Release Radar – April 7th, 2023

Every time I think that I’ve got some work in the rearview, I am reminded that each release weekend has at least two dozen films that I need to preview and sort by preferred watchability. This week is no different and there are more big-name titles on deck this week than I can remember off the top of my head in any other release weekend this year. So, let’s get started.

New In Theaters

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (April 5th +IMAX)

Director(s): Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic, Pierre Leduc | Writer(s): Matthew Fogel

Stars (voices): Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day

I was never super interested in this one, but it certainly looks the part. I hope it grosses all the money, just to take some egos down a peg. Beyond Chris Pratt getting this role based solely on star power, I find the irony hilarious that Seth Rogen (who plays Donkey Kong) felt the need to shit all over the original 1993 Super Mario Bros. when Rogen himself made one of the worst movies I have ever seen just a few years ago in American Pickle. Trying to take down a movie that paved the way for video game movies to be made just to promote your own project that wouldn’t exist without that foundation is an incredibly unbecoming assholish thing to do and a weird hill to die on. I would hope that this new animated film is the better of the two, given the advances in technology over the last 30 years but I’ll take Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo over Rogen any day.

Air: Courting a Legend (Wed. April 5th)

Director(s): Ben Affleck | Writer(s): Alex Convery

Stars: Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck

It seems like it’s a little more than weird to make a movie about the “Air Jordan” shoe but make it all about the company and not about Michael Jordan. It could be a rights issue but I trust that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon will make a good film.


Written & Directed by: Brit McAdams

Stars: Owen Wilson, Elisabeth Henry, Paul Kosopod

I had the benefit of checking this one out at one of the Regal Mystery Movie nights and I really had a great time with it. I am kinda surprised to see the critics dragging this one so badly, but the audience reviews are much better. The role is a perfect fit for Wilson’s s brand of humor and I liked how even though he is the lead, he’s basically an ass who has been coasting for years and finally has to deal with being replaceable. Maybe it handles its subtextual messaging about white men abusing their power a bit lightly but at the end of the day, it is a comedy about a public-access TV painter. Michaela Watkins is great in this as well.

Limited Release

Fist of the Condor (Fathom Event – Tues. April 4th Only)

Written & Directed by: Ernesto Díaz Espinoza

Stars: Marko Zaror, Eyal Meyer, Gina Aguad

I think was a one-day-only thing, but this is exactly the kind of movie that I grew up with and so I wanted to shout it out and make folks aware of it. I am used to martial arts films from around the world, but I don’t know that I have seen one from Chile, so I am really curious to see what nuances that brings to the genre.

Showing Up

Director(s): Kelly Reichart | Writer(s): Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichart

Stars: Michelle Williams, Hong Chau, André 3000

I really wanted to check out Kelly Reichart’s last film First Cow but I didn’t get a chance and I see that John Magaro is in this new one too, so I’ve got some catching up to do. I am also interested to see more of Hong Chau after a really strong 2022, so I like how things are stacking up for this one.

How To Blow Up a Pipeline

Director(s): Daniel Goldhaber | Writer(s): Ariela Barer, Jordan Sjol, Daniel Goldhaber

Stars: Ariela Barer, Kristine Froseth, Lukas Gage

I feel like I saw the first trailer for this a really long time ago, but now it’s finally here in limited release. The trailer is very intense and I can already see some of the moral and ethical implications of a story like this, so I am curious to see how the film handles its characters, their motivations, and the justifications for their actions.

Ride On

Written & Directed by: Larry Yang

Stars: Jackie Chan, Haocun Liu, Kevin Guo

Jackie Chan training a horse to do Kung Fu is the kind of movie I didn’t know I needed until just now. I am always interested to see what Jackie is doing and I love stories with horse characters. It may be hard to find, but damn it I am going to try!

One True Loves

Director(s): Andy Fickman | Writer(s): Taylor Jenkins Reid, Alex J. Reid

Stars: Phillipa Soo, Luke Bracey, Simu Liu

This wouldn’t be at the top of my list but, as far as rom-coms go, this one has an interesting twist.


Director(s): Andrew Balek, Joe Bland | Writer(s): Joe Bland, Cyrus Cheek

Stars: Daniel Roebuck, Sean Kanan, Louise Barnes

I do love me some sci-fi, but I also know my limits. Even the description for this one doesn’t line up with the trailer I just watched. It does have some cool poster art but I can’t get over the use of CGI in the trailer. It’s one thing to be low-budget, it’s another thing to show that without restraint. I will pass on this one for now.

You’re Killing Me

Director(s): Beth Hanna, Jerren Lauder | Writer(s): Walker Hare, Brad Martocello

Stars: McKaley Miller, Brice Anthony Heller, Anne Heche, Dermot Mulroney

I am digging the vibe of this one quite a bit. A high school murder mystery and it has some familiar elements of other stories that I can’t exactly place, but I can buy into what Dermot Mulroney and Anne Heche are selling.


Written by: Cristian Mungiu

Stars: Marin George, Judith State, Macrina Barladeanu

This one is tough to explain from the trailer but it looks interesting. The IMDB description says, “A non-judgmental analysis of the driving forces of human behavior when confronted with the unknown, of the way we perceive the other and on how we relate to an unsettling future.” Hopefully that helps.

La Usurpadora, The Musical

Director(s): Santiago Limón

Writer(s): Eduardo CIsneros, Marua Hinojos, Santiago Limón

Stars: Isabella Castillo, Alan Estrada, Cecilia Toussaint

I am not at all the target demographic for this because I have no idea what the original series is, but it does look like it wants to have fun with itself.


Writer & Directed by: Laurynas Bareisa

Stars: Gabija Bargailaite, Giedrius Kiela, Indre Patkauskaite

No need to sugarcoat anything, this is a terrible trailer. I feel like I know even less about this movie now than I did before. I would have to hope the film itself is better, but I’ve got nothing to go off of.

El Houb

Director(s): Shariff Nasr | Writer(s): Philip Delmaar, Shariff Nasr, Fahd Larhzaoui

Stars: Fahd Larhzaoui, Lubna Azabal, Slimane Dazi

A gay man returns to his home in Morocco and comes out to his family, but he isn’t exactly met with warmth and understanding. Some uncomfortable conversations are worth having.


Director(s): Saim Sadiq | Writer(s): Saim Sadiq, Maggie Brigs

Stars: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan

This was Pakistan’s entry to the Best International Feature category at the Academy Awards and it won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year and director Saim Sadiq won the Queer Palm. So, it’s coming from a very esteemed place. The trailer doesn’t do much for this story, but it’s about a young man who works as a backup dancer in a burlesque show and falls for a trans woman who is also a performer in the show. It’s nice to see these kinds of stories getting told from other cultures now as well.

Streaming & Digital

Hunt Club (VOD/Digital April 4th)

Director(s): Elizabeth Blake-Thomas | Writer(s): David Lipper, John Saunders

Stars: Mena Suvari, Casper Van Dien, Will Peltz, Mickey Rourke

Super toxic masculinity explodes as a group of men lures women to their island with promises of money, but really just want to hunt them. However, they picked the wrong girl this time, and shit is about to hit the fan. It might be a little on the nose, but it could be good if it’s done right.

Adam & The Water (VOD/Digital April 4th)

Written & Directed by: Matthew Appleby

Stars: Qado, Elisa Alemparte, Laine Korn

Adam is living a life that he doesn’t care for. Plagued by anxiety and loneliness, that’s until he meets Eva. The biblical references are pretty apparent but, in this case, all the things that Eva shows him open up the possibilities of a new reality. This is the feature debut for Matthew Appleby as a writer and director and I generally gravitate toward those types of endeavors. Plus, I am a sucker for posters that use neon pink.

Juniper (VOD/Digital April 4th)

Written & Directed by: Matthew J. Saville

Stars: Charlotte Rampling, Marton Csokas, George Ferrier

I already previewed this one during its limited release, but it’s out now for digital rental if you are interested.

Colorblind (VOD/Digital April 4th)

Director(s): Mostafa Keshvari | Writer(s): Selina Williams, Mostafa Keshvari

Stars: Chantel Riley, Mike Dopud, Garry Chalk

I can see why this one is a straight-to-digital release. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be bad, but it seems to hit a lot of the cliche tentpole elements and the title itself is a not-so-subtle double entendre.

On A Wing and a Prayer (Prime Video April 5th)

Director(s): Sean McNamara | Writer(s): Brian Egeston

Stars: Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham, Jesse Metcalfe

The thought of your pilot dying mid-flight and having to find a way to land the plane yourself seems like a pretty harrowing experience. It’s also based on a true story, but something about the vibe of the trailer feels a bit weird.

Chupa (Netflix)

Director(s): Jonás Cuarón

Writer(s): Joe Barnathan, Brendan Bellomo, Sean Kennedy Moore

Stars: Christian Slater, Evan Whitten, Ashley Ciarra

Okay, I wasn’t expecting to but I think this one looks really cute. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the Cuarón family and I sorta wish I could see this one through my childhood eyes.

Oh Belinda (Netflix)

Director(s): Deniz Yorulmazer | Writer(s): Hakan Bonomo

Stars: Neslihan Atagül, Serkan Çayoglu, Necip Memili

An actress modeling for a shampoo commercial gets trapped inside the commercial. That sounds like my kind of story alright. It sounds terrifying but it looks like the tone is decidedly lighter than that. I’m still curious though.

Gangs of Lagos (Amazon Prime Video)

Director(s): Jadesola Osiberu | Writer(s): Kay I. Jegede, Jadesola Osiberu

Stars: Tobi Bakre, Demi Banwo, Adesua Etomi-Wellington

This one is definitely speaking my language. Maybe some City of God energy set in Lagos and I can watch it without leaving the house. Sign me up.

Praise This (Peacock)

Director(s): Tina Gordon

Writer(s): Tina Gordon, Brandon Broussard, Hudson Obaywana

Stars: Chloe Bailey, Anjelika Washington, Quavo

So this is Pitch Perfect mixed with hip-hop influences and Southern gospel, so I can get behind that and it doesn’t appear to be preachy about the church stuff either.

One Day as a Lion (VOD/Digital)

Director(s): John Swab | Writer(s): Scott Caan

Stars: Scott Caan, J.K. Simmons, Frank Grillo, Virginia Madsen

I’m all for J.K. Simmons in whatever he does and it’s cool that Scott Caan wrote this and plays the lead as well. This is one I can get behind renting on digital.

Balloon Animal (VOD/Digital)

Written & Directed by: Em Johnson

Stars: Katherine Waddell, Ilia Volok, Michael David Wilson

This is the kind of indie cinema that gets my gears turning. A young lady who works for the circus ventures out into the world and finds that there’s a lot more to life than she has been allowed to experience. Sounds like a good slice of Americana.

Living With Chucky (VOD/Digital)

Written & Directed by: Kyra Elise Gardner

Stars: Lin Shaye, Marlon Wayans, Brad Dourif

If you love horror movies, you know Chucky and you might know the character even if you aren’t a horror fan. While this is certainly about that character, it’s really about the community behind the scenes that brought him to life and the community of moviegoers around the world that bonded over the Child’s Play films. A very cool addition to Screambox.

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