Pick of the Week
Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary
What is it? A ghost hunter TV show finds that some spirits are real.
Why see it? This Brazilian romp is undaunted by the uphill battle required to deliver a good movie about ghost hunters realizing that [gasp!] ghosts are real and instead turns those expectations on their head by delivering a terrifically gory, obscenely objectionable, and very funny riff on an R-rated Ghostbusters. It’s a go for broke ride delivering a gonzo descent into the supernaturally outrageous complete with dirty language, shocking gags, and more blood than any single film has delivered in some time. It played the festival circuit but never saw a proper release here in the US, so this DVD is the film’s public debut. Horror fans who don’t mind big, nasty laughs alongside their gory beats should give it a spin.
Beau Brummell [Warner Archive]
What is it? The Prince of England finds a confidant and friend in a mouthy Captain.
Why see it? Stewart Granger takes the title role here delivering a fun and charismatic performance powered by some sharp dialogue, and Peter Ustinov matches him beat for beat as a spoiled prince in need of friendship. The pair form a relationship built as much on disrespect as respect, and their journey over the years sees them grow, go their own ways, and reconnect in a heartfelt finale. It’s a lively tale that manages both wit and warmth.
What is it? The true-ish story of the fall of Roger Ailes.
Why see it? People really hate this Jay Roach movie, and I don’t get it. Sure it takes a sometimes broad approach to the topic — women at Fox News began coming forward accusing Roger Ailes of sexual harassment and intimidation leading to his ouster — but the humor works more often than not to highlight the absurdity of the Fox News organization. The other complaint is that it turns Fox talents into heroes, and that’s just not true. They spoke up on this issue, but the film never pretends they’re saints. Whatever. Charlize Theron is especially good behind some fantastic makeup, and it mostly lands the punches it aims for.
What is it? A jeweler robs Peter to pay Paul in an attempt to win big.
Why see it? Look, I’m still no fan of Good Time (2017) and walked into this new Safdie brothers joint expecting little, but damn if it isn’t the second best film of 2019. Adam Sandler is a tightly wound ball of energy and absolutely magnetic as a guy betting it all with one mighty swing. It’s an incredibly tense and intense watch leaving viewers with clenched fists throughout leading up to one hell of an ending. The making of featurette is interesting, but the movie itself is a must-own.
Whisky Galore! / The Maggie
What is it? Two classic British comedies from director Alexander Mackendrick.
Why see it? Britain’s Ealing Studios was home to some of the nation’s biggest and most important films, and this double feature includes one of their highly regarded gems. Whisky Galore! is set on a Scottish island that runs out of whisky only to discover a sunken ship with a treasure in its hold, and the chaos that ensues around the revelation bring laughs and smart observations on the things that motivate people. The Maggie isn’t quite as sharp, but there’s still fun to be had.
[Extras: Commentary, documentary, featurette]
The Witch: Subversion
What is it? A teenager is targeted by an organization that once experimented on her and others.
Why see it? South Korean action movies are almost a genre unto themselves as they rarely go simple and dumb with their action movies. The fights and stunts are always fantastically entertaining, and the stories are allowed to go nuts — case in point is this terrifically bonkers blend of Nikita, X-Men, and Thelma that moves to its own twisted, dense, and cruel drum. The action is a fast, frequent, and beautifully choreographed mix of fights and gun play, and the story is darkly optimistic… depending on your point of view. Pick this one up action fans, you won’t regret it.
Charlie’s Angels (2019)
What is it? It’s Charlies Angels for a whole new audience!
Why see it? Elizabeth Banks’ reboot/sequel of the Charlie’s Angels franchise is geared from the bottom up as a “girl power” message made for teens and young women. That’s neither a good nor bad thing on its own, but your enjoyment of the film will rest almost entirely on your acceptance of that design. Bad guys are bashed, girls are the heroes, and it’s rarely aiming to be any sexier than the original TV series. It’s mild entertainment for YA audiences, which is fine, but all of that said? It’s Kristen Stewart who steals the show with a performance that sees her having fun at every turn. Seriously, she’s a blast.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes, music video]
Inherit the Viper
What is it? Three siblings see financial troubles turn violent.
Why see it? Josh Hartnett headlines this small rural crime picture, and it’s great to see him in the lead role again after so long. He ensures his character carries a heavy weight as his sister and brother face deadly conflicts and decisions. The film itself is a solidly told tale, and while it breaks no new ground the performances and writing deliver an effectively dramatic thriller.
What is it? A new breed of plant causes minor havoc.
Why see it? This little chiller from the UK is as much a condemnation of corporate priorities as it is about the choices we make in valuing our own happiness. The plants here are discovered to increase their owner’s happiness, but at what cost? Rather than turn this into a corporate thriller of some kind, the film remains a low-key character piece throughout. It’s an attractive film, well-acted too, but as a character-based tale its whole is less than the sum of its parts.
Masked and Anonymous [Shout Select]
What is it? A legendary musician is booked to headline a troubled festival.
Why see it? This is an odd film that feels like it’s aiming for a Robert Altman-like atmosphere with its ensemble cast and rambling narrative, but the end result is a mixed bag. The big draw, of course, is Bob Dylan as the musician who shifts between song and nuggets of wisdom, but the supporting cast is also appealing with the likes of Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Jessica Lange, Penelope Cruz, Luke Wilson, Angela Bassett, Ed Harris, Bruce Dern, Val Kilmer, Mickey Rourke, Christian Slater, Cheech Marin, Chris Penn, and Giovanni Ribisi all popping up too. It’s an odd one.
[Extras: Interview, commentary, deleted scene, featurette]
Night Passage [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two brothers face off from opposite sides of the law.
Why see it? James Stewart once again saddles up to defend what’s right, but this time his efforts to protect a train are stymied by the discovery that the main villain causing him trouble is his younger brother. There’s some solid western action to be found here as the film builds to a final face-off, but it’s ultimately not all that memorable outside of Stewart’s righteous heroics.
A Quiet Place – Mondo Steelbook
What is it? A family struggles to survive a monster invasion.
Why see it? This reissue in the lead up to the sequel doesn’t add any new features, but the new Mondo steelbook design is sharp as hell with its use of reds and darks. The movie is still the same, though, which means it remains a mixed bag of fantastic production/sound design and performances butting up against a terribly dumb script. Seriously… move to the waterfall! The end also annoys with its empty “heroic” gesture. Still, the creatures are cool, and now so is the 4K/Blu-ray case.
The Rare Breed [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A bull, an English woman, and a cowhand cross paths.
Why see it? The arrival of English Hereford cattle into Texas caused something of an uproar in the 1880’s, but they also led to romance! James Stewart plays the aging cowhand who helps Maureen O’Hara in her attempts to breed her prized cattle while unscrupulous men only want to eat it. Some fisticuffs and comedy keep things moving in this lightweight western.
Spies in Disguise
What is it? A super spy is turned into a pigeon.
Why see it? Will Smith voices super spy Lance Sterling while Tom Holland tackles the role of a genius inventor who he pairs up with to save the world, and the result is some good laughs and solid animated action. It pretty much failed at the box-office, though, oddly, meaning this adventure is the last. I recommend people give it a chance as it’s a fun, entertaining ride that plays in The Incredibles sandbox with its own feel.
[Extras: Featurettes, music videos]
What is it? A religious man struggles with finding his place as a gay man.
Why see it? Homosexuality remains forbidden and frowned upon in Guatemala, and one man’s journey towards self-truth sees his family and friends taken aback by all that follows. Less about his coming out then the reactions and consequences that follow, the film offers an honest look at the fallout over what is ultimately a personal part of someone’s life. It’s an intimate drama that serves as a condemnation of a society more invested in fantasy-fueled ideals than the reality of its citizens.
[Extras: Featurette, short film]
The Ten Commandments
What is it? The word of god, but in brownface.
Why see it? Cecil B DeMille never went small, and this biblical epic remains one of his best known productions. Charlton Heston headlines as Moses, a man of the people who doesn’t know until he’s an adult who exactly those people are. The film is all about honoring the Christian bible, and because of the times it was made in that means both the highs of massive production design and the lows of lots and lots of brownface to make its white actors look Egyptian and Middle Eastern. (It doesn’t work, but again, that was the times.)
[Extras: Commentary, featurette, 1923 feature film]
Also out this week:
The Assent, Bug [Scream Factory], Canyon Passage [KL Studio Classics], Inseminoid [Scream Factory], Luz, Recorder, Salesman [Criterion Collection], Shepard