On DVD & Blu-Ray: July 11, 2017

What direction The Fast and the Furious franchise might go in the aftermath of the untimely death of Paul Walker and the heartfelt sendoff that was Furious 7 was always going to prove to be an interesting answer. And now, we have that answer in the form of The Fate of the Furious-the eighth installment in this accidentally successful saga that only continues to up the action ante while somehow managing to also drive the plot forward and successfully push the story in new directions. It must be said up front that if you're a fan of the series and what it's become then this latest entry will more or less satisfy you, but whereas up until this point it's been exciting and interesting to see where the next film would take the series the question of how long this can go on is certainly more prevalent as Fate comes to a close. It's not that Fate necessarily loses any of the steam from the previous films, but more that it's beginning to spin its wheels; ultimately leaving little new room for the series to expand. Sure, there are questions left unanswered that will undoubtedly be resolved in future installments, but now that we've built to the events of Tokyo Drift and are in fact two movies past the moment of real momentum where Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the real big bad of the franchise, showed up and did his thing the question is now if there is anything left for the series to do to re-entice audiences. It is not without admirable effort that The Fate of the Furious attempts to re-ignite the investment in these characters and their on-going adventures as this latest chapter takes the route of fracturing the one thing that has always been the constant of The Fast and the Furious-its family unit. If you've seen the trailers or even any of the clips that have been released for Fate it is likely that you're aware of the arc that Vin Diesel's patriarch Dom Toretto takes this time around. While this turn of dynamics among the cast is a welcome change in narrative direction it only works as well when it is able to balance itself with the overall tone of the franchise, but too often it takes itself a tinge too seriously and goes a shade too dark for this to both feel fresh while in the same vein as the outlandish, but supremely entertaining Fast & Furious movies we know and love. Video review here. Full review here. C+

The Lost City of Z is a twenty year epic that essentially chronicles the fine line between ambition and irresponsibility. It's an illustration of how one must gauge the ramifications of their actions in the long run to better determine that present decision. In The Lost City of Z we are told the story of Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) a man who became obsessed with finding what no one around him believed could be true. It wasn't always the driving force in his life, when we meet Fawcett he is simply looking to restore the respect of his name, but as his life evolves and opportunities arise he develops a need or more, the ambition, to discover the unknown that he knows is out there. Even as his wife (a wonderful Sienna Miller) waits at home for him raising what amounts to be their three children. Fawcett is gone for years at a time when on his expeditions and given those twenty years take place between 1905 and 1925 his younger children often forget who he is by the time he returns. The questions Fawcett eventually has to come to terms with are those of if the lost years with his children and wife were worth what was on the other side of the world? It would seem, as the movie tells it, that they were. That there was no letting go of this need to know the unknown and that even if he had done so in favor of remaining with his family for the rest of his days that those final days would have undoubtedly been tinged with regret. It's a difficult position to be in emotionally; knowing you should likely do one thing in favor of the other, but realizing that itch is never going to go way until you scratch it. As a film, this is the angle director James Gray takes in choosing to convey the story of Percy Fawcett. A true story of a man who displays fearlessness from the beginning, a selfishness necessary to leave a certain type of legacy, and a mentality that fully surrenders to the idea that death is the best sauce for life. This may all sound beyond enticing and rather mysterious, but The Lost City of Z is a rather straight-forward and old fashioned adventure movie that delivers its ruminations in subtle enough fashion that an impression is left even if the adventures themselves aren't as grand as one might imagine if they know Fawcett's story before going into the film. Full review here. B-

Strangely, A Quiet Passion has been quietly heralded as one of the best films of the year so far without having been hyped up to that title as much as some of the films that have regularly kept it company. The story of American poet Emily Dickinson (as portrayed by Cynthia Nixon) from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist is written and directed by Terence Davies (The House of Mirth). I've also been meaning to get around to Davies' last feature, Sunset Song, but have failed to do so yet and so I just might be having a Davies double-feature sometime soon as I'd like to know what all the fuss is about, especially concerning this latest effort which Peter Travers called an "alternately lyrical and tough take on the life of poet Emily Dickinson."

It still fascinates me how many new movies we get each year that chronicle different stories and/or different events that came out of World War II. This obviously won't stop anytime soon as we have Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk to look forward to next week, but if you'd like a little context around one of the no doubt countless stories that took place after that rescue mission than look no further than this week's home video releases and a little movie called Their Finest. The film stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, and the always fantastic Bill Nighy in a story that takes place amidst the London Blitz of World War II, where Catrin Cole (Arterton) is recruited by the British Ministry of Information to write scripts for propaganda films that the public will actually watch without scoffing. In the line of her new duties, Cole investigates the story of two young women who supposedly piloted a boat in the Dunkirk Evacuation. Although it proved a complete misapprehension, the story becomes the basis for a fictional film with some possible appeal. As Cole labors to write the script with her new colleagues such as Tom Buckley (Claflin), veteran actor Ambrose Hilliard (Nighy) must accept that his days as a leading man are over as he joins the project. Together, this disparate trio must struggle against such complications such as sexism against Cole, jealous relatives, and political interference in their artistic decisions even as London endures the bombs of the enemy. Based on the novel by Lissa Evans and directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education) this is one of those movies I would like to eventually make time for, but God knows it could be a while before I actually do.

Yes, there is another Smurfs movie and yes, this is probably the only movie I'll end up seeing of this week's new releases in any reasonable amount of time because I have a two-year-old. Don't judge me.

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