A short list of great titles this week starting with Miss Bala. Gloria Fuentes (Gina Rodriguez) is a makeup artist from L.A. visiting her best friend Suzu (Christina Rodlo) in Tijuana, Mexico. When a confrontation between a crime gang and the police goes down in a club they are in, Suzu goes missing and Gloria is taken by crime boss Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and forced to work for him. But when the DEA approaches Gloria after a bombing and threatens her if she doesn’t cooperate, Gloria must decide where to put her loyalties when both sides don’t care about her.
Miss Bala is a nail biter of an action drama and Gina Rodriguez really proves herself as a lead in a film after the success of her series Jane the Virgin. Cordova is also excellent as the suave but sadistic crime boss and the story is fast paced and exciting, with the audience never really knowing where the story is leading. Great drama, great action sequences and solid performances make Miss Bala a winner.
Next up is a new Canadian indie flick well worth checking out, Level 16. Sixteen-year-old Vivien (Katie Douglas) is trapped in a prison like boarding school called The Vestalis Academy. Under false hopes of eventually being adopted, all the girls in the school are under strict rules every day for their education, what they eat and how they behave. But when Vivien and some other students start to discover the school may not be what it seems, they embark on a dangerous search for answers that may save them or destroy them forever.
Level 16 is one of the best Canadian films out there, a tense and exceptionally well made sci-fi-ish dramatic thriller that featured a phenomenal cast led by the stoic Douglas. The story unfolds slowly but surely and can be unsettling and unnerving at times. Filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, the filmmakers do a great job of transforming these familiar cities into a cold dystopian future we can only hope we never actually see. Highly recommended.
Lastly this week is a new crime thriller Dragged Across Concrete. Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are two cops who find themselves suspended when a video of their unorthodox tactics goes viral. Now with nothing to lose they decide to delve into the criminal underworld to seek compensation for their years of service at any cost, but there may be more than they anticipated waiting for them in the shadows.
Director S. Craig Zahler’s first two films, Bone Tomahawk with Kurt Russell and Brawl in Cell Block 99 again with Vince Vaughn are both modern masterpieces. While I was hoping for his third film behind the camera to make a brilliant trilogy Dragged Across Concrete does not really live up to the quiet brilliance of the other two films. But Gibson and Vaughn are both in fine form and the story is slow moving but interesting. Dragged Across Concrete does not have the spark of vitality and edgy tension of Zahler’s first two films but it was a very high bar. If you are a fan of his work check this one out and judge for yourself.
Also of note this week is the Blu-ray debut of the fun 1992 action comedy Kuffs with Christian Slater, the 4K debut of Ridley Scotts brilliant and underrated Hannibal and the new Matthew McConaughey/Anne Hathaway thriller Serenity.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday April 30, 2019
Cartoon Network: Adventure Time: The Complete Series
Cartoon Network: Steven Universe - The Complete Second Season
Death Warmed Up (1984)*
Dragged Across Concrete
Emanuelle and Francoise a.k.a. Emanuele's Revenge (1975)*
Grandmother's House (1989)*
Khrustalyov, My Car!*
Mission of Honor
My Brilliant Career* - Criterion Collection
Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki
Police Story/Police Story 2* - Criterion Collection
Skin Flicks (1978)*
The Boxer (1997)*
The Brain (1988)*
The Corruption of Chris Miller (1973)*
The Fantomas Collection (1964-1967)*
The Hole in the Ground
The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 5*
WWE: FastLane 2019
*Catalog Blu-ray debut