April 18--There is little of note on DVD this week. James McAvoy gives an all-out performance in M. Night Shyamalan's "Split." It is another preposterous horror premise by the director. This one is about a man (McAvoy) with 24 personalities, but credit the filmmaker with enough invention to keep you guessing throughout the movie.
Kevin, his real name, though, he goes by others, has kidnapped three young women, classmates. One is named Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), who has suffered childhood trauma and is something of a loner and the calmest. She has some skills. The others, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), are on a roller-coaster ride, panic one moment, ready to fight the next.
Meanwhile, Barry is seeing a therapist (Betty Buckley), which helps give some perspective to the events in the stone basement where the women are confined. Shyamalan's final twist may seem a bit glib, but at least he wasn't boring in getting there.
Michael Keaton gives an all-out performance in "The Founder," a biopic about Ray Kroc, the man who created the McDonalds' juggernaut. Kroc built his fortune by taking over the brothers Mac and Dick McDonald's busy burger joint in San Bernardino and turning it into a franchise. The John Lee Hancock film tells an interesting story -- how the clever business innovations of the McDonalds made a fortune for Kroc while they were forgotten. But there is nothing compelling about dramatizing it. A documentary would have been enough.
'The Handmaid's Tale'
With Hulu about to launch a new series based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale," a restored version of the 1990 movie version is getting released.
It starred the late Natasha Richardson as a woman named Kate who loses her husband and daughter at the beginning of the story. Set in the future after an ecological disaster, Kate is then relegated to being a Handmaiden in Gilead, the renamed United States, which has become a male-controlled police state.
All females wear color-coded dresses to symbolize their roles, and Handmaidens (in red) are valued most because they are the few fertile women left.
German director's Volker Schlondorff's visually arresting adaptation has a number of admirable qualities -- a tense screenplay by Harold Pinter and an unnerving score by Ryuichi Sakamoto. It also boasts a distinguished cast, including Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway.
But in order to bring Atwood's dark story to the screen, some compromises were made, least of which is the main character's name being changed to Kate from Offred. The main problem is the altered ending, which undercuts the story. The upcoming Hulu series will take a different approach, using the novel as a jumping-off point.
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