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article imageReview: Love and pain intertwine in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 27, 2020 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a whodunnit with a twist; a new movie from Japan’s most prolific director; a surprisingly faithful adaptation; a steely display case for a movie in a metal container; and a strong woman complete with flaws.
Color Out of Space (4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray)
RLJE Films
After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his family find themselves battling a mutant extraterrestrial organism as it infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a technicolor nightmare.
This film is one of several adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name. The movie is surprisingly faithful to the original text in the way it depicts the alien organism, and its effects on the landscape and family. The updated portions enhance the horror elements in the story, transforming madness caused by the infection into a more ghastly, physical manifestation of its effects in the case of the mother. Moreover, it unfolds in the present rather than a flashback to what occurred 50 years earlier (a century ago). While this version is certainly more grisly than the source material, it captures the terror of the pervasive, phosphorescent light that permeates everything and causes it to “go bad.” Cage’s portrayal of the doomed father is perfect, though the truncated timeline doesn’t allow for some of the creepier deterioration in Lovecraft’s tale.
Special features include: deleted scenes; making-of featurette; and photo gallery. (RLJE Films)
First Love (Blu-ray & DVD)
Well Go USA
When a duplicitous scheme by the low-level yakuza, Kase (Shota Sometani) goes wrong, a terminally ill boxer, Leo (Masataka Kuubota), and a disturbed drug addicted girl, Monica (Sakurako Konishi), find themselves innocently caught in the crosshairs of two warring gangs. Over the course of the increasingly ludicrous night, the two fall passionately in love, while the hail of bullets and blood fall quietly in the background.
Takashi Miike has always had a partiality for gangster and yakuza narratives, but with his own twist on the story. Kase has a big idea, but it all goes hilariously awry when no one seems able to hold up their end of the deal. Leo, in the meantime, was just trying to be a good Samaritan, but gets himself involved in a drug war that he can’t easily excuse himself from now. Even though Monica’s search for nose candy gets them into trouble multiple times, her tale is probably the least fortunate and they continue to rub salt in her wound. There’s some brief battles throughout the first acts to sate people’s appetites, but it’s during the finale that Miike goes all out with his signature dismemberments, decapitations and humorous escapes.
Special features include: trailers. (Well Go USA)
Frozen 2 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Home Entertainment
The answer to why Elsa (Idina Menzel) was born with magical powers is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven, she sets out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In the first film, Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world — now, she must hope they are enough.
While Disney’s movies typically include a number of memorable tunes, this movie is a true musical as the characters break into song to express their feelings throughout the picture. Elsa is worried about the meaning of the mysterious voice, but also yearning to get back out there beyond the castle’s walls; and Anna is, of course, worried about her. Olaf is trying come to terms with the fact he’s growing up and things are changing. Kristoff doesn’t know if Anna really needs him around. The story is quite interesting as their quest for the truth takes them to unexplored realms where they meet new people with whom they seem to fit right in. The enchanted forest is very lovely and presents a rich palette of autumn colors compared to the icy blues of the first picture. It’s all still very fantastical and while it likely falls slightly short of the first picture, it’s still a wonderfully enjoyable movie.
Special features include: deleted scenes and songs; sing-along version of the movie; “The Spirits of Frozen 2”; “Did You Know???”; “Scoring a Sequel”; “Gale Tests”; “Multi-Language Reel”; music videos; song selection; and outtakes. (Disney Home Entertainment)
The Hunt for Red October: 30th Anniversary Limited Edition steelbook (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Entertainment
A new technologically-superior Soviet nuclear sub, the Red October, is heading for the U.S. coast under the command of Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery). The American government thinks Ramius is planning to attack. A lone CIA analyst named Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) has a different idea: he thinks Ramius is planning to defect, but he has only a few hours to find him and prove it because the entire Russian naval and air commands are trying to find him, too. The hunt is on!
A number of actors have played the role of Jack Ryan over the years, but in the early days of his career, Baldwin was the first. Although much of the film unfolds on a Russian submarine, the English, Scottish and Irish actors only have to stumble through the language for a short time before filmmakers shrewdly transition to the English language for most of the remaining picture. What Ramius plans seems rather unthinkable, though the prologue suggests the story is based on true events. In any case, there’s a fair amount of underwater action complete with torpedo attacks and a lot of staring into the camera with stern looks. The bonus feature is an interesting exploration of the casting process, as well as how they mimicked being on a submarine.
Special features include: commentary by director John McTiernan; “Beneath the Surface”; theatrical trailer. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Jojo Rabbit (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Fox Home Entertainment
A World War II story that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. In spite of his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo confronts his blind nationalism.
It’s odd to say about a film set during WWII, but this was one of the top feel-good movies of 2019. The humorous opening scene between Jojo and Hitler sets the tone for the rest of the picture. In subsequent scenes, the boy is foolishly injured during a training exercise, his commanding officer (Sam Rockwell) designs an audacious uniform with feathers and a sash, and another trainer (Rebel Wilson) feeds the children outrageous lies about Jews that they naively accept as facts. Of course, the story is not without tragedy as war inevitably has casualties and everyone is touched by loss. However, Waititi’s satirical portrayal of history highlights the preposterousness of the beliefs that led to horrific atrocities, which he conversely doesn’t treat lightly. It’s an outstanding picture, deserving of all the accolades it’s received and more.
Special features include: commentary by Taika Waititi; deleted scenes; “Inside Jojo Rabbit”; outtakes; and theatrical trailers. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Knives Out (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
The circumstances surrounding the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) are mysterious, but there’s one thing that renowned Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) knows for sure —everyone in the wildly dysfunctional Thrombey family is a suspect. Now, Blanc must sift through a web of lies and red herrings to uncover the truth.
Writer/director Rian Johnson is best known for his directorial contribution to the new Star Wars trilogy, but he demonstrates here that he has a knack for subtler narratives. Yet, this isn’t your typical whodunit as audiences spend much of the film following the prime suspect’s attempts to avoid being found out. The result is humorous and made more so by an unexpected stand-in for a lie detector. The characters’ interactions range from cordial to cutthroat, particularly as they try not to speak ill of the dead even as some of them wish it had happened sooner. The acting in this picture is top-notch. Everyone embraces their roles, as well as the fact this is a fun movie and should feel playful to some degree. Each of the actors plays up their character’s stereotypical personalities for everyone’s amusement. The result is an atypical murder mystery that doesn’t quite go the way one expects.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Rian Johnson, director of photography Steve Yedlin and actor Noah Segan; In-theatre commentary by Rian Johnson; deleted scenes; making-of eight-part documentary; “Rian Johnson: Planning the Perfect Murder”; writer/director and cast Q&A; marketing gallery; and “Meet the Thrombeys” viral ads. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Manon (Blu-ray)
Arrow Academy
A classical tragic romance transposed to a World War II setting, Henri-Georges Clouzot's film follows the travails of Manon (Cécile Aubry), a village girl accused of collaborating with the Nazis who is rescued from imminent execution by a former French Resistance fighter, Robert (Michel Auclair). The couple move to Paris, but their relationship turns stormy as they struggle to survive, resorting to profiteering, prostitution and even murder. Eventually escaping to Palestine, the pair attempt a treacherous desert crossing in search of the happiness which seems to forever elude them.
Clouzot’s pessimism shines through this picture as even though it appears the young couple are about to embark on a fairy tale romance, they’re actually in for a journey of repeated heartache and challenges. Robert looks forward to returning to the country, settling down and beginning a family. Manon is simply glad she wasn’t scalped, but hasn’t thought much about how a future with Robert might look. In Paris, she adopts her brother’s extravagant lifestyle, discovering she never wants to be without money or riches again. But Robert is not wealthy nor does he have a head for business. Manon’s determination to live in luxury nearly tears them apart more than once, but the young fools always manage to forgive and move forward. The story is adapted from Abbe Prevost's classic French novel, but it takes on an international flavour and post-war idealism.
Special features include: “Bibliothèque de poche: H.G. Clouzot”; “Woman in the Dunes”; image gallery; and reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options. (Arrow Academy)
The Mindy Project: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
Mill Creek Entertainment
Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) is a talented obstetrician navigating the tricky waters of her chaotic personal life as she pursues her dreams of becoming the perfect woman, finding happiness and getting her perfect romantic comedy ending. Mindy shares a practice with three doctors, none of whom makes life any easier for her. There’s Dr. Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), whose on-again-off-again romance with Mindy keeps the office staff on their toes; Dr. Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks), the office’s managing partner and resident punching bag; and Dr. Peter Prentice (Adam Palley), a high-fiving former frat boy, who knows nothing about the opposite sex, but insists on doling out relationship advice to Mindy. Rounding out the ensemble is ex-con-turned-nurse Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz), the gossipy Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) and the grumpy Beverly (Beth Grant).
This is an entertaining sitcom led by the ever charming and humorous Kaling. Her nonchalant attitude in life is offset by a solid determination to be successful in her career and help people. Consequently, she doesn’t let herself be pushed around by the men in the office and proves she’s a valuable member of the team. As their love for life and weird things matches her own, she becomes fast friends with Peter and Morgan. While the series makes an inevitable shift when Mindy has a baby, she still manages to balance work, eccentricity and the responsibilities of motherhood. This is the story of a woman who always gets back up when the world knocks her down, managing to rebuild her self-esteem and keep her goals in sight. Most importantly, she loves herself and realizes she doesn’t need to change to fit anyone else’s idea of who she should be, but rather embrace everything she already has going for her.
Special features include: deleted scenes; and gag reels. (Mill Creek Entertainment)
One Missed Call Trilogy (Blu-ray)
Arrow Video
In the first installment in the trilogy, 2003's One Missed Call, student Yoko (Anna Nagata) receives a phone message from her future self, ending with her own death scream. Two days later, she dies in a horrific rail collision. As the mysterious phone curse spreads, claiming more young lives, Yoko's friend Yumi (Ko Shibasaki) joins forces with detective Hiroshi (Shinichi Tsutsumi), whose sister met the same gruesome fate. But can they unravel the mystery before the clock runs out on the next victim — Yumi herself? Mimiko's curse continues to wreak bloody havoc in two sequels: 2005's One Missed Call 2 and 2006's One Missed Call: Final.
The yurei – or vengeful spirit – narrative is given a high-tech upgrade in this J-horror trilogy. The horrific Mimiko resembles her ghostly counterparts, Kayako and Sadako, with concealing long black hair and an unsettling way of entering a room. While Takashi Miike isn’t really known as a horror director, he has a reputation of dabbling in various genres and effectively applies the formula while adding his own brand of terror to the first picture. Other directors picked up the torch for the sequels, giving Mimiko new targets and delving deeper into her past. The last movie takes the story in an entirely different direction, extending her vengeful hand to a bullied girl. Though the first film is undoubtedly the best, they’re all enjoyably frightful and keep audiences on edge to the very end.
Special features include: commentary on One Missed Call by Takashi Miike biographer Tom Mes; alternate ending; deleted scenes; making-of featurettes; archival interviews and footage; behind-the-scenes featurette; “A Day with the Mizunuma Family”; “Gomu,” a short film by One Missed Call 2 director Renpei Tsukamoto; “The Love Story,” a short film tie-in for One Missed Call: Final; “Candid Mimiko”; theatrical trailers and TV spots; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin. (Arrow Video)
Ophelia (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
As a rebellious and motherless child, Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) is taken into Elsinore Castle by Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts) as one of her most trusted ladies-in-waiting. Soon enough, Ophelia captures the affections of the young Prince Hamlet (George MacKay). In secret, a passionate romance ignites between the two as the kingdom is on the brink of war amidst its own political intrigue and betrayal. When Hamlet’s father is murdered, and the prince’s wits begin to unravel into an insatiable quest for vengeance, Ophelia sharply navigates the rules of power in Denmark all while struggling to choose between her true love and her own life.
The narrator opens by claiming although Ophelia’s story has been shared by others, they’ve been inaccurate accounts… hence, the only true version can be from the woman’s own perspective. Beginning with a brief depiction of her childhood, the narrative quickly jumps into the life of the young woman whose sincerity endeared her to the queen and whose adventurousness captured the prince’s heart. Scenes and characters from Shakespeare’s play are recognizable, yet it’s a different tale that travels a different path even though the end result is similar. Ophelia’s perspective is often clouded by love, though the rest of the story unfolds with expected ruthlessness and insanity as the monarchy crumbles. The picture also borrows from another of the bard’s stories, while not giving him the satisfaction of utter ruin.
Special features include: cast and crew interviews; and B-roll. (Shout Factory)
Pet Sematary Two Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
After the death of his wife, veterinarian Chase Matthews (Anthony Edwards) and his 13-year-old son, Jeff (Edward Furlong), move to Ludlow to rebuild their lives. Antagonized by the neighborhood kids, Jeff befriends another outsider, Drew Gilbert (Jason McGuire), who lives in fear of his cruel stepfather, Gus (Clancy Brown). After Gus cold-bloodedly shoots Drew's beloved dog, the boys bury the body in the local Indian burial grounds — a place rumoured to have the powers of resurrection. But when evil is awakened, the boys realize that sometimes you should just let dead dogs lie.
Even though most people are aware of the first picture, far fewer know of the sequel that goes back to the small town in Maine and its animal graveyard. Of course, rumours spread after what befell the Creeds and most are smart enough to shun the whole place. But kids mistaken stupidity for bravery, venturing where they shouldn’t. Yet, one bad turn deserves another and they can’t seem to stop raising the dead no matter how terrible the results. Furlong was still riding his Terminator fame, while Brown indulges in the sadistic sheriff that gets worse even when they thought he couldn’t. The follow-up is more campy and strange, paling in comparison to the original picture and causing Stephen King to distance himself from the project.
Special features include: commentary with director Mary Lambert; “Young and Brooding”; “Playing Over the Top”; “My First Film”; “A Thousand Dollar Bet”; “Orchestrated Grunge”; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
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