It is the first release weekend of 2024. That means it’s time for a new Release Radar. Happy New Year! Last year, I started using an additional new source to help me gather up all the new titles coming out because a lot of stuff was falling through the cracks. However, that source was/is frequently inaccurate and included new TV show launches without always explicitly listing them as such. So, I’ve added another new resource into the fold but that one comes with its own issues. It’s only week one, and I realize some of these titles are retreads from a couple of weeks ago. So, I will adjust along the way. Let’s get to it, shall we?
New In Theaters
Director(s): Bryce McGuire | Writer(s): Bryce McGuire, Rod Blackhurst
Stars: Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle
January horror has become a fun new little niche in recent years, but the review I listened to today on NPR was absolutely brutal. I’m not particularly interested in this one but, for me, it all comes down to tone. A movie about a haunted pool doesn’t exactly sound frightening at face value and if it tries to take itself seriously as a horror movie then it has a lot of work to do. Look at Megan, last year as a good example of understanding the tone of its story. I will probably see this, but only once my other options have been exhausted.
Written & Directed by: Michael Franco
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Peter Sarsgaard, Brooke Timber
This is one I had on the pre-New Year Release Radar, and I try not to duplicate entries with so many things that have their debuts in theaters and then drop on either VOD or streaming, but it’s expanding into a broader release and I’ll go with it. I haven’t seen any of Michael Franco’s work to this point, but I know that Jessica Chastain delivers quality and I think Peter Sarsgaard is a vastly underutilized and very good talent.
Noryang: Deadly Sea (Expands)
Director(s): Han-min Kin
Stars: Jeong Jae-yeong, Yeo Jin-goo, Huh Joon-ho
This is another one of those that popped up on the radar before Christmas, but now it’s getting an expanded release as well. Like many, I have an affinity for the style and the themes of feudal-era Japan. So, I’m interested in checking out this story from the end of that era, if I can find it.
Self Reliance (One Night Only Jan. 3rd + Hulu Jan. 12th)
Written & Directed by: Jake Johnson
Stars: Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Andy Samberg
This is one that I probably wouldn’t include because it’s a one-night-only engagement and that happened before I got a chance to release this. However, in the spirit of the new year, I want to make sure that I pointed this one out. I’ll ping it again when it hits Hulu, which I also don’t usually do, but it looks unique and fun in a way that deserves my attention. I wish I would have gotten to it on Wednesday.
A Gaza Weekend (Jan. 1st)
Director(s): Basil Khalil | Writer(s): Daniel Ka-Chun Chan, Basil Khalil
Stars: Stephen Mangan, Mouna Hawa, Adam Bakri
It’s weird to see a comedy set in Gaza given the current climate, but it’s refreshing to see. Plus, I like Stephen Mangan so I am hopeful that it can handled well.
The Mummy Murders (Jan. 1st)
Director(s): Colin Bressler | Writer(s): Colin Bressler, Will Donahue
Stars: Jeff Caperton, Will Donahue, Aimee Michelle
This one is creepy and artsy enough to have my curiosity. It seems like a good option for a streamer or a home rental more than something I would go to theaters for, but it reminds me a little bit of A Bucket of Blood for some reason.
He Went That Way
Director(s): Jeffrey Darling | Writer(s): Evan M. Wiener
Stars: Jacob Elordi, Patrick J. Adams, Zachary Quinto
Jacob Elordi’s stock is rising and he’s following up a stellar 2023 with this creeper based on a true story. Something about the aesthetic and tone of the trailer works really well for me, and I am here for it.
The Bastard Sons
Director(s): Kevin Interdonato | Writer(s): Kevin Interdonato, Glenn Rodriguez
Stars: Kevin Interdonato, Charles Malik Whitfield, Frankie Edgar
I had to double-check that name on the cast list because I have been watching Frankie Edgar fight for a long time. Obviously, he’s not going to be the star but it’s nice to see him have options outside of the cage. As I compiled these titles last year, I was struck by just how many low-budget crime dramas get released every week and 2024 is wasting no time. I have no clue if it will be any good, but it’s nice to see Kevin Interdonato going all in for this.
*Fugitive Dreams – Editor’s Pick*
Director(s): Jason Neulander | Writer(s): Jason Neulander, Caridad Svich
Stars: April Matthis, Robbie Tann, Scott Shepherd
Technically completed in 2020, this one did a couple of film festivals but the last one was in 2021. So, I’m guessing there was no distribution deal in place. The newest resource I’m using says it’s coming out this week in limited release but it’s the only source with that info. So, who knows for sure? Anyway, I love the look of this trailer and the simple twangy harmony of the guitar just works well for me. It’s a gamble whether or not it’s available, so my Editor’s Pick may go unseen. But if I can find it, I will watch it and let you know.
Director(s): Kiran Rao | Writer(s): Sneha Desai, Biplab Goswami, Divyanidhi Sharma
Stars: Aitshay Jain Akhil, Shivam Ghawariya, Nitanshi Goel
My new source also has a lot more international, specifically Indian, films on the list but this was the only one I could actually verify. It looks colorful, fun, and charming. I’m lucky that a lot of Indian cinema gets screen time out here, so I may have a chance to catch this one.
Director(s): Kimani Ray Smith | Writer(s): Brian Buccellato
Stars: Charlie Weber, Marie Avgeropoulos, Madison Bailey
Remember that thing I said about the low-budget crime dramas? Well, that same principle applies to shoot-em-up actioners. I don’t recognize anyone besides Jon Voight, so it’s not exactly compelling. However, if this was my go-to genre I’d be stoked. And in fairness, this is a much better trailer than a lot of its peers as I’m sure you’ll see as the year goes on.
Written & Directed by: Warren Fast
Stars: Caitlin Carmichael, Ryan Knudson, Danielle Harris
This movie lays its suspension of disbelief on the line in the first 20 seconds of the trailer. A pretty young woman traveling alone, in a very noticeable classic red sportscar decides to pick up a super creepy-looking drifter? Well, there’s a twist at least that gets me back on board. At 90 minutes, this is a perfect fit for a late-night couch watch, so I will keep an eye out for it in a week or so.
The Smoke Master
Written & Directed by: Andre Sigwalt, Augusto Soares
Stars: Daniel Rocha, Tony Lee, Thiago Stechinni
This looks absolutely wild! The music and the overall tone at the outset of this trailer seem to be very much of a serious nature. Then a kung fu master rolls the swiftest joint I have ever seen in my life. I’m glad this was a short trailer because my imagination has taken me where it needs to go and I am 100% on board with whatever this ends up being.
Some Other Woman
Director(s): Joel David Moore | Writer(s): Yuri Baranovsky, Angela Gulner, Josh Long
Stars: Ashley Greene, Tom Felton, Amanda Crew
Sexy psychological thrillers will never go out of style. And this one has an intriguing cast with Ashley Greene, Tom Felton, and Amanda Crew.
Director(s): Kaite Burrell | Writer(s): Kaite Burrell, Andrew Ladd
Stars: Katie Burrell, Jadyn Wong, Chelsea Conwright
I am always a fan of people who go all-in and Katie Burrell is doing that here. While there have been a lot of movies made about surf or skate culture, I don’t know that I can point to very many about ski culture. So, there could be some untapped potential here. I’m not an expert, but I watched a lot of X Games, and the ski stunts look pretty authentic and I like the sense of humor. I’m in.
Questions (aka Why Men Are Clueless)
Written & Directed by: Avery Kidd Waddell
Stars: Carmen Serano, Cynthia Rodriquez, Greg Serano
I see why the title got changed. All I can do is hope that the movie is funnier than this trailer because the premise isn’t terrible. It must has to be handled right and I didn’t see that in the trailer.
The Bricklayer (+VOD)
Director(s): Renny Harlin | Writer(s): Noah Boyd, Matt Johnson, Marc Moss
Stars: Aaron Eckhart, Nina Dobrev, Clifton Collins Jr.
Did someone say weekly low-budget action film? When you say those words, it summons Aaron Eckhart. The cast is pretty solid though and if I can look forward to The Beekeeper, then I can probably have a good time with this one.
Race for Glory: Audi vs. Lanica (+VOD)
Director(s): Stefano Mordini | Writer(s): Filippo Bologna, Stefano Mordini, Riccardo Scamarcio
Stars: Daniel Brühl, Riccardo Scamarcio, Katie Clarkson-Hill
This looks like the type of movie I thought Ferrari was going to be, not to say that Michael Mann’s film was bad. I like Daniel Brühl and this seems like it’s pretty intense in the way that I want. I’m sure something bad is going to happen at some point too, but there’s one way to find out.
Director(s): Xavier Gens | Writer(s): Magali Rossitto, Xavier Gens, Guillame Lemans
Stars: Nassim Lyes, Loryn Nounay, Olivier Gourmet
I wish I liked these kinds of action movies the way that I did when I was a younger man because there seems to be no shortage of them. You know what you’re getting into when I don’t think the lead actor has a line of dialogue throughout the entire trailer. It looks fun though. I might check it out depending on what’s available in theaters, but I won’t be mad waiting until it finds a streaming home.
Streaming & Digital
Society of the Snow (Netflix Jan. 4th)
Director(s): J.A. Bayona | Writer(s): J.A. Bayona, Bernat Vilaplana, Jaime Marques
Stars: Enzo Vogrincic, Agustín Pardella, Matías Recalt
I was fortunate to see this when it was in theaters and it’s pretty amazing. The scope of the production is massive and should be seen on a big screen, but I am glad more people will get to see it on Netflix. It should be a contender for Best International Feature at the very least.
Good Grief (Netflix)
Written & Directed by: Dan Levy
Stars: Dan Levy, Ruth Negga, Himesh Patel
I have enjoyed the trend of films focusing more on grief over the last couple of years. It seems like something that always takes a back seat to other struggles while often being at the root of a lot of other problems. Dan Levy is a talented guy and I am looking forward to seeing this one now that it’s available on Netflix.
Thanks for reading! Word of mouth is still 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!