Kill the Messenger
I’m anxious to see this one just because this guy’s story fascinates me. The film is based on the crusade of a real reporter, Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News, to reveal a connection between the crack/cocaine epidemic and the CIA. Somehow I missed all this in the mid- to late 1990s, but apparently the point of the movie is to show why many of us missed it: a government and media campaign to discredit the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. As Entertainment Weekly writer Joe McGovern suggested in his review, someone should get to work on a documentary about this guy, but the fictionalized account will have to do for now.
DIRECTOR: Michael Cuesta | HEADLINERS: Jeremy Renner and Rosemarie DeWitt
The Blue Room
Mathieu Amalric has been busy. Last year, he appeared in Roman Polanski’s “Venus in Fur,” he is the narrator of a the recent French release “Bird People” (which I am also looking forward to seeing), and now he turns up in this French thriller as a man accused of what appears to be a very bloody crime. One minute he’s enjoying a passionate, illicit tryst with a beautiful woman (they are both married to other people), and the next he’s facing some harsh questioning in a police station. It all sounds very Hitchcockian, which is why it is on this list. Amalric also took on directing and co-writing duties on this one.
DIRECTOR: Mathieu Amalric | HEADLINERS: Mathieu Amalric, Léa Drucker & Stéphanie Cleau
The Supreme Price
This documentary reveals the story of Hafsat Abiola, the daughter of two democracy and human rights political activists in Nigeria. Her father, M.K.O. Abiola, was elected president of Nigeria in 1993, but the election was nullified by the country’s military dictatorship; her mother, Kudirat Abiola, took over the cause and rose in the political ranks only to be assassinated. The fact that these individuals were fighting for human rights, and women’s rights in particular, in a polygamist society (M.K.O. had four wives and several mistresses) adds an interesting dynamic.
DIRECTOR: Joanna Lipper
Keep On Keepin’ On
This documentary produced by Quincy Jones and Paula Dupre’ Pesmen is about the bond that developed between a blind piano prodigy named Justin Kauflin and the legendary jazz musician Clark Terry.
DIRECTOR: Al Hicks
Nas: Time Is Illmatic
Here’s another documentary based in the music industry. This one from director One9 is all about the making of Nas’ 1994 hip-hop classic, “Illmatic.” I can’t say that I was in on the ground level with “Illmatic” when it was released 20 years ago, but I love hip hop and love learning more about its history and its history-makers, like Nas.
Who doesn’t love Bill Murray? But I suspect this comedy about a grumpy old ne’er-do-well’s redeeming qualities being brought out by an adorable kid will not be a huge feather in the actor’s well-worn, sarcastic player hat. But it might not be a small feather, either. I mean, who doesn’t love Bill Murray? Even though he plays one often and seemingly effortlessly, he's no slouch. That Melissa McCarthy, who plays the adorable kid's mom, isn't so bad either.
DIRECTOR: Theodore Melfi | HEADLINERS: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts & Jaeden Lieberher
As a huge Shakespeare buff, I’m always excited to see new adaptations of the Bard’s work. This one from director Vishal Bhardwaj puts an Indian spin on “Hamlet,” but with a special emphasis on the Gertrude character, named Ghazala in the film. Bhardwaj also has directed adaptations of “Macbeth” and “Othello” – “Maqbool” and “Omkara” – which were received pretty well by critics.
DIRECTOR: Vishal Bhardwaj | HEADLINERS: Tabu and Shahid Kapoor