Flee is a familiar film about refugees that excels because of its unique details. The documentary from director Jonas Poher Rasmussen tells one man’s story of his attempts to find a better life in a more hospitable country. Plenty of documentaries have tackled the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, both from a historical perspective and a modern one. But the film takes a micro approach by focusing on one specific family, and it’s all the better for it.
Starring: Halle Berry, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Adan Canto, Danny Boyd Jr., Sheila Atim, Adriane Lenox
Bruised is a film that’s filled with so many sports clichés that it may as well be called “The Invincible Hoosiers Rocky Miracle.” Some familiarity is to be expected within such a well-worn genre, but the film barely brings enough to the table to justify its existence. That’s not to say that the film is a total slog; Halle Berry’s directorial debut is pretty to look at and includes some likeable performances. But you’ve seen this film before, in one form or another, and that is what ultimately holds back its potential.
Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, Maria Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo
The biggest issue that Disney has with Encanto is that the film is a Disney production. With the bar already set so high from the prolific animation studio, it’s becoming harder and harder for a new film to rise above what has come before. That’s not to say that Encanto is a bad film by any means; rather, it can’t help but be compared to Disney’s other recent entries. The film has all the makings of a great animated classic – and it may even be Disney’s best of this year – but when looking at the Mouse House’s total output, it’s hard not to be reminded of other, more unique visions.
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Judith Light, Vanessa Hudgens
In 2021 there will be a total of 9 musicals adapted from Broadway for the big screen. The world will also be subjected to 4 projects involving Lin-Manuel Miranda in one way or another in the same year (not to mention the hangover of Hamilton‘s premiere on Disney+ late in 2020). Those two worlds collide with Miranda as director in tick, tick…BOOM!. Say what you will about Miranda’s hegemony with his musical stylings, but he manages to distinguish himself with visual and dramatic flair in his debut film.
Almost any time somebody proclaims “I’m doing this for you,” it means they’re trying to swindle you in one way or another. The line isn’t uttered excessively throughout The Shrink Next Door, Apple TV+’s new limited series, but it may as well be the show’s tagline. The show – based on the podcast of the same name from Wondry and Bloomberg Media, itself based on true events – chronicles almost 30 years of manipulation and greed, all under the guise of self-help. Sounds like the set-up to a Scorsese drama, doesn’t it?
Who are the Eternals? And why did Marvel recruit Chloe Zhao, director of the film that won 3 Oscars earlier this year – including Best Picture – to direct a film about them? Fans of Zhao’s work know her penchant for methodically finding the humanity in stories that have often been told before. And those sensibilities stand at a stark contrast to the bulk of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s modus operandi. We love Tony Stark and Captain America because of their charisma and their duty to serve, but what would happen if they ever questioned that duty? This is the question that lies at the heart of Zhao’s Eternals, and while this may stir an interesting debate, the answers likely will turn off mainstream MCU fans.