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Not a whole lot this week and at least one release hasn’t been delivered yet so I’ll start with The Brink. For a while I’ve said that Asia has been putting out some solid crime dramas and this is the latest. This involves a cop, underwater gold smuggling, a Triad mob boss, revenge and lots of action. Along with films like Ip Man 3, Master Z: Ip Man Legacy and The Grandmaster and now this, Max Zhang continues to impress me. He’s very much a leading man who you root for. This is a layered film with characters overlapping in backstories and a crooked cop being more involved than first believed. There is some great hand to hand fighting and the sequence on the boat towards the end is fantastic. With Donnie Yen getting older, Zhang should easily take his place in these types of movies that combine martial arts/wire work with crime drama driven storylines.

Second is Perception which is a head scratcher. A successful real estate developer, Daniel, needs to evict a small-time psychic and goes to the store. Her son sneaks into his car and he meets Nina, the psychic. He visits her again and she gives him a reading where she is able to reach his dead wife. He starts to pay Nina a lot of money to connect to his wife, but soon becomes obsessed and loses his job, money and much more. There is a twist to it I won’t ruin, but even with the twist the movie didn’t do much for me. I thought the acting was suspect and I never really cared for Daniel and you could tell there would be more to the son with how he was quiet and somewhat weird. The actress playing Nina wasn’t bad, but the other psychics, especially J Ro, were quite bad. It’s not a big budget movie so I understand you can’t expect much, but this just didn’t have enough to make me care.

Third we have The Beatles: Made on Merseyside, a documentary on The Beatles, their early life and their rise to fame. Now I’ve seen a lot on the band and I’m sure I’ve seen some of this before because they use a lot of stock interviews and what not. This goes way back, not only to The Quarrymen, but school bands and life in Liverpool as well. It interviews lots of people who saw the band’s early performances, talks to those who helped the band like Brian Epstein’s business associate Joe Flannery, The Beatles first ever secretary Freda Kelly and Pete Best himself. I’ve always been a fan of the band so overall I liked this, but don’t expect much of the band’s music in it. It probably didn’t have the rights to their songs and you hear songs they covered (with those songs performed by other bands). But still it’s about The Beatles so if you like the band, you’ll like this quite a bit.

Next we have Cruising, the infamous gay killer film starring Al Pacino from director William Friedkin. I had never actually seen the film which is based on true events involving the killing of gay men in New York. This 1980 film sees Pacino as an undercover cop getting involved in the gay club scene with S&M, drugs and more. The film saw a lot of controversy with protests during filming and after its release. By today’s standards it’s pretty heavy handed, but I’m sure it was eye opening back then. Sure it’s not very nice to the gay community, but it was also about a man going around killing gay men which should have been the take away from the movie. The funniest part is Pacino is playing a late 20’s man when he was almost 40 in real life. This release is the film’s first time on Blu-ray with a brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative, supervised and approved by writer-director William Friedkin. Friedkin also does commentary on it and there’s also a bonus feature about the controversy surrounding the film. It has a cult following for sure and fans will want to eat up this new release because it’s the best it’s sounded and looked since probably its original release.

Aniara is a science fiction flick out of Europe. It’s an interesting film in that it’s one part psychological sci-fi thriller and a total head scratcher. Earth is on the brink of devastation and people take a shuttle to the spaceship Aniara where they will live until it reaches Mars. But the ship is knocked off course and those aboard are told it will take two years to get back on course. They try to live a normal life, working, having relationships and surviving, but as the truth comes out, it will take much longer than 2 years. Cults and religious people break off especially after a device on board stops functioning. It’s a room operated by the lead actress that allows people to get a taste of home and distract themselves from the darkness of space. Once it stops working the film gets a bit weird with an odd orgy type scene and power struggle. Then it straightens out a bit when hope might be a year or so away. Overall I liked the film, but it does get weird at times. For something I had no idea existed, it’s not bad for a watch.

Now for some TV releases. Blue Bloods: The Ninth Season hits DVD this week and the show continues to get solid ratings for CBS on Friday nights. My parents watch it every week and I wait until it hits DVD. It’s not a bad show, just not something I go out of my way to watch. It’s very formulaic like most cop shows especially 9 seasons deep. There is always trouble in the department, trouble at home and this season saw a blackout. Other episodes include a death at  a fraternity party, Danny’s house is torched and the man involved comes back, a run-in with community activists, a boy is almost killed by cheap insulin, Danny uses his weapon while off duty at a gas station, Jamie and Eddie’s wedding day approaches and more. It’s a staple for CBS and my parents look forward to it every Friday night so the show must be doing something right.

NCIS: New Orleans: The Fifth Season is also out this week and it’s also a show my parents watch every week. I personally have never gotten into any of the NCIS shows, but my mom watches all of them. She does prefer the original, but does like the spinoffs including this one. I only watch it when it comes my way on DVD. Season 5 starts with Pride (Scott Bakula) fighting for his life while the team try to hunt down the woman who tried to kill him. A new cast member (Necar Zadegan) joins the squad as the team looks for a former IRA bomb maker. Other episodes include a petty officer killed leading to investigation into the fishing community, organ harvesting, a deadly car explosion in the French Quarter, vigilante murders, a Navy SEAL killed in a drive-by, a deadly bombing at a military museum event and the team splits up putting Pride in danger. I’m not a huge fan and it’s very procedural as well, but the ratings continue to be decent and people continue to watch.

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