97 Minutes

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Vertical;
Thriller;
$17.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Alec Baldwin, MyAnna Buring, Jo Martin, Michael Sirow, Pavan Grover, Anjul Nigam, Jake Hayes, Slavko Slobin, Kasia Koleczek.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Alec Baldwin head an otherwise no-star cast in a direct-to-video thriller being hyped as a “ticking clock scenario” even though the film’s running time is four minutes shy of the title. (97 Minutes refers to the amount of time hijacked flight 420 from Heathrow to JFK International has before running out of fuel.) A computer-generated aerial view of the Atlantic Ocean is the first thing we see before swooping down on a passenger airliner and gradually slinking across the fuselage playing Peeping Tom through the cabin windows. This all technique, no nuance approach has the same effect as chucking a monkey wrench in a 767 engine. A simple hijacking would be out of fashion by today’s wantonly adrenalized standards. Before the title hits the screen a flight attendant, air marshal, and the pilot are all dispatched with single, fatal, digital bullets. Banking on audiences’ built-in familiarity with the genre, writer/producer/co-star Pavan Grover and director Timo Vuorensola forgo character formalities, cook up a clever third act twist, and proceed to work backward with no cliche left deterred.

The tropes just keep on ticking. The five hijackers are incendiary, standing order Russkies, none of whom are particularly distinguishable save the mercenary troupe’s one female planenapper. Alex: Code Name Steak-Knife (Meyers) is the de rigueur inside man, a deep cover government operative free to move about the cabin. First things first: disengage the failsafe switch so neither terrorist pilot nor Director Hawkins’ (Baldwin) underlings at National Security Headquarters can commandeer the plane. Pilot Gill’s (Danny Bohnen) young but wise beyond his years son Sam is quick to catch on to the skyjacker’s game. Aware of the insurgent eavesdropping around the corner, Sam asks Interpol agent Alex how long he’s been a terrorist. He should have questioned his reasoning behind using the cabin as a shooting gallery. A stray bullet that pierces the hull causes a dip in cabin pressure. Is there a doctor on the flight manifest? Before departing to that big terminal in the sky, Gill must be medically revived just long enough to bring Alex up to speed on how to remedy a loss of cabin pressure. Sam blames Alex for killing his father in a brief yet most melodramatic fashion. It also helps to have a doc on board when wound up Alex resorts to that old stress-relieving standby, punching out a lavatory mirror. Unnecessary backstory abounds while Dr. Kim (MyAnna Buring) nurses Alex’s hand. In the big, histrionical poker game that is life, Alex sees Dr. Kim’s accidental murder of a patient and raises her one dead 7-year-old son.

A little more than three months after the accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust, Baldwin was in Aton, Hampshire beginning work on 97 Minutes. For his part, Baldwin barks orders through folded arms. One of the few character traits assigned to the terminally tuned-out Hawkins is a forced, continuous referral to aircraft as “birds.” The filming lasted 18 days, on which Baldwin probably spent four or five. His ability to deliver made-for-TV dialogue — “Some innocent people are going to die so that more innocent people will live” — while at the same time keeping his eyes from rolling back in his head is a testament to the actor’s inability to break character. Why did Baldwin opt for a gun crazy actioner over a comedy or romance for his first feature following the Rust tragedy? (At one point Alex details how any schmo with a 3D printer could construct a homemade gun with a two-bullet capacity.) Connected to the project for 18 months, Baldwin’s character was a custom build. There is a surprise twist about two-thirds of the way through that you won’t see coming, but who cares? Good films shock and amaze at every turn, not simply build to one twist before calling it a day. In that sense, 97 Minutes feels like three hours.

Neo-Noir Classic ‘Miami Blues’ Headed to Blu-ray July 12 in MVD Rewind Collection

The 1990 comedic crime drama Miami Blues will be released on Blu-ray Disc July 12 as part of the MVD Rewind Collection.

In the MGM neo-noir film, Junior Frenger (Alec Baldwin, The Departed, “30 Rock”) is trouble and Sgt. Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward, Tremors, Short Cuts) knows it. The smooth-talking, good-looking ex-con tiptoes on the borderline of psychotic behavior. The detective is hot on his trail after Junior kills a Hare Krishna, robs a pickpocket, then steals Moseley’s badge, his gun — and even his false teeth. Junior’s running around the streets of Miami posing as a cop, assaulting people and making arrests. And even though he promises his live-in lover (an ex-prostitute played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight) that he’ll stay out of crime, he continues playing cops and robbers on both sides of the law.

Written and directed by George Armitage (Grosse Pointe Blank, The Big Bounce, The Last of the Finest), the film was produced by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Something Wild).

The feature is presented in HD with a master provided by MGM.

Special features include interviews with Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh; the original theatrical trailer; three TV spots; the original Orion Home Video trailer; a photo gallery; a mini-poster; reversible artwork; and a limited edition slipcover for the first pressing only.

Crime Thriller ‘Pixie’ Due on DVD May 11 From Paramount

The Saban Films feature Pixie will come out on DVD May 11 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The film is already available on digital and on demand.

Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) and Alec Baldwin (The Departed) star in this crime story set in Ireland. On a path to avenge her mother’s death, Pixie Hardy (Cooke) attempts a heist that will give her the means to leave her small-town life behind.  When the plan goes horribly wrong, she’s forced to team up with a pair of misfits who are clearly in over their heads. On the run from an organized gang — criminal priests and nuns, led by Father McGrath (Baldwin) — the trio will scheme and swindle anyone they come across in this hilarious and thrilling adventure.

The film also stars Ben Hardy, Daryl McCormack and Colm Meaney.

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Tubi to Bow Sundance Film Festival Selection ‘Beast Beast’ Feb. 12

Fox Entertainment’s AVOD platform continues to push original content with the Feb. 8 announcement that it will debut on Feb. 12 the 2020 Sundance Film Festival selection Beast Beast, written and directed by Danny Madden, based on his short-film Krista, and executive produced by Alec Baldwin.

The movie, also the 2020 Audience Award and Georgia Film Award winner at the Atlanta Film Festival, chronicles the lives and trauma surrounding three people living in a southern town.

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“We’re proud to support talented filmmakers like the Beast Beast team as we expand our growing indie library with premium titles and help these incredible films reach broader audiences,” CCO Adam Lewinson said in a statement.

Beast Beast is set in a quiet southern town, where popular and charismatic theater kid Krista (Shirley Chen) finds herself increasingly drawn to Nito (Jose Angeles), the new student in her high school who catches her attention with his impressive skating videos. The two share an easy rapport and quickly grow close. Unbeknownst to her, their lives and that of her gun-loving neighbor, Adam (Will Madden), will soon become intertwined — until they reach a breaking point. The movie also stars Courtney Dietz (Queen America) and Daniel Rashid (Being Frank).

Beast Beast captures what it means to come of age in an era marked by technology and social media, where violent clashes awaken dormant passions and teenagers are faced with growing up all too quickly.

Beast Beast was an official selection at SXSW and also received the Grand Jury Prize at Champs-Elysees Film Festival’s U.S. In Progress. Produced in association with Baldwin’s company, Persona Entertainment, the film is also executive produced by Casey Bader and Jim Cummings with Benjamin Wiessner, Matt Miller and Tara Ansley serving as producers. Kristian Zuniga serves as Director of Photography.

Tubi recently announced record monthly active users (MAU) of 33 million in August, an increase of 65% year-over-year. With total view time surpassing 200 million hours of content streamed each month since April, Tubi has more than 30,000 movies and TV shows from more than 250 content partners, including nearly every major studio.

‘The Silencing,’ ‘Welcome to Sudden Death’ Top Slate of New Disc, Digital Releases

Lionsgate’s The Silencing and Universal Pictures’ Welcome to Sudden Death top the slate of new disc and digital releases available Sept. 29.

Also newly available, on Blu-ray Disc and DVD: Shout! Factory’s 20th anniversary edition of children’s classic Thomas and the Magic Railroad;  10-movie Illumination Films, Focus and Blumhouse collections from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment;  and Season One of “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” from Paramount Home Entertainment (also available through digital retailers).

The Silencing stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) as a reformed hunter, and Annabelle Wallis as a sheriff, who are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse when they set out to track a killer who may have kidnapped the hunter’s daughter five years earlier. The cast also includes Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Zahn McClarnon and Melanie Scrofano.

The film, available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, was released through VOD Aug. 14.

Welcome to Sudden Death, a remake of the 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme action film, was directed by Dallas Jackson and becomes available on DVD only, as well as through digital retailers. The film centers on Jesse Freeman (Michael Jai White), a former special forces officer and explosives expert now working a regular job as a security guard in a high-tech basketball arena. When terrorists kidnap the team’s owner and Jesse’s daughter during opening night, it’s up to Jesse to save them.

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Thomas and the Magic Railroad is a 2000 British-American fantasy adventure based on the popular TV series “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends,” which in turn is based on The Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry. The movie stars Alec Baldwin (as Mr. Conductor), Peter Fonda, Mara Wilson, Didi Conn, Russell Means, Cody McMains, Michael E. Rodgers, and Eddie Glen as the voice of Thomas.

“Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” is a dark fantasy TV series set in Los Angeles during 1938. A spinoff of the British-American horror drama TV series “Penny Dreadful,” the series revolves around two police detectives investigating a gruesome murder who face off against demons, racial tension and Nazi conspiracies. The series premiered in April and in August was canceled after one season.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Redbox Entertainment Acquires Rights to Two New Movies

Redbox Entertainment, the movie acquisition arm of the packaged-media kiosk vendor/AVOD provider, continues to aggressively seek independent titles for distribution in the U.S. and abroad.

The unit reportedly acquired rights to two films, Chick Fight, starring Bella Thorne, and Shadow in the Cloud, a Toronto Film Festival entrant screened to potential buyers last week at a makeshift movie drive-in in downtown Los Angeles.

Shadow in the Cloud, written and directed by New Zealand filmmaker Roseanne Liang, stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson. Moretz plays a World War II pilot who joins the crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Onboard, Moretz comes into contact with a supernatural force that is destroying the plane from within.

Shadow in the Cloud is a captivating film with mesmerizing visual effects. Roseanne Liang’s distinct vision and Chloë Grace Moretz’s knock-out performance are guaranteed to bring audiences to the edge of their seats,” Peter Jarowey, CEO of Vertical Entertainment and Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, said in a joint statement. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the amazing female-led filmmaking team and Endeavor Content to bring this film to North American audiences next year.”

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Redbox also teamed with Quiver Distribution for Chick Fight, an action-comedy starring Malin Akerman (“Billions”), Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”), Bella Thorne (Midnight Sun) and Kevin Connolly (“Entourage”). The film, by director Paul Leyden, is slated for release on Nov. 13.

Live-Action ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ Film to Make Blu-ray Disc Debut

Shout! Kids has announced a Sept. 29 home release date for Thomas and the Magic Railroad: 20th Anniversary Edition, starring Alec Baldwin, Mara Wilson, the late Peter Fonda and others.

The release marks the first time the live-action film, based on the iconic “Thomas the Tank Engine” children’s books and cartoons, will be available on Blu-ray Disc.

The film tells the story of Mr. C (Baldwin), who comes from a family of miniature Conductors who travel between the Island of Sodor and Shining Time Station thanks to a supply of mysterious gold dust. However, the steam engines of Sodor suddenly find themselves in trouble when confronted by the ruthless Diesel 10, whose plan is to take over Sodor before Sir Topham Hatt’s return. Mr. C Teams up with Thomas and Lily (Wilson), who believes her grandfather (Fonda) may be the one who can crack the code and save the conductor family and get Sodor back on track.

While Thomas and the Magic Railroad celebrates its 20th anniversary, Thomas the Tank Engine is marking his 75th year as a beloved children’s character. Originally part of the Rev W. Awdry’s “Little Railway” book series, first released in 1945, Thomas was brought to life through the animated TV series “Thomas & Friends” in the 1980s.

Shout! Kids is the children’s imprint of Shout! Factory, one of the leading independent home entertainment distributors.

Glengarry Glen Ross: Collector’s Edition

BLU-RAY REVIEW 

Street Date 6/2/20;
Shout! Factory;
Drama;
$22.97 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language including sexual references.
Stars Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce, Jude Ciccolella, Bruce Altman.

Some movies just have a way of getting in your head and wrapping themselves around your brain. Glengarry Glen Ross, based on David Mamet’s stage play, is such a film. With a powerhouse cast (including four Academy Award winners) delivering juicy dialogue, how could it not be? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself quoting the film with regularity after a viewing.

In the 1992 film, as with the play, we meet four real-estate salesmen who will do anything to sell worthless property to customers who don’t want it.

Mamet has found a way to cram so many worthwhile themes, from transition to desperation, into such a simple framework. Jack Lemmon plays Shelley “The Machine” Levine, an elderly salesman who has fallen on hard times. Al Pacino plays smooth-talker Ricky Roma, who is in the midst of a winning streak. Alec Baldwin plays a hotshot from downtown who shows up in a classic cameo written specifically for the actor for the screen version. All are pitch perfect.

Baldwin puts the fear of God into the salesmen by telling them to close a deal or they’re fired. The next day, the office has been ransacked. Sensitive documents have been stolen. The subsequent investigation quickly gives way to one of the classic verbal beatdowns in cinema history, when Pacino berates the inept office manager, played by Kevin Spacey, after he costs Roma a big sale.

These are scenes you could watch again and again with continued fascination at the skill with which these performers give life to the words on the page. Mamet’s screenplay, which he adapted himself, is often hailed as being better than the stage version due to the inclusion of the Baldwin scene, which crystalizes the stakes of the story in a way the stage production only hints at.

Surprisingly, despite its legacy and acclaim, the film earned just one Academy Award nomination, Pacino for Best Supporting Actor. Pacino would lose that race to Gene Hackman in Unforgiven, but got the last laugh the same year when he took home Best Actor for Scent of a Woman. For some people it’s just in the cards. (When the movie came out, Lemmon had been the only Oscar winner in the cast. After Pacino, Spacey and Alan Arkin would later win Oscars, with Baldwin, Ed Harris and Jonathan Pryce earning Oscar nominations).

The new Shout Select Blu-ray presents the film with a gorgeous new 4K digital transfer from the original camera negative that offers a crisp, vivid image. Being sourced from a loquacious stage play, the film’s visual splendors are secondary concerns, though director James Foley and cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía do their best to enhance the dreary ambiance of the piece with moody shadows and reflections of rain while bathing the characters in various shades of neon.

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In terms of bonus material, the new Blu-ray offers a healthy mix of old and new extras.

The first of the new additions is a 30-minute interview with Foley as he reflects on the development of the film version and the relative ease of the production since he was working with such a talented cast and a tight screenplay. The other is “God Bless Ricky Roma,” a 24-minute interview with actor Joe Mantegna, who won a Tony playing Roma on Broadway in the 1980s.

The Shout Blu-ray also includes two half-hour documentaries from the old 10th anniversary DVD from 1992 that were subsequently included on Lionsgate’s 2016 Blu-ray edition: the “ABC: Always Be Closing” documentary about the psychological intersection of fictional and real-life salesmen, and the “Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon” documentary.

The disc also includes two commentary tracks. One comes from Foley that originated on the 10th anniversary DVD and was included on the Blu-ray as well. He offers some good stories about the production, some of which he also recounts in the new interview, but there are lengthy gaps where he just lets the film run without saying a word.

The other commentary is by Jack Lemmon, originally recorded for the 1992 Laserdisc of the film but missing from subsequent disc releases, so it makes a welcome return here. Lemmon is effusive in his praise for his fellow cast members, whom he calls the most talented bunch he ever worked with. His commentary is a fantastic intermingling of stories from the set with tales of old Hollywood from the 1950s and ’60s.

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As to what didn’t make it from previous releases, the new Blu-ray jettisons a 10-minute clip of Lemmon on the Charlie Rose show talking about the movie in 1992, and a two-minute bit of Kevin Spacey reciting his “Go to lunch” scene with an audience member on “Inside the Actors Studio.” Both were featured on both the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases, but their absence here is understandable given the problematic revelations regarding both Rose and Spacey that have popped up in recent years. It’s a shame to lose the reflections from Lemmon in the Rose piece, though.

In addition, a couple of extras from the old DVD that didn’t carry over to the 2016 Blu-ray also aren’t resurrected here. These include a scene-specific commentary from the cast and crew, and filmmaker Tony Buba’s short documentary “J. Roy: New and Used Furniture.” So completist collectors who have that 10th anniversary DVD might want to pair this new Blu-ray with the second disc from that set (which offers the pan-and-scan version of the movie along with the extras missing from the later Blu-rays).

Shout Select Presents ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ Collector’s Edition Blu-ray June 2

Shout! Factory’s premium home video label, Shout Select, June 2 will release a collector’s edition Blu-ray of the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross.

Adapted from the play by David Mamet, the film tracks a group of down-on-their luck Chicago real-estate salesman as they try to meet the month’s sale’s goals in order to avoid being fired.

The cast includes Al Pacino in an Oscar-nominated performance, plus Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce and Alec Baldwin as the motivational speaker whose cameo was written into the film version.

The Shout! Blu-ray edition includes a new 4K transfer from the original camera negative; a new conversation with director James Foley; a new “God Bless Ricky Roma” featurette in which actor Joe Mantegna remembers working with Mamet on a stage production of the story; an “A.B.C. ‘Always Be Closing’ featurette; a “Magic Time: A Tribute To Jack Lemmon” featurette; and separate commentaries with Foley and Lemmon.

‘Motherless Brooklyn’ Comes Home in January

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the drama Motherless Brooklyn through digital retailers Jan. 14, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Jan. 28.

Inspired by Jonathan Lethem’s novel by the same name, Motherless Brooklyn is directed by, written by and produced by Edward Norton, who also stars as Lionel Essrog, a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome who ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis).

Norton aimed to transpose Lethem’s contemporary characters into a different period and plot and gave it a distinctive atmosphere by moving the story to 1950s New York City.

The cast also includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Robert Ray Wisdom, Fisher Stevens, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.

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Motherless Brooklyn earned $9.3 million at the domestic box office.

The film is nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score for its music composed by Daniel Pemberton. The film also features an original song written and performed by Thom Yorke.

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The Blu-ray and DVD will include a code redeemable for a digital copy of the film as well as the making-of featurette “Edward Norton’s Methodical Process.” The Blu-ray will also include deleted scenes and a commentary by Norton.