Movie Night! Oscar Contenders, Single Mothers and Lunar Complications

Milena Smit, Penélope Cruz and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón in Parallel Mothers. Sony Pictures Classics.

MOVIE NIGHT

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.

Parallel Mothers

Opens Jan. 28 at Chelsea and Silverspot

Parallel Mothers, the latest minor miracle from ace Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, is a fantastic piece of work – the brightest spot yet in the young 2022 calendar year. Ostensibly, the film concerns two single mothers in Madrid – played by Penelope Cruz and Milena Smit – and their oddly-connected maternal experiences.

But that’s just the plot point from which Almodóvar’s story blossoms out like a narrative fractal pattern. By the end of the film we’ve learned of terrible secrets and deceptions, both on the dramatic level and the deeper historical level of Spain’s recent past. Almodóvar’s twisty structure underlines the increasingly relevant truth that, these days, the personal and the political are all knotted up. Great movie.

Film Fest 919 Presents the Contenders!

Feb. 4 – 17 at the Carraway drive-in

This is a nice idea: The friendly cineastes at Chapel Hill’s Film Fest 919 have arranged for a two-week run of likely Oscar contenders at the Carraway drive-in theater. This is a chance to take in some of the year’s best films on the big screen, with social distancing pretty well optimized.

The films will be running nightly, Wednesday through Sunday, Feb. 4 – 17, starting at 7pm. On the docket: The Harder They Fall (Western!), Dune (sci-fi!) West Side Story (musical!), Passing (period drama!), The Mitchells vs the Machines (animation!) and more. Check the Carraway website for full schedule and ticketing information. Bonus tip: The Mitchells vs the Machines is a surprisingly excellent family film option.

Moonfall

Opens Feb. 4 at Silverspot

Here we have one of those moviegoing paradoxes that pop up from time to time. Moonfall, the sci-fi disaster flick from extremely predictable director Roland Emmerich, is almost certainly going to be a Bad Movie. But, thanks to Emmerich’s said predictability, it’s one you may want to see anyway.

Emmerich makes big, loud, goofy movies – Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 – and he specializes in eyeball-busting disaster sequences that are best experienced on the big screen. He’s got a doozy lined up this time: the Moon has been knocked out of orbit and is falling toward Earth. I’d kind of like to see that. I’m not proud of it, but here we are.

Quick Hits:

This weekend, the Chelsea is also opening the acclaimed Danish film Flee, a kind of animated documentary feature concerning one man’s incredible refugee experience. Opening Feb. 4: The melancholy indie drama Sundown, with Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The Carraway drive-in is holding on to the meta-horror reboot Scream through this weekend.

Silverspot has a few under-the-radar options playing this week and next, including the Christian romantic drama Redeeming Love and the long-delayed adventure fantasy The King’s Daughter, which was supposed to come out in 2015. It’s a long story.


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

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