One of the Greatest Car Chases Ever Kicks Off Our Pick of the Week

Fear Is The KeyFear Is the Key [Arrow Video]

What is it? A drifter finds a world of hurt after stirring up trouble in a small town.

Why see it? This early 70s gem hit Blu-ray for the first time last year — in Australia — and now it’s finally making its US debut. Fans should pick it up immediately, but I’d even recommend a blind buy for movie lovers who enjoy twists, turns, and one of the best car chases ever put to film. Barry Newman headlines as the drifter, and what seems like chance explodes with purpose as the film moves forward at a high-powered tick. An adaptation of an Alistair MacLean novel, the story moves in some unexpected directions before its true aim comes clear, but it’s all the more exhilarating for it. And seriously, that opening car chase, crafted by the legendary Carey Loftin, is an all-timer.

[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, interview]

The Best

Footloose UhdFootloose [4K UHD, steelbook]

What is it? An ode to dancing with the devil.

Why see it? This 80s favorite isn’t quite a great movie, but it’s filled with enough memorable moments and highlights to make it a good time for fans of the decade’s cinema. Kevin Bacon is the new kid who just wants to dance, Lori Singer is the pastor’s daughter who’s been forbidden to join in, and soon it all comes to a head thanks to an overzealous John Lithgow. It’s formulaic, but the dancing, big hair, and 80s soundtrack choices all work to capture the atmosphere and attitude of the time period. Paramount’s new 4K does the job with a picture that pops in all the right places.

[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes, interviews, musical]

Goodbye And AmenGoodbye & Amen [Radiance]

What is it? A government agent begins shooting random people from a hotel balcony.

Why see it? Radiance is a label prone to breathing new life into movies that most of us have never seen and often never even heard of, and that holds true for this late 70s gem from Italy. Tony Musante is a CIA agent surprised to discover that one of his men has started sniping people with a rifle. The police settle in, but the shooting quickly escalates into a hostage situation with more twists and turns to come. This is a great film given a smart restoration and some informative, interesting extras. Fans of shifty espionage tales, ones infused with cynicism and sharp action beats, should absolutely consider a blind buy here.

[Extras: New restoration, commentary, interviews, booklet]

The MarvelsThe Marvels

What is it? A fun, forgettable romp in the MCU.

Why see it? The latest entry in the MCU could just as easily have a place with “the Rest” below, but I’m bumping it up as a contrast to the vitriol and negativity that was unfairly spewed its way upon release. It tanked at the box-office in part due to a concerted effort to do so by whiny man-babies, and many who skipped it on the big screen are now finding out that it’s actually a fun time. There’s nothing heavy here, and it can’t touch the handful of MCU greats, but it’s a fast-moving and entertaining good time with no sense of pretension. It’s just goofy fun.

[Extras: Featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes, commentary]

The Rest

Alaska Seas [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? Two friends feud over salmon, cash, and broads in rugged Alaska!

Why see it? As noir-adjacent films go, not too many of them are set in the great state of Alaska. This mid 50s joint fits the bill, though, and pits an honorable Brian Keith against a duplicitous Robert Ryan as the two old friends find themselves at odds when greed, lust, and poor choices come into play. Director Jerry Hopper delivers a solid, fast-moving thriller about a friendship tested under harsh circumstances. It never excels, but a handful of exciting set-pieces hold the interest throughout.

[Extras: New remaster, commentary]

Blood on the Sun [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A reporter uncovers a wartime conspiracy!

Why see it? There are propaganda films, and there are Propaganda films. This feature from 1945 belongs to the latter camp as it’s produced at the tail end of the war and designed from the ground up to vilify the Japanese people. White actors in yellowface is to be expected for the period (although the buck teeth is still excessive), but the story line, characters, and tone are all aimed at showing the Japanese as untrustworthy and evil. It’s made palatable knowing the time period it’s from, but ultimately, the only real saving grace here is a brash and bruising James Cagney as the reporter hellbent on exposing the truth and pummeling anyone in his way.

[Extras: New remaster, commentary]

A Creature Was Stirring

What is it? A home invasion unearths a frightening surprise for Christmas.

Why see it? Christmas horror movies are a pleasure of mine — I even co-hosted a podcast on the topic — but like most niches in the horror genre, far too many of them are uninspired and uninteresting. This new entry has the right trappings with Christmas decorations and holiday lighting, but the pacing and atmosphere are lacking. We get an eventual payoff alongside some solid creature effects, but they’re not quite enough to make this a compelling watch.

[Extras: None]

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes [4K UHD]

What is it? A prequel rehashing what we already know.

Why see it? Studios will milk the ever loving shit out of anything with the potential for profit, and this prequel to the immensely popular Hunger Games franchise is exhibit A. We’re made witness to Coriolanus Snow’s younger days when his own life and morality were on the line, but given that we know he lives to become a real asshole the film’s already neutered of suspense and drama. Director Francis Lawrence shoots an attractive dystopia, but co-lead Rachel Zegler feels a step or two out of sync here as a plucky Snow White of sorts clashing with the nightmare around her. It is what it is, and if you’re fully on board the Hunger Games train it might scratch an itch.

[Extras: Commentary, documentary, music video, featurette]

Let’s Dance [KL Studio Classics]

What is it? A war widow goes to court with her dance partner by her side.

Why see it? Fred Astaire is always a delight, but one of two fun dance numbers aside, this is something of a slog trying to justify its nearly two-hour running time. Astaire plays a dancer trying to help his war widow partner from losing her child, and it’s just never all that compelling. Betty Hutton is fine as the widow and a solid dancer in her own right, but hinging the entire plot on her efforts just can’t provide enough oomph for the long haul.

[Extras: New remaster, commentary]

Madame Dubarry

What is it? A mid-level turn from a legendary filmmaker.

Why see it? Director Ernst Lubitsch was a master with numerous classics to his name including The Shop Around the Corner, Heaven Can Wait, Ninotchka, Trouble in Paradise, To Be or Not to Be, and more. He also made plenty of technically solid but less memorable films including this one. Pola Negri stars in the lead role and does great work alongside a fairly epic production, but while the scale and scope occasionally impress the film never quite grabs hold.

[Extras: Commentary]


What is it? A woman discovers frightening truths about her situation.

Why see it? We don’t get very many South African films crossing over the a US release, so that alone makes this psychologically shifty tale of gothic horror at least worth a watch. The expected tropes are there for a film about a young woman tasked with looking after a mysterious old man with a grim past, but the local details and atmosphere raise the stakes some with freshness and intriguing visuals. It does still drag at times, a bad sign in a film running under ninety minutes, but genre fans will likely find something to enjoy here.

[Extras: None]


What is it? She was Elvis’ wife!

Why see it? Sophia Coppola’s films are always worth a watch as she does good work crafting tales exploring the lives, both inside and out, of young women. Her latest tackles a famous woman, and much like her Marie Antoinette, it’s a biopic slightly more invested in the visuals, tone, and atmosphere than in actually getting its hands dirty with a deep psychological dive. Cailee Spaeny is quite good in the title role capturing the desire, wonder, and distant feelings the real woman endured, but I’m not entirely sold on Jacob Elordi. I know he’s caught everyone’s attention (due more to his height than talent I assume), but he never quite feels comfortable in the big man’s shoes.

[Extras: Featurettes]

The Shaolin Plot [Arrow Video]

What is it? A villain seeks to educate himself on becoming more villainous.

Why see it? Best known as the last film Sammo Hung choreographed fights for before taking the director’s chair for himself, this late 70s kung fu film is a solid enough entry in the genre. It’s definitely too long at nearly two-hours for the action/fun we get out of it, but after a dull second act things heat up considerably for the finale. Is it enough to save it? That’s unclear, but fans of the genre will appreciate the film’s restoration (Eureka beat Arrow to the punch in the UK) as it brings this underseen film back to life. The fights are occasionally quite good, and fans of fancy footwork should be especially pleased.

[Extras: 2K restoration, commentaries]

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny [Shout Select]

What is it? The boys meet and form the greatest rock band in history.

Why see it? Jack Black and Kyle Gass are a funny duo, and some of their songs are legitimately great fun, and if you’re fully on board with the duo then their film will probably be a delight from start to finish. Pull back a little, though, and the comedy is a bit more of a hit and miss affair with its sketch-like feel leaving some unfunny stretches between the laughs. For fans, though, this is a great release that’s packed with extras adding hours more to your enjoyment.

[Extras: Commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, home movies, shorts, music video]

Also out this week:

Columbia Classics Collection: Volume Four [4K UHD], Godard Cinema, Hypnotic, Man-Eater of Kumaon [KL Studio Classics]

#Greatest #Car #Chases #Kicks #Pick #Week

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