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article imageReview: Relationships are at the centre of this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 6, 2016 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a well-played French heist film; an adaptation that subtly examines memory; a bizarre romantic comedy featuring an odd yet charming couple; and the latest chapter in one of the most dangerous partnerships.
The Adderall Diaries (Blu-ray)
Stephen Elliott (James Franco), a struggling writer, develops a dangerous obsession with a high-profile murder case.
Elliott gained recognition for a book he wrote about his dysfunctional childhood and drug addiction. Having exhausted that well, he desperately tries to find the subject of his next book and latches on to the trial of a man accused of killing his wife. However when his father (Ed Harris) returns to set the record straight and make amends, it becomes clear they have distinctly different memories of the same experiences. Thus as he once again turns to drugs to deal with the pressures of life, the film focuses on people’s ability to remember things in a way that best fits their narrative. The cast does an excellent job portraying these complex and somewhat confused characters with Harris standing out in a few key scenes.
Special features include: commentary by director Pamela Romanowsky; deleted scenes; and “The Adderall Diaries: A Director’s Perspective.” (Lionsgate)
Cabin Fever (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Fresh out of college, a group of five friends retreat to a remote cabin in the woods for one last week of partying — only to become snacks for a gruesome, flesh-eating virus.
Generally, the justification for remakes is the film can be made differently and possibly better x-number of years later. However it’s more difficult to rationalize why it’s necessary to remake a movie when the filmmaker chooses to make the exact same movie with different actors. In this case, there were supposedly scenes first-time director Eli Roth wished he had the resources to enhance; but without scrutinizing the pictures side-by-side, it’s difficult to identify what updates Travis Z actually applied since the narratives are essentially identical. Admittedly the special effects receive an upgrade to appear more realistic, but that doesn’t seem like enough of a reason to warrant a whole new film – particularly when the original is commonly viewed as evidence of the Roth’s potential rather than just run-of-the-mill low-budget horror movie.
Special features include: making-of featurette; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (Blu-ray)
Well Go USA
The Mongolian Border, 1979: Massive fossils of unknown creatures are discovered in the mountains, and the research team assigned to excavate the remains includes acclaimed Professor Yang (Wang Qingxiang), Hu Bayi (Mark Chao), and Ping (Yao Chen), the professor’s beautiful daughter. When a freak explosion, lethal bat attack, and fall to the mountain’s floor leaves only a handful of survivors, the small remaining band uncovers a mythic Cyclopean Temple and an interdimensional portal that lets loose a pack of ravenous Hell-Beasts, leaving only Hu alive.
New York City, Present Day: Now living a quiet but tormented life as a librarian, Hu studies demonology manuscripts to find answers for that fateful day. Little does he know that Professor Yang has just been found wandering the mountains thousands of miles from where he supposedly died; a young woman with amnesia was just discovered in a recently-uncovered tomb; and a Northern Chinese mining town has just been ravaged by giant, unknown creatures.
Firstly, there is a lot going on in this movie and most of it is not explained until the final 30 minutes; up to then, audiences are asked to simply go with it. Unfortunately, the mystery actually results in a fair amount of confusion as viewers naturally try to figure out what is happening even though the narrative is structured to rely on the big reveal at the end. Nonetheless, the visuals are exciting as the explorers encounter beautiful caves, dancing fires and giant, reptilian dogs. There’s also some humour threaded throughout the script, though it mostly remains in the realm of fantasy and action. Once things are finally explained and the preceding events make more sense, the rest of the picture grows more favourable while the ultimate conclusion falls a little flat.
There are no special features. (Well Go USA)
The Crush (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
A man who should know better. A much younger teenager. No way should there be any kind of romance between them. Yet from the moment 14-year-old Adrian (Alicia Silverstone) met Nick (Cary Elwes), she was crazy about him. There must be something she can say or do... some way that she can show him this is not just a crush.
There are probably three roles Silverstone is most known for: ditzy, pop culture icon Cher Horowitz in Clueless, rebellious teen in Aerosmith’s music videos, and crazy Lolita in this picture. Elwes is a naïve young man who is flattered by the attention, but has no comprehension of the consequences for not being the adult and shutting it down sooner. Of course not all teenage crushes result in attempted murder, but he definitely should have taken action sooner. In spite of being a fresh 16, Silverstone has a thorough understanding of her character and the power of just a look; whether it’s a sly smile behind her parents’ back or a come-hither look from across the yard, she recognizes her character’s psychosis and skilful approach to manipulation.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Alan Shapiro; “The Doting Father — an interview with Kurtwood Smith”; “Stung By Love — an interview with actress Jennifer Rubin”; TV spot; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Eddie the Eagle (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Fox Home Entertainment
Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards (Taron Edgerton) is an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself — even as an entire nation was counting him out. With the help of Bronson (Hugh Jackman), a rebellious and charismatic coach, the lovable underdog wins the hearts of fans around the world by making an unforgettable showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
It’s not so much that this movie contributes anything unique to the genre, as it’s a pretty standard entry that follows the underdog formula of many obstacles and failures before ultimate success; however, it uses the classic blueprint to create an exceptionally touching story filled with heartaches and laughter. From the moment audiences meet a young Eddie, it’s impossible not to want to see him succeed. Eddie’s perseverance and spirit are what first attract Bronson — and later the world. That and the fact that Bronson doesn’t want Eddie to get himself killed. Even though Eddie knows he won’t win and will most likely finish last, he simply wants to do his best on the world stage. Therefore, it becomes Bronson’s job to teach him to survive. But it’s Eddie and Bronson’s unequivocal love for the sport that leads to a poignant camaraderie between the two, even if it’s the only thing they have in common.
Special features include: “Let The Games Begin” documentary; and still gallery. (Fox Home Entertainment)
House of Cards: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
They've always been a great team. But now Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) become even greater adversaries as their marriage stumbles and their ambitions are at odds.
The end of the previous season left a great deal in limbo. The husband-and-wife team who appeared unstoppable had finally come to a grinding halt. One of the more interesting aspects of their separation is how the similarities that had served them so well over the years is also what drives them apart. Their matched ambition and ruthlessness isn’t quite as poisonous to each other as it’s been to others, but they don’t pull all their punches when going after one another and trying to steer them in their desired direction. It’s fascinating to watch their manipulative techniques turned on each other. Then one of the show’s true surprises changes the tide and opens the door for a different second half of the season.
There are no special features. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Mr. Right (Blu-ray)
VVS Films
Hyperactive at the best of times, Martha (Anna Kendrick) has gone full-on manic since her latest breakup. She babbles, parties like a monster, cooks everything in sight — and is looking to do something terrible when she meets Francis (Sam Rockwell). To anyone else, Francis’s approach would come across as creepy, but Martha can’t help but be intrigued. They seem a perfect match: she's bananas, he's bananas... except he's a deadly sort of bananas. He’s a professional assassin. Francis is a hitman with a cause: he unexpectedly kills the people ordering the hits. Just as Martha begins to realize her new beau wasn't joking when he said he had to step out for a moment to shoot someone, things start heating up for Francis. His services are solicited by a dubious client who's being sought by an equally dubious FBI agent (Tim Roth). As the bodies pile up, Martha needs to decide whether to flee or join in the mayhem.
This is undoubtedly one of the kookiest romantic comedies that will still hook audiences with its adorably eccentric couple. Both Martha and Francis are somewhere in between neurotic and completely crazy, but their levels of madness appear to complement each other perfectly. There’s a chemistry between them no one can deny and they can’t resist in spite of the many complications it presents. That said, there is absolutely nothing realistic about this narrative and that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable. The improbability of any of these characters existing allows audiences to just sit back and have fun. The on-screen connection between Kendrick and Rockwell is amazing and is certainly the reason this quirky comedy works so well. They’re completely in sync with one another and are able to make even the zaniest lines seem natural.
Special features include: “Anna” featurette. (VVS Films)
Rabid Dogs (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
On the main avenue of a crowded city, Sabri (Guillaume Gouix) grips the steering wheel of his car, eyes fixed anxiously on the bank entrance opposite. Then there's a sudden explosion and three masked men race to the car, bags loaded with stolen cash. Unfortunately, everything is about to go wrong. With the cops right behind them, the car crashes and their boss is killed. Sabri and his accomplices are forced to run. The desperate criminals will stop at nothing to make their escape. Taking a young woman and a father and child hostage, they embark on a crazy, violent road trip that not all of them will survive.
The remake of the Mario Bava’s 1974 film begins as a typical heist movie gone wrong as the multi-million-dollar robbery quickly devolves into a shootout. The animosity the thieves feel for each other becomes quite obvious early on; although audiences are never given a clear picture of their history. They fit into simple character types as one is the shrewd leader, another the hothead, then the sensitive one and finally the glue that brought them together. However, the hostages they’ve selected causes the story to play out less predictably. The woman is anxious to escape, while the man is convinced complete cooperation is their only chance at survival. But everyone appears to have their own agendas, which leads to a fair amount of chaos and an excellent conclusion.
Special features include: making-of featurette; interviews with cast; “Effects, Weapons and Production Design”; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
More about Eddie the Eagle, Mr Right, Rabid Dogs, The Crush, Cabin Fever
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