Cinemas & Home Entertainment this week…
GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with the theatrical release of a socially relevant film that should be mandatory viewing for all audiences while home entertainment delivers the latest from THE CABIN IN THE WOODS filmmaker!
Thursday January 31st
THE HATE U GIVE
Based on Angie Thomas’s bestselling novel, THE HATE U GIVE is an intelligent and refreshingly honest portrayal of race relations in contemporary America told through a gripping coming-of-age story, this film should be mandatory viewing for both youths and adults alike. Starr Carter (Amanda Stenberg) is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighbourhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.
THE FRONT RUNNER
Filmmaker Jason Reitman (TULLY, JUNO) is topical right now with the recent announcement that he will co-pen and direct the third instalment in the original GHOSTBUSTERS series, so the theatrical release of his latest feature is quite timely. Reitman is a prolific filmmaker with six features to his credit in this past decade alone however his output often borders on great with never quite reaching greatness, as is the case with THE FRONT RUNNER. Despite the thought-provoking subject matter and the intellect with which its handled, THE FRONT RUNNER lacks the dramatic excitement to make it truly engaging and ultimately only offers up a rare insight into the behind-the-scenes of political campaigns. So while Reitman once again falls shy of the mark, kudos must be given to Hugh Jackman for his incredible performance, one that enables him to portray a desperate and disgraced politic figure. THE FRONT RUNNER follows the rise and fall of Senator Hart (Jackman), who captured the imagination of young voters and was considered the overwhelming front runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination when his campaign was sidelined by the story of an extramarital relationship with Donna Rice. As tabloid journalism and political journalism merged for the first time, Senator Hart was forced to drop out of the race – events that left a profound and lasting impact on American politics and the world stage.
Wednesday January 30th
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE
Oscar-nominee Drew Goddard, the co-writer/director responsible for 2012’s brilliant THE CABIN IN THE WOODS helms this highly stylised and nostalgia-tinged hybrid thriller that despite offering a promising premise fails to sew together its heavily-padded hyperlink narrative in a satisfying and engaging manner. That said it’s not all bad at the the El Royale with standout performances by Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson and Jon Hamm along with top-tapping soundtrack helping to ease the weight of its watch. Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at a rundown Lake Tahoe hotel with a dark past. Over the course of the night, everyone will have one last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell. Unfortunately Fox’s 4K Ultra-HD and Blu-ray only contain a making of featurette, that said I can’t imagine there being any deleted scenes given how bloated the film already was.
Gerard Butler returns in another b-movie blockbuster courtesy of Millennium Films, the studio responsible for LONDON HAS FALLEN and MECHANIC RESURRECTION. While this deep sea actioner neither rivals CRIMSON TIDE nor THE HUNT FOR THE RED OCTOBER for genuine tension, it does prove at the very least a fun and engaging slice of disposable war trash. Deep under the Arctic Ocean, American submarine Captain Joe Glass (Butler) is on the hunt for a U.S. sub in distress when he discovers a secret Russian coup is in the offing, threatening to dismantle the world order. Captain Glass must now assemble an elite group of Navy SEALs to rescue the kidnapped Russian president and sneak through enemy waters to stop WWIII. Roadshow’s 4K Ultra-HD release contains both Dolby Vision and a room-shattering Dolby Atmos audio track along with an Audio Commentary and a two-part featurette running at 25 minutes.
Grim Pickings is written weekly by Jarret Gahan.