There are some great cinematic rewards for movie fans who are staying in town for the holiday weekend.
Although the Hollywood summer season has come to an end, there are some great indie films opening this weekend. The most highly anticipated is “We the Animals,” a visceral yet lyrical film about the childhood of a young gay boy playing at Landmark E Street Cinema. Based on the celebrated novel by Justin Torres, the movie is a coming out/coming-of-age about Jonah (first-time actor Evan Rosado) who is discovering his artistic interests and sexual leanings. His macho father is played by Raúl Castillo (“Looking”) and his overwhelmed mother is played by Sheila Vand (“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”). Director Jeremiah Zagar won the NEXT Innovator Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; the amazing animated sequences are by Mark Samsonovich.
Two powerful movies about the impact of World War II are also opening this weekend. Playing at the Avalon is “Memoir of War.” Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, the film is about a Parisian woman desperate for news about her husband who has been arrested by the Nazis. Based on the thrilling true story, “Operation Finale” is about the 1960 covert mission led by legendary Mossad agent Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) to capture the infamous Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley).
Also opening are “Searching,” a technological thriller about a father (John Cho) in search of his missing daughter; “The Bookshop” about a free-spirited young widow (Emily Mortimer) who opens a bookstore in a conservative English town; and, “Nico, 1988” about the final year in the life of Andy Warhol superstar Nico.
If you missed them, some great queer movies that opened this summer are holding over this weekend. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” is the touching tale of a teen-aged girl (an excellent Chloë Grace Moretz) who is sent to conversion therapy by her evangelical family. The surprise hit “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a heart-felt documentary by Morgan Neville (“20 Feet from Stardom” and “Best of Enemies”) about legendary television host Fred Rogers. The charming movie include fascinating reminiscences from François Clemmons, the openly gay actor who played Officer Clemmons on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
The popular and critical hit “Crazy Rich Asians” is still playing at theaters around the city, including all three screens at the Angelika Pop-Up ay Union Market. The delightful rom-com stars Henry Golding and Constance Wu as the young lovers and features out actor Nico Santos as Oliver T’Sien, the gay cousin who paves the way for the inevitable happy ending.
Also holding over is “BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee’s brilliant and searing indictment of American racism in the streets and on the screen. The amazing film is about a black policeman (John David Washington) and his white Jewish partner (Adam Driver) who infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado. Topher Grace (“That 70s Show’) turns in an astonishing performance as Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. The movie is based on the memoir by Ron Stallworth; unfortunately, Lee leaves out the fact that Stallworth and his partner helped to thwart attacks on two gay bars in Denver.
Also holding over are “The Wife,” with a blazing performance that may finally get Glenn Close the Oscar she so richly deserves; “Sorry to Bother You,” “Blindspotting,” “Eighth Grade,” “Juliet, Naked” and the fascinating documentary “Three Identical Strangers.”
AFI Silver in downtown Silver Spring will also be hosting a number of exciting screenings over the holiday weekend. For musical theater fans, the highlight will be the “West Side Story” Sing-Along on Sunday, Sept. 2. The Bernstein at 100 celebration will also include screenings of the musical “On the Town” and the classic drama “On the Waterfront” featuring an Oscar-nominated score by Leonard Bernstein.
AFI will also present “The Shining” as part of their tribute to Stanley Kubrick, the complete two-part “Fanny and Alexander” as part of their Ingmar Bergman retrospective and the sizzling “Picnic” based on the play by closeted gay writer William Inge as part of the William Holden centennial.
Finally, the cinematic pleasures will continue with a special screening of the gay classic “Victor/Victoria” at the Landmark West End Cinema on Wednesday Sept. 5 and the opening of the annual D.C. Shorts Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 6.