Handsome Men, Short Films and Curiously Intense Bears 

From BBC to the big screen, finally: Idris Elba as John Luther in Luther: The Fallen Sun.  Photo by John Wilson via Netflix.


By Glenn McDonald

Every other week, our Movie Night! column previews the best upcoming films showing in Chapel Hill theaters—for those who still like to go out to the movies. While COVID remains an issue, all local venues have taken measures to make their spaces safe. Also please remember that bookings and schedules change all the time, so always check online before heading out.

Luther: The Fallen Sun

Opening February 23 at Silverspot

Several years ago, the missus and I got hooked on the great BBC TV series Luther, a psychological thriller starring Idris Elba (The World’s Handsomest Man) as troubled British police inspector John Luther. The BBC series has been unspooling very gradually over the years, with five seasons issued since 2010.

The good news: A feature-film addendum to the series, Luther: The Fallen Sun, is opening in select theaters this week prior to its Netflix run in March. If you’re already into Luther, this is a chance to see the show properly, on the big screen. If you’re new to Luther, this is a chance to get hip to an innovative series largely overlooked on this side of the pond.

At first glance, Luther resembles a lot of contemporary crime series: Obsessed detective, serial killer nemesis, darkness of the soul, etc. But Luther is several clicks above the competition, thanks to its gorgeous London location cinematography and uncommonly intelligent scripting—based in part on classic Sherlock Holmes tales. The new film is designed to work both as a continuation of the series and as a standalone narrative. If you like detective stories, it doesn’t get much better than this.

2023 Oscar-Nominated Short Films

Now playing at Silverspot and the Chelsea

A regular February treat, this annual short film series gathers all the year’s Oscar nominees in three categories: Animation, Live Action and Documentary. Each category gets its own presentation and features the full version of each of the year’s five nominated films, plus some framing material.

The timing is just right. The Academy Award broadcast is Sunday, March 12, and being familiar with the short film categories earns you cool points at Oscar parties. Check the online theater listings for more details and note that running times vary: The Animated collection runs an hour-and-a-half, while Documentary screening is almost three hours.

Quick Picks:

The Chelsea has several interesting European films rotating through. Now playing, the drama Full Time follows a single mom in Paris as she tries to manage her impossibly busy life with no time and no money. From Belgium, the queer coming-of-age drama Close opens Feb. 24. (It won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.) Finally, Leá Seydoux stars in the love story One Fine Morning, opening March 3.

Based on a true story—really!—the dark comedy Cocaine Bear follows the adventures of, yes, a bear who accidentally ingests, yes, a duffel bag full of cocaine. It’s a bananas idea, it’s directed by the fearless Elizabeth Banks, and I love it. Opening Feb. 23 at Silverspot and the Lumina.

Next up on Silverspot’s Flashback Cinema series: My Fair Lady (1964) and Little Shop of Horrors (1986).

The Lumina in Southern Village has a potential Michelle Yeoh double-feature thing going with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022).

The Varsity in downtown Chapel Hill is offering the latest Marvel comic book movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. On March 3, look for Creed III, directed by and starring Michael B. Jordan. By my count, this is technically the ninth installment in the Rocky film series. Can that be right?

Glenn McDonald is a Chapel Hill freelance writer and contributing film critic with Indy Week.

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