Netflix Acquires 9/11 Biopic ‘Worth’

Netflix has acquired the 9/11 biopic Worth for release in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Turkey and select other countries.

Higher Ground Productions, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, will present the film alongside Netflix in September 2021, for the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Directed by Sara Colangelo (The Kindergarten Teacher), the film stars Academy Award nominee Michael Keaton (The Trial of the Chicago 7, Spotlight, Birdman), Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada, The Hunger Games), Academy Award nominee Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Lost Girls), Tate Donovan, Talia Balsam and Laura Benanti.

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Based on Kenneth Feinberg’s memoir What Is Life Worth, the film follows Kenneth Feinberg (Keaton), an accomplished lawyer appointed Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, tasked by Congress to allocate financial compensation to the victims of the tragedy — to calculate incalculable loss in the face of cynicism, bureaucracy and the politics of division.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Drama;
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, some violence, bloody images and drug use.
Stars Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Alex Sharp, Danny Flaherty, Noah Robbins, Ben Shenkman, John Doman, J.C. MacKenzie, Frank Langella, Michael Keaton.

Writer-director Aaron Sorkin demonstrates his continued mastery of the craft of filmmaking with this docudrama about the court trial of the leaders of the violent anti-war protests that took place during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

While Sorkin’s screenplay does play a bit fast and loose with the chronology of actual events, the subject matter plays to his strengths as a writer with its political overtones and eclectic cast of characters. This is most emphatically not a documentary, but like Sorkin’s other historical re-creations, such as The Social Network, Steve Jobs and Molly’s Game, it provides a framework for him to tell a compelling story while highlighting the foibles, actions and heroic deeds of the people involved he considers relevant to his examination of the human condition.

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Sorkin treats the trial conducted in federal court from 1969 to 1970 as a farce, as the newly installed Nixon administration wanted to make an example of the leaders of various movements opposed to the Vietnam War. The end result is an actors’ showcase — a well-balanced array of humor and drama mixed with a bit of between-the-lines ruminations on modern America.

Standouts include Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, who delivers his lines as if they were written for Bradley Whitford 20 years ago, and Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, whose irreverence provides the film with one of its key sources of comedy. Mark Rylance gives an appropriately steady performance as William Kunstler, their lawyer, while Frank Langella shines as the judge who seems intent on doing everything he can to aid the prosecution.

Sorkin manages to keep a brisk pace thanks to some crisp editing by Alan Baumgarten, jumping between the trial and flashbacks to the Chicago riots at the center of it, as numerous undercover cops testify as to what happened.

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The attempts to demonstrate the alleged overzealousness of the police certainly draws parallels to modern times, but Sorkin seems to undercut the fervor of some of his points with depictions of evidence that contradicts them.

Still, even viewers who disagree with Sorkin’s sentiments can appreciate the sharpness of his dialogue and the skill with which his assembled cast delivers it.

Dumbo (2019)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 6/25/19;
Disney;
Family;
Box Office $114.03 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language.
Stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins.

With a running time of just 64 minutes, Disney’s original 1941 animated classic Dumbo is a bit thin on the source material required for a full-bore live-action remake.

To pad out the details, Disney turned to screenwriter Ehren Kruger, veteran of several “Transformers” movies, and director Tim Burton, who previously directed 2010’s Alice in Wonderland for the studio.

The end result is a remake that is equal parts reimagining of and sequel to the original classic.

The core of the story still focuses on the baby circus elephant named Dumbo who learns to use his oversized ears to fly. After his mother is locked up for aggressively defending him from the crowds picking on him for his large ears, he yearns to reunite with her.

However, whereas the bulk of the original film dealt with Dumbo learning how to fly and building his confidence, in the new version he figures out how to fly relatively quickly. Instead of a mouse to handle him, he is looked after by returning World War I veteran Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his two young children, and soon becomes a star for the small traveling circus run by Max Medici (Danny DeVito).

Dumbo’s exploits gain the attention of entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who offers to buy out Medici in order to make Dumbo the headliner of his circus-themed amusement park, Dreamland. Meanwhile, the children hope to use Dumbo’s earnings to find his mother and bring her back to him.

The Vandevere storyline gives the film the air of self-parody, as his theme park is clearly an analog for Disneyland. What’s more, the plot turns on a corporate merger in which the smaller company is to be swallowed up and the bulk of its staffers laid off — a detail rife with parallels to the Disney-Fox merger that was completed shortly before this film hit theaters.

Keaton playing the slimy businessman is also a bit of a switch from his pairing with DeVito in another Burton film, 1992’s Batman Returns, in which DeVito was the one playing the bad guy.

These are clever details for what is ultimately a kids movie, and while Burton’s visual flair and penchant for oddity may amuse adults in the audience for a time, the film mostly settles in as a piece of inconsequential family fare that should keep younger viewers entertained.

Hardcore Disney fans can also take it to the next level in searching for the many subtle references to Disney history, particularly the 1941 film, layered throughout. To this end, the Blu-ray includes a four-minute “Easter Eggs on Parade” featurette.

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Other featurettes include the eight-minute “Circus Spectaculars,” featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers; “The Elephant in the Room,” a six-minute recount of the process of updating the story of the animated film; and “Built to Amaze,” an eight-minute look at the film’s production and costume design.

The Blu-ray also includes nine deleted scenes running eight minutes in total; a two-minute “Clowning Around” gag reel; and a “Baby Mine” music video featuring Arcade Fire’s update of the Oscar-nominated song from the original film.

The digital copy of the film available through Movies Anywhere and select digital retailers also includes a breakdown of the creation of the Dreamland parade sequence.

Live-Action ‘Dumbo’ Flies to Home Video June 25

Disney will release director Tim Burton’s live-action remake of Dumbo on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digitally June 25.

Inspired by the 1941 animated classic, Dumbo features struggling circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlisting former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive but sinister entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, spectacular, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. The cast also includes Eva Green.

The film earned $112.8 million at the domestic box office.

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Blu-ray and digital extras include deleted scenes; a “Baby Mine” music video by Arcade Fire; a “Clowning Around” blooper reel; an “Easter Eggs on Parade” featurette; a “Circus Spectaculars” featurette focused on the cast’s memories of making the film; the featurette “The Elephant in the Room,” about bringing the animated tale to live action; and a “Built to Amaze” featurette about the film’s production and costume design.

The digital versions, available through various retailers and the Movies Anywhere digital service, will include an exclusive “Dreamland — Anatomy of a Scene: From Final Script to Final Scene” featurette about bringing the Dreamland parade to life.

Bonus material will vary by digital retailer.