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article imageReview: This week’s releases consist of various lifechanging events Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 22, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a tale of horrific doppelgangers; a culinary master spreading his wings; a trio of animated shorts; a recreation of a terrorist attack; and the latest chapter in an intriguing battle of wills.
Constructing Albert (DVD)
MVD Visual
The much-honored Spanish restaurant elBulli, which closed in 2011, was once considered the best in the world, but this intriguing foodie documentary reveals a rival — a sibling rival, that is. While elBulli's head chef Ferran Adriá was proclaimed a genius, it seems that behind the scenes simmering wasn't confined to stockpots. Over a four-year period, filmmakers Laura Collado and Jim Loomis follow the story of Ferran's former partner and co-chef, younger brother Albert, as he steps out of the long shadow of elBulli's legacy and stakes his own claim to fame on an ambitious string of five restaurants in Barcelona's theater district, each featuring a different wildly innovative cuisine.
Albert is a visionary who not only devises incredible menus, but also amazing ways to serve those meals. Each of the restaurants specializes in a different style of cuisine, headed by a chef hand-selected by the proprietor based on his experience working with them previously. Yet, in spite of this meticulous process, Albert will still be personally overseeing each location via daily visits. It’s not surprising to see he’s a perfectionist, but the filmmakers also capture the chef’s tenacity, brilliance and need for control. Such a grand scheme is bound to have some hiccups, but Albert does his best to roll with the punches and stay on track. The first of his restaurants, Tickets and 41°, earn Michelin stars almost immediately. But the apex is Enigma, a unique culinary experience that takes dining to a new level. As the launch date approaches, it begins to occupy all of Albert’s attention as he grows concerned his extraordinary concept may not be realized.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
Double Impact (Blu-ray)
MVD Rewind Collection
Chad and Alex Wagner (Jean-Claude Van Damme in dual roles) are twin brothers who were separated after their parents' brutal murder. Years later, the two couldn't be more different: Chad is a slick Beverly Hills fitness instructor, while Alex is a rough and tumble smuggler on the gritty streets of Hong Kong. But when fate throws them together again, Chad and Alex discover that there's one thing they have in common: they're both fighting machines. Determined to enact revenge on their parents' killers, the martial-arts experts kick, chop and shoot all the way to a final showdown aboard a gargantuan freighter in Hong Kong harbor.
This was probably one of Van Damme’s more challenging pictures as he has to portray two very different personalities with varying fighting styles. Chad is more delicate with fancier clothes and a more precise, practised combat style. On the other hand, Alex has slicked back hair, wears dark clothes and fights with a less polished style honed on the streets. They’re guided by an old family friend named Frank (Geoffrey Lewis) who also happens to be a Vietnam vet with handy military skills. The dual effect was produced with creative camera angles, twin body doubles and the occasional, less effective scene splicing. The interviews in the bonus features share script-to-screen stories and what it was like filming in Asia with a moderate budget.
Special features include: deleted and extended scenes; two-part making-of featurette; “Anatomy of a Scene”; behind-the-scenes featurette; “B-Roll Selections”; 1991 promotional film clips; 1991 cast and crew interviews clips; theatrical trailer; and collectible mini poster. (MVD Rewind Collection)
Hotel Mumbai (Blu-ray)
VVS Films
A gripping true story of humanity and heroism, the film vividly recounts the 2008 siege of the famed Taj Hotel. As the world watches on, a group of unlikely heroes will stop at nothing to keep the guests of the hotel safe.
This is an impressive depiction of a terrifying situation in which a number of hotel staff step-up to protect their guests and an unprepared police force risks their lives when no backup is available. The film is populated with many familiar faces, including Dev Patel, Anupam Kher, Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs. But their most notable contributions are the excellent portrayals of these real-life heroes as they engage the audience and draw them into this not-so-distant terrorist event. To some extent, the movie also portrays the killers’ preparations and the other simultaneous attacks that lead to their occupation of the hotel. This means that even while everyone else is enjoying a pleasant day, the audience is aware of the rising tension that is then maintained for the remainder of the film. Viewers are kept on the edge of their seats as the gunmen kill indiscriminately and the characters they’ve come to know do what they can to survive.
Special features include: featurette. (VVS Films)
Killing Eve: Season Two (Blu-ray)
BBC Home Entertainment
This is the story of two women — Eve (Sandra Oh), an MI6 operative, and Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the beautiful, psychopathic assassin that she has been tasked to find — bound by a mutual obsession and one brutal act. Season two begins 30 seconds after the final episode of the first season; Eve is reeling and Villanelle has disappeared. Eve has no idea if the woman she stabbed is alive or dead, and now both of them are in deep trouble. Eve has to find Villanelle before someone else does; but unfortunately, she’s not the only person looking for her.
Having nearly killed Eve, she’s worried the assassin will seek retaliation. However, Villanelle has her hands full with trying not to die and finding a covert location in which to convalesce. Unfortunately for her, she chooses the creepiest guardian available. In the meantime, Carolyn (Fiona Shaw) dissolves the old team and puts together a new one with other more experienced agents, which gives Eve a new counterpart and a young hotshot to question her motives. Dedicating so much of her time to “work” is also jeopardizing Eve’s marriage, though Villanelle may put the last nail in that coffin. This season brings an unexpected team-up and new eccentric characters to shake things up. And once again, the season finale ends on a jarring cliff-hanger that builds anticipation for the next chapter.
Special features include: features on characters, costumes, locations and script-to-screen. (BBC Studios)
Kinky (DVD)
MVD Visual
Dr. Joyce Reynolds (Dawn Richard), a successful yet shy Atlanta surgeon, enjoys a secluded and single lifestyle. After being set up on a date with billionaire Darrin Bernard (Robert Ri'chard), Joyce immediately begins a whirlwind romance with the wealthy businessman and entrepreneur. It isn't long before Joyce begins to explore her own sexual fantasies and Darren discovers Joyce's proclivities push the boundaries of pain and pleasure.
This movie is riding the Fifty Shades wave, but not very successfully. The number one problem is the actors don’t seem to have any chemistry and are not very convincing outside of the bedroom. Next is Joyce who behaves like a religious convert, pushing her newfound enjoyment of role-playing and props onto everyone she knows and saying inappropriate things in mixed company – yet she stays tight-lipped with her girlfriends. There’s nothing wrong with S&M or what consenting adults do with each other, but this movie is a terrible portrayal of the lifestyle… much like its predecessor. While the film tries to reinforce the normalcy of these desires, it goes overboard in the process.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
Modest Heroes (Blu-ray & DVD)
GKids & Shout Factory
In this animated anthology brought to life by some of the greatest talents working in Japanese animation today: two crab siblings must survive underwater perils to reunite with their parents; a young boy and his mother learn to live with a life-changing allergy; and a man struggles with his fading existence.
These are three odd but attractive shorts. They’re primarily silent, but the characters still communicate very well with each other and the audience. The first picture is the wonderful tale of young siblings separated from their parents and forced to tread very dangerous water as they’re only a few inches tall. The familial love radiates from the narrative. The second story is about a little boy with a lethal egg allergy. The short takes audiences through various stages of his life, including several near-death experiences, before arriving at an unexpected challenge he must face alone. Finally, the last tale is the strangest as it follows a man who is not only invisible, but weightless. It’s a strange combination, but each film exhibits its own strengths.
Special features include: “The Modest Heroes of Studio Ponoc”; film completion press conference; Japanese cast interviews; art gallery; TV spots; and trailers. (GKids and Shout Factory)
Universal Horror Collection Vol. 1 (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi created some of the most memorable characters in cinematic history. Their unforgettable performances as Dracula and Frankenstein's monster terrified a generation of moviegoers and when these two legendary actors came together for a series of films in the 1930s, audiences could not get enough. This collection includes The Black Cat, The Raven, The Invisible Ray and Black Friday.
This set collects some of the best works featuring Lugosi and Karloff outside of the classic monster franchise, and exemplifies their work with the tales of Edgar Allen Poe. The Black Cat is a cultish drama in which Lugosi sets out to confront the man (Karloff) who stole his wife while he was in prison. The reunion is complicated when an accident requires a couple of newlyweds to accompany him and the bride catches the macabre man’s eye. The Raven is ghoulish tale of obsession as a doctor (Lugosi) becomes infatuated with a patient, though the young woman is only grateful for his help. To win her heart, he blackmails a criminal with a botched surgery to scare her into his arms with ugly results. The Invisible Ray is an ambitious sci-fi picture in which Karloff’s character’s obsession with obtaining the radioactive element for his experiment causes him to permanently glow and Lugosi is the only doctor who can help him. Black Friday may be the oddest of the collection as neither actor is the star. Instead, Karloff plays a mad doctor who performs a brain transplant that causes an old friend to adopt the personality of a criminal who has $500,000 stashed somewhere. In the meantime, Lugosi appears as a gangster trying to recover the loot as the actor tries to broaden his range.
Special features include: commentaries on each title by film historians; four-part featurette, “A Good Game: Karloff and Lugosi at Universal”; “Dreams Within A Dream: The Classic Cinema Of Edgar Allan Poe”; audio recording of Bela Lugosi reading “The Tell-Tale Heart”; Inner Sanctum Mystery Radio Show: “The Tell-Tale Heart”; still galleries; and theatrical trailers. (Scream Factory)
Us (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy) (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Set along the North California coastline, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) reluctantly returns to her beachside childhood home with her family. But she finds she is haunted by unresolved trauma from her past along with a string of eerie coincidences. As darkness falls after a tense day at the beach, the Wilsons discover four figures standing in their driveway. They soon realize this is only the beginning of their troubles as they find that the four figures are terrifying and uncanny opponents: doppelgängers of themselves.
The concept of the “other” is a pertinent topic at the moment — particularly one that suffers at the expense of those who prosper. Director Jordan Peele uses the doppelganger concept to explore this idea of “them” and “us,” where one is barely aware the other exists and the other despises every second they live. There’s somewhat of a The Strangers element in the picture too as the doubles’ introduction is via a frightening home invasion in which they hold their counterparts hostage. Yet, in spite of the inevitable violence, most of the blows occur off-screen as it finds more effective ways to disturb viewers without graphic carnage. Much like Get Out, there’s a slow-building suspense to the true terror of the film. But there’s something much creepier about this picture as it’s established early on that something dangerous is lurking around a nearby corner and its patience is growing thin. Adelaide’s constant uneasiness radiates from the screen, which is one of many accomplishments by Nyong'o in this movie.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “The Duality of Us”; “The Monsters Within Us”; “Tethered Together: Making Us Twice”; “Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele's Brand of Horror”; “Becoming Red”; “We're All Dying”; and “As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
More about Hotel Mumbai, US, Killing Eve, Constructing Albert, Double Impact
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