Opening this week at a screen near you:

 

Respect   (2021) PG-13

Respect

Photo courtesy of United Artists

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The life story of Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson), who went from singing in her father’s church to one of the world’s greatest singers, the ‘Queen of Soul.’     Respect Website

What to Watch For: Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson was handpicked by Aretha Franklin herself for the role.

Word on the Street: The cast includes Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Saycon Sengloh, Marlon Wayans, Tituss Burgess, Kimberly Scott, Marc Maron, Hailey Kilgore, and Tate Donovan.

My Take: This is on my must-see list of films coming out this summer.

 

Free Guy   (2021) PG-13

Free Guy

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is happily living his life as a bank teller until he becomes self-aware and discovers that he is a ‘non-player inside of a video game. With the help of Millie (Jodie Comer), a program developer, he decides to become a super-hero and save the world he lives in before the game’s owners can shut it down.    Free Guy Website

What to Watch For: There are rumors that there are a ton of cameos in the film, including one by the late Jeopardy host, Alex Trebek.

Word on the Street: The film borrows its look and location from popular video games, including Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite.

My Take: The film is directed by Shawn Levy, who has been nominated for both an Academy Award (Arrival (2016) and three Emmys (Stranger Things).

 

CODA   (2021)  PG-13  

CODA

Photo courtesy of Apple +

Ruby (Emilia Jones) is a gifted seventeen-year-old girl with a talent for singing, with a voice that her family has never heard because she is the sole hearing member of a deaf family: a CODA, Child of Deaf Adults. Her life revolves around working on her family’s fishing boat after school, and now she must choose between two things she loves, her family and her music.    CODA Website

What to Watch For: Academy Award-winning actress,  (Children of a Lesser God (1986) and Troy Kotsur, both deaf, play Ruby’s parents.

Word on the Street: The film won an outstanding four awards at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, including both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. Apple bought the distributing rights to the film for a record (at the time) of 25 million dollars.

My Take:  I am a huge fan of Marlee Matlin, who I loved on the TV series Picket Fences.

 

The Kissing Booth 3   (2021) 

The Kissing Booth 3

Photo courtesy of Netflix

t’s the summer before Elle (Joey King) heads off to college, and she wants to spend every minute having fun. She and her BFF Lee (Joel Courtney) have a ‘Beach Bucket List’ that they put together when they were kids, and they are determined to fill it out. But Elle has a tough decision to make, does she go to the college that her dreamy boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi) is attending or not break her promise to go to college with her best friend Lee. Whose heart will Elle break at the end of the summer?   The Kissing Booth 3 Website

What to Watch For: This is the third film and last (?) film in The Kissing Booth film series based on the best-selling books by Beth Reekles.

Word on the Street: The film is directed by Vince Marcello, who has co-written and directed all three films in the series.

My Take: I have been a fan of Joey King since her role as the daughter in the beautiful film Borealis (2015).

 

Don’t Breathe 2   (2021) R

Don't Breathe 2

Photo courtesy of Screen Gems

It’s been years since the home invasion that changed Norman’s (Stephen Lang) life. Norman someone to protect, 11-year-old Phoenix (Madelyn Grace), but Norman’s home is about to be invaded again, this time because his past sins have caught up to him.     Don’t Breathe 2 Website

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What to Watch For: The film is a sequel to the 2016 hit film Don’t Breathe.

Word on the Street: Producer Sam Rami gave an interview where he said the script for the film is ‘only the greatest idea for a sequel I’ve ever heard.’

My Take: I thought the first film was full of frights and scares, so I can’t wait to see this one.

 

Buckley’s Chance   (2021)

Buckley's Chance

Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

A year after the loss of his father, Ridley (Milan Burch) and his mother (Victoria Hill), move from New York City to Australia to live with Ridley’s estranged grandfather (Bill Nighy). After fighting with both his grandfather and his mother, Ridley becomes lost in the Outback and makes an unlikely friend, a wild dingo he names Buckley. Can Buckley help Ridley survive in the wilderness and find his way back home?    Buckley’s Chance Website

What to Watch For: Bill Nighy is best known for his award-winning roles in Still Crazy (1998), Love Actually (2003), the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011).

Word on the Street: The film was shot on location in Australia.

My Take: I am a huge fan of Bill Nighy, going back to when I discovered him on the British TV series Reilly: Ace of Spies in the 80s.

 

Ema   (2019)

Ema

Photo courtesy of Music Box Films

Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) is a young, up-and-coming dancer who was married to Gaston (Gael Garcia Bernal), who is the director of the dance company that Ema performs for. They could not have children, so they adopted a son, Polo, but he was a troubled child with severe emotional problems that destroyed their marriage.      Ema Website

What to Watch For: The film has been a hit on the film festival circuit, including wins at the 2020 Miami Film Festival and the 2019 Venice Film Festival.

Word on the Street: Gael Garcia Bernal has been wowing TV audiences with his portrayal of Rodrigo in the series Mozart in the Jungle.

My Take: I hear from fellow film critics that Mariana Di Girolamo’s performance is worth the price of admission.

 

The Meaning of Hitler   (2020)

The Meaning of Hitler

Photo courtesy of IFC Films

This documentary explores the decades of cultural fascination with the Nazi leader and how this continued fascination impacts present-day politics.     The Meaning of Hitler Website

What to Watch For: The film uses Sebastian Haffner’s 1978 book The Meaning of Hitler as a jumping-off point to explore the man and the myth.

Word on the Street: The film interviews historians and writers, including Saul Friedlander, Deborah Lipstadt, Francine Prose, and experts in the fields of psychiatry, sociology, forensic biology, and even Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld.

My Take: I am always up for a good documentary.

 

Beckett   (2021)

Beckett

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Following a horrific traffic accident in Greece, American tourist Beckett (John David Washington) becomes a target of a manhunt. Beckett is forced to go on the run, desperate to get to the American Embassy before the police close in and the country becomes enveloped in political unrest.     Beckett Website

What to Watch For: The film is from award-winning filmmaker Ferdinando Cito Filomarino, knowing for his short film Diarchia (2010) and his 2015 feature film Antonia.

Word on the Street: John David Washington, son of legendary actor Denzil Washington, is making a name for himself with leading roles in films such as BlacKkKlansman (2018), Tenet (2020), and Malcolm and Marie (2021).

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My Take: John David Washington has really become an actor to be reckoned with.