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Ramen Heads (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 14, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a ramen enthusiast or an adventurous foodie, “Ramen Heads” is a documentary worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Netgen. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: Ramen Heads

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 93 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, Japanese 2.0 Stereo with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2018


Directed by Koki Shigeno

Produced by Arata Oshima

Co-Producer: Yusuke Kamada


Starring:

Osamu Tomita

Shota Iida

Kumiko Ishida

Katsuya Kobayashi

Yuki Ohnishi

Tom Takahashi


Ramen Heads follows Osamu Tomita, Japan’s reigning king of ramen, as he reveals every single step of his obsessive approach to creating the perfect bowl of noodles. He is relentless in his search for the highest-quality ingredients, as are his competitors. This delicious documentary also profiles five other notable ramen shops, each with its own philosophy and flavor, which exemplify different aspects of the ramen world. Ramen Heads provides a bite-size history of ramen’s historical roots, while giving an in-depth look at the contemporary culture surrounding this unique and beguiling dish.


In Japan, there is a wonderful ramen shop where people wait hours just to eat at.

That ramen shop is Tomita Ramen located in Matsudo, Chiba and the highest rated ramen shop on the Ramen Database.  It has attracted ramen enthusiasts from all over the world and is the subject of Koki Shigeno’s documentary, “Ramen Heads”.

And “Ramen Heads” is now available on DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.

A documentary that spotlights on Osamu Tomita, Japan’s reigning king of ramen, “Ramen Heads” gives insight of the dedication and the approach that Tomita puts into his restaurant and its ingredients.

For the most part, he has a daily ritual and when he’s not feel right or when he is unable to make it to the restaurant to check on the ingredients, then his restaurant doesn’t open.

Clearly, Tomita, who has won awards. for his ramen shows no signs that he is growing wary, if anything, he is always experimenting and trying to achieve perfection.

A documentary which took 15 months for filmmaker Koki Shigeno to shoot and also research various ramen chefs, you also get to see the different approaches other ramen chefs in Japan have towards ramen.  What drives them?  What flavors they want to achieve?  And also how they would like their patrons to eat ramen, including slurping!

Koki Shigeno’s “Ramen Heads” is no doubt a ramen film which the hardcore ramen fan will love and is available on DVD from Kino Lorber.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Ramen Heads” is a documentary shot with a digital camera.  There are some moments of jerkiness, but some shots even through tight spaces were well done.

The Japanese dialogue in stereo is clear, while English subtitles (with a black border, so it doesn’t get lost in white backgrounds) are easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ramen Heads” comes with a trailer.


When it comes to documentaries covering different areas of Japanese cuisine, I’m always interested because I am a person who will travel to Japan in order to try many restaurants, sample the dish and I eventually write about it on my blog.

From a coffee tour throughout Japan, trying cuisine of the local area I visited, trying different sushi restaurants and also trying the best ramen.

And for those who want to try the best, there is no doubt that filmmaker Koki Shigeno was looking to spotlight the top ramen chef in Japan.

It’s important to emphasize that “Ramen Heads” takes the approach of focusing primarily on the ramen champ, Osamu Tomita.  As David Gelb did for his film, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and focusing on the greatest sushi chef, Jiro Ono.

While I wished for it to cover a plethora of ramen chefs and the history of some of these restaurants, I’m still satisfied with the documentary.  Tomita is a fascinating ramen chef as he has no qualms sharing with people what he puts into his broth, how long he lets them age and the mixtures involved and also going into the four different flours to make his ramen noodles

Some may feel he is revealing too much but he is constantly evolving and making himself and the food he serves better and better.  There is no true drama or no antagonist featured who is trying to challenge Tomita’s restaurant.  This is not that type of documentary.

The documentary briefly touches upon Kazuo “The God of Ramen” Yamagishi (the long time and late chef of Taishoken in Minami-Ikebukuro), a chef known for creating tsukemen, who Tomita learned from.  In Japan, there was drama involving who would be the successor to Yamagishi’s Taishoken restaurants before he passed and because many chefs, like Tomita, who learned from him, the Taishoken chefs are not all in harmony post-Yamagishi’s death, so that would be an interesting story for people to see internationally if one is interested in conflict.

But this is straight out a documentary about one man’s dedication in making the best ramen/tsukemen.

Tomita opened his restaurant in 2006 and his restaurant has been raved to have the best tsukemen in the world (a major nod to the late Yamagishi, but also, you can’t help but be proud of what Tomita accomplished.

You get small coverage of other ramen chefs and their approach which was good.

But personally, as a ramen fan who travels far to try the best ramen, I was fascinated by this film to learn about Tomita and his process and also his perspective towards making ramen and tsukemen.  More than likely, I will travel to Matsudo to try it for myself, after watching this film.

People may feel a bit standoffish by learning about the lines that people wait to get into Tomita’s restaurant but whether it’s 1-3 hours (1 hour is my longest waiting in line for a ramen restaurant, which pales in comparison of me waiting more than six hours for a sushi restaurant in Japan), in Japan, if you want to try the best, waiting in line at a restaurant in Japan is common.

Overall, if you are a ramen enthusiast, “Ramen Heads” is a documentary worth checking out!

 

 

UFO (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 26, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

 “UFO” is a film I recommend to those who have asked themselves the question “Are we alone in the universe?” but also have an interested in science and mathematics.  Otherwise, if that doesn’t interest you, then “UFO” may not be for you.

Images courtesy of © 2018 Cincy Dawn LLC. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: UFO

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2018

DURATION: 88 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Frenc, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Some Drug Material and Language)

RELEASE DATE: September 4, 2018


Directed by Ryan Eslinger

Written by Ryan Eslinger

Executive Producer: Siegfried Harris, Dan Kaplow

Produced by Evan Hayes, Tom Rice, Jeffrey Sharp

Music by West Dylan Thordson

Cinematography: Ryan Samul

Edited by Brendan Walsh

Production Design by Jennifer Klide

Set Decoration by Patrick Jackson


Starring:

Alex Sharp as Derek Echevaro

Ella Purnell as Natalie

Benjamin Beatty as Lee

David Strathairn as Franklin Ahls

Gillian Anderson as Dr. Hendricks


Derek (Alex Sharp), a brilliant college student haunted by a childhood UFO sighting, believes that the mysterious sightings reported at multiple airports across the United States are UFOs. With the help of his girlfriend, Natalie (Ella Purnell), and his advanced mathematics professor, Dr. Hendricks (Gillian Anderson, TV’s “The X-Files”), Derek races to unravel the mystery with FBI Special Agent Franklin Ahls (David Strathairn) on his heels.


Back in 1974, as the US was upgrading the Arecibo station in Puerto Rico, the largest radio telescope, the Arecibo radio telescope detected the first pulsar in a binary system

Frank Drake and Carl Sagan would use the Arecibo to send a 3 Terawatt narrowband transmission of a “human template” in the direction of the M13 globular cluster.

The journey of the message sent back in 1974 would take 22,800 light years to reach the M13 (Messier 13) globular cluster and so, we were to wait and see if they would respond to their message or perhaps they have?

How would we communicate with aliens…perhaps mathematics is the one way to achieve communication with another lifeform beyond our solar system.

“UFO” is a film directed and written by Ryan Eslinger, director of”Daniel and Abraham”, “Madness and Genius” and “When a Man Falls”.  The film stars Alex Harp (“How to Talk to Girls at Parties”, “To the Bone”), Ella Purnell (“Kick-Ass 2”, “Wildlike”, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”), David Strathairn (“Good night, and good luck”, “Sneakers”, “Eight Men Out”), Benjamin Beatty and Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files”, “The Fall”, “The Last King of Scotland”).

The film begins with people at an airport who see a UFO flying above.  News reports show that UFO’s have appeared above multiple airports around the US and the government is quick to react and dispel that it was a UFO.

We are introduced to Derek (portrayed by Alex Sharp), an intelligent college student who is great at math but because he sees things in a different perspective and often clashes with his advanced mathematics professor, Dr. Hendricks (portrayed by Gillian Anderson).

Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Frankling Ahls (portrayed by David Strathairn) is making sure that witnesses don’t speak about what they saw, that the airport spokespeople give whatever information that the FBI wants them to say but for Derek, when he looks into the math information given out, looks into signals, he realizes that people are lying and he wants to get to the bottom of it.

He also starts to wonder if these sightings are related to the “Fine-Structure Constant”, while FBI Special Agent Ahls also wonders the same but as the FBI put tabs out on Derek, Derek becomes obsessed with trying to figure out what the government is hiding but it starts to put friction between him, his girlfriend Natalie (portrayed by Ella Purnell) and his roommate Lee (portrayed by Benjamin Beatty).

But why is Derek so obsessed?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“UFO” is presented in 2:39:1 anamorphic widescreen and presented in English, French 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Picture quality and audio quality is as good as one can expect on DVD.  The soundtrack is primarily dialogue driven but there are moments where ambiance utilizes the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“UFO” comes with no special features.


When it comes to UFO films, and I’m not talking alien invasion films but intelligent films that relate to human and alien contact such as the 1997 Robert Zemeckis film “Contact” and even Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

One who believe in life on other planets will no doubt be intrigued with these kind of films, as they go into how humanity are able to decode messages and communicate with alien life forms.

“UFO” follows a brilliant mathematics student who is very smart but yet often clashes with his advanced mathematics professor, who is played by “The X-Files” actress, Gillian Anderson.

Ryan Eslinger’s “UFO” is rather interesting because it delves into the what if the ways to communicate with the aliens is through advanced mathematical situations.

And the Arecibo message sent to another galaxy, what if there were ways of communication sent to Earth but mathematically, no one was able to solve it…until now!  The character of Derek becomes obsessed with solving things.  It’s how his mind works!  But because of Derek’s drive to solve these mathematical problems, what happens when it starts to affect him, his college education, his relationship with his girlfriend and more.

While the thought of a film that correlates to the Arecibo message is rather fascinating, because of that, people who are opened to science, math and the possibility of other life forms, may enjoy this film as opposed to people who don’t care about those type of things.

The message that was sent out to another galaxy included representations of the fundamental chemicals of life, the formula for DNA, a diagram of our solar system and simplepictures of a human being and the Arecibo telescope.

So, the message we sent in hopes of extra-terrestrial life forms that was sent is based on science, logic and mathematics and this was back in 1974.

Since then, we have sent a longer message back in 2001 that introduces concepts such as atoms, planets and DNA. But for me, I’m intrigued by the science of the film as it really does focus on one’s ability to use mathematics to solve problems that other people weren’t able to do.

The character Derek may not be the most sociable person (neither was Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg), nor was he a teacher’s favorite student but his mind and how he applies mathematics in the film and how he is guided by his professor, was fascinating for me, as I do have interest in those type of things.

But I know already my wife would not watch this type of film, nor many of my friends as the storyline of science fiction and mathematics may bore them.

So, the film is quite subjective and it may not be for everyone.

Overall, “UFO” is a film I recommend to those who have asked themselves the question “Are we alone in the universe?” but also have an interested in science and mathematics.  Otherwise, if that doesn’t interest you, then “UFO” may not be for you.

 

Hitler’s Hollywood (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 7, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you have an interest in the history of cinema, especially during Nazi Germany cinema and how cinema was used as a tool for propaganda and distorting facts, I definitely recommend Rudiger Suchsland’s “Hitler’s Hollywood”.

Images courtesy of © LOOKS Filmproduktionen. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: Hitler’s Hollywood

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 105 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, English and German 5.1 Surround with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: July 10, 2018


Written and Directed by Rudiger Suchsland

Produced by Gunnar Dedio, Martina Haubrich

Edited by Ursula Purrer


Starring:

Udo Kier (Narrator)


Hitler’s Hollywood, narrated by Udo Kier, asks what the Nazi cinema of the Third Reich reveals about its period and its people. About 1000 feature films were made in Germany in the years between 1933-1945: musicals, melodramas, romances, costume dramas and war films. Only a few were overtly Nazi propaganda films. But by the same token, even fewer of them can be considered harmless entertainment. How did the open lies and hidden truths in these films affect the future of German cinema? Director Rüdiger Suchsland (From Caligari to Hitler) presents these films and the people behind them. It explains how propaganda works: how stereotypes of the “enemy” and values of love and hate managed to be planted into viewers’ heads through the screen.


Kino Lorber releases another DVD in 2018 which takes a look at the films made in Nazi Germany.

The first was the documentary “Forbidden Films” by Felix Moeller, the filmmaker looks into the the cinematic debates if films listed among the 40 that have restrictions, should be shown to the public.  From film historians/critics, to adults and student s who give their thoughts of watching these films today and discuss whether or not the restrictions should stay.

“Hitler’s Hollywood”, a film written and directed by Rudiger Suchsland and narrated by Udo Kier, asks what the Nazi cinema of the Third Reich reveals about its period and its people.

Whereas “Forbidden Films” looked at how Nazi Germany used films a propaganda, “Hitler’s Hollywood” explores how these films were considered harmless entertainment, the people behind the films, how propaganda works and how stereotypes of the “enemy” and values of love and hate managed to be planted into viewers’ heads through cinema.

During 1933 and 1945, Germany had one of the largest number of movie viewers even surpassing the viewers of major Hollywood blockbuster films.   Joseph Goebbels, a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany knew that by utilizing cinema, they were able to twist reality.

Goebbels used his position to advocate harsher discrimination and the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust. And he used cinema as a way to make German people believe that the Jews, the British, the allied forces were the ones who were the aggressors hurting their people.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important for people to remember that “Hitler’s Hollywood” is a documentary that tries to showcase a lot of footage from a variety of film sources.

Presented in 1:78:1 color and film portions are standard format, the documentary looks good for the most part.

The English and German audio is presented in 5.1 surround and narration and film audio is clear and understandable and the film’s subtitles are also easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Forbidden Films” comes with a trailer and an alternate German voiceover soundtrack.


Having watched Kino Lorber’s DVD release of “Forbidden Films”, a documentary by Felix Moeller, numerous times.  I felt that Kino Lorber’s “Hitler’s Hollywood” directed by Rudger Suchsland, is a documentary that makes a good accompaniment for viewing and understanding Nazi cinema.

Because it showcases more footage from films discussed in “Forbidden Films” but also filmmaker Rudger Suchsland goes into detail of showcasing a variety of Nazi cinema of the Third Reich, may it be musicals, melodramas, romances, costume dramas and war films.

While many of the films featured in “Hitler’s Hollywood” may seem outdated, the films are evident in its propaganda nature of showing people willing to die for their country and how Nazi Germany was united and they were fighting for a united cause.

You can see how the millions of Germans watching this film felt invigorated by these films.  Feeling united as protagonists died for their country and believed each speech and each time one would talk about dying for their fatherland.

And there are many excerpts of Nazi films featured in the documentary. I’ll touch upon a few that were featured.

From watching this documentary, we see how Nazi Germany cinema portrayed life full of laughter and love and how the enemy and what the Third Reich was trying to take away their happiness.

The documentary goes into various actors and filmmakers.  For example, G.W. Pabst, best known for directing the Louise Brooks silent films “Pandora’s Box” (1929) and “Diary of a Lost Girl” (1929), but he also directed films starring Greta Garbo and Leni Riefenstahl.  But would directed “Westfront 1918” (1930), “The Threepenny Opera” (1931) and “Kameradschaft” (1931).  He created two films in Germany during World War II.

Also, exploring the careers of Gustaf Grundgens ( who starred in Fritz Lang’s 1931 film, “M”) and starred in many Nazi films, as well as actress Kristina Söderbaum.  Beloved for her roles in Nazi cinema and despised by many after World War II.

The documentary goes into the first propaganda film “Hitlerjunge Quex”, no doubt a propaganda film to recruit young boys to fight for their country. No doubt this film, more than likely attracted young boys and girls to fight for the Nazi Party.  Going off on a tangent here, but it’s important to note that as Nazi German soldiers buried around two million mines around the Danish Coast during their occupation and because of the danger these mines were to the public, the Danish Army used German POWs (a decision by the British military who controlled the area and a violation of the Geneva Convention), the majority of the POWs who were boys to defuse and clear as many mines.

Hated because they are German, there was no sympathy towards these boys because they were German soldiers. And nearly half of the German POWs were killed or injured with permanent or serious disabilities during the operation.  A 2015 Danish and German film titled “Land of Mine” explored this. But these boys were probably drawn in to fight for their fatherland, from what they were inspired by seeing in Nazi propaganda films such as “Hitlerjunge Quex”, about a boy who is inspired by other youngsters training to become future soldiers for Nazi Germany.

The documentary goes on how women were portrayed as strong-willed but also how many films were targeted towards women, as the men left to fight for their country, while women were supportive of their husbands and maintained the family at home..

Also, films that aimed at the elimination of the disabled.

Films such as “Ich klage an” (I accuse) is disturbing and is still relatable today as it deals with doctor assisting in a patient’s suicide. Millions of people watched the film to support the Reich’s T4 program, not many people were aware that invalids and incurable people to society were being murdered without consent. And as part of the Nazi Germany policy of racial hygiene, it would lead to genocide.

But probably the most disturbing are films such as “Der ewige Jude” which talked about how rats bring destruction and how the film tried to link Jews as dangerous to Germans and how under Hitler, they will stop Jewish blood training German blood and then showing Hitler’s speech of eliminating what he called the Jewish threat.

The film also goes into anti-Semitic films made against the Jewish people.

The documentary would also touch upon  “Jud Süß” directed by Veit Harlan is based on a corrupt court jew from the 18th century.  In the film, the Jewish character is corrupted, bringing Jewish to German grounds and rapes women. No doubt a film that over generalizes one corrupt Jewish man and that all Jewish people are like him.

The thing is, you can have bad people anywhere, but the justification of one bad person generalizing an entire race of being equally corrupted is wrong. But yet, while those who are educated and informed will know the film is propaganda, there are many people who refuse to educate themselves and took the cinema as 100% historically factual.

It was a film that soldiers had to watch but it was also a film to justify genocide.  And the fact that filmmaker, Veit Harlan never apologized for the making of the film and argued that Nazi’s controlled his work, that he shouldn’t be held personally responsible for its content.

While Harlan was charged for participating in the anti-Semitic movement and aiding the Nazis and exonerated, he and his wife, actress Kristina Söderbaum, were still allowed to work after World War II.

Going off on a second tangent, but it is interesting to know that despite the disgusting anti-Semitic film which Harlan created, his niece, Christiane, would marry Jewish filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick.

Christiane Kubrick talked about her uncle in an interview with “The Guardian”.

“Where my uncle was an enormous fool, as many talented people are, was that he mistook his gift for intelligence,.  He was a great big famous film person. He looked better and talked better and had enormous charm. So he thought he was also far more intelligent than Mr Goebbels. Goebbels was 10,000 times smarter than my uncle.” She pauses. “Film people, actors, are puppets. We are silly. We are silly folk.”

Christiane says her uncle’s story reinforced for Stanley and her their great principle in life: always be suspicious of people who have, or crave, power. “All Stanley’s life he said, ‘Never, ever go near power. Don’t become friends with anyone who has real power. It’s dangerous”.

The final film featured is “Kolberg”, one of the last films of the Third Reich and was created to bolster the will of the German population to resist the Allied Forces.  The film was about how the fortress town of Kolberg fought against French troops during the Napoleonic Wars.  How the people fought and held out and how the French abandoned the siege of the town.

The film ends with text discussing on what happened to the actors/actresses and filmmakers after they worked in Nazi cinema.

If anything, Kino Lorber has released two documentaries in 2018 on Nazi Germany cinema that I found as informative and worth watching.  Felix Moeller’s documentary “Forbidden Films” tackles Nazi propaganda films and whether or not the public should have access to these films today (as many are still banned), while “Hitler’s Hollywood” goes into all types of cinema being released in Nazi Germany and what happened those who directed or starred in those films and showing how propaganda worked and how stereotypes of the “enemy” and values of love and hate were managed to be planted into viewers heads.

Both documentaries provide different information, so both are required viewing.

Overall, if you have an interest in the history of cinema, especially during Nazi Germany cinema and how cinema was used as a tool for propaganda and distorting facts, I definitely recommend Rudiger Suchsland’s “Hitler’s Hollywood”.

 

 

Le Mariage De Chiffon (as past of the Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For those wanting to see a lighthearted, fun and entertaining film during the time when Nazi Germay occupied France, one will surely be entertained by Claude Autant-Lara’s 1942 film “Le Mariage De Chiffon” which is included in the Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France”.  But for those who find this film to be too fun and sweet considering the turmoil and tragedies happening in France at the time, may best want to look elsewhere.

Image courtesy of © 1942 Gaumont. © 2018 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Le Mariage De Chiffon (as past of the Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France)

YEAR OF FILM: 1942

DURATION: 103 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, 1:37:1 Aspect Ratio, Monaural, French with English subtitles

COMPANY: Janus Films/Gaumont/The Criterion Collection

RELEASED: January 23, 2018


Based on the Novel by Gyp

Directed by Claude Autant-Lara

Adaptation by Jean Aurenche, Maurice Blondeau

Dialogue by Maurice Blondeau

Produced by Pierre Guerlais

Music by Roger Desormiere

Cinematography by Philippe Agostini, Jean Isnard

Edited by Raymond Lamy

Production Design by Jacques Krauss

Costume Design by Claude Autant-Lara


Starring:

Odette Joyeu as Corysande dite Chiffon

Andre Luguet as Le duc d’Aubieres

Jacques Dumesnil as Max de Bray

Pierre Larque as Jean

Suzanne Dantes as La Comtesse de Bray

Louis Seigner as Philippe de Bray

Georges Vitray as Van Doren

Robert Le Vigan as Maitre Blondin


This delightful comedy brought Claude Autant-Lara his first popular success as a director. Chiffon (Odette Joyeux) is being pushed by her mother to wed a dashing military officer (André Luguet) but finds herself drawn to her stepfather’s penniless brother (Jacques Dumesnil). For LE MARIAGE DE CHIFFON, Autant-Lara convened the creative team including screenwriter Jean Aurenche, cinematographer Philippe Agostini, and the incomparable Joyeux that would reunite for each of his subsequent three features, initiating a remarkable run of sharp love stories.


Quite often we will see in entertainment, people who had created or produced quality work throughout their productive years and then as they grown older, they become a different person altogether.

May it be through acts of stupidity, change of ideology, decline of mental health, whatever it may be, sometimes it can diminish any appreciation one can have towards works in their oeuvre.

French filmmaker Claude Autant-Lara is one of those men.

A man who produced romantic comedies during the Nazi occupation of France. Films that were entertaining, collaboration as an art director and costume designer for Jean Renoir,  especially in “Nana” which he also starred in.

But unfortunately, towards the end of Autant-Lara’s life, when he was elected to the European Parliament, he became a man known for hatred in 1989.  Expressing concerns about American cultural threat and  even going so far in an interview calling the Nazi gas chambers as “string of lies”.

The scandal would lead to his resignation and memories of Claude Autant-Lara unfortunately is a man who incited racial hatred.

What changed Claude Autant-Lara?  It’s hard to say, considering during the 1940’s, through the occupation of France, he created entertaining love stories.  What can make a man who created cinema of love become a man who made remarks of hatred?  With that being said, it should be no surprise as we have seen a lot of things in America, with entertainers that unfortunately have followed a similar path.

And this is the focus in the “Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France” which includes four films:  “Le Mariage De Chiffon”, “Lettres D Amour”, “Douce” and “Sylvie et Le Fantome”.

In my reviews for this Criterion Collection DVD set release (Note: Eclipse Series are DVD release only, no special remastering/restoring, no special features included), I will focus on cinema.

The first film featured in the DVD set is “Le Mariage De Chiffon” which begins with Lt. Commander Aubieres (portrayed by Andre Luguet) who is stationed back in a place where he worked long ago.

While leaving the station, he sees a young woman hopping around in the rainy night with one shoe.  She is looking for her other shoe but with no light, she can barely see a thing.  Aubieres offers to help and eventually finds her shoe, but instead of returning it to her, it gives the older military soldier a chance to carry the young woman towards her home.  While thankful, the young woman rushes off without giving her name, in fear that she may upset her mother.

As for Aubieres, he still has the young woman’s missing shoe.

We learn that the young woman’s name is Corysande, but called by her nickname “Chiffon”.

Chiffon lives with her mother, a fellow widower, La cometesse de Bray (portrayed by Suzanne Dantes) who is more interested in looking good to society and showcasing her wealth.  Her mother is always upset for Chiffon for not listening to her but also, feels her decisions of not being a proper lady will affect her chance of attracting a man.

Chiffon also lives with her stepfather, Philippe de Bray (portrayed by Louis Seigner), a meek man who does whatever his wife says, and cares about playin g pool and the curve of his moustache.  But he does care for Chiffon and tries to help her when he can.

Also, living in the home is Philippe’s brother Max de Bray (portrayed by Jacques Dumesnil), a man who has literally spent his money trying to build a flying aircraft (airplane) but is now penniless.  But while he looks wealthy and has an affair with a wealthy woman, he hopes to make his dreams of making a flying aircraft come true.

What complicates matters is Chiffon is in love with her “uncle”.  While not her true uncle, but an uncle by marriage, she wants him to look at her as a young woman not girl.

Meanwhile, Max is looking forward to meeting an old friend in the military, who happen to be the Lt. Commander Aubieres (who also happens to be smitten with Chiffon).

When the government comes to take away Max de Brays inventions and belongings, since he is delinquent in past bills, Chiffon learns that she can save him if she gets married and uses the dowry.  But will she have to marry the Lt. Commander in order to help the man she really loves?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Le Mariage De Chiffon” is presented in black and white (1:37:1 Aspect Ratio). Considering the film is over 85-years-old, picture quality is actually very good on DVD.  No major film damage but there are some parts where you can see slight blurring but nothing too detrimental.

Grain is present and for the most part, most people should be pleased with the overall picture quality for a DVD release.

The film is presented in French monaural with English subtitles. Dialogue and music is clear

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Eclipse Series releases do not come with special features but included is a three-page essay about the film and Claude Autant-Lara by Nicholas Elliott, a writer and translator, and the New York correspondent for “Cahiers du cinema” and a contributing editor for film for “BOMB” magazine.


The first film featured in Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France is “Les Mariage de Chiffon), an entertaining romantic drama, one may call it a romantic comedy, thanks to its carefree character Chiffon, played by French actress Odette Joyeux.

While she studied dance at the Paris Opera Ballet before becoming an actress, she was able to take on the role of a bubbly young woman, in love with a man who is like her uncle, while an older Lt. Commander is smitten by her.

Her character was a tad bit independent, no doubt innocent thus leading to a tad bit of naivety, Odette Joyeux was 28 when this movie was released, but she no doubt did a wonderful job of playing this young girl wanting to know and explore the world, with men and wanting to be loved and to love.

But while she has had notable films in her career, Odette Joeux will probably be remembered as an author of some plays and essays on dance.  Writing two novels which were aimed to inspire dance and was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion D’honneur in 1989 and promoted to Officer in 1998.  She was also made an officer of the Ordre national du Merite in 1994.

So, she was no doubt a shining star and “Le Mariage De Chiffon” is a film that shows an early versatility to her acting career.

“Le Mariage de Chiffon” is also entertaining because of how the supporting characters are around Chiffon.

Her mother La cometesse de Bray is wealthy yet overly-concerned about her daughter, her stepfather Phillippe is a meek man who tries to stay away from his wife and is often playing pool or taking care of his mustache with the help of the butler.

The men in Chiffon’s life are intriguing, Max de Bray played by Jacques Dumesnil, is a builder/inventor and a risk it all type-of man, who believes in the future of aviation and hoping to get a plane off the ground.  Max is also a man having an affair, looks as if he has money but in truth, he’s a man that has spent nearly every penny into his aviation venture.

While the older, much refined and suave Lt. Commander Aubires portrayed by Andre Luguet, who would have a long career between 1910-1970.  Luguet played the character wonderfully, compassionately and despite being much older than actress Odette Joyeux, his screentime was well utilized by filmmaker, Claude Autant-Lara.

As for the film, it was a happy film in which people who hope and dream, and show that it’s possible that dreams can come true.  Probably a much needed film for its time, especially during the Nazi occupation of France (1940-1944), for those that wanted something uplifting.  While others may have looked at this film with disgust, especially the young who fought against Nazi Germany and the many who were of France, that collaborated with the the Nazi Germans and Vichy regime.

I’m not an erudite when it comes to the occupation of France, but I am aware that during and after the occupation was turbulent times in France (I recommend Ronald C. Rosbottom’s “When Paris Went Dark: The city of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944).  Not only were French Forces collaborating with Nazi Germany to capture and apprehend members of the Resistance, who were comprised of mainly young men and women.

The Germans had rules, especially when it came to cinema, the French did not challenge it.  When Nazi Germany were unable to keep tracks on the Resistance or Jews in France, French officials didn’t challenge it, they helped the Germans. Nazi Germany cast a darkness of fear in France, many including the Vichy were too afraid to fight, except young men and women who sacrificed their lives.

One who want cinema that strikes you through the heart with reality of what took place during the occupation of France, may want to also check out Marcel Carne’s 1945 film “Children of Paradise” (Enfants du Paradis), Rene Clement’s 1952 film “Forbidden Games” (Jeux Interdits), Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 film “Army of Shadows” (L’Armee Des Ombres) or Francois Truffaut’s 1980 film “The Last Metro” (Le Dernier Metro).

But for those wanting to see a lighthearted, fun and entertaining film during the time when Nazi Germay occupied France, one will surely be entertained by Claude Autant-Lara’s 1942 film “Le Mariage De Chiffon” which is included in the Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France”.  But for those who find this film to be too fun and sweet considering the turmoil and tragedies happening in France at the time, may best want to look elsewhere.

 

Final Portrait (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 28, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Final Portrait” is an interesting film adaptation of James Lord’s book about the days he spent with Alberto Giacometti, who was commissioned to do a painting of Lord.  While I doubt the film will have as much impact as the book did in the ’60s, Stanley Tucci’s “Final Portrait” does give viewers a visual perspective of Alberto Giacometti’s life, his work, his studio and interactions with those who are close to him.  A good film overall and one worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2018 Final Portrait Commissioning. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Final Portrait

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 90 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, English Audio Description Track, English, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Language, Some Sexual References and Nudity)

AVAILABLE ON: July 31, 2018


Based on the memoir “A Giacometti Portrait” by James Lord

Directed by Stanley Tucci

Written by Stanley Tucci

Produced by Nik Bower, Gail Egan, Ilann Girard

Co-Producer: Elisabetta Boni

Executive Producer: Fred Hogge, Deepak Nayar

Line Producer: Michael S. Constable

Music by Evan Luri

Cinematography by  Danny Cohen

Edited by Camilia Toniolo

Casting by Nina Gold

Production Design by James Merifield

Art Direction by David Hindle

Set Decoration by Sara Wan

Costume Design by Liza Bracey


Starring:

Armie Hammer as James Lord

Clemence Poesy as Caroline

Geoffrey Rush as Alberto Giacometti

Tony Shalhoub as Diego Giacometti

James Faulkner as Pierre Matisse

Sylvie Testud as Annette Arm


Set in 1964, FINAL PORTAIT is the story of the touching and offbeat friendship between American writer and art-lover James Lord and world-renowned artist Alberto Giacometti. Lord’s perspective reveals a unique insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity and sometimes chaos of the artistic process. While on a short trip to Paris, Lord is asked by his friend Giacometti to sit for a portrait. Giacometti promises the process will take only a few days, so Lord agrees – and ends up wondering how much longer it will go on.


James Lord is an American writer best known for his acclaimed biographies of Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso.

Alberto Giacometti is a Swiss sculptor, painter, draftsmen and printmaker and one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century.

Back in 1964, Giacometti painted the “Portrait of James Lord”, a significant painting for the fact that it was a painting that he could not add anything or take away any more.  It is a painting that has been widely exhibited.

So famous that James Lord wrote a book dedicated to the “Portrait of James Lord” titled “A Giacometti Portrait”, published by the Museum of Modern Art in 1965.

Actor Stanley Tucci (“Big Night”, “Spotlight”, “Captain America: The First Avenger”, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) would write and direct the film “Final Portrait” based on the friendship between James Lord and Alberto Giacometti.

The film would star Armie Hammer (“The Scoial Network”, “Call Me By Your Name”, “The Lone Ranger”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”), Clemence Poesy (“In Bruges”, “Last Love”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”), Geoffrey Rush (“The King’s Speech”, “Shakespeare in Love”, “Quills”), Tony Shalhoub (“Galaxy Quest”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Monk”), James Faulkner (“Downton Abbey”, “Game of Thrones”) and Sylvie Testud (“La Vie en Rose”, “Murderous Maids”, “Lourdes”).

The film revolves around writer and art enthusiast James Lord (portrayed by Armie Hammer) taking a short trip to Paris in 1964, when his friend, artist/sculptor Alberto Giacometti (portrayed by Geoffrey Rush) asked him to sit for a portrait.

Giacometti is world renown for his art and his work had no doubt captivated Lord, who travels to Paris on the assumption that it will only take a few days.

When James arrives, he meets Giacometti’s brother Diego (portrayed by Tony Shalhoub), his wife Annette (portrayed by Sylvie Tetsud) and a prostitute and his frequent model named Caroline (portrayed by Clemence Poesy).

James sees how Annette is not thrilled that her husband has an open affair with another woman, so she has companionship with another man.  Meanwhile, James sees how Caroline is a woman who wants Giacometti for his money and car, which Giacometti had no problems with (but yet wouldn’t do the same for his wife).

And each time James Lord would sit to have his portrait painted, Giacometti was in somewhat of a creative slump that has led him to self-doubt.  While a famous painter/sculptor, he didn’t se himself that way, and so he would often lose his train of thought and stop painting.

So, what would supposed to be a few days, would become two weeks and not really happy with is work, he would alter it, when they would paint, he would be interrupted by Caroline and other things that would affect Giacometti from painting James Lord.

But how would Lord find a way to convince the artist that he did a great job and what kind of life will Lord discover about his famous artistic friend?

But also Giacometti’s story that details a painter’s process of painting, reapplying, redoing and an art enthusiast trying to understand Giacometti’s state-of-mind and but also a writer who hopes his dear friend can complete the painting in time before he goes back to America.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Final Portrait” is presented in 2:39:1 anamorphic widescreen and in English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video.

Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels is primarily used for ambiance. But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Final Portrait” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview Excerpts from Cast & Filmmakers – (51:00) Interview with the cast and crew of “Final Portrait”.
  • Behind the Scenes Footage Clips – (10:10) Behind-the-scenes footage of the making of “Final Portrait”.
  • Theatrical Trailer

When James Lord wrote about “A Giacometti Portrait” back in 1965, the book was heralded for its portrayal of how even the most renown, talented artists go through major frustrations in creating artwork.

Lord’s book not only showcased the friendship between both men, the life of Alberto Giacometti through the eyes of Lord, but also behind-the-scenes experiences which the writer observed during his stay in Paris for two weeks.

If anything, his book is no doubt necessary reading for artists who are in a similar position, trying to be creative when you feel you have self doubt.  What you create is quickly destroyed, replaced, redone and whether or not one can be satisfied, Lord realized that his portrait will never be completed unless he did something to help appease Giacometti that what he did was great.

What was brought to the film shows the frustration which Giacometti endured but it had to delve into his more personal life to those close to him.  Lord wrote in his book, “‘Alberto was extremely difficult to live with – his obsessive fussiness, his maniacal attention to detail, his almost pathological preoccupation with spatial relationships” and I feel that actor Geoffrey Rush did a wonderful job in portraying that in the film.

His wife Annette doesn’t receive the same type of love that he gives to prostitute/model Caroline.  And while Giacometti’s artwork is renown, the depiction of how he treated Caroline and his wife, didn’t make me feel much respect towards the man.

He liked Annette for companionship, to take care of him when he was ill and whether or not there was any romance, even in photos with Alberto Giacometti and Annette Arm, they seem distant.  Find photos of him and Caroline and he’s caressing his arm, staring directly at her.  In the film, the audience would see how he would be so inviting to Caroline in front of his wife and see her sad reaction, which was quite sad to see.  But as he had a relationship with Caroline and lavished her with gifts, Annette did the same with another man.  Not sure if by choice or by spite.  But I guess it’s how that relationship worked.  But it’s important to note that Lord’s book is based on the final years of Giacometti’s life.

If there was one relationship that seemed positive, it was Alberto’s relationship with his brother Diego.  Back when they were kids, Alberto made his first sculpture of Diego at the age of 13.  Lord’s portrayal of Diego in the book was positive as a man who did a lot of work including mold’s for Alberto’s sculptures, carving sculptures in stone and more.  And led to his success as a furniture maker after his brother’s death.  Tony Shalhoub plays the role effectively, as a young brother who does all he can to support his brother but at the same time, careful of what to say to Lord, who questions Alberto’s changing moods on whether or not he can finish his portrait.

The depiction of Giacometti’s workplace as a dump, was well-portrayed by the set designer Sara Wan for the film.  Writer Jean Genet described Giacometti’s studio as a “milky swamp, a seething dump, a genuine ditch” and this was back in 1957.

While “Final Portrait” is a good adaptation of James Lord’s book “A Giacometti Portrait”, it’s a film that is primarily driven by conversation.  And while the conversations are not as deep if compared to an Eric Rohmer film, I found myself praising James Lord’s patience because if I was strewn around, waiting for paintings, canceling flights and spending money just to stay in Paris in hopes a renown artist can finish a portrait, that’s a very tough thing to do.

“Final Portrait” is an interesting film adaptation of James Lord’s book about the days he spent with Alberto Giacometti, who was commissioned to do a painting of Lord.  While I doubt the film will have as much impact as the book did in the ’60s, Stanley Tucci’s “Final Portrait” does give viewers a visual perspective of Alberto Giacometti’s life, his work, his studio and interactions with those who are close to him.  A good film overall and one worth checking out!

 

Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Terry Zwigoff’s “Ghost World” is a unique film based on an enjoyable comic book by Daniel Clowes.  I do recommend reading the “Ghost World” graphic novel to know the story between Enid and Rebecca and then I would watch the film and know how the two are quite different.  But the film is entertaining and features solid performances by Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi and it’s a film worth watching!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1959 Argos Films. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872

YEAR OF FILM:  2001

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1:85:1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: UA/MGM/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2017


Based on the Comic Books by Daniel Clowes

Directed by Terry Zwigoff

Written by Daniel Clowes, Terry Zwigoff

Produced by Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russel Smith

Executive Produced: Pippa Cross, Janette Day

Line Producer: Barbara A. Hall

Music by David Kitay

Cinematography by Affonso Beato

Edited by Carol Kravetz Aykanian, Michael R. Miller

Casting by Cassandra Kulukundis

Production Design by Edward T. McAvoy

Art Direction by Alan E. Muraoka

Set Decoration by Lisa Fischer

Costume Design by Mary Zophres


Starring:

Thora Birch as Enid

Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca

Steve Buscemi as Seymour

Brad Renfro as Josh

Illeana Douglas as Roberta Allsworth

Bob Balaban as Enid’s Dad

Stacey Travis as Dana


Terry Zwigoff’s first fiction film, adapted from a cult-classic comic by Daniel Clowes, is an idiosyncratic portrait of adolescent alienation that’s at once bleakly comic and wholly endearing. Set during the malaise-filled months following high-school graduation, Ghost World follows the proud misfit Enid (Thora Birch), who confronts an uncertain future amid the cultural wasteland of consumerist suburbia. As her cynicism becomes too much to bear even for her best friend, Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), Enid finds herself drawn to an unlikely kindred spirit: a sad-sack record collector many years her senior (Steve Buscemi). With its parade of oddball characters, quotable, Oscar-nominated script, and eclectic soundtrack of vintage obscurities, Ghost World is one of the twenty-first century’s most fiercely beloved comedies.


When it comes to alternative comics success, Daniel Clowes has seen his stories such as “Ghost World” (2001) adapted into a film, and “Art School Confidential” (2006).

These stories were among the many stories that were featured in his solo anthology comic book series “Eightball” which was published by Fantagraphic Books.

In each issue, you would have around a half dozen stories in black and white or color.  “Eightball” would run from October 1989 through June 2004 with a total of 23 issues released and it was no doubt the craziest, crudest yet humorous comic books you would find at the comic book store (if you were lucky to find an issue).

But “Ghost World” was a fascinating story that was featured in issues #11-#18  and was a commercial and critical success and became a cult classic.

The story followed the lives of best friends Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer.  These two girls are witty, intellectual, cynical and trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

While the original story featured on the friendship between Enid and Rebecca, the film adaptation incorporated the friendship but focused a little more on Enid Coleslaw and Seymour.

The film adaptation is directed by Terry Zwigoff (“Crumb”, “Bad Santa”, “Art School Confidential”, “Louie Bluie”) and co-written by both Zwigoff and original story creator, Daniel Clowes.

The film stars Thora Birch (“Patriot Games”, “Hocus Pocus”, “Affairs of State”), Scarlett Johansson (“The Avengers” films, “Captain America” films, “Lost in Translation”, “Her”), Steve Buscemi (“Fargo”, “Reservoir Dogs”, “Pulp Fiction”), Brad Renfro (“Sleepers”, “The cure”, “The Client”), Illeana Douglas (“Grace of My Heart”, “Happy, Texas”, “To Die For”), Bob Balaban (“Gosford Park”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Capote”) and Stacey Travis (“Intolerable Cruelty”, “Mystery Men”, “Easy A”).

And the film would receive the Criterion Collection treatment and is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Best friends Enid (portrayed by Thora Birch) and Rebecca (portrayed by Scarlett Johansson) have just graduated from high school.  While Rebecca is planning for her future and is expecting Enid to move out of her house to live in a place with her, Enid still has to pass a remedial art class to get her diploma.

One day, the girls see  a personal ad in which a man named Seymour is trying to get in contact with a woman who recently contacted him.

Enid makes a prank call pretending to be the woman and for him to meet her at a diner, and while the two and their friend Josh (portrayed by Brad Renfro) wait, entering the diner is Seymour (portrayed by Steve Buscemi).

As he waits for the woman, they see him as a dork and make fun of him, but immediately Enid starts to feel sympathy for him and follows him to his home.

When the two arrive, they see that Seymour is selling vintage albums and Enid purchases an old blues album from him.

Not long after, they become friends and she wants to help him find a date, but in the process, as she spends more time with Seymour, her friend Rebecca starts to feel left out.

Will their friendship suffer because of the time Enid is spending with Seymour?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872” is presented in 1:85:1 aspect ratio, English Dolby Digital 5.1 with English SDH subtitles.

It’s important to note that if one wants the best picture and audio quality, they will want to purchase this film on Blu-ray. But the DVD features very good picture quality as I didn’t notice any damages to the film, nor did I see specs or anything terrible.  If anything, the picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD. And an improvement over the older DVD release.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Northlight 2 film scanner from a 35 mm interpositive.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI Film’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for jitter, flicker and small dirt.  The 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered from the 35 mm magnetic track.  Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro tools HD and iZotope RX.”

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary from 2017 featuring co-writer/director Terry Zwigoff, comic creator and film cowriter Daniel Clowes and producer Lianne Halfon.
  • Art as Dialogue – (41:34) Featuring documentary interviews with actors Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Illeana Douglas.
  • Deleted Scenes – (9:31) Deleted scenes from “Ghost World”.
  • Jan Pehechaan Ho” – (5:41) The opening scene is an excerpt from the 1965 Bollywood film “Gumnaam” (The Unknown) featuring a performance of the song “Jaan Pehechaan Ho”.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Ghost World”.

EXTRAS:

“Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872” comes with a 38-page booklet with the essay “Seance in Wowsville” by Howard Hampton, “About the Music” by Terry Zwigoff and a 12-page booklet featuring a “Ghost World” story from “Eightball” issue #13.


As a big fan of the original “Eight Ball” comic book, I grew up reading “Ghost World” during my early college years.

So, when the film was released in theaters, I have to admit that I was stoked about watching a film about two social outcasts who look down on society.  And while parts of the film resembles the original comic book series, I was surprised how different the film was from the comic book series.

Where the comic book focused on Enid and Rebecca and their deteriorating friendship, the friendship between the two young ladies is less prominent in the film.

In fact, the film becomes more of a film of self-discovery for the character of Enid and she spends time with Seymour.  Both are social outcasts, both are lonely and through circumstances, they tend to find their friendship with each other comforting.   Enid gets closer to him by telling he will try to get him a woman, and when she succeeds in doing just that, when he starts to spend more time with the other woman, she starts to feel left out.

She then turns to her friend Rebecca, who she hasn’t talked all that much and needless to say, their friendship has changed.

In the comic book series, there are other character who show up but are not as prominent in the film version.  In the comics, both are attracted to Josh, but instead of messing around with him behind each other’s backs, Josh is more of a person that Enid tries to get jealous by flaunting that she hangs out with an older man.

While I was hoping for a true film adaptation of the comic book series, the film on its own, while incorporating Enid and Rebecca’s character to the film, with a different storyline, makes “Ghost World” still entertaining.

Thora Birch does a marvelous job playing the character of Enid, and Johannson as Rebecca.  But I felt Enid was more on point throughout the film, Rebecca doesn’t have the self doubt, nor does she complain how the guys don’t stare at her, and if anything, she is more of the best friend who wants to grow up.  Enid is like the person who wants things to be just as they are and obviously confused when she has no one there for her.

Steve Buscemi is also fantastic as the social outcast, Seymour.  A man who likes the classics, but obviously, he wants to be with a woman.  His life changes when he meets Enid and whether its for the best or for the worse, if you have watched the film, watch how things eventually play out.

As for this DVD, you get a newer interview with Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Illeana Douglas, deleted scenes and a short feature on the excerpt dance video from the Bollywood film “Gumnaam” (1965).

As for picture and audio quality on DVD, it’s good, but of course you want to get the Blu-ray version if PQ and AQ are important to you.

Overall, Terry Zwigoff’s “Ghost World” is a unique film based on an enjoyable comic book by Daniel Clowes.  I do recommend reading the “Ghost World” graphic novel to know the story between Enid and Rebecca and then I would watch the film and know how the two are quite different.  But the film is entertaining and features solid performances by Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi and it’s a film worth watching!

Recommended!

 

The Leisure Seeker (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Leisure Seeker” is a romantic comedy that takes a look of when happily ever after lasts for over 50-years for a loving couple, what happens when the couple are succumbing to their illnesses, how will this couple want to experience what may be their final enjoyable moment together?  Featuring magnificent performances by Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, filmmaker Paolo Virzi’s “The Leisure Seeker” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Indiana Production. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Leisure Seeker

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 112 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, English Audio Description Track, English, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Some Sexual Material)

AVAILABLE ON: July 10, 2018


Based on the Novel by Michael Zadoorian

Directed by Paolo Virzi

Screenplay by Stephen Amidon, Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo, Paolo Virzi

Produced by Marc Cohen, Fabrizio Donvito, Benedetto Habib

Co-Producer: Elisabetta Boni

Executive Producer: Cobi Benatoff, David Grumbach, Dov Mamann, Alessandro Mascheroni, Daniel Campos Pavoncelli, Mathieu Robinet, Gilles Sousa, Bryan Thomas

Music by Carlo Virzi

Cinematography by Luca Bigazzi

Edited by Jacopo Quadri

Casting by Tara Feldstein, Ellen Jacoby, Chase Paris

Production Design by Eve Stewart

Art Direction by Justin O’Neal Miller

Set Decoration by Eve Cauley

Art Direction by Tom Weaving

Costume Design by Massimo Cantini Parrini


Starring:

Helen Mirren as Ella Spencer

Donald Sutherland as John Spencer

Christian McKay as Will Spencer

Janel Moloney as Jane Spencer

Dana Ivey as Lillian


The Leisure Seeker stars Academy Award-winner® Helen Mirren and two-time Golden Globe-winner® Donald Sutherland as a runaway couple going on an unforgettable journey in the faithful old RV they call The Leisure Seeker, travelling from Boston to The Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West. They recapture their passion for life and their love for each other on a road trip that provides revelation and surprise right up to the very end.


From Italian filmmaker Paolo Virzi (“The First Beautiful Thing”, “Tutta La Vita Davanti”, “Like Crazy”) comes his first English feature-film “The Leisure Seeker”.

Based on the 2009 comedy/romance novel by Michael Zadoorian, the film received a film adaptation written by Stephen Amidon, Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo and Virzi.

“The Leisure Seeker” would star Helen Mirren (“Red”, “The Queen”, “Hitchcock”, “Gosford Park”), Donald Sutherland (“The Hunger Games” films, “Pride & Prejudice”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”), Christian McKay (“Me and Orson Welles”, “Rush”, “Florence Foster Jenkins”) and Janel Moloney (“The West Wing”, “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”).

And now the film will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The film revolves around Ella Spencer (portrayed by Helen Mirren) and her husband John (portrayed by Donald Sutherland) who have been together for more than 50-years.  As John is suffering from an illness (possibly Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia), the two decide to go on a road trip on the family Leisure Seeker (a vintage RV) to the chagrin of their children Will (portrayed by Christian McKay) and Janel (portrayed by Jane Spencer).

The kids don’t understand why their parents have left home, knowing their father is sick.

But for Ella, she wants to spend time with John and go on a trip from Boston to the Hemingway House in the Florida Keys, but can they still enjoy their trip despite John’s illness and what will Ella discover while on this road trip from John?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Leisure Seeker” is presented in 2:39:1 anamorphic widescreen and in English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video.

Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels is primarily used for ambiance. But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good. I did wish this film was released on Blu-ray.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • In Conversation with Helen Mirren & Donald Sutherland – (26:15) Moderated by Jenelle Riley, a Q&A with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland.
  • The Making of the Leisure Seeker – (11:14) Director Paolo Virzi, actresses Helen Mirren and Janel Moloney and actors Donald Sutherland, Christian McKay talk about the behind-the-scenes of making “The Leisure Seeker”.
  • Theatrical Trailer

Having watched the “The Leisure Seeker”, I know it’s a film that some people will either enjoy or hate it as it takes a look at a loving couple for over 50-years, John is losing his memory due to an illness (possibly Alzheimer’s or Dementia) and the other, his loving wife Ella, who is having difficulty dealing with the fact that her one true love is no longer going to be the same and probably will not know who she is any longer.

The film hints that Ella is not all that well either as she is constantly throwing up and is possibly sick.

The two go on a vacation together, which ultimately will be their final trip together.

The ending has numerous people debating whether or not what happened at the end was right or wrong, but I do know this, having grandparents, one side featuring my grandfather not wanting to live and wanting to be my grandmother’s side.  While the children and grandchildren were happy to have a grandfather, he was no longer the same man, broken without his lifetime partner and he was more at peace when he passed away.  Knowing he wanted to be closer to my grandmother.

I also have the other side of grandparents, one succumbing to Alzheimer’s Disease and seeing how deadly and frustrating the disease would take over my grandfather, to the point that this knowledgeable man, a person who taught me so much in my life, was reduced to a memory of a child.  It was one of the most painful things I had to witness and to see it get worse as the years past by was terrible.

So, watching “The Leisure Seeker”, this is a loving couple who do not want to be separated.  They leave the home, they leave the kids and go on a final trip as a couple.  The kids want to know where they are going, but Ella refuses to say anything.

She knows that she is very ill and she knows that her husband’s mind will be gone.  How will things go for their final trip together?

While I enjoyed the film and the magnificent performances by Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, of course, I did question Sutherland’s character John Spencer of driving his vehicle as his illness was getting worse and knowing my grandfather having done that prior to his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, running his car through the wall of a business.

I can see why certain viewers were upset that Ella allowed her husband to drive in his condition, but of course, the film is not about a man who has Alzheimer’s and runs people over, the storyline is about a couple living their last moments together.

And as for the ending, I have read many people upset with how things ended as well.  I wasn’t, because I lived and seen family who have succumbed to cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease and I couldn’t help but think that Ella and John made it known to each other that they will be together at all times and that they should never be apart.  So, I understood where the ending of this film was going.

Director Paolo Virzi did a wonderful job for his first English-speaking film and I do hope to see more films released stateside in the near future.

Overall, “The Leisure Seeker” is a romantic comedy that takes a look of when happily ever after lasts for over 50-years for a loving couple, what happens when the couple are succumbing to their illnesses, how will this couple want to experience what may be their final enjoyable moment together?  Featuring magnificent performances by Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, filmmaker Paolo Virzi’s “The Leisure Seeker” is recommended!

 

Finding Your Feet (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 12, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The film is straightforward and rather formulaic.  It’s not a film with major twists or anything that will surprise you.  While predictable, “Finding Your Feet” is a feel good story that will no doubt resonate with those who are in a similar situation as the characters but also for audiences looking for a film that is simple, light and entertaining.


DVD TITLE: Finding Your Feet

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 112 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, 2:39:1 aspect ratio, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2018


Directed by Richard Loncraine

Written by Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft

Produced by Andrew Berg, Nick Moorcraft, John Sachs, James Spring, Charlotte Walls

Executive Producer: Graham Begg, Bob Benton, Brian Berg, Lynne Berg, Andrew Boswell, Paul Dewinter, Jay Firestone, Charles Low, Gideon Lyons, John Stevens, Adam Thrussell, Sunny Vohra, Richard Whelan, Lesley Wise

Casting by Irene Lamb

Cinematography: John Pardue

Music by Michael J. McEvoy

Edited by Johnny Daukes

Costume Design by Jill Taylor

Production Design by John Bunker


Starring:

Imelda Staunton as Sandra Abbott

Celia Imrie as Bif

Timothy Spall as Charlie Glover

Joanna Lumley as Jackie

David Hayman as Ted

John Sessions as Mike Abbott

Joe Lawrence as Pamela Harper

Phoebe Nicholls as Janet

Marianne Oldham as Nicola


When ‘Lady’ Sandra Abbott (Academy Award® nominee, Imelda Staunton) discovers that her husband of forty years is having an affair with her best friend, she seeks refuge in London with her estranged, older sister, Bif (Celia Imrie). The two could not be more different – Sandra is a fish out of water next to her outspoken, serial dating, free-spirited sibling. But different is just what Sandra needs at the moment, and she reluctantly lets Bif drag her along to a community dance class, where she starts finding her feet.


Filmmaker Richard Longcraine is known for directing film such as “My One and Only”, “Band of Brothers” and “Richard III” and now he helms the comedy co-written by Meg Leonard (“A Knight’s Tale”) and Nick Moorcraft (“Urban Hymn”, “St. Trinian’s”, “The Corrupted”).

The film stars Imelda Staunton (“Vera Drake”, “Shakespeare in Love” and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”), Celia Imrie (“The Best Exotic Margold Hotel”, “Imagine Me & You”, “Nanny McPhee”), Timothy Spall (“Mr. Turner”, “The Damned United”, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”), Joanne Lumley (“Absolutely Fabulous”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Ella Enchanted”), David Hayman (“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, “Sid and Nancy”, “The Jackal”), John Sessions (“The Good Shepherd”, “Stella Street”, “The Bounty”) and  Josie Lawrence (“Enchanted April”, “Outside Edge”, “Robin Hood”).

And now “Finding Your Feet” will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film revolves around “Lady” Sandra Abbott, a proper woman who has been supportive of her husband Mike (portrayed by John Sessions) of thirty five years catches her husband and her best friend Pamela Harper (portrayed by Josie Lawrence) making out and find out that they have had a long affair for many years.

Sandra leaves her husband and her family and goes to London to move in with her estranged, older sister Bif (portrayed by Celia Imrie).  Bif is a free-spirit and takes part in a community dance class with her friends which include Charlie (portrayed by Timothy Spall), Jackie (portrayed by Joanne Lumley) and Ted (portrayed by David Hayman).

At first Sandra is hesitant of participating in anything, as she’s still reeling from her husband’s infidelity.  Also, worried about restarting life so late in her life.

Meanwhile, Charlie is a married man, but his wife his suffering from alzheimer’s and each time he visits his wife, she doesn’t recognize him and doesn’t want anything to do with him and gets very angry.  So, Charlie makes the decision to not visit his wife and give her peace without aggravating her.

As for Ted, his wife passed away and he is trying to move on with life with out her.

But as she starts to participate in the dance class, she starts to heavily involved in it and it is giving her a new lease on life.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Finding Your Feet” is presented in 2:39:1 aspect ratio and English Dolby Digital 5.1. The film looks good as one can expect on DVD, while the soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music.

Subtitles are in English and English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Finding Your Feet” comes with a trailer.


For those who grew up with the Boomer Generation or even the Generation X, back then, the thoughts of divorcing at an older age was unfathomable.

But as divorces are becoming commonplace in today’s world, we are seeing it with people who are in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

But “Finding Your Feet” is a film that lends to having hope that life is how you make it and divorcing late in life is by no means the end of life.

In the case of the film, the film focuses on a woman who discovers there is so much more to life after separating from her cheating husband and this is the same with others that take part in a community dance class that she is part of.

One man is going on with life despite his wife having alzheimer’s disease and not recognizing him. While another character is trying to move on after the death of his longtime wife.

These individuals are living with the pain of loss but at the same time, through each other, they start to grow and develop a new lease in life.  But most importantly, making best of their life no matter how old they are.

And possibly through coping with their pain and being part of something special, they may find love once again.

The film is straightforward and rather formulaic.  It’s not a film with major twists or anything that will surprise you.  While predictable, “Finding Your Feet” is a feel good story that will no doubt resonate with those who are in a similar situation as the characters but also for audiences looking for a film that is simple, light and entertaining.

 

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