Release Radar – April 15th, 2022

With this release weekend starting on Good Friday and ending on Easter Sunday, it’s a fairly slow opening at the box office. The latest installment in the Hary Potter cinematic universe hits screens and gets a wide berth as it will likely have a pretty substantial crossover between audience demographics. There are also a handful of artsy, indies and a surprising amount of horror releases for this time of the year. If you are looking for counterprogramming, it’s there.

Father Stu (Theaters – April 13th)

Written & Directed by: Rosalind Ross

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, and Jacki Weaver

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the true story of boxer-turned-Preist, Father Stuart Long was released heading into the Easter weekend. This looks like an interesting role for Mark Wahlberg as he gets to play the sort of aloof but charming characters that have served him well in the past, but he also gets to have an on-screen transformation. Mel Gibson is also apparently back like he never left, and I don’t know how to feel about that just yet. However, his partner of 8-years and the mother of their son, Rosalind Ross, wrote and directed this film, so at least that explains it. This is her first produced feature screenplay and her directorial debut, so there isn’t much for me to go on aside from the aforementioned. Wahlberg is usually pretty reliable but the Wednesday release is surely intended to create some breathing room.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (Theaters)

Writers: Steve Kloves (screenplay) & J.K. Rowling (screenplay & novel)

Director: David Yates

Starring: Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, and Eddie Redmayne

I am not a Harry Potter superfan, so I haven’t even seen the first two films in this particular trilogy but the the inclusion of Mads Mikkelsen piqued my interest. I trust Jude Law as Dumbledore but I’m even more curious since Mikkelsen is replacing a very different looking version of the character previously played by Johnny Depp. Fortunately, even with a curveball like that, David Yates may know this world as well as J.K. Rowling as this marks the seventh big-screen adaptation of the series that he’s directed. Rowling is in on the script with Steve Kloves so I don’t see any reason that this one would stray too far from all the things that everyone loves about these stories. This is by far the biggest release of the weekend, and even though I am not up to speed, I still got my tickets already.

*Dual (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick*

Written & Directed by: Riley Stearns

Starring: Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, and Beulah Koale

Sort of in the same vein as Swan Song, a terminal patient undergoes a cloning procedure. However, she begins to recover and wants to have her clone withdrawn from service but the law dictates that the two must duel to the death. Thus the double entendre in the title. It may not sound that funny on the surface, but this is another in a line of increasingly dark comedies from Riley Stearns (The Art of Self Defense and Faults). I like to see the envelope get pushed and am excited to see Karen Gillan playing both sides of the same coin. This could also be a great role for Aaron Paul as the tone plays into strengths we have seen from him in the past. This one checks a lot of boxes for my personal taste, which is why it gets my Editor’s Pick this week. You may have to go out of your way a bit to find it, but it’ll be worth it.

Paris, 13th District (Theaters + VOD)

Writers: Jacques Audiard, Nicolas Livecchi, Léa Mysius, Céline Sciamma, Adrian Tomine (short stories)

Director: Jacques Audiard

Starring: Lucie Zhang, Makita Samba, Noémie Merlant

Jacques Audiard has quite the impressive resume and I really loved his most recent film, the 2018 frontier western The Sisters Brothers. In his latest effort, we step into the lives of four people who are going through their lives as friends/lovers in the titular neighborhood. Noémie Merlant is the only actress who I have seen before, and she’s the only one of the main cast who even has a headshot on IMDB, so there’s not much to go on cast-wise, but the black-and-white highlights the shot selection and gives the film an added layer of intimacy. Since its based on a series of short stories by Adrian Tomine, capturing that narrative spirit on film will be interesting to see.

The Tale of King Crab (Theaters)

Screenplay and Story by: Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis | Story: Tommaso Bertani and Carlo Lavagna

Directors: Alessio Rigo de Righi and Mateo Zoppis

Starring: Gabriele Silli, Maria Alexandra Lungu, and Ercole Colnago

This one is tough to explain but looks a bit like an Italian Wes Anderson film. The town drunk, Luciano, feuds with the Prince of his region and is exiled after he starts a ill-advised fire. Luciano is then banished to the barren lands of Tierra del Fuego where he searches for a mythical treasure. It’s sound quite a bit like The Count of Monte Cristo. However, Luciano is supposedly guided to the treasure by a special king crab but the treasure hunters he’s working with may not have the patience to indugle him. It will have a fairly limited released, but if you want something outside the mainstream, this is a good choice.

What Else is New…

(I am going to include all the trailers, each week, moving forward)

The Cellar (Theaters + Shudder)

Written & Directed by: Brendan Muldowney

Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Eoin Macken, and Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady

If you are new to the site, welcome! If you’ve been here before you will know that I love Shudder. They have a great catalog of old horror films and a burgeoning library of originals, but this week we talk about the latter. A family moves into a creepy new house with what appears to be an interdimensional portal in the basement. Okay, I’m listening. For Brendan Muldowney, this is an interesting follow-up to his 2017 Pilgrimage that starred Richard Armitage, Tom Holland, and Jon Bernthal. I haven’t seen Elisha Cuthbert in a while but she gets the lead role here playing the mother of a girl who disappears inside the house. These kinds of roles typically offer the actor good opportunity to make the film theirs and that may in fact be the case, but the trailer sort of fizzled for me when she essentially goads her daughter, who is very clearly terrified, into going down to the creepy cellar in the first place. There has to be some more context to the “why” of it all because it’s going to be hard to sympathize with that kind of parent. I’ll find out, late at night, from the comfort my couch.

Choose or Die (Netflix)

Writers: Simon Allen, Toby Meaking, and Matthew James Wilkinson

Director: Toby Meakins

Starring: Iola Evans, Asa Butterfield, and Robert Englund

A couple of students fire up an 80s computer game in search of an unclaimed $100K prize. Things get real in a hurry when the game unleashes a curse that bends reality. Toby Meakins directorail debut looks basically like Saw meets Jumanji. There is some wiggle room to make that work and the trailer looked pretty decent to start, but lost some steam down the stretch. I couldn’t really identify what the tone was supposed to be and it looked more gimmicky than scary, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. It’s another good late-night option for the couch.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Jane Schoenbrun

Starring: Anna Cobb, Holly Anne Frink, Michael J Rogers

For whatever reason, it’s this Easter is horror season and We’re All Going to the World’s Fair closes out the week, bringing the creepypasta genre back to the big screen. This is the feature debut for Jane Schoenbrun who had previously directed the documentary A Self-Induced Hallucination which also tackled the craze of communal behaviors across the internet. In this new film, we meet a teenager who volunteers to play in an internet horror-RPG. Are things actually changing, or is it all in her head? Either way, she documents it all for for her audience. These kinds of films, told through computer interfaces, aren’t new but this one examines the weird phenomenon of that particular sect of the internet and a more general sense of both the loneliness and isolation associated with it. This is going to be in very limited release but had a strong festival presence, so if you like horror, make sure to look for it.

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