Here are some reviews of films coming out at the theater this week as well as others that may be in theaters or newly on home video.
Opening: Dec. 18, 2020
Wide (United States)
Limited (United States)
- Excerpt: In lesser hands, this horror thriller could have turned out to be a rote piece of exploitation, but writer/director Shawn Linden’s command of his material results in a smart and surprising shocker, a film that will haunt.
- Excerpt: Hunter Hunter is a perfectly solid thriller with a memorable ending, but it ultimately ends up feeling hollow.
The Last Sermon
- Excerpt: Even before the opening credits, I learned a terrifying new term in “The Last Sermon”—”organic shrapnel.” Director Jack Baxter points to a place on his arm where pieces of a suicide bomber’s body are still embedded.
- Excerpt: It earnestly embraces its unabashedly dorky B-movie identity, and it makes for a fun time. It’s hard not to admire Liam O’Donnell’s affection for the genre.
- Excerpt: Wild, ambitious, and free-wheeling.
- Excerpt: Like all great genre, what makes Skylin3s more than the sum of its pop culture sensibilities and deep-cut references, is it’s got something its sincerely trying to say. It’s just absurdly entertaining in the process.
2020 Films In Theaters Now In Select Areas
Anything for Jackson
The Croods: A New Age
Da 5 Bloods
John Lewis: Good Trouble
The King of Staten Island
The Night Clerk
Promising Young Woman
The Trip to Greece
The Twentieth Century
Wild Mountain Thyme
- Excerpt: The filmmakers focus on a handful of characters throughout to capture a sense [of what was happening]. It’s a lot to take in, [but] we must bear witness.
A La Calle
- Excerpt: “A La Calle” is the story of a brewing insurgency as a once-trusted leader transitions into a ruthless, totalitarian dictator. It is instructive and a forewarning as a resource-rich country needlessly becomes a failed state.
- Excerpt: Love He uses a light touch with tropes of horror and grand guignol that ground the story in its time and place while setting a mood of uncertainty that lends plausibility to mutually exclusive scenarios.
- Excerpt: Alex Wheatle is yet another strong showing from Steve McQueen and company, and one that feels more personal than the rest thanks to its focus on the journey of its titular character.
All That I Am
- Excerpt: An emotionally touching documentary on the toxic damages of child abuse on the victim and those closest to them.
- Excerpt: Its limitations and often puzzling worldbuilding can sometimes get in the way, but Adam Egypt Mortimer’s stylistic flourishes keeps everything engaging.
The Artist’s Wife
- Excerpt: Dolby with his co-writers Nicole Brending and Abdi Nazemian spare us none of the savagery of a family for whom mere dysfunction would be aspirational.
- Excerpt: Touching drama about the unusual directions love takes in a mother-daughter relationship.
Beasts Clawing at Straws
- Excerpt: Kim Yong-hoon takes a familiar formula and makes enough smart choices to keep it interesting. Its darkly comic impulses gives the film a lot of personality.
- Excerpt: Startlingly intimate
- Excerpt: A splendid remake of the classic story about the value of truly partnering with a horse.
- Excerpt: High school drama revealing the toxic impact of jealousy and competition.
Born to Bev
- Excerpt: “Born to Be” has deepened my understanding and compassion for the trans community. Hayashi and Ting have been awarded the The Museum of Chinese in America 2019 Legacy Award for this phenomenally well-sequenced, respectful, ground-breaking documentary.
The Boys Who Said No!
- Excerpt: too important a film to be missed.
- Excerpt: A detailed documentary showing the many things a city government does for its citizens.
- Excerpt: presented as a crisp reportorial procedural, one of the best, in fact, that has hit screens since “Spotlight.”
Crock of Gold
- Excerpt: affectingly poignant in its frequently uncomfortable presentation of MacGowan’s physical ruination.
- Excerpt: A light-hearted and breezy documentary celebrating stay-at-home fathers.
- Excerpt: Wholesome and heartwarming film.
Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy
- Excerpt: A look at the lively life of the world’s leading expert on Mexican food.
- Excerpt: Touching portrait of an aspiring singer of Indian classical music and his journey to master his art.
The Dog Doc
- Excerpt: An information-rich documentary about a compassionate and holistic approach to dog care.
- Excerpt: “Duty Free” is a fun though pointedly insightful take on agism and purpose.
- Excerpt: A terrific little indie with something to say not just about immigrants coming to America, but also about what happens when being in your own family feels as foreign as being in another country.
- Excerpt: …approximates the dislocation of its main character’s mind with a frighteningly slippery ease.
- Excerpt: An engaging hour-long documentary about the political activism of four colorful Asian-Americans.
- Excerpt: A documentary about white boys playing politics and trashing the values of citizenship.
- Excerpt: A polished, erudite, and spiritually edifying documentary about the life and work of the Southern Catholic writer.
- Excerpt: An impeccable comedy of manners full of quirky performances.
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind
- Excerpt: A music-packed documentary revealing all the reasons to love the songs of the legendary Canadian musician.
- Excerpt: An incoming comet transforms your neighbors into desperate housewives and propels another Gerard Butler low-grade action flick. Disaster porn aficionados delight; everyone else, leave Greenland where it is – remote and inaccessible.
- Excerpt: Inspiring true story of an Inuit lacrosse team who transform themselves and their community.
- Excerpt: An old-fashioned drama about love and divorce that touches the heart.
House of Hummingbird
- Excerpt: A coming-of-age story filled with small moments of spiritual wisdom, including a practice for times of sadness.
How to Deter a Robber
- Excerpt: A morality play about economic inequality.
I Carry You with Me
- Excerpt: A love story about two gay immigrants that is full of surprises.
The Infinite Race
- Excerpt: Director Bernando Ruiz focuses more on the Rarámuri culture, and individual members of the community, than he does on the annual race, so this is an unusual entry in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Not that I’m complaining—the film is fascinating and you can’t help but admire the traditional way of life the Rarámuri are endeavoring to preserve.
Jimmy Carter Rock n’ Roll President
- Excerpt: A rollicking documentary about the former president’s love of music and hospitality to musicians.
- Excerpt: A potent and scary parable about the harm spread by those who see the world as an evil and demonic place.
The Longest War
- Excerpt: A sobering, sad, and horrific overview of the United States war in Afghanistan.
Lupin III: The First
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- Excerpt: Wolfe retains a lot of Wilson’s play’s theatricality in this cinematic rendition and it’s all to its immense strength. Davis and especially Boseman are on a whole other level.
- Excerpt: Fun until it isn’t. The intentionally absurd plot can’t maintain momentum for an entire film, and worst of all, it squanders Scott Adkins.
- Excerpt: …a purposeful push-back against the cliches of Israel-Palestinian conflict coverage.
- Excerpt: The conversation has been lethally skewed [to] inherently position Arabs as stubborn aggressors. It’s Mayor is crucially important as an irrefutable document to the contrary.
The Midnight Sky
- Excerpt: …trips up on its own earnestness.
The Midnight Sky
- Excerpt: We know when danger is coming and we know the tough choices necessary to overcome it, but the emotions are authentically devastating just the same.
The Midnight Sky
- Excerpt: True story that proves that music is the best medicine.
- Excerpt: I was charmed by its characters, enamored by its filmmaking, and touched by its empathy. Few films in 2020 have warmed my heart as much as this has.
- Excerpt: The [film’s] true intrigue [is the] central performance’s distillation of a single complex identity. [Our] painful emotions often save us from the monsters within.
- Excerpt: A serious and sobering film about genocide in the Ukraine.
My Darling Vivian
- Excerpt: “My Darling Vivian” is a loving portrait of a mother who had her own challenges and darkness,
My Summer As a Goth
- Excerpt: ticks all the right boxes for a YA story designed to offer the comfort of the familiar in a framework that sets up a gaggle of paper tigers for the heroine (and her audience) to confront.
No Small Matter
- Excerpt: An eye-opening documentary about the great benefits of early childhood education for children and the society at large.
One Night in Miami…
- Excerpt: They collectively breathe life into a moment that very well could have helped shape where the civil rights movement went next.
Our Mothers (Nuestras Madres)
- Excerpt: A moving story about a compassionate young man investigating the impact of genocide in his country.
- Excerpt: An inspiring portrait of young activists for gun control reform.
- Excerpt: Laments and hopeful signs about the fate of honey bees and the food supply.
- Excerpt: There’s a whole lot of fabulousness on display in Queer Japan, and not all of it involves costumes or art.
- Excerpt: Poignant documentary about how the California community nearly destroyed by fire bands together.
- Excerpt: True story of the beloved mime Marcel Marceau’s activism to save Jewish children during World War II.
Robert the Bruce
- Excerpt: Melancholy drama about a Scottish king’s period of discernment.
- Excerpt: A stirring documentary about an African refugee who becomes an Olympic marathoner.
- Excerpt: It’s highly effective [at being a tearjerker, against all odds crowd-pleaser]. Just don’t ignore that it’s also highly manipulated.
The Salt of Tears
- Excerpt: Chronicle of a man and three different women who discover the disappointments, heartbreaks, and surprises in romantic relationships.
Sing Me a Song
- Excerpt: An exploration of the emotional undercurrents of the digital revolution in, of all places, a Buddhist monastery.
Sometimes Always Never
- Excerpt: A father-son drama that reveals the small pleasures of ordinary days, including playing Scrabble.
- Excerpt: Without a doubt, sections of the story hit a nerve. At the same time, the real pandemic is obviously more anxiety-producing than a film could ever be.
The Stand In
- Excerpt: An uneven tone and a flat romantic subplot hold the picture back somewhat, although it is fun in its best moments.
Street Fighting Men
- Excerpt: Portraits of three working class African-American men trying to keep their souls alive in crisis-ridden Detroit.
The Sunlit Night
- Excerpt: An exquisitely rendered tale of an artist’s loneliness and starting over again.
- Excerpt: An ethically rich drama about the complicated choices involved in pregnancy and parenting.
To the Ends of the Earth
- Excerpt: This lovely character study of a young woman finding herself while lost in a foreign land was commissioned to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Uzbekistan and Kurosawa’s found a beautiful way to do it.
A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps
- Excerpt: An enlightening and inspiring 60-year history of the Peace Corps.
The Truffle Hunters
- Excerpt: An absolutely charming cinematic romp with elders and their dogs hunting for a rare delicacy.
Truth Is the Only Client
- Excerpt: this is a welcome scholarly approach to an emotional subject.
Vampires vs. The Bronx
- Excerpt: Who would have thought with a title like that this would be a decent film!
Waiting for Barbarians
- Excerpt: A powerful drama about the toxins spread by rumors of war.
- Excerpt: Wander doesn’t totally come together. It does manage to be entertaining enough to overcome its politically muddled theming and strange storytelling instincts.
- Excerpt: WANDER DARKLY is the antidote to the generic rom-com.
- Excerpt: The fluid editing and story structure provides [an] undeniable aesthetic potency, but it’s Miller and Luna who turn that surface beauty into something universally resonant.
Welcome to Chechnya
- Excerpt: A gripping documentary about LGBTQ genocide and a brave band of human rights activists trying to rescue those affected.
The Woman Who Ran
- Excerpt: The uses of conversation revealed in three visits to old friends.
- Excerpt: An insightful drama about the roles work plays in two men’s lives.
- Excerpt: The documentary Zappa shows us the artist’s genius and some of the contradictions of the man who incorporated it into his work. Winter’s movie doesn’t challenge its subject where it really counts, but it does succeed in giving us a view into Zappa’s rich artistic life.
Cyrano, My Love
- Excerpt: an ebullient comedy of errors that recounts the fraught confluence of art, commerce, and egos