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Dawson City: Frozen Time (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Well-researched, well-presented, “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is a fantastic documentary from Bill Morrison and a true masterpiece!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Hypnotic Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dawson City: Frozen Time

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 Surround, B&W and Color

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2017


Directed by Bill Morrison

Written by Bill Morrison

Cinematography by Raoul Cotard

Produced by Madeleine Molyneaux, Bill Morrison 

Assistant Producer: Paul Gordon

Music by Alex Somers

Edited by Bill Morrison


Starring:

Bill Morrison

Kathy Jones-Gates

Michael Gates

Sam Kula

Bill O’Farrell

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo


A thrilling adventure through American history, Dawson City: Frozen Time pieces together the bizarre true story of a collection of some 500 silent films. Dating from the 1910s and 20s, they were lost for over 50 years until being discovered buried in a subarctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory in 1978.
Director Bill Morrison (Decasia) uses this extraordinary footage as a conduit to explore the complicated past of Dawson City, a Canadian gold rush town and First Nation hunting camp that was transformed and displaced. Dawson City: Frozen Time is a triumphant work of art that chronicles the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation, discovering another world in the process.


For many silent film fans, before Hollywood, it was known that Fort Lee, New Jersey was once the motion picture capital during the early 1900’s and it is known that 75% of all silent films were destroyed unfortunately by improper storage and the combustible nitrate film.

But how is it that 533 silent film reels were discovered in Dawson City, a town in northern Yukon (Canada) by a construction worker in 1978.

This would be the basis of “Dawson City: Frozen Time” directed by Bill Morrison, who would construct a timeline of Dawson and show its history through photos and also show a timeline of what was going on in America/Canada through various scenes of footage that are from the 533 silent film reels that were discovered.

But also to show how Dawson City brought many people for gold, many people who worked in Dawson and would become tycoons in America. But we see the transformation of Dawson, which was once an entertainment hub to have a population of tends of thousand to technology eventually lessening the role of miners and decreasing the population to a few thousand.

We see the years progress, we see through this footage of the various films that were lost, or films and news reels that only have so much surviving footage due to degradation, film warp/damage due to time and also being thrown in soil for many years and being strewn around.

And through this footage, we see history play out and “Dawson City: Frozen Time” eventually becoming a tale about the American 20th century.  From thousands of people moving to areas where there was gold, these areas becoming business and entertainment hubs, from how people in Dawson received entertainment showing what was going on in America, from the World Series, strikes, celebrity scandals and more.


VIDEO:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio).  This is a film that showcases American history through photography and videos.  For the most part, picture quality is good but depending on the surviving film footage that was found in Dawson, some reels are in good shape, others not so good.  Some footage may show excessive degradation to film damage, while others may look very good with minimal scratches.  But these scenes are short, if anything, scenes to indicate a point or reference.  As I always mention in silent films and when it comes to picture quality, considering nearly 75% of films are lost, the fact that we get to see these surviving films or even glimpses of American history is fantastic. 

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” features haunting melodies created by Alex Somers.  Lossless audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  Scenes with dialogue are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” comes with following special features:

  • Dawson City: Postscript – (9:54) Michael Gates and Kathy Jones Gates (Yukon Historians) discussing how the premiere showing of the films would be in Dawson City.  Bill O’Farrell (Head of Film Section of the National Archives of Canada) discussed the condition of the reels when they received them.  And how a last resort of rewashing to save the film because they were in bad shape.  And also what happened to the reels after they were rescued (and how many newsreels and documentaries kept in storage vaults at National Archives Buildings caught on fire).
  • Interview with filmmaker Bill Morrison – (8:50) Filmmaker Bill Morrison discusses on the utilization of film footage and how he would create the story as he discovered Dawson City’s history and the changes that would take place.
  • Selections from the Dawson Film Find – Featuring a plethora of news reels (all silent) such as the British Canadian Pathe News from 1919, The Montreal Heral Screen Magazine of 1919, International News issue #52 of 1919, Pathe’s Weekly of 1914, scenes from “The Butler and the Maid” of 1912, D.W. Griffith’s “Brutality” of 1912, “The Exquisite Tief” of 1919, “The Girl of the Northern Woods” of 1910 and more.
  • Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” comes with a 24-page booklet with an essay by Lawrence Weschler and Alberto Zambenedetti.


For many silent film fans, before Hollywood, it was known that Fort Lee, New Jersey was once the motion picture capital during the early 1900’s and it is known that 75% of all silent films were destroyed unfortunately by improper storage and the combustible nitrate film.

But how is it that 533 silent film reels were discovered in Dawson City, a town in northern Yukon (Canada) by a construction worker in 1978.

It sounds hard to believe but while excavation was being done, in order to create a new recreation center, Frank Barrett saw reels of film that were literally dumped in the Earth.

Many were fiction films and newsreel footage from the early 1900s.

But what many people may not know is how this once booming goldmining town had a connection to the early entertainment scene and the location would include people who would go on to do great things in America back then.

In order to showcase clips from films and newsreel footage found in Dawson City but also showcasing the history of the town, filmmaker Bill Morrison created “Dawson City: Frozen in Time”.

The film would go into how an American man visiting a village of the indigenous Han people (First Nations people of Canada) who happened to be mining and discovered gold.  This would lead to other prospectors discovering gold, claiming the land, displacing the Han people and because of the mining, also destroying their hunting and fishing.

While those who came to the Yukon first were able to capitalize, would lead to one of the first restaurant and hotel (created by Frederick Trump, grandfather of U.S. President, Donald Trump and miner Ernest Levin) which offered fine dining and lodging but also scales to weigh gold.

How thousands of people would flock to Dawson to mine gold and many business were opened.  And one of the families that went to Dawson City was Sid Grauman and his parents.  And little Sid saw how people paid a lot for entertainment and Sid Grauman would grow up to open theaters in America, including the popular Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.  To Alexander Pantage who would move to Dawson and eventually found love with brothel-keeper “Klondike Kate” Rockwell and both operated the successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Oprheum.  Pantage would become famous for promoting the “movie palace” concept and creating theatres across the United States and Canada.

How Yukon Gold Company employee William Desmond Taylor would become a famous silent film director but possibly best known for his murder and a cold case which was probably intentionally by the film studios.

For sports, Dawson was host to various sporting events and boxing matches.  But with tens of thousands of people coming to Dawson, eventually bigger companies would find ways to mine for gold with devising new technologies such as floating dredges that would be less reliant on workers and the population would eventually dwindle to a few thousand.

And as time went on, we would see history play out through this film reels.  From strikes, the war to baseball such as the World Series including the Black Socks Scandal in which members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to throw the World Series games.

To video footage of multiple film laboratories and theaters that burned (which eventually led to the end of nitrate films and finding safer alternatives to creating film).

But those who stayed would create a community and life in the 1900’s to the teens were captured on nitrate and film reels were distributed around the world but as film companies didn’t feel the need to get the reels back, Dawson City which was so remote, was the last of the distribution line for film companies.

In fact, Dawson City would receive films 2-3 years later but eventually they would have many reels that were stacked up and so, they were either burned, thrown into the river (with other garbage, showing mass pollution being thrown in the river) or buried into the soil.

But it was this discovery in 1978 that would lead to people discovering reels of silent film and news footage that have been long forgotten.  Considering that many nitrate film were lost in fires and 75% of silent film were lost, this discovery was no doubt a significant find.

And I have to applaud filmmaker Bill Morrison who was able to piece together many photos to build a timeline of Dawson City’s transformation with or without the miners, the significance of buildings, especially the pool to various buildings that were destroyed or rebuilt, to those who stayed and worked in Dawson and would become famous and also featuring those who were displaced.  And inter-spread with this historical timeline are footage from various newsreels and film that help capture society during that era (focused between 1900-1919).

Well-researched, well-presented, “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is a fantastic documentary from Bill Morrison and a true masterpiece!

 

La Chinoise (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“La Chinoise” is Godard’s profound masterpiece in which the filmmaker/writer going through an exploration of ideas through characters, explore actions knowing all too well, the film may not change a thing. “La Chinoise” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: La Chinoise

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1967

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:37:1 Aspect Ratio), 2.0 French Monaural

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 10, 2017


Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Written by Jean-Luc Godard

Cinematography by Raoul Cotard

Edited by Delphone Desfons, Agnes Guillemot

Costume Design by Gitt Magrini


Starring:

Anne Wizamsky as Veronique

Juliet Berto as Yvonne

Jean-Pierre Leaud as Guillaume

Michael Semeniako as Henri

Lex De Bruijn as Kirilov

Omar Dip as Omar

Francis Jeanson as Francis

Blandine Jeanson as Blandine

Eliane Giovagnoli as Son Ami


La Chinoise is a pop-art masterpiece by Jean-Luc Godard that both channels and parodies the revolutionary energies of Paris in 1967. Disillusioned by their suburban lifestyles, a group of middle-class students, led by Guillaume (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and Véronique (Anne Wiazemsky), form a small Maoist cell and plan to change the world by any means necessary. After studying the growth of communism in China, the students decide they must use terrorism and violence to ignite their own revolution.


For French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, while celebrated for his French New Wave films, his supporters and even his friends started to see a change with the filmmaker who shifting towards films that were becoming more political and going after government and also society.

While Godard would begin to go full force with his radical films in 1968, two years prior, we started to see Godard’s film shift into this direction beginning with “Made in U.S.A.” and then his two films in 1967, “La Chinoise” and “Weekend”.

The film is written and directed by Godard and would star Anne Wiazemsky (“Au Hasard Balthazar”, “Teorema”, “Rendez-vous), who would become Godard’s wife that very year; Juliet Berto (“Weekend”, “Celine and Julie Go Boating”, “Neige”), Jean-Pierre Leaud (“The 400 Blows”, “Stolen Kisses”, “Masculin Feminin”), Michael Semeniako (“Le Cercle de Minuit”) and more.

“La Chinoise” is considered as one of Godard’s best films and it was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

While the film was not supposed to be prescient of what would eventually take place in May 1968 in France, the film no doubt examines New Left activism and the film was didactic in its approach to Maoism.  For those not familiar with Maoism, it is a political theory derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong and was applied as the political and military ideology of the Communist Party of China and it guided many revolutionary movements around the world.

The film revolves around five university students who represent different ideologies and have different personalities.  They are conspiring to overthrow the Russian Imperial regime through revolutionary violence.

The film is set in Paris and these five students belong to a radical Maoist group known as Aden Arabie Cell and consists of Nanterre University student Veronique (portrayed by Anne Wiazemsky); a young bourgeois actor named Guillaume (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud); the girl from the countryside, Yvonne (portrayed by Juliet Berto); science student from the University of Grenoble, Henri (portrayed by Michel Semeniako) and a Dutch painter named Kirilov (portrayed by Lex de Bruijin).  And a visit from their friend, Omar (portrayed by Omar Dio).

Each of these students are in summer vacation and they spend their time studying political articles, practicing their lectures with one another, inviting guest speakers to their pad and dreaming of a revolution.

And reading text about advocating violence in the name of resolution, these individuals decide to assassinate Soviet novelist, Mikhail Sholokhov, who happens to be in Paris as a cultural ambassador representing the Soviet government.


VIDEO:

“La Chinoise” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio). This is probably the best I have seen of this classic film.  Presented in 1080p, detail of closeups are well-done and I saw no signs of film damage or any artifact issues while watching the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“La Chinoise” is presented with French with English subtitles. Lossless audio is 2.0 Mono and for those who have never watched a Jean-Luc Godard film, while you will get crystal clear dialogue, expect to hear Claude Channes “La Chinoise” being played multiple times.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La Chinoise” comes with following special features:

  • Interview with actor Michael Semeniako – (38:28)
  • Interview with Assistant Director Charles Bitsch – (19:49)
  • Interview with 2nd Assistant Director Jean-Claude Sussfield – (17:39)
  • Interview with writer Denitza Bantcheva – (18:55)
  • Interview with film historian Antoine de Bascque – (30:55)
  • La Chinoise Trailer

EXTRAS:

The Blu-ray comes with a 16-page booklet with essays by Richard Hell and Amy Taubin.


The film before filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard would go onto create his more political, radical films, “La Chinoise” was no doubt created during the frustration building in France at the time and a foretelling of what was to come a year later.

“La Chinoise” is a Godard masterpiece that manages to capture cinema, politics and didactic principles that would pave the way to Godard radicalism and non-docile filmmaking.

The film marks Godard pursuing to look into Maoism, while casting Anne Wiazemsky as his main lead and an actress who won audiences for her performance in the 1966 Robert Bresson film “Au hasard Balthazar”, would marry Godard that very year and would later become a successful novelist.

The film would also star two of France’s well-known young talents who have appeared in previous and later Godard films, Jean-Pierre Leaud and Juliet Berto.

What I enjoyed about “La Chinoise” is that it’s a film where Godard is trying to understand and gain knowledge of political ideology through his characters.  In fact, Godard would refer to Wizaemsky as “Cinematographic education” and unlike his previous films that may incorporate some sort of form of love, “La Chinoise” is about students who stay at a friend’s apartment during a summer break from university terms to learn about each other’s ideology and through discussion of violence as a necessity to achieve revolutionary goals.

Reading text about advocating violence in the name of resolution, these individuals decide to assassinate Soviet novelist, Mikhail Sholokhov, who happens to be in Paris as a cultural ambassador representing the Soviet government.

“La Chinoise” represents the intelligent cinema that demanding cinemaeaste want to see.  Wanting to expand their views on cinema, wanting characters that are non-banal, with substance.

You have Veronique (Wiazemsky) who’s appearance of a beautiful, intelligent college student attending University Nanterre but yet wanting to shut down the university with bombs.  Veronique wants a violent revolution.  Going further, Anne Wiazemsky’s real-life philosophy professor at the Paris X University Nanterre, Francis Jeanson is in the film and Veronique and Jeanson are in a discussion in which he tries to argue against the use of violence to shut down French universities.  Jeanson in support of cultural action, Veronique through violence to inspire a revolution.

The real-life Jeanson was committed to the National Liberation Front (FLN) during the Algerian War his appearance in the film  was no doubt fascinating.

Godard and his actors would not know that a year later, protesting students and millions of French workers would go on strike, paralyze the country but in effect, would lead France and liberate French society.

Jean-Pierre Leaud’s character of Guillaume is no doubt a character that is a mouthpiece for Godard.  For those who watch a Godard film, there are always moments where Godard likes to use his characters and allow the character to speak for him.  And in Guillaume’s scenes, Godard goes Brechtian style and one of the most powerful scenes is when Guillaume goes to a blackboard with the names of famous playwrights including Sartre, Giraudoux, Racine, Cocteau, Goethe, Sophocles, Chekhov and Shakespeare and as Guillaume erases each name, one name stays and it is Brecht.

The film is crafted in a way that it doesn’t try to pick which side is right or which side is wrong.  While some may feel that a film about characters who are into Maoism, Marxism, Lennism, makes the film too radical, may not know that after the premiere of “La Chinoise”, those who are Marxist-Leninist Maoists complained and were furious about how they were portrayed.  That “La Chinoise” made them look irresponsible.

Film critics praised the film as a Godard masterpiece and that the film captured the revolt of youth.  The film is may seem too hip for students to pull off such a revolution but it happened in France in 1968.  For something more brutal, Kino Lorber also has a film from Koji Wakamatsu called “United Red Army” which shows how normal university students of the ’60s and ’70s dedicated their lives to communism and also wanting a revolution, chose a path of violence and murder.  Where students were allowed to voice their opinion among the students featured in “La Chinoise”, in Japan, members who were weak-minded were killed and these students chose to become terrorists, recruited by a Palestinian group and attacked Lod airport near Tel Aviv, killing 26 people and injuring 80 others.  Both films about students wanting a revolution.  Godard’s film being surreal without despair, Wakamatsu’s film showing the barbaric nature of homegrown terrorism.

I looked at “La Chinoise” as a flip-flop of “Masculin Feminin” (1966), where the 1966 film was more pop with slight political undertones, “La Chinoise” is slight pop with more political undertones.  Both entertaining, both wonderful films, different execution, different Godard in terms of mind-set but yet “La Chinoise” being more poetic, didactic and experimental.

The film looks great on Blu-ray and the best I have ever seen of the film so far.  Presented in 1080p, the film features a monaural 2.0 soundtrack and numerous interviews.

Overall, “La Chinoise” is Godard’s profound masterpiece in which the filmmaker/writer going through an exploration of ideas through characters, explore actions knowing all too well, the film may not change a thing.

“La Chinoise” is recommended!

 

Le Gai Savoir (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I am in no way an aesthete when it comes to French history or politics but “Le Gai Savoir” is a complex, abstract and fascinating film but there is a message that even the viewer can deconstruct and ponder about. Anyone wanting to watch a radical Godard film will no doubt enjoy “Le Gai Savoir”.

Images courtesy of © 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Le Gai Savoir

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1969

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:37:1 Aspect Ratio), 2.0 French Monaural

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 10, 2017


Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Written by Jean-Luc Godard

Text by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Cinematography by Georges Leclerc

Edited by Germaine Cohen


Starring:

Juliet Berto as Patricia Lumumba

Jean-Pierre Leaud as Emile Rousseau

Jean-Luc Godard (Narration)


While alone in an abandoned television studio, two militants, Émile Rousseau (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and Patricia Lumumba (Juliet Berto), have a discourse on language. Referring to spoken word as “the enemy” – the weapon used by the establishment to confuse liberation movements – the two deconstruct the meanings of sounds and images in an attempt to “return to zero” and truly experience the joy of learning.


For French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, while celebrated for his French New Wave films, his supporters and even his friends started to see a change with the filmmaker who shifting towards films that were becoming more political and going after government and also society.

While his film “Pierrot le fou” touched upon certain themes for very few scenes, his interest in German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht and the thought of alienating a viewer through a separation of elements in the medium.  Characters would address the audience about their thoughts, feelings and more.

And so the period between 1968-1979 is called his “Militant Years” or “Revolutionary Years” in which Godard abandons mainstream filmmaking to pursue low-budget political films and collaborating with Jean-Pierre Gorin.

And Kino Lorber has release two films from this period on Blu-ray, his 1968 film “La Chinoise” and “Le Gai Savoir” (Joy of Learning).

The film focuses on two primary characters, Patricia Lumumba (portrayed by Juliet Berto) and Emile Rousseau (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud).  Narration was done by Jean-Luc Godard.

To provide a background on this film, the film was shot before civil unrest took place in France and after.  In France, there were massive strikes and many people on strikes would occupy universities and factories throughout France.  Students went on strike against capitalism, consumerism, American imperialism and traditional institutions.  This spread to 11 million workers on strike.

So bad were the strikes that the entire country’s economy was brought down and there was fear of civil war or a revolution.

While looked at as one of the dark times in French history, it is also regarded that the events led to a cultural, social and moral turning point for France.

In the film, Emile Rousseau (portrayed by Jean-Pierre Leaud) is the great-great-grandson of Jean-Jacques (Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a Francophone Genevan philosopher, writer and composer of the 18th century) Patricia Lumumba (portrayed by Juliet Berto), Third World delegate of the Citroen auto plant who got caught for giving people with recording devices, come in contact with each other inside an unused TV studio.

Patricia’s goal is wanting to learn and teach everyone that they must turn back against the enemy that weapon which he attacks everyone through “Language”. Emile tells her that because they are on TV, to go into people’s homes and ask them what they want to know.

The two take part in seven late night TV dialogues and eventually the two analyze the relationship between cinema and politics.

The two would then meet up for seven evenings to analyze sound and images.  To decompose and to recompose.


VIDEO:

“Le Gai Savoir” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio).  The majority of the film features Emile and Pamela surrounded by black backgrounds with lighting on them.  There are then a plethora of classic images shows.  The film received a 2K restoration and you can see details, especially Juliet Berto’s freckles.  With that being said, for the most part, the picture quality is great but it’s not exactly a film that people will be expecting to see a whole lot as it limits visuals to Emile and Patricia.  No backgrounds, just the two performing (like as if they were on a blacked out stage with a spotlight on them).

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Le Gai Savoir” is presented with French with English subtitles.  Lossless audio is 2.0 Mono and for those who have never watched a Jean-Luc Godard film, while you will get crystal clear dialogue, expect to hear a multitude of songs especially annoying sounds but also inclusion of sounds that are being analyzed by the characters.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Le Gai savoir” comes with Godard film trailers (for films released on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber) and a short video by Fabrice Aragno (DP of “Goodbye to Language” and “Film Socialisme”) titled “Promenade Dans Le Gai Savoir”.

EXTRAS:

The Blu-ray comes with a 16-page booklet with essays by Richard Hell and Adam Nayman.


May 1968, France’s economy was shut down. The largest general strike in an advanced industrial country, 11 million workers were on strike for two weeks and student protests ran rampant. It was a blow to President Charles de Gaulle’s government and groups revolted against modern consumer and technical society.

1972. Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard ala the man who was instrumental for Nouvelle Vague was no more. The era from the late ’60s to early ’70s was the filmmaker’s “radical” years. His interest in Maoist Ideology led to his partnership with Jean-Pierre Gorin and together they formed the socialist-idealist Dziga-Vertov Cinema group (named after Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov) and both would go on to create political films and from 1968-1973, the two would create films showcasing their Maoist beliefs.  Also, Godard incorporating his Brecht style to alienate viewers.

“Le Gai Savoir” is a film that you will either love or hate.  As many film critics who championed Godard’s earlier work would distance themselves from reviewing the filmmaker’s films during his revolutionary period, his radical years, because films such as “Le Gai Savoir” are complex and for some, incomprehensible.

Two characters who are literally opposites, wanting to meet each other in a TV studio to analyze film and politics, to analyze sound and images.  To decompose and to recompose.

And knowing that they can get into people’s homes via television, they plan a three-year course to re-educate people through a political program.

Similar to classic Godard films which would often cut away to other scenes, to eliminate sound, bring back sound or throw in other sounds, these two characters want to start from teh beginning and go back to zero.  To start anew and believing a revolution is waiting to happen.

The two read, they listen to radio and discuss the information they come across and eventually developing mutual beliefs.

For all its worth, the film proves to be a didactic style that Godard would be known for.  He was not interested in going back to the days of being popular.  In fact, when “Breathless” became popular, he wasn’t thrilled about it.

So, I am going to tell you right now…If you have never watched a Jean-Luc Godard film, do not start with this film. To appreciate this Godard film, you need to go along with the journey of knowing Godard’s previous films. Seeing how this filmmaker changed from “Breathless” up to “Weekend” and then seeing how the turbulent times had changed Godard.

From what transpired in France in May 1968, the Algerian War to the Vietnam War, those French New Wave years were over and this Maoist Ideological version of Godard is what the late ’60s and ’70s is what had become of the man.  So, if you enjoy “La Chinoise”, enjoy “Le Gai Savoir”, then you will no doubt enjoy “Tout va Bien”, but if you enjoyed “Breathless”, “Band of Outsiders”, “Pierro le fou”, “Masculin Feminin” and want those similar style of films, Godard’s style of filmmaking and creative direction changes completely from “La Chinoise” and “Weekend” and on.

I am able to enjoy Godard films because I was able to go through the journey of Godard films, watching his films over and over and discovering something new each time. While I have no doubt the impact of this film is felt more by the French, especially those who lived during the late ’60s and saw or experienced the political unrest have feelings probably after watching this film.

I am in no way an aesthete when it comes to French history or politics but “Le Gai Savoir” is a complex, abstract and fascinating film but there is a message that even the viewer can deconstruct and ponder about.

Anyone wanting to watch a radical Godard film will no doubt enjoy “Le Gai Savoir”.

 

Fate/Grand Order First Order (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” may be a shorter animated film that is more about promoting the popular Android/iOS video game and expanding on the prologue, but even for an alternate universe storyline featuring a few of the “Fate/stay night” characters, it’s still an entertaining, action-packed animated film worth watching.

Image courtesy of © Type Moon. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Fate/Grand Order First Order

DURATION: 72 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Linear PCM English and Japanese Dolby 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Aniplex of America Inc.

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 24, 2017


Original Concept by Kinoko Nasu

Directed by Hitoshi Nanba

Script: Ayumi Sekine

Music by Ryo Kawasaki

Original Character Design by Arco Wada, Mata, PFALZ, Takashi Takeuchi

Art Director: Takuya Ebisawa

Chief Animation Director: Keiksuke Goto

Anime Production: Lay-Duce


Featuring the following voice talent:

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Griffin Burns as Ritsuka Fujimaru

Rie Takahashi/Erica Mendez as Mash Kyrielight

Ayako Kawasumi/Kari Wahlgren as Artoria Pendragon (Alter)

Ayako Kawasumi as Fou

Junichi Suwabe/Kaiji Tang as Emiya

Kenichi Suzumura/Xander Mobius as Romani Archaman

Madoka Yonezawa/Kira Buckland as Olga Marie Animusphere

Nobutoshi Canna/Tony Oliver as Cú Chulainn

Tomokazu Sugita/Jalen K. Cassell as Lev Lainur

Yuu Asakawa/Melissa Fahn as Medusa


The year AD 2017.
The last era in which magecraft still thrived.

The Chaldea Security Organization was founded to ensure the continuation of human history. They survey a world which magecraft couldn’t observe and science couldn’t measure all to prevent the certain extinction of humanity.

But one day, the future that Chaldea continued to observe disappears and humanity’s extinction in 2019 becomes clear. Rather, it had already happened.

The cause seems to be related to Fuyuki, a provincial town in Japan, in the year AD 2004. There, an “unobservable region” that had not existed before appears.

Based on the assumption that Fuyuki is the reason for humanity’s extinction, Chaldea issues an order to explore, investigate, and possibly destroy this singularity – a quest for the Holy Grail, the Grand Order.


Back in 2015, the online free-to-play RPG game “Fate/Grand Order” (based on the Fate/stay night visual novel game by Type-Moon) was created for Android and iOS.

In 2016, anime studio Lay-duce created an animated television film titled “Fate/Grand Order: First Order” which is an adaptation of the game’s prologue.

The film is directed by Hitoshi Nanba (“Dash! Yonkuro”, “Golden Kamuy”, “Jungle no Ouja Taa-chan”), screenplay by Ayumi Sekine (“Dusk maiden of Amnesia”, “Idolish 7”, “Aldnoah.Zero”), music by Ryo Kawasaki (“Altair: A Record of Battles”, “Reikenzan: Eichi e no Shikaku”), character design by Keisuke Goto (“Gatchaman Crowds”, Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee”, “Yatterman”) and art direction by Takuya Ebisawa (“Afro Samurai: Resurrection”, “Eureka Seven”, “Glass Fleet”).

And now the animated film will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex of America.

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” begins with a girl named Mash Lyrielight looking for her pet squirrel, Fou-san.  Fou-san rests upon a sleeping Fujimaru Ritsuka at an observatory built for the future of mankind located inside the Chaldea Security Organization.

The last thing that Fujimaru remembers is taking part in a test on the Spiriton Dive for rayshifting and that he has the potential to make a contract with a servant.

Mash explains that Chaldea Security Organization wants to ensure that humanity continues and how a mini-Earth was created inside Chaldea and that it would lead to life for 100 years but now the Earth is starting to fade and that mankind may end in 2018.  A new calamity, spacial singularity F has started to show up in Japan and is possibly the reason why mankind is fading.

So, Rayshifting allows people to go into the past in hopes to find out what may be causing to the decline of humanity and destroy it.

Fujimaru meets a Mage engineer named Leff Lynor, who happened to develop the Near-Future Observation Lens called Shiva.

The two head to a briefing held by Olga Marie Animusphere, a young woman who comes from the Mage family but because he falls asleep, he is kicked out of the briefing.  Fujimaru ends up meeting Dr. Roman and while the two are talking, an accident takes place and many people in the briefing are killed, while Mash is crushed by debris.

Fujimaru stays with her and a Rayshift process takes place and the two and Fou-san are sent to Fuyuki City, Japan in the year 2004.

Immediately, Fujimaru is attacked by Archer and Mash, in her Servant gear, protects him with her huge shield.  They then see Olga under attack from a skeleton army and Mash goes to help.

Olga receives a message from Dr. Roman that 47 potential Masters are in critical condition and will be put in cryo.

Mash who was killed by the falling debris was given an opportunity to live on as a Demi-Servant because she helped with investigating Singularity F and Fujimaru is now her master.

As the three search around, they come across Medusa Lancer who is turning humans to stone and killing them, and Lancer ends up trapping the three with her chains but is rescued by Caster.

Caster exlpains to everyone that during the last Holy Grail War, there was a fire in Fuyuki City and many humans were killed while leaving their Servants alive.  Saber Alter would corrupt Archer, Assassin Lancer, Rider and Berserker with a dark shadow.  And Archer and Caster are the only ones that have not yet been defeated.

The three decide to help Caster in hopes to resolve the Singularity F issue, but will it work?


VIDEO:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16 x 9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD!  I didn’t notice any major banding issues or artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” is presented in Linear PCM English and Japanese 2.0. The anime is well-acted both in Japanese and English.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” comes with  the Fate/Grand Order Game Opening (1:37), Fate/Grand Order Announcement Trailer (2:04), eight trailers featuring a servant character, First Order Dub PV (1:27), First Order Cast Interview (13:50) with English dub voice talents Tony Oliver (Caster), Erica Mendez (Mash) and Griffin Burns (Fujimura).

EXTRAS:

“Fate/Grand Order First Order” comes with a 30-track (42-minute) CD soundtrack and a 20-page booklet.


I have been a big fan of the “Fate/stay night” Type-Moon Japanese visual novels, anime series and video games.

So, with the announcement back in 2015 of a “Fate/Grand Order” Android/iOS game, I was a little giddy.  The cool thing about this game is that it would be a reboot of the original Fate/Apocrypha project from 2012 and is meant to be a parallel world to “Fate/stay night” and “Fate/Grand Order” is mean to expand the prologue to the video game.

So, some fans may find the animated television film to be a bit short, considering “Fate/stay night” has received longer television seasons or an animated film, but at 70-minutes long, the story focuses on another timeline where humanity is supposed to be wiped out in 2018.

And we see the Chaldea Security Organization trying to extend humanity while trying to find out why these singularities are disrupting the continuation of human history and if they can send individuals who can rayshift (time-travel).

The anime series focuses on two individuals, Fujimaru and his demi-servant Mash, who come across the servant characters that many may be familiar with in “Fate/stay night” but seeing many of their favorites, especially the often good protagonist, Saber Alter, now corrupted by darkness.  And the two remaining servants are Caster and Archer who need to battle to the death (there is also an appearance of Medusa in a brief battle).

While entertaining, it’s a film that is meant to introduce people to the primary characters of “Fate/Grand Order” and then people can jump on aboard and find out how the story ends by playing the video game.

Overall, animation is well done.  Lay-Duce did a magnificent job with the animation, character design and background art.  Animation is vibrant and colorful, while lossless audio is presented in LPCM Stereo in Japanese and English.  Voice acting is well-done for both soundtracks and dialogue and music is crystal clear.

There are numerous special features, primarily trailers, but you do get a cool interview featuring Tony Oliver (ADR Director and voice of Caster), Erica Mendez (voice of Mash) and Griffin Burns (voice of Fujimaru).  But another cool addition to this release is that it comes with a 20-page booklet and CD soundtrack.

Overall, “Fate/Grand Order First Order” may be a shorter animated film that is more about promoting the popular Android/iOS video game and expanding on the prologue, but even for an alternate universe storyline featuring a few of the “Fate/stay night” characters, it’s still an entertaining, action-packed animated film worth watching.

 

 

Wind River (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River” is another well-written and well-directed film from the actor/filmmaker.  A thrilling murder mystery in a Indian reservation as a solo FBI agent and a U.S. Fish & Wildlife agent must work together to find out who raped/murdered a teenage girl.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment.  All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wind River

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: November 14, 2017


Directed by Taylor Sheridan

Written by  Taylor Sheridan

Produced by Gregory Chou, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Erik Howsam, Joey Tufaro

Executive Producer: Colin Bates, David Dinerstein, Mike Drake, D.J. Guneheim, Bill Johnson, Ara Keshishian, Knate Lee, Doris Pfardrescher, Jason Resnick, William Sadleir, Jim Seibel, Todd Trosclair

Music by Federico Jusid

Cinematography by Flavio Martinez Labiano

Edited by Avi Youabian

Casting by Nancy Nayor

Production Design by Sarah Webster

Art Direction by Frank Zito

Set Decoration by Deanna Simmons

Costume Design by Ruth E. Carter


Starring:

Elizabeth Olsen as Jane Banner

Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert

Kelsey Asbille as Natalie

Julia Jones as Wilma

Teo Briones as Casey

Apesanahkwat as Dan Crowheart

Graham Greene as Ben

Tantoo Cardinal as Alice Croweheart

Eric Lange As Dr. Whitehurst

Gil Birmingham as Martin

Althea Sam as Annie

Tokala Black Elk as Sam Littlefeather

Martin Sensmeier as Chip

Tyler Laracca as Frank


WIND RIVER is a chilling thriller that follows a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) who teams up with a game tracker with deep community ties and a haunted past (Jeremy Renner) to investigate the mysterious killing of a local girl on a remote Native American reservation.


From actor/filmmaker Taylor Sheridan  (“Hell or High Water”, “Sicario”) comes the murder mystery film “Wind River”, which Sheridan also wrote.

The film stars Jeremy Renner (“Arrival”, “The Hurt Locker”, “The Avengers”, “The Bourne Legacy”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Captain America: Civil War”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Godzilla”), Julia Jones (“The Twilight Saga” films, “Jonah Hex”, “The Ridiculous 6”), Graham Greene (“The Green Mile”, “Dances with Wolves”, “Die Hard with a Vengeance”), Kelsey Asbille (“The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Pair of Kings”, “Run”), Teo Briones (“Lethal Weapon”, “Pretty Little Liars”, “Longmire”), Apesanahkwat (“Bagdad Cafe”, “Skinwalkers”), Tantoo Cardinal (“Dances with Wolves”, “Legends of the Fall”), Gil Birmingham (“Twilight” films, “Hell or High Water”), Eric Lange (“Narcos”, “Lost”, “The Bridge”) and Tokala Black Elk (“The Revenant”, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Lionsgate.

The film begins with a Native American running through the cold snow at the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, no shoes and bleeding in the head.  Running with fear.

We are then introduced to Cory Lambert, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent who hunts after a wolf in the snow and shows his great marksmanship.  We then see Cory go to pick up his son Casey (portrayed by Teo Briones) at his ex-wife Wilma’s (portrayed by Julia Jones) home.  He sees a photo of his deceased daughter in the living room.

As Cory is about to take Casey home with him, Wilma tells him that she will never ever go back to the Indian Reservation.

While Casey stays with Corey at the reservation, he has to work and while at work in the reservation, he notices blood marks and goes to check it out and discovers the frozen body of 18-year-old Natalie Hanson (portrayed by Kelsey Asbilie), daughter of his friend Martin (portrayed by Gil Birmingham) and his wife Annie (portrayed by Althea Sam).

Cory reports to the local authorities and sheriff Ben (portrayed by Graham Greene) phones it in and FBI agent Jane Banner (who happened the nearest agent near Wyoming) is sent to the Wind River Indian Reservation, but immediately, she realizes that she is not aware of how things are or how things work at the reservation.

As Corey, Jane and Ben go to the body, she wants a rape kit ordered and wants her listed as a homicide.  Jane asks if any structures nearby and the nearest is a 3 1/2 miles belonging to a tweaker named Sam and an oil rig with trailers with workers mles away.  So, the question is why was she in the middle of nowhere?

Corey believes that she ran all the way there while it was 20 degrees below at night, cold air froze up her lungs and wherever she came from, she ran all the way to where she is found and her lungs burst.

Jane asks how long can someone run barefoot and Corey tells her that it depends on the person and their willingness to live.

Jane wants Corey to assist in the investigation an he agrees.

Jane and Ben then go to visit Natalie’s parents and when she asks Martin why he doesn’t know where his daughter is, he tells her that because she was an adult, they didn’t feel it was a need to ask those questions to her.  Jane goes to interview Natalie’s mother and sees her slitting her wrist and bleeding.

We then see Corey visiting Martin and Martin begins crying and the two men embrace, showing they are good friends.  Corey then explains to Martin of how he was able to go on after his daughter’s death after he went to a grief seminar and tells Martin the words given to him when his daughter died. Martin tells Corey to kill the person that killed his daughter, also telling him that Natalie was dating a guy and his son Chip may know.   And that Chip (portrayed by Martin Sensemeier) is at Sam Littlefeather’s home.

The group then go to the only house near where Natalie was found dead, belonging to a guy named Sam Littlefeather (portrayed by Tokala Black Elk) and as they go there to speak to Chip, when Sam finds out that the FBI is at his place, he attacks Jane and Ben by spraying something in their eyes.  She kills Sam in a firefight, while Corey talks to Chip, he is unaware of his sister’s rape and death.

And as they get deeper into this case, Jane learns that Corey has tracking skills and knows the reservation well.  Let alone how to do an investigation in an area that experiences blizzards and will need the right equipment to get around the area.

She doesn’t know how people live, how they operate and she will desperately need his help in solving this case and finding out who was responsible for killing Natalie Hanson.


VIDEO:

“Wind River” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality showcases wonderful closeup details, skin tones look natural. A lot of scenes are shot outdoors, so picture quality is very good.  I saw no artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wind River” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film features crystal clear dialogue while surround channels utilize the various firefights through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wind River” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (3:11) Featuring two deleted scenes
  • Behind the Scenes Video Gallery – (9:55) Featuring interviews with Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen and writer/director Taylor Sheridan.

EXTRAS:

“Wind River” comes with an Ultraviolet Digital HD Code.


Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen reunite in the murder mystery “Wind River”.

A film about a murder that takes place in the frozen Wind River Indian Reservation where blizzards happen constantly and life is unkind.  But for U.S. Fish & Wildlife agent Corey Lambert (Renner), it’s his home and where he works.

But when he discovers a dead teen in the middle of nowhere, the daughter of a friend, because of a possible homicide, the FBI sends the agent most close to Wind River and it happens to be Jane Banner (Olsen) who is quite inexperienced, let alone knowing how people get around in the frozen reservation.

Because Lambert is experienced, she asks him to assist in the case and because it’s a family friend that was murdered, Lambert agrees and also promises the murdered teen’s father, a good friend that he will catch who is responsible.

The film manages to showcase how, for many of the people living in the reservation, it’s not a place to escape from.  How the conditions are also unforgiving.

Lambert’s daughter died on the reservation and his ex-wife has no intention of ever going back to the Indian reservation ever again.  And now, his friends daughter is found murdered and now he, along with Jane and the local sheriff Ben (portrayed by Graham Greene) look to find who killed 18-year-old Natalie.

Filmmaker/writer Taylor Sheridan has no doubt done quite well from transitioning from actor to writer, Sheridan received an Academy Award nomination for “Best Original Screenplay” for the 2016 film “Hell or Highwater” and also did well with his film “Sicario” (2016).

Sheridan along with cinematographer Ben Richardson were able to capture the brutal conditions at the reservation.   Sheridan does a great job with pacing and character dynamics as Jane, who is a by-the-books FBI agent, knowing that Wind River is a place that is out of her league and she needs the help of Corey Lambert who knows the area but also how to deal with people and getting the clues necessary.  Because there is no backup and there is no help, it’s pretty much them trying to solve this homicide case.

The film also has a message of how in America, missing persons statistics are kept for every demographic except Native American women, so it’s not known of how many missing Native American women there are.

I had to do my research on this and the information I found was shocking.  That on some reservations, native women are murdered at more than 10 times the national average.  I learned that in Canada, indigenous leaders and advocates pressure the government to confirm the number of missing and murdered indigenous women, but the United States has not addressed this issue.

In a 2005 study authorized by Congress, it was found that between 1979-1992, homicide was the third leading cause of death among Native females at age 15-34 and 75% were killed by family members and acquaintances.  But in that study, the number of missing Native women was not included.

I had no idea of this, nor is it featured in the news or newspapers, so at least with a film, “Wind River” can hopefully lead to exposure of the problem and the issues of violence in Indian country.

As for the film, the Blu-ray features wonderful picture quality and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and good use of surround sound during action scenes.  And there are a few special features included as well.

Overall, Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River” is another well-written and well-directed film from the actor/filmmaker.  A thrilling murder mystery in a Indian reservation as a solo FBI agent and a U.S. Fish & Wildlife agent must work together to find out who raped/murdered a teenage girl.  Recommended!

 

 

Endride: Part Two (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Endride” has proven to be an exciting an adventurous anime series so far. Great use of characters and an easy-to-follow storyline and the second conclusion made this anime series worthwhile.

Image courtesy of © ENDRIDE Production Committee. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Endride: Part Two

DURATION: (Episodes 13-24) 300 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (4:3), English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: August 29, 2017


Directed by Keiji Gotoh

Series Composition by Touko Machida

Music by IMAGINE PROJECT, Kohei Tanaka

Original Character Design by Kazushi Hagiwara, Nobuhiro Watsuki

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Junko Watanabe

Anime Production: Brain’s Base, Lapin Track


Featuring the following voice talent:

Karen Miyama/Sarah Wiedenheft as Alicia

Kensho Ono/Aaron Dismuke as Shun Asanaga

Toshiki Masuda/Ian Sinclair as Emilio Ranguhaimu

Akio Ohtsuka/Phil Parsons as King Delzaine

Aoi Yūki/Skyler McIntosh as Mischa

Ayaka Ohashi/Felecia Angelle as Falarion

Hiroki Takahashi/Robert McCollum as Demetrio

Juurouta Kosugi/Bill Jenkins as Alzerm Langheim

Kousuke Toriumi/Tyler Walker as Eljuia

Ryoko Nagata/Jessica Cavanagh as Makiko Asanaga

Satoshi Mikami/ as Kazunobu Asanaga

Shizuka Itou as Louise

Tetsu Inada/Jeremy Inman as Iberuta (Ibelda)

Tomoaki Maeno/Jarrod Greene as Gidoro

Yūma Uchida as Felix

Yuu Mizushima as Pascal

 


After the confrontation in Babel goes awry, Shun, Prince Emilio, and the ragtag team of rebels must face an even bigger problem than before. Without a king, the entire country is falling into chaos, and without a passage to the surface, Shun has no way home. It’s a treacherous journey back to the capital, where Pascal’s research uncovers the world’s dismal fate.


Having been stuck in Babel, what happens when Shun and Prince Emilio check underground and discover a prisoner who may provide them with answers that they are looking for.

Meanwhile, what happens when Shun and Prince Emilio are transported to the surface?  And what happens when Emilio’s memories come to life after meeting Shun’s father?

All this and more in “Endride: Part Two”, available now from Funimation!

What is “Endride” about?

“Endride” is set in a world that is underground, beneath the surface. In order to not be discovered, a myth was created that the underground is hell and demons live there. But in truth, the underground is a world unlike the surface with modern technology.

The series begins with the 16-year-old prince of Endora named Emilio Langheim who tries to assassinate his father, King Delzaine.

The reason is that King Delzaine is not his real father and raised the boy after killing his real father and Emilio wants revenge.

The King manages to defeat Emilio and put him in the dungeon. But when a group goes to the underground to cause something badly for Emilio, out of nowhere, a teenager appears from the surface, Shun Asanaga.

While Shun tries to figure out where he is, he is attacked and out of nowhere, a warp relic emerges within him. He is able to release Emilio and together they manage to escape. And Shun explains how he touched a mysterious crystal found in his father’s company and next thing you know, he was transported to Endora. And now, he desperately wants to find his way back home.

The two are joined by Emilio’s childhood friend Alicia and get some help from the eccentric scientist and former Royal Researcher, Pascal, who left the position after he questioned King Delzaine’s plans of reconstructing Babel.

As Shun and Emilio are like water and ice and are very much different from each other and often are at odds, Shun knows that he needs Emilio’s help in trying to get back home and Emilio needs Shun’s help in order to achieve revenge.

The group meet the Ignauts and they are interested in forming a revolution against King Delzaine and making things equal among those who live in Endora. But what troubles will Shun and Emilio encounter on their adventure to achieve their goals?


VIDEO:

“Endride: Part Two” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are well-done, characters are well-shaded and for the most part, the anime series looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Endride: Part Two” is presented in English and Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0. Surprisingly, FUNimation did not give an English 5.1 dub soundtrack for this release. But dialogue and music are crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Endride: Part Two” comes with no special features but the textless opening and closing songs and trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Endride: Part Two” comes with a slipcover case and Blu-ray + DVD versions of the series.


“Endride” may seem like another banal storyline of a person lost in a new world and desperately trying to find his way back home, but there is more to this anime series considering the twists and turns involved and its fascinating storyline.

The story first and foremost focuses on two characters, Shun Asanaga, a 15-year-old hot tempered boy from the Surface who immediately gets transported to Endora after touching a mysterious crystal. The other character is Emilio Langheim, the 16-year-old prince who wants revenge on the man who raised him, King Delzaine, for killing his father.

The two are like fire and water, they are opposites but yet they need each other to accomplish their goals.

But to make a difference in the world, they are caught up in political situations when a group, the Ignauts are wanting to start a revolution and want equality. Seeing opportunities on both sides, Shun and Emilio join forces with the Ignauts, but will Shun ever get home? And will Emilio get his revenge?

With the release of “Endride: Part Two”, a lot of revelations take place as we learn the absolute truth of the Warp Particles and also how Shun and Emilio are connected and more!

“Endride: Part Two” looks great on Blu-ray. Colors are vibrant and for the most part, no major artifacts or banding issues. Lossless soundtrack are stereo on both soundtracks, which is surprising considering FUNimation usually creates an English dub track in 5.1. Also, another surprise is there are no special features (aside from the usual textless opening and ending and trailers), not even the usual FUNimation audio or video commentary which was surprising. So, pretty much, this is a no thrills barebones Blu-ray+DVD release.

But overall, acting is well-done and for the most part, I enjoyed the series and how the film is able to come together for its dramatic and action-packed ending.

Overall, “Endride” has proven to be an exciting an adventurous anime series so far. Great use of characters and an easy-to-follow storyline and the second conclusion made this anime series worthwhile.

 

Variete (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Variete” is a magnificent film from Ewald Andre Dupont.  Created at the height of German Expressionism, the recently restored film features wonderful staging, lighting and wonderful perfomances from Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti and Warwick Ward.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Weisbaden. 2017 KINO LORBER. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Variete

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1925

DURATION: 95 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), Color Tinted, German Intertitles with optional English Subtitles, New Musical Score by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and a 2015 score performed by The Tiger Lillies

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2017


Based on the  Novel by Felix Hollaender

Directed by Ewald Andre Dupont

Scenario by Ewald Andre Dupont

Produced by Erich Pommer

Musical score by Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and also a 2015 musical score performed by the Tiger Lillies

Cinematography by Karl Freund, Carl Hoffman

Art Direction by Alfred Junge, Oscar Friedrich Werndorff


Starring:

Emil Jannings as Boss Huller

Maly Delschaft as Frau Huller

Lya De Putti as Bertha-Marie

Warwick Ward as Artinelli


A rediscovered masterpiece of the German silent cinema, Ewald André Dupont’s Varieté is a visually dazzling tale of love and betrayal, foreshadowing such great works as F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise and Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel. Emil Jannings (The Last Laugh) stars as a carnival spieler who becomes entranced by a waifish dancer (Lya de Putti), and gradually betrays his wife, his honor, and his self-respect in an effort to be the sole possessor of her love. The dynamic camerawork by Karl Freund influenced an entire generation of filmmakers, and can at last be fully appreciated in this exquisite restoration by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung.

Special Features: Mastered from the 2015 restoration by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung and Filmarchiv Austria | New musical score performed by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra | 2015 musical score performed by The Tiger Lillies | Visual essay by Bret Wood | “Varieté: The Making of,” a 7-minute documentary on the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra | Othello (1922, Germany 79 min.), Dimitri Buchowetzki’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s drama of love and jealousy, also starring Emil Jannings and Lya de Putti


German filmmaker Ewald Andre Dupont (or better known as E.A. Dupont) is known as one of the pioneers of the German film industry.

Known for films such as “Piccadilly” (1929) with Anna May Wong and his retelling of the Titanic disaster in the 1929 film “Atlantic”.  But with numerous films in his lengthy oeuvre, one film that stands out and is known among silent film fans is his 1925 film “Variete” during the height of German Expressionism during the Weimar era.

And now the film was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.

In 2015, the film received a restoration and mastering courtesy of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stifftung and Filmarchiv Austria and the Blu-ray release will also feature two scores.  Which includes the magnificent musical score performed by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, which fans got to experience live at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2017.  And the film includes the 2015 musical score performed by the British musical trio, The Tiger Lillies known for their music, in this case, which brings together macabre magic of pre-war Berlin with a piano score.

“Variete” stars Emil Jannings (“The Blue Angel”, “The Last Laugh”, “Faust”), Maly Delschaft (“The Last Laugh”, “Familie Benthin”), Lya De Putti (“The Informer”, “Buck Privates”), Warwick Ward (“The Way of Lost Souls”, “La venenosa”) and more.

The film begins with prisoner #28, Huller (portrayed by Emil Jannings) meeting with the judge for his parole hearing and wants to know if he is remorseful over the murders he committed ten years ago and why he hasn’t said anything about it all this time (as it could have earned him parole) and while Huller is not interested in talking, he receives a letter from his wife vouching for his freedom and that she and her son are waiting for him.

This leads to Huller telling the judge of his story.  Ten years ago, Boss Huller was in charge of fairground trapeze artists for the carnival.  He and his wife, Frau Huller (portrayed by Maly Delschaft) were once trapeze artists but they have gotten older and stopped after he got injured.

For now, he is busy as a boss, being a husband and being a father to his baby son and taking care of him when his tired wife needs to sleep.

Life changes for the Huller family when a dancer named Bertha-Marie (portrayed by Lya De Putti) is taken in and is asked if Huller can spare a room for her in his home, as she can dance for their show.

Many who come to the show are smitten with Bertha-Marie who is seductive and many are attracted to her.  As for Boss Huller, he often looks at his wife’s rear and compares it to Bertha-Marie’s rear and starts to see the beauty in her.

One day while his wife is sleeping and he is to take care of the child, Bertha-Marie starts to seduce Boss Huller and as Huller at first tries to resist, he is captured by her charms and the two engage in a sexual liaison.

And Frau Huller starts to notice how her husband looks at her, defends her and catches the two making out.  She now knows her husband is having an affair and Huller now knows he must leave his wife and son and together, he and Bertha-Marie begin their new life together as trapeze artists.

Meanwhile, a big-show trapeze artist named Artinelli (portrayed by Warwick Ward) is without his brother who had an accident and he is recommended to bring in two people, Boss Huller and his girlfriend Bertha-Marie.

When Artinelli and his manager offer the two the opportunity, he is immediately smitten by Bertha-Marie.  While the three would become known as the 3 Artinelli and would wow audiences, Artinelli has one thing in his mind and that is to seduce Huller’s woman, Bertha-Marie.


VIDEO:

“Variete” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and is color-tinted. The quality of the film on Blu-ray is fantastic compared to any of the previous DVD releases of the film.  Featuring a remastered/restored version of the film done in 2015 courtesy of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung and Filmarchiv Austira, the film looks great without any major signs of film damage.  Quite often you will see a lot of film warping, scratches and nitrate damage but this restored version, while not perfectly pristine, shows no signs of major damage, film warping.  While specks and lines can be seen, for a silent film from 1925, this is one of the better films that have been given the restoration treatment.  And all the hardwork put into restoring this film shows.  It looks magnificent on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Variete” is presented with German intertitles with optional English Subtitles.  While the musical score is presented in LPCM 2.0 and there are two soundtracks.  A 2017 musical score performed by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and the 2015 musical score performed by the Tiger Lillies.  The Berklee Silent Film Orchestra is magnificent, while the Tiger Lillies is rather interesting and gave a different vibe while viewing, as the song is sung throughout, while a piano score is played.  It’s very different but I actually enjoyed it, because it was so unexpected.  Both soundtracks are great but I definitely have to say that I was captivated by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, while the Tiger Lillies musical score made me want to bob my head as the vocalist would sing “Variete” in various ways.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Varietee” comes with the following special feature:

  • Visual Essay – (10:35) Featuring a visual essay by Bret Wood.
  • Variete: The Making of”– (7:25) Featuring a documentary on the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra creating the musical score for the film and performing it live in front of a live audience.
  • Othello – A 79-minute film from 1922 featuring Dimitri Buchowetzki’s adaptation of the Shakespear dram of love and jealousy, starring both Emil Jannings and Lya De Putti.

When it comes to films that were released during the Weimar era and at the height of German Expressionism, many would often give a nod to films created by Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Erich Pommer, Paul Wegener, Carl Boese, to name a few.

And while E.A. Dupont was one of the other known filmmakers of German Expressionism, fortunately his 1925 film “Variete” was one of the his earlier films that would entertain fans for decades.

In fact, in America, the film was well-received.  Film critic Carl Sandburg wrote back in 1926 of the film:

“Emil Jannings, the male star, does the best all-around work we have seen from his prolific and changeful face, while Lya De Putti, the new female star, is far out of the ordinary and will be discussed freely among 10 or 20 million moviegoers in this country during the coming year.”

Sandburg would further write in his article, “‘Variety’ is one of the few sure master pieces of filmart.”

And while we have seen Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau films receive the expensive restoration and re-release on Blu-ray and DVD, I was quite pleased to hear in 2015 that “Variete” would receive a restoration and as the film has been screened at various film festivals with different scores.

While the film has been available for many decades, it was only available in a heavily edited, censored version.  That changed in 1995, when a video dealer named Peter Kavel found a complete print from Germany and for the first time, people were able to see a complete version which included the intro.  Prior to that, the intro which featured prisoner #28 is being considered for parole and as he tells his story of how he left his wife, the censors in the U.S. felt the film was too much for American audiences at the time and nearly a half hour of the beginning of the film was deleted from the American premiere.

As the subject of vamps and women who are able to take advantage of men was featured often in silent cinema between ’10s and ’20s, what made interesting about “Variete” is the fact that it was at the height of German Expressionism, the storyline is about a woman who knows how to get her way with her beauty and literally as a performer, this personality of Bertha-Marie would not just be for the stage but extended to the men she comes across.

She knows how to use Huller and knows how to use Artinelli as both men provide her with life and material things that make her happy.  In other words, she has men twisted around her finger and she works it in order to get things going her way.

How E.A. Dupont is able to utilize this with the German Expressionism style is through facial expressions, character placement and the use lightening, camera placement and well-timed edits to create this artful masterpiece.

The acting performance by Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti and Warwick Ward was fantastic.

Emil Jannings was one of the well-known actors of his time, creating films in America for Paramount Pictures but would unfortunately lose popularity as he was active in Nazi propaganda, as his films in the ’30s and ’40s would promote Nazism.

Lya De Putti was no doubt an actress who wanted to be part of movie magic in America and the following year, after “Variete” was released, she starred in D.W. Griffith’s “The Sorrow of Satan”.  With her captivating eyes and just a sight that works remarkably on camera, she played primarily vamp roles and starred in , unfortunately, the actress died at a young age in 1931 after developing pleurisy and pneumonia following an operation to remove a chicken bone stuck in her throat.

While Warwick Ward would experience like many other silent film stars, the inability to transition during the beginning of talkies, fortunately for Ward, he was able to transition from actor to film producer in England.

As for director E.W. Dupont, the success of “Variete” insured him a chance to work in Hollywood and he would receive a lucrative contract from Universal and worked on the film “Love Me and the World is Mine” and would go on to make successful films in Britain.  While Dupont emigrated to the US in 1933, unfortunately, he would be assigned to work on B movies and would become a talent agent in 1940 before returning to films in the early ’50s before his death in 1956.

As for the Blu-ray release, as mentioned, the picture quality to this film is fantastic.  Sure, it’s not pristine but for a silent film, “Variete” looks absolutely magnificent.  And for me, part of the enjoyment, aside from watching this film restored and remastered is having the choice of two musical scores.  The Berklee Silent Film Orchestra score is magnificent but to my surprise, the score by the Tiger Lillies was unexpected because its singing throughout with a piano, drums and cello and the score is no doubt a different vibe from the Berklee score.  But I enjoyed both, as they both bring different vibes to this film.

As for the special features, included is a short visual essay, a making of the score featuring the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra and the 1922 film “Othello” (an adaptation of the Shakespeare drama) starring both Emil Jannings and Lya De Putti.

Overall, “Variete” is a magnificent film from Ewald Andre Dupont.  Created at the height of German Expressionism, the recently restored film features wonderful staging, lighting and wonderful perfomances from Emil Jannings, Lya De Putti and Warwick Ward.  Highly recommended!

 

Kidnap (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Kidnap” is an entertaining abduction action thriller which Halle Berry does a great job as a mother who is desperate by pursuing her child’s kidnappers through many wild and crazy situations.  If you are looking for a upfront, non-complex popcorn action thriller, “Kidnap” is a film worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Kidnap Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Kidnap

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 1 Hr., 22 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Violence and Peril)

RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2017


Directed by Luis Prieto

Written by Knate Lee

Produced by Gregory Chou, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Erik Howsam, Joey Tufaro

Executive Producer: Colin Bates, David Dinerstein, Mike Drake, D.J. Guneheim, Bill Johnson, Ara Keshishian, Knate Lee, Doris Pfardrescher, Jason Resnick, William Sadleir, Jim Seibel, Todd Trosclair

Music by Federico Jusid

Cinematography by Flavio Martinez Labiano

Edited by Avi Youabian

Casting by Nancy Nayor

Production Design by Sarah Webster

Art Direction by Frank Zito

Set Decoration by Deanna Simmons

Costume Design by Ruth E. Carter


Starring:

Halle Berry as Karla Dyson

Sage Correa as Frankie

Chris McGinn as Margo 

Lew Temple as Terry 

Jason George as David


Based on the worldwide best-selling memoir starring Academy Award® winner Brie Larson and Academy Award® nominees Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, THE GLASS CASTLE chronicles the adventures of an eccentric, resilient, tight-knit family.

An all-star cast shines in this inspiring film based on THE NEW YORK TIMES best-selling memoir. Jeannette (Oscar® winner Brie Larson) had a poor but wildly adventurous childhood, raised by her free-spirited father (Oscar® nominee Woody Harrelson) and her mother (Oscar® nominee Naomi Watts), an eccentric artist. But when her father’s behavior become erratic, Jeannette must find the courage to live on her own terms in this uplifting story of unconditional love.


From filmmaker Luis Prieto (director of “Pusher”) and writer Knate Lee (producer of “Bad Grandpa”, “The New Mutants”) comes their abduction action thriller “Kidnap”.

Starring Halle Berry (“X-Men” films, “Cloud Atlas”, “Die Another Day”, “Swordfish”), Sage Correa (“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Papa”), Chris Mcginn and Lew Temple (“Unstoppable”, “Lawless”, “Halloween”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Kidnap” begins with baby footage of a baby Frankie (portrayed by Sage Correa) and fast forwarding a few years later as Karla Dyson (portrayed by Halle Berry) is working as a diner waitress, while six-year-old Frankie waits for his mother to get off work.

While Karla is taking her son out to the park, Karla talks to her son about her estranged ex-husband and his girlfriend, she tries to keep the conversation positive.

While Karla has a children’s walkie talkie to keep taps on Frankie by playing “Marco Polo”, she receives an important phone call from her divorce lawyer in regards to their custody battle and her trying to fight for visitation rights as her ex-husband is wanting full custody.  Despite going on the walkie talkie to make sure her son is around, when she hangs up her phone, she goes to where her son was sitting and he is missing.

She starts to frantically look around and other parents start to help her find her son.  She looks around and finds the other walkie talkie that Frankie was holding and then sees a woman forcing Frankie into her car.

Karla desperately tries to run after the car and hold on but she is unable to hold on too long as the car speeds away.  Despite dropping her cell phone, she gets into her mini-van and starts chasing after the car in a high speed chase across the freeway.

As the people in the car starts throwing junk towards Karla and others, it leads to major accidents but as Karla continues the chase after the abductors driving an old green Ford Mustang, she listens to the walkie talkie recording and hears how the abductor was able to lure her son away, by telling him that his mother is looking for her and she’s waiting near the parking lot for him.

But Karla is determined to rescue her son, by any means possible.


VIDEO:

“Kidnap” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality showcases wonderful closeup details, skin tones look natural. I saw no artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Kidnap” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film features crystal clear dialogue while surround channels utilize the multiple accidents and car crashes through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Kidnap” comes with short featurette “A Thrilling Behind-the-Scenes Look Inside Kidnap”.

EXTRAS:

“Kidnap” comes with a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD Code.


“Kidnap” is the second abduction thriller starring actress Halle Berry since the 2013 film “The Call”.

Created by the producers of “SALT” and “Transformers”, “Kidnap” is an action film that doesn’t need many star talent but it’s a film all about adrenaline-rush action-scenes that would take what many would consider an indie action film and make it much better.

The film stars Halle Berry as Karla Dyson, a mother who chases the abductors of her six-year-old son Frankie and is relentless, persistent that even the abductors are shocked of how far this mother would go to get her son.

Sure, it may seem farfetched to some, seeing a mother doing everything to save her child, but I’m sure the same thing can be said with hundreds of action films starring of a male action star with more than nine lives, in farfetched situations and are able to live through the most deadliest action scenes.

So, why not let women have that equal glory of commanding their own action performance, being a solo protagonist of a story, one that can kick ass and support that.

Being the top, noticeable talent in the film, while we have seen Berry in numerous action figures in the past, may it be in the “X-Men” related films, as a Bond girl in “Die Another Day” or the not so well-received action film, “Catwoman”, but the fact that this film relies on a talent that can showcase a multitude of emotions such as despair, anger and be able to bounce back and keep her emotions in check in order to do all that’s necessary to save her son.

While one would think that believable behavior is to not pursue the kidnappers and call police or that there are no police that could have followed and tracked these two cars down during their pursuit.  Once again, “Kidnap” is no different from the many other action films (majority featuring men) in unbelievable and farfetched situations.

Call it a popcorn action thriller, but among many other farfetched popcorn action thrillers, “Kidnap” was not too bad.  In fact, it caught my attention and I was entertained by it.  I didn’t exactly come upon viewing this film with the highest expectations, so watching the film from beginning to end, it’s not a complex, deep or highly satisfying film but I was entertained by “Kidnap”.

Picture quality on Blu-ray is well-done, close-ups show good detail.  Lossless audio manages to capture crystal clear dialogue and utilizing the surround channels for action sequences.  While there is a short featurette included as well.

Overall, Luis Prieto’s “Kidnap” is an entertaining abduction action thriller which Halle Berry does a great job as a mother who is desperate by pursuing her child’s kidnappers through many wild and crazy situations.  If you are looking for a upfront, non-complex popcorn action thriller, “Kidnap” is a film worth checking out!

 

 

The Glass Castle (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Destin Daniel Cretton’s film adapation of “The Glass Castle” is emotional, captivating and a film that is full of hope. Featuring wonderful performances from Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, “The Glass Castle” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Glass Castle

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 127 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2017


Based on the book by Jeannette Walls

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Screenplay by  Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham

Produced by Ken Kao

Co-Producer: Tami Goldman

Executive Producer: Mike Drake, Qiuyun Long

Associate Producer: Jennie Lee

Associate Co-Producer: Bo Shen, Shixing Zhou

Music by Joel P. West

Cinematography by Brett Pawlak

Edited by Nat Sanders

Casting by Ronna Kress

Production Design by Sharon Seymour

Art Direction by Nicolas Lepage, Charlotte Rouleau

Set Decoration by Suzanne Cloutier, Sebastien Thivierge, Manon Thomas

Costume Design by Joy Cretton, Mirren Gordon-Crozier


Starring:

Brie Larson as Jeannette

Woody Harrelson as Rex

Naomi Watts as Rose Mary

Ella Anderson as Young Jeannette

Chandler Head as Youngest Jeanette

Max Greenfield as Brian

Charlie Shotwell as Young Brian

Iain Armitage as Youngest Brian

Sarah Snook as Lori

Sadie Pink as Young Lori

Olivia Kate Rioce as Youngest Lori

Brigette Lundy-Paine as Maureen

Shree Crookes as Young Maureen

Eden Grace Redfield as Youngest Maureen


Based on the worldwide best-selling memoir starring Academy Award® winner Brie Larson and Academy Award® nominees Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, THE GLASS CASTLE chronicles the adventures of an eccentric, resilient, tight-knit family.

An all-star cast shines in this inspiring film based on THE NEW YORK TIMES best-selling memoir. Jeannette (Oscar® winner Brie Larson) had a poor but wildly adventurous childhood, raised by her free-spirited father (Oscar® nominee Woody Harrelson) and her mother (Oscar® nominee Naomi Watts), an eccentric artist. But when her father’s behavior become erratic, Jeannette must find the courage to live on her own terms in this uplifting story of unconditional love.


Back in 2005, author and journalist Jeannette Walls released her memoir “The Glass Castle”.

Walls’ award-winning memoir stayed on the New York Time Best Seller List for 261 weeks and has sold over 2.7 million copies and translated into 22 languages.

And in 2017, the film adaptation directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (“Short Term 12”) and co-written by Cretton and Andrew Lanham (“The Shack”) was released in theaters and received positive reviews from film critics.

The film stars Brie Larson (“21 Jump Street”, “Short Term 12”, “Room”, “Kong: Skull Island”), Woody Harrelson (“No Country for Old Men”, “Zombieland”, “Cheers”), Naomi Watts (“King Kong”, “Mulholland Dr.”, “The Ring”), Max Greenfield (“New Girl”, “Hello My Name is Doris”), Sarah Snook (“Steve Jobs”, “Jessabelle”), Brigette Lundy-Paine (“Irrational Man”, “The Wilde Wedding”), Ella Anderson (“Mother’s Day”, “The Boss”), Sadie Sink (“Stranger Things”, “American Odyssey”) and more.

And now the film will be available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Entertainment.

“The Glass Castle” revolves around Jeannette Walls, the second oldest child of the Walls family.

The film begins with Jeanette (portrayed by Brie Larson) and her fiance David (portrayed by Max Greenfield) having dinner with one of David’s clients and winning them over and David winning the account.

We learn that has to lie about her parents and while riding in a taxi, she sees her mother dumpster diving and her father drunk and screaming at the taxi driver.  Jeanette calls her older sister Lori (portrayed by Sarah Snook) that she saw their parents homeless in the alley and she didn’t have the taxi stop.

We then go back to the past when Jeanette was younger and what seems like things are normal, young Jeanette’s life is anything but normal as her mother Rose Mary (portrayed by Naomi Watts) is a painter (who dedicates the majority of the time towards her paintings over her family) and her alcoholic father Rex (portrayed by Woody Harrelson).

Because Rex is unable to hold a job and Rose Mary focuses on painting, the family are constantly on the move in Arizona and California and their debts are enormous.

It doesn’t help that as Rex often gets drunk, her mother is busy with painting that she has very young Jeanette cooking food when she’s hungry.  But when her skirt comes in contact with the gas stove, her dress catches on fire and Jeanette is burned badly.

While in the hospital, the doctor is trying to find out why she was cooking and is concerned over Jeanette’s well-being, but just when they are to report the case to authorities, Rose Mary along with the other children try to find a way to keep the attention to them, while Rex gets Jeanette out of her hospital room.  And the family escapes the hospital and move.

But we see the tender care that father gives daughter (when he is sober).

While it seems their lives would have some normalcy when Rex gets a job in Nevada, unfortunately he loses his job and the children haven’t much to eat but butter and sugar. Rose Mary gets a job as a teacher but Rex uses her money towards gambling and alcohol.

When a mishap forces the family to flee to Phoenix, they move to Rose Mary’s mother’s home, which the Rose Mary inherits (along with money) when her mother passes away.  But they manage the burn the money quickly.

Meanwhile the film fastforwards to different times of when the children are younger, when they were older children, as teenagers and as adults.

How Jeanette and Lori try to take care of the family, how the family is concerned by Rex’s alcoholism and more.

As an adult, we learn that Jeannette (portrayed by Brie Larson) has been estranged from her parents, working for “The New Yorker” and can live a good life with David.  But can she totally forget about her parents and keep them out of her life?

And how challenging was the life of Jeannette Walls as a child before becoming a writer?


VIDEO:

“The Glass Castle” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality showcases wonderful closeup details, skin tones look natural. I saw no artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Glass Castle” is presented in English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD. The film is primarily dialogue and music driven, but dialogue and music are crystal clear.  There are some moments of alcoholic Rex breaking things all over the house and other situations that utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Glass Castle” comes with the following special features:

  • The Glass Castle: Memoir to Movie – (25:49) Author Jeannette Walls, cast and crew discuss the film and how the film hit close to heart for Jeanette.
  • A Conversation with Jeannette Walls – (15:25) Author Jeannette Walls and Josh Rothcoff discuss the memoir becoming a film.
  • Making of “Summer Storm” by Joel P. West – (3:22) How “Summer Storm” was inspired by the journal/writings of Rex Walls.
  • Scoring “The Glass Castle” – (4:06) A featurette about how the music for the film was created.
  • Deleted Scenes – (9:33) Featuring nine deleted scenes.

EXTRAS:

“The Glass Castle” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD Code.


Jeannette Walls’ memoir “The Glass Castle” was a biographical story that touches many people because many people come from dysfunctional families and when things are bad, and when you think you had it bad, you read “The Glass Castle” and see how bad Jeannette and her siblings had when they were children, but having to escape the life they lived to become adults and move forward.

There are people who were raised from alcoholic or parents who are often under the influence and find it difficult to escape, but one thing that we learn from Wall’s memoir is how she was able to have a career but also find it in her heart to have forgiveness and be there for family.

And its a story that one can’t imagine becoming a film but filmmaker and writer Destin Daniel Cretton along with co-writer Andrew Lanham were able to do just that.  Creating carefully an adaptation that emphasizes character dynamics, emotion but feeling real.  It’s the true efficacy of “The Glass Castle” and it helps to have powerful performances from Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts.  But also solid performance from the various child actors who play Jeannette and siblings through different ages of their lives.

But I found it interesting, to see how Jeannette changed from a journalist doing well in her career, having a fiance with great potential but most importantly, leaving an old life behind.  But all of it changing after seeing her mother and father living homeless and dumpster-diving.

No matter how bad things are, she made the decision that she couldn’t have them live that life.

But nothing is easy, especially when it comes to reconciliation when you have a father who is alcoholic and a mother who is possibly mentally ill.  For all the good times, there were many bad times in the life of Jeannette and family.  Having to starve, miss school and not live a life like other people her age are living.

Always constantly on the run, living from state to state with no signs of things getting any better, when these children got older, they each had to make a difficult choice and that was to leave the life they lived, no matter how painful, they had to escape a toxic relationship with their parents.

But it’s the journey, through Jeannette Walls experience of how she was able to forgive and move forward with her life, while bring the family together was touching.

There are few films that are like “The Glass Castle” and considering it’s based on a true story of Jeannette Walls’ life, everything about this film and seeing the multiple forms of heartbreak, just to see how the person evolves from all of that, was what I found inspiring and what captivated my viewing of the film from beginning to end.

Picture quality for the film is well-done, lossless audio featured crystal clear dialogue and music and the numerous special features are really good, especially the featurette “The Glass Castle: Memoir to Movie” and seeing the emotions felt by author Jeannette Walls watching the scenes come alive and reminding her of the past and how the primary talent nailed their part.

Overall, Destin Daniel Cretton’s film adapation of “The Glass Castle” is emotional, captivating and a film that is full of hope. Featuring wonderful performances from Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, “The Glass Castle” is recommended!

 

The Show (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Giancarlo Esposito’s “The Show” is an indie satirical drama film that has a clear message but whether or not people in today’s era of social media and anything goes on live-stream videos shared around the world will ever give a care, I’m hoping tragedy never becomes a form of reality-based entertainment.  No doubt a thought-provoking film worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Show

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 106 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2017


Directed by Giancarlo Esposito

Screenplay by Noah Pink, Kenny Yakkel

Produced by Christopher D’Elia, Giancarlo Espoito, Lawreen E. Kayl, Michael Klein

Executive Producer: Jamie Goehring, Robert A. Halmi, Kevin Leeson, Jim Reeve, Shawn Williamson

Associate Producer: Trevor McWhinney

Music by Rich Walters

Cinematography by Paul Mitchnick

Edited by Jamie Alain

Casting by Angela Demo, Kara Eide, Kris Woz

Production Design by James Robbins

Art Direction by Courtney Stockstad

Set Decoration by Matthew Brunt, Nik Ovstaas

Costume Design by Cynthia Ann Summers


Starring:

James Franco

Famke Janssen as Ilana Katz

Josh Duhamel as Adam Rogers

Sarah Wayne Callies as Karina

Giancarlo Esposito as Mason Washington

Caitlin FitzGerald as Sylvia


Josh Duhamel, Famke Janssen, and Giancarlo Esposito highlight this pulse-pounding thriller about a reality show that exploits the on-camera deaths of its players on live TV. After a dating show ends in violence, its host Adam Rogers (Duhamel) and a ratings-hungry network exec (Janssen) launch a terrifying new program that promises fresh kills every week. The tension mounts as a kindhearted janitor (Esposito) joins the deadly program, hoping to help his struggling family survive at any cost.


From actor/filmmaker Giancarlo Esposito (“The Usual Suspects”, “The Jungle Book”, “The Electric Company”) comes the satirical drama film “The Show” (also known as “This is Your Death”).

Co-written by Kenny Yakkel and Noah Pink, the film stars Esposito along with Josh Duhamel (“Transformers” films, “Las Vegas”), Famke Janssen (“X-Men” films, “GoldenEye”), Sarah Wayne Callies (“The Walking Dead”, “Prison Break”, “Into the Storm”), Caitlin Fitzgerald (“Masters of Sex”, “It’s Complicated”, “Damsels in Distress”) and a cameo by James Franco (127 Hours”, “This is the End”, “Spider-Man” films).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray in November 2017 courtesy of Lionsgate.

The film revolves around a game show host named Adam Rogers (portrayed by Josh Duhamel), who lived through a “Bachelor-type” reality show tragedy when the jilted woman shoots and kills the Bachelor and kills herself on live television.

While the experience was once traumatic, the experience eventually leads Adam and network executive Ilana Katz (portrayed by Famke Janssen) along with producer Sylvia (portrayed by Caitlin FitzGerald) to create a new reality show in which features real deaths every week.

Meanwhile, Mason Washington (portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito) is a janitor who is under pressure from his wife to keep their family afloat and not lose their house.  Mason is behind on bills, he is fired from both jobs and now he needs to know how he can make money.

As for Adam, the new reality show he is hosting begins with a woman who electrocuted herself in order to save her daughter’s life by dying live on television (which earned $300,000 for the dead woman’s daughter) and giving her a better life.  And while people were appalled and angry, many found the show to be exciting and feeling one’s death can lead to better things.

The controversial show leads to high viewership and while Sylvia is upset, Adam and Ilana see the ratings possibilities.  Meanwhile, Adam’s sister Karina (portrayed by Sarah Wayne Callies) is against her brother’s show.

The stakes grows even higher when Adam offers to feature three people on television and whoever has the deepest story voted by audiences will earn an extra $200,000.  Adam defends that when he almost died, someone died a senseless death.  But with their show, people will not die a senseless death, it will lead to deaths that can help others.

And for the sakes of ratings, how far will Adam and crew go with their game show?  And will he have any regrets?


VIDEO:

“The Show” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality showcases wonderful closeup details, skin tones look natural.  I saw no artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Show” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  Dialogue is crystal clear and there are numerous scenes with crowd screams and gasps that are played in the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Show” comes with the following special features:

  • Making the Show – (12:42) The Making of “The Show” with the cast discussing the characters and the concept of the show.
  • Cast/Crew Interviews – Featuring interviews with Josh Duhamel, Giancarlo Esposito, Famke Janssen, Sarah Wayne Callis, Caitlin Fitzgerald and producer Michael Klein.
  • Trailer Gallery

EXTRAS:

“The Show” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD Code.


After watching “The Show” and going through the process of rumination about the audacious nature of Giancarlo Esposito’s satirical drama, “The Show”, the more that I think that perhaps society is heading to this worrying state of reality-based entertainment.

It was one thing over a decade ago when people questioned the nature of reality TV and even today, shows that many disregard as trash, are still popular shows and even those who are featured on these shows are becoming the new wave of television stars.

But things have changed with technology and faster Internet that people are now broadcasting their own shows on YouTube, bringing in millions of viewers and what people are watching, are things that people don’t usually watch on television.

Watching normal people do things to themselves for the sake of viewers, seeing people get maimed or hurt and some people dying on their social media livestream and while society discusses what is right or what is wrong in society, whether or not these shows are detrimental and because they are on platform that anyone can access, how is this affecting today’s viewers.  Especially our young viewers who are left with electronic devices that can easily watch this type of programming.

It’s a bit worrisome but when you think of how much has changed for reality-based entertainment, things have changed and not all good.

In Giancarlo Esposito’s “The Show”, what happens when people see a reality show turn tragic on live TV?  This effects its host, Adam Rogers, who thinks about how it affects his employers and viewership but also, how senseless the tragedy really was.

But what if tragedy could make a difference and it be the new topic for a reality-based series?  Where people who want to make money for their love ones by dying on live TV for a purpose.

It seems audacious and too crazy for one to conceive but considering the numerous crap we have seen on social media, people taking on certain challenges that can lead to impairment or even death, people who are depressed and wanting to kill themselves and viewers egging them on to do it, when you start to think how far reality TV has gone, something like “The Show” may seem plausible on some sort of media.

Where we live in a society where anything goes?  Our current state of society and its political landscape which has turned into a media circus in epic proportions that I often ask myself, is this for real?

With that out of the way, many people may wonder if the film is any good?   If anything, the film no doubt has a message and while situations are farfetched and how people are killing themselves are so outlandish and macabre, the film is no doubt crazy.  But it’s the message that is driven towards the end and considering how social media has changed society in how we view reality-based entertainment, hopefully death is not something that will be exploited in the same manner that is featured in this film ever in our lifetime.

But considering how humankind was entertained through gladiator-battles of an era long ago to people taking on whatever challenge they find on the Internet, it’s one part of humanity and society that is most unfortunate and one can only feel, “what’s next?”.

“The Show” looks great and sound great on Blu-ray and there are a few special features included such as a making and also cast interviews.

Overall, Giancarlo Esposito’s “The Show” is an indie satirical drama film that has a clear message but whether or not people in today’s era of social media and anything goes on live-stream videos shared around the world will ever give a care, I’m hoping tragedy never becomes a form of reality-based entertainment.  No doubt a thought-provoking film worth watching.

 

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