Opening this week at a screen near you:

 

West Side Story   (2021)  PG-13 

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West Side Story

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

The classic love story between two young people (Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler) who fall for each other during a turf war in 1957 NYC between the Jets and the Sharks.    West Side Story Website

What to Watch For:  This is Rachel Zegler’s first film role, but the director of the film, Steven Spielberg, says that her portrayal of Maria is the greatest he has ever witnessed.

Word on the Street:  Rita Moreno, who won an Academy Award for her role as Anita in the 1961 film, plays Doc, a role traditionally preformed by men,  in this adaptation.

My Take: I can’t wait to see one of my favorite musicals of all time up on the screen, directed by Steven Spielberg!

 

The Unforgivable   (2021)  R 

The Unforgivable

Photo courtesy of Netflix

After serving time for a horrible crime, Ruth (Sandra Bullock) just wants to put her life back together, one day at a time, but society won’t forgive her for her past. Her only hope for redemption is finding the young sister she was forced to leave behind.    The Unforgivable Website

What to Watch For:  The outstanding cast includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Richard Thomas, Viola Davis, Jon Bernthal, and Rob Morgan.

Word on the Street:  The film is based on the award-winning British TV mini-series Unforgiven.

My Take:  The film is directed by German filmmaker Nora Fingscheidt, whose award-winning films include Systemsprenger (2019) and Ohne Diese Welt (2017).

 

Being the Ricardos    (2021) R 

Being the Ricardos

Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) are at the height of their success, with 60 million people watching their weekly TV comedy series, I Love Lucy, and their marriage seems stronger than ever. Their world may be crashing down around them as two stories are about to hit the newsstands that could wreck both their careers and their marriage.     Being the Ricardos Website

What to Watch For:  The film is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, the Emmy and Academy Award-winning filmmaker of The West Wing and The Social Network.

Word on the Street:  Lucy’s own daughter, Lucille Arnaz, has called the film ‘freaking amazing’ and praised both Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem’s performances.

My Take:  I will love seeing what it took to put the I Love Lucy show together and can’t wait to see Nina Arianda as Vivian Vance and J.K. Simmons as William Frawley.

 

Don’t Look Up    (2021) R

Don't Look Up

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Two low-level astronomers (Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio) discover that a comet is heading for earth, and if we don’t do anything, it will destroy life as we know it on this planet. The problem is the President (Meryl Streep) is more concerned about being reelected and her son (Jonah Hill), her Chief of Staff, only cares about his followers on Instagram.    Don’t Look Up Website

What to Watch For: The film is written and directed by Oscar-winner (The Big Short) Adam McKay.

Word on the Street: The massive cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Rob Morgan, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett, Ron Perlman, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Chiklis, Himesh Patel, and Ariana Grande.

My Take: I loved The Big Short (2015), so I can’t wait to see this film with this impressive cast.

 

National Champions    (2021)  R 

National Champions

Photo courtesy of STXFilms

Three days before the college football national championship game, Heisman trophy quarterback LeMarcus James (Stephan James) calls for a boycott of the game in support of his teammate Emmet Sunday (Alexander Ludwig) and all the other student-athletes that play the game without compensation or health insurance. Now, LeMarcus’s legendary coach (J.K. Simmons), on the cusp of winning his first national championship and NCAA are coming down on LeMarcus to protect the prevailing collegiate athletic system.     National Champions Website

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What to Watch For:  Director Ric Roman Waugh is a former stuntman who directed last year’s Gerard Butler’s film Greenland.

Word on the Street:  The contains many stars from the entertainment and sports world, including Russel Wilson, French Montana, Steve Levy, Malcolm Jenkins, and Mike Greenberg.

My Take:  A couple of my favorite actors are in this film, Kristin Chenoweth and Timothy Olyphant.

 

The Hating Game    (2021)  R 

The Hating Game

Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Lucy (Lucy Hale) loves her job except for one thing, Joshua (Austin Stowell), a man that she hates working with and has become her biggest rival for promotion and success.  Lucy decides to embark on a ruthless game of one-upmanship with Joshua, but there is one problem. Lucy is beginning to become attracted to him.    The Hating Game Website

What to Watch For:  The film is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Sally Thorner.

Word on the Street:  Lucy Hale is best known for her roles on Pretty Little Liars and the CW series Life Sentence and Katy Keene.

My Take:  I know Austin Stowell from his role as Jesse on the TV series The Secret Life of the American Teenager that starred Shailene Woodley.

 

To What Remains   (2021) 

To What Remains

Photo courtesy of Abramorama

Documentary about Project Recovery, comprised of a team of scientists and researchers who have dedicated their lives to searching the world over to find, recover and repatriate the remains of American servicemen and women who have been missing in actions since WWII.     To What Remains Website

What to Watch For:  The film follows a team who discover wreckage from the Battle of Peleliu on the sea floor in the South Pacific and their attempt to recover the remains and find the related family members, giving those servicemen their well-deserved final resting place.

Word on the Street:  This is the first feature film for director Christopher Woods, who has worked on the second unit on films such as Forrest Gump (1994), Elf (2003), and The Christmas Chronicles (2018).

My Take:  I admire the dedication and craft it takes to undertake this type of search and recovery.

 

White on White    (2020) 

White on White

Photo courtesy of Outsider Pictures

At the turn of the century in Chile, Pedro (Alfredo Castro) has been hired to photograph the wedding of a wealthy landowner on an isolated ranch. While waiting for the wedding to happen, Pedro becomes increasingly fascinated with the land owner’s soon-to-be wife and the people the landowner has taken the land from.    White on White Website

What to Watch For:  The film has been selected as the Chilean entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards.

Word on the Street:  The film was a big winner at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, winning three awards, including Best Director for Theo Court.

My Take:  I can’t wait to see this award-winning film that is an odds-on favorite to make the Academy Award nomination for Best International Feature.

 

The Real Charlie Chaplin    (2021) 

The Real Charlie Chaplin

Photo courtesy of Showtime

Documentary on the life and work of one of the greatest filmmakers of any generation, the legendary Charlie Chaplin.    The Real Charlie Chaplin Website

What to Watch For:  The film uses Chaplin’s own words to narrate the film, including an in-depth interview Chaplin gave to Life magazine in 1966.

Word on the Street:  The film has done well on the festival circuit, including a Best International Documentary Film nomination at the 2021 Zurich Film Festival.

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My Take:  I am a massive fan of Charlie Chaplin, especially his early silent film days.