Welcome to the Wednesday Roundup from Burning Down the Cinema. In this edition, there is a new section entitled “Now streaming”. In the section, there is a summary of new and classic films that have recently been made available on streaming services. Aside from that, there is a review of the crime drama Boston Strangler, as well as the usual box office update and new release preview.
Box office update
At the British and Irish box office, the number one film this weekend was Shazam! Fury of the Gods. In its opening weekend, the superhero sequel grossed £2.3 million. While enough to top the box office, it is lower than the opening weekend total for the previous film, released in April 2019.
Creed III remained at number two with a weekend total of £1.2 million. In only its third week of release, it has already become the highest grossing film in the Rocky franchise domestically and internationally. In its second week of release, Scream VI dropped to number three. A positive critical response helped the film gross £987,000 over the weekend.
Debuting in fourth place at the box office is the British drama Allelujah. Starring Jennifer Saunders and Bally Gill, the film grossed £715,000. Completing the top five is science fiction thriller 65. Romantic comedy Rye Lane is at number six. The Sundance hit grossed £258,000 in its opening weekend.
Ti West’s slasher prequel Pearl earned £192,000 in its first weekend of release. The weekend total places it eleventh at the British and Irish box office. Below it at number twelve is Best Picture winner Everything Everywhere All at Once. Forty-five weeks after its original release, the film has re-entered the box office top fifteen on the back of its Oscars success.
Streaming services have become a key part of how films are released across the world. The aim of this section is to cover recent additions to the major streaming services. In addition to new releases, it will include older films that have recently joined the streaming platforms.
Boston Strangler is an original release now available on Disney+. Kiera Knightley stars in the film as a journalist in 1960s Boston. Carrie Coon, Alessandro Nivola and Chris Cooper are among the supporting cast. Later in this week’s roundup, there is a full review of the film.
Caught Out: Crime. Corruption. Cricket. tells the story of the largest match-fixing scandal in Indian history and the journalists who uncovered it. The sports documentary is available to stream on Netflix now. Animated adventure film The Magician’s Elephant is also available on Netflix. Based on the 2009 novel of the same name, it features the voices of Noah Jupe, Mandy Patinkin and Natasia Demetriou among others.
For those celebrating Brendan Fraser after his Best Actor win at the Oscars, Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) is streaming on Netflix. Fraser stars in this adaption of the Jules Verne’s 1864 adventure novel. Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem and Seth Meyers are among the supporting cast.
Alongside Boston Strangler, Misbehaviour (2020) is another film starring Keira Knightley that is now available on Disney+. The film centres on a plan to disrupt the 1970 Miss World beauty pageant in London. Misbehaviour’s ensemble cast includes Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jessie Buckley and Keeley Hawes.
Review: Boston Strangler
Boston Strangler was released through Disney+ on 17 March. Written and directed by Matt Ruskin, the film is based on the real events surrounding the Boston Strangler murders. Between 1962 and 1964, thirteen women were murdered in the Boston area in similar circumstances. Kiera Knightley stars as Loretta McLaughlin, a journalist at the Boston Record American. McLaughlin was influential in connecting the murders and pressuring the Boston police to find the killer. Carrie Coon co-stars in the film as fellow journalist Jean Cole.
Despite the name of the film, McLaughlin is at the centre of the narrative. From the beginning, it is clear that she struggles to be taken seriously in the patriarchal workplace culture of the Record American newsroom. Throughout the film, it becomes evident that her commitment to her career is creating problems in her marriage too. Unfortunately the film never truly develops this aspect of the story.
McLaughlin’s demands for justice for the thirteen murdered women animates Boston Strangler. As it becomes clear that the Boston police are failing in their attempts to solve the crime, McLaughlin becomes alternately furious and despondent. The frustration is not only with an incompetent police department but colleagues and employers who would prefer not to challenge them.
Boston Strangler does not sensationalise the crimes at its centre. Rather than exploit the murders for entertainment value, it focuses on how they reflect the failures of the city. McLaughlin and Cole have to deal with misogyny from all angles. On top of that, they face intimidation and harassment for having their names and faces attached to stories reporting on the crimes of the Strangler.
True crime media has exploded in popularity over the last decade. Films and television series recounting the true stories of serial killers have become commonplace. Frequently they are insensitive and exploitative. Boston Strangler mostly avoids these pitfalls and highlights aspects of these stories that are often missed. Ruskin does not expand the boundaries of the genre but this is a respectable film nonetheless.
Coming this weekend
John Wick: Chapter 4 is the widest release arriving in British and Irish cinemas this weekend. Keanu Reeves reprises his role as the title character in the fourth film in the series. Chad Stahelski also returns to direct the latest instalment. The supporting cast includes Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård and Laurence Fishburne.
Brandon Cronenberg’s third film Infinity Pool is released this weekend. Like the director’s two previous films, it is a science fiction horror film. Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth star as a couple who become entangled in the horror hiding beneath the holiday resort where they are staying. Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Infinity Pool has been well received by critics.
80 for Brady is a sports comedy starring Hollywood legends Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno and Sally Field. Produced by former American football player Tom Brady, the film centres on four friends who travel to watch him play in the 2017 Super Bowl. Brady stars as himself in the film.
The Five Devils is a French fantasy drama that premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Léa Mysius, it is about a young girl who is able to recreate any scent that she encounters. The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2022. An international co-production, it centres on a woman who emerges from a river having been presumed dead for several years.
Thank you for reading the latest Wednesday Roundup from Burning Down the Cinema. Let me know what you thought about the “Now streaming” section of this week’s edition, or if you have any other thoughts on the films discussed this week.