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What to watch in theaters and at home this weekend January 5-7, 2024

Society of the Snow (Photo: Netflix)
Society of the Snow (Photo: Netflix)
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The Utah Film Critics Association is meeting this weekend to vote on our Best of 2023 awards. I’ve been busy trying to fill in the gaps for films that I either missed or have yet to be released. I’ll post the results on Monday and compare them to the Golden Globes which also take place this weekend.

The best option for your weekend would be to stay indoors and watch “Society of the Snow.” Directed by J. A. Bayona (“The Impossible,” Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”), the film tells the story of the Uruguayan 1972 Andes flight disaster. It is based on the same events that were depicted in Frank Marshall’s 1993 film “Alive.” The plane crashes into a snow-covered mountain. Those who survived the crash go to great lengths to stay alive until they can be rescued. Bayona’s film is incredibly made with fantastic performances and a gritty intimacy that makes it difficult to watch. Not that “Alive” was a walk in the park. “Society of the Snow” just does it better.

I probably won’t have time this weekend, but I’m looking forward to “The Brothers Sun,” also on Netflix. It features Michelle Yeoh. That’s all I need to know.

The biggest theatrical release this week is the “Night Swim.” Based on a short film, “Night Swim” is a mess that never really knows what it wants to be. It feels like they brainstormed ideas on how to expand the original concept and then used every idea regardless of their value. There are two or three interesting tangents that could have made for a better film (scenes with Jodi Long’s Kay if you want to keep it dark or Ben Sinclair’s Pool Tech if you want to go in a comedic direction). Many of the scenes feel stolen from numerous films (“It,” “The Shape of Water,” “The Natural,” and more). Even if you call these moments a homage to co-writer/director Brace McGuire’s favorite films that doesn’t improve his film’s disjointed narrative or the meant-to-be-serious dialogue that had the audience bursting out in laughter. Not nervous laughter. Mystery Science 3000 kind of laughter.

Kerry Condon, the aforementioned Long, and Amélie Hoeferle come away mostly unscathed. It’s hard to know what to think about Wyatt Russell’s performance. Maybe it’s best not to. He's probably just doing what McGuire directed him to do.

The Society of Snow (Netflix)

Studio Synopsis: In 1972, the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, chartered to fly a rugby team to Chile, catastrophically crashed on a glacier in the heart of the Andes. Only 29 of the 45 passengers survived the crash and finding themselves in one of the world’s toughest environments, they are forced to resort to extreme measures to stay alive.

The Brothers Sun (Netflix)

Studiop Synopsis: When the head of a powerful Taiwanese triad is shot by a mysterious assassin, his eldest son, legendary killer Charles “Chairleg” Sun (Justin Chien) heads to Los Angeles to protect his mother, Eileen (Michelle Yeoh), and his naive younger brother, Bruce (Sam Song Li) — who’s been completely sheltered from the truth of his family until now.

Night Swim (Theaters)

Studio Synopsis: Secretly hoping, against the odds, to return to pro ball, Ray persuades Eve that the new home’s shimmering backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for him. But a dark secret in the home’s past will unleash a malevolent force that will drag the family under, into the depths of inescapable terror

Fool Me Once (Netflix)

Studio Synopsis: Fool Me Once follows Maya Stern (Michelle Keegan) who is trying to come to terms with the brutal murder of her husband, Joe (Richard Armitage). But when Maya installs a nanny-cam to keep an eye on her young daughter, she is shocked to see a man she recognizes in her house. Her husband, who she thought was dead...

Plan 75 (Criterion Channel)

Studio Synopsis: In a dystopian future, Japan’s government launches Plan 75, a program encouraging the elderly to terminate their own lives to relieve its rapidly aging population’s social and economic burdens. In Chie Hayakawa’s remarkable and sensitive feature debut, the lives of three ordinary citizens—an elderly woman no longer able to live independently (the legendary Chieko Baisho, in a moving late-career performance), an initially eager Plan 75 salesman (Hayato Isomura), and an immigrant care worker (Stephanie Arianne)—intersect in this new reality as they confront the crushing callousness of a world ready to dispose of those no longer deemed valuable. Hayakawa’s view is far from grim, however, as these characters soon learn to fully reckon with their own lives and what it truly means to live.

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