#464 August 8, 2023


Matt writesFew people have made me laugh to the point of hyperventilating as much as Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman), who died on July 30th at age 70, following a private six-year battle with cancer. The freewheeling imagination and exuberance of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” left a lasting impression on my sister and me, as did his comic masterpiece, “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” Tim Burton’s 1985 debut feature that served as an inspiration for Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” 

Throughout my childhood, I collected nearly all of the “Playhouse” dolls, and have made the show’s star-studded 1988 Christmas special a holiday perennial. Reubens also made numerous unforgettable appearances in such films as “Batman Returns,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Matilda” and “Blow,” as well as a gloriously unhinged cameo as Pee-Wee in Frankie and Annette’s you-gotta-see-it-to-disbelieve-it gem, “Back to the Beach.” 

“Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing for the last six years,” Reubens wrote in a statement to be published posthumously. “I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.” And our lives have been all the richer for it, Paul. 

Read Marya E. Gates’ beautiful tribute to Reubens here, and enjoy the iconic “Tequila” scene from “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” in the video embedded below…


Golda (2023). Directed by Guy Nattiv. Written by Nicholas Martin. Starring Helen Mirren, Zed Josef, Claudette Williams. Synopsis: Focuses on the intensely dramatic and high-stakes responsibilities and decisions that Golda Meir, also known as the ‘Iron Lady of Israel’ faced during the Yom Kippur War. Debuts in the US on August 25th, 2023.

Dicks: The Musical (2023). Directed by Larry Charles. Written by Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp. Starring Megan Mullally, Nathan Lane, Megan Thee Stallion. Synopsis: A pair of business rivals discover that they’re identical twins and decide to swap places in an attempt to trick their divorced parents to get back together. US release date is TBA.

Coup De Chance (2023). Written and directed by Woody Allen. Starring Lou de Laâge, Valérie Lemercier, Melvil Poupaud. Synopsis: Two young people’s bond leads to marital infidelity and ultimately crime. Debuts in the US on September 27th, 2023.

Circus Maximus (2023). Directed by Travis Scott, Kahlil Joseph, Valdimar Jóhannsson, Harmony Korine, Gaspar Noé and Nicolas Winding Refn. Written by Travis Scott. Starring Travis Scott, Rick Rubin, James Blake. Synopsis: A surreal and psychedelic journey, uniting a collective of visionary filmmakers from around the world in a kaleidoscopic exploration of human experience and the power of soundscapes. US release date is TBA.

The Good Mother (2023). Directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte. Written by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and Madison Harrison. Starring Hilary Swank, Olivia Cooke, Jack Reynor. Synopsis: A journalist who, after the murder of her estranged son, forms an unlikely alliance with his pregnant girlfriend to track down those responsible for his death. Together, they confront a world of drugs and corruption. Debuts in the US on September 1st, 2023.

Bad Things (2023). Written and directed by Stewart Thorndike. Starring Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, Molly Ringwald. Synopsis: A group of friends go to a hotel for a weekend getaway and soon discover that women do bad things here. Debuts on Shudder on August 18th, 2023.

The Kill Room (2023). Directed by Nicol Paone. Written by Jonathan Jacobson. Starring Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Hawke. Synopsis: A hitman, his boss, an art dealer and a money-laundering scheme that accidentally turns the assassin into an overnight avant-garde sensation, one that forces her to play the art world against the underworld. Debuts in the US on September 29th, 2023.

Disenchantment (2023), Final Season. Created by Matt Groening and Josh Weinstein. Starring Abbi Jacobson, Eric André, Nat Faxon. Synopsis: Princess Tiabeanie, ‘Bean’, is annoyed at her imminent arranged marriage to Prince Merkimer. Then she meets Luci, a demon, and Elfo, an elf, and things get rather exciting, and dangerous. Debuts on Netflix on September 1st, 2023.

The Morning Show (2023), Season Three. Created by Jay Carson and Kerry Ehrin. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup. Synopsis: An inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique challenges faced by the team. Debuts on Apple TV on September 13th, 2023.

Only Murders in the Building (2023), Season Three. Created by John Hoffman and Steve Martin. Starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez. Synopsis: Three strangers – who live in the same New York City apartment building and share an obsession with true crime – suddenly find themselves embroiled in a murder. Debuts today on Hulu.

Heartstopper (2023), Season Two. Created by Alice Oseman. Starring Joe Locke, Kit Connor, William Gao. Synopsis: Teens Charlie and Nick discover their unlikely friendship might be something more as they navigate school and young love in this coming-of-age series. Now streaming on Netflix.

Strange Planet (2023). Created by Dan Harmon. Starring James AdomianCedric Yarbrough, Hannah Einbinder. Synopsis: Based on Nathan Pyle’s webcomic Strange Planet. Debuts on Apple TV on August 9th, 2023.

I Am Groot (2023), Season Two. Created by Kirsten Lepore. Starring Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Fred Tatasciore. Synopsis: A series of shorts featuring the seedling Groot along with several new and unusual characters. Debuts in the US on September 6th, 2023.

The Palace (2023). Directed by Roman Polanski. Written by Roman Polanski, Ewa Piaskowska and erzy Skolimowski. Starring Oliver Masucci, Fanny Ardant, John Cleese. Synopsis: A drama set on New Year’s Eve 1999 in a luxurious Swiss hotel where the lives of hotel workers and various guests get intertwined. Debuts in the US on September 28th, 2023.

Depp v. Heard (2023). Directed by Emma Cooper. Starring Orlando Bloom, David Harbour, Djimon Hounsou. Synopsis: Showing both testimonies side-by-side for the first time, this series explores the trial that set Hollywood ablaze and the online fallout that ensued. Debuts on Netflix on August 16th, 2023.

Strays (2023). Directed by Josh Greenbaum. Written by Dan Perrault. Starring Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Sofía Vergara. Synopsis: An abandoned dog teams up with other strays to get revenge on his former owner. Debuts in the US on August 18th, 2023.

Saw X (2023). Directed by Kevin Greutert. Written by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger. Starring Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Steven Brand. Synopsis: Chasing a promising procedure that would allegedly cure his cancer, John Kramer heads towards Mexico to go through an experimental treatment, only to find out he was prey for a scam. Now, the scammers becomes the prey on Jigsaw’s new game. Debuts in the US on September 29th, 2023.

The Exorcist: Believer (2023). Directed by David Gordon Green. Written by David Gordon Green and Peter Sattler (based on characters created by William Peter Blatty). Starring Ellen Burstyn, Ann Dowd, Leslie Odom Jr. Synopsis: Sequel to the 1973 film about a 12-year-old girl who is possessed by a mysterious demonic entity, forcing her mother to seek the help of two priests to save her. Debuts in the US on October 13th, 2023.

The Unknown Country

Matt writes: Director Morissa Maltz and actor Lily Gladstone recently spoke with Marya E. Gates about their new film, “The Unknown Country,” which was praised by Sheila O’Malley. You can read their full conversation here.

Indy Shorts 2023

Matt writes: I had the great pleasure of covering the 2023 Indy Shorts International Film Festival, which included many Oscar-worthy shorts including Alden Ehrenreich’s prize-winning directorial debut, “Shadow Brother Sunday.” You can read my full coverage here.

Free Movies

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). Directed by Alexander Korda. Written by Arthur Wimperis and Lajos Biró. Starring Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Franklin Dyall. Synopsis: King Henry VIII marries five more times after his divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon. 

Watch “The Private Life of Henry VIII”

Loves of Three Queens (1954). Directed by Marc Allégret and Edgar G. Ulmer. Written by Æneas MacKenzie, Roger Vadim and Salka Viertel. Starring Hedy Lamarr, Massimo Serato, Alba Arnova. Synopsis: At a wedding party involving three beautiful women, a young man should choose the most charming. But a professor intervenes to prevent the verdict, remembering the troubles caused by Paris in a similar situation.  

Watch “The Love of Three Queens”

The Smallest Show on Earth (1957). Directed by Basil Dearden. Written by William Rose and John Eldridge. Starring Virginia McKenna, Margaret Rutherford, Peter Sellers. Synopsis: A young couple inherits a debt-ridden old movie theater, appropriately nicknamed “The Flea Pit”, and the three eccentric senior citizens who work there.

Watch “The Smallest Show on Earth”

Previous Story

Regina Taylor to Premiere New Play, Exhibit, as Part of Aspen’s Solo Flights in September

Next Story

R.I.P. Film and Opera Renaissance Director William Friedkin (1935-2023)