‘American Hustle’ Headed to 4K Ultra HD Steelbook May 21

The 2013 Oscar-lauded feature American Hustle will be released in a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbook combo pack on May 21 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, in time for its 10th anniversary.

The combo pack includes the film on 4K Ultra Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc and digital.

The crime drama earned a global gross of $251 million on a budget of $40 million and picked up 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

In the film from director David O. Russell, scam artists and lovers Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are entrapped by ambitious FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) and coerced into participating in a major sting operation that hinges on snaring crooked politician Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) and his associates. Complicating matters is Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who could bring the whole operation crashing down around them all. 

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The film is presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, featuring English Dolby Atmos + 5.1 audio, with HDR and Atmos approved by director David O. Russell. Special features on the 4K disc include 15 minutes of never-before-seen deleted and extended scenes and the theatrical trailer. Special features on the included Blu-ray Disc are 11 deleted and extended scenes and “The Making of American Hustle.”

No Hard Feelings

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Comedy;
Box Office $50.45 million;
$34.99 DVD, 38.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for Sexual content, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use.
Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales, Scott MacArthur, Matthew Broderick.

Jennifer Lawrence joins the ranks of raunch in a coming-of-age comedy that blends the sensibilities of Superbad with a premise not unlike Failure to Launch.

Lawrence plays Maddie, a 32-year-old slacker eking out a meager living in the Hamptons living in a house left to her by her late mother. Falling behind on her property taxes, her plan to save the house through providing ride shares is thwarted when her car is repossessed.

In desperate need of supplemental income, she stumbles upon an ad from a pair of helicopter parents who will give one of their used cars to a girl to sleep with their recent high school graduate son to bring him out of his shell before he leaves for college. The parents (Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick) were seeking someone more in their son’s age range, but Maddie convinces them her relative maturity will bring the desired results.

Maddie then sets out to seduce Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), whose awkward demeanor makes him wary of her at first, but he’s quickly ensnared by her aggressive sexual advances. Her plans hit a snag, however, when he seemingly falls in love decides to abandon college to stay with her.

The story was supposedly based on a real Craigslist ad discovered by the filmmakers, who found Lawrence was more than willing to partake in the risqué nature of the humor. The performances are solid and the script offers some good laughs, but the film misses an opportunity for a truly madcap scenario suggested about halfway through when Percy is invited to a party by a girl he went to school with who also seems to want to sleep with him. As Maddie’s deal with the parents is contingent upon Percy not dating anyone “the natural way,” she has to crash the party to put a stop with it, leading to all sorts of “older people at a kids party” jokes. But it also raises the question of what if Maddie wasn’t the only one the parents hired, thus making the unsuspecting Percy the prime target in a Hamptons battleground of young women eager to jump his bones.  

Thrusting Maddie into the middle of such a free-for-all kind of plot might also have been good for a few “Hunger Games” jokes, so it’s understandable if Lawrence would have preferred the film not go in that direction. Instead, the filmmakers chose an ending that leans more toward the sentimental.

Home video extras include an amusing three-and-a-half-minute gag reel, plus two behind-the-scenes featurettes. The six minute “A Little Wrong: Making No Hard Feelings” covers the production in general, while the seven-minute “A Motley Crew: Meet the Characters” focuses on the performances of the main actors.

Jennifer Lawrence Comedy ‘No Hard Feelings’ Due on Digital Aug. 15, Disc Aug. 29

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the Jennifer Lawrence comedy No Hard Feelings on digital Aug. 15 and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 29.

The film earned $85 million at the global box office.

In No Hard Feelings, Maddie thinks she’s found the answer to her financial troubles when she discovers an intriguing job listing: wealthy helicopter parents looking for someone to “date” their introverted 19-year-old son Percy and bring him out of his shell before he leaves for college. But awkward Percy proves to be a real challenge, and time is running out. She has one summer to make him a man or lose it all. 

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Special features include outtakes and bloopers; “A Motley Crew: Meet the Characters”; and  “A Little Wrong: Making No Hard Feelings.”

 

Apple Picks Up Feature ‘Causeway’ Starring Jennifer Lawrence

Apple Original Films has picked up the feature film Causeway, starring and produced by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence (Don’t Look Up, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), and directed by Lila Neugebauer (Broadway’s The Waverly Gallery, Maid, The Last Thing He Told Me ).

Hailing from A24, Causeway will make its global debut in theaters and on Apple TV+ later this year.

Causeway is an intimate portrait of a soldier struggling to adjust to her life after returning home to New Orleans.

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Emmy and Tony Award nominee Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta,” Bullet Train, “If Beale Street Could Talk”) co-stars alongside Lawrence.

‘Hunger Games’ Saga Available in Exclusive Best Buy Steelbook 4K Combo Pack March 22

“The Hunger Games” saga arrives March 22 in a 4K Ultra HD plus Blu-ray and digital combo pack Steelbook from Lionsgate, exclusively at Best Buy.

The collection features artwork from Flore Maquin, Ise Ananphada, Alice X. Zhang, Tula Lotay, Paige Reynolds, Aracely Muñoz, Gemma O’Brien, Lauren Hom, Meni Chatzipanagiotou and Gia Graham.

The collection includes all four films: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2. Based on the book series, the series follows the journey of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she navigates the fight-t0-the-death Hunger Games and the authoritarian leaders of Panem.

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Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ Breaks Streamer’s Weekly Viewing Record

Netflix’s dark comedy Don’t Look Up is now the streamer’s most-watched original program ever over a seven-day period. The Adam McKay-directed satire co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two low-level astronomers who attempt to alert the world about a deadly meteor hurtling toward earth.

The movie tracked more than 152 million hours streamed for the week of Dec. 27 to Jan. 2, 2022, making it Netflix’s third-most watched original program after 28 days — behind Sandra Bullock’s dystopian thriller Bird Box, and actioner Red Notice, co-starring Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson.

Indeed, the film, which also stars Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Ariana Grande and Tyler Perry, has generated more than 260 million hours streamed globally after just 11 days.

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Special Offer From ‘MPN’ and Lionsgate: Digital Code Giveaway to Titles Including ‘Bombshell’ for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, Lionsgate and Media Play News are offering the first five readers who comment on this story ON INSTAGRAM and follow MPN on Instagram free digital codes for one of five movies: Bombshell, Judy, A Simple Favor, The Hunger Games and The Spy Who Dumped Me.

You can follow us on Instagram and see the story post here.

Title choice will be based on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Margot Robbie (left) and Kate McKinnon in Bombshell

Bombshell was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Actress (Charlize Theron) and Best Supporting Actress (Margot Robbie), and won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker). Theron, Nicole Kidman, Robbie and John Lithgow (as Roger Ailes) star in the film based on the real story of three ambitious, strong women who anchored one of America’s most powerful news networks, Fox News, becoming headlines themselves when they risked everything to stand up to the man who made them famous. The film also stars Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell and Allison Janney. Bonus features include a seven-part, making-of documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew.

Judy

The Judy Garland biopic Judy stars Oscar winner Renee Zellweger as Garland, 30 years after rising to global stardom in The Wizard of Oz, arriving in London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town. While preparing for the shows, Garland battles with management, reminisces with friends and adoring fans, and embarks on a whirlwind romance with soon-to-be fifth husband Mickey Deans — all while struggling to overcome anxiety and physical decline. Shedding light on Garland’s final years, the film features perfomances of some of her best-known songs, such as “Over the Rainbow,” “For Once In My Life” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” The cast also includes Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon. Extras include the theatrical trailer, an image gallery and the featurette “From the Heart: The Making of Judy.

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A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor stars Anna Kendrick (Pitch PerfectTrolls) and Blake Lively (The ShallowsThe Age of Adaline, TV’s “Gossip Girl”) in a thriller from director Paul Feig (BridesmaidsGhostbusters, TV’s “Freaks and Geek,” TV’s “The Office”) based on the novel by Darcey Bell. The film also stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians), Andrew Rannells (TV’s “Girls,” TV’s “The Knick”), Linda Cardellini (TV’s “Freaks and Geeks,” Hunter Killer) and Rupert Friend (TV’s “Homeland”). The story follows Stephanie (Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Stephanie is joined by Emily’s husband Sean (Golding). Special features  include three audio commentaries with the cast and crew, eight making-of featurettes, a gag reel, deleted scenes, and an alternate ending.

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon in The Spy Who Dumped Me.

The comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, follows Audrey (Kunis) and Morgan (McKinnon), two 30-year-old best friends in Los Angeles who are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Also starring in the film are Justin Theroux (The Girl on the Train, TV’s “The Leftovers”), Hasan Minhaj (TV’s “The Daily Show”) and Sam Heughan (TV’s “Outlander”). Special features include deleted scenes, outtakes and four making-of featurettes.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence in a dystopian story based on the book series. In the film, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the 12 Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.

Netflix Lands New Jennifer Lawrence Movie

Jennifer Lawrence is back in the movies. Netflix has acquired the rights to writer-director Adam McKay’s comedy Don’t Look Up, with Lawrence set to star. The movie tells the story of two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching asteroid that will destroy planet Earth.

McKay, who has written the script, will direct and produce under his Hyperobject Industries banner. McKay’s most recent feature, Vice, went on to receive eight Academy Award nominations. In 2016, McKay won the Oscar, BAFTA and WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay with his co-writer Charles Randolph for The Big Short.

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Lawrence won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. She has been nominated for three additional Oscars for Joy, American Hustle and Winter’s Bone.

She recently wrapped production on director Lila Neugebauer’s untitled film for A24 and Scott Rudin Productions, in which she stars and produced alongside Justine Polsky under their production banner, Excellent Cadaver.

Following Don’t Look Up, she will star in and produce Mob Girl to be directed by Paolo Sorrentino for Universal Pictures through Excellent Cadaver’s first-look film deal and partnership with Makeready.

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“I’m so thrilled to make this movie with Jen Lawrence,” McKay said in a statement. “She’s what folks in the 17th century used to call ‘a dynamite act.’ And the fact that Netflix sees this movie as a worldwide comedy sets the bar high for me and my team in an exciting and motivating way.”

Scott Stuber, head of Netflix films, said McKay has always had great timing when it comes to making smart, relevant and irreverent films that depict current culture.

“Even if he somehow ends up predicting planet Earth’s imminent demise, we’re excited to add this to our slate before it all comes to an end,” Stuber joked.

Principal photography will commence on Don’t Look Up in April. Netflix will release the film later this year.

 

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Fox;
Action;
Box Office $65.85 million;
$29.99 DVD, $37.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language.
Stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jessica Chastain.

With Dark Phoenix, the Fox era of “X-Men” movies comes to an end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Of course, looking back at the franchise, while it has left its mark on the landscape of superhero cinema, the films have never really been the most consistent in terms of quality. And a lot of that might owe to the filmmakers’ dubious relationship with not just the source material, but the other films in the franchise as well.

Some have been standouts — X2, Days of Future Past, Deadpool and Logan being the biggest highlights on most lists — and some, such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, were forgettable enough that even the film that used time travel to reset the timeline ignored it.

Going in, the 12th “X-Men” movie, Dark Phoenix, had a few factors to overcome. It would be following up the disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse with a first-time director, Simon Kinberg, albeit someone who was at least familiar with the franchise having written several of the previous films. And it would be coming out amid Disney’s takeover of the Fox studio, meaning that future “X-Men” movies would likely come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and feature a whole new cast and creative team and have nothing to do with the Fox movies. That lack of a narrative future combined with the release date for Dark Phoenix getting pushed back further and further left an impression that it was more of a remnant of a bygone era than an entry audiences could really care about.

In that regard, at least it made it to theaters. Fox also left over a New Mutants film that still needs a final polish if it is to ever see the light of day.

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Even so, the signs are evident within Dark Phoenix of a franchise on its last legs even without the intrigue of inter-studio transition (much of this carrying over from Apocalypse).

For his part, Kinberg wanted a second chance to take on the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” one of the most famous “X-Men” storylines from the comics, and one that was adapted somewhat in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, which Kinberg co-wrote. But where it was just one of several storylines serving that muddied third “X-Men” movie, the reboot that came with Days of Future Past would allow Kinberg to spend an entire movie on it.

Dark Phoenix also picks up the tradition begun in 2011’s First Class of setting subsequent “X-Men” movies in a new decade. So the action picks up in 1992, nine years after the events of Apocalypse. Now seen by the world as heroes, the X-Men conduct a mission to rescue a space shuttle crew from a mysterious space cloud, which ends up being absorbed by Jean Grey (Sophie Turner).

The power contained within the cloud ends up unlocking hidden secrets involving Jean, which puts her at odds with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the rest of the X-Men. As she sets out on her own, she is pursued by an alien leader (Jessica Chastain) who wants the power for herself.

So in that description lies the elements for a big, sprawling epic — space adventure, mysterious superpowers, alien invasions. And yet, instead of going big, Kinberg chooses to go small, trimming the potential for more world-building in favor of focusing on Jean’s personal struggles to deal with her new abilities and what that means to Charles. And the aliens are treated as little more than another nuisance for the mutants to handle, rather than the film realizing that this is the first time these films have had to deal with cosmic matters.

This could have been the Avengers: Endgame of Fox’s “X-Men” franchise, but its scope is so limited it ends up feeling more like a direct-to-video sequel.

According to Kinberg in both the feature-length commentary and several behind-the-scenes featurettes, this was by design, as the constraints of a psychological drama more more appealing to the kind of director he wanted to be. So while it’s very much the film he wanted to make, and any director would still have had his script as a starting point, the question of whether his directorial sensibilities were the right fit will always loom over the final product. (And, to be fair, the question of who else they could have gotten to direct also is fair, especially considering how much of a Hollywood pariah franchise stalwart Bryan Singer turned out to be.)

A couple of other factors contribute to the film’s sense of disconnect from the rest of the franchise. First, despite the time jump from the previous film, there is very little sense of character development in the interim. The team is the same as it was at the end of the previous movie, and any new characters are reduced to little more than fan service cameos (a complaint that could be lodged against a number of the previous movies too). Kinberg in one of the featurettes mentions thinking of this film as more of a reboot with the same cast, rather than a continuation of previously established plot threads. This isn’t the first time this kind of approach seems to have been applied to the “X” movies, as numerous potential story points and character relationships are hinted at only to be ignored later, it does seem more in force with Dark Phoenix, which is a shame.

And while musical consistency has never been a strength of this franchise, the previous “X” movies at least demonstrated a musical progression through the themes that composer John Ottman originally introduced in X2. All of that is abandoned here though in favor of the generic synth tones of Hans Zimmer and his musical score factory. It serves Kinberg’s low-key approach but does nothing for sparking the sense of nostalgia this film could have used to send this particular iteration of the franchise out on a higher note.

Of course, getting pushed to a summer release date didn’t do Dark Phoenix any favors, as it simply invited comparisons to Endgame, which traded heavily on its sense of nostalgia for the characters, especially in how it presented the music for them.

The important lesson here is that in adapting a particular comic book storyline into a long-running series (films or TV), is that the ongoing storylines should be serviced by, not sacrificed to the adaptation. The movie, show or franchise still needs to stand on its own, and the best adaptations are able to appease both longtime fans of the material and new viewers unfamiliar with it, often by adhering to the spirit of the work if not a literal re-creation of it.

That doesn’t mean Dark Phoenix is unwatchable. Just the notion of revisiting the “Dark Phoenix Saga” makes the film a curio, if only to compare it to The Last Stand. And make no mistake, there are quite a few echoes of that previous film here.

In addition, there are plenty of dazzling visual effects when the film bothers with them, and the film looks great, particularly during the shuttle rescue sequence.

And it’s still good to see the cast return, even if the story isn’t quite sure how best to utilize them. Ultimately, the film does provide enough of a sense of closure to the Fox era, particularly the four films of the “First Class” continuity.

The Blu-ray is also fascinating in how the bonus materials demonstrate the clear disconnect between how the film unfolds in the filmmakers’ minds, and what it ended up being.

In addition to Kinberg’s commentary (shared with producer Hutch Parker), the Blu-ray also includes three-and-a-half minutes of deleted scenes that mostly offer redundant information to what’s established in the film, but also provide an alternate ending of sorts.

The centerpiece of the extras is the five-part documentary “Rise of the Phoenix: The Making of Dark Phoenix,” which runs about 81 minutes in total and offers a comprehensive view of the production. Supplementing it is a 13-minute scene-breakdown of the creation of a battle on New York’s 5th Avenue (re-created on a stage in Montreal).

Rounding out the package is a lighthearted two-minute video of Beast (Nicholas Hoult) teaching viewers how to fly the X-Jet.

 

 

A Beautiful Planet

A Beautiful Planet presents not only a portrait of the planet Earth using the breathtaking photography typical of Imax large-format cameras, but is also a terrific glimpse at life aboard the International Space Station, which is not necessarily as glamorous as the simplified depictions of science-fiction.

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Mill Creek;
Documentary;
Box Office $15.38 million;
$34.99 UHD/BD combo;
Not rated.
Narrated by Jennifer Lawrence.

The breathtaking 2016 Imax documentary A Beautiful Planet was filmed over the course of 15 months by several crews on the International Space Station.

In 45 minutes, the movie presents a pretty good idea of what it’s like to move around the space station and gaze upon the ever-changing landscapes of the Earth as it passes below.

While the title speaks to the amazing photography of the Earth that’s on display, a significant portion of the movie is devoted to glimpses at life on the space station.

In contrast to the typical science-fiction vision of clean, roomy decks, labs and hallways, the International Space Station is a crammed maze of modules Frankensteined out of the technologies of the various participating nations for the past two decade. The corridors are so cluttered that equipment that isn’t stored in its assigned place could disappear for weeks.

The movie depicts the arrival of new crews and the departure of the crews they replace, plus the adjustment to the daily routines of life on board. This includes giving each other haircuts, hours of daily exercise to prevent muscle atrophy in microgravity, and celebrating Christmas by leaving milk and cookies for Santa in the airlock.

The crews feature astronauts from the United States, Russia, Italy, Japan and more, coming together in the spirit of international cooperation and forming a tight bond almost as if they’re away at summer camp.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence most of the general happenings with her narration, but much of the description of station life comes from voiceovers from the astronauts themselves.

One of the common themes is how remarkably different Earth can look depending on the ecosystem, weather and time of day, but all the views are generally stunning. The film covers drought conditions in California, the flashes of lightning in heavily clouded storms, and the glow of city lights at night, which the astronauts remark is often the only visual evidence of civilization when observing the planet from orbit.

The fidelity of the Imax large-format framing is well preserved in the crisp rendering of ultra high-definition, which really pops with the snow-covered whites of the arctic and the vibrant blues of the tropics.

The 4K Blu-ray combo pack includes three bonus featurettes covering the production of the film.

The two-and-a-half-minute “An Extraordinary Vision” is a general behind-the-scenes view with filmmaker interviews. “Imax: Meet the Filmmakers” is a three-minute clip that focuses on training the astronauts to use the special Imax cameras. And “ADP Computing” is a two-and-a-half-minute profile of the visual effects team that enhanced some of the transition shots by creating a VR layout of the universe using actual data of the locations of stars and other stellar phenomena.

A Beautiful Planet