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article imageReview: Oscar nominees & killers mingle in this week’s releases — part 1 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 13, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a parody of a new cultural phenomenon; a powerhouse performance; the film that could finally get the most-nominated actress an Oscar; a favourite rom-com; an unconventional biopic; and a collection of exuberant works.
American Nightmares (DVD)
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MVD Visual
"Mr. Malevolent" (Danny Trejo) hijacks two millennials' computers and forces them to watch videos that reveal the consequences of various immoral crimes.
This is a horror anthology comprised of a series of fairly short tales in which someone gets their comeuppance. The brevity of the stories is atypical, though it does allow for more narratives than usual — surprisingly, there isn’t more time allocated for the framing story, which is kept to a mysterious minimum. The sci-fi twist in the soul mate tale is unexpected, while another account reinforces the logic behind distrusting clowns. However, many of these tales take on a political note as they address racism, abortion and not so subtle commentary on President Trump. One of the most compelling elements of this release is the recognizable B-cast, including Trejo, Vivica A. Fox, Nichelle Nichols, James Duval, Jay Mohr, Chris Kattan and Brendan Sexton III.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
American Vandal: Season One (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
An aspiring sophomore documentarian, Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez), investigates the controversial and potentially unjust expulsion of the troubled class clown senior (and known dick-drawer) Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro).
As true crime shows become abundantly available on cable and streaming services, this series decides to poke some fun at the genre. It unfolds like its fact-based counterparts with interviews, hypotheses and colourful characters. The rub is the filmmaker is investigating the vandalism of private property via spray-painted “dicks.” They note the graffiti doesn’t match the accused’s typical illustrations due to their lack of pubic hair and try to prove the teacher leading the charge has a personal vendetta against Dylan. The digger they deep, the more questions they find than answers. Dylan and his stoner friends don’t help the situation at all, but their ineffectiveness only makes the series more entertaining.
Special features include: “Point/Counterpoint: Alex Trimbull vs. The Wayback Boys”; Dylan Maxwell extended interviews; Mr. Krazanski extended interviews; and extended school board hearings. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
At Eternity’s Gate (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
A journey inside the world and mind of a person who, despite skepticism, ridicule, and illness, created some of the world’s most beloved and stunning works of art. This is not a forensic biography, but rather scenes based on Vincent van Gogh’s (Willem Dafoe) letters, common agreement about events in his life that present as facts, hearsay, and moments that are just plain invented.
This movie has two focuses: Van Gogh and Dafoe’s performances. As was often the case, the painter was not appreciated by his contemporaries. Everyone he encounters in the film has an opinion they’re not afraid to share about his work and few of them are good. Even his friend’s (Oscar Isaac) idea of support is trying to convince him to change his style. Van Gogh’s only true ally was his brother (Rupert Friend), who believed in his work when no one else did. The flipside of this is Dafoe’s exceptional performance as the mentally ill artist. He seamlessly conveys his anxiety, disturbing behaviour and uncompromising passion for painting. Regardless of how factual this picture is, it seems to capture the essence of a misunderstood man.
Special features include: commentary by director Julian Schnabel, and co-writer and co-editor Louise Kugelberg; “Made by a Painter”; “Channeling Van Gogh”; and “Vision of Van Gogh.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Audrey Hepburn 7-Film Collection (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Roman Holiday: A bored and sheltered princess (Audrey Hepburn) escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American newsman (Gregory Peck) in Rome. Hepburn won an Oscar for her first starring role.
Sabrina: A playboy (William Holden) becomes interested in the daughter (Hepburn) of his family's chauffeur, but it's his more serious brother (Humphrey Bogart) who would be the better man for her.
War and Peace: Napoleon's (Herbert Lom) tumultuous relations with Russia including his disastrous 1812 invasion serve as the backdrop for the tangled personal lives of two aristocratic families.
Funny Face: Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) is sent out by his female boss, Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson), to find a 'new face'. It doesn't take Dick long to discover Jo (Hepburn), an owlish Greenwich Village bookstore clerk. Dick whisks the wide-eyed girl off to Paris and transforms her into the fashion world's hottest model. Along the way, he falls in love with Jo, and works overtime to wean her away from such phony-baloney intellectuals as Professor Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair).
Breakfast at Tiffany's: Holly Golightly (Hepburn), a young New York socialite, becomes interested in a young man (George Peppard) who has moved into her apartment building, but her past threatens to get in the way.
My Fair Lady: Eliza Doolittle (Hepburn) is a sassy, working-class London street vendor, and elitist Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison) attempts to turn Eliza into a sophisticated lady through proper tutoring. But, when the humble flower girl blossoms into the toast of London society, her teacher may have a lesson or two to learn himself.
Paris When it Sizzles: Richard Benson (William Holden) is a Hollywood screenwriter being pressured by movie producer Alexander Meyerheimer (Noël Coward) to finish his script entitled 'The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower.' Meyerheimer gives Richard a two-day ultimatum to complete his work, unaware that Richard has yet to even start on the script. In an effort to get moving on his project, Richard hires a live-in secretary, Gabrielle Simpson (Hepburn), to help him. Soon enough, the two fall in love and spend the time enacting various scenes from the unwritten screenplay as the time slips away and Richard's deadline looms.
This seven-film collection is a fitting snapshot of Hepburn’s career and some of her most notable roles. It’s not difficult to draw the line from the rebellious Princess Ann to the free-spirited Holly Golightly, yet each character she plays is unique. She fully invests herself in the individual’s personality and reacts genuinely to their situations. Everyone has a favourite Hepburn role, but they all standout for different reasons — though her energy is always consistent. It is a little odd to see her frequently playing opposite men 10 to 30 years her senior, no matter if they were the era’s top leading men. But it doesn’t really matter since Hepburn is always the main attraction in any film she starred, as evidenced in these movies.
Special features include: trailers. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Bohemian Rhapsody (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy) (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Fox Home Entertainment
A celebration of Queen, their music, and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), who defied stereotypes and convention to become one of history’s most beloved entertainers. Following Queen’s meteoric rise, their revolutionary sound and Freddie’s solo career, the film also chronicles the band’s reunion, and one of the greatest performances in rock history.
Even though casual fans will learn a lot about the individuals who comprised Queen and how some of their biggest singles came to be, this is still the fairy tale version of the band’s story. Milestones are marked by the creation of a new No. 1 song, which is entertaining but potentially misleading. Their natural talents for song writing and proclivity for collaboration are whimsical as each new tune appears to be composed effortlessly. This movie is about heart and writer/director Bryan Singer opts not to shine a light on any cracks in the veneer. However, Queen’s music is so innovative and memorable, the soundtrack is a fundamental element of the narrative. Even when the band is arguing, the music is the connecting thread that always brings them back together. Finally, Malek is spectacular as Freddie. He captures his enthusiasm, passion, kindness. and, most importantly, his unapologetic attitude about who he was and who he wanted to be.
Special features include: “Rami Malek: Becoming Freddie”; “The Look and Sound of Queen”; “Recreating Live Aid”; and the complete Live Aid movie performance not seen in theaters. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Four Weddings and a Funeral [25th Anniversary Edition] (Blu-ray)
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Shout Factory
Charlie (Hugh Grant) is a charming bachelor and frequent best man at the string of weddings he attends with his friends. Carrie (Andie MacDowell) is an enchanting American who catches his eye just as she is about to marry the wrong man.
“Always a groomsmen, never a groom.” With only one couple amongst their close friend group, every wedding they attend is another chance to meet that special someone. Unfortunately for Charlie, the timing never seems to be quite right. The personalities in this film are absolutely charming, though Charlie is often outshone by his eccentric companions. There was just something about Grant that made him such a desirable lead for these types of rom-coms in which the man fumbles through any attempt at courting the woman of his dreams. And yet the film’s most touching, memorable moment comes from lost love rather than love found.
Special features include: commentary by director Mike Newell, producer Duncan Kenworthy, and writer/co-executive producer Richard Curtis; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; “The Wedding Photographer,” an interview with director of photography Michael Coulter; “The Wedding Planners”; “Two Actors and a Director”; promotional spots; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Factory)
The Giant Behemoth (Blu-ray)
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Warner Archive
The horrors of the Atomic Age threaten Britain when thousands of fish wash up dead on its shores and fishermen are found dead at sea. Two scientists investigating these mysteries discover something far more frightening than their worst nightmares: a giant, radioactive sea creature horribly mutated by the effects of radioactive fallout staggers from beneath the depths bringing death to every living thing in its path. Even worse, they realize the monster is heading for London.
The 1950s was a great period for American science fiction movies, not only for quality but quantity. This film probably contributes more to the latter than the former, but it’s still an enjoyable entry to the genre. It’s not bad enough this enormous sea creature is heading for land, but it’s also radioactive so they can’t just destroy it with any weapon at their disposal. The menacing creature is created by excellent stop-motion animation, which is aided by close-ups that add to its intimidation. The narrative and the corresponding performances are a bit silly, but that’s often the case with these half-century old genre films.
Special features include: commentary by veteran special effects creators Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett; and theatrical trailer. (Warner Archive)
Check out the rest of this week's reviews in part two.
More about Bohemian Rhapsody, American Vandal, At Eternitys Gate, four weddings and a funeral, American Nightmares
 
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