Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s ambitious decades spanning film Never Look Away starring Tom Schilling, Saskia Rosendahl and Paula Beer follows a boy through pre-WWII Nazi East Germany to the Cold War in Dresden, a journey of discovery and reconciliation. A boy called Kurt Barnert escapes to the West but carries scars of the Nazi occupation and the breakdown, sterilization and death of his beloved aunt Elisabeth. She inspired his passion for modern art – “Never Look Away” – as Hitler decrees against “degenerate” expressionism and demands a return to traditional, idealistic German art. He meets a student at school who looks just like his aunt; they marry but he’s tormented by her unbalanced father. He wrestles with his artistic life, and through reviewing his experiences hopes to create art worthy of all that is past. It’s a complicated, multi- layered story of political, cultural, psychological and familial realties, its emotional and its three hours long, so prepare to hunker down.
Kal Penn calls in his celebrity friends to help explain the world economy and all its failings in a new series on Amazon Prime Video. Adam McKay’s This Giant Beast That is the Global Economy follows Penn, a comedian and Obama White House staffer, crunching the numbers, lifting the lid on misdeeds and malfeasance and if this doesn’t wake you up, well, you’re not paying attention. Penn’s stellar guests – Cristela Alonzo, Tone Bell, Rob Corddry, Ted Danson, Zach Galifianakis, Colin Hanks, Ed Helms, Pete Holmes, Rashida Jones, Joel McHale, Thomas Middleditch, Bobby Moynihan, Ed O’Neill, Patton Oswalt, Missi Pyle, Rob Riggle, Paul Scheer, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Sudeikis, Meghan Trainor and Sasheer Zamata have no time for money launderers, cryptocurrencies, and believe it or not the ruinous catastrophe of failing rubber crops. He visits thirteen countries like resourceless Cyprus that specialise in cleaning dirty money, protecting kleptocrats, the whistleblowers, the truthtellers and those who attempt to stop them. Meet a guy who committed fraud for Russian mafia and stopped assassination of GW Bush and the Delaware firm that plays fast and loose, extreme preparedness experts, megalomaniacal entrepreneurs, finance psychopaths, and more. You’ll be amazed and angered but wiser.
And new to North America is a terrific new British crime drama London Kills from Paul Marquess; it follows an elite team of detectives (Hugo Speer, Sharon Small) as they investigate the most disturbing cases in familiar London landscapes. The most recognisable city in the world holds many secrets, and this documentary style series is fast, slick and ultra-modern as it reveals them. DI Bradford returns to work early following the disappearance of his wife as staff wonders whether he’s emotionally ready for his first case. A young man is found hanged in a park, but the coroner determines he died of a heart attack caused by terror. Turns out his mother is a Member of Parliament who may have been negligent. Suspicion falls on his roommate and just as things get really fast, Bradford learns the boy has a connection to his wife. Smart writing, exciting cinematography and acting set this apart. Launches Feb. 25, as an Acorn TV Original.
The 34th Film Independent Spirit Awards airs live Saturday at 5 p.m. on Hollywood Suite (HS00) Join first-time host Aubrey Plaza as the Film Independent Spirit Awards air live from Santa Monica on Oscar weekend, February 23 at 5 p.m. ET. Coming-of-age film We the Animals leads the nominations with five in total, followed by Eighth Grade, First Reformed and You Were Never Really Here with four respectively. Here are the nominees.
Green Book with Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen is available Tuesday digitally on iTunes and Cineplex and on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD March 12. Nominated or five Oscars, so if you somehow managed not to see the film, now’s the time. This charming, poignant two-hander Green Book is the true story of a world-renowned black pianist, circa 1960, who lives in the upper floor of Carnegie Hall who hires a rough-hewn Bronx garbage man/ driver to ferry him across the Deep South for a two-month concert tour. Today, big deal, back then, that’s toying with danger. Rampant racism was the norm in the South and stretched all the way to the Bronx. The driver finally takes the job and marvels at the musician’s elegance, talent and charm. Guess he hadn’t had much exposure to black culture, and after a rocky start, concerning behaviours in the car, they form an attachment. There is no shortage of trouble, violence and humiliation awaiting them and twists and a growing sense of love and acceptance, on both sides. This is the buddy story to end ‘em all.
Also on DVD and On Demand, two Chinese martial arts films both with zombie themes. Iceman directed by Law Wing Cheong stars Donnie Yen, Eva Huang, Wang Baoqiang, Simon Yam, Mark Wu and Gregory Wong, is the sequel to the 2014 martial arts fantasy. A Ming Dynasty Palace Guard is accidentally buried during battle and frozen for 400 years. He’s defrosted and gets right back to business, fighting. Then Ying embarks on a quest for the only thing that can correct the wrongs of history – The Golden Wheel of Time. He sets out on his dangerous mission facing every kind of obstacle, unwittingly stepping closer to a trap.
And Kim Sung-hoon’s Rampant releases Tuesday with an interesting twist on the zombie theme. It stars Hyun Bin and Jang Dong-gu in this ageless battle for survival. Stakes are high as Lee Chung launches war on the Night Demons zombies as they carry out a bloody rampage on South Korea. Prince Ganglim enlists every citizen to fight back in this fresh take on the popular zombie genre.
And let’s not forget Oscar this weekend!!! Happy viewing/attending/dress watching/champagne cork popping/rooting/booing/whatever makes you happy!!
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