It’s another short week this week, with few releases and honestly not much to get too excited about, although there are some highlights. Read on to see what can hold you over until next week.
The King’s Daughter
I was thrilled to watch this new fantasy adventure film, largely because of its cast, which includes Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt (in one of his final roles, unfortunately), and Kaya Scodelario. The film features the King of France who tries to find a way to become immortal, his daughter and some mermaids. And I wish I could say that I really liked the movie, but honestly, it blew me away. It’s rated PG, indicating it’s a family movie, but it’s so slow-paced and filled with sociopolitical (and nun) issues that I can’t imagine young audiences sticking with it. It’s also not interesting or exciting enough to appeal to an adult audience. Honestly, I found it hard work, which was a big disappointment. It feels like a movie that tried to be everything for everyone, and ended up being a movie with no defined audience at all. This one just doesn’t have life and I found it a big disappointment.
Creatures of the Night: Collector’s Edition
Shout Factory’s high-end genre impression, Scream Factory, returns with a new Blu-ray collector’s edition of the little-known nocturnal creatures, a 1962 Hammer Horror film starring Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed. The film sees Captain Clegg and his men investigate the mysterious Marsh Phantoms and deal with the creepy Reverend Blyss (Peter Cushing) and a curse that haunts the region. The film is fairly typical Hammer fare, with a lower budget and fast running time. There are some great costumes in the movie, and the actors do their best with the limited story, but the movie is a fun ride for what it is. This new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray includes a remastered image and also a nice suite of extra features, including an audio commentary, several interviews and some making-of featurettes, which is pretty impressive for a cult film from years ago. 60 years. It’s a nice package for the fans.
Also available this week on Home Video:
- A life among the whales – This terrific documentary about whales and their place in the ecosystem focuses heavily on Dr. Roger Payne, the man who 50 years ago discovered whale song and how it is used for communication and deepened our understanding of these majestic creatures. Narrated by Pierce Brosnan (who makes his second appearance on this week’s list), this hour-long documentary features stunning footage of whales and gives us a better understanding and appreciation of the gentle giants. It also addresses some current issues, such as whaling and whether there is still a place for it in our society. The brief running time keeps things interesting, and I found it to be a good viewing experience on some really impressive animals.
- Where are you Jay Bennett? – Another documentary released this week, Where are you Jay Bennett? focuses on musician Jay Bennet, who was the lesser known half of Wilco’s music and songwriting unit alongside Jeff Tweedy. While Tweedy was the band’s ‘name’, Bennett was there for their seminal albums, including the globally acclaimed Hotel Yankee Foxtrot. But there was an acrimonious split between Tweedy and Bennett, and Bennett embarked on his own solo career before dying young of a fentanyl overdose at the age of 45. Through interviews with his family and colleagues as well as musician Billy Bragg, the film is about his life and career, with – unsurprisingly – a heavy emphasis on his Wilco years. Tweedy isn’t in the film except in the archive footage, but he still paints a pretty full picture. For Wilco/Bennett fans, it’s a great movie, and it’s pretty interesting even if you’re not already a fan.
- my sweet monster – This week’s lively children’s offer is my sweet monster, a Russian CGI animated film that is – I guess? – a kind of riff on the The beauty and the Beast narrative. The story is actually somewhat convoluted, but it does involve a king, a tempestuous princess, and a kind-hearted monster named Boogey. The voice cast includes Haylie Duff and Napoleon Dynamite himself, Jon Heder, who is having quite the career in voice acting for animated films these days. The film is very suitable for young viewers; it’s not great, but it’s not bad. Parents will likely find it a bit tedious, but younger viewers will enjoy the colorful visuals and some of the characters from the film. It’s not action packed but I’ve definitely seen worse, but I can see where the kids are going to enjoy it.
- Girl on a Chain Gang: Special Edition – This is a new Blu-ray version of the cult classic 1966 exploitation film. Directed by Jerry Gross (who helped bring many, many infamous exploitation films into theaters, like I Spit on your grave), the film tells the story of two male (one white and one black) and one female social rights activists who are driving through the south when they are stopped by corrupt police officers. From there, things go from bad to worse for the trio, who suffer all kinds of debasement and mistreatment from the police. It’s ostensibly a protest image for social justice, but it’s also an exploitation film that doesn’t often lean towards intellectuals. This new Blu-ray special edition of Film Detective includes exciting additional features including an audio commentary, a documentary featurette and a 16-page essay booklet. Fans of 60s B movies would do well to check this one out.
- Premutos: The fallen angel – Man, the cover art for this new Blu-ray release is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. Seriously, google it; it is a work of art. The movie itself, however, doesn’t quite live up to the cover’s beauty. Premutos is a 1997 German horror film, and it is about the first fallen angel, which predates Lucifer. Through a convoluted series of events throughout the first half of the film, we follow Premutos’ son appearing throughout the story. When we get to modern times, that’s when all hell breaks loose. We get zombie-like creatures, a demonic figure, and lots and lots of gore. I mean, like… a lot. This is not a film for the faint hearted. It’s over the top and low budget, and thankfully the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, so there are some humorous moments too. I’m not a big fan of gorefests, so this one wasn’t exactly up my alley, but fans of horror shock and low budget schlock will probably have a lot of fun with it.
- Tokyo decadence – This 1992 erotic drama hails from Japan and makes its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Unearthed Films. The film is based on an acclaimed Japanese novel, and it gives us a glimpse into the life of a high-class Japanese prostitute and her relationships with various men (most of whom seek out SM-related activities) while dealing with a fortune teller. premonition and looking for a former client who married someone else. The film is largely a drama, but it doesn’t shy away from sexual material, giving the film an edge that has given it some notoriety. It’s a little slow and veers into arthouse film territory more than I’d like, so it’s definitely going to appeal to that small cross section of people who want to watch both. Primary instinct and Memoirs of a Geisha the same time. Not bad, not great.