Excerpt: The filmmakers explore an area of WWII that hasn’t gotten the cinematic treatment on this scale, and that new perspective makes it worthwhile despite some otherwise generic plotting.
- Excerpt: An ancient short wave radio becomes the movie, with mixed results.
Dead and Beautiful
- Excerpt: It turns out that being cursed with beauty, money and limitless time is as listless as one hopes one has the beauty, money and time to find out for themselves one day.
Joao Pinto @ Portal Cinema [Portuguese]
- Excerpt: uses the events surrounding what has been called the ‘British Tutankhamun’ as a reflection on the evolving cycle of humankind by accentuating sex and death…in what might be considered a top notch ‘Masterpiece’ production.
- Excerpt: A pleasant, if not deep, excavation of the time period.
- Excerpt: With superb performances, gorgeous cinematography, lyrical editing, and a complementary score, the film proves a melancholic wonder that isn’t easily forgotten.
- Excerpt: With assists from the intimate chemistry between Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, Mike Eley’s sweeping visuals, and Stefan Gregor’s lovely piano score, ‘The Dig’ is a quest worth to treasure.
- Excerpt: Jun Li and an all-star cast explores the duality of Hong Kong in his second feature, a recreation of a real case of homeless rights and overdevelopment.
Earwig and the Witch
- Excerpt: It’s a bittersweet return for the mighty Studio Ghibli, boldly stepping into a new style of animation but leaving some of their story roots behind in the process.
- Excerpt: [Skipping] the studio’s bread-and-butter 2D [is a misstep, but it should] entertain kids and adults alike with humor and magic before it fades away later that day.
The Edge of Daybreak
- Excerpt: A hypnotic and meditative journey that uses four decades of political turmoil as the backdrop for a more familial tragedy in this strikingly visually led debut.
Eight for Silver
The End of Us
- Excerpt: Henry Loevner and Steve Kanter’s ‘The End of Us’ effectively stages a mumblecore breakup movie in the maw of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than using the pandemic as a jumping off point, the virus is a central element, which will lead to varying mileage depending upon how much viewers crave more panny in their lives.
- Excerpt: A disruptive social thriller where a newly-minted Brazilian law forces all black folks to relocate back to Africa,Lázaro Ramos’ ‘Executive Order’ is an entertaining and explosive commentary on racial relationships in governance. The pièce de résistance is the incendiary performances from Alfred Enouch, Adriana Esteves, and Seu Jorge.
- Excerpt: We watch [everything] with the implicit request [to] forgive him because he’s a dying old man. No technical or artistic success overcomes [ignoring that request’s danger].
- Excerpt: A vital work that puts the school shooter epidemic into focus, ‘The Fallout’ is an audacious, explosive debut from writer-director Megan Park that makes way for a remarkable performance from Jenna Ortega. Heart-pounding, honest, and at times even hysterical, this is the very best of SXSW’s narrative feature competition.
- Excerpt: This gothic folk horror slow-burn possesses intrigue in spades though may leave some viewers wanting more from its relatively opaque mythology. As far as this dinner guest goes, I found ‘The Feast’ a deliciously uneasy slice of disquieting folklore.
Flora & Ulysses
- Excerpt: I’d like to say those unfamiliar with the source will fare better, but the film’s homogenized narrative renders it inert regardless.
- Excerpt: So while I can’t embrace its dramatic import, I can enjoy its comically subversive caricature of aristocratic behavior.
Friends and Strangers
- Excerpt: Sydney proves to be a fertile backdrop for a wandering narrative where realism meets ennui.
Fully Realized Humans
- Excerpt: A brashly honest, slyly wise comedy about one couple’s quixotic attempt to rid themselves of their emotional baggage before the imminent birth of their first child.
- Excerpt: Cosmo Jarvis and Dela Meskienyar are a dynamic duo that give the film soul. Tim Sutton’s flourishes sometimes pushes its limit, but it ultimately comes together in a meaningful and resonating way.
- Excerpt: Making its mark on the eco-horror field, Gaia forgoes deep character development to focus on larger themes of man vs. nature, all underscored by a chilling sense of unease. The hallucinogenic visual effects are often stunning as is the expert creature design. Carel Nel as a crazed survivalist really pops.
A Ghost Waits
- Excerpt: Filmed in evocative black and white, the film takes hoary tropes and makes them not just fresh, but dynamic with smart direction and a performance from Andrews that hits all the right emotional notes with fine undertones of complexity and heart.
Giants Being Lonely
- Excerpt: Familiar, even universal issues of growing up, identity, and intimacy are presented with a lyrical, dreamlike tone.
The Girl on the Train
A Glitch in the Matrix
- Excerpt: Bemusement abounds, as does amusement, and when it’s all over, don’t fight the urge to prove that you are not actually a brain in a laboratory jar.
- Excerpt: It provides an appetizer into the feasibility that this outlandish science fiction concept might be real. Someone else will have to supply the main course.
- Excerpt: As fascinating, thought-provoking, and well-researched a documentary as ‘A Glitch in the Matrix’ is, it also proves to be utterly terrifying in both its study of simulation theory and the dark real world implications it poses.
- Excerpt: …that most frustrating type of movie experience, one which features leads who really click, starts off really well and promises to keep us guessing only to spiral into pointlessness.
- Excerpt: By the time you reach the end of “Happily,” all that is left is a series of abandoned ideas, potential character arcs, and a return to relative normalcy.
- Excerpt: Add some deep-cut one-liners and a stoned-out-of-her-mind Yi calling shotgun in the most absurd way possible and this ride becomes a gift that keeps giving.
- Excerpt: Andrea Riseborough mic drops another outstanding performance in Stacey Gregg’s remarkably unnerving ‘Here Before’, an Irish domestic psychological thriller about a mother convinced that her deceased daughter has returned in the form of her wee new neighbor.
- Excerpt: No movie about backwoods cannibals should be this dull.
- Excerpt: When ‘Honeydew’ is on, it’s creepy as hell. But when it’s off, it’s a case of ‘yeah, I totally saw that coming.’
The Human Voice
- Excerpt: the Scot and the Spaniard have whipped up a riotously colorful bit of manic Almodóvarian melodrama.
- Excerpt: Hunted is a thoroughly tense and visceral film, one that manages to bring flourishes that go from surreal to borderline mythic.
I Blame Society
- Excerpt: A vicious, delicious Hollywood sendup, deconstructing — like a wrecking ball deconstructs — indie filmmaking, cinematic violence, and the industry’s treatment of women. Write what you know? Hoo boy.
- Excerpt: It’s about discovering if she has what it takes to be a filmmaker [by seeing if she has what it takes to get away with murder] since those goals progress in tandem.
- Excerpt: Standout performances and a simple yet powerful story of family and growth make this film work.
- Excerpt: The quiet, methodical pacing of Identifying Features might not work for everybody, but it ultimately comes together beautifully. Fernanda Valadez has crafted a film with so much empathy and a striking eye for images that will leave a lasting impression.
- Excerpt: Acting and locations so real it looks like a documentary, then dissolving into horror in a crashing ending worthy of any classic tragedy.
In the Earth
- Excerpt: We find our own interpretations in a fluid state of metamorphosis much like the imagery on-screen courtesy of Wheatley’s hallucinogenic editing & Clint Mansell’s synth score.
- Excerpt: Ben Wheatley’s return to horror uses the backdrop of a global pandemic to spin a folksy yarn about woodland killers and pagan worship that employs militant audio-visual hallucinogenic effects to entertain and disorient. A real return to form for Wheatley and the first movie to effectively tackle the virus and its effect on our collective sanity.
- Excerpt: ‘JAKOB’S WIFE’ is a total vamp-camp gas with a laugh-out-loud script that’s executed to soul-sucking perfection by the combination of Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden. Bloody, fun, and shamelessly ridiculous, Travis Stevens has made a gleeful tribute to vampire’s enduring legacy in the horror genre and highlighted why they make for sure good comedy.
- Excerpt: An emotionally-charged and gorgeous-framed film about man’s struggle for serenity in the face of lost purpose, ‘Jockey’ features a career-best turn from Clifton Collins Jr., even if it’s a story that feels like it’s been told before.
John and the Hole
- Excerpt: Led by an unsettling central turn from Charlie Shotwell, ‘John and the Hole’ is a mysterious, jet black anti-coming-of-age fable about the loss of childhood innocence and wanting to accelerate the pace of growing up that is sure to leave many viewers mystified. For all its lurid puzzlings, this hole feels like Yorgos Lanthimos was charged with remaking ‘Home Alone’ so I still dug it.
- Excerpt: Zoé Wittock’s debut exhibits a great deal of craft with its stunning visuals and a sound design that will make you believe Jumbo is a sentient being, but her narrative lags behind, the story never getting beyond a conceptual phase.
Keep an Eye Out
- Excerpt: Quentin Dupieux (“Rubber”) is a master of absurdist humor and in this…he flexes his language muscles in a meta comedy which finds its protagonists tumbling down semantic rabbit holes…
- Excerpt: Your enjoyment on Keep An Eye Out will depend on how much you can get on Quentin Dupieux’s wavelength, though this is probably his most accessible and hilarious absurdist exercise to date.
- Excerpt: While Keep An Eye Out is only a brisk 73 minutes, the storyline contains enough surrealist silliness to fill a film twice as long. A comedy that is both eccentric and efficient? Sign me up!
- Excerpt: Quentin Dupieux’s effervescently surreal policier parody recalls vintage 70s cinema. And it’s actually pretty weird.
- Excerpt: More than entertainment for viewers, kid 90 proves a cathartic reckoning for Frye and anyone watching who has gone through the same trials and tribulations on any scale.
The Last Blockbuster
Sebastian Zavala @ Ventana Indiscreta [Spanish]
- Excerpt: The film focuses on the human side of the story; its protagonists, and not so much in the events in which they were involved.
- Excerpt: A sort of ouroboros that simultaneously travels forwards and backwards to make it so we as viewers ascribe meaning to moments before fully grasping how they truly go together.
- Excerpt: Ejiofor and Hathaway are game, but they’re grasping for something solid, and don’t find it. A deeply unsatisfying novelty artifact of the pandemic that fails to create a necessary sense of transgression.
- Excerpt: Adapting a Victorian tragedy to contemporary Melbourne is a disturbingly easy fit in an age of constant surveillance.
- Excerpt: Grant, whose committed performance anchors the film, uses the specter of a masked killer who reappears daily to address the myriad ways woman are dismissed from micro aggressions to outright misogyny.
- Excerpt: Compact and efficient, Lucky puts a nice spin on the recurring timeline narrative.
- Excerpt: May’s demon isn’t the kind you can destroy. Its faceless patriarchal terror is unrelenting and infinite.
M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity
- Excerpt: The film covers Escher’s entire career, from early “realistic” works through his branching out into more mathematical and surreal art, always in woodcuts, lithographs, or drawings rather than paintings.
- Excerpt: A mellow journey of logical ponderings made amazing by the subject’s illogical pretzel art.
M.C. Esher: Journey to Infinity
- Excerpt: A crucial biographical document even if it’s an imperfect film. Lutz has composed a university lecture in its own right: educationally pragmatic and historically enlightening.
- Excerpt: Let me show you how we do it in Canada.
The Man Who Sold His Skin
- Excerpt: …Ben Hania’s Tunisian nominee for the International Oscar could be accused of the same thing she wishes to condemn, one of the many trippy, circular arguments her film puts forward.
Sebastian Zavala @ Ventana Indiscreta [Spanish]
- Excerpt: The film feels like a true sequel, set to expand the world in which the story takes place, but without losing the charm of the first installment.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
- Excerpt: None of this is particularly challenging, but Allen and Newton are pleasant enough and have easily believable chemistry, and Samuels keeps things moving at a brisk clip.
- Excerpt: A painstakingly intimate, conversation-driven drama with phenomenal performances all around (Jacob Isaacs and Ann Dowd are especially extraordinary), Mass is a terrific and terrifically depressing debut from Fran Kranz that will be sure to move audiences to tears.
- Excerpt: Though the film can’t help being stagey, it still in a magnificently human way shows us how to have a meaningful dialogue about a current American crisis that’s dividing the country.
- Excerpt: Tahar Rahim gives a compelling performance in this drama that details a shocking abuse of human rights.
- Excerpt: odie Foster & Benedict Cumberbatch show once again torture did not work & most likely obscured the whole truth behind 9/11
- Excerpt: The resentment and pain and exhaustion Tahar Rahim carries in his body so palpable and real that it’s impossible to consider The Mauritanian as anyone’s movie other than his.
- Excerpt: A sharp script and fantastic performances from Thomas Sadoski and Jake Robinson make a sharp and hilarious comedy.
Misha and the Wolves
- Excerpt: This globe-trotting caper is a tale that’s stranger than fiction, perhaps because it just might be, and director Sam Hobkinson manages to weave the tale of a Holocaust survivor who lived with wolves into an entertaining and meaningful exploration of truth and autobiography.
- Excerpt: A documentary contrasting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and J. Edgar Hoover who were regarded by different constituencies as guardians of the American dream.
- Excerpt: while this is certainly a piece of history worth revisiting, Pollard’s documentary trots out the most notorious accusation made against King…and leaves it hanging, neither confirming nor denying events
- Excerpt: Beautiful in its style, enraging in its substance, this skewering of the FBI’s surveillance of the civil-rights icon is essential for understanding the near-term roots of white supremacy in America.
- Excerpt: This is the paper trail that proves the FBI’s treachery in collecting tabloid fodder in order to ruin the reputation of a man they deemed to be their enemy.
- Excerpt: The film, which is both unflinchingly brutal and often quite beautiful, lays a groundwork for understanding the white male South African mindset given the military’s harsh indoctrination into hate politics…
- Excerpt: This ultra-low-budget Belgian comedy is a tasteless gas that regularly makes light of that which is most likely to offend. Writers, directors, and stars Harpo and Lenny Guit are almost definitely an acquired taste but their weirdo depravity left me giggling nonstop.
- Excerpt: Serious theme with comic turn, MOXIE includes a lot to learn.
- Excerpt: This movie is literally and figuratively saying music can save your life, but the execution is all treacle and dust—overly sweet and utterly empty.
Joao Pinto @ Portal Cinema [Portuguese]
My Darling Supermarket
- Excerpt: The inner life of retail food sales is teased out with beautiful clarity.
My Donkey, My Lover and I
- Excerpt: Attaining more chemistry with the donkey than the lover on the French Appalachian Trail.
My Little Sister
- Excerpt: a moving character piece about the fierce bond between siblings who relied upon each other growing up with theatrical parents while forging their own path in the family’s chosen art world.
Myth of a Colorblind France
- Excerpt: The key to the different experiences of expat African Americans and immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, according to Myth of a Colorblind France, is that French racial discrimination has its roots in France’s colonial history, rather than being based exclusively on skin color. Thus, an individual who may have no problem accepting African American celebrities and tourists may at the same time wish that the impoverished, dark-skinned immigrants living on French housing estates would just disappear from the country.
- Excerpt: THE NIGHT creates an internal logic that is easily perceptible, while also being tantalizingly beyond comprehension. The suspense builds slowly but relentlessly, gearing up for a resolution that is a psychic shock.
- Excerpt: The film’s payoff doesn’t quite work, but the buildup that preceeded it is incredibly tense and refined horror filmmaking.
- Excerpt: As a journey inward into the roiling waves of memory and regret, Ahari fulfills his promise with an unapologetic air of penance and disgrace [despite an] egregious misstep.
- Excerpt: A synchronous collection of horror tropes keeps up the pressure from beginning to end.
Night of the Kings
- Excerpt: What is perhaps most unexpected is that Lacôte’s move could almost be considered a dance film, Roman’s words accompanied by inmates creating a striking visual accompaniment via synchronized movement, complementing his words with sound effects inherent in their steps.
- Excerpt: ‘Night of the Kings’ challenges what a film can be, using African traditions of oral storytelling to create an often spellbinding – if not entirely complete – story about, well, stories.
- Excerpt: When Africa does surrealism one is in for a treat.
A Nightmare Wakes
- Excerpt: A Nightmare Wakes is Mary’s story, and in representing her mental state, it frequently blurs the boundary between what’s in her mind and what’s in the reality shared by her companions. This is done with such subtlety that you often don’t realize the film has left the shared world of experiences until you’re well into Mary’s feelings and perceptions.
- Excerpt: This is an oneiric exercise in capturing the truth of a woman and a book that succeeds where traditional narrative could not.
- Excerpt: Echoing the me-too movement on a grand scale this story examines how fans kill their idols.
No Man’s Land
- Excerpt: While the film isn’t necessarily great as a whole, it has little moments that make the film compelling and interesting, and the cast puts in a lot of strong work.
- Excerpt: Rather than focus on white Americans’ need to open eyes to [their] vitriol and hate, the script asks their victims to shoulder the responsibility of their own oppression.
- Excerpt: Frances McDormand makes us care in a role where her soul is bare. For me, this film is poetry in motion.
Not Going Quietly
- Excerpt: A masterful character study and politically activated documentary about ALS-stricken activist Ady Barkan, ‘Not Going Quietly’ is a powerful and overwhelmingly emotional story of a heroic man honing the power of his voice just as he begins to lose it – and the rest of his physical abilities – to an absolutely debilitating disease.
- Excerpt: An engrossing experience that bears witness as few other works have done to the most innocent victims of war.
- Excerpt: “Notturno” is a series of vignettes, some more engaging than others, some featuring stories Rosi returns to, others not… his imagery here often starkly powerful or lyrically beautiful.
- Excerpt: There is only so much one can say about man’s inhumanity to man and this film says it all.
- Excerpt: ‘Offseason’ is a skeletal whisper of an idea (daughter of cult-esque escapee reckons with family legacy on a haunted island) that just never finds its groove or flower as a horror story. The fact that it feels long at less than 90 minutes speaks to how thematically and narratively barren the latest from Mickey Keating ultimately is. Big disappointment.
On the Count of Three
- Excerpt: A jet black comedy-drama with serious issues on its mind, ‘On the Count of Three’ finds morbid humor and grave sentiment in a pair of besties with a suicide pact. Christopher Abbott is as good as he’s ever been.
Outside the Wire
- Excerpt: Buried underneath opaque layers of what we are misled Outside the Wire is about – drone warfare ethics, weaponized artificial intelligence, and post-Cold War proxy wars – is a muddled treatise on endless wars.
- Excerpt: A heartfelt and emotionally resonant drama that is uplifted by understated performances.
- Excerpt: While the plot progression is therefore familiarly convenient, however, it never felt manipulative. And that’s a big win for this type of film.
- Excerpt: Despite of its clichéd and overdone nature of the narrative, Fisher Stevens’ ‘Palmer’ offers a thought-provoking and emotionally powerful drama about acceptance and second chances.
PG: Psycho Goreman
- Excerpt: a very clever concept, but although it’s amusing for a while, “Psycho Goreman” spins off in too many directions, plot overtaking its simpler pleasures.
- Excerpt: By never [giving anyone] a path towards redemption, Kostanski keeps things entertaining with a detached sense of revelry that lets us enjoy the gore without remorse.
- Excerpt: Underneath the enjoyably goofy, child-like adventure of Psycho Goreman lie a few interesting themes that use the story’s comedy for satirical purposes.
Phil Liggett: The Voice of Cycling
- Excerpt: Even if it’s light on the very thing that made him a legend, this glimpse into Phil Liggett’s life should satisfy those with their own nostalgic memories of his famous tones.
- Excerpt: Kirby’s transcendent performance [is rendered] inert [as the film] positions her as a trump card waiting to do the right thing and end what’s become a melodramatic charade.
- Excerpt: A stunningly provocative exploration of the peaks and valleys of the porn industry led by a wowing performance from newcomer Sofia Kappel, ‘Pleasure’ uses gratuitous sex to speak to structures of power and consent while telling the story of one girl’s thirst for pornstar fame.
- Excerpt: Writer/director Corinna Faith (BAFTA nominated for her 2006 short ‘Care’) utilizes our fear of the dark to shine a light on both class and female oppression in 1970’s England with her double entendre titled film.
- Excerpt: Jakub Piatek’s attempt to unravel the modern obsession with broadcasting our private lives through the lens of Y2K features a solid performance from Bartosz Bielenia but cannot stir up enough twisty plot momentum to engage on a deeper level.
Prisoners of the Ghostland
- Excerpt: the real question of the day is: Is Prisoners of the Ghostland truly the wildest movie Nicholas Cage has ever made? With a post-apocalyptic circus vibe, and the cinematic equivalent of throwing half-a-dozen subgenres in a blender, it’s certainly in the running.
- Excerpt: Like a Troma movie, but a Troma movie with heart and soul that’s actually as fun as those movies want to be.
- Excerpt: The examination of how we communicate through screens, and how the personas we craft online bleed over into the tactile world, is especially poignant in this moment.
- Excerpt: Its journey contains a lot worth delving into, but the destination lacks [the start’s] captivating, darkly sinister energy.
The Queen of Black Magic
- Excerpt: Kimo Stamboel’s latest is a thoroughly enjoyable and often unnerving horror film with plenty of nasty and bloody scares.
Quo Vadis, Aida?
- Excerpt: Featuring a searing performance from Djuricic, whose reasonable hope giving way to mounting helplessness shrouds the film in unbearable tension, “Quo Vadis, Aida?” is like watching a horrific accident we are powerless to stop.
- Excerpt: [We’re never] taken for granted. Rather than show us what we know is happening, [Zbanic] includes foreshadowing, rumors, and expressions to put a chill in our spine instead.
- Excerpt: It’s difficult to go wrong with good material.
The Reason I Jump
- Excerpt: accomplishes one of cinema’s primary objectives – giving us the perspective of a world unknown to us.
- Excerpt: Hopefully audiences will see The Reason I Jump and acknowledge the ways in which they can help too. Understanding is the first step.
- Excerpt: It most doesn’t reach the heights of some of Neil Marshall’s previous works, but there’s enough style, tension, and strange imagery to make its mark.
- Excerpt: For all its familiarity, however, you can’t deny its visual panache via immersive cinematography and production design.
- Excerpt: Brings home the sometimes illusive dangers of environmental degradation by showing victims and their families in revolt.
Rose Plays Julie
- Excerpt: With its lush art house production aesthetic, unsettling exploration of identity and double entendre dialogue, “Rose Plays Julie” unfurls with an elegant sense of dread.
- Excerpt: …a bunch of gnarly Russian dudes pounding one another into oblivion.
Ruth: Justice Ginsberg in Her Own Words
Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words
- Excerpt: [Ruth] gives you some idea of what it took for her to make her way in a field in which, as we see her telling a group of schoolchildren, she started with three strikes against her: being Jewish, being female, and being a mother.
- Excerpt: Though one may be left wanting more footage and more character after watching the horrifying ‘Sabaya’, there is no denying the raw power of Hogir Hinori’s guerrilla documentary which shines a light on one of Earth’s darkest spots.
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
- Excerpt: Sator can be a difficult watch in several respects, but it explores horror conventions with a personal touch that makes for a unique piece of filmmaking.
- Excerpt: Quick, to the point, and violent, it gets in cracks skulls, and gets out. With a compelling, layered protagonist and badass turn from Olga Kurylenko, this more than scratches a particular action itch.
- Excerpt: Bringing together Japan’s twin histories in cinematic erotic and the glorification of food, Kota Yoshida’s anthology may make you reassess your relationship with at least three food groups.
Shadow in the Cloud
- Excerpt: Liang isn’t content with one wild scenario, presenting Maude with obstacles on all fronts, and just when you think the filmmaker’s gone too far (as I did with that package reveal), she manages to make it work.
- Excerpt: It’s not a great movie, but there’s fun to be had, especially with Chloë Grace Moretz effortlessly carrying the ride on her shoulders.
A Shape of Things to Come
Sheep Without a Shepherd
- Excerpt: an entertaining ride piloted by a master manipulator.
- Excerpt: A wonder of emotional claustrophobia and narrative economy. Rachel Sennott is delightfully caustic in this painfully poignant, dryly funny portrait of a deeply awful moment of young adulthood.
Shoplifters of the World
- Excerpt: Shoplifters of the World is a love letter to both The Smiths and their fans.
- Excerpt: The best thing about “Shoplifters of the World” is its soundtrack, but despite the film’s flaws it has an endearing quality.
Show Me What You Got
- Excerpt: Cvetko isn’t therefore interested in mining what it means for these three to get together. That they join is inevitable. It’s what this relationship gives them that matters.
- Excerpt: There is a wealth of confirmation to be found about many our worst nightmare in SILK ROAD, a cautionary tale of stereotypes, specialization, and the consequences of absolute freedom.
- Excerpt: At the end of the day this is a hollowly reductive account of what happened with a weird subtextual rich punk against blue collar cop agenda falling woefully flat.
Six Minutes to Midnight
- Excerpt: The concept is intriguing, mostly because it is a World War II story that we haven’t heard before; Izzard apparently spent years researching the school alongside the curator of the Bexhill Museum before writing the script. Yet despite this impressive undertaking, the end result is not much more than your standard spy thriller: solid, yet unremarkable.
- Excerpt: Skyfire is an enjoyably goofy natural disaster genre movie throwback that manages to be truly ridiculous yet utterly sincere at the same time.
- Excerpt: Presents the news headlines of scandalous abuse in elite competitive sports in a deeply personal perspective.
- Excerpt: Slaxx isn’t aiming for the Oscars, unless “best socially conscious midnight movie” has become a category and I somehow missed the memo. But it’s a lot of fun, and at 77 minutes does not overstay its welcome.
- Excerpt: As silly as Slaxx gets, it’s clear that is has quite a bit on its mind. Elza Kephart proves herself more than capable at balancing the weird and outrageous with thoughtful theming.
Some Kind of Heaven
- Excerpt: With “Some Kind of Heaven,” Oppenheim’s created a spiritual successor to Errol Morris’s “Vernon, Florida with the style of Todd Hayne’s “Far from Heaven.” It’s a must see.
Sometime Other Than Now
- Excerpt: Sometime Other Than Now is a frustrating watch—it keeps teetering on the brink of almost being good but never quite makes it. I never thought I’d miss the skill (if not depth) of Nicholas Sparks, but here we are.
Somewhere with no bridges
- Excerpt: A compelling insight into loss, and the effects of human kindness. A celebration of life like you’ve never seen.
Son of the South
Sound of Violence
- Excerpt: Destined to be hated by many and cherished as a cult classic by others, ‘Sound of Violence’ is an off-the-rails hoot where a deranged musician tortures people to make the ultimate club-thumping beat. The only way to satisfy her craving for sonic perfection: lots and lots of violence. If you’re not laughing, you’re definitely watching it wrong.
- Excerpt: Space Sweepers offers a good old fashioned adventure that sweeps you up in a whole new world with wonder, wit, and plenty of personality. It has the kind of heart and imagination that you don’t see in a lot of modern American blockbusters.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
- Excerpt: The kiddies may not understand that Spongebob and Patrick are dissecting the tropes of a buddy picture versus a hero’s journey as they set off on their journey, but they will enjoy the exchange that ends in rocks and sand, literal and figurative, filling the characters’ heads.
- Excerpt: Really, what more do you need to know than Keanu Reeves has been cast as a tumbleweed?
- Excerpt: An ecological thriller that is not without flashes of humor courtesy of its wonderfully weird cast of characters, Spoor is guaranteed to make many audience members uncomfortable. In my case, it also left me hopeful.
Still Life in Lodz
- Excerpt: Elbaum’s position as someone [paying respects and gaining insight] allows her to be the perfect steward with as much curiosity, knowledge, and reverie as we could hope [for].
- Excerpt: A bittersweet, multilayered vérité portrait of the street dogs of Istanbul. Startlingly immersive, howling with moral questions about what we owe these creatures of intelligence, dignity, and feeling.
- Excerpt: Questlove creates a toe-tapping and revolutionary documentary that’ll have audiences foaming at the mouth for more. The lineup of talent is simply insane, the performances eye-popping, the talking-head commentary on Black culture and music’s place within it is poignant and relevant today without stopping the contagious upbeat energy. An absolute must-see.
- Excerpt: Erin Vassilopoulos’ ‘Superior’ is a moody psychological drama that suffers a middling script while leaning on effective, evocative aesthetics and too-subtle character development.
The Swedish Boys
James Wegg @ JWR [Swedish]
- Excerpt: A varied collection of shorts that includes a few third wheels
- Excerpt: Absolutely stunning from top to bottom, I couldn’t possibly have loved The Swordsman more. With a touching father/daughter relationship at its core, a clear mission to pay homage to Japanese blind swordsman series Zatoichi, gorgeous production design, top notch performances, and breathtaking action sequences, this film just hit the spot on every conceivable level.
Ten Minutes to Midnight
- Excerpt: takes risks and makes unexpected choices, the film has concerns other than bloody theatrics, and there are more ambitions and ideas to chew on than the package indicates.
- Excerpt: There is much to ponder here and Ford has crafted a unique perspective with which to do so.
This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection
- Excerpt: The winner of the Special Jury Prize for Visionary Filmmaking at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and Lesotho’s first-ever submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection is a devastating depiction of one woman’s fight to maintain the traditions of her people when the crushing wave of modernization threatens to sweep them away. Written and directed by Mosotho filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese and starring the late, great South African actor Mary Twala Mhlongo in her heartbreaking final performance, the film forces us to examine the idea of progress and the irreparable damage this purportedly positive force can do when it lacks a beating heart.
‘ Til Kingdom Come
- Excerpt: A deep dive into US evangelical Christians teaming up with Israeli charities in an absolutely terrifying unholy alliance that has geopolitical implications that should worry everyone, believer or not.
- Excerpt: It is admittedly a curious directorial choice to have their own subject say they’re sick of talking about the story at hand and then make a film about it anyway.
To All the Boys: Forever and Always
- Excerpt: Frantic pacing and too much noise tarnish the gold in this last ‘Boys.’ Yet tender love scenes make us smile and entertain us for a while.
Tom & Jerry
- Excerpt: Modernization is the enemy of the classics.
Amir Siregar @ Amir at the Movies [Indonesian]
- Excerpt: The updated theatrical version of ‘Tom & Jerry’ directed by Tim Story offers nothing but rehash of old comedy moments that are barely funny.
Truth to Power
- Excerpt: “Truth to Power” showcases the results of Tankian’s mission.
- Excerpt: Twilight’s Kiss manages to be incredibly affecting and effortlessly engaging, not in spite of its methodical pacing and lack of closure, but because of it.
Two of Us
- Excerpt: The debut narrative feature from writer-director Filippo Meneghetti, Two of Us provides a stirring look at the longtime love between two older women and the way it is put to the test by a health crisis. With a story hinged on the disapproval and disappointment of others, some of the plot twists feel startlingly retrograde for a film about a lesbian couple in the twenty-first century, but an absolutely brilliant lead performance from the legendary Barbara Sukowa makes it impossible to stop watching regardless.
The United States vs Billie Holiday
- Excerpt: Andra Day, who both looks and sounds more like Holiday than [“Lady Sings the Blues’” Diana] Ross, is outstanding in her debut, but the film itself lacks focus, shooting off in too many directions with too many players.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
- Excerpt: Even Andra Day’s flawless performance can’t save this mediocre movie.
- Excerpt: Andra Day’s performance is phenomenal. This first-time actor seems born for the role and hopefully will garner the levels of attention she deserves.
- Excerpt: Nice editing mixes the hysteria of World Cup finals with sweaty vault raiding in this safe and sane procedural.
- Excerpt: It is designed to be difficult to watch, especially given the time it will take for viewers to piece it together. However, it ends up packing a serious punch.
- Excerpt: Some will find The Wanting Mare to be too slow or abstract, but it packs so much imagery and ideas in a way that is challenging, rich, and a feast for the eyes.
What Happened to Mr. Cha?
- Excerpt: It’s an amusing comedy that has fun with the real life persona of its star.
- Excerpt: This South Korean comedy gets metatextual as Cha In-Pyo plays a JCVD-style version of himself. For the star’s sake, let’s hope this is as far removed from reality as possible.
- Excerpt: A comedy with laughs galore. Dear Mr. Cha, we want some more!
- Excerpt: It has Nicolas Cage fighting his way through Satanic animatronics, and enough earnest goofiness to fill out a roughly 90-minute movie in pleasing fashion.
- Excerpt: ‘Witch Hunt’ struggles to execute an allegorical deathblow to real-life systemic prejudice but manages to remain a worthwhile watch for those who want their witchcraft served with a slice of political commentary.
The Witches of the Orient
- Excerpt: A remarkable story about an equally remarkable team of Japanese volleyball players and their unbeaten lead-up to their victory at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The World to Come
- Excerpt: …the movie belongs to Waterston, whose narration sounds like a voice from the past reading from a period memoir with eloquent elegance.
- Excerpt: That’s where the film’s true power lies: an expressive silence that alternates between exhilaratingly electric with potential and anxiety-inducingly tense with uncertainty.
A Writer’s Odyssey
- Excerpt: A wonderful sense of imagination and a number of stellar action sequences easily carry the film through some occasionally flimsy plotting..
- Excerpt: Not without glaring flaws, the new Wrong Turn is also a ton of mean, nasty backwoods horror fun. You know, if people getting crushed by logs is your idea of fun I guess.
- Excerpt: Comes with a new look (no cannibal mutant hillbillies) but it keeps the kills bloody violent and innovative.
- Excerpt: Campers in trouble Part 86 gives way to a curiously current portrait of a country divided and a loving father surprisingly good with an ax.
The Yellow Wallpaper
- Excerpt: It is a mark of Gilman’s genius that she manages to pack a feature-length film’s worth of feminist commentary and gothic atmosphere into such a succinct little story, and her critique of men’s misguided attempts to diagnose and treat women’s health problems — both mental and physical — remains tragically relevant to this day. So, it’s no wonder that “The Yellow Wallpaper” has been adapted for the screen multiple times in the past.
- Excerpt: The Yellow Wallpaper is depressing, though a necessary story. The issues Gilman wrote about in the 1800s may have changed somewhat, but they still exist, in one form or another.
- Excerpt: But it is an entertaining, family-friendly romp with wish-fulfilling yeses, extended comic mayhem, and satisfying consequences. And yes, there is learning and hugging.
- Excerpt: A mom agrees to one YES DAY and thinks that might just pave the way to change how the kids think of her. Rambunctious fun ensues, for sure!