"Breakthrough" is based on the true story of a Missouri teen who fell through the ice on a lake and was declared dead. His mom refused to give up on the power of prayer. "This Is Us" star Chrissy Metz stars as the mom, and she really elevates the movie to what otherwise might have been mundane. This is executive produced by Devon Franklin, who was also behind another faith-based film "Miracle From Heaven." He knows a good story when he hears one. His first-time feature director, Roxann Dawson has done episodic TV like "Scandal." She shows a deft touch for keeping it real, prayer working in concert with medicine, not despite it. (Note: Topher Grace goes from David Duke in his last movie, to a pastor in this one. Nice turnaround!)
Fox 2000 - Rated PG
You've gotta love "Penguins!" To honor Earth Day, we follow Steve who's on a quest to find a partner and nest during mating season in Antarctica. He's a bit challenged. Still, his tenacity is nothing short of inspiring. And Ed Helms as the narrator is genius. The film marks the tenth anniversary of Disneynature. Be sure to stay for the credits, because you become so immersed in the story, you lose sight of the diligence it takes the directors and their crew to capture all the action without getting in the way. Simply amazing and so heartfelt.
Disneynature - Rated G
Elle Fanning stars as a small town girl from the British Isle of Wight who gets a chance at music stardom, 'American Idol' style in "Teen Spirit." Her mom doesn't support her dreams, so she goes on her journey with the help of a retired opera singer, who's seen her sing in the the local pub. This could have been a Cinderella story we've seen a million times, if not for the authentic performance of Fanning. She's not a cookie cutter character, nor does she want to be a cookie cutter pop star. The film has a cool indie vibe and a great pop soundtrack. It's Max Minghella's (son of the late great Anthony Minghella) first feature, and he shows real promise.
Bleecker Street Media - Rated PG-13
Aretha Franklin returns to her gospel roots for "Amazing Grace." It was filmed with a gospel choir in Los Angeles in 1972 but is just now seeing the light of day. Why? Well, Oscar winner Sydney Pollack shot it but set it aside. Turns out, the sound wasn't ever synced up with picture. It became the passion project of director Alan Elliott (who 'Rolling Stone' reports even mortgaged his house) to pull it together. The result, according to the same publication is "to see the face of God." That might be overstated, but it is fabulous to see how natural and organic Aretha's performance is, sweat pouring down her face. And when the film gets to the title track, she's unparalleled. Just ask Mick Jagger. He slips into the audience.
Neon - Rated G
The Curse of La Lorna
I haven't seen "The Curse of La Lorna." If you've read me enough, you know I don't care for or really condone those kinds of horror films. This one is based on a Mexican folk tale of a woman who drowned her children and now wanders the world as a ghost looking for others. Linda Cardellini stars. You might have recently enjoyed her in the Oscar-winning "Green Book." Have I mentioned, this film is part of "The Conjuring" universe?
Warner Bros. - Rated R
Peterloo: British forces attack a peaceful rally in the 1800s.
Wild Nights With Emily: Writer Emily Dickinson's relationship with another woman.
Little Woods: Lily James and Tessa Thompson in a modern Western
High Life: Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche in a sci-fi flick