New and Notable Week of 9/25/20

Kajillionaire - Focus Features

The below are brief reviews of new and upcoming releases I feel are worthy of recommendation. While both have been released exclusively theatrically, these films were reviewed from digital screeners. Screen and Stage encourages its readers to follow safety precautions outlined by health authorities.

Kajillionaire (Dir. Miranda July, 2020, exclusively in theaters now) - Miranda July's KAJILLIONAIRE, about a family of small-time con artists (Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins as the parents, Evan Rachel Wood as the daughter), is a film on its own totally unique wavelength. July wastes no time in immersing us in the sad, bizarre lives of the family, which at first is off-putting, as the parents are so hard to relate to that it threatens to derail the entire film. But, when the film focuses around the daughter's story and her friendship with a woman (a radiant Gina Rodriguez) the family meets on a plane ride, the film finds its footing and heart. And credit must be given to the outstanding work of the cast, particularly Evan Rachel Wood, who takes a tight coil of a person and slowly peels back her layers, revealing exciting aspects of her character previously unseen. KAJILLIONAIRE is a satisfying film (the ending is brilliant) about realizing parents' imperfections and accepting them as the flawed people that they are. In a year when original and daring filmic offerings are in short supply, KAJILLIONAIRE is a welcome treat.

The Way I See It (Dir. Dawn Porter, 2020, exclusively in theaters now) - The official White House photographer is not a job that many think about on a regular basis, but you'll never look at it the same way again after viewing Dawn Porter's affectionate portrait of Reagan and Obama's photographer, Pete Souza. A candid subject whose stunning still work speaks volumes about the leaders it captures, Souza's personality and images as well as Porter's passion for her subject more than make up for any executional rockiness. THE WAY I SEE IT largely focuses on the Obama years which stand in stark contrast to the current administration, and the latter part of the film focuses upon Souza turning into a social media sensation, as he now posts his photos of the Obama Administration and throws "shade" at the current one. As hopeful as THE WAY I SEE IT can be, the lingering feeling can be depressing when one thinks about just how far we've fallen since January 20, 2017.