This week, James Cameron introduces audiences to his heroine, Alita, as the science fiction epic “Alita: Battle Angel” is part of the charge of new Blu-Ray/DVD releases. Joining that sci-fi flick is a strong documentary and a Spike Lee classic coming to Criterion. Are all of them worthy of a recommendation? Read on for more.
PICK OF THE WEEK
This documentary has one of the more interesting subjects of the year: the Satanic Temple. While the name conjures up devilish musings, the group actually are crusaders for equality and justice. A religion fighting for progressive values can seem unusual in 2019, but this group leans into that very notion. Whether it’s helping others with attempts to annoy extremists, they’re unlike any other organization out there. Awards Circuit hits on just that point in our take, which you can read here:
Who would’ve guessed a Satanic organization would be the heroic figure of a documentary this year?
“Hail Satan?” is the sort of film that audiences won’t discover on their own. They need recommendations like this to guide the way. Documentary fans and those seeking out a cinematic way to see political justice would do well to check this one out.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $424,284
Major Awards: None yet
In honor of this week’s release of “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood,” the pick today is the film that made Quentin Tarantino a rockstar filmmaker. It’s “Pulp Fiction,” a movie that defined a whole generation of cinema. When Roger Ebert saw it for the first time, he knew he’d seen something special, as detailed below:
Quentin Tarantino is the Jerry Lee Lewis of cinema, a pounding performer who doesn’t care if he tears up the piano, as long as everybody is rocking. His new movie “Pulp Fiction” is a comedy about blood, guts, violence, strange sex, drugs, fixed fights, dead body disposal, leather freaks, and a wristwatch that makes a dark journey down through the generations.
Prep for Tarantino’s latest by revisiting his masterpiece!
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the sole recommended title in “Hail Satan?”:
“Alita: Battle Angel”
The combination of James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez was always going to make for a high profile production. This adaptation of the graphic novel had hoped to launch a franchise. While that remains to be seen, genre fans got something rather unique. The Associated Press had this to say:
The film crams in so many plot lines that it risks being overstuffed but somehow stays true to its mesmerizing vision and emerges as a sci-fi success, if not a triumph.
Sci-fi lovers should pick this one up today!
Box Office: $85,710,210
Rebooting the comic book character never seemed necessary, especially without the involvement of Guillermo del Toro. Behind the scenes issues put a bad taste in the mouth of audiences, who avoided the movie. However, those who saw it found a blood soaked adventure that was a gory lark. The Wrap was an outlet that found something to like here, as detailed below:
Captures the breathless quality of reading 30 issues of a single comic-book series in one sugar-addled afternoon, shoving as many amazing characters and storylines and images into one film as it can possibly hold.
For hardcore fans of the character, at least, this is still worth considering.
Box Office: $21,903,748
A new stop-motion vehicle from Laika, this was under-seen by audiences, though beloved by critics. While that didn’t help the box office, it could prove to make the flick a dark horse in the Best Animated Feature race. Over at indieWire, they were quite charmed by the film:
A sweet, touching, and seriously fun adventure comedy….
Something for the whole family this week!
Box Office: $16,649,539
Special Criterion Collection Section
The first of two high profile options coming to Criterion today is the adaptation of an all-time classic novel. Armed with cinematography from a young Roger Deakins, director Michael Radford made “1984” jump off the page. The Collection profiles it like so:
This masterly adaptation of George Orwell’s chilling parable about totalitarian oppression gives harrowing cinematic expression to the book’s prophetic dystopia.
Anyone who loves the book should pick this one up ASAP.
“Do The Right Thing”
The other terrific choice joining the Collection this week is Spike Lee’s masterpiece “Do The Right Thing.” As timely today as it was 30 years ago upon release, the film is utterly astonishing. Lee confirmed his greatness with this movie, no question about that. Criterion doubles down on that with their sales pitch:
Set on one block of Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy Do or Die neighborhood, at the height of summer, this 1989 masterpiece by Spike Lee confirmed him as a writer and filmmaker of peerless vision and passionate social engagement.
It’s a must own, plain and simple!
ALSO OF NOTE
“The Doors: The Final Cut”
Hitting 4K this week is a new cut of Oliver Stone‘s biopic of Jim Morrison and his band The Doors. Val Kilmer‘s gonzo performance as Morrison gives Stone an outlet for some of his zaniest impulses, without a doubt. Gene Siskel was a fan, penning this review:
Both a vibrant tribute to rock cult figure Jim Morrison and to the decade in which he flourished.
Morrison fans, as well as those who love the film, would do well to pick up this new edition!
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, and more
“Manifest: The Complete First Season”
“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Would You Be Mine Collection”