Another week packed with tons of TV, great catalog titles and a couple of studio pictures, something for everyone after Valentines or before March Break. These are your new releases for February 16, 2016.
First up this week is the new Johnny Depp film, Black Mass. Depp plays James “Whitey” Bulger, a real life figure who became the godfather of the Irish Mob in Boston in the 1970’s and 80s. Joel Edgerton plays John Connolly, who also grew up around Bulger on the streets of South Boston but grew up to become a major player in the FBI’s Boston office. When the FBI makes a deal under the table with Bulger for information, Bulger uses their alliance to his advantage in making his way higher and higher up the mob ladder while Connolly finds himself becoming more and more like the people he was hired to put away.
Director Scott Cooper has only directed 3 movies so far but they have all been great movies with similar dark themes. Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace and now Black Mass have all exhibited that same small town dark secret sort of feel despite their stories having larger ramifications on the characters involved. Crazy Heart was not a crime story but still had dark themes and a similar feel. Black Mass is especially fits that bill. While it doesn’t quite have the classic feel of a Goodfellas type movie, it is well worth seeing for its stellar cast and the career high performance that in my opinion, is one of his absolute best. And that is saying a lot in a career such as his. Plus you get the bonus of having an incredible cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Rory Cochrane, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, and Juno Temple. Not too shabby.
Next up we go back in time to 1987 for a fantastic Roger Donaldson thriller, No Way Out, starring Kevin Costner at the start of his rise to stardom. Costner plays Navy Officer Tom Farrell who after being posted at the Pentagon, starts an affair with Susan Atwell (Sean Young) who also happens to be the Secretary of Defense’s (Gene Hackman) mistress. When Susan turns up murdered, Tom is assigned to find the killer but must race against the clock to erase evidence of their relationship before he becomes the main suspect.
The late 80s was one of the best time for thrillers coming out of Hollywood and No Way Out is among the very best of them. Costner is excellent in the lead and you simply can’t do better than Gene Hackman to star alongside him. The film also features fantastic supporting performances by George Dzundza and Will Patton and a lightning paced tense screenplay by Robert Garland. No Way Out is a superb thriller well worth checking out if you missed it over the years.
Lastly this week is another catalog favorite seeing it’s Blu-ray debut this week and is the final cult ninja film starring Sho Kosugi to arrive on the format. Pray for Death stars 80s cult icon Kosugi as Akira Saito, a Japanese businessman who moves his family to Houston, Texas to run a restaurant. When a local band of crooked cops who have stored stolen goods in the back room of the restaurant come looking for their stuff to give to a crime syndicate, the Saito family gets caught in the middle and Akira is forced to resort to his mysterious past to save them.
Kosugi made 4 major ninja movies in the 80s, the Cannon trilogy of Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination, and then separately made Pray for Death. Pray for Death hold a special place for me as it takes a slightly more unique approach to the familiar story but it also showcases Kosugi more prominently and features Kosugi’s real life sons as his sons in the film, which is very cool. If you dig 80s action and ninja action in particular, Pray for Death should be an essential part of your collection.
Also of note this week is Michael Fassbender in Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic, the third volume of Shout Factory’s incredible film collections – The Vincent Price Collection III, and the new season of the popular HBO show Girls: The Complete Fourth Season.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday February 16, 2016
A Place in Hell
American Horror Project Vol. 1
Barney: Dinos in the Park
Blaze and the Monster Machines: Rev Up and Roar!
Bleach Movie: The Unforgiven Double Feature
Brian Regan: Live from Radio City Music Hall
Frankenstein: The Complete Mini Series Event
Girls: The Complete Fourth Season
Labyrinth of Lies
McHale’s Navy/McHale’s Navy Joins the Air Force
Moonlight and Valentino*
My Science Project
No Way Out*
Peaky Blinders: Season Two
Pray for Death*
Saints and Strangers
Sleep with Me*
The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series
The Curse/Curse II: The Bite*
The Iron Giant – Signature Edition (DVD only)
The Kid – Criterion Collection*
The Taviani Brothers Collection
The Trials of Jimmy Rose
The Vincent Price Collection III*
Togetherness: The Complete First Season
Wiener Dog Internationals
*Catalog Blu-ray debut