‘Blow Out,’ ‘The Lost City,’ ‘We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,’ And More #Blow #Lost #City #Worlds #Fair Welcome to Americanah Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:
Every Tuesday, discriminating viewers are confronted with a flurry of choices: new releases on disc and on demand, vintage and original movies on any number of streaming platforms, catalogue titles making a splash on Blu-ray or 4K. This twice-monthly column sifts through all of those choices to pluck out the movies most worth your time, no matter how you’re watching.
This week’s disc offerings are a little slimmer than usual – it happens, at this odd point between summer and holiday shopping seasons – but there are a couple of things to grab (including a must-have 4K upgrade for one of the best movies of the 1980s), along with a handful of new-to-streaming titles that are well worth a look (or a second, or third).
PICK OF THE WEEK:
“Blow Out”: Brian De Palma’s 1981 political thriller, about an exploitation movie sound man (John Travolta) who accidentally records a political assassination, is a free-wheeling grab bag of elements pilfered from “Blow-Up,” “The Conversation,” the Zapruder film, and decades of conspiracy theories. But as with his Hitchcock homages, this is no mere case of connect the dots; the deft director (who also penned the script) uses the familiarity of his elements to create a fever dream of bristling paranoia and post-Watergate corruption, smashing them together with such taut ingenuity that they become something altogether his own. Criterion’s 4K upgrade is pristine; it looks, and (importantly!) sounds better than ever. (Includes interviews, trailer, De Palma’s 1967 feature “Murder a la Mod,” and essays by Michael Sragow and Pauline Kael.)
ON HBO MAX:
“We’re All Going to the World’s Fair”: Jane Schoenbrun’s risky experiment of a movie stars Anna Cobb as a perpetually online teenage girl who embarks on “the World’s Fair challenge,” billed as “the internet’s scariest online horror game.” And it is, indeed, quite scary, for her and for us; much of the picture is shot from the camera of her laptop, in the style of “desktop horror” movies like “Unfriended,” but far more haunting here. Schoenbrun isn’t going for traditional scares; she’s painting a picture of online solitude and self-destruction, skirting up to the edge of a far more omnipresent darkness.
“Collateral”: Michael Mann’s 2004 crime movie does all of the things we expect a Mann film to do: it features a coldly efficient, nattily dressed criminal (Tom Cruise); it pairs him with a regular-guy antagonist (Jamie Foxx) and examines both their similarities and differences; it gives us crisply-executed set pieces in L.A.’s streets and underground nightclubs; it peers with style into the inky California night. But this one’s opening is what gives it its kick, with an extended meet-cute between Foxx and Jada Pinkett Smith that’s like its own, standalone short film about character and attraction. It establishes his character and sets the stakes for the film’s tense climax, but even more than that, it reminds us that there’s a lot more to Michael Mann than his trademarks.
ON AMAZON PRIME:
“The Lost City”: “They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” we’re told, and that’s mostly true – but sometimes they do, and it’s delightful. This Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum team-up from the Nee brothers (who made the similarly enjoyable, and widely unseen, Tom-and-Huck update “Band of Robbers”) is basically a “Romancing the Stone” remake, with Bullock as a romance novelist kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe, having a blast) whose cover model (Tatum) may be her only chance for escape. Their chemistry is bananas (they really are two of our last, genuine movie stars) and if the picture gets a bit bogged down in the unnecessary subplots of its supporting cast, it still offers plenty of pleasures.
“Take Out”: This early effort from future “Tangerine” and “Florida Project” director Sean Baker (he co-writes and co-directs with Shih-Ching Tsou) displays many of the qualities of his future work: savvy use of non-actors, an interest in life at the margins, and a profound empathy for its protagonists, who have often bought into the idea of the American Dream, only to find that they’ve been sold a bill of goods. His focus here is Ding (the excellent Charles Jang), a Chinese immigrant stuck in a staggering debt, which it seems impossible to repay in light of the tiny tips he makes delivering food for a Chinatown take-out joint. Baker and Tsou simply spend a day in his life, as he makes delivery after delivery in the pouring rain, a seemingly miserable existence that can get a bit monotonous – but that’s the point. It pairs well with Baker’s later films, but also with Ramin Bahrini’s “Man Push Cart,” a similarly lived-in portrait of the immigrant struggle in New York City. (Includes audio commentary, interviews, featurette, deleted scenes, screen test, trailer, and essay by J.J. Murphy.)
“Paravision Dreams: The Golden Age of 3-D Films”: This three-disc set from KL Studio Classics collects a trio of Paramount productions from the first, brief 3-D craze in the mid-1950s – all produced by the prolific (and not incidentally, budget-minded) duo of William H. Pine and William C. Douglas. The first film in the set, and the first Paramount 3-D feature, is 1953’s “Sangaree,” and the story goes that Paramount head Adolph Zukor stopped production of the film ten days in so they could restart it in 3-D. His insistence seems odd now; this period historical drama doesn’t scream out for the gimmick, nor benefit much from its deployment. “Those Redheads From Seattle,” from the same year, is served much better; mashing up the high-spirited musical, the culture clash Western, and the revenge melodrama, it’s a mixture that works better than it should, thanks to the charisma of the leads and the energy of Lewis H. Foster’s direction. The 1954 closer “Jivaro” is a pretty blatant “African Queen” rip-off, and has the kind of cringe-worthy elements you expect from a jungle adventure of the period. But stars Rhonda Fleming and Fernando Lamas generate considerable chemistry, and the effects are a lot of fun. (Includes audio commentaries, “Sangaree” radio adaptation, interview, restoration demos, and theatrical trailers.)