It may be a bit of a thin week in mid-June, but we start off with one of the best films of the year, Jordan Peele’s Us. While on vacation in Santa Cruz, Adelaide and Gabe Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke) and their kids Zora and Jason (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex) are just looking for some relaxation and time spent together. But when four mysterious strangers that look just like the four members of the Wilson family attack their home dressed in red jumpsuits and brandishing gold scissors, the Wilson’s must band together to try and survive as similar events start happening all over the city. And Adelaide suspects the events may be tied to a mystery from her childhood.
After the huge success of Peele’s Get Out, audiences were curious what he was going to come up with next and for this fan, Us is even better. First off, the performances are off the charts fantastic. With each of the 8 main characters having to play two roles each, there isn’t one moment in the film when you think they are actually the same people. Peele is a master of pacing and Us never lets up. It has a real impending sense of doom but with frequent moments of levity and humor that serve to bring viewers up and down at appropriate times. It is indeed a roller coaster with nods to films of the past but with a wholly original approach. The 4K release looks amazing, especially with much of the film being very dark, but it all looks beautiful with amazing cinematography and locations. The disc also features some great special features that take a very interesting look into the film’s hidden meanings, production design and inspirations. There was literally nothing for me to dislike with Us, it is a perfect modern horror thriller with brilliant underlying commentary while still remaining unabashedly fun.
Next up is a new thriller called The Haunting of Sharon Tate. Hilary Duff stars as doomed movie star Sharon Tate during the summer of 1969 before the infamous Manson Family murders. The film follows the days leading up to the murder and imagines reported dreams and visions Tate is said to have had predicting her own death.
The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a low budget horror film trying to capitalize on the name of Manson, but it does make some interesting creative decisions in portraying Tate’s last days. The cast are decent enough, although Duff is slightly miscast as the lead and the film could have benefitting from a better actress. Still, for people curious about the infamous murders or true crime aficionados, The Haunting of Sharon Tate takes a much different perspective on the story and is well paced with some good performances by the cast portraying the Manson Family members. A curious experiment.
Lastly this week is Under the Silver Lake. Andrew Garfield plays Sam, a disenchanted 33-year-old in Los Angeles who meets a mysterious woman named Sarah (Riley Keough) in his buildings swimming pool. After spending some time together, Sarah vanishes, sending Sam on a surreal journey across Los Angeles trying to figure out not only the mystery of Sarah, but a much bigger mystery in the dark underbelly of the city filled with scandal and conspiracy.
Under the Silver Lake is a bizarre modern film noir, a mystery filled with strange imagery, stranger characters and tons of intrigue and humor. Garfield never fails to impress and may be one of the best young actors working today and writer/director David Robert Mitchell is a great storyteller who has taken a big next step with this film after his last movie, It Follows, became a cult hit in 2014. A touch of David Lynch, Terry Gilliam and David Fincher all mix up with Mitchell’s own strange sensibilities to create a very different but very entertaining mystery well worth checking out.
Also of note this week is the new animated family film Wonder Park, a new Blu-ray release of Alan Parker’s masterpiece Mississippi Burning and the new thriller Hotel Mumbai with the always great Dev Patel.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday June 18, 2019
A Game for Six Lovers a.k.a. L'eau à la bouche (1960)*
Between the Lines (1977)*
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
L'humanité (1999)* - Criterion Collection
La vie de Jésus (1997)* - Criterion Collection
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Modest Heroes: Ponoc Short Films Theatre
Ordeal by Innocence (1984)*
Run the Race
Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)*
The Beach Bum
The Brink's Job (1978)*
The Holy Mountain (1926)*
The Monolith Monsters*
The Running Man (1963)*
The Scorpion King (2002) 4K
The Silent Partner (1978)*
The Universal Horror Collection: Volume 1*
Under the Silver Lake
Will & Grace: The Revival - Season Two
*Catalog Blu-ray debut