Release Radar – April 22nd, 2022

Before we get into a release week that is full of goodies, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has ever taken the time to read this little blog over the past five years. It was just a hobby, where I could share my love for film with anyone who might be interested but it has grown by more than 900% since the first year! That’s so much more than I ever could have anticipated and 2021 was a massive leap forward. We just recently exceeded 1,000 subscribers too! So, from the bottom of my heart, sincerely, thank you. You keep me motivated and to keep doing something I love. Now, let’s get to the movies!

The Northman (Theaters)

Writers: Sjón ad Robert Eggers | Director: Robert Eggers

Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ehan Hawke, and Anya Taylor-Joy

Robert Eggers is a unique visual storyteller and his third feature film follows a young Viking prince’s quest fro vengeance against the rival that killed his father. This is a significant bump in visibility for Eggers and I don’t intend that as an insult. His two previous films, The Witch and The Lighthouse, were both critically acclaimed and financially successful, but were also both arthouse films aimed at fairly narrow audiences. That changes with The Northman and I am happy for Eggers to get the push. With The Lighthouse being so particularly strange, I’m very curious to see how much of that spills over in this new film. The cast is absolutely stacked and I’m excited to see Alexander Skarsgård to role that capitalizes on the kind of intensity we have seen from him in the past. It would be my Editor’s Pick if not for the next film on the list.

*The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick*

Writers: Tom Gromican & Kevin Etten | Director: Tom Gormican

Starring: Nicolas Cage (and that’s all you need to know, but also), Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Horgan, and Neil Patrick Harris.

If you are regular reader of mine, you’ll know that I have an abundance of love for Nicolas Cage and named him as my Comeback Performer of the Year for 2021. Despite being out of the mainstream, Cage has continued to take on challenging and interesting roles and doing great work in the process. He also signed on to do a lot of films that weren’t so great and I firmly stood by the idea that Cage was never the reason any of those films were bad. However, no matter how you slice it, he has had an eccentric career and that’s basically how the idea for this movie came together. The former Oscar-winner plays a caricatured version of himself with all the speculative baggage that comes with it. I had read that he was hesitant to take the role at first, but after reading the screenplay from Tom Gromican and Kevin Etten, he came around. That tells me that those two have a deep love of Cage as a performer and as a personality. That’s why this one gets my Editor’s Pick this week and why I am going to see it during Thursday previews.

The Survivor (HBO Max)

Writer: Justine Juel Gillmer | Director: Barry Levinson

Starring: Ben Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, and John Leguizamo

Based on the true story of Harry Haft who survived Auschwitz by being forced to fight other prisoners and escapes to New York where he uses his in-ring skill to make a name for himself in an attempt to find a lost love. Barry Levinson has had his hands in all kinds of interesing projects over the course of his extensive career and this is no exception. Justine Juel Gillmer has done a lot of writing for TV that I have never watched so it will be curious to see how the narrative for this first feature is handled. Fortunately, you have one of the industry’s most underrated performers, Ben Foster, as the lead. He gives so much to his characters (you can physically see it in the concentration camp scenes) and this is a very complex person I’m excited to see him sink his teeth into. Plus you’ve got John Leguizamo and Peter Sarsgaard in supporting roles, so there is substantial talent in key spots. With this one going to HBO Max it widens the door in terms of accessibility.

Polar Bear (Disney+)

Writer: David Fowler | Directors: Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson

Starring: Catherine Keener (voice narration)

Underneath my proclivity for the R-rated offerings that push the envelope, there’s a softer side of me that loves nature documentaries about animals. I am endlessly fascinated by wildlife and could watch National Geographic non-stop. I even went to see one of Disney’s other nature series docs, Chimpanzee, in theaters back in 2012. I also have an irrational fear of bears but the little cubs are so damn cute I can’t help but be curious. Thankfully this one is going straight to Disney+ so I can enjoy it from home and I may just get lost binge watching the entire Disneynature catalog.

The Duke (Theaters)

Writers: Richard Bean, and Clive Coleman | Director: Roger Michell

Starring: Jim Broadbent, and Helen Mirren

Based on the true story of Kempton Bunton who stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington and held it hostage for an unusual ransom back in 1961. This looks like a rather enjoyable caper movie that’s more about the heart of the characters than it is about the crime. Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren are both incredible actors and Ocsar winners, so I know they will handle this story well. At a glance, I wasn’t interested but the trailer got me to change my tune.

Petite Maman (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Céline Sciamma

Starring: Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, and Nina Meurisse

The lastest from acclaimed filmmaker Céline Sciamma follows a little girl whose mother goes missing while cleaning out her grandmother’s house. In her mom’s absence, the little girl ventures into the woods and meets another little girl just like her. Like, just like her. The inference is that this other girl is a younger version of her mother, so this one has some sci-fi vibes although it falls into the fantasy category. Consider me intrigued by Sciamma’s follow-up to Portrait of a Lady on Fire which I thought was excellent. It’s only an 72-minutes, which is exceedingly short by today’s standards, but I am very curious about how that time gets used. Most people won’t see this one but it does have a 92 score from Metacritic, so consider it if you are into foreign indies.

Hit the Road (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Panah Panahi

Starring: Pantea Panahiha, Hasan Majuni, and Rayan Sarlak

The directorial debut of Panah Panahi follows a family on a road trip that’s got an element of secrecy to it. I would guess that the real reason for the road trip has some deeper impact at the end, but the journey seems to be where the heart is. I’m sure most people have been in a long car ride either with kids or as one yourself, so there’s something universal there. I wasn’t expecting to want to see it, but the trailer was effective at reeling me in. I highly doubt this Iranian film will be widely available in theaters, so it may be one that waiting for digital distribution is the better option.

Marvelous and the Black Hole (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Kate Tsang

Starring: Miya Cech, Rhea Perlman, and Leonardo Lam

In another directorial debut, Kate Tseng bursts onto the scene with a sort-of-coming-of-age-story about a troubled young woman who gets taken under the wing of a grumpy old magician. Through their friendship and through magic, this young woman learns to deal with her family and her own personal problems. This is another one I wasn’t expecting to be interested in but the trailer got me. Most accounts have praised Miya Cech’s performance in the lead and who doesn’t enjoy Rhea Perlman.

What Else Is New…

The Bad Guys (Theaters)

Writers: Etan Cohen (screenplay), Aaron Blabey (books), Yoni Brenner and Hilary Winston (additional material)

Director: Pierre Perifel

Starring (voices): Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, and Craig Robinson

I have seen the trailer for this film many times now, and I get less interested every time I see it. Dreamworks does great work with their animated films, but I am just not into this. Pierre Perifel has worked on the animation end of several animated movies I like, but this is his first time in the Director’s chair for a feature. I like the cast and if this were a live-action, R-rated comedy about a gang of criminals trying to go straight, I’d be all for it. If you have kids that have already seen Sonic 2 then this is likely a good choice, but I can wait or pass on it altogether.

Thanks for reading! I still believe word of mouth is the best way to help, so if you enjoy what I’m doing, please tell somebody. And if you have a comment, I’d love to hear it! Liking, subscribing, and sharing go a long way too. As usual, be well, be safe, and have fun no matter how you get your movies!