Out on 22 August and 29 August
Jon Favreau remakes and respects a Disney classic. Terrence Malick explores Los Angeles. Don Cheadle gets the blues.
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of The Jungle Book, Knight of Cups, Jane Got a Gun, Miles Ahead, Forsaken, Crimes of Passion, Mustang, and The Trust.
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THE JUNGLE BOOK
Updating a film as iconic, beloved and damn-near-perfect as 1967’s The Jungle Book seems like a fool’s errand. Yet against the precipitous odds, Jon Favreau’s made a visually stunning, sort-of live-action remake that does the original cartoon proud, even if it isn’t quite as swingin’.
Leaving Rudyard Kipling’s book mostly on the shelf, Favreau instead crafts his version as a heartfelt ode to Disney’s animated classic. But don’t expect a warm and fuzzy walk in the woods; there’s more menace here, not to mention a swathe of blockbuster-y action.
The story, however, is pretty much the same. Orphan kid Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is raised by wolves before man-eating tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) marks him for lunch – leaving it to Bagheera the panther (Ben Kingsley) to smuggle him out of the jungle.
Along the way there are sultry snakes (Scarlett Johansson), beatnik bears (Bill Murray) and Mafioso monkeys (Christopher Walken), but Favreau smartly stages the whole film as one big chase, with Elba’s demonic tiger snapping at everyone’s heels as soon as they stop to pick the prickly pears.
Gone is the lush, comforting canopy that once served as the story’s hand-drawn backdrop. Instead we get a photorealistic, ominous digi-jungle that may put more sensitive moppets off playing in the trees for a while. Gone too are the animals’ friendly faces, now drawn with faintly softened features and strangely tweaked proportions that still look and move astonishingly like the real thing.
Something about the disconnect leaves the film slightly cold – akin to watching a David Attenborough documentary where the beasts occasionally break into a song – but the flawless animation and pitch-perfect casting mean it rarely jars.
Who, for example, could possibly be a better Baloo than Murray? Stealing the film alongside Elba’s explosive Khan and Walken’s Colonel Kurtz-esque King Louie, it’s Murray’s slacker sloth bear that kids will cling to the most. He’s not quite as loveable as Phil Harris’ original, but just as much the heart and soul of the jungle.
For such a dark, sometimes savage spectacle, it’s Murray – along with the subtle echoes of George Bruns’ original score – that manages to keep the tone twinkling. It might be impossible to watch without constant comparison to the original, but Favreau’s Jungle Book is more than strong enough to stand on its own four legs.
Blu extras comprise Fav chat-track and featurettes centred respectively on Sethi, the development process and the ‘I Wan’na Be Like You’ sequence.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Fearuettes (BD)
Director: Jon Favreau; Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley; DVD, BD, 3D BD, Digital HD release: August 22, 2016
KNIGHT OF CUPS
Malick might make films more frequently these days, but there’s nothing production-line about his latest effort, starring Christian Bale as a screenwriter whose success can’t fill the void inside him.
It looks glorious, as Bale’s hedonistic LA lifestyle is captured in a series of gliding takes, but the lack of any real script presents a problem; it’s impossible to invest in any of the women (Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Teresa Palmer...) and the plot is non-existent. Spotting the random cameos is fun, though.
EXTRAS: Press conference video, Red-carpet interviews, Featurette
Director: Terrence Malick; Starring: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy; DVD, BD release: August 22, 2016
JANE GOT A GUN
After the public meltdown of this supposedly feminist western (awol director, musical chairs casting, litigation), it’s unsurprising the result is muted. Producer Natalie Portman stars as a frontierswoman who calls on her ex (Joel Edgerton) to help defend her husband and home from Ewan McGregor’s outlaw crew.
The title refers to Portman’s flinty character, but it might well have been called Three Men and a Little Lady. Beautifully shot, workmanlike, predictable – this plain Jane should have been better. Shame the lack of extras leaves its potential shrouded in mystery
Director: Gavin O’Connor; Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: August 22, 2016
Despite a laudable intent to dodge biopic bromides and channel its subject’s restlessness, star/director Don Cheadle’s study of jazz innovator Miles Davis wobbles between bold and bet-hedging. Cheadle’s ace as a volatile Davis, met in his ’70s ‘lost years’ by a journalist (Ewan McGregor) with agendas.
But noble ambition comes unstuck as Cheadle mixes fantasy interpretations of Davis with factual snapshots: the fabricated “gangsta” storyline is silly while flashbacks play too safe, leaving a briskly imagined experiment that only intermittently finds its beat.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Q&A, Featurette
Director: Don Cheadle; Starring: Don Cheadle, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg; DVD, BD release: August 22, 2016
After nine seasons of 24, Kiefer Sutherland re-teams with director Jon Cassar for a likeably old-fashioned western that embraces convention, instead of recoiling from it. The main point of interest is the casting of Donald Sutherland as Kiefer’s onscreen father, a widowed pastor with no time for his son’s gunslinging sins.
Yet there’s more on offer here than the chance to see them go toe to toe for the first time on screen: Demi Moore as an old flame of Kiefer’s, Michael Wincott as an urbane professional rival and a satisfying shootout in a Wyoming cantina.
EXTRAS: Making Of
Director: Jon Cassar; Starring: Ch Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Brian Cox; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: July 11, 2016
CRIMES OF PASSION
Joanna (Kathleen Turner) has a secret: by night, she’s hooker China Blue, fending off unhappily married man Bobby (John Laughlin) and perverted preacher Peter (Anthony Perkins). Ken Russell’s typically flamboyant satire of sexual fantasies and repression certainly isn’t timid, and he forgoes subtlety for a carnival of neon, flesh and Rick Wakeman music.
There’s daring wit in the dialogue and Turner’s performance, but the misogynistic subplot about Bobby’s sex-starved home life shows how thin the line is between transgressive and conservative.
EXTRAS: Director’s cut, Commentary, Deleted scenes, Interview, Booklet
Director: Ken Russell; Starring: Kathleen Turner, Anthony Perkins, Bruce Davison; Dual format release: July 11, 2016
In a remote Anatolian village, five orphaned sisters are seen enjoying innocent horseplay with a group of boys. Their grandmother, horrified, calls their draconian uncle, and the house becomes their prison as they’re groomed for arranged marriages.
Two are paired off, one willingly, the other unwillingly – and then Lale (Günes Sensoy), the youngest, plots the ultimate act of rebellion. FrenchTurkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven draws spirited performances, while painting a scary picture of a repressive, patriarchal society.
EXTRAS: Short, Interview
Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven; Starring: Günes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: July 11, 2016
Cage is often the best thing in bad movies, so it’s a treat when he finds a script to match his crackerjack energy. Like Bad Lieutenant, The Trust deploys Cage (sporting a brush moustache) as a cop on the wrong side of the law, attempting to bust open a safe with his partner (Elijah Wood, content to play the straight man to Cage’s crackpot).
Tightly constructed by newbie directors the Brewer brothers, The Trust lets Cage do his thing to thrilling effect – whether playing dead or cackling like a loon, he’s the best he’s been in years.
Directors: Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer; Starring: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Sky Ferreira, Eric Heister; DVD, BD, VOD release: July 18, 2016