The first three releases are out this week with the others having already been released earlier in the month and I got them after their original dates. Up first is the documentary This is GWAR. GWAR is a notorious band formed in the late 1980s that first came to fame in the 1990s thanks to appearances on Jerry Springer and other talk shows. They also were nominated for a Grammy. They wore over-the-top costumes, have a ridiculous stage show and were never afraid to push the envelope. You might have written them off as a gimmick, but make no mistake, this was a truly talented band made up of all kinds of artists, musicians and outright nerds. The documentary gets into the band’s early days at VCU where a bunch of film kids met musical kids and hung out with artists and overall weirdos. Half the band wanted to make weird movies. Half wanted to make music and they combined all their passions into GWAR. The film tackles their rise, the different band members leaving, the controversies surrounding them and ultimately humanizes these “characters” because that’s what they were, characters. What non-fans will learn from the documentary is just how uber talented they were. They could have relied on their gimmick for the attention, but they were fantastic musicians lead by the late Dave Brockie. You get incredible old footage, photos and interviews with former and current band members. Even if you can’t name a single GWAR song, it’s a fantastic rock-doc that is quite eye opening. I really dug it.
Second we have Official Competition starring Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas and Oscar Martinez. A rich man decides he want to produce a movie to leave as part of his legacy. He buys the film rights to a book and gets Cruz to be its director. She hires Banderas and Martinez to play the brothers in the book. Both men have different styles of acting with Martinez being more the method type giving his character a backstory and Banderas a more go with the flow type. The two clash during rehearsal and Cruz must find a way to get the best out of both of them. There’s a big twist towards the end. If you like movies about movies you’ll like it. The three leads are quite solid and the more you know about movie making and acting the more relatable it is. I enjoyed it having been on film sets and been part of the making of movies. Each actor brings something unique to their characters and it works because of their chemistry.
Ray Donovan gets a complete series box set this week that includes Ray Donovan: The Movie. When the show first aired I thought it was must see TV. Liev Schreiber played a fixer type who you hired to get rid of problems in Hollywood. He was a Boston guy with a checkered past. It slowly lost its flair despite a great cast including Jon Voight, Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok, Steven Bauer and more. Ray Donovan: The Movie came about because the show was cancelled unexpectedly and a movie was made to tie up storylines. If you were a fan then this is a great box set to have since you get the entire series and the movie. The movie was definitely necessary because fans needed closure.
The next bunch of releases come from Mill Creek Entertainment. The first batch come from their amazing Retro VHS series where you get a Blu-ray movie with a slipcover that looks like a VHS tape. It might be my favorite series they do and I hope it continues.
First is Shadowlands. Anthony Hopkins plays author C.S. Lewis with Debra Winger as an American who visits him in England and eventually marries him. Hopkins is great in the role talking about religion and other subjects his Chronicles of Narnia stories touched upon. With Debra Winger in it you know something will happen to her because it always did back then. It has a nice quaint backdrop and Joseph Mazzello plays her American son. I hadn’t seen the film in ages and the slipcover really captures the chemistry between Hopkins and Winger
Speaking of Joseph Mazzello he also starred in The Cure opposite Brad Renfro. Mazzello plays a young boy with AIDS who got it from a blood transfusion. Renfro is his neighbor who befriends him and convinces him to go on an adventure to New Orleans because he reads that a doctor there has developed a cure. It’s like a 1990s Tom Sawyer, but much sadder. I might have seen it before a long time ago, but I didn’t remember anything about it while watching. A young Nicky Katt makes an appearance as does Renee Humphrey who I remember from Mallrats. Both young actors were fantastic in the film. It’s a shame Renfro couldn’t beat his demons.
Third we have The Paper. Long before Spotlight Michael Keaton starred in this Ron Howard film about journalism. It has a stellar cast including Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Marisa Tomei and Randy Quaid. Two white businessmen are killed in New York and two African-American youths are arrested for the killings. Keaton thinks the murders are tied to organized crime and must fight Close over what the next day’s headline should be. Duvall is the boss with Tomei as Keaton’s pregnant wife. Hollywood loves movies about movies as previously stated, but they also love movies about journalists and reporters. From the 1990s it still holds a high 80s on Rotten Tomatoes. It does feel a bit dated, but overall I liked it. It also got a regular DVD release this month from Mill Creek.
Last for the Retro VHS releases is The Replacement Killers. I’ve always had a soft spot for this film which is Chow Yun-fat ‘s international debut and director Antoine Fuqua’s feature length debut. Chow Yun-fat plays a hired killer who can’t kill the son of a cop and has his boss after him with Sorvino a forger who tries to help him. Michael Rooker, Danny Trejo, Clifton Collins, Jr. all make appearances. It’s not a slam dunk of a film, but you could tell Fuqua had talent. It definitely feels and looks like its time period though.
And it wouldn’t be Mill Creek without some Ultraman. Ultraman Neos: The Complete Series is the 15th series and contained 12 episodes. It was originally available in 2017. Genki Kagura is the character who bonds with Ultraman Neos and fights the monsters when Earth has crossed over the Unbalance Zone. I always liked the original show better because of its campiness. These newer shows are too serious for me.
Last we have Ultraman Zearth Double Feature. These were two films from the 1990s first started to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ultraman. In the first film all of Earth’s gold is being stolen by the monster Cottenpoppe who is under the control of the alien Benzen and it’s up to Katsuto Asahi and Ultraman Zearth to protect Earth. The second film sees the alien, Lady Benzen, bring Ultraman Shadow to bring down Ultraman Zearth. This one had better action for me. If you have been collecting all the Ultraman releases then Neos and Zearth need to be added to your collection.