Steven Yeun and Yeri Han star in “Minari.”
By Vanessa Zimmer
Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have some distinguished colleagues celebrating February birthdays. Some fine Sundance Film Festival friends are likewise blowing out another round of candles.
Among those Festival alums are multilayered films that explore racism between ethnic communities and a 2021 story about a Korean father with an American dream — plus a Jackie Chan adventure, an earlier movie that united the presently hot duo of Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, and a comedy about a video store team that attempts to fill the shelves with their self-made remakes of classic films.
Check out the diverse subject matter of these films observing a February release date. The year of the original release is in parentheses.
Mississippi Masala (1992) — An Indian family flees Idi Amin’s Ugandan regime in 1972, eventually landing in a small Mississippi town 20 years later. Mina (Sarita Choudhury) meets and falls in love with a Black man named Demetrius (Denzel Washington). Their relationship raises issues of ethnic racism and clashing cultures. “[Director Mira] Nair’s film is deliberately paced and evolves with a particular attention to the insularity and double binds experienced by Indian communities struggling to survive in the United States,” Geoffrey Gilmore wrote in the Festival Film Guide. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Rumble in the Bronx (1996) — A Hong Kong police officer (Jackie Chan) goes to New York to attend his uncle’s wedding and afterward offers to run the man’s market in the Bronx while he is on his honeymoon. Rumbles with various villains ensue — as does Chan’s baffling stuntwork. “The film reunites Chan with director Stanley Tong, with whom he collaborated to make the 1992 hit, Super Cop. Together they have created another masterpiece of head-slammin’, body-flying escapist entertainment,” wrote Trevor Groth in the Festival Film Guide. Available to rent on Amazon Prime.
In Bruges (2008) — Did you know that Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson teamed up before this year’s Oscar-nominated The Banshees of Inisherin? The two played hit men in In Bruges, which also was written and directed by Martin McDonagh. In the earlier film, after a hit goes wrong, their boss (Liam Neeson) sends them to Belgium to await his call. “The Irish are without peer in making us laugh about ourselves, life, and especially things that aren’t supposed to be funny,” wrote Gilmore in the Festival Film Guide. “The profane brilliance of McDonagh’s writing is all that and more.” Available to rent on Amazon Prime.
Be Kind Rewind (2008) — Jack Black plays a video store clerk who accidentally erases all of the tapes in the shop while his boss (Danny Glover) is out of town. He and his buddy (Mos Def) come up with an insane plan to reshoot all of the films in order to keep the store afloat. What could go wrong? “The fertile and irrepressible imagination of [writer-director] Michel Gondry is… on display in this wildly original comedy, Be Kind Rewind, a film whose simplicity of vision, inventiveness, and charm reminds us of why we first fell in love with film,” wrote Gilmore in the Festival Film Guide. Available to rent on Amazon Prime.
Minari (2021) — This film won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. category at the Festival, as well as recognition at other festivals and from multiple organizations. The story is about a Korean family moving from the West Coast to a mobile home in rural Arkansas, where the father (Steve Yeun) is determined to break ground for a farm. “Inspired by his own upbringing, writer-director Lee Isaac Chung creates a gorgeous, delicate American Dream story by infusing it with Korean melodrama and the playful charm of a Yasujiro Ozu film, as the Yi family embraces their highs and endures their lows,” wrote Kim Yutani in the Festival Film Guide. Available on Showtime and for rent on Amazon Prime.