Odd mix of releases for us this week and up first is Greenland. I’m a sucker for a disaster flick and add in Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin and you have my attention. I’m a fan of Butler’s action flicks and have been a fan of Baccarin since Firefly so I was hoping to enjoy this end-of-the-world survival movie. They play husband and wife who are going through a rough patch, but when a comet appears out of nowhere, Butler and his family are picked to be sent to Greenland to survive the apocalypse. When they get to the airport their son gets turned away for being diabetic, but Butler isn’t with them, he had run back to the car to get the son’s meds. The family gets separated and the second act is Butler trying to meet his wife and son at his father-in-law’s house. You think the film might be over then, but then you remember they have to get to Greenland and the third act is about that. The film feels jumpy because of it. The second act is most of the action and the third act feels rushed. But overall I had fun with it. I do prefer Butler doing more action like the Has Fallen series but for what it is, it’s worth watching if you like Butler and disaster flicks.
Second we have The El Duce Tapes. This documentary takes lost and forgotten footage shot in the 1990s by Ryan Sexton and adds in some new interviews to bring to life the man known as El Duce. He was the drummer and singer for the band The Mentors. I wasn’t familiar with him or the band, but he did appear on the infamous Jerry Springer episode with Gwar, a band that toured with The Mentors. Watching the footage, the man was a maniac. He drank heavily, had an outrageous persona and played “rape rock” which lead to the band playing in seedy clubs. He claimed he was paid to kill Kurt Cobain as well. It’s a pretty bananas documentary and even if you aren’t familiar with him or the band (I wasn’t), it’s still pretty interesting. It comes with a ton of bonus features and if you liked VH1’s Behind the Music show back in the day, you’ll dig this.
Third we have Jiang Ziya, the acclaimed follow-up to the international blockbuster Ne Zha and the second chapter in the magical Fengshen Cinematic Universe. It’s about celestial army commander Jiang Ziya who must defeat a Fox Demon in order to return from banishment to the Mortal Realm. He had been gone for 10 years after not being able to defeat the Fox Demon because he thought he saw a spirit attached to it. Like the previous film, it’s absolutely stunning to look at but I have no idea what’s going on. I’m not sure if something is lost in translation, but I have no idea what these characters are, what they represent in folklore or even if they are based on folklore/mythology. But if you like animated films with sweeping takes, rich coloring on wardrobe and backdrops and lots of action, you’ll like this.
The rest of the releases come from Kino Lorber. From 1944, The Suspect stars Charles Laughton as an accountant who falls for a young woman (Ella Raines) who had come in for a job. He’s unhappily married and his wife refuses a divorce. When she dies, he says it was an accident, but a local inspector thinks he’s involved. Laughton continues his relationship with the young woman, but the inspector tries to set a trap before the pair can leave. It’s pretty racy for 1944 and has a great noir feel to it. I had never seen it and quite liked it.
So Evil My Love is a 1948 film about a woman falling for a conman. He rents a room from her and she soons falls for his charm, but authorities are out for him. He convinces her to take a job helping a friend and trying to get money off them by blackmailing her friend’s husband into paying for letters her friend had sent to another man. Again, it’s another drama that’s pretty edgy for the time period.
Man of the East is about a group of cowboy friends who try to help out the son of a dead friend. The son is very British and eccentric and baths daily, rides a bicycle and is very well dressed. They ride horses and are dirty and try to help the guy out when he gets involved with some bad guys over a dame. It’s your classic fish-out-of-water story and him learning how to be a real cowboy.
The Hills Run Red is a Spaghetti Western about a man jailed and seeking revenge on the man who got to live well while he was in prison. He’s released after 5 years and teams up with another man to get revenge on his now wealthy former friend. His wife is killed and his son is gone so he decides to take on all the henchman before finally taking on the friend’s #1 and ultimately getting his revenge on the friend and getting his son back. Pretty classic Western storytelling. I quite liked it.
Wings of the Hawk comes in both a restored 3D version and 2D and is about a man named Gallagher in Mexico caught up in the Mexican Revolution while he’s trying to mine for gold. A corrupt administrator takes his gold mine and kills most of his men and Gallagher gets taken in by revolutionaries. He helps them get weapons and fight back if they return his mine to him. Of course he falls for a woman in the process.
Last we have an Anthony Quinn double feature Man From Del Rio | The Ride Back. Man From Del Rio sees Quinn as a gunslinger who takes down another notorious gunslinger. The town wants him to be the sheriff, but first he must take on the local bartender and his men. The Ride Back is like 3:10 to Yuma where a Texas Marshal must bring back a wanted outlaw (Quinn), but soon they realize they must team up to survive against Apaches and others out to get them. I liked this one quite a bit as well.