Release Radar – June 10th, 2022

Memorial Day Weekend is firmly in the rearview, summer break is right around the corner, and the blockbuster season is in full swing now. There are only a couple of new releases this week but that’s because we are increasingly seeing high-profile movies be given a wide berth. Let’s get to it.

The Janes (HBO Max)

Directors: Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes

This documentary focuses on the seven women who were arrested in connection with their roles in an underground network of abortion services before the procedure was legalized. It’s a poignant story at this time in American history and it aims to illustrate the need for safe and legal abortions. Obviously, we live in very divided times and many will likely hold the film up as a piece of propaganda. Those who might actually find some empathy in this story probably won’t watch it. However, that’s the audience that probably should watch it with an open mind. Whether you like it or not, this is an important issue that needs attention and HBO has a pretty good track record.

Jurassic World Dominion (Theaters)

Writers: Emily Carmichael & Colin Trevorrow (screenplay)

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Sam Neill

We find ourselves here once more because…well…these movies make an absolute shit ton of money, so it’s a great return on investment for the studios front the cost. However, they haven’t been very good to this point and if it wasn’t for the original cast returning for this one I would have no interest whatsoever. The first film in this trilogy was mediocre, predictable, and not particularly well-acted, despite looking like a million bucks ($150-million actually). Colin Trevorrow has had two films, spanning 4hrs and 12min, and several hundred million dollars to show me what he can do with this intellectual property already. Seeing even worse reviews than its two predecessors isn’t at all surprising but it further illustrates that while these movies certainly look the part, they lack what matters. With Top Gun: Maverick still thriving, I think you’ll see just how big the gap is between a legitimately good action film and what this series has given its audience. I’ll likely end up seeing it with my family for Father’s Day, but I’m in no rush.

Hustle (Netflix)

Writers: Will Fetters, and Taylor Materne | Director: Jeremiah Zagar

Starring: Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah, Juancho Hernangomez, Ben Foster, and Robert Duval

A basketball scout who’s barely hanging on to what used to be his career stumbles across a potential star prospect and sees that as his ticket back to the big time. Adam Sandler clearly loves basketball and it brings out a different side of him. We saw how potent that can be with Uncut Gems and that was more like basketball adjacent. He’s surrounded by a great supporting cast here and plenty of real NBA players and legends, so it’s especially nice to see that commitment to authenticity. If Netflix wants to continue to invest in originals, stuff like this is going to get them a lot further than pumping out generic action films. If I was forced to choose one new release to watch this weekend, this would likely be it.

Lost Illusions (Theaters)

Writers: Honoré de Balzac (novel), Jacques Fieschi and Xavier Giannoli (adaptation), with Yves Stavrides | Director: Xavier Giannoli

Starring: Benjamin Voisin, Cécile de France, Vincent Lacoste, and Gérard Depardieu

Adapted from the novel by the legendary French author, Honoré de Balzac, this film follows a young man with big dreams of becoming a journalist in Paris. However, his idea compared to reality is quite different. There appears to be plenty of debauchery among the French nobility and it has received mostly positive reviews from critics so far. I never read the novel and I am generally kind of tired of Euro-centric period pieces, so there’s very little for me to get behind. I don’t think it’s going to be bad, I would just rather spend my time, money, and energy elsewhere.

The Walk (Theaters)

Writers: Daniel Adams, and George Powell | Director: Daniel Adams

Starring: Justin Chatwin, Malcolm McDowell, Jeremy Piven, and Terrence Howard

Based on the true story of school integration in Boston in 1974, the film follows a police officer struggling to do what’s right as he faces pressure on both sides during a tumultuous time. The film boasts some strong names with Malcolm McDowell, Terrence Howard, and Jeremy Piven supporting Justin Chatwin. If handled correctly, it could be pretty good but the framing and the context will be key.

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