It’s a great week to be a movie fan. But then again, aren’t they all? Yet this week’s lineup of new releases include some fresh-from-the-theater blockbusters, as well as plenty of rare classics from the Hollywood vaults — with some indies and foreign film favorites thrown in for good measure.
The point is, there are plenty new DVDs and Blu-rays to watch. And this is a fantastic problem to have!
Security expert Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) probably won’t give the Hong Kong skyscraper the Pearl a glowing report when his wife (Neve Campbell) and kids become trapped on its upper floors after ruthless criminals torch the building. With local authorities believing he’s somehow involved, the die hard Sawyer must make his way up this towering inferno in an attempt to stop the bad guys and save his family. Nailbiting actioner co-stars Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor.
With horror hotelier Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) burning out on the leisure business, Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Johnny (Andy Samberg) gift him a vacation of his own–aboard a cruise ship for monsters, with the rest of his creature cronies. A reluctant Drac finds his interest piqued by the liner’s attractive captain (Kathryn Hahn)…but when it turns out she’s a van Helsing, better man the lifeboats! Third animated hit also features the voices of Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade.
Skittish 13-year-old Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) may want to seem like she’s projecting self-confidence in her little-viewed online posts, but her last days of middle school find her struggling to navigate home life with her hovering dad (Josh Hamilton), her crush on a seemingly unobtainable cool kid (Luke Prael), and an otherwise unending struggle to fit in. Perceptive and riveting read on contemporary adolescence from writer-director Bo Burnham also stars Emily Robinson, Catherine Oliviere, Daniel Zolghadri.
In the early ‘70s, hard-drinking, already-embittered Portlander John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix) was only 21 when a booze-fueled car accident left him a quadriplegic. His chosen path to recover from the bottle and reclaim his life–as a cartoonist whose wildly dark and incorrect gags gained him national notoriety–is tellingly recounted in Gus Van Sant’s compelling, seriocomic biopic; Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Carrie Brownstein, Beth Ditto, Udo Kier also star.
Ronald didn’t mean to kill the girl who teased him, so his mother hid him inside a secret room in the house for his own good. When mom dies and leaves him all alone, a new family moves in, unaware that Ronald’s still lurking about. But it’s okay, he likes these folks, especially their three daughters. You could say he’s crazy about them. Scott Jacoby, Kim Hunter, Dabney Coleman star in this classic creepy thriller.
Funny gals Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts combine their considerable comedic talents in this two-disc compilation that features 17 pre-Code shorts from Hal Roach. Includes “Let’s Do Things” (1931), “The Pajama Party” (1931), “War Mamas” (1931), “Sealskins” (1932), “Strictly Unreliable” (1932), “The Old Bull” (1932), “Sneak Easily” (1932), “Asleep in the Feet” (1933), “The Bargain of the Century” (1933), “One Track Minds” (1933), and more.
From TV’s Golden Age come these rarely seen pilot episodes. First, Lon Chaney, Jr. stars in “The Life of Riley” (1948), in a role that went to Jackie Gleason when the series went into production. Next, the pilot for the series “Racket Squad,” “The Case of the Sure Thing,” originally aired as its final episode in 1953. Reed Hadley stars. The one-off “Cool and Lam” (1958) follows a pair of private detectives (Benay Venuta, Billy Pearson). And, William Shatner co-stars in the stand-alone “Nero Wolfe” (1959). With Kurt Kasznar in the title role.
On a future world whose occupants have been enslaved for generations to extract the planet’s riches, young miner Orin (voiced by Joe Colligan) uncovered a mysterious jeweled sword. The arcane weapon may hold the secret for his people’s freedom from their cruel alien oppressors…if only he lives long enough to discover it. Thrilling animated sci-fi videostore staple also features the voices of Carmen Argenziano, Anthony De Longis, Paul Frees, Les Tremayne.
In the early ‘80s twilight of Argentine autocracy, privileged Buenos Aries school teacher Alicia Marnet de Ibáñez (Norma Aleandro) began to question the evasive half-explanations of her functionary husband (Héctor Alterio) about the parentage of their adoptive daughter (Analía Castro). Her own investigations, however, may cause irreparable damage to career and family. Gripping political drama that won 1986’s Best Foreign Film Oscar also stars Hugo Arana.
The Man in the Iron Mask (20th Anniversary Edition)
Leonardo DiCaprio plays both the ruthless King Louis XIV of France and the monarch’s masked and imprisoned twin brother, Phillippe, in this lush, action-filled rendition of the Dumas novel. With the country on the verge of collapse, legendary Musketeers Aramis (Jeremy Irons), Athos (John Malkovich), Porthos (Gérard Depardieu), and D’Artagnan (Gabriel Byrne) launch a daring plan to switch the nasty Louis with his jailed double. Anne Parillaud also stars.
MI5 desk jockey Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), who longed for a field agent’s life, became convinced that a string of notorious international assassinations was the work of a woman, and was determined to prove it. Turns out she was right…and to her great peril, the perpetrator–sociopathic Russian operative Oksana Astankova, b/k/a “Villanelle” (Jodie Comer)–was reciprocating her fascination. Acclaimed BBC America take on the Luke Jennings thrillers co-stars Fiona Shaw, Kim Bodnia, Owen McDonnell. All eight episodes from the debut season are featured in this two-disc set.
Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (The Criterion Collection)
Crafted for German public television, this rediscovered, lyrical social drama miniseries from Rainer Werner Fassbinder flavorfully follows the life of a young tool factory laborer (Gottfried John) as he courts a beautiful coworker (Hanna Schygulla), deals with the eccentricities of his loving extended family, and becomes the point man in a bitter set-to with management over employee rights. Luise Ullrich, Werner Finck, Anita Bucher, Wolfried Lier also star.
Los Angeles, 2028: Jean “the Nurse” Thomas (Jodie Foster) runs the Hotel Artemis, a makeshift hospital that only serves criminal types. As riots grip the city, a bank robber (Sterling K. Brown) brings his wounded brother (Brian Tyree Henry) to the Artemis and is soon caught up in the wild goings-on along with a bizarre cast of characters that includes an assassin (Sofia Boutella), an arms dealer (Charlie Day), a cop (Jenny Slate), and the hotel’s owner (Jeff Goldblum). Zachary Quinto co-stars in this offbeat actioner.