Opening this week on a screen near you:

Old    (2021)  PG-13

Old

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

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A family is out on a tropical holiday, then they discover after spending a few hours on the beach that something is causing them to age by the hour. If this keeps going, they will be dead by the end of the day.    Old Website

What to Watch For: The film is based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre-Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters.

Word on the Street: Before production began, director M. Night Shyamalan screened two films for the cast and crew; Walkabout (1971), directed by Nicolas Roeg, and Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), directed by Peter Weir.

My Take: I am interested in how this film will look on the screen as it was shot on 35mm film stock, unlike the last few films of Shyamalan, which were shot digitally.

 

Joe Bell   (2020) R 

Joe Bell

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

After his son is tormented in high school for being gay, Joe (Mark Wahlberg), a working-class father from a small town, sets to walk across America to crusade against bullying.     Joe Bell Website

What to Watch For: The film is based on a true story.

Word on the Street: The film was written by Larry McMurtry and his longtime collaborator Diana Ossana. McMurtry won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel Lonesome Dove and won with Ossana the 2006 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for their screenplay Brokeback Mountain.

My Take: One of my favorite actors, Connie Britton, plays Joe’s wife in the film.

 

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins    (2021) PG-13

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Before becoming the famous G.I. Joe hero, a mysterious lone fighter (Henry Golding), known only as ‘Snake Eyes,’ was welcomed into and trained by an ancient Japanese ninja clan called The Arashikage. Snake Eyes will find his loyalties being tested when secrets from his past are revealed to the world.    Snake Eyes Website

What to Watch For: The film has characters that fans of G.I. Joe will be familiar with, including Storm Shadow (played by Andrew Koji), Baroness (played by Ursula Corbero), Scarlett (played by Samara Weaving), and Hard Master (played by Iko Uwais).

Word on the Street: Golding, who hit it big in Crazy Rich Asians (2018), his feature-film debut, is rumored to be in the running for the role of James Bond.

My Take: It will be interesting to see what Henry Golding can do with the role of Snake Eyes, one of the most popular characters in the G.I. Joe universe.

 

The Last Letter From Your Lover    (2021)

The Last Letter From Your Lover

Photo courtesy of Netflix

An ambitious young journalist (Felicity Jones) comes across a series of letters and is determined to solve the mystery of a forbidden love affair in London in the mid-60s between Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley), the wife of a wealthy industrialist, and Anthony O[Hare (Callum Turner), a journalist assigned to do a story on Jennifer’s husband.     The Last Letter From Your Lover Website

What to Watch For: The film is based on a novel of the same name by Jojo Moyes.

Word on the Street: The film is directed by Augustine Frizzell, the award-winning writer/director of the 2018 film Never Goin’ Back.

My Take: I have been a big fan of Shailene Woodley since her back-to-back roles in The Descendants (2011) and The Spectacular Now (2013).

 

Val    (2021) R

Val

Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Documentary on legendary actor Val Kilmer, who played iconic parts throughout his career, including Ice in Top Gun (1986), Jim Morrison in The Doors (1991), and Batman in Batman Forever (1995).    Val Website

What to Watch For: The film contains footage from thousands of hours of footage that Kilmer and his brother jack have shot on their own throughout the years of Val making movies.

Word on the Street: The film was just nominated for the Golden Eye award at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

My Take: Val Kilmer starred in one of my all-time favorite films, the 1985 Martha Coolidge directed film Real Genius.

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Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans   (2021)

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Jim, the first human Trollhunter, must lead his band of friends into a battle to take over the world. Troll Titans have been awakened, and if they converge, it will plunge the world into chaos.    Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans Website

What to Watch For: The film series is the brainchild of two-time Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro.

Word on the Street: The voice cast includes Tatiana Maslany, Emile Hirsch, Alfred Molina, Nick Offerman, Steven Yeun, Kelsey Grammer, Diego Luna, Cheryl Hines, and Laraine Newman.

My Take: The film brings to a conclusion the highly successful Emmy award-winning series of TV shows.

 

Settlers    (2021)

Settlers

Photo courtesy of IFC Midnight

Remmy (Brooklynn Prince), her mother IIsa (Sofia Boutella), and her father Reza (Jonny Lee Miller) are some of mankind’s earliest settlers on the Martian planet, who do what they must to survive the cosmic elements and each other.     Settlers Website

What to Watch For: The film is written and directed by Wyatt Rockefeller, best known for his short films Entropy (2014) and Groomed (2013).

Word on the Street: Jonny Lee Miller is celebrated for his performance of Sherlock Holmes in Elementary and John Major in The Crown.

My Take: Brooklynn Prince blew everyone away with her performance as Moonee in the 2017 film The Florida Project.

 

Jolt    (2021)

Jolt

Photo courtesy of Amazon Films

Lindy (Kate Beckinsale) is a woman who has a rare neurological disorder that causes her to react violently to anyone she witnesses being cruel or abusive. She is a bouncer, so that comes in handy at times, but for other times when she is in a normal situation, she has been given an electrode-lined vest that she can use to shock herself back to normalcy. After the first guy in a long time she has allowed herself to get close to is murdered, she goes on a revenge rampage while the cops pursue her as their chief suspect.     Jolt Website

What to Watch For: The outstanding cast includes Stanley Tucci, Laverne Cox, Jai Courtney, Bobby Cannavale, Susan Sarandon, and David Bradley.

Word on the Street: The film is directed by Tanya Wexler, award-winning director of Finding North (1998), Ball in the House (2001), and Hysteria (2011).

My Take: I am a huge Kate Beckinsale fan from her Underworld film series, The Aviator (playing screen legend Ava Gardner), and Serendipity.

 

Akilla’s Escape   (2021)  

Akilla's Escape

Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Akilla (Saul Williams) has spent his life trying to forget his past, but in one night, it all comes roaring back as he is the victim of a robbery gone wrong.      Akilla’s Escape Website

What to Watch For: The film features an original score by Saul and 3D of Massive Attack.

Word on the Street: The film has done exceptionally well on the film festival circuit, having been nominated for Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and having played locally at the Atlanta Film Festival.

My Take: Saul William is a graduate of Morehouse College and best known for his role as Sivad in the TV series Girlfriends.

 

How it Ends    (2021) R

How it Ends

Photo courtesy of American International Pictures

The world is about to come to an end, so Liza (Zoe Lister-Jones) goes on a journey through LA one last time in hopes of making it to a party before everything closes down.      How It Ends Info

What to Watch For: The cast includes Bobby Lee, Nick Kroll, Tawny Newsome, Whitney Cummings, Fred Armisen, Bradley Whitford, and Olivia Wilde.

Word on the Street: The film was shot in LA during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

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My Take: I am a big fan of Zoe Lister-Jones’ other films Breaking Upwards (2009, Consumed (2015), and Band Aid (2017).