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Review: Everyone has their own agenda in this week’s releases (Includes first-hand account)

FLCL: Progressive/Alternative (Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

FLCL: Progressive follows Hidomi and Ide as the two young teenagers learn about life, love and a little something called “N.O.” Joining them on this adventure is the extraterrestrial investigator, Haruko and a newcomer, the other worldly being, Jinyu.
FLCL: Alternative focuses on a group of high school best friends, Kana, Mossan, Pets, and Hijri. Nothing much happens in their town until Haruko and a strange mecha come to visit. Kana just might have the power to save the world, but it’s locked up tight inside her head… and Haruko might just know how to shake it loose.

These two six-episode series are sequels to the FLCL (a.k.a. “Fooly Cooly”), all featuring Haruko. However, each series had different creators, giving them somewhat different looks/animation styles and takes on the characters. In the first movie, the teens’ attraction to one another is used against them. Hidomi appears to have a very special power that’s laid dormant, but is awakening due to her intensifying emotions. Similarly, Kana’s abilities are linked to her emotions, but she’s purposely stunting her own growth because she’s afraid of change. In the end, both teens must embrace who they are as well as those around them in order to save the world.

Special features include: making-of featurette; behind-the-scenes featurette; “Meet the Creators”; “The Pillows”; and “English Voice Actors.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Ford v Ferrari (Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Fox Home Entertainment

The remarkable true story about Ford Motor Company’s attempt to create the world’s fastest car. American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), together battled corporate interference and the laws of physics to build a revolutionary race car and take on Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.

Out of the gate, it’s important to understand this isn’t really a racing movie. There are exhilarating car races with all the feels of Days of Thunder (they did win Oscars for best sound editing and film editing), but that’s not the core of the story. This is a movie about two men who took on two of the world’s greatest auto manufacturers and won — because even though they worked for Ford, it was a constant battle to make the car they wanted and they knew could win. While NASCAR and Formula One racing are well-known, many enthusiasts consider Le Mans to be the ultimate test for drivers and carmakers, alike. Damon and Bale pull off their respective roles, as both men are interchangeably difficult, passionate and brilliant, making their friendship equally challenging and rewarding.

Special features include: “Bringing the Rivalry to Life,” eight-part documentary. (Fox Home Entertainment)

Get Gone (DVD)


MVD Visual

A group of internet hoax busters go on a team building retreat led by a local outdoor guide. Things go sideways when the team crosses paths with the backwoods Maxwell family who’s currently warring with a drilling company. And once the hoax team’s hidden agenda comes to light, things get much worse.

The Maxwell family are the typical, secluded backwoods clan that people generally avoid in person, but tell stories about out of earshot. Of course, people’s suspicions are proven true when the sons, supposedly affected by poison in the water supply, go on a murder spree. Interestingly, these mutations have given them superhuman strength and resilience, making them seem more like ghouls than people. It has all the classic scenes, including chases through the woods, would-be helpful law enforcement, mazes blocking escape, and parents that encourage them. However, with the low-budget nature of the movie, it needed to offer something more unique in order to make an impression, but sadly fails to do so.

Special features include: image slideshow; and theatrical trailer. (MVD Visual)

Greener Grass (Blu-ray)


Scream Factory

In a day-glo colored, bizarre version of suburbia, soccer moms and best friends Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) and Lisa (Dawn Luebbe) are locked in a passive-aggressive battle of wills that takes a turn into the sinister when Lisa begins systematically taking over Jill’s life. Meanwhile, a psycho yoga teacher killer is on the loose, Jill’s husband (Beck Bennett) has developed a curious taste for pool water, and Lisa becomes pregnant — with a soccer ball!

This movie is reminiscent of John Waters’ early work. The depiction of suburbia is surreal with white picket fences, perfectly manicured lawns and colour-coordinated couples with braces. The film opens with a superficial conversation at a children’s soccer match that ends with Jill casually giving her baby to Lisa. This begins a sequence of events that demonstrate Jill is a pushover that won’t stand up against anyone, resulting in her losing everything and everyone. There are developments that audiences will assume must be a dream/nightmare, only to discover they’re just another crazy occurrence in this twisted narrative. The original short film by writers/directors DeBoer and Luebbe include all the key moments in the feature, illustrating their vision was always this amusingly bizarre.

Special features include: deleted scenes; original short film; TV interstitials; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)

High Strung Free Dance (Blu-ray)


GVN Releasing

When dazzling young choreographer Zander Raines (Thomas Doherty) casts stunning contemporary dancer, Barlow (Juliet Doherty) and innovative pianist, Charlie (Harry Jarvis) in New York’s most-anticipated new Broadway show, “Free Dance,” it ignites a torrent of impassioned rivalry and romance. The question is, how much are these talented artists willing to risk for love?

These dance films tend to follow the same narrative formula, yet they still appeal to audiences because they feature fresh faces, enticing music and entrancing moves. Even though Barlow almost seems smart enough to not get involved with the choreographer, it’s not surprising when they eventually do end up together. In the meantime, poor Charlie must watch on, heartbroken and with the knowledge that Zander is not a good match for her. However, all the overwrought, completely avoidable drama is offset by incredible piano playing, and a cross between contemporary and classic dance. It’s also rewarding that viewers are permitted to see the final performance, which they’ve watched be rehearsed between all the fuss.

Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; interview with composer Nathan Lanier; and “Masterpiece” and “Liar” music videos. (GVN Releasing)

Kill Chain (Blu-ray)


VVS Films

A hotel room shootout between two assassins kicks off a long night where bodies fall like dominoes, as we follow a chain of crooked cops, gangsters, hitmen, a femme fatale and an ex-mercenary through a relay of murder, betrayal, revenge and redemption.

This movie has a neo-noir slant to it and an intriguing tale to tell. Though it does unnecessarily cut to earlier in the story, there is still plenty to reveal once everyone is caught up to where the picture begins. The poison apple also changes throughout the narrative as at first it seems the diamonds are cursed, then perhaps the girl, before finally suggesting there could be an entirely unknown connecting thread dooming each of the characters. The script is very well executed, keeping audiences hooked from beginning to end, although the final moment is a bit of a disappointment. The cast each fit their roles perfectly and even though no one character is in the entire picture, it all fits together like a bloody puzzle. This is definitely one of Nicolas Cage‘s better choices and the film is better because of him.

Special features include: making-of featurette. (VVS Films)

Mrs Lowry and Son (DVD)


MVD Visual

Beloved British artist L.S. Lowry (Timothy Spall) lived all his life with his over-bearing mother Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave). Bed-ridden and bitter, Elizabeth actively tried to dissuade her bachelor son from pursuing his artistic ambitions, whilst never failing to voice her opinion at what a disappointment he was to her.

This portrayal of mother and son is quite depressing and creates a lot of sympathy for Lowry. Toiling at a day job, collecting rent and paying off his late father’s debts, Lowry tries to find beauty in the little things others are likely to ignore or not appreciate. He plays with the neighbourhood children — an activity he was denied when he himself was a kid — and goes home to paint what he sees in his simplistic but brilliant style. Unfortunately, save for caring for her, his mother constantly dismisses everything he does as either useless or wrong. Even when accolades begin rolling in for his work, she tears him down. The quote in the epilogue is so telling of their relationship, which Spall and Redgrave portray exceptionally well, capturing their strained but indivisible connection.

There are no special features. (MVD Visual)

My Bloody Valentine [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)


Scream Factory

On Valentine’s Day, someone always loses their heart. Twenty years ago, this small town lost more than that. When supervisors abandoned their posts to attend the town’s annual holiday dance, a tragedy claimed the lives of five miners. The sole survivor, Harry Warden, was institutionalized, but returned for a vengeful massacre on the disaster’s first anniversary. Nineteen years later, the town is gearing up for another Valentine’s Day party. Teen sweethearts T.J. (Paul Kelman) and Sarah (Lori Hallier), along with their friend Axel (Neil Affleck), are among the excited partygoers. But when a box of candy containing an eerie warning and blood-soaked heart arrive, the townsfolk realize that romance is as good as dead. And so are they…

This Canadian horror movie is a classic slasher film that had previously left some of its gorier scenes on the cutting room floor. But even though they’ll never recover that scene that brought violence and sex too close together, they have added back in some of the blood in the uncut version. Shot in and around Nova Scotian mines, director George Mihalka makes the most of the set, beginning with an erotic murder in the dark, dirty caves. While seasoned horror fans may be able to determine the identity of the killer, it’s still exciting to watch him stalk his victims and chase them through the underground maze. The many featurettes are entertaining, but most interesting is the anniversary panel in which the reunited cast and crew reminisce about the difficult conditions and joys of making a movie in a month.

Special features include: theatrical and uncut versions of the film; commentary with director George Mihalka; “An Anemic Valentine”; “From the Heart”; “Friends of Mine”; “Axel, Be My Valentine”; “Becoming Sylvia”; “The Secret Keeper”; “Broken Hearts and Broken Bones”; “Holes in the Heart”; 35th anniversary cast reunion panel; Thomas Kovacs performs “The Ballad of Harry Warden”; still gallery; TV and radio spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)

Nighthawks (Blu-ray)


MVD Visual

Wide-eyed Midwest transplant Stan (Chace Crawford) agrees to play wingman to his calculating and privileged roommate Chad (Kevin Zegers) as they embark upon an exploration of glittering New York nightlife, whose darkest secrets are held captive by an elite band of millennials known as Nighthawks.

This movie doesn’t make a lot of sense even after audiences figure out the truth far sooner than the narrative wants or expects. It’s obvious the group of elite strangers are up to something and it’s not long before their games reveal their agenda. However, they’re masked attempts to push the envelope are not especially enticing as they stand around in a semi-circle accusing Stan and questioning each other. In the meantime, Stan’s cool demeanour makes the whole situation even more boring, while his narration simply creates more questions. Finally, the crime in question feels completely dismissed in the context of their games as once again the blame is spread around rather than placed solely with the perpetrator.

Special features include: photo gallery; and theatrical trailer. (MVD Visual)

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Written By

Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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