Movies to watch in March, from ‘Dune II’ to ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’

This month’s movie releases bring a lot of pomp and circumstance. A high-concept sci-fi adaptation is already doing big box office numbers, while a pop star’s wildly successful concert documentary is finally available to stream. There’s also a steamy queer romance, a doc detailing the life of one of history’s most famous painters and a true story about the first Black woman in Congress. Here are five movies to check out in March. 

‘Dune: Part Two’ (March 1)

Dune: Part Two” is the hotly anticipated sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 “Dune,” marking the second installment in his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s massively popular sci-fi book from 1965. Set 20,000 years in the future on the desert planet Arrakis, this film follows Timothée Chalamet’s hero (or is he?) Paul Atreides as he fights for survival and attempts to bond with the indigenous Fremen.

This visual marvel is best enjoyed on the big screen, from the beautiful desolation and arid dunes of Arrakis to the humongous (and famous) CGI sandworms. The epic tale packs themes of “shadowy propaganda, the power of faith, the deadly risks of mythic destiny, political insurgencies, atomic weapons and imperial violence” into just under three hours, said The Guardian. But it also refuses to shy away from subversive ideas, laying bare “what it takes for a person to become a mythic figure” and challenging viewers to “understand just how profoundly bleak this tale has always been,” said The Verge. Rounding out the cast are Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Florence Pugh and Austin Butler.

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‘Love Lies Bleeding’ (March 8)

From hip indie film distributor A24 and director Rose Glass comes “Love Lies Bleeding,” a brutally violent love story set in late ’80s New Mexico. Reclusive gym manager Lou (Kristen Stewart) falls for a bodybuilder client named Jackie (Katy O’Brian) who has dreams of winning an upcoming Vegas competition. The only problem? Lou’s criminal family, whose exploits both women get sucked into. Still, the doomed and sweaty romance remains at the film’s center — this is a “queer, sexed-up noir” said Rolling Stone. Katy O’Brian has been praised for her kinetic performance, while Brian Tallerico at said the “usually-great Kristen Stewart knows exactly what to do here, playing Lou not as a wide-eyed loser who is just trying to escape her life, but a strong voice made louder by her love for Jackie.” 

‘Frida’ (March 15)

You are probably familiar with the work of Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter best known for her colorful self-portraits and ever-iconic black unibrow. While the Salma Hayek-starring 2002 biographical film “Frida” won two Academy Awards, this documentary is, by contrast, an archival treasure trove; it aims to tell Frida’s story in her own words with illustrated diary entries, letters, essays and interviews. All of it is “brought vividly to life by lyrical animation inspired by her unforgettable artwork,” said the film’s description page on Prime Video, where it will be streaming. 

The directorial debut of Carla Gutiérrez, “Frida” is told mostly in Spanish and covers over 40 years in the artist’s life, as filmmakers received “unrestricted access to research materials,” much of which had never been seen by the public. “It was an exceptional life, and here at last is a film that not only honors her without resorting to sensationalism but that also lets her speak,” said The Hollywood Reporter

‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ (March 15)

If you have not heard of Taylor Swift’s “Eras” Tour, you must be living under a rock. (Hope it’s nice and cool down there!) Since kicking off in March last year, the pop star’s stadium tour has surpassed $1 billion in revenue, making it the highest-grossing of all time. Along the way, her frantic hordes of fans have caused seismic activity equivalent to an earthquake and inadvertently boosted the global economy, generating massive amounts of consumer spending. “If Taylor Swift were an economy, she’d be bigger than 50 countries,” said Dan Fleetwood, president of QuestionPro Research and Insights, for GlobalNewsWire

Now that “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is coming to Disney,+ those of us who were unable to shell out big money for a concert ticket can watch the whole thing from the (relative) safety of home. The documentary was shot at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and has already set the box office record for concert films. It features all 165 minutes of Swift’s formidable set list, and the “cameras offer angles no spectator could ever experience from a seat, zeroing in on movements and facial expressions even the most eagle-eyed would miss,” said Amy Phillips at Pitchfork. “I was mesmerized by Swift’s left arm, how it never stopped moving, containing entire worlds, like a one-handed puppet show.” 

‘Shirley’ (March 22)

In 1972, the first-ever Black congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm, launched a campaign to become the president of the United States. Obviously, she was ultimately unsuccessful — but Netflix has immortalized her pioneering journey in “Shirley,” starring Regina King in the titular role. Written and directed by John Ridley (who also wrote “12 Years a Slave”), the biopic details the life and political career of Chisholm, who first made history as the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1968, representing New York’s 12th congressional district for seven terms. King said that “Shirley” took nearly fifteen years to get made, and releasing it ahead of the 2024 presidential election was a deliberate choice. “Instead of trying to release it during any normal cycle, we thought, wouldn’t it be more impactful to release it during a presidential election year?” King said to Harper’s Bazaar.