Release Radar – June 24th, 2022

Going to the movies is often about escapism and some of us could really use a bit of that after a disheartening Friday. There are a lot of options all across the spectrum to choose from, so let’s take a look.

Beavis and Butt-head Do the Universe (Paramount+ June 23rd)

Writers: Mike Judge, Guy & Ian Maxtone-Graham | Director: Mike Judge

Starring (voices): Mike Judge, Mary Birdsong, and Gary Cole

Even though I grew up watching the show on MTV and fondly remember catching the first film in theaters, somehow, I only learned about the existence of this movie last week. Twenty-six years after the 1996 film, Mike Judge is back and sending the boys to space and beyond. I never expected a sequel or even knew I would want to watch one until I saw the trailer. Despite being kinda dumb on its surface Beavis and Butt-head articulated its humor well and putting them into this kind of insane scenario sounds like a lot of fun.

The Black Phone (Theaters)

Writers: Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill (screenplay), Joe Hill (short story)

Director: Scott Derrickson

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, and Madeleine McGraw

After a brief delay, one of the more highly anticipated films hits theaters this weekend. Scott Derrickson has an excellent sense of horror filmmaking and made one of my favorite contemporary horror films in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. What I like most about this idea is the blend between cerebral serial killer horror and supernatural thriller, and Derrickson showed some of that blend in Sinister as well. It doesn’t hurt that I also love Ethan Hawke and I know that he’s going to kill it. The second trailer is even creepier than the first and you can check that one above.

Elvis (Theaters)

Writers: Baz Luhrmann & Sam Bromell, and Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, and Olivia DeJonge

The name says it all. Elvis Presley is one of the most famous people who has ever lived and here we are, 45 years after his death, getting the first big-screen biopic. Austin Butler has some enormous shoes to fill in the titular role but he also put in the authentic hard work, so I am curious to see. Baz Luhrmannisn’t a filmmaker who is short on style and his Romeo + Juliet was way ahead of its time in 1996, but I’m looking more towards films like The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge! as the visual style he’ll pull from. When I first saw the trailer, I was a bit on the fence but watching the featurette recently on Butler’s efforts gave me a lot more confidence. It’s not at the top of my list this week, but I am going to check it out on Sunday.

*Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (Theaters) – Editor’s Pick*

Writers: Dean Fleischer-Camp, Nick Paley, and Jenny Slate

Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp

Starring: Jenny Slate, Dean Fleischer-Camp, and Isabella Rossellini

It’s exceedingly rare that PG films get my attention. I generally tend to favor darker and more adult-oriented, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a soft spot. Some of my favorite films since I started this site have been of the wholesome variety and maybe that’s just what I need this weekend. Adapted from the short film, we meet a mollusk named Marcel who becomes the subject of a documentary as they look for their family. Part stop motion part live-action, the creativity of the filmmaking and storytelling are really what caught my attention. It looks super cute and even though it may retread some well-worn themes, sometimes it takes a reframing to make those stick. That’s why I gave this one my Editor’s Pick.

Flux Gourmet (Theaters + VOD)

Written & Directed by: Peter Strickland

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Gwendoline Christie, and Ariane Labed

When talking about originality, there’s no overlooking Peter Strickland’s Flux Gourmet. I am pretty sure you are going to need a strong stomach for this one when “gastrointestinal disorders” is highlighted in the summary. The story is about a power struggle at an institute dedicated to bizarre culinary performance art, so you may be able to guess where that’s headed. Listed as comedy/drama/horror, the film indulges in sensory overload and that may be a problem for people who are texture sensitive. Nonetheless, I still want to see it.

What Else Is New…

The Man From Toronto (Netflix)

Writers: Robbie Fox, Chris Bremner, and Jason Blumenthal

Director: Patrick Hughes

Starring: Kevin Hart, Woody Harrelson, and Kaley Cuoco

Well, it looks like Kevin Hart is back at it with the buddy comedies, only this time he’s teamed up with the world’s deadliest assassin played by Woody Harrelson. I have no problems with any of that and with Patrick Hughes at the helm, this looks to be a twist on The Hitman’s Bodyguard which has already proven successful. It’s pretty generic from what I can gather, but I like the cast and it’s probably enjoyable enough from my couch.

Beba (Theaters)

Written, Directed, and Starring: Rebeca Huntt

This film is an all-in documentary from Rebecca Huntt. The voice-over that accompanies the trailer doesn’t exactly paint a flattering picture, but self-portraits are often harsh. The filmmaking and storytelling look creative but that’s really all I know.

Olga (Theaters)

Writers: Raphaëlle Desplechin, Elie Grappe | Director: Elie Grappe

Starring: Anastasiia Budiashkina, Sabrina Rubstova, and Caterina Barloggio

This Ukrainian film follows a young gymnast who is competing for a spot at the National Sports Center when revolts break out in her home country. As the situation intensifies, she is forced to watch her family struggle from a distance. With the current war in Ukraine, this is probably a much more timely film than it would have been. From what I have read, it’s still mostly about the competition side but that doesn’t mean there’s no compelling substance.

Press Play (Theaters + VOD)

Writers: James Bachelor, Greg Björkman | Director: Greg Björkman

Starring: Clara Rugaard, Lewis Pullman, and Danny Glover

Time loop romances have become very popular as of late and this movie takes that idea in a new direction. Instead of a Groundhog Day loop, this time there’s a mixtape that takes a young woman back to different times in her previous relationship based on the particular song. She tries desperately to make changes so that her love won’t die, but messing with time is tricky. This movie better have a killer soundtrack if it wants to distance itself from other films that have walked this path.

Rise (Disney+)

Writer: Arash Amel | Director: Akin Omotoso

Starring: Mainsh Dayal, Taylor Nichlos, and Maximiliano Hernández

It seems kind of soon to be making a biopic about the Antetokounmpo brothers, but here we are. It has all the hallmarks (pardon the pun) of the kinds of PG family films that have been released as TV movies for decades. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just has limitations and has to fit in a certain box. If you really love the NBA or the Antetokounmpo brothers in particular, there is probably a lot you can take from this and it’s probably good for aspiring athletes around the world too.

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