"Radical," (2023). Courtesy of Miercoles Entertainment.
This is maybe the quietest weekend we’ve ever covered during our run of Friday Film Roundups. Sometimes, there are two, even three, big movies coming out in one weekend. Sometimes, there’s only one. But then there’s the rare weekend, like this one, where nothing coming out looks like a movie that audiences will show up for in droves. There is, of course, Sofia Coppola’s new Priscilla Presley film, but even that seems like a pretty niche offering. That doesn’t mean these movies aren’t good! Quite the contrary. It’s just that they’re not going to draw the same crowds as, say, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” did last weekend.
Seriously, though, an $80 million opening weekend? That’s pretty wild.
“Priscilla” (In Theaters)
Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” has been in the works for a while. And no, it’s not in any way tied to the “Elvis” movie that came out last year. This is a different take on the story entirely, and maybe one that’s a bit less flattering to Mr. Presley. The film utilizes Coppola’s characteristically ethereal approach to tell the story of Priscilla Presley , the teenage girl who married the biggest rock star the world has ever seen. Coppola’s latest follows a trend of recontextualizing powerful and well-known women throughout history, getting to the core of who they were, what they wanted, and how the men in their lives made learning more about those first two things very difficult.
“Radical” (In Theaters)
Eugenio Derbez has this wonderful habit of reminding us, usually about once a year, that he’s actually a phenomenal actor. Not that his longtime fans need any reminding, but the American audiences who know him best from goofy comedies like “Overboard” or “How to Be a Latin Lover” must have a little whiplash when he shows up in something like “CODA” and blows everyone else out of the water.
His latest dramatic turn, “Radical,” is inspired by the true story of a Mexican high school teacher who takes a, you guessed it, radical approach to his lesson planning, focusing more on the needs of the students than the standards of the pre-approved curriculum. Despite the deteriorating social and economic conditions that continue to worsen throughout the neighborhood – as well as the added pressure from his school’s administrative staff – the kids need his unorthodox teaching methods more than ever to unlock their true potential.
“All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” (In Theaters)
There’s really no succinct way to describe what “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” is about. And that’s kind of the point. The debut feature from writer-director Raven Johnson is the year’s ultimate tone poem, a movie that doesn’t move forward so much as it does run downstream like water, dispersing itself every which way until all that’s left for you to do is go with the flow.
All you need to know is that this movie is about a life. Not a particularly special or extraordinary life. But a life, nonetheless. That’s why we all go to the movies in the first place, to see a life that is not our own and to embrace the idea that everyone’s experience is somehow unique and universal.
“What Happens Later” (In Theaters)
Meg Ryan is back, ladies and gentlemen! After an extended hiatus away from Hollywood, the most beloved romcom star of the 90s returns to the big screen with “What Happens Later,” a film that she co-wrote, directed, and starred in alongside David Duchovny. There’s nothing too special about the setup – two exes spend the night together in an airport when they happen to run into each other after both of their flights are canceled.
However, what makes “What Happens Later” unique is that Ryan and Duchovny are the only people in it. So what we have here is a low-budget, two-hander romcom starring two of the genre’s veterans that looks like a breezy, engaging 100-minute love story set in an empty airport. Yeah, count us in.
“The Marsh King’s Daughter” (In Theaters)
Last but not least, we have an adaptation of a popular novel about a woman who tries to hunt and kill her former kidnapper before he’s able to abduct her child. The film features “Star Wars” actor Daisy Ridley alongside Ben Mendelsohn and Garrett Hedlund. If you’ve ever seen a movie about impoverished southerners who turn to crime to get out of their situation, you’ve probably seen these two at some point in your lives and you know that Mendelsohn and Hedlund are the best guys for the job. In fact, the performances are probably the best reason to see this one. The story isn’t anything special, but the cast certainly is.
Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.