November 13, 2018

THE POOP SCOOP: Noteworthy Upcoming Blu-ray Releases

The Poop Scoop features news and press releases related to upcoming movies, Blu-rays & DVDs and anything else film-related that makes us purr. For more information, feel free to e-mail us at

A group of friends are bound for a horror-themed Halloween event at a local amusement park — a sprawling labyrinth of rides, games, and mazes that travels the country and happens to be in town. But for one visitor, the ghoulish carnival of nightmares is not the attraction — it is a hunting ground. On the night the friends attend, a masked serial killer turns the amusement park into his own playground, terrorizing attendees while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show. As the body count and frenzied excitement of the crowd continues to rise, who will fight to survive the night?

Successful salesman Teddy Walker’s (Kevin Hart, Jumanji, Ride Along 1 & 2) life turns around after getting fired for accidentally destroying his workplace. Forced to attend night school so he can finally get his GED and find another job, Teddy soon finds himself amongst a group of misfit students, a teacher with no patience for grown up class clowns named Carrie (Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip, Uncle Drew) and his high school nemesis-turned-principal Stewart (Taran Killam, Killing Gunther, Ted 2) who will strive to make sure he fails the course. With every rule in the book about to be broken, Teddy and his new friends find themselves in a battle of pranks and wit that you can’t simply learn in the classroom.

Enter the corrupt world of 1980s Detroit at the height of the War on Drugs in the compelling father-son story, WHITE BOY RICK, debuting on Digital and available via the Movies Anywhere App. on December 11 and on Blu-ray and DVD December 25 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Based on true events, WHITE BOY RICK tells the moving story of a blue-collar father, played by Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey (2013, Best Actor, Dallas Buyers Club,) and his teenage son, played by newcomer Richie Merritt. Fifteen-year-old Rick Wershe Jr., dubbed “White Boy Rick”, becomes the youngest FBI informant in history, and later a drug dealer, manipulated by the very system meant to protect him, abandoned by his FBI handlers, and sentenced to life in prison.


The hunt has evolved – and so has the explosive action – in the next chapter of the Predator series, from director Shane Black (Iron Man 3). Now, the most lethal hunters in the universe are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before….and only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor can prevent the end of the human race.
With the special edition Predator 4-Movie Collection, fans can experience four times the terror with a killer collection of action-packed Predator movies, plus four collector cards of the original film poster re-issue with some of the franchises most iconic quotes on the back. In Predator, Arnold Schwarzenegger wages an all-out war against an extraterrestrial that hunts humans for sport. Then in Predator 2, Danny Glover battles the fearsome creature in the urban jungle of Los Angeles. In Predators Adrien Brody leads a group of elite warriors on an alien planet targeted by a new Predator breed. Finally, in The Predator, Boyd Holbrook discovers that the most lethal hunters in the universe are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever.

November 12, 2018

Featuring Mike Oldfield, Jack Nitzsche, Anton Webern and others. (2018/45 min). 


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

I should start by stating that The Exorcist is, in my opinion, the greatest horror film ever made. Everything about it is note-perfect, including the music, which only serves enhance the eerie atmosphere and slow-burning dread.

That being said, as an isolated listening experience, that same music leave a lot to be desired. Placed front, center and out of context, many tracks are just shapeless atonal noise, featuring screeching strings, weird sound effects and abrasive percussion. The longer tracks - some of which run ten minutes long - are the worst offenders.

Worse yet, the volume leveling is all over the place. Case-in-point, the first track, "Iraq," begins ominously before pointlessly tacking on the audio clip from that scene, at a jarringly higher volume. Other tracks have long segments which are barely audible. The most iconic piece, the piano segment from Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells," takes a full minute to fade in. The original tune didn't do that, nor is it presented that way in the movie. Anyone considering picking up the disc for that track alone should seek out Oldfield's album instead.

As effective as it is in The Exorcist, some soundtracks simply don't lend themselves to casual listening. This limited edition re-release might be of interest to collectors, but others are better off enjoying the music where it was meant to be heard.


Rest in Peace, Stan Lee

November 11, 2018

Rest in Peace, Douglas Rain

THE 7TH DAY is Memorable, Whether You Like It or Not
Starring Starring Juan Diego, Jose Luis Gomez, Jose Garcia, Victoria Abril, Yohana Cobo, Eulialia Ramon, Ramon Fontsere, Carlos Hipolito. Directed by Carlos Saura. (2004/100 min).


Review by Fluffy the Fearless🙀

One of the great things about this gig is I'm often given the opportunity to review films that I would never have discovered on my own. Quite frankly, there's a good reason I've never heard of a lot of them, while a few have become personal favorites I enjoy spreading the word about. Then there are movies like Spain's The 7th Day.

Consistently downbeat and occasionally plodding, this isn't what one would call a fun time at the movies. Still, its most powerful and tragic moments are likely to stick with the viewer long after it's over, especially when burdened with the knowledge it's based on a true story.

In true Shakespearian fashion, The 7th Day presents a decades-long family feud that begins when Luciana Fuentes is shunned by Amadeo Jimenez, the man she was expecting to marry. Her psychotic brother, Jeronimo (Ramon Fontsere), avenges her by stabbing him to death. While he's sent to prison, the Fuentes' matriarch is killed when their home is burnt down. It's suggested that this was in retaliation for Amadeo's murder, but we're never 100% certain who the culprit really is. The Fuentes's are mostly ostracized from Extremadura, the village where both families have always lived.

Fast forward thirty years...Jeronimo is released from prison and immediately stabs Amandeo's brother, Jose (Jose Garcia). While he survives, Jeronimo goes back to prison and dies shortly afterwards. The remainder of the Fuentes family - certain Jose killed their mother all those years ago - soon decide to act on their decades-long resentment of, not only the Jimenezes, but the entire village.

Jeronimo is a little too cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
When the story focuses on the Fuentes family, The 7th Day is morbidly fascinating. Led by Luciana and Antonio (Juan Diego), they turn out to be as dangerously unhinged as their murderous brother, and it appears that this ongoing feud has been largely one-sided. These scenes are often disturbing, creating an increasing sense of dread as the film progresses. We just know something awful is about to happen.

Less interesting are the various subplots involving the village dynamics. As the troubled Jimenez patriarch, Jose is sympathetic and likable, as is his beleaguered wife Carmen (Eulalia Ramon). However, too much of the film features oldest daughter Isabel's (Yohana Cobo) relationship with Chino (Oriol Vila), a hunky local drug dealer. And unfortunately, most of the narrative is presented from her point of view. There are other scenes featuring peripheral characters, but few figure that prominently into the primary story (do we really care about an unfaithful wife's tryst with a truck driver?).

On the other hand, maybe presenting the tedium of their lives was director Carlos Saura's intention all along. Despite The 7th Day's rambling episodic structure, the final act is tension-filled and disturbing. The shattering climax may indeed seem inevitable, but every character is caught completely off-guard. Since we've gotten to know most of them - albeit superficially - how can we not be haunted by the denouement?

Whether one likes The 7th Day or not, its conclusion is undeniably potent and ultimately memorable. That alone make it worth checking out at-least once, which will probably be enough for some viewers. 


November 7, 2018

Can Mike Tyson Save GIRLS VS. GANGSTERS?
Starring Fiona Sit, Ivy Chen, Ning Chang, Mike Tyson, Tiantian Fan, Son Bao Tran, Shuilin Wang, Elly Nguyen. Directed by Barbara Wong. (2018/114 min). 


Review by Stinky the Destroyer🙀

Is it a mere coincidence that Mike Tyson happens to appear prominently in two of the worst movies I've reviewed this year? Probably. It isn't as though he's the reason they happen to be awful. Not even Daniel Day Lewis could save either China Salesman or this execrable comedy, Girls vs. Gangsters.

Of course, Tyson can't act, but he's no worse than anyone else in the cast. Girls vs. Gangsters is a Chinese rip-off of The Hangover, with three young ladies who plan a wild weekend before one of them gets married. After getting drunk at a crime boss' party, they wake up naked on the beach with no idea how they got there. Two of them are also handcuffed to a suitcase of gold bricks and, worse yet, the gangster's leather-clad henchwoman is after them. Most of the film has them trying to piece together the events of the previous night while running for their lives.

"If only your ears were meatier."
The film is a sequel to 2014's Girls, which I haven't seen. But if this one is any indication of writer/director Barbara Wong's abilities, I dodged a bullet. Girls vs. Gangsters is not-only laugh free, it's narratively vapid and offensively stupid. Every attempt at humor feels labored and desperate, with an abundance of scatological humor, leering shots of cleavage and even a rape joke for those who still think that shit is funny. The three lead characters are shrill, obnoxious and irritating caricatures who generate zero empathy and even less likability.

Again, none of this is Tyson's fault. In fact, his brief appearance ironically ends up being a welcome break from the three leads' constant whining, crying and shrieking. He's still terrible, but the fact he's arguably the best part of the movie should tell you all you need to know.


November 4, 2018

MR. CAPRA GOES TO WAR: Yeah...He Did That
Various Directors. (1942-1945/310 min). 


Review by Mr. Paws😸

Imagine if Steven Spielberg decided to drop everything and serve his country by using his talents to make films supporting the war in Afghanistan. That's essentially what Frank Capra did at the onset of America's involvement in World War II. Granted, it was a different era and collective attitudes regarding war have changed, but you get the idea.

Capra was one of the most successful directors working in Hollywood at the time, yet put it all on hold to oversee a series of documentaries for the military. His salary? A little over $300 a month. Man, that's some serious patriotism.

This disc from Olive Films collects five of those films, two from the Why We Fight series and three others, all originally produced by the U.S. War Department. Capra didn't exactly "direct" them - most consist largely of existing footage shot by others - but oversaw their assembly and narrative. Being wartime, these films were obviously made to generate support for the war effort, as well as inspire those who were sent to fight.

"We need a love scene right here."
The best of the lot, Prelude to War, explains how and why the U.S. got involved, and provides detailed histories of its enemies (Germany, Italy and Japan). Using stock footage and animation, the film is a chilling example of how easily fascism can spread through fear-mongering and propaganda (sounds familiar, doesn't it?). Also interesting are The Negro Soldier and The Battle of Russia, mainly because they often paint a decidedly different - and sometimes inaccurate - picture than history eventually did.

Speaking of history, the MVP of this disc is undoubtedly Joseph McBride, a film historian and Frank Capra biographer. Not only does he discuss Capra's film career before, during and after the war, his informative introductions to each film provides valuable historical context. Seeing them prior to the films is highly recommended.

Mr. Capra Goes to War isn't indispensable, especially since it's by-no-means a complete collection. However, it is an interesting curiosity for Capra fans who might have wondered what he was up to for four years. The documentaries themselves range from historically informative to archaic & silly. Sometimes what we learn about them is a lot more interesting.

"FRANK CAPRA: WHY WE FIGHT" - Analysis of Capra's early career and involvement in WWII by biographer Joseph McBride.
INTRODUCTIONS - Intros to each film by Joseph McBride.


November 3, 2018

THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS: Misery May Not Always Love Company
Starring Daniela Love, Jorge Mota, Mafalda Banquart, Ligia Roque, Lilia Lopes, Tiago Jacome. Directed by Jose Pedro Lopes. (2017/71 min). 


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

The fictional forest of the title is a place where people frequently go to commit suicide, which we learn during the very first scene when a young girl swallows poison, then wades into a lake and silently dies.

Later, grieving family man Ricardo (Jorge Mota) visits the woods to do the same thing, only with a knife. He meets Carolina (Daniela Love), another young girl who he says reminds him of his own daughter. She's apparently there to kill herself, too, and during their conversation, while coming across various other dead bodies, they make fleeting attempts to talk each other out of suicide. Ricardo's mind is made up, though, but uses Carolina's poison - with her permission - to avoid any pain.

At this point, The Forest of Lost Souls gives us two revelations. First, the girl who killed herself in the opening scene was one of Ricardo's daughters. Second, Carolina takes his knife and viciously stabs him anyway, assuring an agonizing death. Afterwards, she takes his phone and car, using both to find what's left of his family with the intent of killing them, too.

"Eeew! Something touched my leg!"
Deliberately paced and visually intriguing, the film's use of black & white effectively reflects the film's tone, not-to-mention the overall despair most of these characters feel. The Forest of Lost Souls is beautiful to look at and the interaction between Ricardo & Carolina is quite engaging - even funny at times - holding the promise of exploring the nature of sadness and what leads one to choose suicide as a way out.

However, the interest level wanes once the story leaves the forest to focus on being the horror film it's promoted as. Ricardo's dysfunctional family isn't as interesting - or likable - as Ricardo himself and we spend a lot more time around them than we'd like to. Caroline is a chillingly cruel character whose cold-blooded apathy is unnerving, but writer-director Jose Pedro Lopes doesn't give her much to do during the second half besides stalk her prey. He maintains the same dark tone, but in the long run, that might actually work against it. The film's unrelenting nihilism defuses any attempts to create tension because we're pretty sure how things will turn out long before the end credits roll.

Still, The Forest of Lost Souls certainly earns points for presentation. It's visually arresting and atmospheric, particularly during the first half. Had the narrative been more consistently compelling - perhaps focusing entirely on Ricardo & Carolina - this could have been a slow-burning stunner. But as-is, the film is watchable.

DELETED SCENES - With Commentary
SHORT FILM - "St. John"

November 2, 2018

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS on Digital 11/27, 4K, Blu-Ray and DVD 12/18

Enjoy the delightfully thrilling tale of a mysterious house where things, including the inhabitants, are not what they seem to be. The House With a Clock in its Walls arrives on Digital and via the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on November 27, 2018, as well as on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on December 18, 2018. Based on the classic children’s book and praised as “creaky, freaky haunted-mansion fun” (LA Times), The House With a Clock in its Walls features over 60 minutes of bonus content including an alternate beginning and ending, stunning featurettes, deleted scenes, a hilarious gag reel, and feature commentary. Enchanting from start to finish, it’s the perfect adventure for families during the holidays.

October 30, 2018

PREHYSTERIA!: A Kids Movie for Thirtysomethings
Starring Austin O'Brien, Brett Cullrn, Colleen Morris, Samantha Mills, Tony Longo, Stuart Fratkin, Stephen Lee. Directed by Charles & Albert Band. (1993/83 min).


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

At the start-up of this disc, there's a trailer with a montage of several Full Moon Features cult horror classics to promote the company's Amazon channel. Many of the clips contain violence, blood and sex. One might initially question why something like this would precede a family film, until you realize that anyone who enjoyed Prehysteria! back in the day are now in their mid-to-late 30s, and I seriously doubt any kids today would be interested in a movie like this. Full Moon knows damn well who their audience is.

Since 90s' nostalgia appears to be a thing now, those same thirtysomethings who grew up on Full Moon's economic brand of straight-to-video entertainment might hold the same reverence for Prehysteria! that my generation did for The Shaggy D.A. In retrospect, both are terrible films, but sure enjoyable when we were too young to know any better. And sometimes it's fun revisiting childhood pleasures.

This snack comes with a prize.
Full Moon Features is, of course, known for horror movies, but did produce a number of fantasy-oriented family films under the Moonbeam Entertainment banner. Of those, Prehysteria! is arguably the only one to really find an audience, who were probably more enamored with the concept than the story itself: What kid wouldn't love the idea of miniature dinosaurs scuttling around the house, especially after Jurassic Park just made them cool again?

Naturally, Prehysteria! is no Jurassic Park...or We're Back...or even Carnosaur. The dinos are cute-but-clunky, the humor is eye-rolling, the performances are pedestrian and the story nearly non-existent. Anyone reading this probably already knows that and doesn't care. For them, this Blu-ray is a silly little trip back to the good ol' days of perusing the local Blockbuster armed with indiscriminate tastes.

"VIDEOZONE" - Full Moon was including making-of features on their VHS releases before DVD was a glint in anyone's eye.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Charles Band & Austin O'Brien
TRAILERS - For numerous other Full Moon films

THE PREDATOR on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD 12/18

The universe’s greatest hunter returns in The Predator on Digital and Movies Anywhere November 27 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD December 18. Fans can also bring home a special edition Predator 4-Movie Collection, which includes Predator, Predator 2, Predators and The Predator on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

The hunt has evolved – and so has the explosive action – in the next chapter of the Predator series, from director Shane Black (Iron Man 3). Now, the most lethal hunters in the universe are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before….and only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor can prevent the end of the human race.

The Predator Digital, 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ & DVD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Deleted Scenes
  • A Touch of Black
  • Predator Evolution
  • The Takedown Team
  • Predator Catch-Up
  • Gallery

October 29, 2018

BELIEVER and Some Payback for the Pooch
Starring Cho Jin-woong, Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Joo-hyuk, Kim Sung-ryung, Park Hae-joon, Cha Seung-won. Directed by Lee Hae-young. (2018/124 min).


Review by Tiger the Terrible😾

Mr. Lee is Korea's most notorious druglord, as well as its most elusive. In fact, nobody even seems to know what he looks like, and those who have seen him don't live long enough to talk about it. As for lower-level crime bosses who pose as Lee to elevate their own status...well, they aren't too long for this world either. Won-ho (Cho Jin-woong) is a detective who's been obsessed with catching Mr. Lee for years, but has never come close.

Won-ho sees another opportunity when an explosion at one of Mr. Lee's warehouses leaves a survivor, Rak (Ryu Jun-yeoi), and his dog. Rak seems less upset that his mother perished in the explosion than the wounds suffered by the dog, so he agrees to help Won-ho get inside the organization. In the film's best sequence, Won-ho poses as a buyer to meet psychotic Chinese dealer Ha-rim (Kim Joo-hyuk) in a hotel, then goes to the next floor and poses as Ha-rim to make a deal with another henchman who works for Lee. The whole segment is tension-filled and masterfully performed.

Daft Punk...the early days.
Elsewhere, Believer is content to be a your standard obsessed-cop-vs.-elusive-criminal caper, with enough narrative and stylistic flourishes to keep it engaging. Won-ho and Rak are interesting characters, but few of the others really rise above standard tropes: the dedicated team, the green rookie, the cruel henchman, the depraved kingpin (though a pair of loony chemists deserve their own movie). Storywise, the revelation of Mr. Lee's identity probably won't be a big shock to anyone who's seen The Usual Suspects, though the film does end with a memorable - and wonderfully ambiguous - resolution.

Other than the denouement, there aren't a lot of surprises and most of the big action is regulated to the final act. Still, Believer is stylishly made, the performances are good and I admit getting some perverse pleasure from a scene involving the brutal torture of one particularly hateful character. That's what he gets for maiming the dog!


October 28, 2018

NIGHTWING and SHADOW OF THE HAWK: Two for the Niche Crowd
Starring Nick Mancuso, David Warner, Kathryn Harold, Stephen Macht, Ben Piazza, Strother Martin, Charles Hallahan. Directed by Arthur Hiller. (1979/105 min). 

Starring Jan-Michael Vincent, Marilyn Hassett, Chief Dan George. Directed by George McGowan. (1976/92 min). 


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

This latest double feature from Mill Creek Entertainment resurrects two forgotten relics of the 1970s.

Well, mostly forgotten. I actually recall seeing Nightwing in theaters, back when everyone, including yours truly, was still stricken by Jaws fever and it seemed like another knock-off popped up at my local Southgate Quad every week. Some where okay, most were terrible and none came close to giving me the visceral rush of Jaws.

Nightwing gives us vampire bats that terrorize an Indian reservation in New Mexico. Stonefaced local deputy Youngman Duran (Nick Mancuso) teams up with obsessive bat hunter Dr. Payner (David Warner) and perky girlfriend Anne Dillon (Kathryn Harrold) to try and destroy the proliferating pests. Other than some livestock and a few dumb tourists, these bats don't do much actual killing and the first half is really slow going. Things eventually improve, though the special effects are laughably terrible throughout. On the plus side, Warner's campy performance is wonderfully over-the-top. Based on his manic description of these animals, you'd think they were gonna bring about the apocalypse.

Ms. Harold conveys utter terror.
While mostly bat guano, Nightwing still holds morbid historical interest for the surprising amount of genuine talent behind it. This wasn't the usual low-budget Jaws ripoff. It was directed by none-other than Arthur Hiller, known for such classics as The Americanization of Emily, Love Story and The In-Laws. Amazingly, Carlo Rambaldi, who'd already worked on Close Encounters and Alien, created the silly looking bats (which look more like angry dachshunds). Not only that, legendary composer Henry Mancini is onboard to provide the score. One can only assume these guys' paychecks included a lot of zeros.

But at least Nightwing is kind of fun, even if that fun generally comes at its own expense. Shadow of the Hawk, on the other hand, is a comparatively dull and takes its ambiguous story way too seriously. Despite a few creepy moments, it looks and plays like a TV movie-of-the-week from the era: competently made, but with little genuine style or atmosphere. Jan-Michael Vincent plays Mike, a cynical businessman whose Native American grandfather (Chief Dan George) shows up to groom him as a tribal shaman in order to battle a malevolent demon. On the way back to the village, he fights a bear to the death, is pursued by a demonic car, blows up an owl and locks lips with new friend Maureen (Marilyn Hassett).

Even bears love Jan-Michael Vincent.
Consisting mostly of individual set-pieces rather than a cohesive narrative, Shadow of the Hawk is more of a mystical road movie than a horror film. The overly serious screenplay is filled with groan-worthy dialogue, not helped by wooden performances from Vincent and Hassett (neither of whom were ever outstanding actors to begin with). Then again, what else would you expect from a director whose greatest claim to fame was Frogs? However, if you're looking to complete your Jan-Michael Vincent collection - and who isn't? - here's your chance.

Since I have fond memories of hanging out at the Southgate Quad every weekend, Nightwing was a pleasant nostalgia trip. There might even be those with a similar sentimental fondness for Shadow of the Hawk. Neither of these titles would be worth picking up individually, but as a reasonably-priced double feature with a decent video transfer, this Blu-ray is probably has a niche audience who might dig it.


October 26, 2018

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU Doesn't Stick to the Script
Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Flower, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer and the voices of David Cross, Lily James, Patton Oswalt, Forest Whitaker & Rosario Dawson. Directed by Boots Riley. (2018/111 min). 


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😺

Sorry to Bother You is full of surprises, never once unfolding like we expect it to. That alone keeps it at-least interesting, whether you end up liking the film or not (I suspect many viewers definitely won't). That it's also wickedly funny, completely original and features a charming, relatable protagonist makes it one of the best films of the year.

I know from personal experience that telemarketing is a shitty way to make a living, so I empathized with Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) almost immediately. Living in his uncle's garage and desperate for cash, he lands a job at RegalView, a telemarketing company that pretty-much hires anybody who walks in the door. And why not? Telemarketers aren't paid unless they make make sales. Despite rallying staff pep-talks by overly enthusiastic managers - "Stick to the script!" - telemarketing appears to be yet-another job he sucks at.

All that changes when co-worker Langston (Danny Glover) shows him how to use his "white voice." In almost no time, he's the star of the office and promoted to be one of the company's Power Callers, who make huge deals with mega-corporations. I knew guys like this during my brief tenure as a telemarketer. They were usually the most overbearing assholes in the room. Cassius' sudden success soon alienates those close to him, including co-workers Salvador (Jermaine Fowler) and Squeeze (Steven Yeun), who lead a strike against RegalView over unlivable wages.

Meanwhile, people everywhere are protesting WorryFree, a corporation that provides slave labor - working for basic necessities, but no wages - to other companies. When Cassius crosses the RegalView picket line, he becomes a national punchline when struck by a soda can. Still, he's aggressively courted by obnoxious WorryFree founder Steve Lift to come work for him. It's when Cassius learns how Lift wants to use him that Sorry to Bother You takes one of the most unexpected narrative turns I've ever seen, resulting in a final act that's completely the best way possible.

Some people just can't get the hang of gravity.
Not that the film wasn't already a little strange up to that point. Taking place in what can be described as an alternate universe, Sorry to Bother You presents a slightly dystopian society where laborers are commodities who are easily placated by mundane rewards and idiotic entertainment. The film itself is quirky and occasionally surreal, with a sense of humor that sometimes reminded me of  Idiocracy filtered through Wes Anderson. Along the way, writer/director Boots Riley aims satiric daggers at a variety of targets. And most of the time, he hits bullseyes.

But all the self-assured cleverness in the world would mean nothing without engaging characters. As Cassius, Lakeith Stanfield is note-perfect, displaying a vulnerable likability, perplexed by his circumstances while simultaneously going with the flow...for awhile, anyway. Tessa Thompson is also effective as Detroit, his activist girlfriend who serves as his moral compass. Most of the secondary characters and antagonists are painted in broader strokes, but amusing nevertheless (Armie Hammer is an absolute riot). Certain characters' "white voices" are hilariously rendered by a variety of well-known actors and comedians.

Despite RegalView's company mantra, Sorry to Bother You definitely does not "stick to the script." The result is a unique, offbeat satire that's destined to polarize audiences for years to come. Those not on-board with its concept and ideas will want to get off this train before the first Equisapien even shows up. Everyone else will want to revisit the film again and again. This is an outstanding great directorial debut and I look forward to Boots Riley's next.

FEATURETTE: "Beautiful Clutter" - Writer/director Boots Riley talks extensively about his first film venture. Interesting stuff.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Writer/director Boots Riley

October 23, 2018

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN: Truth in Advertising...Sort Of
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Andy Garcia, Dominic Cooper, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, Josh Dylan, Omid Djalili, Cher, Meryl Streep. Directed by Ol Parker. (2018/114 min).


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😸

Movies like Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again are sort of difficult to assess. On one hand, it's a strong contender for one of the most unnecessary sequels of all time. On the other, it is hard to imagine big fans of the original - or ABBA's music in general - not enjoying this one, as well. However, they might be surprised by the narrative's somber underpinnings.

Speaking of narratives, while I enjoyed the first film, I couldn't recall the actual plot shortly after seeing it. All that really stuck with me were the fun musical numbers, the fact Pierce Brosnan couldn't sing and a reminder that Meryl Streep is invincible. This time, we're getting a prequel, of sorts. Half the film takes place a few years after the first, with Donna's daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), getting ready to re-open her mom's hotel with the assistance of suave manager Fernando (Andy Garcia). Interspersed throughout are lengthy flashbacks of Donna (Lily James) in 1979, when she travels to Europe after graduation and meets Sam, Harry & Bill for the first time. She also falls in love with the island and ramshackle old house that she'd eventually turn into the hotel.

"Hey...did that mannequin just move?"
Along the way, there are plenty of musical numbers: a lot of tunes that only die-hard ABBA fans would be familiar with, as well as a few bonafide classics (including some featured in the first film). The numbers are sunny and fun, as is the choreography, which is a good thing since what little plot there is feels superfluous (and sort-of melancholy). Nearly all of the original cast returns, slipping comfortably back into their roles. But despite being prominently featured in the ad campaign, Meryl Streep is largely absent. She was the glue that held the original together and is sorely missed here. As for the ballyhooed addition of Cher...I guess if you're a fan, her appearance won't feel shoe-horned into the story, but her role is mostly a glorified cameo.

But we're here for the music, right? As before, everyone does-right by the songs and those who can't sing are mercifully regulated to being part of the chorus (sorry, Mr. Brosnan). Writer/director Ol Parker takes the reigns from Phyllida Lloyd and wisely stays the course, maintaining the first film's aesthetic and pace (though one suspects he was forced to fashion a story that didn't require heavy commitment from Streep). But bittersweet tone notwithstanding, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is an aptly-titled sequel if there ever was one and unlikely to disappoint anybody who regularly sings along with the original film.

Speaking of which, this disc is loaded with bonus material (listed below), including the prerequisite "sing-along" feature. Most of the featurettes are pretty short, but there's a lot of them and they're pretty entertaining.

ENHANCED SING-ALONGS - Musical numbers from the film given the ol' Karaoke treatment.
FEATURETTES - "The Story"; "Mamma Mia! Reunited"; "Playing Donna"; "Sophie's Story"; "Meeting Cher"; "Costumes and the Dynamos"; "Choreographing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"; "Cast Meets Cast" (Christine Baranski & Julie Walters meet their younger counterparts); "Curtain Call" (the 'Super Trooper' number); "Dancing Queen: Anatomy of a Scene"; "Cast Chats" (featuring the younger flashback cast members); "Performing for Legends" (the cast discuss singing ABBA songs in front of the band); "Class of '79"
HIGH JINKS - I was hoping this was a gag reel, but it's a one-minute compilation of the cast goofing off).
TODAY SHOW INTERVIEW - Cher and Producer Judy Craymer
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Writer/Director Ol Parker
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Producer Judy Craymer