“Shadow In The Cloud”
Roseanne Liang’s latest directorial effort is unlike anything she’s done; a wild, madcap, bizarre, go-for-broke genre mashup film. It’s also one of the most polarizing films of 2020, many critics hate it (our reviewer Jason Bailey certainly did), and some, like this author, can appreciate its zaniness while fully understanding where the vitriol against the film comes from; it’s so batshit crazy, it won’t be for everyone. Moreover, it was written by Max Landis, the #MeToo disgraced writer, who apparently penned this female-empowerment action/thriller/horror rollercoaster ride as some kind of misguided mea culpa apology. If you can get past that knowledge, and if you can’t, we understand, or manage to watch it without that knowledge (spoiler, sorry!), you might be just entertained by how impossibly ludicrous, but fun this B-Movie ride is. To finally get to the plot, it’s about a WWII pilot (Chloe Moretz Grace), who boards a B-17 Flying Fortress under dubious pretenses traveling with top-secret documents. Onboard, she encounters not only a lot of ugly sexism, male chauvinism, and deep skepticism about her capabilities, but as an extra twist, an evil presence on board the flight. Get ready for like five movies in one and one that takes some looney, but enjoyable twists and turns. Not everyone’s cup of tea, sure, but if you’re in the mood for something absolutely implausible and insane, and written by someone utterly disgraced in Hollywood, you’ve come to the right place.
Release Date: Available now in limited release and VOD via Vertical Entertainment. – RP
“Shiva Baby,” a wincingly funny dark comedy from writer/director Emma Seligman, comes dripping in a uniquely millennial form of discomfort. The film is caustic, nervy, and invigorating, a jolt of uproarious discomfort that interrogates meaningful questions about Jewish womanhood that are seldom asked in contemporary independent films. It traffics in stress-inducing alchemy of handheld camerawork, overlapping diegetic dialogue, and squirm-inducing, at times downright mortifying cringe comedy justify comparisons to Trey Edward Shults’ “Krisha” – another small-scale story about a domestic meltdown – and also the queer, unapologetically Jewish sensibility of something like “Transparent.” “Shiva Baby” may prompt some unwanted flashbacks to last year, when “Uncut Gems” was playing in theaters: both films are anxiety machines, running off a steady fuel of comedic distress while trying to balance an increasingly treacherous narrative high-wire act. Kristy Puchko praised Seligman’s bracing comedy in her review for The Playlist, calling the film “a savagely smart comedy that dives deep into excruciating embarrassment” as well as a film that “will pull you to the end of your seat, biting your nails in second-hand cringe.” In other words, you won’t want to miss “Shiva Baby” when it finally sees a wide release later this year.
Release Date: TBD. – NL
When discussing the famous actor/director collaborations in film, you often hear about the usual suspects: Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese, Tony Leung and Wong Kar-wai, Jimmy Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock, Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes. We think it’s about time Willem Dafoe and Abel Ferrara join the pantheon of great cinematic collaborations. Their latest joint venture, the hallucinatory afterlife drama “Siberia,” sees the increasingly prolific Ferrara returning to the bleak, apocalyptic vibes of the pair’s 2011 film “4:44 Last Day on Earth.” Completing the loose trilogy of “Pasolini” and last year’s “Tomasso,” “Siberia” finds Dafoe as a lonely bartender relegated to a frozen tundra afterlife, or limbo, who is forced to reckon with his life’s mistakes and the complex relationships that have defined his existence. Possibly Ferrara’s best-looking film since 1996’s “The Funeral” (the film was shot by Ferrara’s recent go-to cinematographer Stefano Falivene), “Siberia” is a transfixing, occasionally frustrating experience, but one that lingers even more in these hellish times. When the film premiered last year at the Berlin Film Festival, our own Jack King had a more mixed reaction to the film’s ambiguity, but still found enough to recommend, calling it “a nuanced, cleverly abstract exploration of the grief born out of, and inherent to, solitude.”
Release Date: TBD. – MR
Does Bleecker Street Films have their first Oscar player on their hands? Because “Supernova,” starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci lifelong romantic partners grappling with a serious oncoming illness has been receiving rave reviews. From the producer of “45 Years,” (Tristan Goligher), a gorgeous, empathetic look at love in its grayer years, “Supernova” seems cut from the same kind of mature and insightful cloth. Written and directed by Harry Macqueen (“Hinterland”), “Supernova” features Firth and Tucci on the clock, traveling across England on a lovely holiday, reuniting with friends and family, but staring down a diagnosis of early-onset dementia. The pair want to spend, and enjoy, as much time together as they can, but the looming threat of severe mental decline is a rough burden for both of them to face. In her review from the BFI London Film Festival, Caitlin Quinlan wrote, “Warmth and kindness come naturally in Macqueen’s film because of the ways it understands the unspeakable cold of such loneliness.”
Release Date: In theaters January 29, and digitally on February 16, via Bleecker Street. – RP