By Robin E. Simmons
HOLD THE DARK
Set in the stunning Alaskan wilderness, Jeremy Saulnier’s mesmerizing, moody and atmospheric movie begins when Russell Core, a wolf expert and naturalist, gets a desperate letter from a young mom whose son was apparently killed by a pack of wolves.
Core travels alone to remote Keelut, where he meets Madora (Riley Keough) the mom and lonely military wife. Core and Madora develop a connection while Core tracks the wolves that took her son and finds something unexpected. But it’s when he returns to Kheelut that things really change. He makes a gruesome discovery, Madora disappears and her husband Vernon (Alexander Skarsgard) is called home from Iraq.
The horrible news of his child’s death triggers a violent chain of events. As local cop, Donald Marium (JAMES BADGE DALE) attempts to stop Vernon’s vengeful rampage, Core is forced on a dangerous odyssey into the heart of darkness.
Macon Blair’s taught and evocative screenplay is based on the William Giraldi’s acclaimed novel of the same name.
This immersive, mesmerizing and unnerving tale dares to enter those dark places of landscape and mind. In select theaters. Now streaming on Netflix. Recommended.
NEW FOR THE HOME THEATER:
Mark and David Dodson’s clever faux documentary purports to be an investigation into the end of Apollo 18, the last United States mission to the moon.
Returning from a successful lunar landing mission, NASA’s Apollo 18 suffers a computer error that forces astronaut Bo Cunningham to fly the spacecraft to an emergency landing in a remote Chinese desert, far from the intended target in the Pacific Ocean.
Thirty-six hours later NASA locates the spacecraft, by then the site of a national tragedy. Government investigations explore Cunningham’s actions before, during, and after the mission. The astronaut is declared a hero by some, a villain by others. But what really happened in the desert?
In new “interviews” conducted for the flight’s 25th anniversary, fresh mysteries around the controversial tragedy that left two American astronauts dead and almost destroyed an American institution are revealed.
A nice mix of new and manipulated footage supports the talking heads in creating an unnecessarily complex and overly-wrought mystery that in better hands might have been far more involving regarding the 1973 “incident” that was all but ignored during the emerging Watergate scandal that ultimately claims the presidency of President Richard M. Nixon. I kept wondering what’s real and what’s fiction until I didn’t really care. Random Media/Rocket66. DVD.
THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT (1977)
Charles Jarrott’s adaptation of former CV author Sidney Sheldon’s epic novel about the rise and revenge of French shopgirl Noelle (played by Marie-France Pisier in the movie) starts with a torrid WW II love affair that leaves her abandoned and pregnant. Noelle’s revenge includes becoming a fashion model, an international movie star and the mistress of an unbelievably wealthy Greek shipping tycoon. There’s a sense great style and attention to detail in this secret cinematic pleasure. Michell Legrand’s fine score is available on an isolated track. Twilight Time Movies. (Limited Edition) Blu-ray.
PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH
Edgar (Thomas Lennon), recently divorced, returns to his childhood home where he finds a nefarious puppet in his deceased brother’s room. Needing some quick cash, he decides to sell the doll at a small town convention celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the famous Toulon Murders.
Naturally, all hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets at the convention, setting them on a bloody killing spree that’s driven by an ancient evil as old as time itself. Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund co-directed. RLJE Films. 4k UHD.
Jacob (Frank Grillo) is a bank manager haunted by a violent heist that took the life of a coworker, teams up with his ex-cop neighbor, James (Bruce Willis), to bring down the assailant. While two men work together to figure out the thief’s next move, Gabriel, the highly trained criminal, is one step ahead. However, when Gabriel kidnaps Jacob’s wife (Olivia Culpo) and daughter, Jacob barrels down a path of bloodshed that‘s the catalyst for an explosive counterattack, bringing the trio of men to the breaking point.
I was actually kind of embarrassed seeing Willis in this dopey, semi-coherent low-budget, direct-to-video B-movie. Lionsgate. Blu-ray.