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Ghost Canyon

'Reservation Road & Return to Paradise'
(Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: In 'Reservation Road,' a powerful human story of anger, revenge and great courage comes forth and takes you on an intense journey that follows two fathers as their families and lives converge after the events of one fateful night.

In 'Return To Paradise,' Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix), Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) and Tony (David Conrad) are three friends vacationing in Malaysia. Sheriff and Tony eventually leave to pursue careers in New York, but Lewis stays behind to work with orangutans.

Two years later, Sheriff and Tony learn that, because of their past actions, Lewis has been arrested for drug possession. With Lewis facing a death sentence, the friends are left with a difficult decision: return to Malaysia and split Lewis' sentence, or let him die.

Blu ray Verdict: Simply put, 'Reservation Road' (2007) is an astounding, impeccably crafted drama. The story is sad and very serious, but this is one of the most perfect examples of the art of simple dramatic film-making that exists.

This is a story of regular people (regular, middle class white people, that is) who experience a personal tragedy. How do they each handle the tragedy? What do they become in its wake?

This is the role of a lifetime for Mark Ruffalo, and he shows us what dramatic acting is at its finest. The rest of the cast is superb, too - from the other leads to the bit players.

Even the kid actors are incredibly good here. Joaquin Phoenix also gives a performance of a lifetime, Jennifer Connelly is brilliantly superb, and Elle Fanning is haunting.

Every actor, down to the minor parts, does a fantastic job which lets you know the director made this possible.

The direction is also perfect and unobtrusive. This movie is directed so flawlessly that the viewer never notices a shot. It is just so perfect that there is only this on-screen reality; no presence whatever of a camera or even of a movie.

Again, it was directing such as this that obviously gave the actors what they needed to fully realize their characters.

In 'Return To Paradise' (1998), we come across a film with a poignant tale about moral decisions and the value of a single life - testing the ethic fiber of two men.

This movie makes you pause and ask yourself if you would make the right decision and if you would be strong enough to make such a sacrifice.

The movie doesn't immediately assume that all people are good and morally sound, would give up themselves for the good of another.

It introduces the character Sheriff (captivatingly portrayed by Vince Vaughn), a man who doesn't immediately jump at the chance to save a friend. The Sheriff must overcome himself, his own personal flaws to make a decision to give up years of his own life to save another.

The man with his head literally on the chopping block, Lewis, is played by Joaquin Phoenix a brilliant actor who finally had the chance to show his amazing talent back in 1998. These are both Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) and enhanced for 16x9 TVs.