As we enjoy a nice return of summer temperatures, we did off the week with a fantastic new music fantasy, Yesterday. Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a frustrated UK musician with a career going nowhere despite a great group of friends, including manager Ellie (Lily James). But when a huge blackout hits the entire planet and Jack is hit by a bus, he awakens the next day to learn he is apparently the only person in the world who knows the music of The Beatles. Jumping on the opportunity, Jack begins bringing the classic music to the world passing it off as his own and skyrockets to fame. But Jack finds out the cost of his fame may be more than he can handle and must decide what he truly needs out of life.

Yesterday is a wonderful, beautifully written and acted, nostalgic fantasy film not just for Beatles fans. Patel is a charismatic lead, Lily James really lights up the screen as Jack’s friend who secretly loves him, and the fantasy story really plays well and makes for a really fun ride full of great music, lots of laughs and tons of heart. This is definitely one of the best feel good movies of the year and makes a perfect double feature with the upcoming Blinded by the Light

Next up is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year, Shaft. In this sequel to the 2000 movie of the same name, Samuel L. Jackson returns to the title role and is joined by Jesse T. Usher as Shaft’s estranged son JJ who is now a cyber security expert for the FBI. When JJ’s childhood best friend turns up dead from an apparent overdose, JJ enlists his father’s help to find out what really happened, which may drag up old grudges that Shaft holds in Harlem.

I wasn’t expecting much from Shaft, the trailers made it look overly comedic and watered down, but I was really surprised that the film still maintained a solid adult vibe with an overall 80s aesthetic that really worked well. Jackson can do this role in his sleep and delivers a fun and badass performance while Usher also puts in a great performance as the son that apparently is the total opposite of his father. But once they start working together the chemistry is strong and the action as well as the humor is abundant. Not sure why they went with the same title here when they could have gone with a clever sequel title, but name aside, Shaft is a great fun.

Next up is the Blu-ray debut of one of the best TV adaptations of a Stephen King novel out there, Mick Garris’ The Stand. When a government facility lets a deadly virus escape, the majority of the world’s population is wiped out. The surviving population begin to have dreams of two figures, a mystical old woman and a frightening man. As people start to journey to either figure the stage becomes set for a final confrontation between the forces of good and evil with the fate of the world in the balance.

The Stand is a massive story that is incredibly hard to translate to the screen, but horror maestro Mick Garris does an admirable job here balancing a huge cast of characters played by the liked of Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, Matt Frewer, Ruby Dee and many others. The resulting 6 hour epic is engaging, well-paced, exciting and intriguing. There may have been effects and budgetary limitation, especially in 1994 and for television, but Garris handles it like a champ and puts every penny up on the screen. The new Blu-ray looks fantastic and really makes The Stand well worth revisiting, especially with a new incarnation coming up in the near future.

Lastly this week is a new Blu-ray of a little seen 1978 television mini-series, Holocaust. Holocaust follows all the members of the Jewish Weiss family throughout Hitler’s rise in Germany and throughout World War II. 

Holocaust was a huge TV event in 1978 and went on to win 8 Emmy Awards and 2 Golden Globes. The fantastic cast including Meryl Streep, James Woods, Michael Moriarty, Sam Wanamaker, David Warner, and many more all bring their A game in this harrowing tale of war. Telling the story through the eyes of one family makes it especially emotional, and really brings a personal side to such a large scale story. Clocking in at almost 8 hours, Holocaust never wavers and never becomes boring instead being an overwhelmingly immersive and empathetic story that is essential viewing.

Also of note this week is the new remake of Child’s Play featuring Mark Hamill as the voice of the homicidal doll, a new Criterion Blu-ray release of the brilliant 1984 film Local Hero starring Peter Riegert and Burt Lancaster, and a new Arrow Special Edition of Clive Barker’s 1987 horror masterpiece Hellraiser.

Until next week movie lovers!

DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday September 24, 2019

A Bucket of Blood (1959) - Signature Edition*

A Dog's Journey / A Dog's Purpose 2-Movie Collection

A Heart in Winter (1992)*

A Score to Settle

Angel of Mine

Awake a.k.a. Wake Up

Billions: Season Four

Child's Play

Count Three and Pray (1955)*

DC's Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fourth Season

Fear No Evil (1981)*

Going My Way - 75th Anniversary (1944)*

Hellraiser Special Edition

Holocaust*

Ida Lupino: Filmmaker Collection (1949-1953)*

In the Aftermath*

Inside Man: Most Wanted

Local Hero (1983)* - Criterion Collection

Madam Secretary: Season Five

Madness in the Method

Major League II (1994)*

Major League: Back to the Minors (1998)*

Maleficent 4K

Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud (1995)*

Pavarotti

Quartet (1981)*

Shaft

Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979)*

Spirit Riding Free: Seasons 5-8

Stephen King's The Stand (1994)*

The Circus (1928)* - Criterion Collection

The First King: Birth of an Empire

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)*

The Major and the Minor*

This Magnificent Cake!

Vampires: Collector's Edition

Voltron: Defender of the Universe

WWE: SummerSlam 2019

WWE: Super Showdown 2019

Yesterday

*Catalog Blu-ray debut