May the 4th Be With You! Unfortunately I don’t have anything Star Wars to review today, but despite it being a tiny release day, there are a couple of heavy hitters to check out. Let’s kick it off with Judas and the Black Messiah. In 1966, a young man named William O’Neal ((LaKeith Stanfield) facing Federal charges cuts a deal with an FBI agent and agrees to infiltrate the Illinois Black Panther Party and keep tabs on their charismatic leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). But as his covert mission goes on, William starts to question which side of the war he should give his allegiance to.

Judas and the Black Messiah snagged Best Song and Best Supporting Actor for Daniel Kaluuya Oscars and was nominated for four additional Oscars. Daniel Kaluuya has been wowing audiences since 2006 but it was his breakout role in Jordan Peele’s Get Out that really skyrocketed him to fame. Since then he has been turning in one fantastic performance after another and his performance here may be his best yet despite being a supporting role. LaKeith Stanfield commands the screen as well and perhaps this role will do for him what Get Out did for Kaluuya. The story of the Black Panthers is finally having some light shed on it after all these years and showing it for the organization it was and not what the government claimed it was. The story of young O’Neal is a powerful one and suitably timely considering all of the more prominent racial tension of the past 6 years or so. If you want to settle in to some great storytelling, some great history and some powerhouse performances, check out Judas and the Black Messiah.

Next up this week is a new thriller entitled The Little Things. Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) is sent to L.A. to pick up some evidence for a case, but while there, in his old stomping grounds, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer terrorizing the city. L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) is heading up the case but unofficially allows Joe to help out with his impressive instincts. But as they track the killer, secrets from Joe’s past become uncovered that may jeopardize more than the case they are working on.

One of the refreshing things about The Little Things is the fact that the typical serial killer storyline doesn’t take the usual turns you might expect. Writer/Director John Lee Hancock crafts a dark crime tale that feels more personal to the characters, both cops and their suspect, played by Jared Leto, than the average thriller. The production design is great, the L.A. backdrop is beautiful and dark, and the performances are solid across the board. The Little Things is the perfect crime story escapism for a movie night at home. Highly recommended.

Also of note this week is the 4K debut of Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, which still holds up perfectly after all these years, the 4K debut of Tim Burton’s Big Fish, which actually gets better with age, and the Blu-ray debut of a lesser known but excellent steamy thriller called The Hot Spot with Don Johnson, Jennifer Connolly and Virginia Madsen.

Until next week movie lovers, stay safe!

DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday May 4, 2021

A Ghost Waits (2020)

Big Fish (2003) 4K

Bleach (TV) Set 10

CB4 (1993)*

Cool as Ice (1991)*

Hellfighters (1968)*

Judas and the Black Messiah

MacGruber (2010)*

Pokemon the Series: Sun and Moon - Ultra Legends: The First Alola League Champion Season 22 Set 3

Scars of War: Vietnam 4 Movie Collection (1971-1989)*

Sonic Boom: The Complete Season 1

Speed (1994) 4K

Sweet Liberty (1986)*

The Hot Spot (1990)*

The Last Married Couple in America (1980)*

The Little Things

The Mallorca Files: Season One

The Virtuoso (2021)

Toy Soldiers / December Double Feature (1991)*

Trances (1981)* - Criterion Collection

WWE: Fastlane 2021

*Catalog Blu-ray debut