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Review: The men in this week’s releases try to make it right (Includes first-hand account)

Audition (Blu-ray)


Arrow Video

Recent widower Shigharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is advised by his son to find a new wife. Agreeing, Shigeharu seeks the advice of a colleague since he’s been out of the dating scene for many years. Taking advantage of their positions at a film company, they stage an audition. Interviewing a series of women, Shigeharu becomes enchanted by Asami (Eihi Shiina), a quiet, 24-year-old woman who is immediately responsive to his charms. But soon things take a very dark and twisted turn as he discovers Asami isn’t what she seems to be.

Twenty years ago, this film brought prolific filmmaker Takashi Miike to the international stage. While it would peg him as a horror director, he never let the label dictate the types of films he’d create. Nonetheless, this is certainly one of the best and most accessible films he’s made, gradually transitioning from a romantic drama to a thriller à la Misery. The final act plays with dreams and timelines, mixing them up so the audience isn’t quite sure what’s happening or if they’re seeing what could have been. Asami seems like a nice young woman — save for the moving sack in her apartment — but Shiihani has an uncanny ability to display a combination of innocent girl and violent psychotic. The ending doesn’t pull any punches, while the gore factor throughout the film focuses more on the horror than the blood like Miike’s later pictures.

Special features include: commentary by director Takashi Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan; commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes, examining the film and its source novel; introduction by Miike; “Ties that Bind,” a brand new interview with Miike; interviews with stars Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Renji Ishibashi and Ren Osugi; “Damaged Romance”; trailers; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin. (Arrow Video)

Berlin, I Love You (Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Set against the vivid backdrop of Berlin, the film weaves 10 stories of compassion, redemption, and acceptance into a rich tapestry of life — and love.

Produced by the same people who brought Paris, je t’aime to the screen, this movie explores the German city from a variety of emotional perspectives. Some of the 10 vignettes are loosely connected by a convenience store clerk, but they are otherwise completely independent of each other. As each storyteller takes a different approach to their story, every viewer is likely to have a personal favourite. The early piece with the vivid dance dream sequence is lovely, while later the tale of a birthday boy and jilted lover consoling each other is a definite standout. Many of the narratives also highlight Berlin’s beauty and at least one looks at its history. The quality cast contributing to these mini pictures is also notable, including Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Jim Sturgess, Diego Luna and Luke Wilson.

There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

Holmes & Watson (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Go back in time to witness the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell) and his trusted sidekick John Watson (John C. Reilly) as they are tasked to solve a murder at Buckingham Palace. They soon realize that they only have 5,760 minutes to solve the case before the Queen becomes the killer’s next victim.

Ferrell and Reilly have always made an excellent on-screen duo, though this is the first time they’ve teamed up in 10 years. Reilly simply knows how to play the semi-straight guy to Ferrell’s over-the-top characters, contributing to their unfaltering chemistry and ability to create great improv together — just check out the line-o-rama and near-hour of deleted/extended scenes. Arthur Conan Doyle‘s detective fiction is a constant source of material for the big and small screen, but this pair has their own take on the story. Holmes is a bit of a bumbling detective who isn’t always as clever as he thinks, which leads to his nemesis, Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes), getting away. Watson’s job appears to be to keep Holmes in check and uphold their reputation with little help from their philandering secretary (Kelly Macdonald). It’s one of the more absurd applications of their combined comedic capabilities, but they’re certainly having fun.

Special features include: deleted scenes; “Will and John: Together Again”; “Seriously Absurd: The Cast”; “Mrs. Hudson’s Men”; and line-o-rama. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Kolobos (Blu-ray)


Arrow Video

A group of twenty-somethings arrive at a snow-covered house under the guise of participating in a “ground-breaking” new experimental film. With the entire property fitted with cameras, their every move will be recorded. But when the house locks down, trapping them within, it soon becomes clear that something sinister is afoot.

Before Big Brother became a popular reality show, this movie toyed with a similar concept minus the live feed. The participants all have contrasting personalities, resulting in immediate fireworks. Watching a series of scary movies, the group tries not to fall asleep or disappoint the cameras. But a mutilated participant shows them the house is also equipped with booby traps set by a deranged killer who’s lured them here. The acting is second-rate, but the gory special effects are slightly better. The movie fits in well with its slasher counterparts, mostly because it does many of the same things.

Special features include: commentary by co-writers and co-directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk; “Real World Massacre: The Making of Kolobos”; “Face to Faceless”; “Slice & Dice: The Music of Kolobos”; super 8 short film by Daniel Liatowitsch with commentary; still gallery; and original trailer. (Arrow Video)

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Blu-ray)


Scream Factory

Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and Count Dracula (John Forbes-Robinson) meet again in the village of Ping Kuei. After learning about the seven golden vampires of the village, Hsi Ching (David Chiang), Vanessa Buren (Julie Ege) and Mai Kwei (Szu Shih) offer to guide Van Helsing and his son to Ping Kuei to free it from the curse of Count Dracula. Throughout their journey, the group encounters several unwanted attackers until they arrive at the golden vampires’ derelict temple, inhabited by Count Dracula. In the temple, Van Helsing and the count begin a fearsome battle to the death — an ultimate clash between good and evil.

This was the first collaboration between Hammer Horror and the Shaw Brothers, and the result is magnificent. This picture is a genre fan’s dream come true as it combines classic vampires and martial arts. The seven vampires are wreaking havoc across the countryside and Hsi requests Van Helsing’s help to stop them. The long journey is broken up by random attacks in which the seven brothers and their sister are able to demonstrate their superb fighting abilities. The vampires look a bit more like zombies, but that’s forgivable. Cushing holds his own in this context, though the Westerners use guns and other weapons at their disposal more freely. The final battle is more brutal than in most other Hammer films, but it suits the characters; unfortunately, the standoff with Dracula feels like an add-on. The bonus features provide a lot of insight into this production that film buffs will find interesting.

Special features include: alternate U.S. theatrical version; commentary by author/film historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck; “When Hammer Met Shaw”; “Kung Fear”; still gallery; TV spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)

Man on a Ledge (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) escapes from prison to plan the ultimate heist: steal a $40 million diamond from cutthroat businessman David Englander (Ed Harris), and in the process prove his own innocence. From the ledge of the famous Roosevelt Hotel with the whole world watching, Cassidy plays a clever game of cat and mouse with the NYPD while his dutiful brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), races against the clock to extract the diamond and clear his brother’s name.

This is far from your typical heist movie as one of the crew members is coordinating their efforts from a ledge 21 stories above the ground and across the street. Between the prison break and the robbery, it’s hard to believe this small, tight-knit family could pull off something so elaborate. At the same time, it draws audiences in as they want to see what cockamamie thing this ragtag group has planned next. The pace is slow and deliberate, unhatching each part of the plan piece-by-piece, while also identifying the culprits who framed Cassidy for Englander. The actual heist elements are predictably more exciting than watching a guy on a ledge who never had any intention of jumping, but everyone plays their role well in order to hook audiences for the long haul.

Special features include: trailer commentary by Elizabeth Banks; and “The Ledge.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

The Mule (4k Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)


Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood) is a man in his 80s who is broke, alone and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. Easy enough, but, unbeknownst to Earl, he’s just signed on as a drug courier for the cartel. He does well — so well, in fact, that his cargo increases exponentially, and Earl is assigned a handler. But he isn’t the only one keeping tabs on Earl; the mysterious new drug mule has also hit the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper). And even as his money problems become a thing of the past, Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on him, and it’s uncertain if he’ll have time to right those wrongs before law enforcement, or the cartel’s enforcers, catch up to him.

While Eastwood remains one of the most prolific seniors in Hollywood, he hasn’t played a character this lively or lost in some time — though the bonus features reveal his wardrobe is a showcase of past personalities. Earl didn’t get his priorities right in enough time to salvage his marriage or relationship with his daughter, so now to their exasperation he’s trying to make up for it with his granddaughter. Earl is anything but naïve, so when he’s offered money to be a “driver” paid via fat envelopes left in his glove compartment, he knows it’s not right; but he’s also doing good with the money, so it’s kind of a wash. His age gives him some leeway with the tough drug dealers and he likes driving so it’s a win-win. In fact, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more often as the cover seems to be perfect. Bates doesn’t have a clue who he’s looking for, but Cooper makes a good adversary as his character is on the verge of making some of the same life mistakes. Based on a true story, the conclusion is a bit surprising but also quite moving.

Special features include: making-of featurette; and Toby Keith “Don’t Let the Old Man In” music video. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Ray Donovan: Season Six (DVD)


Paramount Home Media Distribution

Ray (Liev Schreiber) rebuilds his life both personally and professionally in New York City. After being rescued from a plummet into the East River, his saviour, a cop named Mac (Domenick Lombardozzi), brings Ray into the Staten Island Police Department fraternity. While exploring this new world of brotherhood and corruption, Ray finds himself once again working for media mogul Samantha Winslow (Susan Sarandon). Sam has teamed up with New York City mayoral candidate Anita Novak (Lola Glaudini), a partnership that puts Ray at odds with his new friends out in Staten Island.

In some ways, Ray starts from ground zero this season. Having lost his wife, betrayed his father (Jon Voight) and chased away his kids, his despair becomes overwhelming. But the job pulls him back in as it always does… though it may have been better for everyone if he really had quit for good. Working for Sam puts him at the centre of the most dangerous rivalry he’s encountered as neither side cares about who gets hurt as long as they win. But stupid decisions run in the family as Terry (Eddie Marsan) jeopardizes his health to get back into the ring, Bunchy (Dash Mihok) commits a federal crime for his old man and Darryl (Pooch Hall) is in over his head with his new movie. But when push comes to shove, all the Donovans always have each other’s back with a gun in one hand and a shovel (or chainsaw) in the other.

Special features include: “Inside New York City”; and “Rise, Rebuild, Reclamation.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)

Waterworld [Limited Edition] (Blu-ray)


Arrow Video

The Mariner (Kevin Costner) is a mutant trader, adrift in a dystopian future where Earth is submerged under water and humankind struggles to survive on boats and in ramshackle floating cities. The Mariner becomes embroiled with the Smokers, a gang of pirates who, led by villainous leader Deacon (Dennis Hopper), are seeking Enola (Tina Majorino), a girl with a map to the mythical realm of “Dryland” tattooed on her back.

This movie is primarily remembered as a box office flop that ran over budget and couldn’t cover its losses. Even though those things are true, it’s not a terrible movie. Set in an apocalyptic world covered in water, where dirt is the most valuable commodity and marauders ride sea-doos, it’s more than your conventional end-of-the-world picture. It’s like a swashbuckler film meets Mad Max with a warning about potential ecological disaster. Costner was at his peak in the ‘90s and this film reunited him with Robin Hood director, Kevin Reynolds, but the magic was gone. Still, Costner does well enough as pirate-hero, while Hopper is very enjoyable as the boisterous, one-eyed villain. The additional hour in the Ulysses cut of the film doesn’t add a lot to the narrative, except an opportunity to see more of the Mariner’s relationship with Helen and Enola. The bonus features are interesting, but the interview with Costner in the booklet highlights the actor’s reservations about the film and the risks he took making it.

Special features include: three versions of the film: theatrical cut, TV cut and “Ulysses” cut; “Maelstrom: The Odyssey of Waterworld”; “Dances With Waves”; “Global Warnings”; still galleries; TV spots; trailers; six collector’s postcards; double-sided fold-out poster; limited edition 60-page bound book featuring new writing on the film by David J. Moore and Daniel Griffith, and archival articles; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper. (Arrow Video)

Welcome to Marwen (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)


Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

When a devastating attack leaves Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) shattered and without his memory, no one expected recovery. But by putting together pieces from his old and new life, Mark meticulously creates a wondrous fantasy world, where he draws strength to triumph in the real one. His astonishing art installation becomes a testament to the powerful women who support him on his journey.

Director Robert Zemeckis has demonstrated his fondness for computer-generated narratives. Therefore, it’s not surprising that his approach to Hogie’s adventures is several short, animated movies within the overarching film, as well as real-life interruptions by the animated figures. In spite of their fictional foundation, the realistic features of the toys makes it easy to become as engrossed in their plot as Mark’s. As the story goes on, it becomes clearer how he is using these narratives to work through what happened to him. However, in spite of the connection between the real and imaginary storylines, they feel like they are competing for the audience’s attention. Carell’s portrayal of these odd, monochromatic men is starting to feel like typecasting. He does an excellent job playing them and this role has its own eccentricities as well as a voice acting component, but there are still some similarities to Foxcatcher‘s John du Pont.

Special features include: deleted scenes; “Marwen’s Citizens”; “A Visionary Director”; “Building Marwen”; and “Living Dolls.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

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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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