Possessor (Uncut)

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Well Go USA;
Thriller;
Box Office $0.75 million;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $34.98 UHD BD
Not rated.
Stars Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kaniehtiio, Horn, Raoul Bhaneja, Gage Graham-Arbuthnot, Gabrielle Graham.

Director Brandon Cronenberg, son of legendary body horror filmmaker David Cronenberg, follows in his father’s footsteps with an absolute mind-trip of a sci-fi thriller.

The film deals with assassins who can take over the minds of others and use their bodies to commit the crimes for which they’ve been hired. The hosts are typically people associated with the victim, allowing them to get close enough for the hit while covering the tracks of those behind it. The hosts are then made to kill themselves so the possessors return to their own bodies.

However, those who possess the victims sometimes lose themselves in the alternate identity, requiring a strict regimen of psychological monitoring.

One such assassin is Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough), whose increasing emotional detachment leads her to struggle to remember how to be herself when with her husband and son, while her thoughts are dominated by violent imagery. Her boss (Jennifer Jason Leigh) would prefer she didn’t allow her personal attachments to interfere with her job.

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The film is presented in a sort of alternate 2008, where the only change from our world is the possession technology — a covert team subdues the intended victim and implants a device in their brains that allows the assassin to control their bodies remotely using a VR headset.

Vos’ latest mission is to take over the life of a man named Colin Tate (Christopher Abbot) in order to kill his girlfriend’s father (Sean Bean), a wealthy CEO. The attack is brutal — an ingenious use of makeup and puppet effects. However, Vos has trouble forcing Colin to kill himself, and as a result he begins to take back control of his body.

What follows is a visual whirlwind of filmed psychosis, as the struggle between Vos and Colin plays out both in his head through grotesque but memorable symbolic imagery, and in the real world as the company attempts to contain him while freeing her.

Loaded with violence and unerotic sex, Possessor is not for the faint of heart. The film has been marketed as “uncut” to indicate it’s the unrated version that ran at film festivals and is considered to be the definitive version by the filmmakers, distinguishing it from a slightly shorter ‘R’-rated version that played in some theaters and is available separately on Blu-ray.

The uncut Blu-ray is available on its own and as part of the 4K Ultra HD combo pack. The 4K disc includes just the unrated cut and no extras.

The Blu-ray includes three of the films’ trailers, plus three behind-the-scenes featurettes that run under 15 minutes each — one about the story, one about the psychological themes of the film, and one about the visual effects.

There are also three deleted scenes running a total of eight minutes that detail more about the possessor process and its psychological effects.

Dramas ‘Passion of Darkly Noon’ and Altman’s ‘Kansas City’ Due on Blu-ray From MVD and Arrow in March

Two dramas, The Passion of Darkly Noon and Kansas City, are arriving on Blu-ray in March from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Kansas City (1996), directed by Robert Altman and streeting March 3 from Arrow Academy, is a star-studded gangster flick set in 1930s Kansas City. Blondie O’Hara (Jennifer Jason Leigh) resorts to desperate measures when her low-level hood husband Johnny (Dermot Mulroney) gets caught trying to steal from Seldom Seen (Harry Belafonte), a local crime boss operating out of jazz haunt The Hey-Hey Club. Out on a limb, Blondie kidnaps laudanum-addled socialite Carolyn (Miranda Richardson), hoping her influential politician husband can pull the right strings and get Johnny out of Seldom Seen’s clutches. Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and featuring a soundtrack performed live by some of the best players in contemporary jazz, this Altman classic is making its Blu-ray debut. Special features include audio commentary by Altman; a newly filmed appreciation by critic Geoff Andrew; a 2007 visual essay by French critic Luc Lagier, plus a short introduction to the film narrated by Lagier; two 1996 promotional featurettes including interviews with cast and crew; electronic press kit interviews with Altman, Leigh, Richardson, Belafonte and musician Joshua Redman, plus behind-the-scenes footage; four theatrical trailers; TV spots; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Dr Nicolas Pillai, original press kit notes and an excerpt from Altman on Altman.

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The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995), due March 24, is a drama set in America from British director Philip Ridley. Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) is the sole survivor of a military-style attack on an isolated religious community. Stumbling through a forest, he is rescued by Callie (Ashley Judd). Darkly finds himself feeling strange new desires for Callie as she nurses him back to health only to watch her jump into the arms of her returning mute lover Clay (Viggo Mortensen). Lost in the woods with only his fundamentalist upbringing to make sense of his unrequited passions, Darkly soon descends into an explosive and lethal rage. Special features include new audio commentary by writer/director Ridley; an isolated score track in lossless stereo, including never-before-heard extended and unused cues, and the two songs from the film; “Sharp Cuts,” a newly filmed interview with editor Leslie Healey; “Forest Songs,” a newly filmed interview with composer Nick Bicat; “Dreaming Darkly,” an archive featurette from 2015 featuring interviews with Ridley, Bicat and Mortensen; previously unreleased demos of the music score, written and performed by Bicat before filming started; the theatrical trailer; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring a new Ridley career retrospective written by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

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‘White Boy Rick’ Due on Digital Dec. 11, Disc Dec. 25 from Sony

White Boy Rick, starring Matthew McConaughey, will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 11 and Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 25 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned $24 million in theaters.

Based on true events, White Boy Rick tells the story of a blue-collar father (McConaughey) and his teenage son (newcomer Richie Merritt) in the corrupt world of 1980s Detroit at the height of the War on Drugs. Fifteen-year-old Rick Wershe Jr., dubbed “White Boy Rick”, becomes the youngest FBI informant in history, and later a drug dealer, manipulated by the very system meant to protect him, abandoned by his FBI handlers, and sentenced to life in prison.

Bel Powley (Diary of a Teenage Girl), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Brian Tyree Henry (FX’s “Atlanta”), Rory Cochrane (Black Mass), RJ Cyler (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Jonathan Majors (Hostiles), Eddie Marsan (“Ray Donovan”, Deadpool 2), Bruce Dern (Nebraska) and Piper Laurie (Carrie) also star.

Bonus features on disc and digital include six deleted scenes and three behind-the-scenes featurettes. “The Unknown True Story of Rick Wershe Jr.” features an audio interview with the real-life Rick Wershe Jr. from prison as he describes his story and shares personal photos and video from his trial. Director Yann Demange discusses how he found the diverse cast, including the unique way he discovered newcomer Merritt and how  McConaughey made the part his own in “The Three Tribes of Detroit: The Cast.” Finally, “The Making of White Boy Rick” covers what it took to recreate 1980s Detroit with insights into how filmmakers matched the tone with music and costume and production design. Also included is a pop-up trivia track with insider information on the true story and the making of the film.

Scream Factory Releasing ‘Single White Female’ on Blu-ray

Shout! Factory’s horror imprint, Scream Factory, will release 1992’s Single White Female on Blu-ray Nov. 13.

The film stars Bridget Fonda as a woman whose new roommate (Jennifer Jason Leigh) slowly begins to take over her identity.

New bonus material includes audio commentary with Director Barbet Schroeder, editor Lee Percy and associate producer Susan Hoffman; and interviews with Schroeder, screenwriter Don Roos, and actors Steven Weber and Peter Friedman. The Blu-ray also includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

Annihilation

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $32.73 million;
$25.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality.
Stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Benedict Wong, Oscar Isaac.

Director Alex Garland is settling into a nice niche making deliberate, thought-provoking science-fiction films that defy the usual tropes of the genre.

His 2015 directorial debut Ex Machina made waves for its exploration of artificial intelligence and the nature of identity and what it means to be alive, and Annihilation deals with some of those themes as well.

Based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation is a sublime mix of alien invasion movie, psychological thriller and horror film. In the disc’s bonus materials, Garland discusses his apprehension in trying to adapt the source material, before settling on the strategy of, as he cleverly phrases it, adapting his subjective reaction to his reading of the book, rather than attempting a straight linear narrative.

The film stars Natalie Portman as a member of a team of scientists who explore a strange barrier that has surrounded an area of Southern swampland and continues to expand, distorting the biological processes of all life within it. The team encounters a litany of bizarre occurrences, such as different species of animals merging together. They find videos left by previous teams that explored the region, including Portman’s character’s husband, and watch their descent into madness. And the women soon realize the area is beginning to change them as well, adding urgency to the need to uncover what is happening and how to stop it.

The film is visually stunning, both for its reinterpretation of nature and also, in a twisted way, the very artistic ways the production crew has re-created the aftermath of some of the violent deaths of previous explorers. The film’s rich subtext and visual details will require multiple viewings to fully absorb Garland’s vision.

The Blu-ray includes six featurettes grouped into three categories, which all told equate to a comprehensive and insightful 75-minute behind-the-scenes documentary.

Paramount Brings ‘Annihilation’ Home in May

Paramount Home Media Distribution will release Annihilation digitally May 22 and on Blu-ray and DVD May 29.

Directed by Alex Garland, the sci-fi film stars Natalie Portman as a biologist who leads a team to investigate a beautiful but mysterious phenomenon that threatens all life on Earth. Annihilation, which earned $32.7 million at the domestic box office, also stars Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Tuva Novotny.

The Blu-ray includes a digital copy of the film and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.