Opening this week at a screen near you:

 

Halloween Kills   (2021) R

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Halloween Kills

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) thought she had finally killed Michael Myers, but she soon discovers that Michael is back and heading home.     Halloween Kills Website

What to Watch For: This is the sixth time Jamie Lee Curtis has played the role of Laurie Strode, which started with the 1978 John Carpenter classic Halloween.

Word on the Street: Joining Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Stephens, Kyle Richards, Nick Castle, and Charles Cyphers, all who were in the original 1978 film, return for this film. Two other characters from that 1978 film, Lonnie Elam and Tommy Doyle, are also in this film but are being played by different actors.

My Take: Halloween (1978) starring Jamie Lee Curtis will always be one of my favorite horror films.

 

The Last Duel    (2021) R

The Last Duel

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

In 1386, Marguerite di Carrouges (Jodie Cormer) claims that she has been raped by her husband’s best friend, squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver). King Charles VI (Alex Lawther) declares that Knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) can settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a trial by combat, a duel that would be the last legally sanctioned duel in France’s history.     The Last Duel Website

What to Watch For: The film is directed by four-time Academy Award-nominated Ridley Scott (The Martian, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Thelma & Louise).

Word on the Street: The film is written by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon. The Academy Award-winning writers Affleck and Damon (Good Will Hunting) are also producers of the film.

My Take: The highly prolific Ridley Scott is one of my favorite directors, starting with his 1977 classic film The Duelists, which starred Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, and Albert Finney.

 

Needle in the Timestack   (2021)  R

Needle in a Timestack

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Nick and Janine (Leslie Odom, Jr. and Cynthia Erivo) are married and in love, a love that will always last. That is until Janine’s ex-husband (Orlando Bloom) uses a time warp to try to tear them apart. Nick’s memories of his wife will soon disappear, and he must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice to hold on to or let go of the one he loves.   Needle in a Timestack Website

What to Watch For: The film is written and directed by Academy Award winner John Ridley (12 Years a Slave).

Word on the Street: The film has a great supporting cast, including Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Jadyn Wong (Scorpion), and Laysla De Oliveria (Locke & Key).

My Take: The film is based on a unique short story of the same name by Robert Silverberg.

 

The Velvet Underground    (2021)  R

The Velvet Underground

Photo courtesy of Apple Originals

Documentary about the legendary rock band The Velvet Underground. The band, founded in 1964, was led by singer/guitarist Lou Reed and comprised of John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Moe Tucker and film star Nico. They were a part of the Andy Warhol scene in NYC until it all started to fall apart. While not a huge commercial success during their existence, they are now recognized as one of the most influential bands in the rock scene and ground breakers for the punk and new wave genres.    The Velvet Underground Info

What to Watch For: The film played at the Cannes Film Festival and the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Word on the Street: The film is from Academy Award and Emmy Award nominee Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Mildred Pierce).

My Take: Lou Reed and John Cale are rock pioneers and had incredible, far-reaching careers in music.

 

Hard Luck Love Song   (2020) R

Hard Luck Love Song

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Jessie (Michael Dorman) is a down-and-out Troubadour who now makes his living hustling pool in dive bars and living in seedy motels. He has a chance encounter with an old flame, Carla (Sophia Bush), but before long, their shared past and current troubles catch up with them.    Hard Luck Love Song Website

What to Watch For: The film is based on the song Just Like Old Times by Todd Snider.

Word on the Street: The film had its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival, and the cast includes Dermot Mulroney, Eric Roberts, and RZA.

My Take: Sophia Bush will always be remembered for her role as Brooke in the hit TV series One Tree Hill.

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The Rescue    (2021) PG

The Rescue

Photo courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films

Documentary on an incredible story that transfixed the world: the attempted rescue of a group of twelve boys and their coach stuck deep inside a cave in Northern Thailand, a recovery that would defy the odds.     The Rescue Website

What to Watch For: The film is from the Oscar-winning team of the 2018 film Free Solo, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.

Word on the Street: The film won the People’s Choice Award for Documentaries at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.

My Take: I can’t wait to see this film as I have heard fantastic things about it from other film critics.

 

Wife of a Spy  (2020)

Wife of a Spy

Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber

Yusaku (Issey Takahashi) and Satoko (Yû Aoi) are a happily married couple living in 1940 Japan. Yusaku, a local merchant and amateur filmmaker, takes a trip to Manchuria, where he witnesses something horrible and comes back a changed man, determined to right the wrong he saw. Now his wife is being torn between the love of her husband and her country.    Wife of a Spy Website

What to Watch For: The film was a smash hit on the film festival circuit, with director Kiyoshi Kurosawa winning the Best Director Silver Lion Award at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.

Word on the Street: Kiyoshi Kurosawa is best known for his award-winning films Cure (1997), Pulse (2001), and Tokyo Sonata (2008).

My Take: I am a huge fan of Kurosawa’s work, including one of the best films of 2008, Tokyo Sonata.

 

Bergman Island   (2021) R  

Bergman Island

Photo courtesy of IFC Films

Chris (Vicky Krieps), and Tony (Tim Roth) are an American filmmaking couple who move to Swedish island to each write screenplays. They hope to be inspired by the landscape where famed filmmaker Ingmar Bergman created some of his best works. The couple soon finds out that the lines between reality and fiction have become blurred.    Bergman Island Website

What to Watch For: The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it was a nominee for the Palme d’Or award.

Word on the Street: Due to last-minute casting problems, the film was shot over two summers in 2018 and 2019.

My Take: A favorite of mine, Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, Judy & Punch), plays a supporting role in the film.

 

Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini    (2015)

Smoke & Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini

Photo courtesy of October Coast

Documentary about one of the greatest special effects technician who worked in a time when effects were done without CGI.    Smoke & Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini Info

What to Watch For: The impressive list of interviewees for this film includes Corey Feldman, Sid Haig, Alice Cooper, Tom Atkins, Doug Bradley, John Amplas, Danny McBride, and Robert Rodriquez.

Word on the Street: Savini worked on Dawn of the Dead (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), Monkey Shines (1988), Trauma (1993), and many more.

My Take: As a long-time reader of Fangoria magazine, I will be sure to see this documentary.

 

Monster Family 2    (2021) PG

Monster Family 2

Photo courtesy of Viva Pictures

The Wishbone family is back, and Max and Emily are having a tough time fitting in at school. The family decides to attend the wedding of Baba Yaga and Renfield when the two lovebirds are kidnapped by the supercool Mila Starr, who travels around the world capturing immortal beings on behalf of her parents. Now the Wishbone family must transform once again into a Vampire, Frankenstein’s Monster, a Mummy, and a Werewolf to save their friends and stop an evil plot to end the world of immortal beings.    Monster Family 2 Website

What to Watch For: The film is a sequel to the 2017 animated film Monster Family. The voice cast includes Emily Watson, Jason Isaacs, Jessica Brown, Catherine Tate, and Nick Frost.

Word on the Street: The Wishbone family’s three pet bats are modeled after The Three Stooges.

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My Take: I am always ready for a cool animated film like this.