February jumps right into the deep end with a flood of new movies across all platforms.
Looks like after a fairly tame January, 2021 is looking to get in gear. With the postponement of the Oscar nomination deadline, February has become the new December, with tons of potential award winners looking to get into theaters in time to qualify. This means that several of our most anticipated films are out this weekend in theaters or VOD. It also means that several of our least anticipated films are doing the same! Let’s try to pick the winners here.
Dara of Jasenovac
The film is set in the Nazi-occupied Croatian Ustasha regime “NDH” in former Yugoslavia during WWII. The film is told through the experiences of a little girl named Dara who is sent as a child during the Holocaust in the Balkans to the infamous extermination camp complex Jasenovac, also known as “Balkan’s Auschwitz”, when it was ruled by sadistic camp commander Maks Luburic until the liberation.
John Peterson (Vigo Mortensen) lives with his partner Eric and their adopted daughter in Southern California. When he is visited by his aging father Willis (Lance Henriksen) from Los Angeles who is searching for a place to retire, their two very different worlds collide.
Staff Pick #1: Hard to bet against Vigo here in his directorial debut. The genre of fathers and sons reconciling is attracting a ton of top-tier talent, as a “twin” of this film, The Father starring Anthony Hopkins, is due out later in February.
The Human Factor
The epic behind-the-scenes story of the United States’ 30-year effort to secure peace in the Middle East. Recounted from the unique perspective of the American mediators on the frontlines.
Little Fish (Also on VOD)
A couple fights to hold their relationship together as a memory loss virus spreads and threatens to erase the history of their love and courtship.
Staff Pick #2: This film is still pushing all the right buttons for me. A relatively unknown cast lets the plot stay front and center. A story about a mystery ailment robbing people of their memories is right on target for a pandemic scarred populace.
War photographer W. Eugene Smith (Johnny Depp) travels back to Japan where he documents the devastating effect of mercury poisoning in coastal communities.
The Reckoning (Also on VOD)
Evelyn, a young widow haunted by the recent suicide of her husband Joseph, is falsely accused of being a witch by her Landlord after she rejects his advances.
Son of the South (Also on VOD)
A grandson of a Klansman comes of age in the deep south and eventually joins the Civil Rights Movement. Based on Bob Zellner’s autobiography “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek.”
Heartworn Highways (Kino Marquee)
In the mid-‘70s, filmmaker James Szalapski documented the then-nascent country music movement that would become known as “outlaw country.” Inspired, in part, by newly-long-haired Willie Nelson’s embrace of hippie attitudes and audiences, a younger generation of artists including Townes Van Zandt, David Alan Coe, Steve Earle and Guy Clark popularized and developed the outlaw sound.
M.C. Escher – Journey to Infinity (Kino Marquee)
the story of world famous Dutch graphic artist M.C Escher (1898-1972). Equal parts history, psychology, and psychedelia, Robin Lutz’s entertaining, eye-opening portrait gives us the man through his own words and images: diary musings, excerpts from lectures, correspondence and more are voiced by British actor Stephen Fry, while Escher’s woodcuts, lithographs, and other print works appear in both original and playfully altered form.
A Glitch in the Matrix (Alamo at Home)
What if we are living in a simulation, and the world as we know it is not real? To tackle this mind-bending idea, acclaimed filmmaker Rodney Ascher (ROOM 237, THE NIGHTMARE) uses a noted speech from Philip K. Dick to dive down the rabbit hole of science, philosophy, and conspiracy theory.
Two of Us
The deeply touching feature directorial debut of Paris-based Italian filmmaker Filippo Meneghetti follows two retired women, Nina (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevalier), who have been secretly in love for decades.
Video on Demand
A Nightmare Wakes (Shudder)
While composing her famous novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (Alix Wilton Regan) descends into an opium-fueled fever dream while carrying on a torrid love affair with Percy Shelley (Giullian Yao Gioiello). As she writes, the characters of her novel come to life and begin to plague the relationships with those closest to her as the shadow of her monster threatens to overcome her.
Bliss (Amazon Prime)
Bliss is a mind-bending love story following Greg (Owen Wilson) who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel (Salma Hayek), a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is nothing but a computer simulation. Doubtful at first, Greg eventually discovers there may be some truth to Isabel’s wild conspiracy.
Staff Pick #3: I’m still a bit iffy on this movie escaping the constraints of its premise, but I’m willing to gamble on Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek beating the odds.
Mike Markovich, a young stockbroker at a Mob-controlled Wall Street firm, is betrayed and imprisoned for six years. When he is released, his deadly quest for vengeance begins.
A pregnant woman returns to her recently deceased grandparents’ old family home to spend time with her estranged mother. What begins as a tenuous reunion slowly turns terrifying.
The Right One
Sara, a novelist struggling with writer’s block, needs inspiration — and finds it when she meets Godfrey, a down-on-his-luck oddball who constantly changes personas and alter egos in order to cope with his past and avoid reality. Just as Godfrey begins to open up to Sara, he discovers that she’s been using him as inspiration for her next novel, and he vanishes from her life. Did Sara just lose the man of her dreams, or will she be able to find him and make things right?
Set Free Posse
Founded in Anaheim, California, in 1982 by the ever-controversial Pastor Phil Aguilar, Set Free Church was considered to be a cult by many. However, thousands of bikers, addicts, homeless and outsiders have experienced life changing results by following Pastor Phil’s passion to reach those who are down and out and install faith into their lives. Although many key figures declined to be interviewed, over fifty people share their experience of the Set Free movement including unseen archival footage showing how this unique ministry has impacted thousands of lives and continues to do so today.
The Wanting Mare
In the world of Anmaere, wild horses run through the moorlands and up the coast. These horses are the city’s most valuable export and, as a result, are hunted, trapped, sold, and shipped across the sea once a year. For those in Whithren, this trade passage creates lucrative and exciting possibilities.
Meanwhile, in a small house just north of the city, a young woman dies in childbirth. Her last words are an attempt to tell her daughter of the life she’ll have and her inheritance of a recurring dream that must be kept secret — for it contains the memories of another age long before us, one where magic and myth were alive in the world.