MOVIE NIGHT! Helen Mirren, climate anxiety, and teen sex comedies

Helen Mirren as Israeli prime minister Golda Meir in the acclaimed biographical drama, Golda. Photo credit: Sean Gleason, courtesy of Bleecker Street/ShivHans Pictures.


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. Please remember that bookings and schedules change all the time, so always check online before heading out.


Opening August 25 at Silverspot and the Lumina

This highly anticipated biographical drama stars Helen Mirren as Golda Meir, the famous Iron Lady of Israel, who served as that country’s prime minister from 1969 to 1974. Meir was Israel’s first – and so far only – female head of government.

An American-British co-production, Golda is directed by Israeli-American filmmaker Guy Nattiv, who structures the film as a backroom docudrama centered on the Yom Kippur War of 1973. While there has been some controversy over the casting, Mirren’s performance is being universally praised. Meir had a complicated upbringing – born in Kyiv and raised in Milwaukee before moving to Jerusalem – so I imagine the accent work was tricky.

Also look for the reliable Liev Schreiber as U.S. diplomat and realpolitik specialist Henry Kissinger.


Opening August 25 at the Chelsea

The acclaimed German drama Afire, from filmmaker Christian Petzoid, looks to be an interesting hybrid of comedy, romantic drama, and disaster film. The film features four young people on holiday who find love and laughter just before getting trapped behind an encroaching forest fire. The preview trailer is pretty intriguing.

Afire has some obvious contemporary resonance and is the latest in a long string of recent films dealing with our worsening climate anxieties. It’s a reminder that the rest of the world is freaking out, too. In any case, the film stars the fabulous German actress Paula Beer, who quite frankly stole my heart in the 2021 modern folktale film Undine.

Quick Picks:

Also opening this week in area theaters:

Bottoms, best described as a high-intensity teen sex comedy, follows two lesbian high schoolers who start a fight club to impress the cheerleaders. No, really – check out the NSFW trailer. Bottoms appears to be operating in the same tonal frequency as edgy high school comedies like Heathers or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It’s about satire and incorrectness, sex and violence, queerness and adolescence. But mostly it’s about making parents feel deeply uncomfortable – a noble tradition.

Liam Neeson continues his evidently profitable late-career toggle to action movie star with the thriller Retribution. Yes, bad guys threaten his family. Yes, Liam exacts vengeance. Yes, it looks a lot like every other script he’s made in the last ten years. These movies make money, though – they clearly speak to something in the 21st-century American heart.

On Sunday, August 27, film historian and NC State professor Marsha Gordon will visit the Chelsea to discuss her new book on writer Ursula Parrott, author of the then-scandalous novel Ex-Wife. Gordon will also introduce a special screening of the 1936 film Next Time We Love, adapted from another of Parrott’s books.

For the kids, Silverspot is screening the 30th Anniversary 3D edition of Jurassic Park this Friday, August 25. That movie works waaaaay better on a big screen with rumbling sound.

If you haven’t seen the movie of the summer yet, Barbie is still playing at The Chelsea, the Lumina, the Varsity, and Silverspot.

Next up on Silverspot’s Flashback Cinema series: Spaceballs (Aug. 27 and 30) and The Goonies (Labor Day weekend and Sept. 6)

Just a reminder that The Lumina is continuing to host Saturday night screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture show. This is a nice community service, I think – that movie has long been a rite of passage for American teenagers and a safe space for weirdos and queer kids.

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

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