From our review: This is Shinkai's largest film to date (less epic than some of his others, but more expansive), and while very few animators in the world are capable of making anything so smart or emotionally vivid, a bigger canvas seldom makes it easier to find what you're looking for. Based on Shinkai's own novel of the same name and reframing his usual fixations through the lens of Japanese history, "Your Name" is an unclassifiable experience that starts like a hormonal riff on "Freaky Friday," morphs into an apocalyptic version of "Portrait of Jennie," and somehow manages to layer a gender-swapping 12th century tale over the ongoing trauma of 3/11 in the meantime. If only it weren't every bit as messy as it sounds.
Funimation will release "Your Name" in 2017.
From our review: With no score and zero levity, "Lady Macbeth" maintains a constant atmospheric dread. Oldroyd crafts a masterful sense of uncertainty about how far Katherine will go to preserve her dominance. Facing societal pressures that would drive anyone crazy, she acts out within reason, but the specifics of her drive make it hard for anyone to join her revolt. In the horrific finale, a series of harrowing showdowns make it impossible to determine the moral compass of the story as it spins wildly between various characters. By the end, "Lady Macbeth" has less to say about the perils of being a woman in oppressive times than mania necessary for challenging them.
Roadside Attractions will release “Lady Macbeth” in 2017.
From our review: But that same anything-goes spirit makes it possible to experience these freewheeling characters' unstable world, and the appealing possibility that they're better off experiencing it together. It's the same attribute that made Leon's "Gimme the Loot" so endearing, and at a time when American romantic comedies aim for broad humor and questionable gender politics, provides a more intimate contrast to the market standard. If romantic comedies need a savior, Leon may be their best hope.
Netflix will release “Tramps” in 2017.
From our review: A characteristically lush period rom-com from "An Education" director Lone Scherfig, "Their Finest" winds back the clocks to a time when movies were a matter of life and death. We open in London circa 1940. German bombers are sweeping over the city like rain clouds, American politicians are hesitant to join the fight, and British civilians are worried that Dunkirk might soon become a daily reality. With most of England's young men fighting overseas and the morale of those left behind dipping by the hour, the cinema became a singular source of solace, a place where a ravaged community could gather together and remember what the fight was for. Or, if the movies were shite, it could be a place where people felt hollow and hopeless.
EuropaCorp will release “Their Finest” in 2017.
From our review: The peculiar genre-twisting set-up for “Colossal” should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, whose brilliant “Timecrimes” delivered one of the best time travel plots of all time, with only a handful of characters orbiting an increasingly convoluted timeline; similarly, Vigalondo’s “Extraterrestrial” turned an alien invasion story into a minimalist romcom between a handful of survivors holed up in their apartment. “Colossal” features a few bigger names and some decent special effects, but it’s otherwise consistent with this inventive director’s anarchic approach, which dares to blur the lines between silliness and genuine behavior.
Tom Quinn and Tim League’s as-yet-unnamed distribution company will release “Colossal” in 2017.
From our review: "High School" reveals the saga of a wayward high school newspaper editor tellingly named Dash (voiced by a dry Jason Schwartzman) and his estranged pal Assaf (Reggie Watts), whose friendship is imperiled early on. Dash, a geeky romantic with an absurd fixation on flowery writing ("I like turgid prose," he asserts), has annoyed Assaf to the point that he forms an alliance with fellow newspaper writer Verti (Maya Rudolph), a new romantic interest. Their uneven chemistry tears the publication apart in a matter of minutes ("We've lost touch with the streets!") and personal vendettas make their way into print. Ostracized, Dash uncovers his biggest scoop of all — that the school's foundation hasn't been properly designed for a disaster — just when it strikes.
GKIDS will release “High School” in 2017.
From our review: If Amma Asante's newest historical romance "A United Kingdom" — like her breakout "Belle," the film is based on a true story and rooted in real emotion — is hamstrung by anything, it's the necessity of Guy Hibbert's script (based on Susan Williams' book, "Color Bar") to zip over the early, blooming days of the film's central love story and buckle down on the tough stuff. Asante's film, unlike other, more "traditional" Hollywood love stories, isn't interested in the joys of falling in love so much as the ability to stay in love against heartbreaking odds.
The result is a rich, stirring look at one of modern society's most enduring — and yes, inspirational — marriages, underpinned by political machinations that remain all too relevant.
Fox Searchlight will release the film on February 10.
From our review: The rest of "Free Fire" unfolds through echoing taunts and deafening shots, few of which hit their targets with much accuracy. The survivors stumble around behinds boxes and bullet-riddled cars, taking beatings until they can't anymore; the body number climbs along with the symphonic cacophony of the gunfire. It's not the most original shootout of all time, but it might be the craziest. Wheatley and Jump infuse the proceedings with an anarchic energy that provides no clear hero or the impression that any one character has the upper hand for long. That can make it hard to remain invested in the proceedings, and indeed, "Free Fire" reveals itself to be a bit of a one-trick pony once it hits the one-hour mark.
A24 will release the film in 2017.
From our review: "The Bad Batch" further solidifies the strength of Amirpour's idiosyncratic vision, which takes familiar details and bends them into spiky bursts of unpredictability. Whereas the melancholic black-and-white milieu of "Girl" featured a lonely vampire in an Iranian ghost town and the somber pariah who falls for her, "The Bad Batch" remixes some of the same beats with a neo-western makeover. Amirpour once again follows a sullen, isolated woman as she roams an empty landscape and finds camaraderie in the unlikeliest of places. "The Bad Batch" doesn't quite match the imaginative polish of Amirpour's debut, but it excels at fusing outrageous genre pastiche with a colorful homegrown universe.
Screen Media will release the film in 2017.
From our review: Richard Gere, in yet another one of his wildly adventurous late career performances, stars as Norman Oppenheimer, the kind of unctuous New York caricature who will suck up to anyone who can stand his unchecked opportunism. They call him a "fixer," which must be Yiddish for "human gnat." As desperate to matter as he is devoid of anything to offer, Norman has needled his way into the lives of every Jew in Manhattan, offering a business card and a small favor to any of the poor souls who happen to bump into him at a cocktail party or sit next to him on a train.
Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in 2017.
From our review: Despite having all the makings of a Lars von Trier movie, "Maudie," with its folksy score and beatific views of the raw Canadian countryside, soon thaws into an aggressively cute saga about how people only need each other in order to live a rich life. Working from Sherry White's wildly uneven script, Walsh introduces major developments just as quickly as she brushes them aside — the film spends almost as much time on adorable shots of Everett pushing Maud around town in a wheelbarrow as it does subplots about its heroine's shocking past.
Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in 2017.
From our review: "Rat Film" is the latest example of Anthony's provocative and insightful approach to representing disenfranchised tales. His 2014 short "Chop My Money" followed a tough-minded kid on the streets of Eastern Congo by remaining within his perspective and letting him tell his own tale. "Rat Film" goes to similar lengths for its rats — and, by extension, the long history of classism they're designed to represent. It's a bold gamble that sometimes feels a touch obvious, but mostly achieves a sharp clarity of vision.
Cinema Guild is planning a 2017 release for “Rat Film.”
From our review: Stewart's commitment to the role is impressive, and she exudes a curious sensuality previously unseen in her career. Alone one night at her employer's home, her character engages in a fetishistic act that suggests she's been possessed by a deviant spirit, if not something more overtly nefarious. Even when special effects sneak into the drama, they sort of dangle there, like question marks. "Personal Shopper" isn't a ghost story so much as it examines the psychological underpinnings that make ghost stories creep us out.
IFC Films will release the film on March 10.
From our review: With its puzzling look at isolation and repressed sexuality, “Staying Vertical” should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Guiraudie through his last effort, 2013's “Stranger By the Lake.” Just as that movie focused on a murder mystery set at a remote pond used for gay hookups, “Staying Vertical” uses a vacant landscape to explore characters confronting their deepest fears and desires. But while “Stranger By the Lake” maintained the aura of suspense, “Staying Vertical” presents its theme with a series of surprising developments. It's a surreal black comedy and a somber character study rolled into one.
Strand Releasing will release the film on January 20.
From our review: Drifting from one scene to the next, “Dark Night” often feels like a series of likeminded dreams flowing together. There are hints of the atrocity around the corner — glimpses of CNN covering the actual James Holmes shooting in Aurora, the conversations of a teary-eyed support group discussing some unspecified incident — so that Sutton seems to be building toward the grisly climax and away from it at once. The dueling narrative creates a remarkable dialogue between the media narrative and the world preceding its existence.
Cinelicious Pics is planning an early 2017 theatrical and VOD release for the film.
From our interview: Suffice to say, “Raw” isn’t the only film about cannibalism at this year’s festival — and, yes, Ducournau is very excited to Ana Lily Amirpour’s “The Bad Batch” — but it’s probably the most visceral, challenging and often just plain jaw-dropping feature to hit the screen at the latest edition of a festival that’s never backed down from a big, bloody meal.