Matt writes: It always lifts my spirits to see a brand new movie theater open in my sweet home of Chicago, and that is precisely what happened on January 27th, when Alamo Drafthouse Wrigleyville welcomed its first customers at 3519 North Clark Street. Dedicated to John Hughes, whose work is honored with a special display replicating the famous climax from “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” (pictured below), the venue also contains a video rental store and cocktail bar in the lobby. You can read my full report on the theater here, and find a quote below from Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, upon being asked by RogerEbert.com publisher Chaz Ebert about how he’s been able to expand his theater chain when so many others have been nearly derailed by the ongoing pandemic.
“All theaters during Covid had a really hard time,” answered League. “We went through a chapter eleven restructuring process, and we came out of that stronger and leaner. We learned a few things about how to be lean, and now we’re ready to keep marching. It’s funny, the press that you sometimes hear is that cinema is dead and that it’s all streaming from here. Pardon my French, but I think that’s utter bullshit. The idea that you have a kitchen in your house but yet you still continue to go to restaurants, that’s been proven tried and true. So it’s the obligation of cinemas to have an incredible experience and compel you to come out of the home. Great directors want their movies to be seen with great presentation in this setting, not on a laptop while you’re in bed multitasking and checking email. The industry is strong and it’s coming back. We actually had a great year last year and this year is going to be even stronger, and so yeah, we got close to death during Covid. Regal, which is currently closing their theaters, is going through that same sort of restructuring process right now, so it’s not like Regal is going to die. They’re going to shed a few theaters, and maybe we’ll pick up a couple of those theaters. We’re ready to march, we’re ready to expand and 2023 is going to be a great year for exhibition.”
Moving On (2023). Written and directed by Paul Weitz. Starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Malcolm McDowell. Synopsis: Two old friends reconnect at a funeral and decide to revenge on the widower who messed with them decades before. Debuts in US theaters on March 17th, 2023.
My Happy Ending (2023). Directed by Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon. Written by Rona Tamir (based on the play by Anat Gov). Starring Andie MacDowell, Miriam Margolyes, Tom Cullen. Synopsis: Follows a famous star who finds herself in a British hospital room with three other women who help her. Debuts in the US on February 24th, 2023.
The Five Devils (2023). Directed by Léa Mysius. Written by Léa Mysius and Paul Guilhaume. Starring Adèle Exarchopoulos, Swala Emati, Sally Dramé. Synopsis: Vicky lives with her mother Joanne and father Jimmie, a man struggling to find his place. When Vicky’s aunt Julia arrives after being released from prison, her presence brings back the past in a violent, magical way. US release date is TBA.
The Lost King (2023). Directed by Stephen Frears. Written by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (based on the book by Philippa Langley). Starring Sally Hawkins, Shonagh Price, Helen Katamba. Synopsis: An amateur historian defies the stodgy academic establishment in her efforts to find King Richard III’s remains, which were lost for over 500 years. US release date is TBA.
The Boogeyman (2023). Directed by Rob Savage. Written by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods and Mark Heyman (based on the short story by Stephen King). Starring Marin Ireland, Chris Messina, Sophie Thatcher. Synopsis: Yet another film adaptation of a story by the king of modern literary horror. Debuts in the US on June 2nd, 2023.
Big George Foreman (2023). Directed by George Tillman Jr.. Written by George Tillman Jr., Frank Baldwin and Dan Gordon. Starring Khris Davis, Forest Whitaker, John Magaro. Synopsis: A biopic on the life and boxing career of George Foreman. Debuts in the US on April 28th, 2023.
The Covenant (2023). Directed by Guy Ritchie. Written by Guy Ritchie, Marn Davies and Ivan Atkinson.Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Alexander Ludwig, Antony Starr. Synopsis: Follows Sergeant John, who on his last tour of duty in Afghanistan is teamed with local interpreter Ahmed, who risks his own life to carry an injured John across miles of grueling terrain to safety. Debuts in the US on April 21st, 2023.
Huesera: The Bone Woman (2023). Directed by Michelle Garza Cervera. Written by Michelle Garza Cervera and Abia Castillo. Starring Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla, Natalia Solián. Synopsis: Valeria has long dreamed about becoming a mother. After learning that she’s pregnant, she expects to feel happy, yet something’s off. Debuts in the US on February 10th, 2023.
Bill Russell: Legend (2023). Directed by Sam Pollard. Synopsis: Features interviews and personal archives from the life and career of NBA legend Bill Russell. Debuts on Netflix on February 8th, 2023.
Marc Maron: From Bleak to Dark (2023). Directed by Steven Feinartz. Synopsis: Follows the funny and fearless Marc Maron over the course of an exhilarating and deeply personal hour, exploring universal topics such as old age, antisemitism, faith. Debuts on HBO on February 11th, 2023.
A Little White Lie (2023). Written and directed by Michael Maren. Starring Michael Shannon, Kate Hudson, Peyton List. Synopsis: When a handyman living in New York City is mistaken for a famous and famously reclusive writer, he’s brought to a university where he is to deliver a keynote address to save the school’s literary festival. Debuts in the US on April 13th, 2023.
La Montaña (2023). Directed by Diego Enrique Osorno. Synopsis: Chronicles the journey of Squad 421 of the Zapatista Army Of Liberation Nacional as they seek allies during the COVID-19 pandemic. US release date is TBA.
65 (2023). Written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. Starring Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman. Synopsis: An astronaut crash lands on a mysterious planet only to discover he’s not alone. Debuts in the US on March 10th, 2023.
Bruiser (2023). Directed by Miles Warren. Written by Miles Warren and Ben Medina. Starring Jalyn Hall, Trevante Rhodes, Shamier Anderson. Synopsis: A 14-year-old boy turns to a charismatic loner for help after being beaten up, in director Miles Warren’s searing feature debut about fathers, families, and the effects of fighting. Debuts on Hulu on February 24th, 2023.
We Have a Ghost (2023). Written and directed by Christopher Landon (based on the story by Geoff Manaugh). Starring Anthony Mackie, David Harbour, Jennifer Coolidge. Synopsis: Finding a ghost named Ernest haunting their new home turns Kevin’s family into overnight social media sensations. But when Kevin and Ernest investigate the mystery of Ernest’s past, they become a target of the CIA. Debuts in the US on February 24th, 2023.
Kill Boksoon (2023). Written and directed by Sung-hyun Byun. Starring Jeon Do-yeon, Hwang Jung-min, Fahim Fazli. Synopsis: A single mother who is a renowned hired killer finds it difficult to achieve a balance between her personal and work life. Debuts on Netflix on March 31st, 2023.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023). Directed by David F. Sandberg. Written by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan (based on the character created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck). Starring Zachary Levi, Grace Caroline Currey, Helen Mirren. Synopsis: The film continues the story of teenage Billy Batson who, upon reciting the magic word “SHAZAM!” is transformed into his adult Super Hero alter ego, Shazam. Debuts in the US on March 17th, 2023.
Murder Mystery 2 (2023). Written and directed by Jeremy Garelick. Starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Strong. Synopsis: Full-time detectives Nick and Audrey are struggling to get their private eye agency off the ground. They find themselves at the center of international abduction when their friend Maharaja, is kidnapped at his own lavish wedding. Debuts on Netflix on March 31st, 2023.
Lukas Dhont on “Close”
Matt writes: I had the enormous privilege of interviewing Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont about his Oscar-nominated masterwork, “Close,” featuring brilliant performances from its young actors Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele. You can read our complete conversation here.
Slamdance Film Festival 2023
Matt writes: Our Managing Editor Brian Tallerico spotlighted four enticing titles at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival, including Elisa Levine and Gabriel Miller’s great documentary, “Sweetheart Deal,” which I praised at last year’s BendFilm Festival. You can read Brian’s coverage here.
The Capture (1950). Directed by John Sturges. Written by Niven Busch. Starring Lew Ayres, Teresa Wright, Victor Jory. Synopsis: A badly injured fugitive explains to a priest how he came to be in his present predicament.
Watch “The Capture”
Girl Gang (1954). Directed by Robert C. Dertano. Starring Joanne Arnold, Timothy Farrell, Harry Keaton. Synopsis: A sleazy gangster has a gang of young girls commit robberies and prostitution for him by getting them hooked on drugs.
Watch “Girl Gang”
Hospitals: The White Mafia (1973). Directed by Luigi Zampa. Written by Dino Maiuri and Massimo De Rita. Starring Enrico Maria Salerno, Gabriele Ferzetti, Senta Berger. Synopsis: Portraits of a pushy surgeon and a nurse with many secrets, in a big city hospital.