Hey, did you hear about the already infamous Best Picture Oscar blunder? Of course you did, since it’s all everyone can talk about in the movie world. That is completely understandable, of course, given the monumental victory by “Moonlight” in the top category, and the immense confusion and awkwardness of the mistake on live television.
But now that March is upon us and spring is not far away, we wish to remind you that 2017 at the movies is in full swing, with a wide array of new releases for any taste or viewing habit. One of them is “Contemporary Color,” the David Byrne-led color-guarding performance doc, which opened in limited release yesterday, and which we gave an A- review when we caught it at Tribeca last year. Also worth noting are two small releases from last month that are only just starting to become more widely available through streaming platforms, further proof that movie distribution is changing fast. If you have Netflix, I heartily recommend you give a watch to “I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore.” The recent winner of the top prize at Sundance this year has, unlike most recipients of the award, taken little time in becoming widely available to pretty much everybody. There’s also “Dark Night,” a “thought-provoking, blistering portrait of American culture” that is slowly showing up in some arthouses around the US but also we hope is on VOD soon.
Here’s the rest of what’s worth seeking out this month.
Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X off the grid on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
What You Need To Know: Wolverine gets his R-rating on, but there’s more than just visceral bloodletting on display (though it is an intensely violent, and often nihilistic piece of work) in this supposed-final act of Hugh Jackman as the title character. He gets an above-average sendoff here, moving things in a much harsher, darker direction for one of the best entries in the entire X-Men franchise. Our review was adamant that “Logan” has “the bleakest vision of Wolverine yet, but also hands down the best treatment the character has received on the big screen in the fifteen plus years Jackman has inhabited the role.” It should be huge, but don’t expect as goofy fun a ride as last year’s “Deadpool,” whose massive success opened the door to this more adult take on the most popular X-Men character, but it’s a solid piece of work nonetheless.
Release Date: March 3rd
Synopsis: When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her.
What You Need To Know: When we saw this debut feature film last year from 32-year-old writer-director Julia Ducournau, which premiered as part of Critics’ Week at Cannes (and won the FIPRESCI prize), we noted how the young filmmaker “shows surprisingly sharp command and, more importantly, restraint given the subject matter. Although the film is rooted in arthouse film territory, and is particularly inspired by the films of David Cronenberg and David Lynch, ‘Raw’ turns out to be its own wild animal. It has rightly earned the buzz that has surrounded the picture, and Ducourneau’s uncompromising vision is one to watch.” It could be an early example as one of this year’s arthouse horror titles.
Release Date: March 10th (Limited)
“Kong: Skull Island”
Synopsis: A team of explorers and soldiers travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific, unaware that they are crossing into the domain of monsters, including the mythic Kong.
What You Need To Know: Warner Bros. continues their work building a monster movie universe with “Kong: Skull Island,” giving the keys to cinema’s classic ape to director Jordan Vogt-Roberts who is making the leap from indie comedy “Kings Of Summer” to massive tentpole fare. So here’s hoping the transition goes well, and he’s certainly got a great cast to work with, including Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, and more.
Release Date: March 10th
Synopsis: After the death of her twin, a young American woman in Paris receives a text that she believes could be from her dead brother.
What You Need To Know: “Personal Shopper” is a film that, despite our love for its director, we didn’t particularly like when it premiered at Cannes last year. But as with Assayas’ previous collaboration with Kristen Stewart, “Clouds Of Sils Maria,” it has plenty of fans, and is, as our review stated, “not an uninteresting [mess], and better than a staid, unadventurous bore,” so we’d be remiss in not putting it here. Mashing up the ghost story and the Hitchcockian thriller but done with an oblique arthouse sheen, it won Assayas the Best Director award at Cannes, even if we said “it’s genuinely difficult to work out how much of ‘Personal Shopper’ is meant to be trashy and kind of dumb, and how much ends up there accidentally.” If nothing else, it’s sure to be the focus of some of the best cinephile arguments of the year… But for what it’s worth, Gregory Ellwood put it on his Best Of 2016 Top 10 list and EIC Rodrigo Perez thought it compelling, warts and all.
Release Date: March 10th (Limited)
Synopsis: After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie.
What You Need To Know: Our writer was mostly pleased with this much-after-the-fact sequel, coming more than 20 years after the first film’s highly successful release and now influential classic status. It’s a tough act to follow, but Danny Boyle is back in the director’s seat, and most of the original cast is back, so the promise and hope for a great sequel is understandable. “In the end, it ends up feeling like going to a festival headlining date by a reunited Britpop band. It’s great to see them back together, they look pretty good for their age, and there are transcendent moments when they play the hits. But the set goes on a bit long, and the new material’s a bit forgettable, and they’re sloppier than they used to be, and in the end, you start to wonder if it would have been better if you’d been left with your memories from back in the day,” our critic wrote. Sure, not the highest compliments, but we’re really just looking forward to seeing these characters again.
Release Date: March 17th (Limited)