Opening this week at a theatre near you:
Mank (2020) R
In 1940, with Germany taking over Europe and the US on the brink of entering WWII, Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), some considered the finest screenwriter of all time and others, a washed-up up has-been, is hired to write a script in sixty days. That script was Citizen Kane, maybe the greatest film of all time. Mank Website
What to Watch For: The cast includes Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tom Pelphrey, Arliss Howard, and Tom Burke.
Word on the Street: Two-time Oscar-nominated David Fincher directs the film.
My Take: Co-writer/director of Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, is one of my filmmaking heroes.
Half Brothers (2020) PG-13
Renato (Luis Gerardo Mendez) is a successful Mexican aviation exec that finds out his estranged father is dying. Renato is shocked that he has an American half-brother, Asher (Connor Del Rio), that he never knew about. Now, Renato’s father is sending him and Asher on a scavenger hunt trip to trace the path their father took when he first came to America from Mexico. Half Brothers Website
What to Watch For: The film is directed by Luke Greenfield, who directed the award-winning short, The Right Hook (2000) and the feature films The Girl Next Door (2004) and Let’s Be Cops (2014).
Word on the Street: Lead actor Luis Gerardo Mendez is best known for his performance in Nosotros Los Nobles, which became at the time, Mexico’s second most successful film of all time, and Cantinflas, which was the US’s highest-grossing foreign-language film of 2014.
My Take: I am always up for a good buddy adventure type film.
Nomadland (2020) R
After her company town is devastated by the economic recession, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs up her possessions in her van and sets off on the road to take a journey through the American west, living as a modern-day nomad. Nomadland Website
What to Watch For: The film has become one of the biggest award winners on the film festival circuit this year, including three awards at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.
What to Watch For: Many film critics feel Frances McDormand is destined to get her sixth Oscar nomination.
My Take: I am a big fan of the film’s director, Chloe Zhao, who gave us one of the best films of 2017, The Rider.
Black Bear (2020) R
At a remote lake house in the Adirondack Mountains, a couple (Sarah Gadon, Christopher Abbott) hosts a filmmaker, Allison (Aubrey Plaza), wants to spend some time at their house because she is at a creative impasse with her work. Little does the couple know that the woods’ isolation will bring out Allison’s inner demons that could destroy the couple’s peaceful life. Black Bear Info
What to Watch For: The film was nominated for the NEXT Innovator Award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Word on the Street: Writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine is best known for his award-winning 2014 film Wild Canaries.
My Take: I am a big fan of Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation, Happiest Season).
Dear Santa (2020)
Documentary on the 100-year-old tradition of the ‘Operation Santa’ program of the United States Post Office, which offers letters from children whom the public can adopt and make a child’s Christmas wish come true. Dear Santa Website
What to Watch For: The film won the Best Premiere award at the 2020 Heartland International Film Festival.
Word on the Street: The film is from filmmaker Dana Nachman who brought us the fantastic documentaries Pick of the Litter (2018) and Batkid Begins (2015).
My Take: We could all use a little Christmas cheer.
Another Round (2020)
Four middle-aged friends, all teachers, feel that they are in a rut and decide to embark on an experiment from an obscure philosopher: to see if a constant level of alcohol in their blood will help them find happiness and freedom. At first, the experiment seems to work, then that past comes up to the surface, and the friends must decide to face the music or keep going. Another Round Website
What to Watch For: The film is the official Danish entry for International Feature Film for the 93rd Academy Awards 2021.
Word on the Street: The four lead actors led by international star Mads Mikkelsen won the acting award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
My Take: I always love watching Mads Mikkelsen perform on the silver screen.
I’m Your Woman (2020) R
Set in the 70s, a young mother, Jean (Rachel Brosnahan), is forced to go on the run with her baby when her husband betrays his partners. I’m Your Woman Website
What to Watch For: The film is from Julia Hart, who critics raved about her films Miss Stevens (2016) and Fast Color (2018).
Word on the Street: The film was nominated for Best Feature at the 2020 Chicago International Film Festival.
My Take; I am a huge fan of Rachel Brosnahan, the star of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel TV series.