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article imageReview: Everyone carves their own paths in this week’s releases - part 1 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 23, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an intimate portrait of a historical figure; a realistic depiction of a young woman’s choice; a couple of docs about niche interests; two vintage comedies that still make you laugh; and tales of vigilante justice.
10 to Midnight (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Leo Kessler (Charles Bronson) is a cynical Los Angeles cop on the trail of Warren Stacy (Gene Davis), a homicidal maniac who turns rejection from beautiful women into the ultimate revenge. When the legal system sets Stacy free, Kessler plants evidence to put him behind bars for good. But Kessler's plan backfires, leaving him with only one option: to hunt down Stacy on his own before the crazed killer can strike again.
Later in Bronson’s career, he became known for dark crime dramas and revenge pictures — this movie is a bit of both. Over the years, Kessler has developed an instinct for finding the right suspect and he knows Stacy is the killer, even if there isn’t enough evidence to prove it. His fresh new partner wants to learn from the seasoned detective, but he also can’t understand how hard it is for Kessler to not be able to get this guy — especially when Stacy sets his sights on his daughter. The picture unfolds as an intense crime thriller in which everyone knows the killer’s identity, but they can’t make a solid case. In the meantime, Stacy enjoys his freedom by taunting the cops and killing more women. In the current climate, this film has an additional subtext playing out now with the rejected, dejected man attacking women who he believes wronged him.
Special features include: commentary by writer/historian Paul Talbot (the “Bronson’s Loose!” books); commentary by producer Pancho Kohner, casting director John Crowther and film historian David Del Valle; “Charlie’s Partner,” an interview with actor Andrew Stevens; “Producing Bronson,” an interview with producer Lance Hool; “Remembering Bronson,” an interview with actor Robert F. Lyons; “Undressed to Kill,” an interview with actress Jeana Tomasina Keough; still gallery; radio spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
The Apparition (DVD)
Music Box Films Home Entertainment
Jacques Mayano (Vincent Lindon), a writer with a large regional newspaper in France, is tapped by the Vatican to lead a committee to explore the legitimacy of saintly apparitions in a small French village. Traveling to the village for this canonical investigation, he meets the young and sensitive Anna (Galatéa Bellugi), who claims to have witnessed a vision of the Virgin Mary. Though she has gained a captive audience following her declaration, Anna is torn between her faith and the many solicitations she receives. Confronted with opposing views from clergy members and skeptics, Jacques finds his own ideologies and values challenged as he works to uncover the hidden mysteries, motivations, and pressures surrounding Anna’s vision.
This movie is an exploration of religion and devoutness framed in an atmosphere of skepticism and politics. A community desperate for affirmation grasps onto Anna’s visions and the seer herself. She becomes the centre of worship as they commodify her image and spread her message of peace globally. In the meantime, the Vatican worries about her influence and therefore finds it necessary to investigate the validity of her claim before it grows too big. Recruiting Jacques seems questionable, though his research skills do come in handy. However, there is clearly a conflict between the establishment’s cynicism and prescribed blind belief of its followers. In the end, the truth is found to be far more complicated.
Special features include: interview with director Xavier Giannoli; Galatéa Bellugi audition tape; and theatrical trailer. (Music Box Films Home Entertainment)
Beautiful Boy (Blu-ray)
VVS Films
As Nic (Timothée Chalamet) repeatedly relapses, the Sheffs (Steve Carell and Maura Tierney) are faced with the harsh reality that addiction is a disease that does not discriminate and can hit any family at any time.
This isn’t a movie about addiction, but rather the effects of addiction on someone’s family. Nic’s dad tries to solve the problem with a combination of love and money, but it takes him a long time to realize it’s not his issue to resolve. In the meantime, audiences watch the Sheffs commiserate over Nic squandering all his potential and give him too much freedom before he’s ready for it. Nic’s experience is almost solely seen through the eyes of others, which makes the portrayal feel somewhat detached. It’s also from a privileged perspective as Nic is repeatedly sent to the best rehabs money can buy. Chalamet turns in a solid performance, but it’s probably time he moved on from playing the angsty teen. Carell’s portrayal is moving and viewers can empathize with his position, but Ben is Back is a much better depiction of a family dealing with addiction.
Special features include: featurette. (VVS Films)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)
Shout Select
In the south of France, two rival con men — suave and sophisticated Lawrence (Michael Caine) and third-rate American hustler Freddy (Steve Martin) — make a wager. The first one to extract $50,000 from the next woman (Glenne Headly) they meet wins ... and the other leaves town. The bet is on, the stakes are high and the blows are low.
This is an amusing comedy that sets the straight man against the fool — even though they are both con artists, they have incredibly different personalities and methods. Lawrence agrees to take Freddy under his wing and teach him to be more sophisticated, thus opening the playing field to include higher-class, i.e. wealthier, women. However, he then immediately turns around and gets him to act like a dreadful dolt for a scam. The target for their bet is a lovely woman who remarkably makes them feel ashamed of their career paths, but she doesn’t stop there. Caine and Martin are perfectly suited to these contrary roles, delivering a very amusing comedy in which each man is constantly trying to one-up the other by creating increasingly intolerable situations.
Special features include: commentary by director Frank Oz; interview with writer Dale Launer; vintage featurette; and trailers. (Shout Select)
Elliot the Littlest Reindeer (DVD & Digital copy)
Elevation Pictures
When Blitzen announces his retirement on December 21st, a miniature horse named Elliot (Josh Hutcherson) has three days to fulfill his lifelong dream of earning a spot on Santa's team at the North Pole try-outs.
This is a cute cartoon that tries to demonstrate the old adage, “You can be anything you want to be.” In spite of not being a reindeer, Elliot believes that as long as he tries hard enough he can help pull Santa’s sleigh. He trains every day and puts up with the ridicule of the other petting zoo animals all in the hopes of making his dream a reality. There’s also an anti-drug message as performance enhancing cookies enter the mix. There’s actually a lot going on for a 90-minute children’s movie, including a strained father-son relationship, shady management and exotic cuisine. Consequently, parts of the movie are entertaining, but all together it’s a bit too much.
There are no special features. (Elevation Pictures)
First Man (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
The story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight.
While many of the professional hurdles and wins are known or expected, this movie takes a keen and unexpected interest in Neil’s personal life. In addition to the narrative focusing on the minutiae of Neil’s life, director Damien Chazelle uses very close camera frames to place audiences at the centre of this trailblazing undertaking. This experience can be overwhelming at times as the screen violently shakes while a spacecraft spins uncontrollably or when viewers are practically inside the astronaut’s helmet alongside them. Yet, it’s also one of the elements that makes this picture so compelling and more than the average biopic of a historical figure. Gosling is good as the reserved astronaut, but Claire Foy is incredible as his often-exasperated wife, Janet, who is not afraid to take a stand when required.
Special features include: commentary by director Damien Chazelle, screenwriter Josh Singer and editor Tom Cross; deleted scenes; “Shooting for the Moon”; “Preparing to Launch”; “Giant Leap in One Small Step”; “Mission Gone Wrong”; “Putting You In the Seat”; “Recreating the Moon Landing”; “Shooting at NASA”; and “Astronaut Training.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Check out the rest of this week's reviews in part two.
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