Opening This Week: THE TENDER BAR Romanticizes, PARALLEL MOTHERS Twists, HIP BEAT Fights

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
Opening This Week: THE TENDER BAR Romanticizes, PARALLEL MOTHERS Twists, HIP BEAT Fights

Mel Valentin (The King's Man) and J Hurtado (The Matrix Resurrections) have already weighed in on this week's two biggest releases; what else is opening this week in movie theaters and/or On Demand?

Pick of the Week: The Tender Bar
The film opens in movie theaters December 22 via Amazon Studios .

In a slender week for new indie and international features in movie theaters, it feels a bit like cheating to showcase a film directed by George Clooney and co-starring Ben Affleck, but this is an adult-targeted drama with comic and romantic relief. (Without its profusion of f-words, it would safely fall into PG-13 territory.) Dare I call it sprightly?

Perhaps I'm easily swayed by any movie that features a wanna-be writer (Tye Sheridan) as the lead character, surrounded by likable people and a friendly local bar. It starts in the early 1970s and moves into the 80s, two decades that were important to me personally. If you live in Los Angeles or New York, feel comfortable and safe getting out of the house, and are not necessarily drawn to Spider-Man or this week's other wide releases, check it out. Or, wait for it to appear on Prime Video January 7.

The Tragedy of Macbeth
The film opens in movie theaters December 25 via A24 Films.

Joel Coen flies solo as writer and director, steering a new adaptation of a classic play, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. It looks very cool in black and white. For a more expansive consideration, our own Dustin Chang was not a fan when he saw it at the New York Film Festival, though I trust you have (or will) read all his words to learn why.

Parallel Mothers
The film opens in New York and Los Angeles movie theaters on December 24 via Sony Pictures Classics.

Penélope Cruz and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón star in the latest from Pedro Almodóvar, which follows the course of two women who meet by chance in a maternity ward as they are about to give birth. What happens next "develops and complicates" over the course of years, as the official verbiage says. It's Almodóvar, and his films always look gorgeous on a big screen.

Hip Beat
The film releases December 23 on a variety of digital platforms via Indie Rights.

Per the official synopsis, the film "tells of a political activist fighting against the system while searching for love in the Berlin queer community." Samuel Kay Forrest wrote, directed and stars. Who doesn't love "love, gender and politics," especially during the holiday season?

Sing 2
The film opens wide in movie theaters Wednesday, December 22 via Illumination Entertainment.

I will always pay attention to whatever Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow) directs, even what that leads to personal disappointment, such as with Sing, his "bland animated musical." (I cannot deny that I wrote this less than positive review five years ago.) So I ask myself, am I a glutton for punishment? Why did I choose to watch the sequel in advance?

Perhaps because my expectations were set so low, or perhaps my stroke last year left my critical faculties permanently damaged, I thoroughly enjoyed Sing 2. Matthew McConaughey returns as the voice of a would-be impresario, this time trying to strike success for a new stage musical production in the big city, where he secures funding from a gangster-ish businessman (Bobby Canavale, whose voice I love) on the promise that he can lure a legendary rock star (Bono) out of permanent retirement.

It's very silly, but I'm a sucker for dazzling 3D animation these days, plus who could ever imagine that songs by U2 would be featured in an animated movie for children with the singer voicing a lion -- see poster below -- and singing one of his songs? We live in a very strange world. Thank you, Garth Jennings.

A Journal for Jordan
The film opens in movie theaters December 25 via .

Directed by Denzel Washington, the film stars Michael B. Jordan as a U.S. soldier who begins to keep a journal filled with love and advice for his young son. Based on a true story.

American Underdog
The film opens in movie theaters December 25 via Lionsgate.

As the title suggests, American football player Kurt Warner worked as a grocery store stock boy and dreamed of playing professional sports. His dream came true, and so forth. Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin and Dennis Quaid star.

Opening This Week covers international and indie genre films and TV shows that are available in movie theaters and via On Demand platforms.

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