February, we hardly knew ye! As we wave goodbye to one month and hello to March, there’s comfort to be found in the fact that there are always great movies to watch no matter how quickly time passes. This week’s new releases run the gamut from cult obscurities to blockbuster biopics — in other words, something for everyone!
House of Gucci (2021)
In March 1995, after fashion house scion Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) was gunned down outside his Milan office by an unknown assailant, it didn’t take long for the eye of suspicion to fall on his famously embittered ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). The tale of their turbulent union and the aftermath of the crime, set against the high-style backdrop of the family operations, receives a glossy telling in Ridley Scott’s true-crime opus; Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek co-star.
The King’s Man (2021)
At the dawn of the 20th century, with a cabal headed by mad monk Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) looking to foment global war for profit, it fell to British adventurer Orlando, Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) to respond by forming the first independent intelligence agency to squelch the threat. Matthew Vaughn’s action-packed prequel/origin entry for the “Kingsman” franchise also stars Gemma Arterton, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode, Daniel Brühl.
Edge of Darkness (1943)
In a small Norwegian village, two years of German occupation was more than enough for fisherman Gunnar Brogge (Errol Flynn), who channeled his resentments into leadership of the local resistance. His forbearance toward armed uprising vanishes, however, when the Nazis look to make an example of his collaborator and lover Karen Stensgard (Ann Sheridan). Lewis Milestone’s gripping wartime saga also stars Walter Huston, Helmut Dantine, Judith Anderson, Ruth Gordon, Nancy Coleman.
Side Out (Retro VHS Packaging)(1990)
It’s an endless summer of fun when C. Thomas Howell and Peter Horton hit the beach at Malibu in this high-spirited tribute to the California lifestyle. The sizzling sands of Malibu set the scene as Monroe meets a beautiful marine biologist and is recruited to play California’s hottest new sport, professional volleyball. Soon he’s competing against the big boys (played by pro-circuit stars Sinjin Smith and Randy Stoklos). But it’s only when Monroe teams up with Zack Barnes (TV’s “Thirtysometing’s” Peter Horton), the original “King of the Beach,” that he learns just how much fun success – and teamwork – can truly be.
Motivational Growth (2021)
The good thing was that thirtysomething loser Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni) finally found someone who cared enough to help him clean up his act and achieve everything he ever wanted. The bad thing was that this new best buddy was a heap of fungus (voiced by Jeffrey Combs) that grew on his grungy bathroom floor…and who might not be all that benevolent. Horror-farce co-stars Danielle Doetsch, Pete Giovagnoli.
The North Water (2021)
Based on the novel by Ian McGuire, this five-part BBC Two miniseries follows disgraced former Irish army surgeon Patrick Sumner (Jack O’Connell) as he takes a job as ship’s doctor onboard the whaling vessel Volunteer in 1859. As the Volunteer sets out on an Arctic expedition, Sumner discovers the psychotic nature of harpooner Henry Drax (Colin Farrell) and determines to stop him once and for all. With Sam Spruell, Roland Møller, Gary Lamont.
Lonely, divorced venture capitalist Chris Decker (Cameron Monaghan) thought he’d lucked out to have scored with the gorgeous Sky (Lilly Krug)…and again, after a debilitating mugging, to have her prove a compassionate helpmate as she moved into his remote smart mansion. However, her agenda is not what it appears–and Decker’s family may be the ones paying the price. Effective thriller co-stars John Malkovich, Frank Grillo, Sasha Luss.
“Well gah-ah-ly!” Jim Nabors starred in this hit 1964-69 spinoff of “The Andy Griffith Show” that found bumpkin Mayberry mechanic Gomer Pyle joining the Corps, where he and his fellow Marines’ zany misadventures caused no end of frustration for no-nonsense drill instructor Sgt. Carter (Frank Sutton). Ronnie Schell, Roy Stuart, Forrest Compton, Barbara Stuart co-starred. 150 episodes on 24 discs.
Alligator (Collector’s Edition)(1980)
Remember those adorable baby alligators that your parents flushed down the toilet years ago? Well, one of them fed on dead animals that had been injected with a growth formula, and now he’s a 36-foot-long maneater on a rampage under the streets of Chicago. Can a local cop (Robert Forster) and a reptile expert (Robin Riker) stop the carnage while there’s still time? Gut-grabbing horror thriller co-stars Jack Carter, Henry Silva; script by John Sayles.
Alligator II: The Mutation (1991)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the…filthy, disgusting sewer, there’s another ravenous reptile on the loose. It seems this one has also gotten hold of some nasty chemicals that have turned it into an enormous mutant creature that means to make the residents of a small town its breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Joseph Bologna, Dee Wallace, Richard Lynch, Steve Railsback star in this mostly unconnected (though admittedly quite similar) sequel.
Dancing Pirate (1936)
Songs by Rodgers and Hart highlight this early Technicolor treat that focuses on Jonathan Pride (Charles Collins), an 1820s Boston dance teacher shanghaied by buccaneers. He escapes when they hit California, but a misunderstanding leads to a death sentence…which is stayed so that he can teach the local ladies the waltz. With Frank Morgan, Steffi Duna star; look for Rita Hayworth as a dancer. Songs include “When You’re Dancing the Waltz,” “Are You My Love?”
Golden Voices (2019)
By 1990, Victor and Reya Frenkel (Vladimir Friedman, Mariya Belkina) had spent two generations as the Soviet film industry’s go-to voice dubbing talents…but with the USSR’s collapse, they opted to emigrate to Israel. Their late-life trials adjusting to a new political reality–and earning their keep in a culture that didn’t have much call for Russian voice-overs–are recounted in this charming fact-inspired dramedy; Alexander Senderovich, Evelin Hagoel also star.
Village of the Giants (1965)
Campy sci-fi romp, loosely based on H.G. Wells’ novel “The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth,” follows some big-city teenagers to a small California town where they ingest a strange substance that transforms them into giants. The enormous adolescents easily take over the town, and with the adults frozen with fear, it’s up to the local teens to save the day. Tommy Kirk, Johnny Crawford, Beau Bridges, Joy Harmon, and Ronny Howard star; features appearances by The Beau Brummels and Freddie Cannon.
The Canterville Ghost (2021)
When an American tech entrepreneur (James Lance) purchased an old English country home for his brood, they’d find that it wasn’t merely a Wi-Fi dead zone–since the shade of the centuries-dead nobleman (Anthony Head) who’s haunted the place isn’t up for any company! Contemporary, family-friendly miniseries take on the Oscar Wilde spook standard also stars Caroline Katz, Laurel Waghorn, Tom and Joe Graves, Jack Bardoe, and Cathy Tyson.
The Mating Game (2021)
It’s the drive upon which the survival of each and every animal species hinges, and this BBC One offering hosted by David Attenborough examines grasslands, oceans, jungles and other distinct habitat forms across six continents, and brings fascinating perspectives on the challenges faced by all forms of fauna–from rival competitors to outright predators–in their respective and instinctive hunts for companionship.
Boat People (Criterion Collection)(1982)
Three years after Saigon’s fall, Japanese journalist George Lam (Shiomi Akutagawa)–who’d been evenhanded in his coverage of the Viet Cong–was invited back to chronicle the improvements under the new regime. Feeling that what he’d been presented was staged, he headed in country to find destitution and autocracy–and his sympathies for a young woman (Season Ma) might cost him all, in this controversial effort from director Ann Hui.
Based on a story by cartoon creator Joseph Barbera, this family favorite focuses on Brian Foster (Wesley Eure), a young inventor who creates a mechanical pooch to act as a watchdog. Complications arise when an argument with his boss (Conrad Bain) threatens his job and a corporate rival (Jim Backus) hires some crooks (Chuck McCann, Red Buttons) to steal the artificial bow-wow. Valerie Bertinelli also stars.
Deadly Games (1982)
Her sister’s death ruled a suicide, Keegan Lawrence (Jo Ann Harris) suspects foul play, an opinion shared by local cop Roger Lane (Sam Groom). They may be onto something, as a masked murderer is picking off young women. Keegan and Roger get friendly, but is she next on the killer’s list, and could either the officer or his movie theater operator pal (Steve Railsback) actually be the man behind the mask? Dick Butkus, June Lockhart also star in this offbeat slasher.
American Underdog (2021)
Undrafted in 1994 after his college quarterbacking career and cut after a tryout with the Packers, Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi) resolved he’d return to the NFL. His perseverance brought him to a backup signing for the Rams–and after attrition made him the starter for 1999, he’d respond with an MVP season and a Super Bowl win, en route to a 11-season Hall of Fame career. Rousing biopic co-stars Anna Paquin, Dennis Quaid, Adam Baldwin, Bruce McGill.
The 355 (2022)
With destabilizing tech having fallen into destructive hands, CIA operative Mason Brown (Jessica Chastain) convinces British MI6 hacker Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o), German BND commando Marie (Diane Kruger), and Colombian DNI profiler Graciela (Penélope Cruz) that their interests would be best served by teaming up. The assignment’s complicated further with the agenda of MMS operative Lin Mi Sheng (Fan Bingbing) in this ladies-led thriller. Sebastian Stan, Edgar Ramirez co-star.
The Jungle Book (1967)
The last cartoon feature overseen by Walt Disney himself, this animated adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 classic follows young “man-cub” Mowgli and his animal mentors, Baloo (voiced by Phil Harris) the bear and Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot) the panther, in the Indian jungle. With the imminent arrival of the man-eating tiger, Shere Khan (George Sanders), Mowgli’s friends try to convince him to return to his own kind in the “Man-Village.” Other voices by Bruce Reitherman, Sterling Holloway. Songs include “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You.”