A solid May week begins with the new Jennifer Lawrence film, Red Sparrow. Lawrence plays ballerina Dominika Egorova, who, after a career ending injury, is recruited by her uncle into a Russian intelligence service called Sparrow School in exchange for medical care for her ill mother. Dominika excels in the program using her sexuality as a weapon targeting a C.I.A. agent in a mission to find a mole that threatens to unravel the security of both Russia and the USA.
Red Sparrow is a rare commodity these days. A decidedly adult thriller. There isn’t a lot of fluff and showy effects or fight scenes here, just a very deep storyline about the dark areas of rival governments and the covert programs set up using operatives in very untraditional scenarios. The pacing is great, Lawrence is at her very best in a compelling and multi-layered role, and the production design is gorgeous. For a top notch spy thriller that doesn’t pander, check out Red Sparrow.
Next up this week is Game Night. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams play Max and Annie, a married couple who are both incredible competitive, especially on their regular game nights with friends. When Max’s seemingly more successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) shows up and offers a new kind of game, a murder mystery night, at his huge new house, things quickly spiral out of control as Brooks actual past shows up to haunt him and throws the group into a real game of cat and mouse as they try to rescue Brooks from very real criminals.
Game Night is a hilarious premise only made better by the cast of comedy favorites. Bateman is running at full speed here with the dry wit and quick comeback one liners and McAdams is a welcome addition to a silly comedy as the equally competitive spouse who tends to get a little carried away with her game playing. Throw in the always fun Kyle Chandler, small supporting roles my Michael C. Hall and Danny Huston, and a scene stealing turn by Jesse Plemons and you have a heck of a fun time with Game Night.
Lastly this week is the new film from director Clint Eastwood, The 15:17 to Paris. Based on true events, this is the story of friends Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone, three young Americans travelling through Europe in 2015 who thwarted a terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris. The film chronicles the lives of the friends through childhood, their teen years and leading up to the harrowing ordeal.
Clint Eastwood made the interesting choice to cast the actual three men from the real-life incident to play themselves in the film. The results are a mixed bag. While their performances are admirable and not as bad as you might expect, they are also not of the calibre of professional actors. The weakest part of the film tends to be the screenplay that concentrates more on mundane part of their lives but the final half hour of the film chronicling the events of August 21, 2015 are well constructed and tense, but when all is said and done I couldn’t help but wonder if the film would have been more emotional and polished without the distraction of amateurs in the lead roles. Still, The 15:17 to Paris is a pretty amazing story well worth checking out.
Also of note this week is the Blu-ray debut of the vastly underrated 80s horror film Of Unknown Origin starring Peter Weller as a man obsessed with finding a rogue rodent loose in his newly renovated home. This one is a great little underseen film well worth seeking out. Also out this week is the new animated film Early Man and the amazing fantasy drama I Kill Giants with Zoe Saldana and Imogen Poots and the creepy new horror film The Lodgers.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday May 22, 2018
A Fantastic Woman
A Fistful of Dollars
Beyond the Hills* - Criterion Collection
Call the Midwife: Season Seven
Daphne & Velma
Death Smiles on a Murderer*
Doctor Blood’s Coffin*
Frank & Eva*
Graduation* - Criterion Collection
I Kill Giants
Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Collection 4K
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters* - Criterion Collection
MST3K: The Singles Collection
Of Unknown Origin*
On the Beach at Night Alone
Savannah Smiles – Collector’s Edition*
The 15:17 to Paris
The Loud House: It Gets Louder - Season 1, Volume 2
The Matrix 4K
The Patriot 4K
The Vampire and the Ballerina*
Transformers Rescue Bots: Team Rescue Bots
*Catalog Blu-ray debut