Release Radar – September 3rd, 2021

Summer movie season is winding down but that doesn’t mean the blockbuster is done with. Disney is returning to its theatrical-only release model for its latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, maybe due to the lawsuit filed against them by Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson, and it seems other studios are mostly steering clear by offering split theatrical and video-on-demand releases. Here’s what’s on deck.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Theaters Only)

Writer(s): Andrew Lanham, David Callaham, & Destin Daniel Cretton / Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, & Tony Chiu-Wai Leung

With Black Widow more or less putting the finishing touches on the first iteration of the MCU Avengers, Shang-Chi aims to kick off the new wave with Eternals slated for later in the year. I grew up loving Kung Fu movies so I’ll be curious to see how that element gets incorporated into an existing cinematic universe. Destin Daniel Cretton’s last film, Just Mercy, was good and hit all the right emotional notes but it still felt fairly derivative of many courtroom dramas that had come before. It’s a fine line to walk but I’m hopeful that he can create a unique identity for this property.

Wild Indian (Theaters + VOD)

Writer & Director: Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.

Starring: Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, & Kolton Knaus

Trauma runs deep in what looks like a very serious and personal story from writer/director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. This is his feature debut and that comes with a lot of pressure and promise, but it’s been cool to see the uptick in native stories as of late. I’ve enjoyed watching Michael Greyeyes in Apple TV’s Home Before Dark, HBO’s miniseries I Know This Much Is True, and Blood Quantum, so I have the utmost confidence that he’s going to deliver in this role in a big way. Jesse Eisenberg and Kate Bosworth are both in this film as well, without top billing, so they should add some key depth without pulling focus.

Mogul Mowgli (Theaters + VOD)

Writer(s): Basaam Tariq and Riz Ahmed / Director: Basaam Tariq

Starring: Riz Ahmed, Anjana Vasan, & Aiysha Hart

Riz Ahmed is at it again as a British-Pakistani rapper who’s on the verge of making it big when his career is derailed by a sudden and unexpected illness. That sounds an awful lot like Sound of Metal but considering how good that film was, I get it. Ahmed also co-wrote the screenplay here, with director Basaam Tariq, so the lead character seems to be (at least partially) based on his own life and the cultural significance of the story should carry that authenticity. There’s already a lot of buzz surrounding Ahmed’s performance but this is also Tariq’s debut feature so I’ll be curious to check it out.

Worth (Netflix)

Writer: Max Borenstein / Director: Sara Colangelo

Starring: Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, & Amy Ryan

The 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks are right around the corner and Netflix’s latest takes a look at the bureaucracy of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Based on true events, Michael Keaton stars as attorney Kenneth Feinberg who’s tasked with allocating the money to the victims’ families, but doesn’t understand the real cost of it all until he begins to tangle with a local community organizer (Stanley Tucci). This could be a tough watch but ultimately timely and important.

The Big Scary “S” Word (Theaters + VOD)

Director: Yael Bridge

Starring: Lee Carter, Jimmy Durante, & Eric Foner

Socialism is the topic of this documentary. The idea of American Democratic Socialism, to be exact. I fully expect this idea of this movie, in and of itself, to put it squarely in the crosshairs of the political Right and placed on a pedastal by the Left. However, it’s those in the middle who will go into it with an open mind. I’m curious to see how it plays out.

We Need to Do Something (Theaters + VOD)

Writer: Max Booth III / Director: Sean King O’Grady

Starring: Sierra McCormick, Vinessa Shaw, and Pat Healy

No preview list of mine would be complete without highlighting a weird indie film. We Need to Do Something centers around a family that gets trapped in the path of a powerful storm and then shit starts to get really weird. Described as a family-drama with horror elements may not be the most engaging pitch, but check out the trailer and tell me it doesn’t look interesting. Plus, Pat Healy is one of those actors who’s in everything and I’m excited to see him in this role.

What Else Is New:

Zone 414 (Theaters + VOD)

Writer: Bryan Edward Hill / Director: Andrew Baird

Starring: Guy Pierce, Travis Fimmel, & Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz

Frankly, I think this is a terrible title for a movie that otherwise has my interest. It looks to me like a bit of a low-budget blend of Ex Machina and Blade Runner. Artificially intelligent sex robots, private detectives, and a missing girl. Guy Pearce hasn’t steered me wrong and I’m curious to see Andrew Baird’s debut feature.

The Gateway (Theaters + VOD)

Writer: Michele Civetta, Alex Felix Bendaña, & Andrew Levitas / Director: Michele Civetta

Starring: Shea Wigham, Frank Grillo, & Olivia Munn

The cast is really fantastic on this and also includes Keith David, Taryn Manning, and Bruce Dern. So, I think this one should probably be good. A social worker who’s responsible for a young girl is forced to step in when the girl’s father returns from prison. This is the sophomore film from Michele Civetta so it could be a bit rocky, but the fact that so many big names are attached should say something about the young filmmaker.

Cinderella (Amazon)

Writer & Director: Kay Cannon

Starring: Camila Cabello, Nicholas Galitzine, & Indina Menzel

Now I finally know what that video with James Corden shutting down traffic was all about. Names like Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver, and Billy Porter are attached to this too so I want to believe there’s a reason for that. Maybe it was a lot of fun to make, but the trailer did nothing for me and the early reviews seem to reflect my initial reaction. If you love musicals and don’t want to go to the theaters, this exists.

Yakuza Princess (Theaters + VOD)

Writer(s): Vincent Amorim, Kim Lee, Tubaldini Shelling, & Fernando Toste / Director: Vincent Amorim

Starring: MASUMI, Kenny Leu, & Tsuyoshi Ihara

The poster art for this movie is awesome and I was very into the idea, then I watched the trailer. It may be good, but it looks pretty generic and the trailer couldn’t keep me interested in the story they were trying to lay out. That’s a bad sign. My instincts are usually pretty good and early reviews haven’t been kind to this one either with a 38/100 from Metacritic.

As usual, if you like what I’m doing, please like, subscribe, and share. Be well, be safe, and have fun no matter how you get your movies!

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