Two films about people caring enough to take a stand top new DVD and Blu-ray releases for July 2.
"The Public"; 3 stars: Emilio Estevez spent 10 years working on the script for "The Public." And like a bottle of wine, cheddar cheese or a cast-iron skillet, the final result is a well-honed story that has aged so well over the years that it works as both a reminder of the need for human kindness and a cautionary tale of what can happen when no one is willing to stand up for what is right. The writer, director and star of the film manages to check the boxes on a list of relevant issues without ever sliding into becoming preachy.
The main focus of "The Public" is the homeless situation that touches every community. Estevez avoids getting heavy handed and doesn't make those living on the streets to be victims or antagonists. He carefully shows they are not to be treated like an invisible blight on society. They are people with dreams that have been sidetracked by a variety of reasons. At the same time, "The Public" doesn't hide that some of the homeless embrace their situation.
Estevez gives in to a little bit of theatrics at the end that should have been avoided, but it's not enough to hurt the overall product and leaves "The Public" a film well worth checking out.
"Mia and the White Lion"; 3 stars: Family-friendly nature films used to be plentiful, but that type of movie has gone on the cinema endangered species list. That's why it is such a treat when not only a representative of the genre is spotted, but it is so strong that it brings honor to the format. The rare sighting is "Mia and the White Lion," a production that not only deeply embraces nature elements but also manages to be a moving story about family, trust, love and conservation.
"Mia and the White Lion" has a very political agenda. That's not a problem when that element can be included in such a way without sliding into the disruptive nature of preaching. The film's vivid portrayal of the practice of lions (and other animals) being raised in captivity for the sole purpose of being the target for a pampered tourists who wants to claim big game through a controlled kill is painfully powerful.
ALSO NEW ON DVD AND BLU-RAY JULY 2
"The Best of Enemies": Two people with very different views finally begin to find common ground. Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell star.
"Escape Plan: The Extractors": Security expert Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is hired to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Hong Kong tech mogul from a Latvian prison.
"Okko's Inn": Animated tale of a young girl who discovers there are spirits living near her grandmother's inn that only she can see.