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Review: Some ideas are better left unrealized in this week’s releases (Includes first-hand account)

The Burnt Orange Heresy (DVD)


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Charming and ambitious art critic, James Figueras (Claes Bang), has fallen from grace. He spends his days in Milan lecturing witless tourists about art history. His only glimmer of hope is a new-found love interest, the enigmatic American, Berenice Hollis (Elizabeth Debicki). Opportunity strikes when he is contacted by the wealthy art dealer Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger), who summons James to his villa on Lake Como and asks him to steal a painting from the legendary reclusive artist, Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland). Soon, James’ greed and ambition get the better of him, and he finds himself caught in a web of his own making.

This movie is part drama, part thriller and part noir. It opens with a fascinating scene as James gives a lecture demonstrating art’s ability to deceive its observer’s, which titillates Berenice who believes the opposite. There’s something that seems off about her from the start, but as the film goes on there’s increasing doubt that she’s the problem. Joseph’s obsession with Debney’s work is definitely extreme and while James is far less interested in the reclusive artist’s latest work, he does find the prospect of a handsome payout and a reclaim to fame attractive. Unfortunately, all of the scenes unfold unnecessarily slowly and most of the intrigue is left in the first act. The ending is a combination of twist and overly vague pointed finger that takes away any chance of redeeming the rest of the picture.

Special features include: commentary with director Giuseppe Capotondi; and behind-the-scenes featurette. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

After saving the world in season four, the misfit heroes are now major celebrities. Some struggle in their new roles as A-listers. Others let fame go to their heads and invite a documentary film crew on board the Waverider for a dangerous mission. While the Legends investigate a new timeline blip, Astra Logue frees some of the world’s most notorious villains from Hell. Now it’s up to Sara Lance, Ray Palmer, shape-shifter Charlie, Zari Tarazi, Ava Sharpe, Nora Darhk, Nate Heywood, Mick Rory and John Constantine to forget about stardom and stop these reanimated souls, a.k.a. Encores, from wreaking havoc with history.

This season begins shortly after the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” mega-crossover event that created Earth Prime. However, the merging of the Arrowverse has had greater time consequence that the heroes must confront. The 15 episodes hold two major storylines: one requires the team to stop the resurrected villains that want vengeance on Constantine and the other has them battling the Fates, who want to reassemble their loom and regain power of humanity. In between all these major battles of good vs. evil, several characters are still reeling from other effects of the Crisis. As has become typical of the series, some individuals leave to build new lives, while others join and bring new personalities to the team dynamic.

Special features include: unaired scenes; “Post Production Theatre”; “More Fun Moments Collection”; and gag reel. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

The Girl with the Bracelet (DVD)


Icarus Films

It begins as an ordinary family outing on the beach. Then things turn dark as 17-year-old Lise (Melissa Guers), from a wealthy middle-class family, comes under investigation following the death of her best friend. As her parents (Chiara Mastroianni and Roschdy Zem) deal with the trauma in different ways, Lise is required to account for a way of life that doesn’t always fit the morality approved of by the justice system.

This is a courtroom drama in which a young woman’s lifestyle is put on trial as they try to decide if she’s capable of murder. Lise and the victim had a typically tumultuous relationship for teenage girls, allowing the prosecutor to try and twist their disagreements into motive. However, everyone is more shocked by the sexual freedom the teens practice and which Lise describes without the traditional shame expected by her older evaluators. Her parents are understandably shaken by everything they learn throughout the trial, but they never leave Lise’s side. Writer/director Stéphane Demoustier’s third feature is a sharp-witted narrative that examines changing mores and the judicial process, while Guers delivers an excellent portrayal of a young woman unwilling to bend to the will of her elders, no matter the consequences.

There are no special features. (Icarus Films)

Little Monsters [Collector’s Series] (Blu-ray)


Vestron Video

Brian (Fred Savage) is a sixth-grader who’s recently moved to a new town and made friends with Maurice (Howie Mandel) — the monster who lives under Brian’s bed! Maurice introduces Brian to the world of monsters, where junk food rules, adults aren’t allowed, and the fun and games never end. But when Brian’s brother is kidnapped, it’s time for Brian to get serious and fight the monsters on their turf.

This is a classic ‘80s, PG-rated movie about monsters who aren’t especially scary. Maurice is a goofy-looking creature that dresses like an outdated teen and has at least one significant weakness. Brian isn’t really a bad kid, but he is lonely and tired of getting picked on by the school bully. Maurice offers him friendship, as well as a space to do anything he wants without consequences. The late nights start catching up with Brian, but who needs sleep when you’re having fun… until suddenly he isn’t having fun anymore. When Maurice and his monster pals cross a line, Brian discovers there’s an underlying reason he’s been brought into the secret world. In a movie that primarily relies on practical effects, the make-up effects and creature designs are quite impressive. It’s difficult now to imagine Mandel underneath all those prosthetics, but he does a great job bringing the character to life.

Special features include: commentary by Jarret Gahan, editor-in-chief of; “Call Him Maurice,” an interview with actor Howie Mandel; “Beneath the Bed,” an interview with producer Andrew Licht; “Monsters Big & Small,” an interview with special makeup effects creator Robert Short; vintage interviews with actors Fred Savage, Ben Savage, special makeup effects creator Robert Short, and director Richard Alan Greenberg; isolated score selections and audio interview with Composer David Newman; “Making Maurice,” vintage footage of Howie Mandel’s makeup transformation; behind-the-scenes footage; still gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Vestron Video)

Prodigal Son: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Criminal psychologist Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) knows how killers think and how their minds work. Why? His father is “The Surgeon,” a serial killer who has taken the lives of more than 20 people. Malcolm works with NYPD detective Gil Arroyo (Lou Diamond Phillips); Detective Dani Powell (Aurora Perrineau), a headstrong cop; Dr. Edrisa Tanaka (Keiko Agena), an off-center coroner; and Detective JT Tarmel (Frank Harts), who questions whether Bright is a psychopath himself. But Bright’s best resource is his homicidal yet oddly loving father, Dr. Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen). As he helps track down dangerous criminals, Bright also battles his own demons — and it doesn’t help that his mother, former leading socialite Jessica Whitly (Bellamy Young), has an opinion on every aspect of his life. Thankfully, he has the support of his annoyingly normal sister, Ainsley (Halston Sage), a TV journalist. Malcolm Bright isn’t a serial killer, he was just raised by one.

This series is television’s new criminal profile show, taking the place of the complete Criminal Minds… though it doesn’t quite measure up to its predecessor. Sheen unquestionably steals the show each time he appears, dominating the conversation and out-talking anyone in the conversation. His off-kilter manner is perfect, making it believable that he’s both brilliant and a murderer. Phillips also lends his experience to the cast, grounding the rest of the characters and acting as Malcolm’s substitute father. Each episode introduces a new case that generally has some unique complexity, but how the case is solved often seems at least slightly far-fetched for one reason or another. At 20 episodes, it runs a bit long, but even the over-the-top storylines gain traction and there are some standout cases throughout.

There are no special features. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Rick and Morty: Season 4 (Blu-ray)


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Buckle in for disappointment because there’s no way these episodes will be good enough for how long you waited. But maybe they will be? It’s season four! It’s sexy and smooth. Buckle in! Did I already say that? Definitely stay buckled in.

It took two years to get this season, but it was worth it — it even garnered the showrunners another Emmy for “The Vat of Acid Episode,” which sees Morty once again getting the short end of the stick in one of Rick’s lessons. One of the greatest gifts of this season is “snake jazz,” which comes from an extraterrestrial planet of advanced serpents — how the unique sound was created is discussed in the bonus features. The storylines are more over-the-top than ever, but still entirely within the realm of the show. From Rick’s obsession with his Zen bathroom on another planet to Jerry floating away thanks to his own incompetence to Rick becoming a dad again by the hundreds to talking cats and oversexed dragons, the show doesn’t disappoint. And there’s yet another shortlist of unexpected voice guests, including Taika Waititi, Sam Neill and Kathleen Turner in a single episode.

Special features include: “A Day at Rick and Morty: Inside Season 4”; “Inside the Episode”; “Creating Snake Jazz”; “Directing Rick and Morty”; “Samurai and Shogun”; “Character Creation”; “Prop Process”; and “Animation Challenges.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Shivers [Collector’s Series] (Blu-ray)


Vestron Video

When the residents of a luxury apartment complex outside Montreal are infiltrated by parasites and transformed into violent, sex-crazed maniacs, it’s up to Dr. Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) to contain the outbreak from spreading to the city at large.

This was writer/director David Cronenberg‘s first feature-length film. It would form the foundations of his auteur style and the themes he’d continue to address in many subsequent pictures. The filmmaker is fascinated with the human body, which has positioned much of his work in the category of body horror. In this R-rated thriller, an entire residential building is infected by a parasite that heightens their sexual cravings and eliminates their inhibitions. Released in 1975, the origins of the experiment-gone-wrong is now wholly appalling, but also lends itself to the nature of the affliction. There are some very memorable scenes in the picture, but most of it is low-tech and performance-driven. The film was recently remade, but the new version loses most of the nuances of the original, which is what makes it a genre classic.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director David Cronenberg and co-producer Don Carmody; “Mind Over Matter,” an interview with writer/director David Cronenberg; “Good Night Nurse,” an interview with actress Lynn Lowry; “Outside and Within,” an interview with special make-up effects creator Joe Blasco; “Celebrating Cinépix,” an interview with Greg Dunning; archival 1998 David Cronenberg interview; still gallery with optional archival audio interview with executive producer John Dunning; radio and TV spots; and theatrical trailers. (Vestron Video)

The Wind Rises (Blu-ray & DVD)


GKids & Shout Factory

Jiro Horikoshi is fascinated by aviation but unable to become a pilot due to a medical condition. He moves to Tokyo in 1923, surviving the Great Kanto Earthquake to become a highly accomplished airplane designer. As rumors of war escalate, Jiro reunites with Nahoko, a young woman he met during the earthquake years earlier. The two fall deeply in love, just as Nahoko falls ill with tuberculosis. Inspired by visions of Italian aeronaut Caproni, Jiro must confront mounting tragedies with dignity in this epic tale of love and perseverance.

While most of Hiyao Miyazaki‘s creations have stemmed from his imagination, this narrative is actually based on two real-life inspirations: Jiro Horikoshi, who designed the famed Zero fighter, which is considered one of the most accomplished airplanes in history; and Tatsuo Hori, author of the novel bearing the film’s title. This is by far Miyazaki’s most sober picture, allowing his “last” film to address more serious and mature issues that are nearer his personal interests in aviation and ecology. Another novelty in the director’s filmography is that the movie spans decades, making it one of his most expansive tales. The film’s anti-war prospect deals with the very muddy prospect of wanting to design and invent wonderful things, but being forced to do so within the confines of a war and its industry. Even as a child, Jiro dreamed of spectacular aircrafts — the need to carry artillery on his conceptions are generally an afterthought. Though the subject matter has aged, the vivid animation-style for which Miyazaki is known remains and is as beautiful as ever.

Special features include: “10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki Documentary Episode”; “Behind the Microphone”; feature-length storyboards; film completion press conference; tv spots; original theatrical trailers; and exclusive booklet. (GKIDS & Shout Factory)

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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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