Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood (2019) | Quentin Tarantino



Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Rick Dalton, a Hollywood star who is seeing his brightness fade in the ever-changing and fickle industry.  Brad Pitt stars as Cliff Booth, his dedicated stuntman, chauffeur, and overall sidekick in life. The outlook looks bleaker each time out for both of them, as Dalton goes from leading-man roles in films to heavies on TV shows, mulling over advice to continue his career starring in Italian films rather than take a back seat in Hollywood. Meanwhile, Cliff ends up getting into his own kerfuffles on the side, including a spat with none other than Bruce Lee, a young hippie that he flirts with while out driving around the streets of Los Angeles, and dealing with a past that includes questions on whether he might have murdered his own wife and gotten away with it. Quentin Tarantino writes and directs this pop-culture pastiche love letter to Hollywood at the end to the 1960s.


Fast Color (2018) | Julia Hart



Set sometime in a future in which natural resources like water have become scarce. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Ruth, a recovering drug addict on the run due to the fact that she just might be someone who possesses some sort of seizure that reveals an earth-shattering (literally) superpower that causes a shift in tectonic plates that never move, making her the target for experimentation from government scientists. Broke and desperate, she ends up returning to the rural home he ran away from when she was much younger, where her mother Bo and mostly estranged daughter Lila reside, who also have their own form of powers. Julia Hart directs this superhero tale of a different sort.


Shaft (2019) | Tim Story



Thirty years ago, J.J. (Jessie T. Usher) was fathered by Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft, who was immediately estranged from his kid by the mother, Maya, who wants to keep her child’s life from the daily danger that Shaft is surrounded by. Shaft keeps his toe in the water with J.J. by sending presents on birthdays and holidays that often show how out of touch he is, not only in what’s going on in J.J.’s life but also in what is acceptable by standards of our less politically incorrect world. J.J. Shaft works primarily as a desk jockey in the FBI.  J.J. learns that his old friend Karim and sometimes protector died from an overdose in Harlem. Knowing that his friend had turned his life around, J.J. thinks the death smells funny and decides to investigate the cause, leading him to ask questions in a drug dealer’s lair that gets him nearly killed.  Desperate to move on with his investigation, J.J. reaches out to the father he never knew, currently working as a hardboiled private investigator in town, who readily accepts his role as his son’s new protector and mentor of all things “manly”. They soon discover there is, of course, far more involved in Karim’s death than what the official report says, and soon the men find themselves in the middle of a murder case. Tim Story directs this semi-spoof of its own franchise. Richard Roundtree takes a small role as the original John Shaft.


Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) | Jon Watts



Jake Gyllenhaal gets to don the “fishbowl” as Quentin Beck, the interdimensional savior of Venice when a giant water monster surfaces to try to destroy the city.  Peter Parker (Tom Holland) happens to be there at the time, as he has traveled to Europe for a week-long class trip. Peter, of course, is gifted with superhero powers, but doesn’t have the “great responsibility of other incarnations of the character, and would rather just be a teenager and do teenage things, like trying to find a way to express his feelings to his major crush, MJ (Zendaya), doing it atop the Eiffel Tower..  With the Avengers in a sort of disarray, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles Beck, dubbed in the press as Mysterio, with Spider-Man who sees the new hero as a surrogate mentor to live up to in the wake of Tony Stark’s demise,  in order to stop future scary elementals from coming out of the woodworks again to destroy a major city. Jon Watts directs this MCU release.


The Dead Don’t Die (2019) | Jim Jarmusch



After the Earth’s rotation is disturbed due to environmental fallout resulting from “polar fracking”, strange natural phenomena begin occurring all over the globe, including, in one area at least, the dead coming back to life to feast on the living. Bill Murray stars in his second zombie comedy as Cliff Robertson, the chief of police for the small, Mayberry-esque town of Centerville. He, along with his partner in fighting very little crime, officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) find themselves having to deal with the gruesome deaths they uncover, coming to the realization that things may not end well for themselves or their community if they don’t take decisive action. Jim Jarmusch writes and directs. Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Iggy Pop, Selena Gomez, and RZA also appear in this zombie comedy.


I Am Mother (2019) | Grant Sputore



n this thoughtful sci-fi film, Clara Rugaard plays a young teenager we only hear referred to as ‘daughter’ by ‘mother’, who is has an android body with a soothing woman’s voice (Mother’s finished voice-over acting provided by Rose Byrne). We soon come to find that Mother is an artificial intelligence robot that works within a facility that is raising children in order to learn how to properly nurture them to adulthood, for the purpose of one day repopulating the contaminated Earth that lies outside of their safe enclosure in this post-apocalyptic tale. Daughter is the only living human in the facility, though Mother says that her family, which is a collection of human embryos currently being kept on tap, can be born and raised using a quick-gestation technology that we see Daughter produced from when the time comes. Hilary Swank also appears in a supporting role in this film directed by Grant Sputore.


Men In Black: International (2019) | F. Gary Gray



For this fourth entry in the series, out are Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.  Instead, we get two new characters to follow working for the super-secret government organization to protect Earth from interdimensional threats and to keep knowledge of alien lifeforms away from human knowledge. The two are Tessa Thompson’s newly on-board Agent M and Chris Hemsworth’s roguish veteran named Agent H. The two “Men in Black” get their assignment from their boss, High T (Liam Neeson), to look after an alien of some renown and influence that is sought after by sinister forces for reasons come to learn more about through the course of the film. In the ensuing attempt at assassination, M is given a mysterious crystal object, one she knows must be important enough to make her a target, but something that serves no use to her until she can unlock its secret purpose. F. Gary Gray takes over the series from Barry Sonnefeld.


Dark Phoenix (2019) | Simon Kinberg



The plot, initially set in 1992 after a prologue with a tragic event in Jean Grey’s childhood back in 1975, continues with the First Class set of mutants and involves a presidentially sanctioned trip into space in order to rescue a space shuttle. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) commits an act of heroism in trying to keep the space shuttle together as the crew is rounded up to safety, absorbing a massive wave of energy that should have easily taken her life. She ends up surviving the ordeal, much to everyone’s relief.  But something is a bit off with Jean, finding herself with enhanced senses, and growing even more powerful than she had ever been before.  Exhilarating at first, but now she’s becoming increasingly unstable, scared she’s beginning to lose control to her new nature, with an internal fight going on that is an even bigger match than the external one that involves her in a battle with fellow mutants who are trying to contain what is rapidly becoming the most powerful, perhaps even unstoppable, mutant of all. Simon Kinberg writes and directs.


Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) | Michael Dougherty



Eco-terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance), who has taken as hostage a paleobiologist under the employ of the Titan-research group known as Monarch, Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), along with her teenage daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), to utilize Orca, an experimental mind-control technology she created to try to control the Titans, the giant monsters of the Earth that he sees as protecting the planet from humanity’s continued exploitation and destruction, effectively by destroying most of human civilization as we know it. Emma’s estranged husband Mark, who is trying to get his life back together after losing his son in the wake of Godzilla’s 2014 rampage, is out to find them and save them from further efforts to destroy the world, or themselves. Mark soon hooks up with Emma’s team of scientists at Monarch, as well as members of the military, to try to find a way to thwart Jonah’s plans and to keep the escalating numbers of monsters, led by the invasive three-headed alpha Titan named King Ghidorah, from destroying everything we hold dear. Godzilla may be their last line of defense, but where is he?


Always Be My Maybe (2019) | Nahnatchka Khan



The main premise is that two childhood friends, Sasha Tran (Ali Wong) and Marcus Kim (Randall Park), end up consummating their time growing up together as Asian-American teens in San Francisco with their first sexual experience, only to find their friendship has become awkward after going beyond the friend zone. These besties soon drift apart and lose connection as they progress into adulthood, with Sasha hitting the big time by becoming one of the most successful celebrity chefs in Los Angeles, while Marcus works by day in his father’s small-scale HVAC company while performing at the same dive bar frequently with the hip-hop group he’s been in since he was a teenager. When Sasha going to the opening of one of her posh restaurants in San Francisco, she ends up getting reacquainted with her old friend Marcus and finds him exactly in the same place, driving the same car, doing the same things all these years, while she’s become a jet-setting millionaire.  Neither can stand each other’s lives, but they seem to enjoy each other’s company for the time being, and with both stuck in relationships that may not lead anywhere, there’s a “maybe” that develops, even though it seems their different lifestyles can never coexist without someone giving in.  Nahnatchka Khan directs this romantic comedy in the vein of “When Harry Met Sally”. Keanu Reeves gets an inspired bit part.