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article imageReview: This week’s releases feature good and bad role models Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 5, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include more music from a great soundtrack; an unbelievably bizarre true story; TV’s favourite blended family; a fresh take on a Western legend; a confident woman others can aspire to; and a hero goes from book to film to TV.
A Star Is Born: Encore (Blu-ray & DVD)
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovers — and falls in love with — struggling artist Ally (Lady Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer… until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.
This was a monumental task for both performers. Gaga’s American Horror Story character was eccentric, but a close extension of her stage persona. Ally, on the other hand, is small-town, down-to-earth and in many ways shy. Yet, she radiates in Ally’s skin and connects with audiences so they are sharing in her trials and successes. Cooper took on the greater responsibility of wearing multiple hats on the production. He trained for three years to be able to do his own singing and it pays off. Though even his best Sam Elliott impression still pales in comparison to the real thing. Consequently, the soundtrack is wonderful with Ally and Jackson’s duet, “Shallow,” earning an Academy Award. This encore version is 12 minutes longer than the original theatrical feature and much of that time is appreciatively filled with additional music. There are several extended performances, as well as never-before-seen footage music of a beautiful song from their wedding celebration and the couple composing a song together in a carefree moment.
This special edition of the film contains extended performances of such songs as opener “Black Eyes,” “Alibi,” and Lady Gaga’s Ally in her impromptu a cappella performance of “Shallow,” which received the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 91st Annual Academy Awards, following Cooper and Gaga’s moving performance during the ceremony. Fans will also be treated to never-before-seen footage of Ally singing to Jack “Is That Alright?” in the wedding sequence, Jack in his studio singing “Too Far Gone,” Jack and Ally writing a new song together, entitled “Clover,” and much more, totaling nearly 12 additional minutes.
Special features include: (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
The Brady Bunch 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
When widower Mike Brady (Robert Reed) marries a lovely lady named Carol Ann (Florence Henderson), their two families become one. The six children include Carol's Daughters: Marcia (Maureen McCormick), Jan (Eve Plumb) and Cindy (Susan Olsen), as well as Mike's sons: Greg (Barry Williams), Peter (Christopher Knight), and Bobby (Mike Lookinland). Together with their dog Tiger and quirky housekeeper Alice (Ann B. Davis), this wild clan became the Brady Bunch.
The popular series aired on TV for five seasons from 1969 to 1974. Though it was only moderately popular at the time, it gained recognition in syndication and eventually spawned reunion movies and spin-off series. Episodes such as the one about Jan’s imaginary boyfriend or Marcia’s broken nose or when everyone confesses to help Peter have been referenced and parodied as key parts of the cultural zeitgeist. The same is true of Alice, who became the best regarded character on the show, and lines like, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” Even those who’ve never seen an episode or a movie are likely to know of the show’s basic premise and now they can catch up with all of it with this epic collection.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Cleaning Lady (DVD)
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RLJ Entertainment
On the surface, Alice (Alexis Kendra) seems like a woman who has it all: a gorgeous apartment, a booming career, a stunning physique and a handsome boyfriend. The only problem is he’s married to someone else. Looking for a way to simplify her life, Alice hires Shelly (Rachel Alig) to clean her house. As Alice begins to confide in Shelly about her illicit affair, their friendship grows… and so does Shelly’s twisted obsession with her new employer. It soon becomes clear that Shelly has motives that reach further than a normal cleaning lady. Shelly wants to cleanse Alice’s entire life and will stop at nothing until she’s done.
The first thing people notice about Shelly are the disfiguring scars on her face. But Alice is so good-natured, she acts as if they don’t exist and tries to treat Shelly as any poor girl in need of a friend. As Shelly’s history is revealed in flashbacks, it’s obvious she’s not entirely to blame for her violent tendencies — though she’s certainly taken the abuse she endured to a whole new level. Alice goes to support meetings though the common thread of those in attendance is unclear. In spite of seeming confident and independent, she lacks the conviction to cut unhealthy habits out of her life. Shelly sees this as an opportunity for tough love, but she gets creepy even before that. The ending is solid, though the final scene may cause some confusion as to what happens next.
There are no special features. (RLJE Films)
Gloria Bell (Blu-ray)
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VVS Films
Gloria (Julianne Moore) is a free-spirited divorcée who spends her days at a straitlaced office job and her nights at L.A. dance clubs. One evening, Gloria meets Arnold (John Turturro) — and finds herself in a new romance that shows her love can strike at any time.
This is a unique portrayal of a woman whose years of life has instilled in her a rare sense of empowerment that isn’t easily shaken. She’s happy to have Arnold in her life, but it’s clear she doesn’t need him to be happy. It’s inspiring to see a woman who’s not just a mother or someone’s lover or a confidante or a workaholic – Gloria is all of those things and more… like most women. The romantic element of this story is not going to rouse too many warm fuzzies from audiences because it’s not a romantic comedy. Arnold is just another part of Gloria’s life and whether or not it works out is only important in as far as how she handles it. Moore embodies this character seamlessly with a perfect understanding of who she is in every situation and they have great chemistry together. Director Sebastián Lelio allows women to be their best self, while also giving female audiences the leading women they deserve.
Special features include: commentary by director Sebastián Lelio; making-of featurette; cast and crew interviews; and soundbites. (VVS Films)
The Kid (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
A young boy, Rio (Jake Schur), is forced to go on the run across the American Southwest in a desperate attempt to save his sister (Leila George) from his villainous uncle (Chris Pratt). Along the way, he encounters Sheriff Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke), on the hunt for the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan). Rio finds himself increasingly entwined in the lives of these two legendary figures as the cat-and-mouse game of Billy the Kid’s final year of life plays out. Ultimately he is forced to choose which type of man he is going to become — the outlaw or the man of valor — and will use this self-realization in a final act to save his family.
This is an interesting depiction of the two legendary cowboys as it shows both men’s good and bad sides. It’s well known Garrett used to be an outlaw himself before accepting a badge and tracking down his former friends. Billy was a lover and a fighter who wanted to be famous, and he achieved his goal by killing other men. The title is interesting because even though it’s the gunslinger’s nickname, it also refers to the boy who reaches a fork in his life path. It’s a new take on a Western legend that works very well thanks to the excellent performances via an unexpected cast and the great directing by Vincent D’Onofrio. Pratt, in particular, is a surprise as he’s barely recognizable and plays a very dark character with authenticity.
Special features include: making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Lords of Chaos (Blu-ray & DVD)
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MVD Visual
The story of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners: a group of young men with a flair for publicity, church-burning and murder a.k.a. Mayhem. Oslo, 1987. Seventeen-year-old Euronymous (Rory Culkin) is determined to escape his idyllic Scandinavian hometown and create "true Norwegian black metal" with his band, Mayhem. He's joined by equally fanatical youths — Dead (Jack Kilmer) and Varg (Emory Cohen). Believing they're on the cusp of a musical revolution, the group gets even darker, driven by the black metal dogma to spread evil. They begin burning down churches throughout the countryside and stealing tombstones for their record store. But when the press catches up with them and Euronymous takes more credit than he's earned for the group's violent acts, Varg, fresh out of jail, arranges a dark encounter to settle the score and ultimately determine who the darkest black metal musician is.
Based on a book of the same name, the film chronicles one of the strangest tales of violence and ego. Unlike their American counterparts, most of these kids appear to still get along with their parents and had non-traumatic childhoods. Yet, they’ve adopted these dark personalities and, in some cases, used it as an invitation/excuse to explore their darkest desires, including murder. It’s clear early on Euronymous is mostly talk, but he’s surrounded himself with doers and gets swept up in their anarchy, for which he insists on taking credit for as their leader. In the end they prove to be young and stupid, but that becomes dangerous when combined with their wicked impulses. Culkin is appropriately the standout among the group, but Cohen slowly takes some of his spotlight as the film continues.
Special features include: teasers and trailers. (MVD Visual)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (Blu-ray)
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Shout Factory
Power up with six incredible teens who out-maneuver and defeat evil everywhere as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. But this time, the Power Rangers may have met their match when they face off with the most sinister monster the galaxy has ever seen — Ivan Ooze. Unleashed upon the good citizens of Angel Grove after six thousand years of imprisonment, Ivan Ooze strips the Power Rangers of their powers. Now they must journey to a distant planet to learn the secrets of the ancient Ninjetti. Only then will they become empowered with strength enough to restore their Morphin ability and defeat the evil Ivan Ooze.
In the ‘90s, everyone knew the Power Rangers. The Western-adapted series had become a huge success and its heroes (and villains) were known the world over. So it’s not surprising creators felt the need to capitalize on the popularity with a movie. A new evil was introduced that was bigger and badder than Rita Repulsa, and the Rangers would have to enter the next season with a new set of “spirit animals.” The latter made the film an integral part of the overall narrative and must-see for fans. On the flipside, the effects, monsters and stunts all remained on par with the TV show. It’s interesting to watch the look-back featurette and hear of the all the issues they had to tackle on set, as well as how happy everyone still is to have been involved in the project.
Special features include: “The Mighty Leap to the Silver Screen”; making-of featurette; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Factory)
Room 37: The Mysterious Death of Johnny Thunders (Blu-ray & DVD)
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MVD Visual
Johnny Thunders (Leo Ramsey) arrives to New Orleans to begin a new chapter of his life by following a new musical sound, and staying clean from drugs in order to see his kids again. After he settles into the St. Peter's Guest House Hotel, things go awry. His room is robbed, which contained the last of his money and his only methadone supply. Johnny's journey to recovery quickly turns dark when he takes desperate measures to get better, all which propel Johnny deeper in chaos that ultimately leads to his unexplained mysterious final hours.
This is a twisted fictionalization of what could have happened to the former singer of the New York Dolls before his mysterious demise. Determined to get clean and sober, his one slip his first night in town may have been his downfall. Johnny spends most of the rest of the time hallucinating and trying to score methadone so he can stick to his promise to his estranged family. His visions range from strange to scary as he goes from a hospital to a backwater drug dealer to a fortune teller all in an effort to stay clean and figure out what is happening to him. Since the audience has no connection with Johnny, it’s difficult to stay with him as he goes through these bizarre experiences, making the movie somewhat annoying to watch.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan — Season One (Blu-ray)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
When CIA analyst Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) stumbles upon a suspicious series of bank transfers, his search for answers pulls him from the safety of his desk job and catapults him into a deadly game of cat and mouse throughout Europe and the Middle East, with a rising terrorist figurehead preparing for a massive attack against the US and her allies.
This series takes the story back to the beginning, ignoring the films that came before it. At the start, Jack is just a desk jockey with good instincts. However, he’s also a former Marine, which comes in handy when he’s asked to go into the field and they’re unexpectedly attacked by marauders. From that point on, Jack makes it his personal mission to find the terrorist leader and bring him to justice. The search takes them around the world and incorporates some interesting subplots, including a lucky but burnt out drone pilot and a mother doing everything possible to keep her children safe. This season’s story arc actually wraps up in the final episode, leaving room for a whole new mission next season.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Unity of Heroes (Blu-ray & DVD)
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Well Go USA
A shipment of a narcotic more dangerous than opium is about to be distributed across the country by a corrupt pharmaceutical company. In the face of foreign and domestic enemies, can Wong Fei Hung stop the spread of this dangerous narcotic and save lives in time?
Though the film is a continuation of the classic Wong Fei Hung tales, this is a bit of an unusual plot as there’s two somewhat incompatible components. One is a traditional battle for territory between two martial arts schools, though Wong Fei Hung only hopes to keep the peace. The other is a foreign power come to supposedly help the Chinese and has thus gained their support under false pretenses. The country’s opium crisis is at the centre of the narrative, but the addiction’s detrimental effects are mostly kept in the shadows. Instead, trained warriors are willing to risk ingesting an unstable drug just to have an edge over their opponents. The result is more exaggerated fight sequences in which people are propelled further and bodies are distorted by pronounced black veins. The rivalry is amusing in a traditional sense, while the plan to infect the local population has over-the-top villainy written all over it.
There are no special features. (Well Go USA)
More about Gloria Bell, A Star is Born, Lords of Chaos, The Unity of Heroes, Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
 
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