Matt writes: Steve James‘ acclaimed 2014 documentary “Life Itself,” chronicling the life and legacy of our site’s co-founder, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert, premiered in virtual cinemas this past Friday (you can register to watch here) as part of Magnolia Pictures’ new screening series entitled, “A Few of Our Favorite Docs.” Each of the films will have a virtual Q&A on the Wednesday following their premiere, while ten percent of the ticket sales will be donated to a charity of the filmmakers’ choice. One of the subjects in “Life Itself”, RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert, will take part in a virtual Q&A with Steve James TOMORROW, May 27th (at this link). Chaz Ebert designated donations to go to the Chicago Cinema Workers Fund to help hourly workers who have had their jobs eliminated during the Coronavirus Pandemic. To donate directly to the fund click here. You can also find exclusive footage of “Life Itself” premiering at Cannes 2014 in her video journal embedded below…
Da 5 Bloods (2020). Directed by Spike Lee. Written by Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Mélanie Thierry, Jean Reno. Synopsis: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen Squad Leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide. Debuts on Netflix on June 12th, 2020.
Becky (2020). Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion. Written by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye and Lane Skye. Starring Joel McHale, Kevin James, Lulu Wilson. Synopsis: A teenager’s weekend at a lake house with her father takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts wreaks havoc on their lives. Debuts online on June 5th, 2020.
The Old Guard (2020). Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. Written by Greg Rucka (based on the comic book by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez). Starring Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Harry Melling. Synopsis: A covert team of immortal mercenaries are suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered. Debuts on Netflix on July 10th, 2020.
Miss Juneteenth (2020). Written and directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples. Starring Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, Alexis Chikaeze. Synopsis: A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the “Miss Juneteenth” pageant. US release date is TBA.
You Don’t Nomi (2020). Directed by Jeffrey McHale. Synopsis: A documentary tracing the redemptive journey of Paul Verhoeven’s “Showgirls” from notorious flop to cult classic, and maybe even masterpiece. Debuts online on June 9th, 2020.
The Outpost (2020). Directed by Rod Lurie. Written by Eric Johnson (based on the book by Paul Tamasy and Jake Tapper). Starring Orlando Bloom, Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones. Synopsis: A small team of U.S. soldiers battle against hundreds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Debuts online on July 2nd, 2020.
Relic (2020). Directed by Natalie Erika James. Written by Natalie Erika James and Christian White. Starring Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, Robyn Nevin. Synopsis: A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home. Debuts online on July 10th, 2020.
The Wanting Mare (2020). Written and directed by Nicholas Ashe Bateman. Starring Jordan Monaghan, Josh Clark, Yasamin Keshtkar. Synopsis: In Whithren, a line of women pass a recurring dream through multiple generations. US release date is TBA.
Welcome to Chechnya (2020). Directed by David France. Synopsis: A group of activists risk their lives fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in Chechnya. US release date is TBA.
The Last Days of American Crime (2020). Directed by Olivier Megaton. Written by Rick Remender and Karl Gajdusek (based on the comic book by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini). Starring Michael Pitt, Edgar Ramírez, Sharlto Copley. Synopsis: In the not-too-distant future, as a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts. Debuts on Netflix on June 5th, 2020.
Force of Nature (2020). Directed by Michael Polish. Written by Cory Miller. Starring Mel Gibson, Kate Bosworth, Emile Hirsch. Synopsis: A gang of thieves plan a heist during a hurricane and encounter trouble when a cop tries to force everyone in the building to evacuate. Debuts online on June 30th, 2020.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020). Directed by David Dobkin. Written by Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele. Starring Natasia Demetriou, Rachel McAdams, Will Ferrell. Synopsis: When aspiring musicians Lars and Sigrit are given the opportunity to represent their country at the world’s biggest song competition, they finally have a chance to prove that any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for. Debuts on Netflix on June 26th, 2020.
American Woman (2020). Written and directed by Semi Chellas (based on the novel by Susan Choi). Starring Hong Chau, Ellen Burstyn, David Cubitt. Synopsis: Inspired by the headline-dominating kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst in 1974, this atmospheric drama is a fictionalized re-imagining of her time in hiding, from the perspective of Jenny, a political activist assigned to take care of her. US release date is TBA.
Tommaso (2020). Written and directed by Abel Ferrara. Starring Cristina Chiriac, Willem Dafoe, Anna Ferrara. Synopsis: The story of an American artist living in Rome with his young European wife Nikki and their 3-year-old daughter, Dee Dee. Debuts online on June 5th, 2020.
The Short History of the Long Road (2020). Written and directed by Ani Simon-Kennedy. Starring Danny Trejo, Maggie Siff, Steven Ogg. Synopsis: A group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II Hollywood try to make it big – no matter the cost. Debuts online on June 16th, 2020.
Babyteeth (2020). Directed by Shannon Murphy. Written by Rita Kalnejais. Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Andrea Demetriades, Essie Davis. Synopsis: When seriously ill teenager Milla falls madly in love with smalltime drug dealer Moses, it’s her parents’ worst nightmare. But as Milla’s first brush with love brings her a new lust for life, things get messy and traditional morals go out the window. Debuts online on June 19th, 2020.
Chaz Ebert on “The Last Dance”
Matt writes: Chaz Ebert recently appeared on Christy Lemire’s Breakfast All Day podcast to discuss ESPN’S hugely entertaining docuseries, “The Last Dance,” which inspired her to share some priceless stories about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. You can read them here.
R.I.P. Lynn Shelton and Fred Willard
Matt writes: On May 15th, we lost two extraordinary talents: the wonderful filmmaker Lynn Shelton (1965-2020) and the comedy genius Fred Willard (1933-2020). You can read our respective tributes to them penned by Brian Tallerico (here) and Peter Sobczynski (here).
Soursweet (1988). Directed by Mike Newell. Written by Ian McEwan (based on the novel by Timothy Mo). Starring Sylvia Chang, Danny Dun, Jodi Long. Synopsis: Just married Hong Kong couple Chen & Lily emigrate to England, soon to become parents to a little baby boy. When Chen lets his colleague Fok seduce him down a path of mounting gambling debts, he is recruited as a drug courier for a shadowy Chinese triad. Suddenly he realizes that getting their own enterprise could be their only means of escape.
Paper Mask (1990). Directed by Christopher Morahan. Written by John Collee. Starring Paul McGann, Amanda Donohoe, Frederick Treves. Synopsis: A lowly hospital orderly impersonates a recently deceased doctor and goes to work in the busy ER of a small hospital where he meets and befriends a nurse who slowly figures out his secret and helps him maintain his charade.
The Slab Boys (1997). Written and directed by John Byrne. Starring Robin Laing, Russell Barr, Bill Gardiner. Synopsis: Paisley, Scotland, in 1957. Three working-class lads look forward to the staff dance at the local carpet factory. Exuberant social piece of observation cinema that concentrates on the boys’ obsessions with lust, music and ‘getting out’