It's a week filled with hits, misses, a touch of horror and more than a few oddities.
- Free Guy - Ryan Reynolds stars as Guy, an insignificant character in a video game, who begins to question the redundant nature of his life. Wanting more, Guy is drawn to a mysterious woman who is on a side mission of her own. I was afraid that "Free Guy" would be nothing more than Reynolds being Reynolds. There's quite a bit of mugging and watered-down Deadpooling, but there's also more to the story than the trailers suggest. Recommended. [Full Review]
- Reminiscence - Hugh Jackman stars in this future noir set in a flooded world where technology has advanced to the point where an individual can re-experience their memories. Written and directed by Lisa Joy (HBO's "Westworld"), "Reminiscence" features a rich atmosphere and a history that is as undeniably seductive as the ability to return to the best moments of our lives. The narrative is a little disjointed and leaves too much of the world unexplored (a mini-series might have been more effective), but I quite like what is there. [Full Review]
New on DVD and Blu-ray
- The Sparks Brothers - The story of brothers Russell and Ron Mael, better known as the eclectic pop act Sparks, is fascinating and a perfect fit for director Edgar Wright's sensibilities. I can't call it the quintessential movie about a band because Sparks were never conventional enough to be compared to anyone else. We'll call it the most Sparkiest film ever made about Sparks. Recommended to any and all, the devoted and the uninitiated.
- Dreaming Grand Avenue - They've never met, but Maggie and Jimmy keep appearing in each other's dreams. Drawn together by a sense of loss and injustice, the pair navigate a noir-tinged Chicago. "Dreaming Grand Avenue" is a touch too ambitious, but there are some interesting ideas bubbling beneath the surface.
- For Madmen Only - The name Del Close probably isn't familiar to you unless you've studied the history of improv comedy. Close was a revolutionary teacher who has inspired hundreds of performers with his out-of-the-box thinking. He's also a larger-than-life character who was known to exaggerate his personal experiences and accomplishments to the point of making the truth impossible to pin down. A chaotic documentary for a man who was mayhem incarnate.
- The Forever Purge - The Purge, a 12-hour period where murder and mayhem go unpunished, has become a cherished annual tradition. For some people 12-hours isn’t enough. America needs a constant, forever purge to make itself pure again. Yes, “The Forever Purge” looks white supremacy in the eye and the hyperviolence follows.
- Sibyl - Adèle Exarchopoulos stars as an actress with a laundry list of issues who proves to be a tempting source of inspiration for her psychotherapist (Virginie Efira) who can't help but take the most scelestious details and work them into her upcoming novel.
- Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films - Melvin Van Peebles made the blueprint for blaxploitation with "Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song" but his career also the writer/director crafted films in a variety of styles. This set includes "Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song" and the romantic drama "The Story of a Three Day Pass," the outrageous comedy "Watermelon Man," and the musical "Don't Play Us Cheap."
- Beats - Scottish teens Johnno (Cristian Ortega) and Spanner (Lorn Macdonald) are best friends with no discernable futures. Constantly chasing a sense of being, the pair decide to attend an illegal rave in hopes that it will be the best night in their seemingly pointless lives. Set in 1994, "Beats" is an ode to an era of rebellion and disillusion.
- Children of the Corn 4K UHD - Arrow Films brings 1984's "Children of the Corn," an adaptation of a Stephen King short story, to 4K UHD for the first time. The film notoriously tells the story of a young couple who find themselves trapped in a rural town where the children worship a cruel deity known as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows" and murder anyone over the age of 19.
- The Damned - Released in 1969, "The Damned" is Luchino Visconti's dark soap opera about a wealthy family and their associates decent into complete moral decay in the shadow of Hitler and the rise of Nazism. Visconti creates a carnal nightmare filled with a lust for both power and depravity.
- Legend - In 1986 director Ridley Scott released "Legend," a dark fantasy film starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara and Tim Curry. As with many of Scott's films, the theatrical release never quite delivered the story that the director intended to tell. A director's cut was released in 2002. Arrow's new set includes new 2K scans of both the U.S. Theatrical Cut (including the Tangerine Dream score) and the Director's Cut. Why no 4K? This mostly boils down to the quality of the film elements that are available. The Director's Cut was largely sourced from a secondary print, rather than the original negative. This is as good as it gets. At least for now.
- Robotech: Collector's Edition - "Robotech" was my introduction to Japanese animation. I didn't know it at the time. It was 1985 and the concept of international cartoons hadn't occurred to 9-year-old me. So, when an email arrived in my mailbox about this incredible box set, I couldn't help but feel incredibly nostalgic for a more innocent time of my life. Available only directly from Funimation, this box set includes newly remastered versions of the original Robotech series "The Macross Saga," "The Masters" and "The New Generation." They've even included patches and figures for Roy Focker and his VF-1S mech. The three seasons will be released on their own over the next few weeks. As a completist, I can't imagine buying single seasons when you can get them all in one glorious package.