May 29, 2024 2:15 pm

#470 October 31, 2023

Matt writes: I recently had the great pleasure of speaking at length with author and “Ebert Presents” contributor Matt Singer about his wonderful new book, Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever. You can read our full conversation here, an excerpt from which is posted below, along with the embedded video of “Siskel & Ebert’s 1987 Holiday Gift Guide,” my favorite moment of which occurs at the 39:06 mark.

Ramin Bahrani talked to me about how watching the show really opened his eyes to movies beyond the stuff that would open each week at his local multiplex. Their show was the gateway because there was no internet as we understand it now, no social media, no Letterboxd, no YouTube and if IMDb did exist, it was a shell of what it is now. Sure, you had the neighborhood arts section in your newspaper as well as publications like Entertainment Weekly and Premiere Magazine, but the actual act of discovering these movies was still difficult, and this show was one of the only places where you could do that. So I do think that they absolutely changed moviegoing, moviemaking, movie-talking-about-ing, if I can invent a word. All of those things are changed forever as a result of this TV show and how these guys used their platform as a force for good in the movie universe.”

Trailers

Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (2023). Directed by . Synopsis: A documentary about the comedian and filmmaker Albert Brooks which includes interviews from Sharon Stone, Larry David, James L Brooks, Conan O’Brien, Sarah Silverman and Jonah Hill. Debuts on Max on November 11th, 2023.

Wicked Little Letters (2024), red band trailer. Directed by Thea Sharrock. Written by Jonny Sweet.Starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall. Synopsis: When people in Littlehampton – including conservative local Edith – begin to receive letters full of hilarious profanities, rowdy Irish migrant Rose is charged with the crime. Suspecting something is amiss, the town’s women investigate. US release date is TBA.

Anyone But You (2023). Directed by Will Gluck. Written by Will Gluck and Ilana Wolpert. Starring Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell, Alexandra Shipp. Synopsis: After an amazing first date, Bea and Ben’s fiery attraction turns ice cold – until they find themselves unexpectedly reunited at a destination wedding in Australia. So they do what any two mature adults would do: pretend to be a couple. Debuts in the US on December 15th, 2023.

Lisa Frankenstein (2024). Directed by Zelda Williams. Written by Diablo Cody. Starring Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, Carla Gugino. Synopsis: In 1989, an unpopular high school girl named Lisa accidentally re-animates a handsome Victorian corpse during a lightning storm and starts to rebuild him into the man of her dreams by using the broken tanning bed in her garage. Debuts in the US on February 9th, 2024.

Freud’s Last Session (2023). Directed by Matt Brown. Written by Mark St. Germain. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Goode, Jodi Balfour. Synopsis: The movie’s story sees Freud invite iconic author C.S. Lewis to debate the existence of God. And unique relationship with his daughter, and Lewis’ unconventional relationship with his best friend’s mother. Debuts in the US on December 22nd, 2023.

Sly (2023). Directed by . Synopsis: The nearly fifty year prolific career of Sylvester Stallone, who has entertained millions, is seen in retrospective in an intimate look of the actor, writer, director-producer, paralleling with his inspirational life story. Debuts on Netflix on November 3rd, 2023.

Drift (2023). Directed by Anthony Chen. Written by Alexander Maksik and Susanne Farrell. Starring Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba. Synopsis: Jacqueline escapes her war-torn country to a Greek island. She meets an unmoored tour guide and the two become close as they each find hope in the other. US release date is TBA.

Femme (2023). Written and directed by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping. Starring Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, George MacKay, Aaron Heffernan. Synopsis: Follows Jules, who is targeted in a horrific homophobic attack, destroying his life and career. Some time after that event he encounters Preston, one of his attackers, in a gay sauna. He wants revenge. US release date is TBA.

Leave the World Behind (2023). Written and directed by Sam Esmail (based on the novel by Rumaan Alam). Starring Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali. Synopsis: A family’s getaway to a luxurious rental home takes an ominous turn when a cyberattack knocks out their devices, and two strangers appear at their door. Debuts on Netflix on December 8th, 2023.

Finestkind (2024). Written and directed by Brian Helgeland. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Foster, Jenna Ortega. Synopsis: A crew of fishermen tread dangerous waters when their debts start piling up. Debuts on Paramount+ on December 15th, 2024.

The Boys in the Boat (2023). Directed by George Clooney. Written by Mark L. Smith (based on the book by Daniel James Brown). Starring Joel Edgerton, Callum Turner, Peter Guinness. Synopsis: A 1930s-set story centered on the University of Washington’s rowing team, from their Depression-era beginnings to winning gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Debuts in the US on December 25th, 2023.

If You Were the Last (2023). Directed by Kristian Mercado. Written by Angela Bourassa. Starring Anthony Mackie, Zoe Chao, Natalie Morales. Synopsis: Adrift in their broken-down space shuttle with little hope of rescue, two astronauts argue over whether they’re better off spending their remaining days as friends or something more. Now available on Peacock.

Occupied City (2023). Directed by . Synopsis: The past collides with the present in this excavation of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam: a journey from World War II to recent years of pandemic and protest and a provocative, life-affirming reflection on memory, time and what’s to come. Debuts in the US on December 25th, 2023.

Best. Christmas. Ever! (2023). Directed by Mary Lambert. Written by Todd Calgi Gallicano and Charles Shyer. Starring Heather Graham, Brandy Norwood and Jason Biggs. Synopsis: Friendships are put to the ultimate test over a boastful holiday newsletter. Debuts in the US on November 16th, 2023.

Waitress: The Musical (2023). Directed by Diane Paulus, Jessie Nelson and Brett Sullivan. Written by Jessie Nelson (based on the screenplay by Adrienne Shelly). Starring Sara Bareilles, Drew Gehling, Charity Dawson. Synopsis: The hit Broadway musical about a small-town pie baker with big dreams gets the silver screen treatment. Debuts in the US on December 7th, 2023.

Saltburn (2023). Written and directed by Emerald Fennell. Starring Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike. Synopsis: A student at Oxford University finds himself drawn into the world of a charming and aristocratic classmate, who invites him to his eccentric family’s sprawling estate for a summer never to be forgotten. Debuts in the US on November 17th, 2023.

Maestro (2023). Directed by Bradley Cooper. Written by Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer. Starring Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke. Synopsis: This love story chronicles the lifelong relationship of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein and actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. Debuts on Netflix on December 20th, 2023.

Faraway Downs (2023). Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Written by Baz Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie, Ronald Harwood and Richard Flanagan. Starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Essie Davis. Synopsis: An aristocrat, Sarah has a cattle ranch in Australia. Following death of her husband, a baron plots to take her land but she joins forces with cattle drover Jackman to protect her ranch. Debuts on Hulu on November 26th, 2023.

Ebert on Scorsese

Matt writes: In light of Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which was awarded four stars by our Managing Editor Brian Tallerico, we have updated our article compiling every review of a Scorsese film on our site, most of which were penned by Ebert himself. You can read it here, and watch the special “At the Movies” episode embedded above in which Scorsese joins Ebert to rank the best films of the 1990s. 

Love in the Time of War

Matt writes: Filmmaker Stephen Apkon, who co-directed the powerful documentary “Disturbing the Peace” (which received the Ebert Humanitarian Award at Ebertfest), has written a new essay on the complicated Hamas-Israel conflict and what it portends for humanity. You can read it here.

Free Movies

The Corpse Vanishes (1942). Directed by Wallace Fox. Written by Harvey Gates. Starring Bela Lugosi, Luana Walters, Tristram Coffin. Synopsis: A scientist, aided by an old hag and her two sons, kills virginal brides, steals their bodies, and extracts gland fluid to keep his ancient wife alive and young. 

Watch “The Corpse Vanishes”

The Killer Shrews (1959). Directed by Ray Kellogg. Written by Jay Simms. Starring James Best, Ingrid Goude, Ken Curtis. Synopsis: On an isolated island, a small group of people are terrorized by giant voracious shrews in the midst of a hurricane.

Watch “The Killer Shrews”

Horror Express (1972). Directed by Eugenio Martín. Written by Arnaud d’Usseau and Julian Zimet. Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Telly Savalas. Synopsis: While on the Trans-Siberian Express, an anthropologist and his rival must contain the threat posed by the former’s cargo: a prehistoric ape which is the host for a parasitic life-form.

Watch “Horror Express”

Matt writes: I recently had the great pleasure of speaking at length with author and “Ebert Presents” contributor Matt Singer about his wonderful new book, Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever. You can read our full conversation here, an excerpt from which is posted below, along with the embedded video of “Siskel & Ebert’s 1987 Holiday Gift Guide,” my favorite moment of which occurs at the 39:06 mark. “Ramin Bahrani talked to me about how watching the show really opened his eyes to movies beyond the stuff that would open each week at his local multiplex. Their show was the gateway because there was no internet as we understand it now, no social media, no Letterboxd, no YouTube and if IMDb did exist, it was a shell of what it is now. Sure, you had the neighborhood arts section in your newspaper as well as publications like Entertainment Weekly and Premiere Magazine, but the actual act of discovering these movies was still difficult, and this show was one of the only places where you could do that. So I do think that they absolutely changed moviegoing, moviemaking, movie-talking-about-ing, if I can invent a word. All of those things are changed forever as a result of this TV show and how these guys used their platform as a force for good in the movie universe.” Trailers Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (2023). Directed by Rob Reiner. Synopsis: A documentary about the comedian and filmmaker Albert Brooks which includes interviews from Sharon Stone, Larry David, James L Brooks, Conan O’Brien, Sarah Silverman and Jonah Hill. Debuts on Max on November 11th, 2023. Wicked Little Letters (2024), red band trailer. Directed by Thea Sharrock. Written by Jonny Sweet.Starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall. Synopsis: When people in Littlehampton – including conservative local Edith – begin to receive letters full of hilarious profanities, rowdy Irish migrant Rose is charged with the crime. Suspecting something is amiss, the town’s women investigate. US release date is TBA. Anyone But You (2023). Directed by Will Gluck. Written by Will Gluck and Ilana Wolpert. Starring Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell, Alexandra Shipp. Synopsis: After an amazing first date, Bea and Ben’s fiery attraction turns ice cold – until they find themselves unexpectedly reunited at a destination wedding in Australia. So they do what any two mature adults would do: pretend to be a couple. Debuts in the US on December 15th, 2023. Lisa Frankenstein (2024). Directed by Zelda Williams. Written by Diablo Cody. Starring Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, Carla Gugino. Synopsis: In 1989, an unpopular high school girl named Lisa accidentally re-animates a handsome Victorian corpse during a lightning storm and starts to rebuild him into the man of her dreams by using the broken tanning bed in her garage. Debuts in the US on February 9th, 2024. Freud’s Last Session (2023). Directed by Matt Brown. Written by Mark St. Germain. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Goode, Jodi Balfour. Synopsis: The movie’s story sees Freud invite iconic author C.S. Lewis to debate the existence of God. And unique relationship with his daughter, and Lewis’ unconventional relationship with his best friend’s mother. Debuts in the US on December 22nd, 2023. Sly (2023). Directed by Thom Zimny. Synopsis: The nearly fifty year prolific career of Sylvester Stallone, who has entertained millions, is seen in retrospective in an intimate look of the actor, writer, director-producer, paralleling with his inspirational life story. Debuts on Netflix on November 3rd, 2023. Drift (2023). Directed by Anthony Chen. Written by Alexander Maksik and Susanne Farrell. Starring Cynthia Erivo, Alia Shawkat, Ibrahima Ba. Synopsis: Jacqueline escapes her war-torn country to a Greek island. She meets an unmoored tour guide and the two become close as they each find hope in the other. US release date is TBA. Femme (2023). Written and directed by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping. Starring Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, George MacKay, Aaron Heffernan. Synopsis: Follows Jules, who is targeted in a horrific homophobic attack, destroying his life and career. Some time after that event he encounters Preston, one of his attackers, in a gay sauna. He wants revenge. US release date is TBA. Leave the World Behind (2023). Written and directed by Sam Esmail (based on the novel by Rumaan Alam). Starring Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali. Synopsis: A family’s getaway to a luxurious rental home takes an ominous turn when a cyberattack knocks out their devices, and two strangers appear at their door. Debuts on Netflix on December 8th, 2023. Finestkind (2024). Written and directed by Brian Helgeland. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Foster, Jenna Ortega. Synopsis: A crew of fishermen tread dangerous waters when their debts start piling up. Debuts on Paramount+ on December 15th, 2024. The Boys in the Boat (2023). Directed by George Clooney. Written by Mark L. Smith (based on the book by Daniel James Brown). Starring Joel Edgerton, Callum Turner, Peter Guinness. Synopsis: A 1930s-set story centered on the University of Washington’s rowing team, from their Depression-era beginnings to winning gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Debuts in the US on December 25th, 2023. If You Were the Last (2023). Directed by Kristian Mercado. Written by Angela Bourassa. Starring Anthony Mackie, Zoe Chao, Natalie Morales. Synopsis: Adrift in their broken-down space shuttle with little hope of rescue, two astronauts argue over whether they’re better off spending their remaining days as friends or something more. Now available on Peacock. Occupied City (2023). Directed by Steve McQueen. Synopsis: The past collides with the present in this excavation of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam: a journey from World War II to recent years of pandemic and protest and a provocative, life-affirming reflection on memory, time and what’s to come. Debuts in the US on December 25th, 2023. Best. Christmas. Ever! (2023). Directed by Mary Lambert. Written by Todd Calgi Gallicano and Charles Shyer. Starring Heather Graham, Brandy Norwood and Jason Biggs. Synopsis: Friendships are put to the ultimate test over a boastful holiday newsletter. Debuts in the US on November 16th, 2023. Waitress: The Musical (2023). Directed by Diane Paulus, Jessie Nelson and Brett Sullivan. Written by Jessie Nelson (based on the screenplay by Adrienne Shelly). Starring Sara Bareilles, Drew Gehling, Charity Dawson. Synopsis: The hit Broadway musical about a small-town pie baker with big dreams gets the silver screen treatment. Debuts in the US on December 7th, 2023. Saltburn (2023). Written and directed by Emerald Fennell. Starring Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike. Synopsis: A student at Oxford University finds himself drawn into the world of a charming and aristocratic classmate, who invites him to his eccentric family’s sprawling estate for a summer never to be forgotten. Debuts in the US on November 17th, 2023. Maestro (2023). Directed by Bradley Cooper. Written by Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer. Starring Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke. Synopsis: This love story chronicles the lifelong relationship of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein and actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. Debuts on Netflix on December 20th, 2023. Faraway Downs (2023). Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Written by Baz Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie, Ronald Harwood and Richard Flanagan. Starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Essie Davis. Synopsis: An aristocrat, Sarah has a cattle ranch in Australia. Following death of her husband, a baron plots to take her land but she joins forces with cattle drover Jackman to protect her ranch. Debuts on Hulu on November 26th, 2023. Ebert on Scorsese Matt writes: In light of Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which was awarded four stars by our Managing Editor Brian Tallerico, we have updated our article compiling every review of a Scorsese film on our site, most of which were penned by Ebert himself. You can read it here, and watch the special “At the Movies” episode embedded above in which Scorsese joins Ebert to rank the best films of the 1990s.  Love in the Time of War Matt writes: Filmmaker Stephen Apkon, who co-directed the powerful documentary “Disturbing the Peace” (which received the Ebert Humanitarian Award at Ebertfest), has written a new essay on the complicated Hamas-Israel conflict and what it portends for humanity. You can read it here. Free Movies The Corpse Vanishes (1942). Directed by Wallace Fox. Written by Harvey Gates. Starring Bela Lugosi, Luana Walters, Tristram Coffin. Synopsis: A scientist, aided by an old hag and her two sons, kills virginal brides, steals their bodies, and extracts gland fluid to keep his ancient wife alive and young.  Watch “The Corpse Vanishes” The Killer Shrews (1959). Directed by Ray Kellogg. Written by Jay Simms. Starring James Best, Ingrid Goude, Ken Curtis. Synopsis: On an isolated island, a small group of people are terrorized by giant voracious shrews in the midst of a hurricane. Watch “The Killer Shrews” Horror Express (1972). Directed by Eugenio Martín. Written by Arnaud d’Usseau and Julian Zimet. Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Telly Savalas. Synopsis: While on the Trans-Siberian Express, an anthropologist and his rival must contain the threat posed by the former’s cargo: a prehistoric ape which is the host for a parasitic life-form. Watch “Horror Express” Read More