Odd week of releases and I’ll start with The Intruder. Dennis Quaid sells his lovely home to couple Michael Ealy and Meaghan Good, but he has a hard time letting go. He shows up at random times whether he’s mowing the lawn or having dinner with the couple. Good thinks he’s friendly and misses having company. Ealy thinks there’s more to it and doesn’t like Quaid being around. I won’t spoil what happens, but it definitely feels like a lot of previous movies. It makes sense when you see the writer of this also wrote Lakeview Terrace and Obsessed which have similar storylines. I liked seeing Quaid outside his normal nice guy persona and I tend to like Early, but it really does feel like so many other movies out there. I can see it becoming popular on home video and streaming though because it’s that type of movie that falls through the cracks until people start watching it at home. It’s good for one watch and comes with a shocking alternate ending that didn’t really add anything to me.
Second we have Body At Brighton Rock which is good for one viewing as well. It’s a lower budget survival movie that sees a part-time mountain park employee getting lost in the woods. With lower budget films I don’t expect great acting or high end production so I won’t hold those against this, but this is also a movie we’ve seen a thousand times before. This adds a bit of a psychological edge to it, is she being followed by the man she keeps seeing or is it in her head, but overall it’s still just someone lost in the woods. It’s good that they say she’s not an expert because she does the exact opposite of everything you’re supposed to do. She loses her walkie talkie, she doesn’t stay in the area she’s told to, doesn’t really seek out food or shelter. But again it’s a low budget film so you get what you expect. It wasn’t too bad to watch once, but I can’t see myself watching it again.
Sticking with the survival theme, third we have The Island. This Chinese film is a bit like Lord of the Flies, The Simpsons’ episode Das Bus and other similar movies. It sees a group of coworkers on a company retreat being stranded on an island after a meteorite strikes the Earth. They think the world has been destroyed and struggle to survive. The lead finds out he’s won the lottery on the way there and wants nothing more than to get home and get his millions. He’s also in love with a coworker. It’s your standard film that sees groups breaking off, some staying with the boss because they are used to that structure, others stick with those who know how to fish and live off the land. There is a twist I won’t spoil and overall the film’s not too bad.
Next is The Swindlers, a crime caper out of South Korea. South Korea has been putting out some great dramas over the past few years and this one is pretty good as well. This sees criminals working with an authority figure to try to catch a con man, but there are twists and turns and there are different agendas. It plays out like an Oceans movie with some layers like a Mission: Impossible flick. It keeps you guessing which is nice and you never quite know who is on the up and up. I can see it doing well with a home video/streaming audience as well.
If you want some more crime capers, Murdoch Mysteries Season 12 is out this week. I find this show delightful because it’s a good mix of drama and comedy and is really light compared to a lot of heavy dramas. I tend to binge the new seasons of this Canadian series pretty quickly when I get them although it does take time when you’re talking 18 episodes. It opens with a murder at the public introduction of the Murdochs’ new residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Follow up episodes include a possible murder at a hospital, Henry Higgins and Ruth Newsome’s wedding, a French diplomat is found dead, a wealthy couple are found dead in their pool, Brackenreid finds out he’s a father and the daughter is missing, an ax murderer escapes and tries to kill the people that testified against her, Nikola Tesla joins in an investigation of someone trying to make themselves invisible, their book leads to copycat murders and John is framed. I always like the setting, the writing and characters in the show. It being light is a nice break from other cop shows for sure as well.
There is also a Murdoch Mysteries: Seasons 9-12 Collection out this week too. This monster box set is a great way to catch up if you’re behind on the series. This 72 episode, 16 discs set is a beast and is 53 hours of mysteries. They deal with names like Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Alexander Graham Bell, Theodore Roosevelt, Frank Lloyd Wright, H.P. Lovecraft, and Nikola Tesla. If you like the show and haven’t seen the recent seasons, this is great.
Next is Vidago Palace: Series 1. This is set in 1936 Portugal and is very much a historical drama with lavish settings and people. Plus drama, all kinds of drama involving money, love, politics, war and more. With six episodes over 2 discs it’s a quick watch which is nice. I like these European shows that go 4-8 episodes because they get right into the story quickly and tie the season up pretty quickly as well. At its core it is about wanting love over marrying for money and class, but the acting is good and the setting works. Plus the lead actress is stunning. If you are looking for Shakespearean storytelling with Downton Abbey backdrops, this is for you.
Last for the new releases is Creating Woodstock. Even though Woodstock 50 has been cancelled, people still love the legendary three days of love, peace and music from 1969. This in-depth documentary takes a look at the highs and lows of the festival from selling tickets to one location, losing that location and finding a last minute replacement to the concert ultimately being free when the crowd exploded. This shows how they struggled to have food and water, how some acts played longer than expected and how they used helicopters to get people in and out. I remember VH1 doing something similar years backs so I knew a lot about it, but it’s good seeing old footage of acts performing. It gets into the legals aspect along with the cultural significance the show had and interviews people who were there from the creators to concert goers and musicians who played. Pretty interesting.
Hail Satan? came out last week but I didn’t get it until later in the week. It’s a documentary on Satanists, but is really fascinating. The first half is your standard documentary talking about how this one faction was created and the type of people that joined. But the second half is a ton of fun. People will write off Satanists as weirdos, but this group uses the law to prove points. They take on government laws to show the double standards in them. They want a statue to show off their beliefs next to the 12 Commandments at a capital building and Christians lose their minds. It shows how even though this country says there’s a separation of church and state there really isn’t one. I’m a big fan of poking the bear with situations like this so I enjoyed this documentary especially the second half.
Last we have The Fate of Lee Khan. This came out last week as well, but I had it in the wrong pile of movies. This 1973 film is about Lee Khan, an official working for Mongolian Emperor Yuan of the Yuan Dynasty who procures the battle map of the Chinese rebel army. Rebels try to get the map off him at an inn/restaurant/gambling hall. The owner of the inn has female employees with criminal backgrounds and has spies within Khan’s group. It’s pretty much a one location film until the fight scenes at the end. You’re never quite sure where the film is going and who is a good guy or bad guy and the action sequences are pretty good. So are the costuming and set design. The fight at the end is quite cool with lots of jumping and hand to hand combat. I had never heard of it, but I’m sure there are a ton of fans out there and I’ve recommended it to a friend who also likes Asian films. It’s been remastered in 2K and this is its first time on Blu-ray in the US. The legendary Sammo Hung did the fight choreography which is easy to understand if you know his previous work.