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Don’t Call It a Comeback: 2021 Film Festivals Remain Vital in Whatever Form They Take

A year ago, the film industry was packing their Canada Goose and Bludstones for Sundance, the opening salvo for another frantic 2020. Park City proceeded as usual, with the occasional news about a virus across the world, and we all know what happened next. The Berlin festival barely squeaked by before shutdowns swept Europe, and after that it was all about cancellations — SXSW, Tribeca, Cannes, Telluride and nearly everything in between. New York and Toronto cobbled together a combination of online…

IndieWire’s Guide to ‘Mank’: 25 People and Places in David Fincher’s Historical Epic Explained

“Mank” is a lot to take in. Diehard fans of classic Hollywood cinema and “Citizen Kane” obsessives alike may be well-suited to parse David Fincher’s complex portrait of world-weary screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, but even then, this intricate black-and-white drama draws on a lot of reference points that a many audience members may not grasp the first time around. The movie tracks two dueling narratives: Mank’s experiences in Hollywood throughout the ’30s, as he undergoes a falling out with Hollywood and studio moguls…

‘Small Axe’: John Boyega and the Search for ‘Real, Significant, Proactive Work’

Comprised of five films, “Small Axe,” Steve McQueen’s new series for Amazon Prime Video, tells a multitude of stories that chart Black British culture and experience. The historical anthology — consisting of “Mangrove” (November 20), “Lovers Rock” (November 27), “Red, White and Blue” (December 4), “Alex Wheatle” (December 11), and “Education” (December 18), all directed by McQueen — is pioneering in its depiction of these previously untold tales. Premiering on November 20, one film will be released every week, and the collection…

‘World of Wong Kar Wai’ Exclusive: Watch Footage from 7 Dazzling New 4K Restorations

It’s a great time to be a Wong Kar Wai fan. Not only is the Hong Kong auteur at work on a new directorial project (“Blossoms,” see more information about the dramatic series here) and planning a mysterious sequel to his 1994 classic “Chungking Express,” but seven of Wong’s best films have gotten brand new 4K restorations courtesy of The Criterion Collection and L’immagine Rtrovata. Janus Films will be rolling out the restorations later this year in a package titled “The World of Wong Kar Wai.” Watch…

The Best Cinematography of the 21st Century

Cinematography is tough to judge on its own merits, because it can be hard to extract it from the other powers of great visual storytelling. At the same time, every beautiful movie shows the signature of a talented director of photography as much as a filmmaker. In the process of considering the finest cinematographic achievements of this decade, this list includes on gorgeous films that — in some cases — achieve more on the level of cinematography than anything else. The…

Recent reviews

Review by Eric Kohn

Much of the world views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a fixed problem with no end in sight. Few can explain why, but “The Human Factor” finds those who can. With the white-knuckle intensity of a first-rate political thriller, Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh’s engrossing documentary tracks glacial efforts to broker a peace deal over the past three decades. “The Human Factor” drills down on the fluctuating tensions between Yasser Arafat and Israel’s revolving door of leadership. By…

Identifying Features

Identifying Features

★★★★

Review by Kate Erbland

A week after Jesús (Juan Jesús Varela) announces his immigration dreams to his mother Magdalena (Mercedes Hernández) — a simple plan, consisting of alighting to Arizona with his best friend Rigo (Armando García), getting a job, and not much else — the young Mexican teenager is gone. Months later, the boys have yet to announce their arrival in the United States, nor have they returned to the landlocked state of Guanajuato. They, like so many before…

Review by Kate Erbland

Leave it to Patty Jenkins to find a suitable and satisfying workaround in the form of “Wonder Woman 1984,” the rare superhero sequel that, for better (and sometimes, but rarely) worse, carves its own path and finds something joyous, wacky, and deeply enjoyable as a result. All that neon and all those parachute pants? Just a bonus, as Jenkins and Gadot take their heartfelt heroine back to 1984, finding bombastic new territory for Diana Prince to explore, blessedly outside the confines of her contemporary compatriots.

Funny Boy

Funny Boy

★★★★

Review by Jude Dry

On the surface, “Funny Boy” has very little to do with the Barbra Streisand musical its title is riffing on. The story of a fey Sri Lankan Tamil boy growing up in 1970s Colombo is a far cry from Fanny Brice’s ascent from the Lower East Side to the heights of show business. The title comes from the Sri Lankan-Canadian novelist Shyam Selvadurai’s 1994 novel, which is read and taught widely in Sri Lanka today. Though…

Review by Eric Kohn</>

As an actor, George Clooney serves up self-deprecation and charm; as a filmmaker, the same impulses come across as bitter and ironic convictions. That’s certainly the case in “The Midnight Sky,” a gorgeous take on the apocalypse that doesn’t try to reinvent the formula because, well, you know how these things go. Clooney directs and stars in this ambitious adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s 2016 novel, and there’s much to appreciate about his by-the-book approach: Despite the…

The Prom

The Prom

★★★

Review by Jude Dry

It’s every teenage girl’s dream: The high school PTA has just announced they’d rather cancel prom than let you bring your girlfriend, when a gaggle of garishly dressed Broadway stars you’ve never heard of storms in singing, “We are gonna help that little lesbian…”

Although these colorful coastal elites cause quite a stir while managing to muddle everything up, they give you a mall shopping spree, a sequined shoulder to cry on — and some killer…

Alex Wheatle

Alex Wheatle

★★★

Review by Eric Kohn

Steve McQueen’s five-film “Small Axe” series was conceived to spotlight underrepresented stories of West Indian Londoners, from the thrill of a 1980 house party in “Lovers Rock” to the tumultuous civil rights battle of “Mangrove.” With “Alex Wheatle,” McQueen centers on a subject whose mission syncs with the project as a whole. In this hourlong origin story about the British Jamaican young adult novelist who found his calling after the 1981 Brixton riot, McQueen and co-writer Alastair Siddons have produced a concise, vivid window into the experiences of a young soul finding his place in a world stacked against him.

Review by Kate Erbland

After debuting at the Berlin International Film Festival (yes, really) and entering the 2013 box office marketplace against some stiff competition (“Frozen,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Monsters University”), Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders’ original animated comedy “The Croods” did something kind of crazy: it made over half a billion dollars. As the 11th highest-grossing film of that year, the animated family film was an unexpected smash that obviously demanded a sequel. Just weeks after its U.S. release,…