The below are brief reviews of new releases I feel are worthy of recommendation. These films were reviewed from digital screeners. Screen and Stage encourages its readers to follow safety precautions outlined by health authorities.
In & Of Itself (Dir. Frank Oz, Now streaming on Hulu) - IN & OF ITSELF, a one-man show by Derek DelGaudio filmed by Frank Oz (who also directed the stage production), shows how to capture a stage work for the screen perfectly. Much like the filmed version of HAMILTON, this IN & OF ITSELF captures all of the emotion and magic of DelGaudio’s transfixing show while including enough cinematic flourishes and perfectly-utilized close-ups to make it immersive for those watching at home. A show about identity with some wondrous magic tricks, DelGaudio’s investigation of what makes us the people we are is both beautifully-constructed and clever with an unexpected emotional element as well. It’s rare and a true gift to find something as simultaneously entertaining and intelligent as IN & OF ITSELF in this day and age - this is one of the best films to have come along in some time. 4/4
My Favorite War (Dir. Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen, Streaming through Scandinavia House through 1/24/21) - An animated autobiographical documentary inspired by PERSEPOLIS and WALTZ WITH BASHIR, Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen's MY FAVORITE WAR (winner of an award at the prestigious Annecy Film Festival) details the filmmaker's experience growing up behind the Iron Curtain in Latvia and explores the idea of what happens when one is told what to think as well as the value of thinking for oneself. Personal and illuminating, MY FAVORITE WAR marks its creator as a talent to watch and handles its tough subject matter with grace and sometimes even a sense of humor. 3.5/4