Opening this week on a screen near you:

 

Eternals    (2021)  PG-13

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Eternals

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

An unexpected tragedy forces the Eternals, an ancient band of aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years, to come out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s greatest enemy, the Deviants.   Eternals Website

What to Watch For: The film is based on a series by the legendary comic-book artist Jack Kirby and is co-written and directed by two-time Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao (Nomadland).

Word on the Street: The all-star cast includes Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Kit Harrington, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Lauren Ridloff, and Angelina Jolie.

My Take: I am a fan of Lauren Ridloff, who portrays Makkari in the film. She is known for her roles in Wonderstruck (2017), Sound of Metal (2019), and as Connie in the TV series The Walking Dead.

 

Spencer   (2021) R

Spencer

Photo courtesy of Neon

Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) is spending the Christmas holidays with the royal family at the famous Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England. Diana has decided to do the unthinkable, leave her marriage to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing).    Spencer Website

What to Watch For: Many film critics who have seen the film at festivals feel that Kristen Stewart is a shoo-in to get an Academy Award nomination for this role.

Word on the Street: The film is directed by award-winning filmmaker Pablo Larrain, who helmed the 2016 bio-film Jackie about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

My Take: The film is written by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steven Knight, who wrote and directed one of my favorite films of the past ten years, Locke (2013).

 

Finch   (2021) PG-13

Finch

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

In a devastated world full of sandstorms, incredible heat, and no water, Finch (Tom Hanks) decides he has to move on because of a coming storm. Finch will now take his new family, a dog and a talking robot, on an adventure in a dangerous and ravaged world.    Finch Website

What to Watch For: The film is directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who won two Emmy Awards for his direction of the TV series Game of Thrones.

Word on the Street: Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out, X-Men: First Class) gives the voice to the robot, Jeff.

My Take: Hey, it’s Tom Hanks, and he has a dog and a robot! What more do you want in a film?

 

The Souvenir: Part II   (2021) R

The Souvenir Part II

Photo courtesy of A24

Still reeling from the death of her lover, Anthony (Tom Burke), Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) is trying to make her final movie for film school. She goes on a mission to understand the relationship with Anthony, a man who was a troubled soul. Julie must sort through the facts and sort the truth from the fiction of Anthony’s life.    The Souvenir Part II website

What to Watch For: The film has been nominated for Best International Feature at the 2021 Gotham Awards and was a nominee at both the Montclair Film Festival and the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Word on the Street: This is a sequel to filmmaker Joanna Hogg’s award-winning 2019 film The Souvenir, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

My Take: I can’t wait to see this film and find out what happens to Julie, played by Honor Swinton Byrne, daughter of Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton.

 

The Harder They Fall   (2021) R

The Harder They Fall

Photo courtesy of Netflix

When outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) finds out that his mortal enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) has been broken out of a jail transport by Trudy Smith (Regina King), Nat rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge for a killing that Rufus did long ago.    The Harder They Fall Website

What to Watch For: Includes a cast with Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield, Edi Gathegi, and Delroy Lindo.

Word on the Street: Written and directed by Jaymes Samuel (They Die by Dawn), who worked with Baz Luhrmann and Jay Z on the music for the 2013 film The Great Gatsby as the film’s Executive Music Consultant.

My Take: I am a huge western fan, so I will be seeing this film.

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A Man Named Scott   (2021)

A Man Named Scott

Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime

Documentary that explores the life and work of Kid Cudi, from his release of ‘Day n Nite’ in 2008 through his present-day recordings.    A Man Name Scott Info

What to Watch For: Friends and musicians illustrate Kid Cudi’s work in conjunction with concert footage and never before seen behind-the-scenes footage.

Word on the Street: The film has interviews with Jaden and Willow Smith, Shia LeBeouf, Timothee Chalamet, Ye, Lil Yachty, ASAP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, and Jeff Bhasker.

My Take: Director of the film, Robert Alexander, has directed many episodes of the unique talk TV series The Shop with LeBron James.

 

Love Hard   (2021)

Love Hard

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Natalie (Nina Dobrev) is an L.A. woman who has finally found her man online after a series of horrible dates. She travels to the East Coast to surprise him for the holidays only to discover that she has been catfished by Josh (Jimmy O. Yang). To make it up to Natalie, Josh tells her he can set it up to meet the man whom Josh used to Catfish her, a hunky guy named Tag (Darren Barnet), who Josh knows.   Love Hard Website

What to Watch For: Nina Dobrev is best known for her role as Elena Gilbert in the hit CW TV series The Vampire Diaries.

Word on the Street: Jimmy O. Yang started his career as a standup comedian. He is best known as Bernard Tai in Crazy Rich Asians (2018), Jian Yang in the TV series Silicon Valley and is currently on Space Force as Dr. Chan Kaifang.

My Take: Before her role as Elena Gilbert, I knew Nina Dobrev as Mia Jones in the TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation.

 

The Beta Test   (2021) R

The Beta Test

Photo courtesy of IFC Films

Jordan (Jim Cummings) has it all, married to a beautiful woman and a great job as a Hollywood agent. His world changes when he gets a mysterious invitation to have a sexual encounter in a hotel room with a person who he won’t be able to see due to a blindfold. Jordan decides to take up the offer, and his life becomes one big mess of lying, intrigue, and possible murder.     The Beta Test Website

What to Watch For: The film’s star, Jim Cummings, also co-wrote/directed the film with PJ McCabe, who plays Jordan’s best friend, P.J., in the movie.

Word on the Street: Jim Cummings wrote/directed/starred in the award-winning 2018 film Thunder Road, a massive hit on the film festival circuit.

My Take: Cummings also gave us the wild The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020) that I reviewed last year.

 

7 Prisoners   (2021) R

7 Prisoners

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Desperate for a job to support his family, 18-year-old Mateus (Christian Malheiros) takes a job in a junkyard in Sao Paulo. Soon, Mateus finds out that his new boss, Luca (Rodrigo Santoro), is involved in the dirty and dangerous world of human trafficking.    7 Prisoners Website

What to Watch For: The film made a big splash at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, winning the Best Film in a Foreign Language and being nominated for the Audience Award.

Word on the Street: This is the second feature film for Alexandre Moratto. Moratto’s first feature, Socrates (2018), won over 15 awards, including the Someone to Watch Award, given by the 2019 Film Independent Spirt Awards.

My Take: I loved Moratto’s first film, Socrates, so I can’t wait to see this film.

 

Mary, Mark & Some Other People   (2021)

mark, mary & some other people

Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Mary and Mark (Hayley Law, Ben Rosenfield) are a newly married couple. Everything seems fine until the couple decides to give ethical non-monogamy a try and everything soon becomes increasingly complicated.   mark, mary & some other people website

What to Watch For: Hayley Law is best known for portraying Valerie Brown on the CW TV series Riverdale.

Word on the Street: Writer/director of the film, Hannah Marks, was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 25 Under 25 Artists Changing the World in 2017.

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My Take: I loved Hannah Marks first film After Everything (2018), which blew everyone away at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival.