Not the biggest amount of releases for us this week, but some are definitely worth checking out. I’ll start with the best film I watched, The Villainess. I heard some great things about the movie and even though it has a lot more plot/story than I expected, it’s pretty bad ass. It has more action than Atomic Blonde and I loved that it started out in first person shooter style like Hardcore Henry before the lead sees herself in a mirror and switches to normal third person. Sook-hee is raised as an assassin from childhood and finds herself in a new organization that promises she can have a normal life for her and her child after ten years of service. As she starts to discover the truth about herself and those who trained and loved her, rage takes over and she’s out for revenge and chaos. The lead actress is pretty dynamite and handles the action well. There are times she takes an absolute beating and times she just steamrolls over people. That combination makes it a bit more believable than your normal over the top action film. The film has great direction and a ton of style. With Asian films like Train to Busan and The Raid being remade for American audiences, I can definitely see this being remade over the new few years. If you like action films, especially Asian/Korean action films, this one comes highly recommended.
The second best release of the week is The Fall Complete Collection. I actually hadn’t seen any of the TV show before, but got hooked pretty quickly. It stars Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) as DSI Stella Gibson who is sent to Belfast, Northern Ireland to investigate a high-profile murder. She slowly realizes other murders follow the same pattern and is on the hunt for a serial killer. Jamie Dornan (The Fifty Shades of Grey franchise) plays Paul Spector, the man Gibson is searching for. It’s your classic cat & mouse game, but I really liked it. Dornan must love playing odd characters because if you thought Christian Grey was creepy, watch this show. Spector is a married man with two children who during the day is a grief counselor, but at night prowls for 30ish brunettes with power. He strangles his victims, washes them and poses them and records his events for his own enjoyment later. There are a couple of side stories that were bothering me for a bit, but most do eventually pay off. One involves the husband and wife he was counseling after their young son dies. I kept waiting for this to serve a purpose and it does by the end of the second season which helps provide the plot for season 3. The Spector’s babysitter at first doesn’t seem like a major character, but that changes over time as well. I’m not exactly the target audience for the Fifty Shades movies so I had no idea that Jamie Dornan was actually from Belfast in real life. Hearing his accent threw me off at first because I thought he was English, but nope, he’s an Irish boy. Anderson does an accent which doesn’t always work, but overall I really liked the show. If you like crime dramas with a super creepy edge, definitely check this one out.
Next is Atheist America. I’m not a religious person. I don’t even consider myself an Atheist because to me that is a religion in its own right. I simply don’t believe in any form of group thinking. So you would think this documentary would work for me. It doesn’t. I like a documentary that isn’t 100% biased and sets out to prove one thing, but is opened enough for other ideas. This is a 100% biased documentary on why Atheism is right and everyone else is wrong. Everything these guys preach against, believing in something because someone says so, blind faith and pushing agendas on people is pretty much what they do. They go out of their way to mock people of faith and to push their own agendas on them. Yes callers into the public access show who are religious are dumb for calling in, but these guys come across more as bullies than open-minded individuals. The documentary intercuts clips of religious people at church, a rodeo or wherever just to show how dumb they are. That’s not good filmmaking, that’s just being mean. And again, I don’t believe in any form of religion or faith. One caller asks about morality and where these men get their morality if they don’t believe in God. That’s a laughable question to me because knowing right from wrong has nothing to do with religion, but the men in the film certainly don’t come across as moral. Everyone can have differences, why are you intentionally mocking them for it? Everything they accuse others of, especially pushing an agenda, is exactly what they do just on the other side of the coin. I was expecting a documentary on what it’s like to be an Atheist in a Christian dominant country, instead I got propaganda.
Sticking with films I didn’t like, Lemon is next. I should have known right away this wasn’t for me because Michael Cera is in it and I have personal issues with him. But I like Brett Gelman (Stranger Things 2) so I was hoping to enjoy this. Boy was I wrong. I watched a terrible movie with Cera a few weeks ago called Person to Person, this is up there with that level of awfulness. Gelman plays an unlikable acting teacher in a relationship with Judy Greer who is blind for some reason. Maybe she needed to be blind to be with him, I don’t know. Gillian Jacobs and Michael Cera are two actors in class trying to act and Cera is awful. Gelman’s character is so unlikable I simply didn’t care about him. His life is falling apart and I thought he deserved it. The film is very LA-pretentious. Actors talking about roles they are out for and all that nonsense. A lemon is another term for being defective. When you buy a car and it doesn’t work, that’s a lemon. Well Lemon is an absolute lemon. It really, really wasn’t for me.
Time To Die is next. This is a black & white Mexican western from 1966 that’s been beautifully restored. It’s classic western storytelling. When Juan Sayago returns to his hometown after serving 18 years in jail, the sons of the man he killed want revenge for their father’s death. Jorge Martinez de Hoyos plays Juan Sayago and he was Hilario in The Magnificent Seven. The film is well crafted and has what I want in a western. There are epic shots with long takes, a classic revenge story, men to root for and against, and ladies who love their men. The film has a great look with spot on costuming and set design. I’m surprised I had never seen this before, but as a western fan, I’m glad this came my way. If you know the film, this is a fantastic package to own.
Speaking of fantastic packages, CMA Awards Live: Greatest Moments 1968-2015 is out now exclusively at TimeLife.com. If you have a country music fan in your life, this is a perfect purchase for the holidays. I’m not the biggest country music fan, but even I was impressed with the collection. I like older country, not so much the new pop country, but this spans decades so it has a little bit for everyone. Whether you prefer your country with Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash or Kenny Rogers or Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, or Keith Urban, this has them all plus dozens more. This monster box set features TEN discs of live performances plus a cool booklet filled with photos and history of the awards. I can watch Johnny Cash perform all day long and this has some good performances of his along with June Carter Cash. What is does best is span the generational gap. An older sister of mine will love the Keith Urban, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley stuff. My dad will love the Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell stuff. My nieces will love the Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift stuff. It has over 120 live performances, that’s pretty remarkable. We may joke that country music seems to have an award show once a week, but the CMA Awards are the king and this box set is a must own for country fans. Buy it for yourself or as holiday gift.