New Releases for the Week of August 20, 2021


REMINISCENCE

(Warner Brothers) Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandie Newton, Cliff Curtis, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Natalie Martinez. Directed by Lisa Joy

In a future where the world’s coastal cities are being flooded by rising oceans, a private investigator of the mind becomes obsessed with a client when she abruptly disappears.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Science Fiction
Now Playing: Wide (also on HBO Max)
Rating: PG-13 (for strong violence, drug material throughout, sexual content and some strong language)

Bellbottom

(Emmay) Akshay Kumar, Huma Qureshi, Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta. A spy movie set in India during the decadent 1980s.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Spy Comedy
Now Playing: Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

CODA

(Apple) Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Eugenio Derbez. A young girl works as interpreter for her deaf parents, crewing their struggling fishing boat in the morning before school. An impulsive decision to join the school choir leads the tough choirmaster to discover that she has a unique talent, and urges her to apply to a prestigious music school; now she must choose between her dreams and helping her family when they need her most.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian (also on Apple Plus)
Rating: PG-13 (for strong sexual content and language, and drug use)

Collusions

(Vertical) Tom Everett Scott, Steven Culp, Jamison Jones, Tembi Locke. A police officer goes missing and five high-profile individuals become suspects.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Crime Drama
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

The Night House

(Searchlight) Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Evan Jonigkeit. After her husband’s unexpected death, a young widow is left alone in the dream house he built for her. But as she begins to experience unsettling incidents, she begins to investigate her late husband’s things and discovers that he may have been into something terrifying and dangerous.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for some violence/disturbing images, and language including some sexual references)

Paw Patrol: The Movie

(Paramount) Starring the voices of Tyler Perry, Ron Pardo, Will Brisbin, Kingsley Marshall. Based on the popular Nickelodeon series, the pups of the Paw Patrol must spring into action when their greatest rival becomes mayor of Adventure City.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide (also on Paramount Plus)
Rating: G

The Protégé

(Lionsgate) Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert Patrick. Taken in as an orphan by an assassin, Anna grows to become the world’s most lethal contract killer, but when her mentor and father figure is brutally murdered, she takes it on herself to get revenge, no matter how large the body count may get.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Action
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for strong and bloody violence, language, some sexual references and brief nudity)

Rare Beasts

(Brainstorm) Billie Piper, Leo Bill, Kerry Fox, David Thewlis. A fiercely independent young single mother navigating a dysfunctional family and a misogynistic workplace unexpectedly falls for a young man with traditional marital values.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

Risen

(Vertical) Terri Purchase, Natalie Rose, Buffy Anne Littaua, Kenneth Trujillo. After a small town is wiped out by a meteor strike, an exobiologist is called in to investigate strange happenings at the impact site and discovers a horrifying truth that may mean the end of mankind.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Annette
Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power
Blood Conscious
Collusions
Cryptozoo
Demonic
Final Frequency
(Tuesday)
The Forever Room
(Tuesday)
Habit
Jurassic Hunt
(Tuesday)
Last Man Standing
The Last Matinee
(Tuesday)
Lily Topples the World
(Wednesday)
The Loud House Movie
Moments Like This Never Last
Mosquito State
(Wednesday)
The Outsider
Summer Days, Summer Nights
(Tuesday)
Sweet Girl
Wildland

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Annette
CODA
Cryptozoo
Final Frequency
Last Man Standing
Lily Topples the World
The Night House
The Outsider
The Protégé
Reminiscence



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The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans


The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans

Eva Mendes and Nicolas Cage were having a contest to see who could look the coolest - Eva won.

(2009) Crime Drama (First Look) Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, Jennifer Coolidge, Vondie Curtis Hall, Shawn Hatosy, Xzibit, Denzel Whitaker, Brad Dourif, Shea Wigham, Katie Chonacas, Michael Shannon, Tom Bower. Directed by Werner Herzog

An out-of-control drug-addled policeman taking on crime in his own corrupt way, desensitized to violence and seemingly without any moral compass whatsoever. Sound familiar?

First of all, this movie has nothing to do with the classic Abel Ferrara film The Bad Lieutenant, which starred Harvey Keitel back in 1992. This movie shares only a producer with the original. There are some thematic similarities but that’s about it. The first film is amazing and powerful; this one is going to suffer by comparison – so I’m not going to compare the two, only to say that those coming in looking for a sequel, a remake or a reboot are going to be confused at best, angry at worst and disappointed for certain.

Lt. Terence McDonagh (Cage) is a decorated member of the New Orleans Police Department. He injured his back rescuing a prisoner from the rising floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina. Hooked on vicodin for the pain, he graduates to bigger and better drugs.

He is in love with Frankie (Mendes), a prostitute who is a fellow junkie. He is not above rousting a pair of clubgoers leaving a nightclub, stealing their drugs and raping the girl – while her boyfriend watches. His only worry is avoiding detection from his partner Steve Pruit (Kilmer) and the evidence locker supervisor Mundt (Shannon). The only law he seems intent on enforcing is the law of looking out for number one.

Then he is assigned the case of the execution of an entire family of immigrants and discovers the father was involved in drug dealing. We also discover that a vicious drug kingpin named Big Fate (Xzibit) is responsible. McDonagh, growing more and more paranoid, hooks up with Big Fate not only to bring himself a whole new supply of drugs but to get to the bottom of the killings. The further in he gets, the more dangerous the game he plays becomes to himself and those around him.

Director Werner Herzog knows a thing or two about obsession. The director of Fitzcarraldo and Grizzly Man is fascinated by characters that live on the edge of madness, and often die on that edge. He and Nicolas Cage are a match made in…maybe not heaven, but in purgatory at least.

Cage is an Oscar winning actor who has always specialized in characters out there on that edge. Of late he has done a lot of movies that are best forgotten; still, he is capable of busting out with some great performances. He is right there on the ragged edge here and at times he overacts shamelessly, which can be a turn-off.

Then again, this kind of role really does call for it. McDonagh hallucinates about iguanas and snarls after Big Fate and his crew shoot someone dead “Shoot him again! His soul is still dancing!” Only Cage could pull off a line like that.

Kilmer is another actor who often takes on quirky roles and has of late been relegated to a lot of direct-to-home video disasters. It’s nice to see him in a movie that actually got a theatrical release; hopefully more casting directors will take notice of him, although I’m not sure his performance here will get that for him – the role is pretty bland.

This is the kind of movie that makes you feel like you’ve just gone for a swim in the sewer, only in a good way. It shows the corruption and seediness that is rampant around the drug trade. It’s a shame they had to unnecessarily throw the Bad Lieutenant association in – the movie I think would have benefitted from a better title (this one is really bad and may have actually kept moviegoers away). It at least has the distinction of being one of Cage’s better movies of the last decade, although I’m becoming more enamored of Herzog as a documentarian than as a filmmaker.

WHY RENT THIS: You get a great sense of a life spiraling out of control.   

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Cage overacts shamelessly. The corruption is so pervasive that you feel like you need a shower after watching the movie.

FAMILY VALUES: Where to begin? Lots of bad language, even more drug use, a goodly amount of violence and just for good measure, let’s throw in a little sex on top.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Nicolas Cage is actually snorting baby powder during the cocaine scenes.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: None listed.

BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $10.6M on a $25M production budget; this was a box office flop.

FINAL RATING: 6.5/10

TOMORROW: A History of Violence

Life is Hot in Cracktown


Life is Hot in Cracktown

When in doubt, glower.

(Lightning Media) Kerry Washington, Evan Ross, Brandon Routh, RZA, Illeana Douglas, Shannyn Sossamon, Lara Flynn Boyle, Desmond Harrington, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tony Plana, Victor Razuk, Ridge Canipe, Vondie Curtis-Hall. Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo

There are those who will argue that crack cocaine is the most devastating thing to happen to the projects ever. There is certainly some merit to the argument; crack destroys lives and encourages crime. This insanely addictive drug can turn even good people into monsters.

Sometimes in the movies, you’ll see the heroes walking down an inner city alley and encounter criminals and junkies in various stages of decay. The heroes will interact briefly with them, conclude their business, and then move along. This movie is quite frankly about the people in that alley in the first place.

In a nameless inner city neighborhood lives Marybeth (Washington), a pre-op transsexual who works as a prostitute to help save the money for her operation. She lives with her boyfriend Benny (Harrington), a small-time burglar who is developing issues with his own sexuality. Manny (Razuk) is a devoted husband and father who works two jobs to support his stay-at-home wife (Sossamon) and their colicky baby. Willie (Canipe) is a wise-beyond-his-years young boy who lives in the welfare hotel where Manny is a security guard, his mom (Douglas) a crack addict who chooses drugs over her children. Willie is in love with a heartbreakingly young hooker, and looks after his sister when his mother is too high to care for anybody.

The specter of Romeo (Ross, who is the son of Diana Ross) looms over this neighborhood. He’s a vicious and ambitious thug who wants to move up the ladder in his gang. He is completely amoral and without conscience, but doesn’t have a gun yet. When he finally acquires one, all hell literally breaks loose.

Giovinazzo wrote this based on his own novel, and like those who adapt their own material he had a very difficult time in cutting judiciously. Because this is written as an ensemble piece, the movie shifts gears every time it shifts focus to another character. The overall effect is that of a car with a broken transmission, jarring the driver every time it shifts.

Giovinazzo would have been better served to focus on only a few characters and let the rest fade into the background of the story, but I can see where he might have had difficulty in doing that because there are compelling elements to each story, and compelling performances throughout. Razuk and Canipe are the most memorable of the characters and quite frankly I wouldn’t have minded devoting more time to their stories; however, Washington delivers a spectacular performance and her character’s story shouldn’t be ignored. Ross is a smoldering presence who fills the screen up with absolute dread every time he’s onscreen; you wonder what horrible thing he’s going to do.

The movie opens with an extended gang rape by Romeo and his thugs of his own girlfriend. It’s not a pretty scene and it definitely sets the tone of the movie. Giovinazzo certainly pulls no punches nor shies away from any inner city horror, no matter how cruel or vicious. This may be too intense for some, while others will enjoy wallowing in the grittiness. For me, it’s a slice of inner city life, a particularly rotten and putrid slice with maggots crawling about the carcass. I can’t say I was entertained, but then again I couldn’t tear my eyes away either.

WHY RENT THIS: This redefines gritty. You’ll want to take a shower to wash off the slime when you’re done watching.  Canipe and Razuk are the characters you’ll remember.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: There are too many storylines to follow to reasonably get much of a feel for many of the characters.

FAMILY VALUES: Drug use is at a premium here; there is also a good deal of foul language, violence and a fairly graphic depiction of rape. In addition there’s plenty of sex and nudity. Fun for the whole family.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Giovinazzo took a ten year break from directing to teach filmmaking at the New York School of Visual Arts and NYU.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: None listed.

FINAL RATING: 4/10

TOMORROW: Nanny McPhee Returns