This week's highlights include the physical releases of the fantastic "Booksmart," the underappreciated "Ma" a glorious Scooby-Doo! box set and the redemptive third season of "True Detective."
"Booksmart" is an irreverent comedy about Amy and Molly (Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein), a pair of studious high school seniors, who discover that all their hard work hasn't put them ahead of their party-minded classmates. So, to close out their high school experience they decide to party like it's 1999 (a pop reference that is probably lost on Amy and Molly). What follows is a night of debauchery and epiphanies. It's vulgar, funny and enlightening. Billie Lourd slays. Why not make it a Diana Silver double feature? The actress stars as a high school student in both "Booksmart" and "Ma," a horror thriller that sees Octavia Spencer playing a woman who creates a party room in her basement and offers it as a safe asylum for partying teenagers. The film probably wouldn't work with anyone other than Spencer, but knowing her love for genre films I found this to be delightfully bent.
The history of Scooby-Doo and Saturday-morning television begins in 1969 when the series "Scooby-Doo Where Are You!" debuted and ran for two seasons. In 1978, a third season would be made, but many of those episodes would run as part of "Scooby's All-Stars" and "The Scooby-Doo Show." Those three seasons, 41 episodes, are collected in this Limited Edition collector's release that also includes a digital copy (something often missing from the Scooby-Doo series releases). The box design for this release is particularly display worthy.
From the outside looking in, "Men in Black: International" looked like a good idea. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson were coming off of the success of the most recent Thor and Avenger films and had shown a considerable amount of on-screen chemistry. Surely their charm would be enough to elevate whatever narrative writers Matt Holloway and Art Marcum ("Iron Man") could come up with. The reality of the situation proved to be quite different as Hemsworth and Thompson never click, Liam Neeson's Agent High T feels underwritten or overused and Emma Thompson's Agent O feels like a missed opportunity that the writers were planning on utilizing somewhere down the road. Maybe this franchise should have called it quits after the original film.
On the television front we have the sixteenth season of "NCIS,"the (obviously) popular police procedural featuring a team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. HBO successfully revived "True Detective" with its third season. This time around Mahershala Ali plays a detective obsessed and haunted by an unsolved case that saw two children disappear in 1980. Yes, the series struggled during its second season, but the difficult sophomore slump is now firmly in the past.
This week's Criterion Collection release sees "Fist in the Pocket," the 1965 debut of Italian director Marco Bellocchio, arrive on Blu-ray. The film is a drama with a pitch-black sense of humor that sees a young man attempting to free his healthy brother from having to carry the weight of them many hereditary diseases that his family suffers from.
Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive" was an unexpected, but warmly received vampire tale. With "The Dead Don't Die" the director turns his attention to the zombie genre. Reviews have been mixed, but the cast includes the likes of Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, Adam Driver and Tom Waits, so I'm still interested.
"X-Men: Dark Phoenix" was intended to serve as the culmination of twenty years of X-Men films. It is a testament to the uneven nature of a franchise that gave us a few marvelous films and equally as many frustratingly bad movies as well. The film was loved by a select few, a group that includes critics I tend to agree with. I've promised myself to sit down and revisit the film and with it making its digital debut now might be the time.