Friday Film Roundup: ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Thanksgiving,’ ‘Next Goal Wins,’ and More

ENTERTAINMENTBy 2023-11-17T15:31:32-05:00November 17th, 2023|
  • “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" (2023). Courtesy of Lions Gate.

We made it! We are officially making our way to the first, stacked-as-hell Friday of the Fall/Winter season. The late summer antics are over. From here to the end of the year, audiences will be all but guaranteed at least one masterpiece per week. For movie lovers, there’s nothing better than awards season. And with how great 2023 has already been for movies, we’re in for a treat among treats this year.

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” (In Theaters)

Five years after the initial round of “Hunger Games” adaptations ended in 2015, author Suzanne Collins published another installment subtitled “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” which takes place more than 60 years before the original trilogy with a whole new cast of characters. Naturally, that meant it was time for Hollywood to go back to the “Hunger Games” well for one more round.

The latest installment follows a teenage Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland in the original films) as he attempts to rebuild the Capitol after a devastating war nearly destroyed the city and ruined his family’s name by mentoring a competitor who’s been drafted to participate in the 10th annual Hunger Games.

We don’t know if this is going to launch a whole franchise of prequel films (especially because there’s only one book to adapt, as of now), but fans of the series should find plenty to love here.

“Thanksgiving” (In Theaters)

Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving” is a horror film more than fifteen years in the making. Roth originally released “Thanksgiving” as a fake trailer for 2007’s “Grindhouse,” a double feature that featured coming attractions for movies that didn’t actually exist. The original “Thanksgiving” trailer was presented alongside other fake movies like “Hobo With a Shotgun” and “Machete,” which were both adapted into feature films soon after the film’s release.

Roth put his adaptation on ice for more than a decade, directing a bunch of other movies in the process. However, his feature adaptation feels like both a return to form and uncharted territory for the director. Roth, for all the on-screen violence he’s responsible for, has never actually made a traditional slasher film. At the same time, it seems like Roth has been building up to this film for his entire career.

“Next Goal Wins” (In Theaters)

Writer-director Taika Waititi’s latest film comes with a pretty interesting behind-the-scenes story. Waititi filmed and completed the film in early 2020, just before the pandemic. However, because of the COVID-19 lockdowns and the subsequent cancellation of actor Armie Hammer – who was cast in a role now played by Will Arnett – forced the studio to shelve the film until Waititi could complete a series of reshoots and have the film done for a post-pandemic release.

The film is based on the true story of the American Samoa soccer team, which had never won a single game until disgraced coach Thomas Rangen (played by Michael Fassbender) stepped in to whip them into shape. Now, audiences are finally getting to see “Next Goal Wins” more than three years after the crew wrapped on principal photography.

What was supposed to be Waititi’s big follow-up to the Oscar-nominated “Jojo Rabbit” now feels like a minor release from the director, who is already gearing up to helm at least seven new features, including a planned “Star Wars” movie.

“Trolls Band Together” (In Theaters)

New “Trolls” movie! Your kids are going to love it! And you probably won’t!

“Fallen Leaves” (In Theaters)

2023 has been a particularly good year for movies. So, of course, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time has to throw his hat in the ring and release a new movie. Director Aki Kaurismäki is back with “Fallen Leaves,” another comfortably lowkey film about two wayward souls who find comfort and hope in companionship while they try to stave off the realities of life outside the bubble that is each other.

“Please Don’t Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain”

You may know the comedy troupe Please Don’t Destroy as the new Lonely Island. In other words, the only thing about “Saturday Night Live” that is consistently funny. Now, their Judd Apatow-produced feature debut will answer the age-old question – do these guys have what it takes to leave Studio 8H behind and become movie stars? If it’s even half as funny as “Hot Rod,” which launched Andy Samberg’s movie career, we may be witnessing the birth of a star. Well, three stars.

BONUS ROUND: November 21st

If all of this weren’t enough, we have three more movies coming out on November 21st that you might like to check out!

“Leo” (On Netflix)

“Do Not Disturb”

“Pig Killer”

Josef Rodriguez is a writer, filmmaker, and film critic living in New York City.