#471 November 14, 2023

Matt writes: With the awards season in full swing, there are plentiful enticing films arriving both on streaming platforms and in theaters, including Raven Jackson’s acclaimed debut feature, “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt.” You can read Monica Castillo’s glowing review of the film here, as well as Marya E. Gates’ interview with the filmmaker (which is excerpted below) here.

I knew the script wouldn’t be the final film. I knew that going into production, going into the edit. So it was really having to see, okay, what is here to work with, and then, in the same way, that with the script, it was a lot of writing and then taking away and trusting the process of that, it was a lot of exploring and then trying things in different places. We shot more than is in the final film. A lot of beautiful things worked in the script, but the final film didn’t need it or want it. Listening to that and trusting the process of the exploration, taking days off, and then coming back to it. So it was a lot of that. Knowing the emotional journey that I’m aiming to build and then really being intentional about how it’s building. What does it need here? Do I need to split up this portrait I thought was actually going to be in one chunk? Does it actually want to be split into three moments that are placed at different points in the film? Things like that. A lot of questions like that to build that emotional journey.”


Perfect Days (2023). Directed by Wim Wenders. Written by Wim Wenders and Takuma Takasaki. Starring Kôji Yakusho, Yumi Asô, Tokio Emoto. Synopsis: A janitor in Japan drives between jobs listening to rock music. US release date is TBA.

The Sweet East (2023). Directed by Sean Price Williams. Written by Nick Pinkerton. Starring Talia Ryder, Simon Rex, Ayo Edebiri. Synopsis: A picaresque journey through the cities and woods of the Eastern seaboard of the U.S undertaken by Lillian, a high school senior from South Carolina. She gets her first glimpse of the wider world on a class trip to Washington, D.C. US release date is TBA.

The Fall Guy (2024). Directed by David Leitch. Written by Drew Pearce (based on the television series created by Glen A. Larson). Starring Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Hannah Waddingham. Synopsis: Colt Seavers is a stuntman who left the business a year earlier to focus on both his physical and mental health. He’s drafted back into service when the star of a mega-budget studio movie, which is being directed by his ex, goes missing. Debuts in the US on March 1st, 2024.

Omen (2023). Directed by Baloji. Written by Baloji and Thomas van Zuylen. Starring Lucie Debay, Marc Zinga, Eliane Umuhire. Synopsis: After spending years in Belgium, a young Congolese man returns to his birthplace of Kinshasa to confront the intricacies of his family and culture. Debuts in the US on November 15th, 2023.

Lift (2024). Directed by F. Gary Gray. Written by Daniel Kunka. Starring Kevin Hart, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Vincent D’Onofrio. Synopsis: Follows a master thief and her ex-boyfriend who team up to steal $100 million in gold bullion being transported on a 777 passenger flight. Debuts on Netflix on January 12th, 2023.

Genie (2023). Directed by Sam Boyd. Written by Richard Curtis. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Paapa Essiedu, Alan Cumming. Synopsis: The film is a fairy-tale comedy about a workaholic man who enlists the help of a magical genie to help win his family back before Christmas. Debuts on Peacock on November 22nd, 2023.

Candy Cane Lane (2023). Directed by Reginald Hudlin. Written by Kelly Younger. Starring Eddie Murphy, Tracee Ellis Ross, Jillian Bell. Synopsis: A man is determined to win the neighborhood’s annual Christmas decorating contest. He makes a pact with an elf to help him win–and the elf casts a spell that brings the 12 days of Christmas to life, which brings unexpected chaos to town. Debuts on Prime Video on December 1st, 2023.

The Family Plan (2023). Directed by Simon Cellan Jones. Written by David Coggeshall. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, Maggie Q. Synopsis: A former top assassin living incognito as a suburban dad must take his unsuspecting family on the run when his past catches up to him. Debuts on Apple TV+ on December 15th, 2023.

Family Switch (2023). Directed by McG. Written by Victoria Strouse and Adam Sztykiel (based on the book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal). Starring Emma Myers, Jennifer Garner, Rita Moreno. Synopsis: When a chance encounter with an astrological reader causes the Walkers to wake up to a full body switch, can they unite to land a promotion, college interview, record deal, and soccer tryout? Debuts on Netflix on November 30th, 2023.

Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie (2023). Directed by Randy Zisk. Written by Andy Breckman. Starring Tony Shalhoub, Hector Elizondo, Melora Hardin. Synopsis: It follows Monk, a brilliant detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He returns to solve one last case involving his stepdaughter Molly, a journalist preparing for her wedding. Debuts on Peacock on December 8th, 2023.

Masters of the Air (2024). Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Dee Rees and Timothy Van Patten. Written by John Orloff (based on the book by Donald L. Miller). Starring Austin Butler, Barry Keoghan, Callum Turner. Synopsis: Five miles above the ground and behind enemy lines, eleven men inside a bomber known as a “Flying Fortress” battle flocks of German fighters. Debuts on Apple TV+ on January 26th, 2024.

The Artful Dodger (2023). Created by James McNamara, David Maher and David Taylor. Starring Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Thewlis, Maia Mitchell. Synopsis: Set in 1850s Australia the series follows adult double life of Charles Dickens’ famous prince of thieves Dodger now a surgeon, but who can’t shake his predilection for crime. Debuts on Hulu on November 29th, 2023.

Godzilla Minus One (2023). Written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki. Starring Ryunosuke Kamiki, Minami Hamabe, Yuki Yamada. Synopsis: Post war Japan is at its lowest point when a new crisis emerges in the form of a giant monster, baptized in the horrific power of the atomic bomb. Debuts in the US on December 1st, 2023.

Mean Girls (2024). Directed by Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. Written by Tina Fey. Starring Angourie Rice, Ashley Park, Tina Fey. Synopsis: Cady Heron is a hit with the Plastics, an A-list girl clique at her new school when she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George. Debuts in the US on January 12th, 2024.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024). Directed by Gil Kenan. Written by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman (based on the film directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis). Starring Mckenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Bill Murray. Synopsis: When the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an evil force, Ghostbusters new and old must join forces to protect their home and save the world from a second ice age. Debuts in the US on March 29th, 2024.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024). Directed by Wes Ball. Written by Patrick Aison, Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (based on characters created by Pierre Boulle). Starring William H. Macy, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand. Synopsis: Many years after the reign of Caesar, a young ape goes on a journey that will lead him to question everything he’s been taught about the past and make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. Debuts in the US on May 24th, 2024.

Indiana Jones: Timeless Heroes (2023). Directed by Laurent Bouzereau. Synopsis: A documentary about Harrison Ford’s portrayal of the iconic character, Indiana Jones. Debuts on Disney+ on December 1st, 2023.

Inside Out 2 (2024). Directed by Kelsey Mann. Written by Meg LeFauve. Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Maya Hawke. Synopsis: Follow Riley, in her teenage years encountering new emotions. Debuts in the US on June 14th, 2024.

Meg Ryan on “What Happens Later

Matt writes: In the latest installment of her Female Filmmakers in Focus column, Marya E. Gates interviews screen icon Meg Ryan about her new directorial effort, “What Happens Later.” You can read their conversation here.

R.I.P. Matthew Perry (1969-2023)

Matt writes: Matthew Perry, the beloved star of the hit sitcom “Friends,” passed away at age 54 on October 28th. Read Brian Tallerico’s moving tribute to the late actor here.

Free Movies

Lady Gangster (1942). Directed by Robert Florey. Written by Anthony Coldeway (based on the play by Dorothy Mackaye and Carlton Miles). Starring Faye Emerson, Julie Bishop, Jackie Gleason. Synopsis: Dot Burton has acted as a decoy in a bank robbery and fails to get away. Her arrest attracts the attention of Ken Phillips, a former childhood sweetheart who believes her innocent until she confesses. But before going to jail she manages to steal the bank’s $40,000 from her accomplices and leaves it with her landlady. 

Watch “Lady Gangster”

I Shot Billy the Kid (1950). Directed by William Berke. Written by Orville H. Hampton. Starring Don ‘Red’ Barry, Robert Lowery, Wally Vernon. Synopsis: Although the Lincoln County War has come to a conclusion, Billy the Kid turns his back on a gubernatorial pardon and continues his lawless career.

Watch “I Shot Billy the Kid”

Blonde in Bondage (1957). Directed by Robert Brandt. Written by Peter Bourne. Starring Mark Miller, Lars Ekborg, Anita Thallaug. Synopsis: American reporter doing a story on Swedish nightlife gets involved with a drug-addicted nightclub singer.

Watch “Blonde in Bondage”


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