Pretty eclectic group of releases this week, first we have The Nest, a Scottish series about a wealthy couple who would do anything to have a baby. The wife can’t carry a child to term, they use a surrogate who loses a child as well. Then one night the wife accidentally hits an 18 year old girl with her car. The girl is struggling in life and has secrets, but decides she wants to help the couple after finding out about their surrogate’s miscarriage. It’s not legal in Scotland to pay for a surrogate so they fly to another country to use the 18 year old as the latest baby oven. As the series goes on you learn about the girl’s past and you question whether what she’s doing is out of her own heart or trying to deceive the rich couple. Her mother gets involved, the press get involved and all kinds of secrets get revealed. It’s only 5 episodes so it was a really quick binge. It’s pretty good too keeping you guessing just enough without getting too ridiculous. I’m curious to see if it continues or if it can because of the storyline or if it’s just a one-off series.
Sticking with dramas, second we have A Girl Missing. This is about a nurse who works for a family whose daughter goes missing. It turns out her nephew is the kidnapper and the nurse’s life is thrown into chaos after the family finds out. People turn their backs on her. Her friend goes to the press and tells them stories. It’s good and the lead actress is very good, but it’s also one of those movies that once you see it, you might not need to see it again. You know the story, you know what happens so would it hold your attention a second time? But for one time viewing it’s very well made, has a good pace which makes the film not feel as long as it is and again, the lead actress is very good.
Third we have The Chronicles of Melanie. This is based on a true story about Latvians being removed from their homes and moved to Siberia separating the women and children from their husbands/fathers in 1941. It’s based on the memoir of the lead character Melanie who was in exile for years. I wasn’t familiar with this story in the slightest. Obviously in the times of World War II you hear about families and peoples being moved to other countries, forced to work or worse killed, but this particular story about Latvia I knew nothing about. The lead actress is good and I felt like I actually learned something which is always a bonus. Very well made and another film that doesn’t feel as long as it is.
Sticking with history, Hero on the Front is about a Portuguese soldier in World War I. As an American we’ve gotten plenty of military films based on Americans/American point of views. We get a lot based on British stories/people as well. I watch a lot of Asian historicals so I’ve gotten that perspective as well. But I can honestly say this is probably the first film I’ve ever seen about Portugal and its military. A soldier, Anibal Milhais, stood up against a German wave while his fellow soldiers escaped. He went from ladder to ladder in the trenches firing at oncoming Germans and made it out alive and eventually caught up to his command. The film also cuts in his story later in life with his daughter and chasing a wolf and receiving honors. It’s pretty cool getting a perspective from a group of people I’ve never seen before.
The 1972 sci-fi flick Silent Running gets a new Blu-ray this week. Bruce Dern plays an astronaut on a spaceship growing plants, trees and food because the Earth is no longer capable. When the order is given to destroy it all and return home, Dern loses it, attacks his fellow crew members and works with a few drones to stay alive and keep the forest running. I wasn’t familiar with the movie at all, but I’m sure diehard sci-fi fans know it. The film looks good restored in this new Blu-ray which comes with a slew of bonus features like a documentary on its making, an interview with Dern and much more.
Also getting a new Blu-ray is Dragnet. If I remember correctly this was the first theatrical film based on a television show. It’s from 1954 and has gone through a 2K restoration. It looks ok, but there are definitely some scenes that look rougher than others. Joe Friday and Frank Smith investigate the shotgun murder of a small time bookie. Local hoodlums and the like are brought in for questioning and it’s very much like a long episode of the TV series. It has what you expect from Dragnet, its style, the line delivery, the date and time stated. If you’ve seen Dragnet you know exactly what I’m talking about. Jack Webb (Joe Friday) directed it as well. This new release is a must own for fans and comes with commentary.
Two documentaries are left. First is You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t. It’s a 10th anniversary edition of a special from PBS shot entirely in an Alzheimer’s Care Unit. I hadn’t heard of it or seen it. The main woman it focuses on is kind of funny. She doesn’t take crap from anyone and makes fun of others around her. One woman who was bent over asleep she says I think this one is dead. I’m not gonna lie, I genuinely laughed out loud. One guy gives the bird to everyone. Others are also feisty. Of course it’s also sad seeing a lot of people who don’t know what’s going on and have no real control over their own lives. It’s that mixture of sadness and humanity that makes it an interesting watch. If you have someone in your life dealing with this awful disease it’s a must watch.
Last we have Quiet Explosions: Healing the Brain. This came out last week, but I didn’t get my copy until this past weekend. This takes a look at Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in athletes, veterans and others. It focuses on a few veterans especially two brothers who helped start a foundation to help fellow vets deal with head injuries from explosions and what not. Super Bowl winning quarterback Mark Rypien talks about the issues he’s dealt with after his playing days and how he was suicidal at one point. There’s a 9/11 firefighter, a gymnast, a Navy woman who was raped, a veteran who won Survivor and more. It’s fascinating, but also who knows how accurate any of it is. They talk about using hyperbaric chambers to release pressure on the brain. One doctor (the main doctor in the video) talks about medicines and his program and how that works. Sure like anything it probably works for some, but not all. There is never one total cure-all. But it was pretty interesting to see that there are people trying to help deal with PTSD, TBI and other issues that are hard to judge. If you break a leg or get shot, people understand that. Get a concussion or hurt your head and people don’t understand the damage it can do especially long term. Pretty interesting.