From the Big Screen:
Set in a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Disney and Pixar’s “Luca” is a coming-of-age story about a young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer. Luca shares his amazing adventures with his friend Alberto, but their fun is threatened by a deeply held secret: They’re sea monsters from a world below the water’s surface. Vitals: Director: Enrico Casarosa. Stars: Voices of Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli,Jim Gaffigan. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 95 min., Animated Family, worldwide $11.6 million, Disney. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo, VOD, Digital. Extras: “Our Italian Inspiration” featurette; “Secretly a Sea Monster” featurette; “Best Friends” featurette; deleted scenes. Read more here.
Those Who Wish Me Dead
Oscar winner Angelina Jolie stars as Hannah, a smoke jumper reeling from the loss of three young lives she failed to save from a fire. When she comes across a bloodied and traumatized 12-year-old boy, the two set out together to cross miles of thick forest. Braving deadly lightning storms that challenge even Hannah’s well-honed survival skills, they’re unaware of the true dangers they face as they’re hunted by two killers while a massive fiery blaze heads straight for them. Vitals: Director: Taylor Sheridan. Stars: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Aiden Gillen, Medina Senghore, Tyler Perry, Jake Weber, Jon Bernthal. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: R, 100 min., Action Thriller, US box office gross: $7.309 million, worldwide $23.814 million, Warner. Formats: DVD + Digital Code, Blu-ray + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: “Making Those Who Wish Me Dead.” Read more here.
When veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Billy Crystal) meets New York singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish), they form an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of love and trust. Vitals: Director: Billy Crystal. Stars: Billy Crystal, Tiffany Haddish, Penn Badgley, Laura Benanti, Louisa Krause, Anna Deavere Smith, Nyambi Nyambi, Sharon Stone. 2019, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 117 min., Comedy, US box office gross: $2.807 million, worldwide $2.807 million, Sony. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, Digital. Extras: Commentary with Billy Crystal, Tiffany Haddish & writer Alan Zweibel; interviews with filmmakers and cast. Read more here.
This Week’s Best Bets:
“The Daimajin Trilogy” (1966 — Japan) saw Daiei’s Kyoto studios bringing its own iconic movie monster to life in a unique but short-lived series that transplants the Golem legend to Japan’s Warring States period of the late-16th century. In “Daimajin,” directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda, the young son and daughter of the benevolent feudal lord Hanabusa flee to the mountains when their parents are slain by the treacherous usurper Odate. Ten years later, when the elderly priestess who has harbored them is also murdered, the rage of the slumbering ancient god that lies beneath the crumbling giant stone idol hidden deep in the forests in the mountains is invoked. In “Return of Daimajin,” Kenji Misumi brings his usual stylistic flourish, as the wrathful deity is roused from his new home on an island in the middle of a lake by the violent incursions of a vicious warlord. In the final film, “Wrath of Daimajin,” by veteran jidaigeki director Kazuo Mori, four young boys make a perilous trip to elicit the help of the ancient mountain god in freeing their family members who have been enslaved by a tyrannical lord. Remarkably overlooked in the West, these three thrilling tales of feudal oppression and divine retribution meted out by the iconic stone warrior of the title combine lavish period detail with jaw-dropping special effects. In a three-disc Blu-ray set from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment … One of Italian cinema’s most celebrated and prolific filmmakers, Sergio Martino worked across a range of genres, but is arguably best known for his giallo thrillers. The “The Sergio Martino Collection” (1971 — Italy) brings together three of his finest. In “The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail,” recently widowed Lisa Baumer is summoned to Athens to collect her husband’s generous life insurance policy, but soon discovers others are willing to kill to get their hands on it. In the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired “Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key,” abrasive drunk Oliviero amuses himself by holding drunken orgies and abusing his long-suffering wife … but when a series of grisly murders shakes the local community, Oliviero finds himself in the frame. Finally, “The Suspicious Death of a Minor” combines giallo and crime thriller tropes as undercover cop Paolo pursues the Milanese criminal outfit responsible for the brutal murder of an underage prostitute, but finds himself up against a killer-for-hire who’s bumping off witnesses before they have a chance to talk. Featuring sensational casts of genre stalwarts, including Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Anita Strindberg and Luigi Pistilli, with scripts by giallo master Ernesto Gastaldi and sensuous scores by maestro Bruno Nicolai, this is an essential collection for any Italian cult cinema fan. All three restored in 2K from the original camera negatives. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment. Read more here.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “Seance” (2021), starring Suki Waterhouse, Madisen Beaty, Ella-Rae Smith and Inanna Sarkis, Camille Meadows is the new girl at the prestigious Edelvine Academy for Girls. Soon after her arrival, six girls invite her to join them in a late-night ritual, calling forth the spirit of a dead former student who reportedly haunts their halls. But before morning, one of the girls is dead, leaving the others wondering what they may have awakened. On DVD, Blu-ray, from RLJE Films … “Under the Stadium Lights” (2021), starring Milo Gibson, Abigail Hawk, Acoryé White, Carter Redwood, Noel G. and Laurence Fishburne, is the inspirational true story of a small-town high school football team that beat all the odds to win their state championship. After a crushing defeat ended their prior season, everyone counted the Abilene Eagles out of title contention. Facing doubts and personal challenges both on and off the field, it took the guidance of their team chaplain (Gibson) and a surrogate father figure (Fishburne) for them to realize what they could achieve when they stood united as a team. From Paramount … In “Lucky” (2021), starring Brea Grant, Dhruv Uday Singh, Kausar Mohammed, Hunter C. Smith and Kristina Klebe, life takes a sudden turn for May (Grant), a popular self-help book author, when she finds herself the target of a mysterious man with murderous intentions. Every night without fail, he comes after her, and every day the people around her barely seem to notice. With no one to turn to, May is pushed to her limits and must take matters into her own hands to survive and to regain control of her life. From RLJE Films. Read more here … After a romantic evening in their secluded lake house, Emma awakens handcuffed to her dead husband in “Till Death” (2021), starring Megan Fox, Callan Mulvey, Eoin Macken, Aml Ameen, and Jack Roth. Trapped and isolated in the dead of winter, she must fight off hired killers to escape her husband’s twisted plan. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Screen Media Films.
On the Indie Front:
“Pooling to Paradise” (2021), starring Lynn Chen, Jonathan Lipnicki, Dreama Walker, Jordan Carlos and Taryn Manning, is an indie comedy about a ride share that turns into an unexpected road trip to Paradise, NV. Four strangers, each at a cross-worlds in their lives, find unexpected connections that change their view on life. On DVD from SP Releasing. Read more here.
In “Tailgate (Bumperkleef)” (2019 — Netherlands), starring Jeroen Spitzenberger, Anniek Pheifer, Willem de Wolf, and Roosmarijn Van Der Hoek, Hans, his wife and two young children, hit the highway on a trip to visit family. After getting stuck behind a slow-moving van, he recklessly starts to antagonize the eerily stoic driver, blaring the horn and riding his bumper. Little does he realize that he’s just crossed the wrong motorist – a deranged madman who sets out to teach Hans a lesson he’ll not soon forget. Lured into an alarming game of vehicular cat and mouse, a simple family road trip turns into a deadly obstacle course in this nerve-wracking, pulse-pounding thriller, an Official Selection at the Sitges Film Festival and FrightFest. From Film Movement. Read more here … In “The Unthinkable (Den Blomstertid nu kommer)” (2021 — Sweden), starring Christoffer Nordenrot, Lisa Henni and Jesper Barkselius, it’s midsummer and Sweden wakes up to a state of emergency. TV, internet, and telephone networks are down, and before anyone realizes what’s behind the collapse, a series of unexplained attacks take place around the country. Alex, a successful pianist whose controlled existence is upturned when his mother dies in a suspected terror attack, returns to his childhood village to arrange the funeral. There, he must reconcile with both his father and his old flame, Anna, who he has desperately been trying to forget. As old feelings come back to the surface, more mysterious attacks plunge Sweden into chaos and confusion. From Magnolia Pictures.
“Final Account” (2021) is a documentary portrait of the last living generation of Hitler’s Third Reich in never-before-seen interviews raising vital questions about authority, conformity, national identity, and their own roles in the greatest human crimes in history. From Focus Features/Universal.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.