Well, it looks like there are some big new releases arriving shortly on Blu-ray and DVD. As always, we’ve got the highlights for you right here. You can also click any links you see to read more detailed reviews. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!
Big New Releases!
The Bad Batch – This dystopian drama arrives from the director of the arthouse sensation A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. In this feature, a young woman finds herself deported from the US and dropped off in a desert, where she must fend off cannibals. During her travels, she takes in a child and begins a strange, chemically-induced relationship with the kid’s father. Reviews were very mixed on this effort, with a few more negative reactions than positive. Some enjoyed its unpredictability and strange, trippy tonal shifts, while others criticized it for the very same reasons. The impressive cast includes Suki Waterhouse, Jason Mamoa, Jayda Fink, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna and Jim Carrey.
The Big Sick – Comedian Kumail Nanjiani writes, directs and stars in this summer sleeper comedy/drama based on his real life. While performing on the stand-up circuit, he begins a relationship with a woman of a different background, causing strife in his immediate family. To make matters worse, she begins to suffer from a frightening, undetermined illness. Critics gave the feature near unanimous praise. While they admitted it was a little lengthier than it needed to be, the press complimented the likable and charming actors and the attempts to deal with human relationships in a funny and authentic manner. The movie also stars Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano and Anupam Kher. To read a full review, click here.
Cartels – This direct-to-DVD action picture involves an elite task force assigned with protecting an informant ready to squeal on a big drug cartel. Naturally, the villains set out to assassinate the stool pigeon and send a force out to the safe house. The heroes must fight the assailants off and figure out who among them is a mole. Don’t expect a whole lot from this picture. It hasn’t gotten many write-ups as of yet and the ones that have appeared have been horrible. A big complaint is that the marquee name only appears in a few scenes. You may want to leave this title buried. It features Steven Seagal, Luke Gross, Georges St-Pierre and Darren E. Scott.
Certain Women – The lives of three different women in Montana are chronicled and intersect in this drama. One is an attorney attempting to calm a client down during a police standoff, another is a lonely cattle rancher and a third involves a married couple trying to make a deal for some sandstone. This art film is extremely low-key and will be difficult for many to digest, but it did earn a lot of compliments from the press. Most found it an interesting character study of small-town life. Some suggested it shows many instances of women being marginalized and others were intrigued by the missed chances at communication between its characters. The cast includes Laura Dern, Kristin Stewart, Michelle Williams, James LeGros, Jared Harris and Lily Gladstone. To read this site’s review, click here.
The Hero – A secretive actor, famous for his many appearances in western films, begins to realize that his best days may be behind him as he scrambles to find work. He then learns from doctors that he has a terminal illness. But after meeting a woman and embarking on a new relationship, his career and happiness begin to rebound. It puts him in the position of having to decide whether or not to reveal his health issues with the people in his life. Reaction was very good for this reserved character study. A few didn’t feel like the script was up to snuff, but the majority were impressed with the lead performance and his quiet pain. It stars Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter and Katharine Ross.
The Little Hours – Here’s a unique setting for a comedy… a Medieval nunnery. The story follows a group of young nuns and their simple lives. However, events are turned upside down when they find their calling questioned after the arrival of a young, attractive hired hand. Pretty soon, the ladies are partaking in all sorts of eyebrow-raising activities. The press enjoyed this little comedy. There were a small section of critics who thought the movie was unfocused and uneven, but the majority stated that it was a rollicking fun and thought that the setting made the self-gratifying actions of the leads all the more amusing. The cast includes Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon and Fred Armisen.
Nise: The Heart of Madness – This Brazilian biopic chronicles a period in the 1950s when art museums began displaying works for new and previously unheard of artists. Many were impressed by what they saw, calling the displayed works brilliant. So it came as quite a surprise when it was learned that the art was created by patients at a psychiatric institute and that the program was founded by their therapist. Critics greatly enjoyed the foreign-language feature, calling it a sweet, sensitive and believably portrayed account of a worthy endeavor. It features Gloria Pires, Claudio Jaborandy and Bernardo Marinho.
The Prison – Action fans can catch up with this South Korean tale of a cop who is imprisoned with the cons he put away after being involved in a fatal a traffic accident. After arriving, the officer learns that the facility is under mob control. The inmates even plan elaborate heists and use their sentence as cover for their crimes. Our hero sets out to stop them. The foreign-language feature got mixed notices from local reviewers. While a percentage thought it was an entertainingly gritty adventure, others criticized it for being too predictable and generic. Rae-won Kim, Suk-kyu Han and Kyeong-yeong Lee headline the film.
Starship Troopers: Traitors of Mars – The latest straight-to-DVD sequel in this science-fiction/action franchise is an animated adventure that finds hero Johnny Rico stated at a new satellite base on Mars. Forced to train some very green recruits, the group come under attack from their large insect foes. There aren’t a whole lot of reviews up for this follow-up, so interested parties will just have to roll the dice and take a chance if they want to check it out. The movie does feature the voices of original film stars Casper Van Dien and Dina Meyer, as well as DeRay Davis and Luci Christian.
Wonder Woman – The highest-profile release of the week is this summer blockbuster about the DC comics superhero. Set during WWI, this origin story involves a pilot who crash lands on the heroine’s island home. She decides to return with him to Europe to help win the war, but must also battle a Greek God out to steal a powerful weapon from her people. The press generally liked the feature. Some critiqued it for a fairly run-of-the-mill story and awkwardly written screenplay, but most complimented it as a fun matinee feature and suggested that it was nice to finally see a female superhero protagonist. It stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston and David Thewlis. To read the site’s review, click here.
Blasts from the Past!
There are some interested catalog titles arriving this week. Warner Archive have Blu-rays of the Rod Steiger film, The Illustrated Man (1969). Based on a Ray Brabury book, it’s about a man covered with tattoos, which all show visions of the future.
Personally, I’m excited about the release of Innocent Blood (1992) on Blu-ray. This comedy with horror elements is from director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London) and involves vampire in Pittsburgh who gets in over her head when she chows down on a mobster. He comes back to life and causes great difficulty when he decides to create an unstoppable, undead, underworld syndicate. This movie is very funny with a great villainous turn from Robert Loggia. The movie also features a ton of hilarious cameos (director Sam Raimi may have the most hysterical turn). It has never been released widescreen since the laserdisc eons ago, so it’ll be great to see it again. The disc also boasts a longer, European cut of the movie, which should provide some new material for those already familiar with the feature.
Shout! Factory have a Blu-ray of the cult item, The Moderns (1988). Set in the 1920s, it’s about a desperate American painter living in Paris who is hired to begin forging art works. The disc includes a 2K scan of the film and new interviews with director Alan Rudolph, producer Carolyn Pfeiffer and star Keith Carradine. Apparently, these discussion total more than 90 minutes.
Kino also have some curious releases. They’ve got the early superhero picture, Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) arriving on Blu-ray. On DVD, horror fans can pick up the long out-of-print Deadly Dreams (1988), which may provides some cheesy B-movie thrills. They’ve also got a Blu-ray of the Oscar-nominated romance Love With the Proper Stranger (1963), starring Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen. Finally,
Red Line 7000 (1965) is a drama about car racers with James Caan in the lead role and was directed by Howard Hawks (His Girl Friday, The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes). Might be worth a look.
You Know, For Kids!
Here are some titles that kids might enjoy.
Blaze and the Monster Machines: Wild Wheels Escape to Animal Island (Nickelodeon)
Porky Pig 101 (Warner Archvie)
On the Tube!
And the week’s highlights from TV are listed below.
Arrow: Season 5
Bates Motel: The Complete Series
Bates Motel: Season 5
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series
Code Black: Season 2
The Heart Guy: Series 1
Lethal Weapon: Season 1
Madam Secretary: Season 3
Modern Family: Season 8
Ransom: Season 1
Timeless: Season 1
The Viet Nam War: A Film By Ken Burns (PBS)
Water and Power: A California Heist (National Geographic)