Matt writes: This past weekend, we lost the beloved comedy director Ivan Reitman, who passed away on February 12th at age 75. His death makes the palpable sense of loss in his son’s recent blockbuster, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” feel all the more poignant. In addition to reading Peter Sobczynski’s beautiful tribute to Reitman, be sure to revisit Roger Ebert’s enthusiastic review of the director’s original 1984 classic, “Ghostbusters,” which is excerpted below (along with the embedded “Siskel & Ebert” review of the film)…
“‘Ghostbusters’ is one of those rare movies where the original, fragile comic vision has survived a multimillion-dollar production. It is not a complete vindication for big-budget comedies, since it’s still true, as a general rule, that the more you spend, the fewer laughs you get. But it uses its money wisely, and when that, ahem, monster marches down a Manhattan avenue and climbs the side of a skyscraper … we’re glad they spent the money for the special effects because it gets one of the biggest laughs in a long time.”
Nope (2022). Written and directed by Jordan Peele. Starring Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya, Steven Yeun. Synopsis: The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery. Debuts in the US on July 22nd, 2022.
Lucy and Desi (2022). Directed by Amy Poehler. Synopsis: This film will explore the rise of comedian icon Lucille Ball, her relationship with Desi Arnaz, and how their groundbreaking sitcom “I Love Lucy” forever changed Hollywood, cementing her legacy long after her death in 1989. Debuts on Prime Video on March 4th, 2022.
Windfall (2022). Directed by Charlie McDowell. Written by Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker. Starring Jesse Plemons, Jason Segel, Lily Collins. Synopsis: A man breaks into a tech billionaire’s empty vacation home, but things go sideways when the arrogant mogul and his wife arrive for a last-minute getaway. Debuts on Netflix on March 18th, 2022.
Family Squares (2022). Directed by Stephanie Laing. Written by Stephanie Laing and Brad Morris. Starring Judy Greer, Ann Dowd, Elsie Fisher. Synopsis: A family matriarch, who wants to reunite her family before she passes. US release date is TBA.
Huda’s Salon (2022). Written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad. Starring Manal Awad, Ali Suliman, Maisa Abd Elhadi. Synopsis: A woman whose visit to a hair salon turns into a nightmare when she is blackmailed by its owner. US release date is TBA.
Gold (2022). Directed by Anthony Hayes. Written by Anthony Hayes and Polly Smyth. Starring Zac Efron, Susie Porter, Anthony Hayes. Synopsis: When two men discover the biggest gold nugget ever found they must find a way to excavate it. Debuts in the US on March 18th, 2022.
Ahed’s Knee (2022). Directed by Nadav Lapid. Written by Nadav Lapid and Haim Lapid. Starring Avshalom Pollak, Nur Fibak, Lidor Edri. Synopsis: An Israeli filmmaker throws himself in the midst of two battles doomed to fail: one against the death of freedom, the other against the death of a mother. Debuts in the US on March 18th, 2022.
Marvelous and the Black Hole (2022). Written and directed by Kate Tsang. Starring Miya Cech, Leonardo Nam, Rhea Perlman. Synopsis: A teenage delinquent teams up with a surly children’s party magician to navigate her dysfunctional family and inner demons. US release date is TBA.
Fresh (2022). Directed by Mimi Cave. Written by Lauryn Kahn. Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. Gibbs. Synopsis: The horrors of modern dating seen through one young woman’s defiant battle to survive her new boyfriend’s unusual appetites. Debuts in the US on March 4th, 2022.
Flux Gourmet (2022). Written and directed by Peter Strickland. Starring Asa Butterfield, Gwendoline Christie, Richard Bremmer. Synopsis: Set at an institute devoted to culinary and alimentary performance, a collective finds themselves embroiled in power struggles, artistic vendettas and gastrointestinal disorders. US release date is TBA.
Pieces of Her (2022). Directed by Minkie Spiro. Based on the novel by Karin Slaughter. Starring Toni Collette, David Wenham, Jessica Barden. Synopsis: When a Saturday afternoon trip to the mall with her mother suddenly explodes into violence, an adrift young woman’s conception of her mother is forever changed. Debuts on Netflix on March 4th, 2022.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (2022). Created by Patrick McKay and John D. Payne. Starring Morfydd Clark, Peter Mullan, Benjamin Walker. Synopsis: Epic drama set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. Debuts on Prime Video on September 2nd, 2022.
They Call Me Magic (2022). Directed by Rick Famuyiwa. Synopsis: A look into Earvin Johnson’s life, who left his mark on history through his work, and how he continues to impact our culture today. Debuts on Apple TV+ on April 22nd, 2022.
Shining Girls (2022). Created by Silka Luisa. Starring Elisabeth Moss, Amy Brenneman, Phillipa Soo. Synopsis: Years after a brutal attack left her in a constantly shifting reality, Kirby Mazrachi learns that a recent murder is linked to her assault. She teams with a veteran reporter to understand her ever-changing present and confront her past. Debuts on Apple TV+ on April 29th, 2022.
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (2022). Directed by Ramin Bahrani. Written by Walter Mosley. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Dominique Fishback, Walton Goggins. Synopsis: Ptolemy Grey, 91, is on the brink of sinking into dementia, but he experiences a seismic shift when given the opportunity to briefly regain his memories, and he uses this fleeting lucidity to solve his nephew’s death and come to terms with his past. Debuts on Apple TV+ on March 11th, 2022.
KIMI (2022). Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Written by David Koepp. Starring Zoë Kravitz, Devin Ratray, Derek DelGaudio. Synopsis: An agoraphobic Seattle tech worker uncovers evidence of a crime. Now streaming on HBO Max.
Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022). Directed by Simon Curtis. Written by Julian Fellowes. Starring Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Imelda Staunton. Synopsis: Follow-up to the 2019 feature film in which the Crawley family and Downton staff received a royal visit from the King and Queen of Great Britain. Debuts in the US on May 20th, 2022.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). Directed by Sam Raimi. Written by Michael Waldron and Jade Halley Bartlett (based on the comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko). Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Patrick Stewart. Synopsis: Dr. Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens the door to the multiverse, including an alternate version of himself, whose threat to humanity is too great for the combined forces of Strange, Wong, and Wanda Maximoff. Debuts in the US on May 6th, 2022.
Haskell Wexler’s 100th Birthday
Matt writes: On February 6th, the day that would’ve marked the 100th birthday of master cinematographer and filmmaker Haskell Wexler (who passed away in 2015), Chaz Ebert penned a loving tribute to him. It concludes with the video embedded above of Roger Ebert singing Woody Guthrie’s “Union Maid” alongside Haskell in a sailor costume. It is truly a performance for the ages.
Praising “The Worst Person in the World”
Matt writes: Among the Oscar nominees announced on February 8th (read the full list here) is one of the best films released so far in 2022, Joachim Trier’s “The Worst Person in the World,” starring Renate Reinsve in a Cannes prize-winning performance. The film is nominated for Best International Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards airing on March 27th on ABC. You can read Carlos Aguilar’s four-star review of the film here, and Isaac Feldberg’s interview with Trier and Reinsve here.
Heartaches (1947). Directed by Basil Wrangell. Written by George Bricker. Starring Sheila Ryan, Edward Norris, Chill Wills. Synopsis: Up-and-coming Hollywood actor/crooner, Vic Morton, has a secret. He starts receiving death threats in the mail and an attempt on his life is made. Soon after, two of his associates are murdered. Who is behind it all?
The Proud Rebel (1958). Directed by Michael Curtiz. Written by Joseph Petracca and Lillie Hayward (based on the story by James Edward Grant). Starring Alan Ladd, Olivia de Havilland, Harry Dean Stanton. Synopsis: A Confederate veteran living in the Yankee North struggles with his son’s shock induced muteness and the hate of the Northerners.
Watch “The Proud Rebel”
The Promise of Love (1980). Directed by Don Taylor. Written by Harry Longstreet, Renee Longstreet and Carol Saraceno. Starring Valerie Bertinelli, Craig T. Nelson, Shelley Long. Synopsis: A woman who gave up college to marry her Marine boyfriend becomes a widow soon after her husband is sent to Vietnam.