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article imageReview: Everyone needs some saving in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     May 8, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include the final chapter in a sex-fuelled trilogy; the first season of a cutting-edge series; the anniversary edition of an acclaimed war drama; and a game of rugby for god and country.
Blood and Glory (DVD)
MVD Visual
During the Anglo-Boer War, British soldiers murder Willem Morkel's (Stian Bam) innocent wife and only child. Willem is captured and sent to the St. Helena concentration camp, where Colonel Swanell (Grant Swanby), an imperialist with an insatiable hatred for the Afrikaner nation, holds him prisoner. The prisoners are subjected to unspeakable brutality on the island, constantly degraded and dehumanised by the Colonel and his men. One day, during a rugby match between prisoners and the Royal Regiment team, a young prisoner is caught trying to escape and sentenced to death. Willem interjects with an ultimatum: If the Boers can defeat the Colonel's experienced Royal Regiment in a game of rugby, Swanell must pardon the boy and spare his life; if, however, the Royal Regiment defeats the Boers, Willem will face the firing squad.
The first act conveys Willem’s depressing reality as he finds his home destroyed and learns life will be brutal in the camp since they are not protected as prisoners of war since militias are not considered official military. Though it’s clear most of the captives are men who took up arms to defend their land, there’s a curious Irishman whose story is never revealed. Even though the majority of the people on the island seem to object to the colonel’s tactics, they all appear helpless to stop him. The film gains momentum as the Boers train for the rugby match, though it’s still a rollercoaster of emotions. For anyone unfamiliar with the sport, it also provides a nice primer so everyone is on the same page during the match.
Special features include: commentary by director Sean Else; deleted scenes; and theatrical trailer. (MVD Visual)
Dear White People: Season One (DVD)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Set against the backdrop of a predominantly white Ivy League university, where racial tensions bubble just below the surface, the series is a send-up of the now post-post-racial America that tells the universal story of finding one’s own identity and forging a wholly unique path. The satirical series — which picks up where the acclaimed 2014 film by the same name left off — follows a group of Winchester University students of color as they navigate a diverse landscape of social injustice, cultural bias, political correctness (or lack thereof), and activism in the millennial age.
Many of the actors from the film signed on for the movie and even though it many ways it picks up where the film left off, the series is also a standalone narrative that exists outside of its predecessor. Each chapter is dedicated to the perspective of one character and, at first, revolves around the controversial black-face party that was the climax of the film. Each of the characters is engaging and harbouring secrets they don’t want anyone to discover, though they vary in gravity. However, even though the party is an important instigator in the series, the chief incident occurs later and involves a security officer drawing his weapon – an upsetting event that often has an all-too-familiar ending.
Special features include: commentaries for chapters I and X with creator Justin Simien; “Dear White People: Art as Activism”; and “Filming Chapter V.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Fifty Shades Freed (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Believing they have left behind shadowy figures from their past, newlyweds Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Ana (Dakota Johnson) fully embrace an inextricable connection and shared life of luxury. But just as she steps into her role as Mrs. Grey and he relaxes into an unfamiliar stability, new threats could jeopardize their happy ending before it even begins.
Instead of action beats at regular intervals, this movie features a sexual act approximately every 10 minutes for the first hour. Moreover, if they’re not having sex, then at least one of them is in some state of undress for an equal number of scenes. But the oversexed picture does not make up for the worst narrative in the series (what there is of a story anyway). While it’s expected these films will be erogenous, sacrificing a coherent (and even remotely empowering) narrative for more nudity is a disservice to the fans. The scary stalker plot is just another reason for Christian to be controlling, while everything about Jack’s pursuit is contrived to propel the conflict between the newlyweds. When there’s only about an hour of script left once you remove the soft-core close-ups, more care should be taken to ensure it’s at least somewhat plausible and not just an overwrought music video.
Special features include: deleted scene; “The Final Climax”; and “Christian & Ana By Jamie & Dakota.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
The House That Dripped Blood (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
A Scotland Yard inspector’s search for a missing film star leads him to a haunted house. The house sets the framework for four separate tales of terror written by the author of Psycho, Robert Bloch, and starring horror icons Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Ingrid Pitt. All four stories center on the mysterious fates of tenants who have leased the mansion over the years.
This is a horror anthology from 1971 containing four harrowing tales of ghouls, monsters and witchcraft and featuring some of the best of the genre. Cushing plays a man obsessed with a familiar woman in a wax museum, while Lee is a widower rigorously strict with his young daughter in spite of her teacher’s protests and Pitt is the co-star in a vampire movie whose star falls under the power of costume cloak. The fourth tale is about a writer haunted by his latest, murderous creation. The stories are excellent, providing mystery and suspense, and pulling the viewer into the house’s perilous history, though the inspector may be less convinced.
Special features include: commentary by film historian/author Troy Howarth; commentary with director Peter Duffell and author Jonathan Rigby; interview with second assistant director Mike Higgins; “A-Rated Horror Film”; The Amicus radio spots collection; radio spots; still gallery; theatrical trailers. (Scream Factory)
Manifesto (DVD)
MVD Visual
The film features two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett in 13 distinct, must-see vignettes that incorporate timeless manifestos from 20th-century art movements. From anchorwoman to homeless man, from Pop Art to Dogma 95, Blanchett transforms herself like never before.
Whether or not one is interested in the political or artistic movements performed by Blanchett, her chameleon-like transformations are a good reason to check out this picture. The 13 segments were shot over 12 days for a multi-screen film installation by Julian Rosefeldt and then stitched together to form a 90-minute movie. For those curious, there’s a list of the various sections, which movement each character represents and the influences for their speech — but what is more compelling than the words themselves is Blanchett’s recital of the impassioned statements, which she appears to feel with every inch of her being whether she’s portraying a subdued housewife or vehement punk.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
Paradox (Blu-ray & DVD)
Well Go USA
Hong Kong cop Lee (Louis Koo) goes on a search in Thailand for his missing daughter Chi (Hanna Chan). Thai Chinese police officer Chui Kit (Wu Yue) lets Lee join the investigation, having no idea that Lee is going to use the mass media to hunt for clues. A short clip which accidentally filmed Chi’s capture is uploaded to the police website, but subsequently deleted. Chui Kit and colleague Tak (Tony Jaa) track down the clip owner, but the evidence is destroyed before they can stop it. The duo begins tracking down the culprit, but as they get closer to the truth, they realize that the case is more complicated than they expected, and the mastermind behind the scene is not someone they can deal with.
This is an interesting crime drama with the action you’d expect from a movie that stars Koo and Jaa. When Lee realizes the cops’ by-the-book tactics will take too long, he branches off to conduct his own investigation that has no rules. In the meantime, the local police do their due diligence, which leads them to part of the criminal syndicate that’s connected to a much larger group. If one is familiar with the illegal trafficking in Thailand, it’s not difficult to put the pieces together; although there are a few plot holes to ignore along the way. The flow of the film is uneven, but it doesn’t subscribe to the typical Hollywood direction for these types of movies.
There are no special features. (Well Go USA)
Saving Private Ryan 20th Anniversary Edition (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
The story opens with a prologue in which a veteran brings his family to the American cemetery at Normandy, and a flashback then joins Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and GIs in a landing craft making the June 6, 1944, approach to Omaha Beach to face devastating German artillery fire. On the beach littered with bodies is one with the name "Ryan" stenciled on his backpack. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell), learning that three Ryan brothers from the same family have all been killed in a single week, requests that the surviving brother, Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), be located and brought back to the United States. Capt. Miller gets the assignment, and he chooses a translator, Cpl. Upham (Jeremy Davis), skilled in language but not in combat, to join his squad of right-hand man Sgt. Horvath (Tom Sizemore), plus privates Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Medic Wade (Giovanni Ribisi), cynical Reiben (Edward Burns) from Brooklyn, Italian-American Caparzo (Vin Diesel), and religious Southerner Jackson (Barry Pepper), an ace sharpshooter who calls on the Lord while taking aim.
In 1998, this was one of the most talked about films of the year. It won five Oscars and two Golden Globes, including best director for Steven Spielberg from both. Though the filmmaker is better known for his fantasy and sci-fi pictures, he’s also made a number of war dramas over the years and this is undoubtedly one of his best. Its realism and authentic heroism are captivating as these group of men do what must be done rather than what they want to be doing. Moreover, the cast is exceptional — led by Hanks, but supported by so many other top-notch actors, particularly Sizemore, Burns and Goldberg. The new high-def transfer gives extra life to the mud and blood that surrounds the soldiers on what feels like a fool’s errand. The bonus features share in-depth interviews with Spielberg, who discusses his approach to the film; the actors, who describe their experiences in boot camp and on lifelike battlefield; and the consultants who made sure they got it right.
Special features include: “An Introduction”; “Looking into the Past”; “Miller and his Platoon”; “Boot Camp”; “Making Saving Private Ryan”; “Re-Creating Omaha Beach”; “Music and Sound”; “Parting Thoughts”; “Into the Breach: Saving Private Ryan”; “Shooting War”; and theatrical and re-release trailers. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Source Code (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
A soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) is volunteered for an experimental government program being used to prevent a deadly terrorist attack in downtown Chicago.
At the start, this film appears reminiscent of 12 Monkeys, or the short it was based on La Jetée, but it turns out to be far more sinister (and unbelievable) than either of those pictures. The soldier is sent back into another man’s body repeatedly in order to try to stop a lethal explosion, yet he’s unable to communicate directly with his superiors except at the conclusion of his loop, which generally ends with his death. Yet somehow, by identifying the terrorist, they will be able to prevent the attack. The story’s focus is the soldier’s mission and his budding relationship with another passenger, which unfortunately seems to supersede the need to answer the many questions raised by the narrative.
Special features include: commentary with director Duncan Jones, writer Ben Ripley and actor Jake Gyllenhaal; “5 Crazy Details You Might Have Missed”; and “Access Source Code.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
More about Fifty Shades Freed, dear white people, Saving Private Ryan, Blood and Glory, The House That Dripped Blood
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