‘The Purge: Elec­tion Year’ aims for cul­tural rel­e­vance, falls short

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - By Amy Longs­dorf

You have to give the film­mak­ers be­hind “The Purge: Elec­tion Year” (2016, Univer­sal, R, $30) credit for at­tempt­ing to be top­i­cal by in­clud­ing a Hil­laryesque pres­i­den­tial can­di­date (El­iz­a­beth Mitchell) who prom­ises, if elected, to end the tra­di­tion of govern­ment-spon­sored vi­o­lence known as the Purge.

But for all its talk about class war­fare, “Elec­tion Year” is lit­tle more than a car­nage-fest in which dis­pos­able char­ac­ters are shot, stabbed or oth­er­wise slaugh­tered ev­ery few sec­onds. Skip it. Ex­tras: fea­turettes and deleted scenes.

Also New To DVD

Swiss Army Man (2016,

Lion­s­gate, R, $20): It’s eas­ily the most unique movie of 2016 but it’s far from the best. Paul Dano stars as a man seem­ingly ma­rooned on a desert is­land who finds sal­va­tion via a very flat­u­lent and even­tu­ally talk­a­tive corpse (Daniel Rad­cliffe). Dano and Rad­cliffe en­joy plenty of trippy, sur­real ad­ven­tures as they trudge through the woods dis­cussing fam­ily, food and how to pick up girls. Too bad “Swiss Army Man” runs out of gas long be­fore the fi­nale. Ex­tras: deleted scenes, fea­turettes and com­men­tary by film­mak­ers Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schein­ert. The In­no­cents (2016, Mu­sic

Box, PG-13, $30): Set in Poland fol­low­ing the end of World War II, this su­perb, fact-based drama re­volves around a heroic Red Cross physi­cian named Mathilde (Lou de Laage) who agrees to help Bene­dic­tine nuns deal with a volatile se­cret. Seven of the sis­ters, fol­low­ing an at­tack by Soviet sol­diers, have be­come preg­nant and are un­able to seek the med­i­cal at­ten­tion they des­per­ately need. Rich in at­mos­phere and ten­sion, the movie de­picts a clois­tered world shat­tered by bru­tal­ity. Mirac­u­lously, the film man­ages to end on a note that’s lovely, life-af­firm­ing and not the least bit sen­ti­men­tal. Ex­tras: fea­turettes.

Len & Com­pany (2016, IFC,

un­rated, $20): Af­ter a pub­lic melt­down, a punk-rocker-turned-mu­sic-pro­ducer (Rhys Ifans) re­treats to his coun­try es­tate to de­com­press. But in­stead, he winds up play­ing host to his needy as­sis­tant (Keir Gilchrist), pop-star pro­tégé ( Juno Tem­ple) and dropout son (Jack Kilmer). This is Ifans’ movie and he’s price­less in a role that could eas­ily have slid into stereo­type. De­spite a third-act swerve into melo­drama, “Len” emerges as a sharp and soulful char­ac­ter study of man who’s not quite the cur­mud­geon he ap­pears to be. Ex­tras: none.

Wild Oats (2016, An­chor

Bay, PG-13, $20): Un­til it falls apart in the fi­nal reel, this buddy com­edy is a de­light­ful show­case for Shirley MacLaine and Jes­sica Lange who star as mis­matched bud­dies hav­ing the ad­ven­ture of their lives. The early scenes are the fun­ni­est as the pals sur­vive the fu­neral of MacLaine’s hus­band and try to nav­i­gate their way through an au­to­mated cus­tomer ser­vice call. Af­ter a com­puter gl­itch be­stows $5 mil­lion on the pair, they head to the Ca­nary Is­lands for some fun in the sun. MacLaine clicks with a stock­bro­ker (Billy Con­nelly) while Lange finds ro­mance with a younger man. Lange and MacLaine are bet­ter than the ma­te­rial but it’s still a treat to see these two icons en­joy­ing a bawdy es­capade or two. Ex­tras: none. Diary of a Cham­ber­maid (2016, Co­hen, un­rated, 20): Benoit Jac­quot’s adap­ta­tion of Oc­tave Mir­beau’s once-scan­dalous novel won’t make any­one for­got the ver­sions star­ring Paulette God­dard and Jeanne Moreau. Still, this beau­ti­fully shot drama is a won­der­ful show­case for Lea Sey­doux (“Spec­tre”) who brings re­sent­ment, vul­ner­a­bil­ity and a hint of melan­choly to the role of a Parisian cham­ber­maid an­gry about hav­ing to toil for a petty mis­tress and her las­civ­i­ous hus­band. For­get about the huge gaps in the story and the pac­ing prob­lems and watch Sey­doux shine as brightly as pol­ished sil­ver. Ex­tras: fea­turette. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971, Cri­te­rion, R, $30): Be­hind ev­ery great for­tune is a great crime. No movie bet­ter il­lus­trates that old adage than Robert Alt­man’s anti-western, a still-as­ton­ish­ing chron­i­cle of small-time brothel own­ers (War­ren Beatty, Julie Christie) who build up their busi­ness only to see it threat­ened by a min­ing cor­po­ra­tion. Work­ing with ge­nius cin­e­matog­ra­pher Vil­mos Zsig­mond and mak­ing use of haunt­ing songs by Leonard Co­hen, Alt­man cap­tures what life was like at the turn of the cen­tury in a small, dingy fron­tier town. Now on Blu-ray, “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” is, at once, a heart­break­ing ro­mance, a sting­ing con­dem­na­tion of greed, and an oater that sub­verts nearly ev­ery cliché of the genre. Ex­tras: fea­turettes and com­men­tary by Alt­man.

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