Pick of the Week
What is it? A hard detective investigates the abduction of a young boy.
Why see it? Here’s the thing. This is a sincere film about a cop with issues chasing a killer with a unique methodology, and while the budget is minuscule the effort is monumental. All the beats are there from the genre, but there’s one thing to keep in mind. The villain here is a man who discovers the joy of sticking things — pens, remote controls, dogs, children — all the way up his ass. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but the film’s choice to play everything 100% straight adds to both the film’s fun and its effect. It shouldn’t be great, but it is.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
Billy Liar [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man lives a reckless and selfish life built on whims of fancy.
Why see it? Director John Schlesinger delivers another knockout with a film sure to divide viewers as to the idea of an artist’s endorsement of their characters. Billy is a mad who plays by his own rules and lets his imagination run riot over his lack of self-awareness, but the film sees the truth resulting in comedy, both with Billy and at his expense, paired with biting commentary.
The Dark Red
What is it? A hospitalized woman believes in a conspiracy involving her missing baby.
Why see it? This slow burn of a thriller works exceedingly well in setting up its premise before unleashing its horror beats — it’s a full forty minutes before the horror kicks in — and that alone makes it an accomplishment. April Billingsley does great work as a woman who might be mad or might be telling the truth, and along with solid pacing and a satisfying ending makes this an indie worth checking out.
The Grand Budapest Hotel [Criterion Collection]
What is it? Chaos erupts after a painting is stolen within an opulent hotel.
Why see it? Wes Anderson’s films all share a degree of quirk and visual style making them immediately identifiable as Anderson joints, but they’re still different enough to warrant varying reactions. This 2014 release, for example, is my least favorite Anderson, but it’s still an undeniable accomplishment delivering beautiful imagery and ideas alongside a stellar cast including Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, and many more. Criterion’s release is another fantastic addition to their growing Anderson collection, and the new commentary featuring Anderson, Goldblum, and others is a great listen after watching the film.
[Extras: 2K transfer, commentary, documentary, interviews, featurettes]
Blood On the Moon [Warner Archive]
What is it? A cowboy comes to grips with his conscience.
Why see it? Robert Mitchum and Robert Preston headline this late 40s western, and while the cast and tag line (“A Woman’s Bullet Kills as Quick as a Man’s!”) are the highlights the film itself still manages some gun-toting fun. Mitchum plays a man who discovers almost too late that he’s being used for nefarious purposes, and cleaning up his mess requires a trail of bodies.
The Caper of the Golden Bulls [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A heist film set in Pamplona, Spain!
Why see it? Heist movies are a sub-genre unto themselves and almost always worth watching. This late 60s effort can’t quite deliver on the promise of its setup, but the filming locations and energy inherit in the running of the bulls combine for some enjoyable antics all the same. Stephen Boyd and Yvette Mimieux headline
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary]
Don’t Drink the Water [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An American family talks their way out of trouble overseas.
Why see it? Woody Allen wrote the play this film is adapted from, but while I can’t speak to that original creation the resulting film is a mildly enjoyable romp carried almost entirely on the backs of Jackie Gleason and Estelle Parsons. If you’re down for their personas this is a fun enough little movie finding some humor in frustrations and the clash of boisterous Americans with Cold War enablers.
The Rhythm Section
What is it? A woman seeks revenge after her parents die in an act of terror.
Why see it? Blake Lively and Jude Law are the big draws here, and both step up while the film loses its way. The setup sees a young woman throw her life to the wolves after losing her family and blaming herself, but when an ex spy rescues her from oblivion and trains her for a life of violence things start looking up in exciting ways. We get a handful of solid action beats, but there’s a frustration to the characters and narrative that never feels addressed. Still, Lively and Law.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
The Sound Barrier [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A man’s quest in the skies causes heartbreak on earth.
Why see it? The early 50s saw an increase in tech and science exploration as we raced to be ready for the next world war — thus creating the cold war — and that meant efforts to dominate the skies. David Lean’s 1952 film explores the drive and sacrifice behind such efforts with both drama and somewhat thrilling action in the cockpit of planes. It’s good stuff, and aeronautics fans will want to give it a spin.
Sweet Bird of Youth [Warner Archive]
What is it? A young man grows older every day.
Why see it? Tennessee Williams’ play gets an early 60s adaptation with Paul Newman at his steamiest and most morally challenged, and the result is a sweaty good time at the movies. Newman’s joined in this tale of lust, betrayal, and hypocrisy by Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, and Ed Begley, and while it can’t reach the highs of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) it finds some similar thrills and misbehaving along the way.
Also out this week:
Arrow – The Eighth and Final Season, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark [Arrow Video], Guns Akimbo, Just One of the Guys, The Lost Continent [Scream Factory], The McPherson Tape [AGFA], Me and You and Everyone We Know [Criterion Collection], Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, Outcast of the Islands [KL Studio Classics], The Wind [Arrow Video]