Matt writes: Last month, the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival unveiled numerous pictures destined to be major players during this year’s awards season, including Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar hopeful, “Belfast” (view the trailer embedded below). Visit our official table of contents to read the complete festival coverage published at RogerEbert.com and penned by Brian Tallerico, Robert Daniels, Marya E. Gates and Tomris Laffly.
Licorice Pizza (2021). Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Cooper Hoffman, Alana Haim, Bradley Cooper. Synopsis: The story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and going through the treacherous navigation of first love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973. Debuts in the US on November 26th, 2021.
Cyrano (2021). Directed by Joe Wright. Written by Erica Schmidt (based on the play by Edmond Rostand). Starring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr. Synopsis: Too self-conscious to woo Roxanne himself, wordsmith Cyrano de Bergerac helps young Christian nab her heart through love letters. Debuts in the US on December 25th, 2021.
Red Rocket (2021). Directed by Sean Baker. Written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch. Starring Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Brenda Deiss. Synopsis: Mikey Saber is a washed-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown, not that anyone really wants him back. Debuts in the US on December 3rd, 2021.
The Souvenir Part II (2021). Written and directed by Joanna Hogg. Starring Honor Swinton Byrne, Charlie Heaton, Tilda Swinton. Synopsis: In the aftermath of her tumultuous relationship, Julie begins to untangle her fraught love for him in making her graduation film, sorting fact from his elaborately constructed fiction. Debuts in the US on October 29th, 2021.
The Harder They Fall (2021). Directed by Jeymes Samuel. Written by Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin. Starring Regina King, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz. Synopsis: When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western. Debuts on Netflix on November 3rd, 2021.
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021). Written and directed by Radu Jude. Starring Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Malai. Synopsis: Emi, a school teacher, finds her career and reputation under threat after a personal sex tape is leaked on the Internet. Forced to meet the parents demanding her dismissal, Emi refuses to surrender to their pressure. Debuts in the US on November 19th, 2021.
Wolf (2021). Written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri. Starring George MacKay, Lily-Rose Depp, Terry Notary. Synopsis: A high-concept arthouse drama about a boy who believes he is a wolf. Debuts in the US on December 3rd, 2021.
Hypnotic (2021). Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote. Written by Richard D’Ovidio. Starring Kate Siegel, Jason O’Mara, Dulé Hill. Synopsis: A young woman seeking self-improvement enlists the help of a renowned hypnotherapist. But after a handful of intense sessions, she discovers unexpected and deadly consequences. Debuts on Netflix on October 27th, 2021.
Violet (2021). Written and directed by Justine Bateman. Starring Olivia Munn, Luke Bracey, Justin Theroux. Synopsis: Violet realizes that her entire life is built on fear-based decisions, and must do everything differently to become her true self. Debuts in the US on November 5th, 2021.
Encanto (2021). Directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard and Charise Castro Smith. Written by Directed by Jared Bush, Charise Castro Smith and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Starring John Leguizamo, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz. Synopsis: A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers. Debuts in the US on November 24th, 2021.
Operation Mincemeat (2022). Directed by John Madden. Written by Michelle Ashford (based on the book by Ben Macintyre). Starring Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald. Synopsis: During WWII, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops. Debuts in the US on January 7th, 2022.
Chess of the Wind (1976), 4K restoration. Written and directed by Mohammad Reza Aslani. Starring Fakhri Khorvash, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Mohammad Reza Aslani. Synopsis: The first lady of a noble house has died and now there is conflict between the remainders for taking over her inheritance. US release date is TBA.
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (2021). Directed by William Eubank. Written by Christopher Landon. Starring Roland Buck III, Jill Andre, Emily Bader. Synopsis: Next chapter in the ‘Paranormal Activity’ film franchise. Debuts on Paramount+ on October 29th, 2021.
Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago (1985), director’s cut. Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Talia Shire. Synopsis: Rocky Balboa proudly holds the world heavyweight boxing championship, but a new challenger has stepped forward: Drago, a six-foot-four, 261-pound fighter who has the backing of the Soviet Union. US release date is TBA.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021). Written and directed by Johannes Roberts. Starring Hannah John-Kamen, Neal McDonough, Kaya Scodelario. Synopsis: Set in 1998, this origin story explores the secrets of the mysterious Spencer Mansion and the ill-fated Raccoon City. Debuts in the US on November 24th, 2021.
Maya and the Three (2021). Directed by Jorge R. Gutiérrez. Written by Jorge R. Gutiérrez, Candie Langdale, Doug Langdale and Silvia Cardenas Olivas. Starring Zoe Saldana, Hailey Hermida, Carolina Ravassa. Synopsis: A Mesoamerican warrior princess embarks on a quest to recruit three legendary fighters to help save the world of gods and humankind. Debuts on Netflix on October 22nd, 2021.
What Happened, Brittany Murphy? (2021). Directed by Cynthia Hill. Synopsis: Presents an in-depth, intimate character portrait exploring the life and career and mysterious circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 90’s actress and rising star, Brittany Murphy. Debuts on HBO Max on October 14th, 2021.
tick, tick…BOOM! (2021). Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Written by Steven Levenson (based on the book by Jonathan Larson). Starring Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Bradley Whitford. Synopsis: On the cusp of his 30th birthday, a promising young theater composer navigates love, friendship, and the pressures of life as an artist in New York City. Debuts on Netflix on November 19th, 2021.
Maya Cade on the Black Film Archive
Matt writes: Screenwriter and movie buff Maya Cade recently spoke with Nell Minow about creating the Black Film Archive, a collection of films from 1915-1979 that have “something significant to say about the Black experience.” You can read the full conversation here.
The Power of “Field of Dreams“
Matt writes: Our Far-Flung Correspondent Gerardo Valero recently wrote a beautiful essay that analyzed the sustained power of Phil Alden Robinson’s 1989 Oscar-nominated classic, “Field of Dreams,” which Roger Ebert awarded four stars upon its initial release. You can view the full “Siskel & Ebert” episode that features the critic duo’s review of the film in the video embedded above.
Boarding House Blues (1948). Directed by Josh Binney. Written by Hal Seeger. Starring Moms Mabley, Dusty Fletcher, Marcellus Wilson. Synopsis: Tenants of a Harlem boarding house put on a show to save their home.
Cause for Alarm! (1951). Directed by Tay Garnett. Written by Mel Dinelli and Tom Lewis. Starring Loretta Young, Barry Sullivan, Bruce Cowling. Synopsis: An invalid husband wrongly believes his wife and doctor are conspiring to kill him and outlines that suspicion in a letter, which causes a serious concern when he ends up dying anyway.
Warhead (1977). Directed by John O’Connor. Written by Buddy Ruskin. Starring David Janssen, Karin Dor, Christopher Stone. Synopsis: Palestinian guerrillas, Israeli commandos and an American colonel fight to keep a nuclear warhead mistakenly dropped in the Jordanian desert by a U.S. Air Force nuclear bomber.