Now that Biden is in office and there is an actual plan in place to tackle the pandemic, it feels like we can finally look forward to things again. I’m hoping we’ll be back in the theaters by this fall, and maybe we can see some of these upcoming movies on the big screen. But in the meantime there are plenty of small-screen debuts to enjoy . . .
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar– Available for rental at a premium price Feb 12 Director: Josh Greenbaum Writers: Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Kristin Wiig is one of those people who can make me laugh with just a facial expression, so I’m in for this no matter what. As a bonus, it’s written by Wiig and her co-star, Annie Mumolo, who play middle-aged besties, Barb & Star. The two gals decide to leave their Midwest town for the first time to take a vacation in Florida. Hilarity ensues and there’s also an evil villain somehow? Whatever! It looks fun.
I spent the weekend watching two new movies that star the Gyllenhaal siblings: The Kindergarten Teacher, starring Maggie and Wildlife, with Jake. In both films, I thought the Gyllenhaals were especially well cast. I know they aren’t to everyone’s taste — and when I got home my husband and I got into a debate about whether or not Jake Gyllenhaal is actually a good actor — but I found them both to be pretty magnetic and appealingly odd. Neither really melt into a role and both have a way of throwing things off-kilter. So, they need the right movies for their talent.
When I was working on my most recent update of 2018’s women-directed films, I noticed a small trend: Netflix acquired a lot of the best women-directed movies and documentaries from film festivals, and they’ve also financed a number of women-directed movies. Netflix has such varied offerings that it’s a little difficult to come up with definitive stats, but just eyeballing it, they seem to have an unusually high percentage of female-directed and/or written movies on offer, including well-established directors like Nicole Holofcenter and Tamara Jenkins. Finally, Netflix has already been getting a lot of press for their recent efforts to bring back the rom-com, but I’m not sure anyone has noted that almost half of these movies are directed or written by women: Set It Up, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Nappily Ever After, and Us and Them.
Here’s a complete list of upcoming films. I’m especially excited about the ‘coming soon’ section, which contains a couple of film festival acquisitions, including The Kindergarten Teacher, a remake of an Israeli film, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Proustian-sounding documentary, Shirkers, about a writer who recovers film from a movie she shot in 1992.