Release Radar – April 14th, 2023

I am still under the weather so I fell way behind on all the releases from last weekend, and I am going to be even further behind. The one positive is that I did get to see a couple of movies in early previews, so that’ll help a tad, but there’s a lot I want to check out.

New In Theaters

Mafia Mamma

Director(s): Catherine Hardwicke

Writer(s): Amanda Sthers, J. Michael Feldman, Debbie Jhoon

Stars: Toni Collette, Monica Bellucci, Sophia Nomvete

I was not interested in the idea of this movie when I first saw the trailer a while back. Not even a little. I mean, I like Toni Collette and Monica Bellucci, but I felt like the mafia comedy was a very precarious notion. However, I got to check this one out at one of the Regal Mystery Movie Mondays last week and director Catherine Hardwicke and the writers walked that fine line with confidence and it worked really well. Collette and Bellucci are both strong performers and it’s genuinely funny and handles the mafia elements with the right kind of humor, even though I think it may not sit well with hardcore gangster film lovers. I had a lot more enjoyable time than I expected. I’m glad it was rated R because that’s the only way it works. Don’t let the stupid Rotten Tomatoes score dissuade you.

The Pope’s Exorcist

Director(s): Julius Avery

Writer(s): Michael Petroni, Evan Spiliotopoulos, R. Dean McCreary

Stars: Russell Crowe, Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe

When you need an exorcist but what you get is a Gladiator. That’s the general idea circling in my head when I think about Russell Crowe as the Pope’s special agent in charge of exorcisms. It doesn’t exactly sound like the greatest story, but I am always intrigued by horror movies that involve demons and possession.

*Renfield – Editor’s Pick*

Director(s): Chris McKay | Writer(s): Ryan Ridley, Robert Kirkman

Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Nicolas Cage, Awkwafina

If you know me even a little bit, you know that I have had this one circled ever since I heard Nicolas Cage was playing Dracula. Nicholas Hoult is an underrated actor in his own right too and that’s all I need. This is clearly more comedy than horror, but it doesn’t hold back on the gore either. There are some other titles coming out this week that I find very interesting too, but I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t give this one my Editor’s Pick.


Written & Directed by: Martin Guigui

Stars: Everett Osborne, Jeremy Piven, Cary Elwes

Three years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton did the same in the National Basketball Association in 1950. I don’t know what to make of this one because it looks kind of, for lack of a better word, cheap. I think the story is interesting and definitely worth my time, but I think I can wait until it’s available for me to watch at home.

Limited Release

Sick of Myself (April 12th)

Written & Directed by: Kristoffer Borgli

Stars: Kristine Kujath Thorp, Eirik Sæther, Fanny Vaager

Wow! This one immediately caught my attention because I love dark comedy and this one is very dark. The lengths some people will go to to be the center of attention are put under the spotlight in this scathing satire and I am here for it! Definitely could have been my Editor’s Pick on a different week.


Written & Directed by: Makoto Shinkai

Stars (voices): Nanoka Hara, Hokuto Matsumura, Eri Fukatsu

I have no idea what is going on in this trailer but I do like the song and I tend to like anime when I give it a chance, even when I have no idea what I am getting into.

Beau is Afraid (IMAX Only)

Written & Directed by: Ari Aster

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey, Amy Ryan

This isn’t the real release date for this film but it’s getting an IMAX only release a week early. That’s pretty cool. I like Ari Aster and I will watch Joaquin Phoenix do anything, so this is a good formula for a movie that I should love. I’ll save my other thoughts for next week.

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Theaters)

Director(s): Pierre Földes

Writer(s): Pierre Földes, Haruki Murakami (short stories)

Stars (voices): Amaury de Crayncour, Mathilde Auneveux, Arnaud Maillard

This project is speaking my language as it is the feature debut of writer/director Pierre Földes and he’s adapting the short stories of one of Japan’s most influential writers in Haruki Murakami. I really love the animation style as well, so I am very much interested.

Once Upon a Time in Ukraine

Written & Directed by: Roman Perfilyev

Stars: Roman Lutskyi, Sergey Strelnikov, Kateryna Slyusar

There is a lot going on here! I see elements of Westerns, I think there’s an orthodox Jewish ninja and Ukrainian samurai. How all of that is connected, I won’t know until lI see it but it looks like a good bit of fun and it’s nice to see it finally get a release after being completed in 2020.

Wild Life

Director(s): Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Stars: Kristine Tompkins, Yvon Chouinard, Rick Ridgeway

The Oscar-winning filmmaking team that brought us Free Solo is back. What started as the dream of an ambitious couple, became the mission of one woman in the wake of her lover’s death. I am prepared to be moved ideologically and emotionally by this one.


Written & Directed by: Al Warren

Stars: Al Warren, Angela Trimbur, Dyaln Redford

I couldn’t find an IMDB entry for this one and that’s sad because the indie spirit is alive and well in this movie that was shot over 5 years. It is also the debut for writer/director Al Warren who also stars in the film that looks to thrive in subtle absurdity. This would have been a contender for my Editor’s Pick too.

The Lost Weekend: A Love Story

Director(s): Eve Brandstein, Richard Kaufman, Stuart Samuels

Stars: May Pang, John Lennon, Julian Lennon

If you love the Beatles or John Lennon, this is going to be a must-see. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan, you know most of the names involved but probably don’t know the depths of this particular love story. The use reviews are overwhelmingly positive right now and when I caught the trailer for the first time a few weeks back, I was certainly hooked.


Director(s): Sophie Galibert

Writer(s): Arthur Cohen, Sophia Galibert, Anne-Claire Jaulin

Stars: Hannah Alline, Angela Nicholas, Alex Trewhitt

Up against the clock, a young woman must decide if she is going to keep an unplanned pregnancy or not. I believe this is Sophie Galibert’s feature directorial debut, and it has that indie vibe I love. It’s also a poignant story at this time in history. There are a staggering number of films titled “Cherry” so make sure you check the listing for the 2022 film.

One of These Days

Written & Directed by: Bastian Günther

Stars: Joe Cole, Carrie Preston, Callie Hernandez

Another 2020 film that is just seeing its distribution is Bastian Günther’s small-town Texas drama. I’m sure most people have seen or heard of contests put on by radio stations and whatnot where you can win a car by finishing first in an endurance contest. I like how Günther used something tangible like a pickup truck as this symbol of life-changing value but gatekeeps that behind this metaphor of perseverance. I am looking forward to this one.

Back on the Strip

Director(s): Chris Spencer | Writer(s): Eric Daniel, Chris Spencer

Stars: Wesley Snipes, Tiffany Haddish, Colleen Camp

Wesley Snipes is back and leading the way here in a pretty blatant Magic Mike rip-off but I’ll allow it because Wesley is great and I’m on board with whatever it takes to get him in more comedic and dramatic roles.

De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Director(s): Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel

A fascinating and artistic exploration of the human body told through five hospitals in Paris. There is no cast or writers, so it’s tough to say what is going to connect the dots between the exploratory footage, but I don’t know if I have ever seen anything like this. In its vaguery, we might actually get an intriguing expression of how medical technology and human physiology interact int he hands of doctors.

Hilma (Theaters + VOD)

Written & Directed by: Lasse Hallström

Stars: Tora Hallström, Catherine Chalk, Lily Cole

I don’t know much about Hilma af Klint and her contributions to the world of abstract art. This film may not dive into her contributions necessarily, but it will hopefully frame the context for her artistic expression.

Rare Objects (Theaters + VOD)

Director(s): Katie Holmes | Writer(s): Katie Holmes, Phaedon A. Papadopoulos, Kathleen Tessaro

Stars: Katie Holmes, Derek Luke, Saundra Santiago

This is Katie Holmes’ sophomore feature film after 2016’s All We Had and it will be her second feature script after Alone Together which came out last year. This trailer certainly sells the drama and the pain, but it doesn’t give any insight as to the why of it all and that’s concerning. I like the cast though, so I’d probably check it out under the right circumstances.

Sakra (Theaters + VOD)

Director(s): Ka-Wai Kam, Donnie Yen | Writer(s): He Ben, Louis Cha, Chen Li

Stars: Donnie Yen, Yuqi Chen, Eddie Chung

Fresh off his roaring success in John Wick: Chapter 4, Donnie Yen goes back to his roots for a martial arts period epic and he’s directing too. It looks like there is some magic involved to and that should be fun. I grew up watching a lot of this kind of stuff in my teenage years and loving it, but I kind of grew apart from it as I’ve gotten older. I do like Yen and was a fan of Ip Man so I will check this one out if I can.

Streaming & Digital

Cube (Shudder)

Director(s): Yasuhiko Shimizu | Writer(s): Vincenzo Natali, Kôji Tokuo

Stars: Masaki Okada, Takumi Saitoh, Masaki Suda

This is a remake, or maybe it’s a sequel, or maybe a re-quel, Yasuhiko Shimizu brings Vincenzo Natali’s film to Japan. Japanese horror is usually pretty good, so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s a shot-for-shot, puzzle-for-puzzle kind of deal or if Tokuo and Shimizu have something else in store. I like Natali’s 1997 film and I love Shudder, so I may go ahead and scope this one if I can’t make it to the theaters this weekend.

Personality Crisis: One Night Only (Showtime)

Director(s): Martin Scorsese, David Tedeschi | Writer(s): David Tedeschi

Stars: David Johansen

The last few years have been a renaissance of music documentaries in the best way. Not only does it scratch an itch for longtime fans, but it lays some important contextual foundation for why new potential new listeners may want to check this stuff out. Plus, we are seeing more and more mainstream filmmakers pursuing this avenue and we’ve got Martin Scorsese co-directing with David Tedeschi on this one. This is a big W for Showtime, especially with HBO dropping the ball and the “HBO”.

Black Bags (VOD)

Director(s): Josh Brandon | Writer(s): Angela Bourassa, Adam Pachter

Stars: Laura Vandervoort, Olesya Rulin, Ryan Francis

This story seems to have potential but it is also bound to the kind of silly idea that this whole thing transpires because of a luggage mixup. If it were a comedy, that makes sense tonally but we are supposed to take this seriously. I will reserve judgment until I see it, but I don’t have high hopes.

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