January is always a quiet time in Joburg’s cultural calendar, making the cinema an even more compelling place to get your cultural fix. In a normal year we’d be hungrily chewing up all the latest Oscar contenders at the cinema, although like everything else, Covid has also upended the movie industry and many big film releases continue to be delayed.
That said South African cinemas are open and there are some interesting new releases that have just hit the big screen. Alternatively, if you prefer the sofa at home, Netflix has some major new releases that are worth a look.
Here’s our pick of five new films to watch this month.
Wonder Woman 1984
Arguably the biggest blockbuster of 2020 to have actually made it to the big screen is Wonder Woman 1984, released just before Christmas. In the follow up to 2017’s smash hit Wonder Woman, we speed forward to 1984 where Wonder Woman must protect humanity from the evil Maxwell Lord and the Cheetah, a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility. Classic superhero entertainment.
You can find this showing at all major cinemas, and it is also available to watch in IMAX.
What could possibly more feel-good in these times than a Pixar animation, and especially one that comes from the same creative team who brought us the all-time classic heart-warmers Up, Coco and Inside Out. Soul stars Jamie Foxx as a jazz-loving music teacher, who falls down a manhole and finds himself in ‘the Great Before‘, a dreamy before-life place where new souls are assigned “unique and individual personalities” before being sent to be birthed on Earth.
Soul is showing at all major cinemas.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
2020 has been the biggest year yet for Netflix and ever more directors are releasing their films on the streaming platform. Aaron Sorkin’s latest film, The Trial of the Chicago 7, has Oscar written all over it. Set in the late 1960s, it’s a docudrama based on the true story of the Chicago 7, a ragtag crew of anti-Vietnam war activists charged with inciting violence at a peaceful protest in a shoddy trial, that itself ended up causing widespread riots.
Now available to stream on Netflix.
Let Him Go
A surprisingly gripping drama set in Montana in 1963 and starring Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as a retired sheriff and his wife who set out to find their only grandchild after their son dies. Following the death of their son their daughter-in-law leaves and eventually moves in with a new partner, who they soon discover is violent and abusive. Not for the faint-hearted, there are some gruesome scenes of violence. Fantastic acting from the two big-screen veterans nevertheless.
Look out for the film showing at major cinemas.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
A fresh chance to see a new side to the late Chadwick Boseman (best known for his role as Black Panther). Based on the August Wilson play and set in 1927 Chicago, this is the story of Ma Rainey, nicknamed the “Mother of Blues” (played by the magnificent Viola Davis) and her ambitious horn player Levee (Boseman) and their battles against the white management who are determined to take control of their music. Film tipsters fancy this to be one of the biggest Oscar contenders this year.
Streaming on Netflix from December 18.