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article imageReview: Nothing goes as planned in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 12, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include the least favourite brother; an unnecessary sequel; a complicated tale about growing up; and a real-life attempt to set the story straight.
Chappaquiddick (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
This suspenseful historical thriller examines the infamous 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), who drowned after Senator Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, and the moral and legal complexities that play out over the following week.
Ted had big shoes to fill, and everyone expected him to be able to seamlessly take up his brothers’ footsteps and do just that. But what this movie demonstrates is even though he possessed some of their charm, he was not born with the same ability to strategize. Yet, surrounded by men employed to do his thinking for him, Ted dismisses their advice and makes his own decisions, generally resulting in avoidable disaster. In short, Ted is not painted in the best of light… though perhaps his ineptitude saved him from the so-called family curse. Clarke was an interesting choice for this role, but he pulls it off rather flawlessly by mostly conquering the signature drawl. Mara, on the hand, is a surprise choice for the part of Mary Jo; not only because it’s somewhat inconsequential, but also because she is denied the opportunity to do anything more with the role.
Special features include: “A Reckoning: Revisiting Chappaquiddick”; and “Bridge to the Past: Editing the Film.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Escape Plan 2: Hades (Blu-ray & DVD)
VVS Films
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) manages an elite team of security specialists trained in the art of breaking people out of the world's most impenetrable prisons. When his most trusted operative is kidnapped and disappears inside the most elaborate prison ever built, Ray must track him down with the help of some of his former friends.
The first of these movies was compelling because it paired Stallone with Arnold Schwarzenegger again and required them to plan a very intricate method of escape. This time, a team of escape specialists are working together under Ray’s tutelage and their way out relies on external forces more than internal resources. Instead, this picture centres on a lot more action as the prisoners are made to fight each other for privileges and the escape is more action intensive. It looks like there will be at least one more film added to this expanding franchise, which was better suited to an interesting, one-time production.
Special features include: making-of featurette; “Creating the Look”; and “Building the Robot.” (VVS Films)
The French Way (Blu-ray)
MVD Visual)
Set in contemporary WWII France, two young lovers (Micheline Presle and Georges Marchal) are forbidden to marry by their respective, warring families. Zazu (Josephine Baker), the owner of a nightclub, inherits the job of restoring harmony between the two families and allowing the young people to 'se marier.'
This movie was actually filmed in 1940 amidst bombing raids as portrayed in the movie. The farcical romantic-comedy has the twenty-somethings attempting to reconcile their single parents Parent Trap-style, all the while being unaware they are already meeting in secret first to bury the hatchet and then to conceal their own romantic relationship. In between all this scheming and hiding is Zazu, who is also the star performer at the club. The impoverished Baker left St. Louis to make it big in France, where her commanding stage presence and captivating voice stole the show. The other amusing storyline is about a tramp (Lucien Baroux) who abhors work, but keeps getting (and accepting) odd jobs by the local business owners who are short-handed because of the war. After several air raids and an unexpected encounter in a bunker, everything is made well again by the persistence of love as expected. Note: In real life, Josephine Baker aided the French Resistance and was awarded, among other honors, the Croix de Guerre by the French military.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
I Am Elizabeth Smart (DVD)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
This film chronicles the true story of the June 2002 abduction of 14-year-old Elizabeth Ann Smart (Alana Boden) from her home in Salt Lake City by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell (Skeet Ulrich). Over the course of her nine-month captivity, Elizabeth was starved, drugged, raped, and subjected to bizarre religious rituals by Mitchell and his twisted accomplice, Wanda Barzee (Deirdre Lovejoy), until she enabled her own rescue. Elizabeth serves as a producer and on-screen narrator in order to discuss how she survived, and confront the truths and misconceptions about her captivity.
Most people will recognize the name Elizabeth Smart, even if the details of her experience have been forgotten. However, 16 years later, Smart is taking this opportunity to explain her side of her horrific, nearly year-long captivity. This is a very intriguing concept since as the viewer watches and asks, “why didn’t she just…?”, Elizabeth appears on screen to explain what she was thinking in that moment and why she didn’t seize the seemingly obvious chance to escape. The more brutal aspects of her captivity are excluded from the Lifetime film, which instead focuses on these missed opportunities and the few times she nearly died. In simplifying her story, it makes it easier to consume but more difficult to digest. Moreover, based on the way her kidnapping is portrayed, the search to recover her was one of the most incompetent undertakings as she was within walking distance of her house.
There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Lean on Pete (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Fifteen-year-old Charley (Charlie Plummer) finds acceptance and camaraderie at a local racetrack where he lands a job caring for an aging Quarter Horse named Lean on Pete. The horse’s gruff owner, Del (Steve Buscemi), and his seasoned jockey, Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny), help Charley fill the void of his absent father. But when Charley discovers that Pete is bound for slaughter, he takes extreme measures to save him, as Charley and Pete embark on an odyssey to find a place they can call home.
This is a unique coming-of-age story that feels almost out of place as a contemporary drama — a notion supported by the washed-out aesthetic. Charley has quickly adapted to taking care of himself and isn’t afraid of hard work, which makes him a good fit at the stables. However, his ability to adapt and think on his feet makes it seem like he’s been fending for himself a lot longer than the narrative implies. Del is far kinder than he’d like anyone to believe, while Bonnie is all business and doesn’t assume the maternal role that’s expected of most female characters in this type of movie. Most importantly, Charley is a well-rounded character who audiences will sympathize with thanks to Plummer’s excellent performance.
Special features include: making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Modern Life Is Rubbish (DVD)
MVD Visual
Brought together by their shared love of music, 10 years on Liam (Josh Whitehouse) and Natalie (Freya Mavor) are at breaking point. In their case, opposites attract but don't necessarily work long-term. Making the difficult decision to separate, they must split their prized music library. But the soundtrack that defined their relationship keeps pulling them back together.
This is a romantic drama in reverse — as Natalie attempts to divide their possessions, an emotionally-charged album or ticket stub serves as a reminder of better times and launches a flashback that shows viewers how they got together… and gradually drifted apart. It’s not as gut-wrenching as Blue Valentine, but it is saddening to see their separation, which doesn’t end with her leaving the apartment; instead, the movie continues to show their process over the next several months. It’s not a shining example of this type of story, but the narrative is helped greatly by the awesome alternative rock soundtrack.
Special features include: making-of featurette; behind-the-scenes featurette; and image slideshow. (MVD Visual)
More about Chappaquiddick, I Am Elizabeth Smart, Lean on Pete, Modern Life Is Rubbish, The French Way
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