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Matt at the Movies: Spring Break Cinema Sommelier
There's no better time than Spring Break to be a couch potato!
Between Holy Week, Passover, Ramadan and Spring Break, many families may find themselves with a little extra time to catch up on a movie or series you’ve been waiting to see. I myself have too much time as I’m recovering from a couple small surgeries. With streaming networks, video-on-demand, and new releases hitting the theaters, there are more than enough options to keep you busy.
So I came up with a fun idea …
After creating a guide to 2023 in last week's piece, I thought I’d piggyback each of the directors or actors from said list to a current streaming option that showcases their earlier work. Let’s make a nice wine pairing to go with the main courses set to hit the big screen over the next few months. Here are ten film accompaniments from Matt at the Movies 2023 guide that are available to stream on various platforms. Enjoy!
Upcoming Film: Oppenheimer (July 23rd)
Movie Pairing: Tenet
Spill the tea: Director Christopher Nolan was adamant to get this film up on the big screen and the timing could not have been worse. The fallout was a breakup between him and Warner Bros., who had financed his films for the last nineteen years. Keep your close captioning on and enjoy the ride or “feel it” as they quote throughout the movie. The Protagonist played by a cold and calculating John David Washington is paired off excellently with a smooth British charm from Robert Pattinson. To save the earth from annihilation they must use new futuristic technology to time travel in reverse to thwart an enemy hellbent on destruction.
Like all Nolan movies it’s better and feels more concise on a re-watch. Don’t listen to reviews, this hit #2 for me in his all-time filmography.
Upcoming Film: Beau is in Afraid (April 23rd)
Movie Pairing: Hereditary
Spill the tea: It’s cliche at this point to call what Ari Aster creates as “elevated horror.” These are not your average slasher films or jumpscare features. Between his newest film Midsommar and Hereditary, Aster has a knack for delivering pure dread. In his first full length feature he tells a story of a haunted mother played expertly by Toni Colette whose hidden psychological breakdown after her mothers passing begins to claw through each of her family members. Are we seeing warning signs of the occult through an unreliable narrator or are these actual demonic events that seem to be happening in real time? This film features some absolutely shocking scenes so don’t go into this with a weak constitution.
Upcoming Film: Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 (July 14th)
Movie Pairing: Edge of Tomorrow (Live, Die, Repeat)
Spill the tea: Some say the most Tom Cruise has ever “Tom Cruised” is during his recent blockbuster hit Top Gun: Maverick. But there are whispers in the shadows that Edge of Tomorrow is peak Cruise because he’s in on the joke. Working as an imprisoned military public relations expert with no field training, Major William Cage is sent to the front lines to battle “mimics” who have infiltrated planet earth with intent on wiping out all life on earth. The story is adapted from the 2004 Japanese graphic novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and blends action, Sci-Fi, and comedy elements. Cruise gains the ability to repeat the same day over and again (a-la Groundhog Day) from the “mimics” and slowly begins to master his new mechanical suits with the help of Rita Vratasky (portrayed by a badass Emily Blunt).
With each new day we get the pleasure of seeing Cage’s plan to defeat the enemy come closer but with a lovely montage of Cruise death scenes to boot. This may be one of the top three Sci-Fi movies of the past ten years and pairs well with the energy of Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible series.
Upcoming Film: Dune: Part Two (November 3rd)
Movie Pairing: Prisoners
Spill the tea: This 2013 thriller features a star studded Oscar winning cast that keeps Denis Villeneuve’s grim tone in both performance and cinematography. Two Pennsylvania couples have their six year old daughters abducted and Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is sent to break the case. With time being of the essence in any kidnapping, father Keller (Hugh Jackman) takes matters into his own hand with a man whom he is sure to be their captor (an eerily perfect Paul Dano), and puts him in his own prison to seek answers. The heartache of seeing each family slowly lose hope tears up their families and friendships. The third act picks up on the action and we start to get real clues behind the mystery of these missing young girls.
Upcoming Film: Killers of the Flower Moon (October 20th)
Movie Pairing: The Irishman
Spill the tea: Martin Scorcese took a big budget from Netflix to make his three and half hour 2019 film that raked in ten Academy Award nominations. Pundits will look at the 250 million being a waste to de-age the actors in their earlier years but that is all window dressing. Robert DeNiro plays Frank Sheeran, a World War II vet who’s second act in life is as a prolific hitman for the Philadelphia Italian-American Mafia. Set in the 1950’s and stretching five decades, we see Sheeran rub noses with some of the largest underground and political figures of the day including Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Joe Pesci makes a long awaited return to the screen after retirement to play mob boss Russell Bufalino. There are amazing cameos, beautiful set pieces, and an inner look to the day in day out career of mobster. Sheeran takes lives while at the same time destroying the relationship closest to him with his daughter. At the end he contemplates his life’s work and if dying alone was worth those life decisions.
Upcoming Film: Barbie (July 21)
Movie Pairing: Frances Ha
Spill the tea: Greta Gerwig’s first writing collaboration with life and professional partner Noah Baumbach shoots out of a canon with their 2012 Golden Globe nominated film Frances Ha. Frances is an optimistic twenty-seven year old living in New York City with aspirations to create a career in dance without the necessary technical skills to fully realize her dream. As she laments her future she is forced into various life changes with occupations, living situations, and friendships she thought would always be there as she grew older. The portrayal of Frances is a spot-on look into the life of a millennial and ushered in future similarly themed projects, most notably the HBO show Girls and Gerwig’s Oscar nominated 2017 coming of age film Ladybird.
Upcoming Film: The Killer (November 10th)
Movie Pairing: Mank
Spill the tea: The accolades are there. Mank was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won for both cinematography and production design. David Fincher’s pristine attention to detail and world building made Hollywood of the 30’s and 40’s seem more like a beautiful prop where some wondered if style had outdone substance. Gary Oldman puts in breezy performance as larger than life writer Herman J. Mankiewicz who is troubled with alcohol and self doubt. While it shows his rise through Tinseltown, the main story is the lead up to his penning of the all-time classic Citizen Kane. Amanda Seyfried is spellbinding as Marion Davies and plays off of Charles Dance’s portrayal of media magnate William Randolph Hearst with great ease. Have a cocktail or two and fire up this depiction of the golden age of Hollywood.
Upcoming Film: Leave the World Behind (December 10th)
Movie Pairing: Closer
Spill the tea: EGOT winner and master filmmaker Mike Nichols adapts this 1997 Broadway hit to the big screen with the killer cast of Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen picking up two Oscar nominations.
This tense drama is played out in London as the lives of all four characters become intertwined in lust, betrayal, and heartache. Each character has plenty of screen time to shine and their conversations go from loving to desperate to outright hateful.
I’ve seen this movie over a dozen times and it makes me appreciate peak Clive Owen when he had one of the best early aughts runs in all of showbiz. If you want a few uncomfortable silences and looks from your partner during this 104 minute runtime, fire it up!
Upcoming Film: Asteroid City (June 23rd)
Movie Pairing: The French Dispatch
Spill the tea: Set in three vignettes and one amuse-bouche-opening-Owen-Wilson-short, this film is everything you’ve come to expect from “vibe” extraordinaire Wes Anderson.
Shot in the fictional French town of Ennui-sur-Blasé circa 1975, a rag-tag group of American writers dive into beyond belief story lines that capture the charming and whimsical nature that has come to define his filmography. This film has more bite than the similar The Grand Budapest Hotel and features more adult themes than the traditional family centered Anderson fare.
Anderson’s set and production displays are amazing as always. This movie feels overlooked because it too was released just as life started to bounce back from COVID. Act three in particular, “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner," was one of my favorite viewings in all of 2021.
Upcoming Film: Air (out in theaters now!)
Movie Pairing: The Last Duel (Hulu/HBO)
Spill the tea: This film had many bad beats from the timing of COVID, to a total lack of advertising, and finally “too soon” subject matter during the height of the #MeToo movement.
With more time to digest, I think this is the best example of the movement that came out over the past three years. Ridley Scott brought back Ben Affleck and Matt Damon for the first time since their cameos in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). Set in northern France during the Hundred Years’ War of the 14th century, Damon’s Jean de Carrouges and Adam Driver’s Jacques Le Gris give their servitude to Affleck’s Count Pierre d'Alençon. de Carrouges falls in love with the highlight of the film, Marguerite de Thibouville, played by Jodie Comer (Killing Eve).
However, when de Carrouges is off to collect his battle wages in Paris, his wife is sexually assaulted by the playboy Le Gris and charges are brought up of rape. Through three separate accounts we see the assault play out for Comer’s character ending with her point of view simply titled “The Truth.” To see how the story changes and is perceived by each account is both hard to watch and quite intriguing. It definitely pushed the envelope and is not a topic that all would find either interesting or entertaining. It ends as the title would expect with a duel between the two characters with their dignity, name, and lives on the line.
The Final Word
So as you are lying on a beach, staycationing, or just relaxing with a few hours to kill, fire up the small screen and prepare yourself for a star-studded 2023 slate that shouldn’t disappoint. I hope these pairings will wet the beak and get you out to the cinema in the coming months.t
Take some self-care days and don’t forget your allergy meds. See you next time at Matt at the Movies!
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