January tends to get the reputation of being Hollywood's dumping ground of movies that aren't going to make critics happy. But it's a new year and there's plenty of great flicks to catch in theaters, including many of the Oscar-nominated contenders. One of the new films opening this weekend in New York (and expanding to L.A. next week) is the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner from veteran Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda. If you're in New York or in one of the upcoming expanding markets, here's one "sleeper" you should definitely consider watching.
THE MOVIE: Like Father, Like Son
THE DIRECTOR: Hirokazu Kore-eda
THE STORY: An upper-middle-class family learns that the son they've been raising for six years was actually switched at birth. The revelation sets off a series of emotional and life-changing decisions to raise their biological son or the child they've raised as their own.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT: You may read that synopsis above and think this has soap-y Lifetime movie of the week written all over it. But it's not. The winner of the Grand Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival never spins that far out of control. It makes you care about the characters, not just the kids, but the adults as well, as they struggle to come to terms with the stunning revelation.
The film impressed Steven Spielberg so much that he is moving forward with an American remake, a project where he'll serve as producer.
Family dramas are a tough genre to crack. There has to be the right amount balance of emotion and candor to make an audience want to sit there for two hours. Award-winning director Kore-eda does just that in this bittersweet poem about paternal love.
THE BUZZ: In addition to winning the Grand Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Like Father, Like Son was also nominated for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. Kore-eda and the film have also been nominated at the Asia-Pacific, London, Ghent, Vancouver, Yokohama, Oslo and San Paulo film festivals.