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Review: This week’s releases seek answers to difficult questions

This week’s releases include a battle with one’s self; another year on the Cerritos; & Reno’s finest’s new case

A scene from "Dual'
A scene from "Dual' courtesy of RLJE Films
A scene from "Dual' courtesy of RLJE Films

This week’s releases include a true battle with one’s self; another year on the U.S.S. Cerritos; a new case for Reno’s finest; an animated family dramedy; a conspiracy revisited; and a couple of early career, standout performances.

Dual on Blu-ray
RLJE Films

Dual (Blu-ray)

Upon receiving a terminal diagnosis, Sarah (Karen Gillan) opts for a cloning procedure to ease her loss on her friends and family. When she makes a sudden and miraculous recovery, her attempts to have her clone decommissioned fail and lead to a court-mandated duel to the death. Now she has one year to train her body and mind for the fight of her life.

It seems quite impossible that this film could be any more morose. Its colours are muted, its protagonist is despondent and its premise is morbid. Gillan gives an intriguing performance as she portrays a woman who nearly lacks a personality, cocooned in her home, denying an illness and trying to maintain marginal relationships with the only two people she appears to interact with regularly — her boyfriend and mother. The two Sarahs are similar but with subtle differences, though this story focuses on the original’s journey of gaining confidence and physical prowess she’s never possessed. The conclusion plays out in a way that, in spite of its nuance, audiences will keenly understand the repercussions of the situation and appreciate the emotions that follow.

Special features include: commentary by director Riley Stearns; and making-of featurette. (RLJE Films)

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko on Blu-ray
GKIDS & Shout Factory

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (Blu-ray & DVD)

Brash single mother Nikuko is well-known for her bold spirit, much to the embarrassment of Kikuko, her pensive yet imaginative daughter. In contrast to her mother, Kikuko wants nothing more than to fit in as she navigates the everyday social dramas of middle school. Life in the harbor is peaceful until a shocking revelation from the past threatens to uproot the pair’s tender relationship.

The relationship between the two is quite unusual as Kikuko refers to Nikuko by her first name rather than some variation of “mother.” In addition, Kikuko appears to have become very responsible as a matter of necessity since her matriarch is absentminded and childlike. The account of Nikuko’s life thus far is equal parts tragic and frustrating as she’s repeatedly allowed herself to be taken advantage of and is too naïve to avoid being taken as a fool. The story is mostly seen through Kikuko’s perspective and, although she’s not cruel, she’s not blind to her mother’s shortcomings and often finds them embarrassing. On the other hand, Nikuko has no idea her innocence makes her vulnerable to swindlers and ridicule. The story takes a turn in the last act, revealing a previously unknown fact in a very genuine way.

Special features include: making-of featurette; film completion press conference; official premiere event; Sanma Akashiya birthday event; guest speaker event; and trailers. (GKIDS & Shout Factory)

JFK Revisited: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray
Shout Factory

JFK Revisited: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray & DVD)

JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass: An official selection of the Cannes Film Festival, this feature-length film presents a fresh look at the vast archive of material that has recently been placed into public record. Thirty years after acclaimed director Oliver Stone’s first examination of JFK‘s assassination, he reassesses the horrific event that shaped a generation. Using newly declassified and re-examined documents, Stone presents a thought-provoking documentary narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Sutherland.
JFK: Destiny Betrayed: Subjects covered in this mini-series include the early formation of President Kennedy‘s foreign policy worldview, his travels to Vietnam as a senator, his support of fledgling democracies in Africa, and his anti-colonial convictions that put him in opposition to the Eisenhower administration, the CIA and the Pentagon. Viewers are also given a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the post-assassination actions and initial suspicions of Kennedy’s brother, Robert, as well as his views on the official Warren Commission investigation. The assassination, forensic, and ballistic evidence not covered in JFK Revisited are explored here in greater detail.

Both these films, taken individually or together, paint a picture in which JFK’s elimination benefitted a lot of people and their agendas. One element reviewed carefully and that has often been debated is the position of the shooter as a variety of evidence and eyewitness accounts question Lee Harvey Oswald’s ability to have fired the fatal shot. The miniseries, in the meantime, recounts a President who was consistently in opposition with other powerful men on foreign and domestic policy. Consequently, those close to Robert Kennedy claim he was convinced his brother’s death was an American conspiracy to get him out of the way. Regardless of what viewers may believe, Stone creates a compelling argument that Robert was right, though there is no concrete evidence of who was involved if Oswald did not act alone (or at all).

There are no special features. (Shout Factory)

Miami Blues on Blu-ray
MVD Rewind Collection

Miami Blues (Blu-ray)

Junior Frenger (Alec Baldwin) is trouble and Sgt. Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward) knows it. Junior, smooth-talking, good-looking ex-con, tiptoes on the borderline of psychotic behaviour. Moseley is the detective hot on his trail after Junior kills a Hare Krishna, robs a pickpocket, then steals Moseley’s badge, his gun… and even his false teeth. Junior’s running around the streets of Miami posing as a cop, assaulting people and making arrests. And even though he promises an ex-prostitute and his live-in lover, Susie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), that he’ll stay out of crime, he continues playing cops and robbers on both sides of the law.

Released in 1990, this movie is aggressive in its diversion from more conventional narratives. Junior is insane, carelessly robbing people with fake guns and the stolen badge, leaving a trail of slightly injured victims. In spite of her profession, Susie is rather innocent and hoping the good she sees in Junior will eventually quash the bad. Both actors are so young, but so clearly talented that they flawlessly portray these unusual characters and their many imperfections. In the meantime, Moseley is a symbol of reason, even though he keeps falling for Junior’s ploys. The ending features an unexpectedly strong character choice that perfectly suits the story.

Special features include: interview with Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh; and trailers. (MVD Rewind Collection)

Reno 911! The Hunt for QAnon on DVD
Paramount Home Entertainment

Reno 911! The Hunt for QAnon (DVD)

High Seas, hijinks and the hunt for QAnon! The Reno Sheriff’s Department has been ordered to serve court papers to the mysterious head of QAnon, ‘Q.’ They’re going deep undercover on Q’s Booze Cruise (mostly just to go on a free cruise!).

It’s great to have these goofy cops back, looking into this equally ridiculous group. Their preparation for the investigation is fitting of each of their personalities, though once on the ship they must rely on their poor instincts… and ability to ride electric scooters. Everything goes as expected, from their inappropriate wardrobes to their epic failures to their eventual success by no fault of their own. One of the more interesting scenes requires they escape a sex dungeon, while Trudy embarks on the strangest love affair. The cast is joined by several other comedians, including Patton Oswalt, as well as the always fierce RuPaul and a performance by Pink!

Special features include: deleted scenes. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Star Trek: Lower Decks: Season 2 on Blu-ray
Paramount Home Entertainment

Star Trek: Lower Decks: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

Follow the adventures of our favourite Starfleet support crew in the U.S.S. Cerritos as they deal with changes in group dynamics, chasing promotions, and tons of sci-fi missions.

The season begins with Boimler on a different ship with a new crew that doesn’t quite appreciate his skills. In the meantime, Tendi and Rutherford fall into conflict when her attempts to fix an ailment go largely awry. Mariner, however, finds a way to bond with her mom, filling a gap neither realized was so wide. The dynamics between the group continue to be very amusing, while still remaining very grounded in the Star Trek universe, making it one of the best properties to emerge from the franchise in some time. And true to form, the season ends on a fairly significant cliff-hanger that will need to be addressed rather urgently next season.

Special features include: commentaries; “A Sound Foundation”; “Lower Decktionary: Season 2”; Easter eggs; and animatics. (Paramount 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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