It’s that time of year again when we encourage a brief trip over the stateline to Missouri in search of the best documentary films in the world. The schedule for this year’s True/False Film Festival, Feb. 28-March 3 in Columbia, won’t be out until after this goes to print, but the festival is sure to have another slate full of first-rate selections, from crowd-pleasing bio-pics (last year, it screened Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) to difficult, artsy fare. Grab a pass, hop in the queue and see a film (or 15) during one of the best weekends of the year.
While you’re in town, take in all the entertaining musical acts who flock to the festival as “buskers” and sample the great local food and beer scene in a classic college town. But don’t let all the extras distract you from the heart of the matter: True/False is the best nonfiction film festival in the country and provides you with many movies to challenge and entertain you.
One of the big transitions these days is the rise of streaming services – in particular Netflix – gaining rights to films that would traditionally have been released in theaters only. Many major films this year, including those by prestigious directors Alfonso Cuaron and the Coen brothers, received simultaneous releases in theaters and on Netflix.
February brings an intriguing entry in this blooming field – Velvet Buzzsaw, which reunites star Jake Gyllenhaal with writer/director Dan Gilroy, who guided the actor to one of his most gripping, bizarre performances in Nightcrawler. Not much information is available about the new film other than Gyllenhaal playing the improbably named Morf Vandewalt, who operates in the Los Angeles art scene. The film co-stars the excellent Toni Collette and John Malkovich.
And its genre is listed as comedy/horror/crime, a promising hybrid, especially considering Gilroy’s involvement. Stay at home and treat yourself to a creepy, fun movie night with this one.
In recent years, no family film has been more delightful and surprising than The Lego Movie. Despite its potential to be little more than a cynical cash grab, The Lego Movie is a funny, hyperkinetic feast for the eyes and does its best to entertain both kids and those dragged to the theater alongside them.
Two semi-sequels have followed, including the equally fun The Lego Batman Movie. A true sequel, The Lego Movie Two: The Second Part, comes out this month. While the first film’s directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, cede those duties this time around, they’ve written the script with the great Raphael Bob-Waksberg, creator of Bojack Horseman. Let’s hope he brings a touch of the downbeat humor from that show to the proceedings, especially via Batman, voiced by Will Arnett, star of Bojack and the first film’s scene-stealer extraordinaire.