Release Radar – August 26th, 2022

Summer is coming to a close but it’s going out with a bang. There is a great mix of genres and subject matter and a ton of A-list star power across the board. Without further adieu, let’s dive right in!

Running With the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee (Netflix Aug. 24th)

Director: Charlie Russell | Star: John McAfee

This isn’t the first documentary about the enigmatic creator of McAfee anti-virus software John McAfee, and with the way things are going it probably won’t be the last either. From US government conspiracies to involvement with the MExican drug cartles, you can rest assured this will be entertaining. I liked the Gringo doc from 2016 so I would probably find this one interesting as well, especially with McAfee himself apparently at the center of it.

Three Thousand Years of Longing (Theaters)

Director: George Miller

Writers: George Miller & Augsta Gore (screenplay), A.S. Byatt (original short story)

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba, and Pia Thunderbolt

The word “genius” gets thrown around haphazardly a lot these days and it’s prominently featured in the advertising for George Miller’s fantasy genie adventure based on The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye that makes its much anticipated debut, but word of mouth has been less than stellar so far. That won’t stop me from seeing it, but it is a tad concerning. I like Miller’s work for the most part and I’m interested, but I don’t fawn over it either. The visual style looks incredible plus Swinton and Elba bring a lot of star power to the table and I have confidence in both of them.

*Alienoid (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick*

Written & Directed by: Dong-hoon Choi

Stars: Kim Eui-sung, Lee Hanee, Yoo Jae-myung

One of Korea’s biggest and most-expensive movies ever makes it’s way to the US market and it looks wild! There’s a holy time-sword from the past, aliens invading Earth in the present, and the two timelines are on a collision course! I don’t need to know anything else, I was sold on “time-sword”. I just recently caught the trailer for this one it looks as crazy as it sounds! My adolescent self would have been all over this one, so that’s why I am taking a chance and giving this one my Editor’s Pick this week.

Breaking (Theaters)

Director: Abi Damaris Corbin | Writers: Adi Damaris Corbin, Kwame Kwei-Armah

Starring: John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, and the late Michael Kenneth Williams

John Boyega has entered the Denzelification stage of his career as he stars in the sophomore feature film from Abi Damaris Corbin. A former Marine, wrought with mental and emotional conflict gets into a standoff with authorities after taking hostages at a bank. It’s being billed as a “modern Dog Day Afternoon” which is lofty comparison and only superficially accurate. That doesn’t mean this film can’t succeed on its own merit. This film also stars the late, great Michael K. Williams in one of his final performances. When done right, hostage films can be quite effective.

Funny Pages (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Owen Kline

Stars: Daniel Zolghardi, Matthew Maher, and Miles Emanuel

The trailer for this especially nerdy coming-of-age story about an aspiring cartoonist who wants to bypass college and go all-in on his dreams, enlisting the help of an eccentric “professional” to teach him the ways of the trade. Thi quirky NY indie marks the feature debut of writer/director Owen Kline and it’s bounced around a bit but found its way into A24’s hands now with the Safdie Brothers attached as producers, so I think that says something. This one looks to be pretty funny, dark, and unorthodox, landing right on the bubble for my Editor’s Pick.

Samaritan (Amazon)

Diretor: Julius Avery | Writer: Bragi F. Schut

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, and Pilou Asbæk

A reclusive superhero has gone into a soft retirement after he’s thought to have died 20-years earlier. However, a young boy witnesses his heroic nature and begins to peel away layers of the past 20-years. This is Julius Avery’s follow up to his sneaky good movie Overlord from 2018 so I am confident he can deliver a solid off-brand superhero story here. It reminds me of the gritty street presence of Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Archenemy and that’s fertile ground for these kinds of characters. Stallone has shown to be a skilled actor with the right character and this seems like a good fit. Plus, Pilou Asbæk usually excels as a viallin and he may be worth the watch all by himself.

The Invitation (Theaters)

Director: Jessica M. Thompson | Writers: Blair Butler, Jessica M. Thompson

Starring: Nathalie Emmanuel, Thomas Doherty, and Stephanie Corneliussen

The more I have seen the trailer for this movie, the more it looks like Ready or Not with a touch of Get Out, but with vampires instead of rich assholes. It just so happens that these vampires also appear to be rich assholes. That may by an over generalization for the story of a young woman who discovers her white European anscetry then gets swept up in the ritual induction of her into their bloodline. However, we already know she fights back and stakes some blood suckers because this is all this is given away the trailer, so I don’t know what’s left for the movie itself. My interest has wained but a Tuesday evening bargain might bring me back.

The Good Boss (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Fernando León de Aranoa

Starring: Javier Bardem, Manolo Solo, and Almudena Amor

When his company is in line for a potentially game changing award, the owner begins to trouble shoot any problems with his workers in time for the review. This doesn’t look like a particularly slapstick style approach from acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Fernando León de Aranoa, and reminds me more of Bad Education (which I like quite a bit). Javier Bardem is amazing and I haven’t really had the chance to see him do much comedy work, so I am especially curios.

Me Time (Netflix)

Written & Directed by: John Hamburg

Starring: Kevin Hart, Mark Wahlberg, and Regina Hall

If you are looking for slapstick comedy, Netflix may have you covered. Good cast, simple premise, seasoned comedy director at the helm…what more could you ask for from a Netflix original? This isn’t the first movie like this that the streaming giant has put out and it won’t be the last. Sure, it seems a little low brow with the humor but I did laugh at the trailer more than I probably should have. Kevin Hart appears to do his patented Kevin Hart thing, but it’s Mark Wahlberg’s completely ridiculous character that would be the sales pitch here.

What Else Is New…

Last Journey of Paul W.R. (+ VOD)

Director: Romain Quirot | Writers: Romain Quirot, Antoine Jaunin, Laurent Turner

Starring: Hugo Becker, Jean Reno, and Paul Hamy

I am having a tough time figuring out what to make of this one. It’s been in the can for a couple of years and maybe the strange title has something to do with that. This French language films has some fo the stylistic hallmarks of other films I have liked such as Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element and, more recently, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Big Bug. I love that there’s no hesitation to approach filmmaking with big, bold colors, and vibrant costumes. This is another one of those movies that I would have been super excited about in high school, so I am definitely curious to check it out. It could be disastrously bad, or it could be a diamond in the rough. Either way, it’s visual aesthetic is worth it for me.

Out of the Blue (Theaters)

Written & Directed by: Nail LaBute

Starring: Diane Kruger, Chase Sui Wonders, Hank Azaria

As much as I like Diane Kruger and Hank Azaria, I don’t see anything new or unique about this. If the character writing is solid enough, we might get some really strong performances from them but, even if we do, does that bring anything new to the equation. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but I feel like I have seen this story before multiple times.

Maneater (+ VOD)

Written & Directed by: Justin Lee

Starring: Nicky Whelan, Trace Adkins, and Shane West

Speaking of redundant and derivative, yet another in a long of shark bait films hits shores this weekend. I am always baffled that these movies keep getting maid, but maybe you’ll take comfort in Country Superstar Trace Adkins having a starring role in this one. These movies must be incredibly cheap to make, but the problem is that shows up on screen. Bad CGI sharks don’t really do much for horror and a film like this that appears to take itself seriously as a horror film is missing the point. Enter at your own risk. I’m not going back in the water with this one.

Rogue One (Re-release IMAX Only)

Director: Gareth Edwards | Writers: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll (story)

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, and Alan Tudyk

Back for a limited time in IMAX, the best entry into the Star Wars franchise since the 80s looks to rekindle the flames of the rebellion, probably in an effort to drum up interest and bring attention to the new Andor series that is due to drop on Disney+ in September. Gareth Edwards’ grittier, in-the-trenches approach to the Empire-vs-Rebellion conflict was something we hadn’t seen on screen before and was important because it addressed the regular, everyday people that were involved, not just the Jedi and their periphery. See it one more time on the big screen, in glorious IMAX.

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