In what was one of the hottest summers on record – temperature-wise – almost everybody knows the best place to beat the heat was your local multiplex. Drink a cool beverage, eat a bucket of popcorn, and watch a movie. There was no shortage of summer movies in 2023, and the following is a list of my five favorites.

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF), Nov. 3 through 16, will showcase nearly 200 films from 40 countries, featuring eight world premieres and six U.S. premieres. The festival includes features, documentaries, and short film programs, along with Filmed in Broward, a showcase of 21 films by South Florida filmmakers, all filmed in Broward County.

From the first time many of us saw Gael García Bernal onscreen, in “Amores Perros” or “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” we knew he had something special. A little spark they used to call “star quality.” In Almodóvar’s “Bad Education,” Iñárritu’s “Babel,” and more recently, Larraín’s “Ema,” Bernal was never anything less than riveting.

“Strange Way of Life” (Sony Pictures Classics) is gay, Spanish, filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s second English-language short feature following 2020's “The Human Voice.” It’s so thoroughly different from anything that Almodóvar has done previously that, even though it’s only 31 minutes long, it may take viewers longer to process than anything else in his oeuvre.

The ability to stream movies and the availability of a wide variety of films on cable channels has no doubt brought the art and craft of filmmaking to more people than ever before. However, there is nothing to compare to the magic of watching a movie screened bigger than life in a theater setting, where anywhere from dozens to hundreds of people are all experiencing the same thrills, intrigue, comedy, or drama.

Adapted from the graphic novel by Adrian Tomine (who also wrote the screenplay), “Shortcomings” (Sony Pictures Classics) is actor Randall Park’s directorial debut. The movie is a kind of Asian-American “Annie Hall” in the way it looks at modern love and artistic snobbery. It’s also reminiscent of “Barbie” in the way it takes well-deserved jabs at masculinity.



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