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article imageReview: Love comes in many forms in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 27, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an unlikely romance; a little elephant that could; three generations of exceptional women; a wild imagination; and the ultimate edition of a unique and memorable picture.
The Aftermath (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Fox Home Entertainment
Set in 1946, this drama follows Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley), a British woman whose colonel husband (Jason Clarke) is charged with rebuilding war-ravaged Hamburg. When she joins him there during the bitter winter months, she learns they will be sharing their home with a German widower (Alexander Skarsgård) and his troubled daughter (Flora Thiemann). Before long, the unusual arrangement intensifies political divides and stirs deep personal wounds.
The title has several meanings in the context of the film. The obvious one is dealing with the outcome of the war. The Allies extensively bombed Germany before claiming victory, leaving most of the cities in rubble. The widower loses his upper-class status and must invite the opposing military into his home with a smile in an ironic reversal of fortune. There are also two deaths looming over the film’s characters as those affected struggle to live with their grief and possibly move forward. It often feels like everyone in the film is wearing a mask, concealing their true feelings. For this reason, the rare instances in which the trio is truly themselves are even more momentous. However, the ending delivers a blow by daring to be different and then backing out at the last possible moment. This choice to be conventional is the most disappointing aspect of the film, which is an otherwise standard period romance.
Special features include: commentary by director James Kent; deleted scenes with optional commentary by Kent; VFX progressions with optional commentary by Kent; “First Look”; and gallery. (Fox Home Entertainment)
The Believers (Blu-ray)
Olive Films
Following the tragic death of his wife, psychologist Cal Jamison (Martin Sheen) and his young son Chris (Harley Cross) relocate from Minneapolis to New York City to start a new life. Enlisted by Lt. McTaggert (Robert Loggia) to help solve a baffling suicide case involving voodoo, Cal soon finds himself in the middle of an investigation with ties to a Caribbean religious cult and a series of ritualistic murders that will place him and those he loves in grave danger.
This a contemporary take on the classic voodoo thriller in which city folk get mixed up in the ancient practice. In this case, the cult is drawing a lot of attention to itself by killing children in obvious ritual sacrifices. Chris becomes unknowingly marked when he stumbles upon one of the altars in Central Park and pockets one of the artifacts. However, there’s a much less supernatural event having a greater effect on the household: Cal starts dating the neighbour less than a year after his wife’s death and Chris resents him trying to replace his mother so soon. The black magic curses really ramp up in the last act as society’s elite tries to ensure the future of their cult by any means necessary. There’s nothing especially memorable about this movie except that the rich will do anything to stay that way.
There are no special features. (Olive Films)
Cinderella (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Disney Home Entertainment
Everyone orders Cinderella around: her cruel stepmother, her awful stepsisters -- even the big clock in the church tower tells her when to start another day of drudgery. But they can't stop her from dreaming, and Cinderella has faith that someday her wishes will come true. When an invitation to the royal ball arrives, Cinderella is sure her time has come — until her stepsisters tear her gown to shreds. Just when Cinderella believes all is lost, her Fairy Godmother appears, and with a wave of her wand and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo,” transforms an ordinary pumpkin into a magnificent coach and Cinderella’s rags into a gorgeous gown. But Cinderella’s enchanted evening must end when the spell is broken at midnight. It takes the help of her daring animal mice friends and a perfect fit into a glass slipper to create the ultimate fairy tale ending.
The bloody and somewhat gruesome Grimm fairy tale is polished with some Disney magic and transformed into a colorful, fun and cute story filled with memorable sing-along songs. The studio continues its love affair with mice by creating a group of the most adorable helpers that keep Cinderella's secrets and make sure she gets to the ball. Of course, Cinderella has an uncanny relationship with nature, as do most classic Disney princesses. Her step-mother and step-sisters are true villains, treating the real heiress to the household with cruelty and contempt. But Cinderella always has hope that one day her wishes will be answered and she'll be rescued from the situation. This is one of the original damsels in distress narratives with all the fixings for a fantasy escape.
Special features include: Diane Disney Miller film intro; “In Walt’s Words: The Envisioning of Cinderella”; making-of featurette; “The Cinderella That Almost Was”; “The Real Fairy Godmother”; “Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fairyland”; “The Magic of the Glass Slipper”; “The Art of Cinderella”; and “Try This Trivia on for Size.” (Disney Home Entertainment)
Dumbo (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Walt Disney Studios
Struggling circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive but sinister entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, spectacular, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland.
This is a live-action adaptation of the classic 1941 Disney animated film of the same name. It keeps many of the more memorable — and sombre — moments of the original, which includes several tearjerkers as most will find it difficult not to get a little teary-eyed when Dumbo is separated from his mother. However, the guiding Timothy mouse is replaced by multiple characters, including the Farrier kids and Eva Green’s acrobatic character. Unsurprisingly, director Tim Burton also takes some liberties, using the film as an excuse to create an extravagant sideshow in an amusement park filled with horror and wonder. Thankfully, they still find a more PC way to include the hallucinatory pink elephants, as well as deliver a happier ending than before. The bonus features include some interesting words from Burton about his vision for the movie, as well as an enlightening behind-the-scenes look at the elephant effects.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Circus Spectaculars”; “The Elephant in the Room”; “Built to Amaze”; “Clowning Around”; “Easter Eggs on Parade”; and “Baby Mine” video by Arcade Fire. (Walt Disney Studios)
Fast Color (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Hunted by mysterious forces, a young woman (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) with supernatural abilities must go on the run when her powers are discovered. With nowhere else to go, she flees back to her family and the farmhouse she abandoned long ago. There, while being pursued by the local sheriff (David Strathairn), she begins to mend the broken relationships with her mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter (Saniyya Sidney), and unearths the depths of the power within her.
Much like Marvel’s mutants, unevolved humans fear what they don’t understand and want to study/dissect it to allay their own anxieties. Ruth is on the run because she refuses to be someone’s science experiment. She’s also incredibly afraid of her powers since she has trouble controlling them. This movie centres on three generations of powerful women with the potential to do great things, except they must conceal their abilities for fear of their safety. There are a lot of maternal instincts to guide them, which has a significant impact on the conclusion. The narrative can be easily extrapolated to a number of metaphors, such as us vs. them or historical and contemporary repression and persecution. But even on the surface, it’s a fascinating sci-fi movie with simple to complex special effects.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Julia Hart and writer/producer Jordan Horowitz; and making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Fatso (Blu-ray)
Shout Select
All his life, Dominic DiNapoli (Dom DeLuise) has found comfort in food. But when his sister Antoinette (Anne Bancroft) implores him to stop eating himself into an early grave, Dominic begins bouncing from crash diets to the support group “Chubby Checkers” to all manner of binges in between. In the end, Dominic discovers that what he needs most is a steady diet of love — from his family, from a new and lovely neighborhood acquaintance… and most importantly, from himself.
This was the only movie directed by film icon Anne Bancroft, though many wish she’d done more. It’s a very successful dramedy about a man with a food addiction, which means even though the fatal consequences of his eating are shoved directly in his face he still can’t quit. The comedy is in DeLuise’s portrayal of Dominic as a sweet, caring man who understands but can’t control his cravings, whether at a funeral or the heartbreak hotel. Bancroft draws a fine line between pitiful and hilarious, particularly when Dominic’s support group comes to help him after an especially difficult night and they end up devouring the kitchen. The romance with Candice Azzara isn’t vital to the story, but it does show audiences another side of Dominic and becomes a motivating factor for his character.
Special features include: “Looking back on Fatso”; and interview with film historian Maya Montañez Smukler. (Shout Select)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch [Criterion Collection] (Blu-ray)
Criterion Collection
Raised a boy in East Berlin, Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell) undergoes a traumatic personal transformation in order to emigrate to the U.S., where she reinvents herself as an “internationally ignored” but divinely talented rock diva. The film tells Hedwig’s story through her music, an eclectic assortment of original punk anthems and power ballads by Stephen Trask.
The film is an adaptation of the original stage production, using most of the same cast and a very similar script. But all the parallels benefit the movie as they knew the story inside-out and used the new format to go even bigger… or as big as a modest budget would allow. The soundtrack is catchy with “Wig in a Box” easily being the most memorable singalong tune and “Angry Inch” coming in a close second. The former is highlighted with an extravagantly perfect trailer concert, while “The Origin of Love” is accompanied by a beautiful animated version of the story that depicts one being separated into two, creating soulmates. The biographical elements of the narrative are certainly the most powerful as viewers learn of Hansel’s journey to becoming Hedwig and eventually how her songs were stolen by the ridiculous Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt).
The bonus features will elate fans as it takes them deep into the making of not only the film, but the whole story. Trask’s interview with Rolling Stone shines a light on how he came up with the punk soundtrack, as well as which tracks he had difficulty composing. The documentary is an 85-minute film tracing the project from its early tryouts at the drag club Squeezebox to growing a following that included high-profile celebs to turning their passion project into a Sundance award winning movie. It’s wonderful to see everyone in the retrospective looking back at what they all still consider an amazing time of their life, as well as hearing their perspectives on other performers who took on Hedwig, including Ally Sheedy, Taye Diggs and Matt McGrath. The archives feature is another way to travel back in time with Mitchell and others as each piece of memorabilia has a fond memory attached to it — particularly the “bishop in a turtle neck.”
Special features include: commentary from 2001 featuring writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell and cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco; deleted scenes with commentary by Mitchell and DeMarco; new conversation among members of the cast and crew; new conversation between composer and lyricist Stephen Trask and rock critic David Fricke about the soundtrack; documentary from 2003 tracing the development of the project; close look at the film’s Adam and Eve sequence; new programs exploring Hedwig's creation, look, and legacy through its memorabilia; trailer; and a collective booklet with an essay, excerpts, portraits and illustrations. (Criterion Collection)
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (Blu-ray)
Olive Films
Frankie (Frankie Avalon) is serving naval reserve duty in Tahiti, separated from his beach bunny, Dee Dee (Annette Funicello). Frankie, fearing that Dee Dee might be having as much fun as he is in his tropical paradise, enlists the help of the local island witch doctor, Bwana (Buster Keaton) to keep an eye on what’s going on back home. And what’s going on back home is that suave advertising executive, Ricky (Dwayne Hickman) has his sights set on Dee Dee. And Dee Dee might just be receptive to his advances.
Like most of the other beach movies starring Frankie and Annette, there isn’t much to it. In this one, the pair are actually separated for most of the film. While there’s a big deal made about Dee Dee and the ad exec, not much is said about Frankie and the local girl with which he’s spending time. Instead, Dee Dee is repeatedly shown rebuffing Ricky’s advances because she promised to be faithful in Frankie’s absence regardless of what he may be doing in the tropics. However, the silliest part of the story is about a bikini that appears from nowhere and is then filled with a klutzy redhead that all the boys want and advertisers want to be their star. It’s a strange parallel story that’s eventual purpose is to demonstrate the girl next door ends up on top. And finally, Bewitched’s Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery) makes a surprising cameo.
There are no special features. (Olive Films)
Night of the Creeps (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
When an alien experiment goes awry, it crashes to Earth in 1959 and infects a young college student. Twenty-seven years later, his cryogenically frozen body is thawed out by fraternity pledges ... and the campus is quickly overrun by alien creatures whose victims turn into zombies.
This is a silly version of the zombie movie as a bunch of young people become violent and brainless. It could also be a precursor to cult favourite Slither, which also relies on leech-like creatures occupying their human hosts. The goofy horror comedy is far from frightening and culminates on the night of a dance that has everyone dressed up for the occasion. Finding a flamethrower and pairing with a local lawman made to believe in the monsters, a geek with a crush forms a tiny task force to stop the invasion. There’s not much memorable about the picture, but genre fans will still appreciate its humour.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Fred Dekker; commentary by actors Tom Atkins, Jason Lively, Steve Marshall and Jill Whitlow; deleted scenes; making-of documentary; “Tom Atkins: Man of Action”; “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds”; “Real Good Plan,” an interview with actor Jason Lively; “The Bradster,” an interview with actor Alan Kayser; “I Vote For That One,” an interview with actor Ken Heron; “Worst Coroner Ever,” an interview with actor Vic Polizos; “Answering the Door,” an interview with actress Suzanne Snyder; “Final Cut,” an interview with editor Michael N. Knue; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Slaughterhouse Rulez (DVD)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Welcome to Slaughterhouse, an elite boarding school where boys and girls are groomed for power and greatness...and they’re about to meet their match. This ancient and ordered world is about to be shaken to its foundations — literally — when a controversial frack site on prized school woodland causes seismic tremors, a mysterious sinkhole and an unspeakable horror is unleashed. Soon a new pecking order will be established as pupils, teachers and the school matron become locked in a bloody battle for survival.
This is a bizarre tale that at first looks like it’s going to be about the hierarchy and hazing at an elite private school, but eventually turns into a monster movie that has them running for their lives. Deep in the woods resides a humungous fracking machine that looks more like an alien spaceship. When they detect something moving en masse below ground, they choose to ignore it and chalk it up to a system glitch. Luckily the roused beasts arise when most people have left for the weekend, so it’s up to a select few to save the school. Asa Butterfield and Finn Cole are at the centre of the picture with their characters being pretty low on the totem pole. Meanwhile, Michael Sheen plays the dubious headmaster, Simon Pegg is a dean on the brink of breakdown and Nick Frost portrays a protestor who also enjoys hallucinogenic mushrooms. The cast makes this movie fun, which is a great since it’s otherwise barely mediocre.
There are no special features. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Wonder Park (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Entertainment
This is the story of a young girl named June with a big imagination who makes an incredible discovery — the amusement park of her dreams has come to life. Filled with the world’s wildest rides operated by fun-loving animals, the excitement never ends. But when trouble hits, June and her misfit team of furry friends begin an unforgettable journey to save the park.
Most kids just have imaginary friends — June has a whole imaginary theme park. With her mother’s help and encouragement, June invents a magical collection rides and talking animal characters that is represented in the real world by a miniature version that encompasses the whole house — i.e., every kid’s dream. However, when the darkness enters June’s life, it causes an evil, disruptive cloud to reign over the park too. Unaware of this effect, June suddenly finds herself in a Wonderland on the brink of collapse and only she can restore the natural order. John Oliver’s voice is almost too recognizable, but he plays an amusing porcupine whose quills are a blessing and a curse. From the big, huggable and not very threatening blue bear to the force to be reckoned with warthog to the monkey who’s the perfect receptor for June’s grand ideas, all the animals and their problems seem right out of a kid’s mind, which makes them the perfect audience.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “The Wonder Chimp Channel”; “The Pi Song Sing-Along”; “Making Noises (It’s Actually a Job?!!)”; “June’s Guide to Wonderland”; “June’s Welcoming Crew”; and “Boardwalk Caricatures.” (Paramount Home Entertainment)
More about The Aftermath, dumbo, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Fast Color, The Believers
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