For better or for worse, March is Oscars month. With nearly all of the month’s film-related whisperings being subsumed by the awards ceremony spectacle, public attention seems to have been diverted away from recent releases.
A24 came out with a strong showing this month, releasing multiverse thriller “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and seventies-tinted horror flick, “X.” Hulu brought Sundance standout “Fresh” to the streaming site, along with the star-studded “Deep Water.” But the biggest release to light up the silver screen was Robert Pattinson-fronted “The Batman,” once again captivating audiences with Bruce Wayne’s exploits.
Whether or not you got the chance to catch these movies in theaters or from your couch, film beats Joy Diamond and Emma Murphree are here with four more March releases available to scope out.
“Turning Red” is nothing short of phenomenal. A hilarious and painfully relatable story about growing pains and defying familial expectation, Pixar’s latest brilliantly depicts the nuances of tweenhood. Just as important and well-executed is the film’s representation of the Chinese immigrant experience. Though the film teems with elements of Chinese culture, “Turning Red” isn’t about being Chinese-Canadian; “Turning Red” simultaneously celebrates and normalizes its characters’ heritage, a much-needed effort.
Directed by Domee Shi, who also directed Academy Award-winning Pixar short “Bao,” “Turning Red” tells the story of 13-year-old Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang), who transforms into a giant red panda when experiencing strong emotions due to a hereditary gift (perhaps, a curse) that is bestowed upon the women in her family when they come of age. Though this may sound absurd, the film beautifully uses the family’s power to explore accepting individual differences and growing into one’s own. The film gently reminds viewers of their own awkward phases, balancing the cringe that may be evoked with lots of empathy. “Turning Red” is an important watch for young women, parents and everyone, imbuing lessons of learning and healing
— Joy Diamond
“All My Friends Hate Me”
“All My Friends Hate Me” distills British humor, class critique and hallucinatory stratagems into a robust yet compact 90 minute jaunt. Leisure class millennials are easy targets, endlessly insufferable in their moral posturing and Patagonia vest-clad activism — but director Andrew Gaynord goes beyond just finger-wagging or self-congratulation.
Our protagonist, Pete (Tom Stourton), is the poster boy for liberal navel-gazing. He’s middling, insecure and scarcely able to string together two sentences without bringing up his volunteer work with African refugees. Despite these objectionable qualities, his relatable social awkwardness, coupled with the way the camera glues itself to his person, occasionally endear him.
Gaynord crops together a sparse cast for his debut feature, which centers a group of university friends reconciling how they all have (and haven’t) changed since their lives disentangled. They stay at a secluded country estate for Pete’s birthday, which lends a strict, physical claustrophobia to their already hyper-insular and stifling reunion.
Between pent-up politically incorrect outbursts, narcissistic delusions of a nefarious conspiracy and fully realized empathetic characters, Gaynord holds in his hands one of the smartest, most cringe-inducing satires of recent memory.
— Emma Murphree
“Rescued by Ruby”
Humanity may never stop making dog movies.
Films featuring man’s best friends are generally well received, safe choices for studios which never fail at achieving their simple goal of delivering cuteness to viewers’ screens. “Rescued by Ruby” is one of these feel-good films. Based on a true story, the film follows Daniel O’Neil (Grant Gustin), a Rhode Island state trooper who adopts and trains shelter dog Ruby with dreams of joining the K-9 search and rescue team. In true dog movie fashion, the pair’s companionship fulfills each other’s needs.
“Rescued by Ruby” warms the heart; it’s not very deep or thought-provoking, but it succeeds at its job. The story skews a little corny, but the film avoids being treacly. The characters are certainly not the most complex, but their positivity and determination make them likable nonetheless. “Rescued by Ruby” does exactly what it sets out to do, and it does it more enjoyably and believably than a lot of its peers. The movie satisfies a very important need viewers demand, directly and indirectly, from films — comfort. A great lighthearted family film, “Rescued by Ruby” should be consumed and appreciated like hot tea on a rainy day.
— Joy Diamond
Chamber pieces are hot right now. While “All My Friends Hate Me” takes this now-cliche pandemic-era filmmaking formula and makes lemonade, Netflix’s “Windfall,” starring Jesse Plemons, just makes lemons. Or Plemons.
Alongside Plemons’ arrogant tech CEO, Lily Collins stars as his outwardly docile wife. Though Collins (of “Emily in Paris” fame) seems like a strange fit for a gritty, Hitchcockian drama, she proves up to the task as her character undergoes a dramatic transformation, repressing her emotions to the point of a psychotic break. Jason Segel, playing a sort of everyman type, disrupts this idyllic portrait of domestic bliss when he (more inconveniently than maliciously) breaks into their vacation home. The couple finds him, and a sloppy, ill-formed robbery ensues.
There’s no denying that “Windfall” drags. However, its lethargy is both a blessing and a curse. The pacing, coupled with director Charlie McDowell’s typical vaguely anti-capitalist polemic, renders the film tiresome for a good chunk of its runtime. Yet, “Windfall” asserts its merit with a killer third act as what was once done at a simmer boils over in a tsunami of catharsis.
— Emma Murphree