As I’ve said before and am sure I’ll say again, I’m a sucker for both documentaries and movies based on actual events. It just so happens that we have 5 — yes, 5 — such movies that just hit the Box and/or Redbox On Demand this month alone. And they’re all great!
Here’s the rundown:
Tolkien – As a huge Lord of the Rings fan (I actually went to New Zealand to tour filming locations, so don’t even start to doubt my nerdiness!), I was fascinated by this biopic about the early years of Middle-Earth creator J.R.R. Tolkien’s (Nicholas Hoult) life. From his tragic childhood, to the deep friendships he formed at boarding school, to his star-crossed romance with Edith Bratt (Lily Collins), to the horrors he endured in WWI, the film covers much of what inspired Tolkien’s globally beloved novels.
Rocketman – My husband and I walked out of Rocketman wishing it had come out before we saw Elton John on his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tour last year, because we didn’t know much about how he rose to fame, and it would’ve been great to have more context for some of his earlier hits. This biopic stars an absolutely fantastic Taron Egerton as John, and depicts how he came to partner with his longtime songwriting collaborator Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), his complicated relationship with his business manager John Reid (Richard Madden), and his not-sogreat childhood thanks to an unsupportive mother (Bryce Dallas Howard). It’s a must-see for anyone who’s ever enjoyed John’s songs, and I’m pretty sure it’ll eventually be turned into a Broadway musical.
Amazing Grace – While we’re on the topic of incredible singers and songwriters, this documentary is nearly all music from beginning to end, as it features Aretha Franklin, the late Queen of Soul, recording her live album (Amazing Grace) in 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, accompanied by the Southern California Community Choir. There’s a reason it holds a 99% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes — it’s guaranteed to stir your soul and move your spirit.
The Biggest Little Farm – If all of the negative news about climate catastrophes around the world has you depressed, I highly recommend this inspiring documentary about a couple who buys a 200-acre farm an hour north of Los Angeles, leaves their old normal life behind, and attempts to live off the land. The film covers 8 years of their lives in their quest to build a sustainable farm, and it’s pretty extraordinary.
All is True – Kenneth Branagh has always been obsessed with William Shakespeare, and has starred in and/or directed at least six adaptations of The Bard’s plays that I can think of off the top of my head. And that’s in addition to this new film, in which he portrays the playwright himself on top of serving as the director. All is True focuses on what happened after Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theatre burned down in 1613 and the poet’s subsequent return to his dysfunctional family life in Stratford. In addition to Branagh, it stars Judi Dench as William’s wife, and Ian McKellen as the Earl of Southampton.