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article imageReview: It’s difficult to let go in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 11, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include the complete BFF antics of a couple of young New Yorkers; a new take on a suburban horror story; a unique approach to refugee life; a giallo mystery; and the anniversary of fictional baseball legends.
Broad City: The Complete Series (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
The series follows two women (Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson) throughout their daily lives in New York City, making the smallest and mundane events hysterical and disturbing to watch all at the same time.
All great adventures must eventually come to an end — even one led by a couple of the greatest queens in NYC. But they certainly don’t disappoint their fans by making their departure as unconventional as the rest of their friendship by including a cross-city trek with a toilet. While turning 30 helps them realize it’s time to grow up, it’s not like they’re going to do it all at once. To top-off five seasons of hijinks, the final chapter includes a hazardous walk through Manhattan, an inspired business venture, a store window art installation, a protest against “sh*t buckets” and an intervention. This series was a favourite for many and it will be hard to let it go, but at least everyone involved will know the quality never wavered and they never compromised.
Special features include: deleted and extended scenes; outtakes; “Hack Into Broad City”; and “Behind Broad City.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Double Face (Blu-ray)
Arrow Video
When wealthy businessman John Alexander’s (Klaus Kinski) unfaithful wife, Helen (Margaret Lee), dies in a car crash, it initially looks like a freak accident. However, the plot thickens when evidence arises suggesting the car was tampered with prior to the crash. And John’s entire perception of reality is thrown into doubt when he discovers a recently-shot pornographic movie which appears to feature Helen — suggesting that she is in fact alive and playing an elaborate mind game on him.
This is a subtler take on the giallo picture with much less blood, but equally bizarre circumstances. The film opens with the crash and the rest of the picture is about the initially grieving and then very confused widower. Yet, true to the genre, there’s an endless string of beautiful, naked women who pass through the frame. The mystery consumes him, but those close to him believe he’s chasing a ghost… which seems plausible, until it becomes more obvious someone is definitely trying to frame John. Clandestine meetings with empty promises of evidence and disappeared proof of Helen’s survival are just some of the obstacles in John’s way of finally uncovering the truth.
Special features include: commentary by author and critic Tim Lucas; interview with composer Nora Orlandi; “The Many Faces of Nora Orlandi”; “The Terrifying Dr. Freda”; image gallery; and theatrical trailers. (Arrow Video)
The Illusionist (Blu-ray)
MVD Visual
Set in early 20th-century Vienna, a stage magician (Edward Norton) uses his magic to win back the great love of his life (Jessica Biel) from a brutal enemy, her fiancé (Rufus Sewell), who is also the powerful crowned prince of Austria.
People go to magic shows to be amazed, but many will also spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out how the illusion was achieved. It’s impossible to think a performer would be accused of fraud for doing too good of a job of hoodwinking his audience, yet that is the charge the magician faces. However, offending the monarchy with his trickeries is only half his trouble. The other half of this mystery is a love story, doomed by the fact that she’s already betrothed to the historically abusive prince. What follows is a game of cat and mouse in which Paul Giamatti’s detective is constantly chasing the lead, but never catching a culprit. The movie is undeniably dramatic with some enjoyable narrative twists.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Neil Burger; making-of featurette; interview with Jessica Biel; and theatrical trailer. (MVD Visual)
Major League 30th Anniversary (Blu-ray)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton) is beautiful, smart, goal-oriented and just inherited the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, she wants to move the franchise to Miami, and a losing season is her only ticket to Florida. So she signs the wildest gang of screwballs that ever spit tobacco. They’re handsome, but they’re hopeless. Her catcher (Tom Berenger) is a washed-up womanizer who struck out in life. Her ace pitcher (Charlie Sheen) is a punked-out crazy who struck out with the law. And her third baseman (Corbin Bersen) is more concerned about fielding endorsements than grounders. Throw in a busload of other misfits and you’ve got yourself a lineup that’s destined for disaster. Or is it?
This is an ‘80s classic that even those who don’t know much about or even like watching baseball will enjoy. Sheen’s character is nicknamed “Wild Thing,” surprisingly for antics on the field rather than off of it. Berenger plays the straight guy who is a through-and-through ball player that won’t retire in spite of injury. Wesley Snipes is a base-stealing show-off who has stars in his eyes once he breaks the league record. And Dennis Haysbert plays a voodoo practitioner who goes to great lengths to get out of a hitting slump. This is an incredibly comedic underdog story in which the misfit players find motivation in simply undermining their boss’ plans… and seeing her in a bikini.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director David S. Ward and producer Chris Chesser; alternate ending with filmmaker introduction; making-of featurette; “A Major League Look at Major League”; “Bob Uecker: Just a Bit Outside”; “A Tour of Cerrano’s Locker”; and photo gallery. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Pet Sematary (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
After the Creed family relocates from Boston to rural Maine, they soon discover an ancient burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. When tragedy strikes, the grief-stricken father (Jason Clarke) is driven by the cemetery’s sinister power, setting off a perilous chain of events that unleashes an unfathomable evil with horrific consequences. Some secrets are best left buried.
This is a remake of the 1989 film based on Stephen King’s horror novel of the same name. Many consider the original picture quite frightening, which leaves big shoes for this movie to fill. The first hour plays out very similarly to its predecessor and then it diverges to tell its own version of the story. All the key elements remain, from the warning spirit to the too helpful neighbour (John Lithgow) to the terrifying sister that haunts the mother. This movie also makes an extra effort to make the gory parts gorier and creepy parts creepier. Yet, the first half of the movie is very much a rehash and makes the whole thing feel unnecessary. Of course, one’s opinion may change when filmmakers finally pave their own way, but it takes its time getting there. The alternate ending in the bonus features is definitely the lesser option, while the value of the deleted scenes vary.
Special features include: alternate ending; deleted and extended scenes; “Night Terrors”; “The Tale of Timmy Baterman”; and “Beyond the Deadfall.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Running Man (Blu-ray)
Arrow Academy
Rex Black (Laurence Harvey) has successfully faked his death in a plane crash and escaped to sunny Málaga under a new identity, waiting for his wife Stella (Lee Remick) to arrive with £50,000 of life insurance money. It’s the start of a blissful, trouble-free new life for the couple – until Stephen (Alan Bates), the insurance agent in charge of investigating Rex’s death, suddenly arrives in town. Is he just holidaying in Spain, as he claims, or is he on assignment to foil Rex’s scheme?
There are multiple elements to this story, which get more complicated as they collide. Stella is apprehensive about committing fraud, but she loves her husband enough to risk it so they can live happily together. Unfortunately, the last part of the plan becomes difficult as Rex’s new identity also comes with an abrasive new attitude. As the saying goes, “Money changes people,” and Rex is far from immune. Stephen’s constant presence puts him further on edge, but he’s another mystery as his interest in Stella is difficult to decipher. As the narrative progresses, more of the story and the characters’ histories are revealed — though it does nothing to redeem them and is instead just intended to disclose their motivations. The ending is as expected, though it does take it’s time getting there.
Special features include: commentary by Peter William Evans, author of “British Film-Makers: Carol Reed”; “On The Trail Of The Running Man”; Lee Remick at the National Film Theatre; and image gallery. (Arrow Academy)
Silent Hill (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Rose (Radha Mitchell) is a desperate mother who takes her adopted daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland), to the town of Silent Hill in an attempt to cure her of her ailment. After a violent car crash, Sharon disappears, and Rose begins a desperate search to get her back. She descends into the center of the twisted reality of a town’s terrible secret. Pursued by grotesquely deformed creatures and townspeople stuck in permanent purgatory, Rose begins to uncover the truth behind the apocalyptic disaster that burned the town 30 years earlier.
Based on the video game of the same name, this was considered one of the most frightening horror movies of the year. A lot has come to pass in 13 years, but one thing has not changed: the chilling effect of the movie’s still terrifying monsters that emerge when the darkness rises. The special effects look a little rough around the edges now, but they’re still effective. The curse’s backstory is so horrible, viewers are unlikely to sympathize with any of the characters beyond those who foolishly stumbled into this nightmare. Adapting the terrors of the game for the movie works well, as they also replicate the hair-raising anxiety that accompanies the sound of the warning siren. Consequently, this narrative has also inspired some of the creepiest and best cosplay at fan conventions.
Special features include: commentary by cinematographer Dan Laustsen; making-of vintage featurette; making-of six-part documentary; interview with director Christophe Gans; interview with makeup-effects artist Paul Jones; “A Tale of Two Jodelles”; “Dance of the Pyramid”; on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage; photo galleries; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
This Island Earth (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
When atomic scientist Dr. Meacham (Rex Reason) is chosen to take part in a top-secret research experiment in a remote lab, he quickly discovers that he is really involved in an evil scheme by alien Metalunans to take over Earth. After he and the gorgeous Dr. Adams (Faith Domergue) make their escape shortly before the lab explodes, they are whisked away in a flying saucer to Metaluna, where they are blamed for the destruction. Will interstellar negotiation save the day or will the scientists be forced to take part in a treacherous battle to the death?
This is a different kind of ‘50s science fiction as the scientist goes to the aliens instead of the reverse. In this way, creators were responsible for building a whole extra-terrestrial world as well as imagining its advanced technology. Beginning with what turns out to be Meacham’s entrance test, the oversized communications device includes video calling and its own laser. There is a fairly standard aesthetic applied to the look of the alien technology, which works for the picture… at least for the “interior” shots. Films like this highlight the ingenuity that went into immersing characters and viewers in another world before the existence of CGI. The narrative gets a bit muddled near the end, but it’s interesting overall.
Special features include: commentary with author and Academy Award winning visual effects artist Robert Skotak; extended making-of documentary; interview with film historian David Schecter on the film’s music; “Alien Ideas”; “Facts about Perspecta Stereophonic Sound by Bob Furmanek”; War Of The Planets 1958 Castle Films release; “Trailers from Hell”; still galleries; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Transit (DVD)
Music Box Films
Georg, a German refugee (Franz Rogowski), flees to Marseille assuming the identity of a recently deceased writer whose papers he is carrying. There he delves into the delicate and complex culture of the refugee community, becoming enmeshed in the lives of a young mother and son, and falling for a mysterious woman named Marie (Paula Beer).
This is a complex tale of unintentional lies and fateful entanglements. Set during WWII, Georg and countless others are fleeing in attempt to stay ahead of the cleansing until they can find a way off-continent. Foreign consulates are inundated with requests for passage, though even that window is narrowing. However, each path Georg takes seems to bring him closer to people he’d rather avoid. The narrative is very much an onion with many layers, each revealing a new connection between characters. Most notably, in spite of being a period drama, the set is somewhat timeless. Shot in a modern day city (minus cell phones), the cars, building styles, set decorations and costumes are not indicative of the 1940s, but they don’t feel entirely contemporary either. This choice gives the already captivating story an intriguing aesthetic and the ability to relate to present experiences.
Special features include: making-of featurette; interview with director Christian Petzold; “The Refugee as a Person”; “Franz Rogowski: Shooting Star”; filmmaker Q&A at the Film Society of Lincoln Center; and collector’s booklet. (Music Box Films)
Trapped Alive (Blu-ray)
Arrow Video
One wintry night, pals Robin (Sullivan Hester) and Monica (Laura Kallison) are making their way to a Christmas party when they’re carjacked by a gang of crooks recently escaped from the local penitentiary. With the two young women taken as hostages, things take an even darker turn when their vehicle plummets down an abandoned mine shaft, trapping them underground with the dangerous crooks - and a mutant cannibal.
If only people would pay attention to signs informing them not to pick up hitchhikers, particularly near prisons. Or turn around and go home when the weather is formidable. But neither of those things happen, so two young women end up the hostages of three escaped cons — who quite frankly make it look like they could’ve broken out anytime with the lack of security measures. The monster in the mine would’ve been better off hidden for more of the movie as the caveman crossed with a prospector look isn’t exactly scary. However, what is more frightening are the terrible decisions made by most of the characters.
Special features include: commentary with director Leszek Burzynski; commentary with special effects artist Hank Carlson and horror writer Josh Hadley; commentary with The Hysteria Continues; “There’s EVIL Underground”; “Upper Michigan Tonight”; and “Leszek Burzynski: The Early Years.” (Arrow Video)
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