Genre films are the staple of many lists of anticipated films for the new year, and not everyone is keen on seeing them. More often than not, documentaries are overlooked and what I offer are releases designed more to enlighten than to entertain. Another thought I had in mind when putting together this catalogue is that they may well be the best performing underdogs for this coming season.
THE TORCH (March)
Buddy Guy’s an American legend. This blues guitarist influenced countless generations of performers–from Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan–and his music gave rise to the Chicago sound. To know his story can’t simply be looked up and this film looks at the early life this musician lived through.
APOLLO 10½: A SPACE AGE ADVENTURE (Mid-2022)
Richard Linklater (SLACKER, BOYHOOD) is the director behind this look at the famous 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. He interviews children and asks them what they believed to have happened. Not only will this work incorporate rotoscoping to liven up the fantasy but also we’ll have celebrity talents lending their voice. On this list includes Glen Powell, Jack Black, Zachary Levi, Josh Wiggins, Milo Coy, Lee Eddy, Bill Wise, Natalie L’Amoreaux, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Sam Chipman and Danielle Guilbot.
LAND OF LEGENDS (April)
This adaptation of the Russian novel HEART OF PARMA may well incorporate some fantasy into its cinematic presentation. When dealing with shamans from this part of the world, we’re bound to discover something new.
The confrontation is an epic drama about a world very few people know about; we see the Grand Duchy of Moscow go up against the Ural Parma. But one member of the royalty is in love. Mikhail is in love with Tiche, a witch-lamia. Not only will there be a Romeo and Juliet type of affair, but also this tale will have to deal with the fallout between two civilizations.
Peter Dinklage rarely gets to headline a film, and in this work, he’s prepared to dazzle. He thinks his dwarfism is a curse. He’s in love with Roxanne (Haley Bennett), but she has feelings for another. Christian de Neuvillette. True to formula, he helps this nemesis, and the question is if the girl will ever realise who is the one? But will the love triangle collapse? Anyone who knows the stage musical this work is adapted from may well be in for a treat.
THE FABULOUS FILIPINO BROTHERS (February)
After SXSW 2021 and an excellent run at film festivals last year, Dante Basco’s directorial debut will enlighten and entertain. The entire family was involved in the making of this movie and it’s terrific to see that kind of bond also continue behind the scenes. What we see in front of are the shenanigans when these brothers are on their own, out of their element, but ultimately realising they’re more often than not looking out for each other. In the midst of this chaos is the fact they are getting ready for a wedding. One of their own is getting hitched, and he’s not ready–or is he?
THE LAST BUS (February)
90-year-old Tom Harper (Tim Spall) is going home, and what’s expected here is not only a journey of an old soul finding new life. As the modern world slips away, we’ll see something else. This movie is a film about love, loss and the human spirit. It reminds us we are not alone, and that we’re all on this ride together…
THE PRINCESS (Coming to Sundance)
Royal watchers had a lot of products which looked into the life of Princess Diana last year. From a full season of THE CROWN to DIANA: THE MUSICAL to SPENCER, this people’s princess was greatly loved. While these were mostly fictional accounts, to truly know her means we need a proper documentary. This work coming to Sundance Film Festival and HBO Max is promising to give a complete profile. It’ll consider everything, including how her death has affected the public opinion of the royal family. There’s plenty of conspiracies and as for how true they are, that’s up to roving reporters to unearth, and maybe this work is the one that’ll tell all.
THE DUKE (March)
Kempton Bunton is the last person you would think would become a thief. He’s a 60-year-old taxi driver with nothing to lose. So he stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London and held it ransom. All he wants is for the government to provide free television for the elderly, and everything that’s happened since is the stuff of legend, and not everyone knows the full story. This documentary looks at all the details.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (SxSW 2022 Opening Night)
Michelle Yeoh stars in this modern fantasy that is sure to be bonkers. Not much is known about the plot and some may say it’s taking a few cues from all those alternate reality type films. Instead of being a big budgeted film, this one tries to be modest in showing how different each world is. Or maybe, what she’s experiencing is all in her head as she tries to cultivate different aspects of herself to find inner peace. The Daniels’ movie is on track to open SxSW 2021 in their in-person festival, but it will have a theatrical release in North America this April.
LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE (Sundance)
It’s rare to see a film emerge from the Philippines. They exist, but aren’t as prolific as some would hope. The works sometimes examine this society from within rather than outside. This movie mixes up realities when Leonor (Sheila Francisco) gets a TV landing on her noggin. She slips into a coma and she dreams of being an action hero in her own unfinished movie. She’s a filmmaker who’s given up on her dreams. As fiction and reality blur, maybe she’ll find new inspiration.