6 Movies Like Kung Fu Panda 4 (2024)

Staff & contributors

One of the most notable avant-garde filmmakers, Su Friedrich is both a tour-de-force of documentary filmmaking and queer cinema. In Sink or Swim, Friedrich explores the complicated dynamic between a distant, work-oriented father and young daughter longing for his attention, approval, and love.

At just barely 45 minutes, Sink or Swim is cinematic poetry. The movie slowly unfolds across six vulnerable vignettes, through which Friedrich invites the viewer to meditate on the past alongside her. Through photographs, archival footage, and loose narrative storytelling, Freidrich shows that storytelling is a way of both healing the past and learning to live with its ghostly figures.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Jessica Meyerson

Director: Su Friedrich

, 2024

Frida Kahlo is an iconic Mexican painter, not just because of her outstanding art, but also because of her outlook in life, despite her ill health and tragic accident. Because of this, she has been talked about in multiple books, movies, and exhibitions, but a new documentary has popped up, this time from her own words. Carla Gutierrez’s directorial debut is a revelation, voiced primarily in Frida’s native Spanish and paired with key archival footage, vivid animations of her paintings, and an excellent acoustic score plucked from classical guitar. Being a biographical documentary, fans of the artist would, of course, be familiar with her life events, but Gutierrez’s approach is still worth watching, mostly because it’s Frida’s own words driving the film.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Fernanda Echevarría del Rivero, Frida Kahlo

Director: Carla Gutierrez

Rating: R

When travelling to another place, another city, another town, there’s a certain anonymity that frees one’s self. No one knows who you are, so you’re not expected to maintain a certain personality, and that can be necessary for young people trying to find their way. The Breaking Ice shows this in a fairly sentimental way, juxtaposing the wintry, snowy landscape with the warm but fleeting connection forming between three lonely adults, but there’s just something honest in the way the three try to hide but still share the same youthful ennui, even if they come from vastly different backgrounds. The Breaking Ice might not be daring enough to delve into the queer aspect of this trio, but it’s still a lovely, well-crafted drama contemplating the youth’s melancholy.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Liu Baisha, Liu Haoran, Qu Chuxiao, Ruguang Wei, Zhao Wenhao, Zhou Dongyu

Director: Anthony Chen

Yu Katayama lives in a remote village with a garbage disposal business that's slowly turning into a landfill. When his childhood friend Misaki Nakai returns to the village, she encourages Yu to make a better life for himself despite his mother's gambling and the village ostracizing him. The Village is a slow-burning film interested in Yu's struggles as an outcast and in discussing the takeover of small villages for capitalistic industrial motives. The film is shot beautifully with dark, brooding visuals and lingering shots of Yu's quiet intensity throughout the film. Unfortunately, secondary characters are not fully developed outside of their interactions with Yu, causing the film to feel flat outside of pivotal moments. An evocative idea with parts more memorable than the whole.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Arata Furuta, Daiken Okudaira, Hana Kino, Haru Kuroki, Naomi Nishida, Ryusei Yokohama, Sakuma Ryuto, Shidô Nakamura, Tetta Sugimoto, Wataru Ichinose

Director: Michihito Fujii

Rating: R, TV-MA

With the rise of fascism globally, and concerns about an upcoming world war, depictions of World War II have become popular, with the most notable being Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Einstein and the Bomb instead takes a look at the prominent scientist, whose theory of relativity made the atomic bomb possible, who had a personal stake in ensuring the Nazis were defeated, but who also had to reckon with the horrific consequences in pursuing the West’s promises of peace. It’s a needed perspective, and director Anthony Philipson pulls from Einstein’s very words, his own ideas about the society at the time eerily echoing the concerns about today’s society. However, there’s something off about the way these ideas are presented, as it feels like the film was less interested in Einstein as a man, and more interested in using him as a spokesperson, using his image to cry over today’s conflicts.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Adolf Hitler, Aidan McArdle, Albert Einstein, Andrew Havill, Gethin Alderman, Helena Westerman, James Musgrave, Jonathan Rhodes, Leo Ashizawa, Rachel Barry, Simon Markey, Toby Longworth

Director: Anthony Philipson

This is your bare minimum, bog-standard Netflix true crime documentary covering the infamous Jennifer Pan case. The film focuses on Pan's interrogation tapes, with detectives walking us through their thought process at the time, providing evidence and chilling head nods in reaction to her statements. The value of the film is its micro dissection of the tapes, examining it minute by minute, even line by line, which is an interesting way to learn about the case for the first time. But it feels so banally straightforward without adding anything new or being more informative, that it feels like it was just made to dig up old bones and make a bloated made-for-Netflix docu.

Genre: Crime, Documentary

Actor: Alan Cooke, Bill Courtice, Deborah Gladding, Fernando Baldassini, Samantha Chang

Director: Jenny Popplewell

Rating: R