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Final Portrait (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 28, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


DVD TITLE: Final Portrait

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

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

AVAILABLE ON: July 31, 2018


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

Directed by Stanley Tucci

Written by Stanley Tucci

Produced by Nik Bower, Gail Egan, Ilann Girard

Co-Producer: Elisabetta Boni

Executive Producer: Fred Hogge, Deepak Nayar

Line Producer: Michael S. Constable

Music by Evan Luri

Cinematography by  Danny Cohen

Edited by Camilia Toniolo

Casting by Nina Gold

Production Design by James Merifield

Art Direction by David Hindle

Set Decoration by Sara Wan

Costume Design by Liza Bracey


Starring:

Armie Hammer as James Lord

Clemence Poesy as Caroline

Geoffrey Rush as Alberto Giacometti

Tony Shalhoub as Diego Giacometti

James Faulkner as Pierre Matisse

Sylvie Testud as Annette Arm


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Final Portrait” comes with the following special features:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

July 18, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


DVD TITLE: The Leisure Seeker

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 112 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Some Sexual Material)

AVAILABLE ON: July 10, 2018


Based on the Novel by Michael Zadoorian

Directed by Paolo Virzi

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

Produced by Marc Cohen, Fabrizio Donvito, Benedetto Habib

Co-Producer: Elisabetta Boni

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

Music by Carlo Virzi

Cinematography by Luca Bigazzi

Edited by Jacopo Quadri

Casting by Tara Feldstein, Ellen Jacoby, Chase Paris

Production Design by Eve Stewart

Art Direction by Justin O’Neal Miller

Set Decoration by Eve Cauley

Art Direction by Tom Weaving

Costume Design by Massimo Cantini Parrini


Starring:

Helen Mirren as Ella Spencer

Donald Sutherland as John Spencer

Christian McKay as Will Spencer

Janel Moloney as Jane Spencer

Dana Ivey as Lillian


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Fantastic Woman (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 26, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Sebastian Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” is a fascinating story about love and a story of how a transgender woman must endure hostile reactions from her lover’s family after his death but also from society who are not accepting of her sexual identity. Featuring a wonderful performance from Daniel Vega, “A Fantastic Woman” is a film worth watching!


TITLE: A Fantastic Woman

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 100 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:39:1 Aspect Ratio, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017


Directed by Sebastian Lelio

Screenplay by Sebastian Lelio, Gonzalo Maza

Producer: Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain, Sebastian Lelio, Gonzalo Maza

Co-Producer: Maren Ade, Fernanda Del Nido, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski

Executive Producer: Mariane Hartard, Rocio Jadue, Jonathan King, Jeff Skoll, Ben von Dobeneck

Associate Producer: Alexander Bohr

Music by Nani Garcia, Matthew Herbert

Cinematography by Benjamin Echazarreta

Edited by Soledad Salfate

Casting by Alejandra Alaff, Moira Miller

Production Design by Muriel Parra


Starring:

Daniel Vega as Marina Vidal

Francisco Reyes as Orlando

Luis Gnecco as Gabo

Aline Kuppenheim as Sonia

Nicolas Saavedra as Bruno

Amparo Noguero as Adriana

Trinidad Gonzalez as Wanda

Nestor Cantillana as Gaston

Antonia Zegers as Alessandra

Sergio Hernandez as Profesor de Canto


Marina and Orlando are in love and planning their future, when one night Orlando suddenly falls ill and passes away. Instead of being able to mourn her lover, Marina is treated with suspicion by authorities and with disdain by his family. She is forbidden to attend his funeral and thrown out of the apartment they shared. Marina is a trans woman and for most of Orlando’s family, her sexual identity is a perversion. So she must battle the very same forces that she has spent a lifetime fighting just to become the woman she is now – a complex, strong, forthright and fantastic. In Spanish with English subtitles.


From filmmaker Sebastian Lelio (“Gloria”, “The Sacred Family”, “Disobedience”) comes “A Fantastic Woman”.

Co-written by Lelio and Gonzalo Maza (“Gloria”, “The Year of the Tiger”, “La ofis”), the film stars Francsico Reyes (“The Club”, “Donde esta Elisa?, “Fugitives”), Luis Gnecco (“Neruda”, “Profugos”, “Pecadores”), Aline Kuppenheim (“Machuca”, “Young and Wold”, “Fugitives”), Nicolas Saavedra (“Santiago Violenta, “Gatas & Tuercas”), Amparo Noguera (“Fugitives”, “Vuelve Temprano”) and more.

The film revolves around Marina Vidal (portrayed by Daniel Vega), she and Orlando (portrayed by Francisco Reyes), two people living in Santiago, Chile who are deeply in love.

Marina, a singer with a talented voice, while Orlando is a wealthy businessman who had children and is no longer married.

After a night of passion, Orlando suffers a brain aneurysm, falls from a staircase and as Marina takes him to the hospital, unfortunately he passes away.

While Marina is shocked and concerned about Orlando, she doesn’t stick around at the hospital, primarily as respect to his family, who would be going to the hospital but they are unaware that Orlando had a relationship with Marina.  And that Marina is actually a transgender.

Because of the bruises that Orlando suffered after his fall from a staircase, authorities and family members think that Marina may be responsible.  But as details that Orlando and Marina were a couple, Orlando’s family do not take it well that he was dating a transvestite.

Orlando’s ex-wife Sonia is transphobic, his son wants Marina out of his home and she is under suspicion of causing bodily harm to Orlando.

And as his family mourns his death, Marina is mourning but because of his family’s dislike towards her, she wonders if she will ever get to say goodbye to her beloved.


VIDEO:

“A Fantastic Woman” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1). Picture quality is very good, skintone looks natural, good use of colors throughout the film and looks great in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

Losless audio is presented in Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven but ambiance is well-utilized during a club scene and ambiance during crowd-based scenes.  But for the most part, dialogue and music are crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Fantastic Woman” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Sebastian Lelio
  • The Making of A Fantastic Woman – Featuring a 30+ minute “Making of” featurette with interviews with the director and cast.

“A Fantastic Woman” is probably one of the most modern films that takes a look at the life of a transgender woman.  And no, this is not a film with a  popular male actor trying to pretend to be a woman, Daniela Vega is an actress who is transgender.

And the film literally falls in the shoulder of Vega to show various emotions, may it be passionately in love, a woman who feels the prejudice people have towards her because she is transgender and a woman who is not being able to say her goodbyes to the man she loved.

While actor Francisco Reyes has a role as Daniela’s passionate lover, his role is primarily at the beginning and the end, as the story is about his passing and his family feeling disgusted that the character Orlando, would have a relationship with a transgender woman.

And as a woman who loved Orlando passionately, Vega’s character Marina Vidal, is saddened by Orlando’s passing, but saddened that she is unable to say goodbye because of his family’s stance against her.

And to make things worse, because Orlando collapsed on the staircase and fellow and banged his head, she is under suspicious of hurting Orlando prior to his death.  So, the hospital and police are suspicious towards her.

And now, Orlando’s son wants her forced out of the apartment she lived in (that Orlando gave her), to return the car and also going so far to take the dog that Orlando gave to her.

It’s enough to bring a person down but Marina Vidal is no doubt a strong woman and she will do what she can to find a way to say goodbye to Orlando.

Again, this is a film that tries to give a perspective of life through a transgender woman who loses the man she loves but also must deal with overwhelming challenges.

As for the film on Blu-ray, picture quality is very good, skintone looks natural, good use of colors throughout the film and looks great in HD.  Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven but ambiance is well-utilized during a club scene and ambiance during crowd-based scenes.  But for the most part, dialogue and music are crystal clear.

Overall, Sebastian Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” is a fascinating story about love and a story of how a transgender woman must endure hostile reactions from her lover’s family after his death but also from society who are not accepting of her sexual identity. Featuring a wonderful performance from Daniel Vega, “A Fantastic Woman” is a film worth watching!

 

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 22, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Bening no doubt gives an award-winning performance of Gloria Grahame at her most liveliest and to her final days.  Because of her brilliant performance, I was captivated by “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”

Images courtesy of © 20117 DANJAO, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 106 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Language, Some Sexual Content and Brief Nudity)

AVAILABLE ON: April 24, 2018


Based on the Memoir by Peter Turner

Directed by Paul McGuigan

Screenplay by Matt Greenhalgh

Produced by Barbara Broccoli, Colin Vaines

Co-Producer: Andrew Noble

Associate Producer: Amanda Schiff,Jayne-Ann Tenggren

Music by J. Ralph

Cinematography by Urszuka Pontikos

Edited by Nick Emerson

Casting by Debbie McWillilams

Production Design by Eve Stewart

Art Direction by Barbara Matis

Set Decoration by Joanne Ling

Art Direction by Tom Weaving

Set Decoration by Liz Griffiths

Costume Design by Jany Temime


Starring:

Jamie Bell as Peter Turner

Annette Bening as Gloria Grahame

Julie Walters as Bella Turner

Vanessa Redgrave as Jeanne McDougall

Stephen Graham as Joe Turner, Jr.

Frances Barber as Joy

Kenneth Cranham as Joe Turner

Leanne Best as Eileen

Peter Turner as Jack


Based on Peter Turner’s memoir, the film follows the playful but passionate relationship between Turner (Bell) and the eccentric Academy Award® – winning actress Gloria Grahame (Bening) in 1978 Liverpool. What starts as a vibrant affair between a legendary femme fatale and her young lover quickly grows into a deeper relationship, with Turner being the person Gloria turns to for comfort. Their passion and lust for life is tested to the limits by events beyond their control.


Gloria Grahame is an actress known for both sides of the Hollywood spectrum, and that is the good and the bad.

The good in which she is remembered as a film noir actress who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1952 film “The Bad and the Beautiful” and a femme fatale in films such as “The Big Heat”, “Cross fire” and starring in Nicholas Ray’s “In a  Lonely Place” with Humphrey Bogart.

But she is also known on the other side of the spectrum of Hollywood, unfortunately the darker side when she was married to filmmaker Nicholas Ray (her second husband) and was caught in bed by her husband with his 13-year-old stepson, Tony who she would later marry (her fourth marriage).

Unfortunately, the marriage and the scandal later revealed in the media, would damage Gloria Grahame’s reputation and her career.  Which would then lead to custody battles with her third husband and Grahame would suffer a nervous breakdown and undergo electroshock therapy in 1964.

While her fourth and last marriage would end in 1974, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through radiation treatment and the cancer went into remission.

She would leave to the UK in the late ’70s and work in stage productions that is where she would have a relationship with a young man named Peter Turner and the two would remain very close, until the cancer returned in 1980 and would go to live with Turner’s mother for final days and taken back home by her children, where she would die hours after being brought to the hospital.

While Gloria Grahame’s life would be seen as sad and unfortunate, Peter Turner wanted to discuss his life with Gloria Grahame and the positive but also not-so-positive aspects to their relationship but how he and his family stood by her.

Turner would write a memoir based on his life with Gloria Grahame titled “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” and the story would become a film.

Directed by Paul McGuigan (“Lucky Number Slevin”, “Wicker Park”, “Victor Frankenstein”) and written by Matt Greenhalgh (“Control”, “Nowhere Boy”, “Clocking Off”), the film stars Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot, “Fantastic Four”, “Jumper”) as Peter Turner and Annette Benning (“American Beauty”, “The Kids Are All Right”, “The American President”) as Gloria Grahame.

“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” also stars Julie Walters (“Billy Eliot”, “Mamma Mia!”, “Brooklyn”), Vanessa Redgrave (“Atonement”, “Letters to Juliet”, “Coriolanus”), Stephen Graham (“Snatch”, “This is England”, “Tinker Tailor Soldier”) and Frances Barber (“Goal!”, “Goal II”, “Mr. Holmes”).

The film would receive three nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards for “Best Actress”,”Best Actor” and “Best Adapted Screenplay”.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” is presented in 2:39:1 anamorphic widescreen and in English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video. Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels is primarily used for ambiance. But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Commentary with Paul Mcguigan, Barbara Broccoli and Peter Turner
  • Q&A Featuring Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Paul McGuigan & Peter Turner – Malina Saval (Associate Features Editor of “VARIETY”) Q&A with the stars, director and author.
  • “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way” by Elvis Costello Music Video
  • Elvis Costello Performance & Conversation – (4:33) A featurette on how Elvis Costello became part of the film.
  • Making of the Music Video: “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way”
  • Theatrical Trailer

One of the things that cinema fans tend to read is about how the later lives of Hollywood’s top actresses led them a reclusive lifestyle or some who have faced the hardships of the lack of roles, lack of popularity and the dwindling of fame.  Some who tried to go through plastic surgery to look like they were when they were younger.

Watching “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”, we see a side of Gloria Grahame that people may have not known and made you wonder even more about her state of mind.  Considering what we have seen with a lot of celebrities in today’s world who have been diagnosed with mental health issues, what about Gloria Grahame?

In the beginning of the film, Peter Turner, a young man pursuing acting moves into a theatrical boarding house and the landlord describes the lady living there as a bygone actress who has gone crazy.

Peter Turner would be invited by Gloria to dance with her during the disco years and popularity of “Saturday Night Fever” and from then on, these two would strike a relationship.

The film depicts a relationship that is full of love and “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”, while the main focus is on Gloria Grahame’s final years and final days and her relationship with Peter Turner, the film is purely a love story.  Yes, it’s based on Peter Turner’s account but it shows a young man who loved Gloria Grahame unconditionally, and a Gloria Grahame who knew she was dying but didn’t want to worry Peter or his family that she became attached to.

Now their relationship was not all butterflies and rainbows, there were times where Peter had to be careful because any discussion of her looking old or how she was too old for him (she was 55 and he was 26), was like stepping on a landmine, even though he was joking with her.  The film emphasized Gloria Grahame’s anger towards Turner when it came up.

As for her scandal, it is touched upon, as Peter went to meet Gloria’s mother and sister and her sister brought up the scandal which surprisingly didn’t lead to a scuffle between sisters, but it was the first time Peter found out about Gloria and her fourth husband.

But this is a love story and the years that Peter Turner and Gloria Grahame had together was no doubt special (you can read more with his article on the Daily Mail).

But what led to their breakup?  What led to her moving in with the Turner family?  There is so much featured in this film that filmmaker Paul Mcguigan and writer Matt Greenhalgh were able to weave in and while Jamie Bell did a great job of playing the role of Peter Turner, very much of the film was dependent on the performance of Annette Bening as Gloria Grahame.

And Annette Bening absolutely nailed it.  As she had nailed it with her performances in “The Grifters”, “American Beauty”, “Being Julia” and “The Kids Are All Right”, she is absolutely brilliant “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”.

Bening no doubt gives an award-winning performance of Gloria Grahame at her most liveliest and to her final days.  Because of her brilliant performance, I was captivated by “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”. Enjoyed it so much that I had to go on social media to post of how much I enjoyed the film.

While “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” may not have done well in the box office, as today’s audiences are all about action and visual effects, with the release of the film on DVD, hopefully a cineaste will give this film a try.


 

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is a fascinating film and possibly one of the best performances in Richard Gere’s career.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Oppenheimer Strategies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 110 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, English SDH – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Some Language)

AVAILABLE ON: July 11, 2017


Directed by Joseph Cedar

Written by Joseph Cedar

Produced by Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, David Mandil, Oren Moverman, Eyal Rimmon, Gideo Tadmor

Executive Produced by Michael Graidy, Caroline Kaplan, Jim Kaufman, Amanda Marshall

Co-Producer: Luca Borghese, Carrie Fix

Associate Producer: Racheli Sternberg

Music by Jun Miyake

Cinematography by Yaron Scharf

Edited by Brian A. Kates

Casting by Jodi Angstreich, Laura Rosenthal, Hila Yuval

Production Design by Kalina Ivanov, Arad Sawat

Art Direction by Barbara Matis

Set Decoration by Joanne Ling

Art Direction by Barbara Matis

Costume Design by Michelle Matland


Starring:

Richard Gere as Norman Oppenheimer

Lior Ashkenazi as Micha Eshel

Michael Sheen as Philip Cohen

Charlotte Gainsbourg as Alex Green

Dan Stevens as Bill Kavish

Steve Buscemi as Rabbi Blumenthal

Jonathan Avigdori as Lior Keshet

Yehuda Almagor as Duvy

Caitlin O’Connell as Sister Agnes

Hank Azaria as Srul Katz

Harris Yulin as Jo Wilf


Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) lives a lonely life in the margins of New York City power and money, and strives to be everyone’s friend. His incessant networking leads him nowhere until he ends up befriending a young but charismatic politician, Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), at a low point in his life. Three years later, the politician becomes the Prime Minister of Israel. Norman uses Eshel’s name to leverage his biggest deal ever: a series of quid pro quo transactions linking the Prime Minister to Norman’s nephew (Michael Sheen), a rabbi (Steve Buscemi), a mogul (Harris Yulin), his assistant (Dan Stevens) and a treasury official from the Ivory Coast. Norman’s plans soon go awry, creating the potential for an international catastrophe he must struggle to prevent. Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is a comedic and compassionate drama of a man whose downfall is rooted in a human frailty all too easy to forgive—a need to matter.


Have you ever met a person, seems like they know everyone, seems like they are very well connected but in truth, they probably are not.

This is the premise of director/writer Joseph Cedar’s “Norman”.  Cedar, best known for films such as “Footnote”, “Beaufort” and “Campfire” has crafted a fascinating film which stars Richard Gere (“Pretty Woman”, “Days of Heaven”, “Hachi”, “Primal Fear”), Lior Ashkenazi (“Big Bad Wolves”, “Walk on Water”, “Footnote”), Michael Sheen (“Kingdom of Heaven”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Underworld”), Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Nymphomaniac” films, “Melancholia”, “Antichrist”), Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”, “The Guest”, “Beauty and the Beast”), Steve Buscemi (“Fargo”, “Armageddon”, “Reservoir Dogs”), Jonathan Avigdori (“The Blacklist”, “Elementary”, “The Unit”) and Hank Azaria (“The Simpsons”, “, “The Smurfs”, “Godzilla”).

And now “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The film revolves around a man named Norman Oppenheimer (portrayed by Richard Gere), a persistent consultant who claims to know everyone important, name drops consistently and always offers to introduce a person to major players in the city.

But does Norman really know these people and do they really know him?

We often see Norman talking with people but the only one he truly has conversations with is with his nephew, Wall Street lawyer Philip Cohen (portrayed by Michael Sheen).

But with everyone else, Norman talks as if he has known people for many years, knows when to take advantage of opportunities but when asked of how he knows these individuals, he clams up and becomes vague.

In truth, Norman is a person who networks to know end, wanting to be part of an important circle, wanting to be important.  And Norman would get the opportunity when he meets an Israeli politician named Micha Eshel (portrayed by Lior Ashkenazi), who happens to be visiting New York.  Seeing the man as great potential to further his networking abilities, Norman offers to pay for expensive Lanvin shoes that Eshel was lookinga t.

Remembering the generosity of Norman, three years later, Micha Eshel has become the Israel Prime Minister.  And because of that generosity that Norman gave to him three years ago, Eshel introduces Norman to the political elites, to the chagrin of Eshel’s political aides.

Seeing this as a way to use his contacts, Norman begins to make promises to New York’s Jewish community, including rabbi Blumenthal (portrayed by Steve Buscemi) and the more exaggerations that Norman creates, especially towards an investigator Alex Green (portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg), the more problems he creates for himself as he is unable to keep those promises.  Or can he?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video. Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels is primarily used for ambiance.  But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional) and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” comes with the following special features:

  • Making the Connection: Norman on the Red Carpet – (4:35) The cast and crew discuss working on the film and interviews on the red carpet.
  • An Evening with Norman – (22:48) A post-screening Q&A with director Joseph Cedar and actor, Richard Gere.
  • Theatrical Trailer

I think that many people have met a person like “Norman” in their lifetime, in fact there are those who probably have that generous side of “Norman” within them.  Wanting to help people, making promises that they may or may not keep and happen to know a lot of people.

Having worked in the political and also the entertainment industry, meeting people like Norman is commonplace.  Doing things that Norman would do is commonplace ala “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality of giving favors and expecting a favor back.

That’s all good and normal but in the case of Norman Oppenheimer, we have a man who lives his life consistently meeting people, networking with people, claiming to know everyone, trying to connect anyone with those people.  They are fueled by it, they are consumed by it and they make promises and never think of the ramifications of what if it doesn’t pan out?

Filmmaker Joseph Cedar has managed to create a great character study of Norman Oppenheimer but what makes this film work is the wonderful acting performance of Richard Gere.

Norman is a man that is persistent.  Finding ways to get invited to top politicians parties (or just showing up and getting inside their homes), knowing the routines of politicians or leaders when they are on their morning jog or just knowing when to strike when the opportunity is hot.  He’s out there, he knows his role and for the most part, Norman does a great job of meeting people and name dropping.  But when he is asked how he knows certain individuals, he clams up.  He doesn’t know what to say, so he plays naive, as if he’s a man that doesn’t want to reveal anything but in truth, he doesn’t know much about the person and vice versa.

And life for Norman changes dramatically when he helps a politician from Israel, Micha Eschel (portrayed by Lior Ashkenazi) by buying him expensive shoes.  It was a major risk but the generosity is remembered by Michael three years later once he becomes the Israel Prime Minister and all of a sudden, Norman is jettisoned into Eschel’s inner circle and meeting key politicians, leaders.

Problem is…he then starts to use these contacts to make promises towards his fellow Jewish community leaders.  And even worse, he starts spouting exaggerations to an investigator named Alex Green (portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg) who specializes in political corruption.

Needless to say, Norman is not aware of how his exaggerations are causing problems nor does he know how badly he has screwed up.  Or has he?

It’s a fascinating and fresh film that you don’t usually see all that much but writer/director Joseph Cedar did a solid job in crafting this film.

The DVD looks great but if you want the best quality, you definitely will want to watch this film on Blu-ray.  The DVD also comes with a few special features as well including a Q&A with Cedar and Richard Gere.

Overall, “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is a fascinating film and possibly one of the best performances in Richard Gere’s career.  Recommended!


 

Land of Mine (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Martin Zandvliet’s “Land of Mine” is a thought-provoking post-war film with a strong message for humanity that militaristic actions which happened after World War II with enemy POWs should never be repeated. “Land of Mine” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Nordisk Film Production. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Land of Mine

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 101 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, German, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Violence, Some Grisly Images and Language)

AVAILABLE ON: June 6, 2017


Directed by Martin Zandvliet

Screenplay by Martin Zandvliet

Produced by Malte Grunert, Mikael Chr. Rieks

Executive Produced by Daniel Baur, Oliver Simon, Henrik Zein

Line Producer: Arno Neubauer, Louise Birk Petersen

Music by Sune Martin

Cinematography by Camilla Hjelm

Edited by Per Sandholt, Molly Marlene Stensgaard

Casting by Simone Bar

Production Design by Gitte Malling

Art Direction by Malina Ionescu

Set Decoration by Katja Schlomer

Art Direction by Seth Turner

Set Decoration by Kay Anthony

Costume Design by Stefanie Baker, Claudia Maria Braun


Starring:

Roland Miller as Sgt. Carl Rasmussen

Louis Hoffman as Sebastian Schmann

Joel Basman as Helmut Morbach

Mikkel Boe Folsgaard as Lt. Ebbe Jensen

Laura Bro as Karin

Zoe Zandvliet as Elisabeth

Oskar Bokelmann as Ludwig Haffke

Emil Belton as Ernst Lessner

Oskar Belton as Werner Lessner

Leon Seidel as Wilhelm Hahn

Karl Alexander Seidel as Manfred

Maximilian Beck as August Kluger

August Carter as Rudolf Seike

Tim Bulow as Hermann Marklein

Alexander Rasch as Friedrich as Schnurr


As World War II comes to an end, a group of young German POWs is captured by the Danish army and forced to defuse and clear 2 million land mines from the Danish coast. With little to no training, the boys soon discover that the war is far from over. Inspired by true events, LAND OF MINE exposes the untold story about the young men who faced overwhelming odds in a post-war world.


Fight the monsters who you are against in war.  But does one turn into the same kind of monster that you are fighting against when your country has the other country’s Prisoner of War (POW)?

For the Danish-German film “Land of Mine”, filmmaker/screenwriter Martin Zandvliet (“A Funny Man”, “Applause”, “Teddy Bear”) takes on that question in his war film that sympathizes with the prisoners of war.

As Nazi German soldiers buried around two million mines around the Danish Coast during their occupation and because of the danger these mines were to the public, the Danish Army used German POWs (a decision by the British military who controlled the area and a violation of the Geneva Convention), the majority of the POWs who were boys to defuse and clear as many mines.

Hated because they are German, there was no sympathy towards these boys because they were German soldiers.  And nearly half of the German POWs were killed or injured with permanent or serious disabilities during the operation.

Today, the subject is still debated as others say the POWs, despite their young age, were experienced soldiers who participated in Nazi atrocities, while others argue that these were kids that were innocent and inexperienced.

For Denmark, it was their belief that the Germans put the mines in the area, they should be responsible for removing them.  And most believed that Germans had no rights and could not expect any mercy after the war’s end.

“Land of Mine” is set days following the surrender of Germany in May 1945 and German POW’s were handed over to Danish authorities out to the West Coast of Denmark where more than two million mines were placed by Germans in the sand along the coast.

Danish Sgt. Carl Leopold Rasmussen (portrayed by Roland Moller) receives a group of 14 German POWs, expecting a group of men but instead they are teenage boys.  These boys were trained for three days by the Danish Army and sent to take on the job by crawling in the sand with their bare hands and removing the pin and explosive from each mine.

Sgt. Rasmussen and many of the locals and soldiers of the Danish army have no sympathy towards the Germans and these boys are rarely fed and work long exhausting shifts.  Because the training was insufficient, we see these young soldiers beg for a break because they are ill, some who feel they rather die because they feel they will never go back home.

But because these boys are not men, should they be treated inhumanely, especially if they have nothing to do with the German occupation of Denmark?  This is the conflict that Sgt. Rasmussen must deal with.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Land of Mine” is presented in 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen and in German/English 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video. Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels is primarily used for ambiance and mine detonations.

But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Land of Mine” comes with the following special features:

  • In Conversation with Director Martin Zandvliet – (17:50) Post-screening Q&A with director/writer Martin Zandvliet.
  • Theatrical Trailer

For anyone who has experienced, watched or learned about war, we often learn about the dirty things about war.  Especially for one’s home country, you learn through school or through cinema of the atrocities committed by the enemy in World War II.

For those of us who grew up in America, we learn about the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany.

But in the case of Denmark, given thousands of German POWs, with the majority of them being young teenage boys, the Danish Army didn’t look at their ages, they pretty much felt that because Nazi German buried over two million mines throughout the Western Coast, the Germans should be responsible for removing them.

And because of the large influx of German POWs, these teenage boys would be responsible for removing them.

What filmmaker/screenwriter Martin Zandvliet does well is showing sympathy to these German POWs.  There is no denying that Nazi Germany did a lot of atrocious things but when you watch “Land of Mine”, you think that these are just children.  Teenagers who were either led to believe they should join the military for the good of their country or their evil leader.  But many of these kids, can they be blamed for what the adults have done?  Are these kids to be seen in the same light as the adults?

We see the change within Sgt. Carl Rasmussen, a hard-edge soldier who could care less about the Germans but when he gets children not men, who are assigned to him to clear out the mines, we see how he’s hard on them, he could care less if they are sick and makes them work.  But when he sees these children dying, getting their bodies blown up, seeing brothers separated and the look on their faces of no hope but death, it gets to him.

This is the ugliness of war.  Even with the Geneva Convention, after World War II, these countries despised the enemies and could care less of their POWs and it was unfortunate that Allied forces were doing some of the things that Germans were being prosecuted for.

Overall, Martin Zandvliet’s “Land of Mine” is a thought-provoking post-war film with a strong message for humanity that militaristic actions which happened after World War II with enemy POWs should never be repeated.

“Land of Mine” is recommended!


 

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

April 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Red Turtle” was an ambitious collaboration, the first for Studio Ghibli with a company and director overseas.  Filmmaker Michael Dudok de With and co-writer Pascale Ferran have truly created a film that is magical and captivating.  I really love this film and I can’t highly recommend it enough.  “The Red Turtle” is magnificent!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Studio Ghibli. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Red Turtle

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 81 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Portuguese and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Thematic Elements and Peril)

RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2017


Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit

Story by Michael Dudok de Wit

Screenplay by Pascale Ferran and Michael Dudok de Wit

Producer: Pascal Caucheteux, Vincent Maraval, Gregoire Soriat, Toshio Suzuki

Co-Producer: Remi Burah, Leon Perahia, Olivier Pere

Artistic Producer/Producer: Isao Takahata

Equity Provider: Serge Hayat

Line Producer: Christophe Jankovic

Music by Laurent Perez Del Mar

Edited by Celine Kalepikis


Featuring the Voices of:

Emmanuel Garijo as The Father

Tom Hudson as the Son (young adult)

Baptiste Goy as The Son (child)

Axel Devillers as The Baby (voice)

Barbara Beretta as The Mother (voice)


Marking the much-anticipated return of Studio Ghibli, this masterfully animated fantasy film tells the story of a man shipwrecked at sea who becomes stranded on a beautiful but desolate island. He learns to live in isolation, seemingly tormented in his efforts to escape the island by a giant red turtle. Miraculously, he soon comes upon a young woman also lost at sea and they create a family together.


Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit had worked on numerous animated shorts.  From “The Monk and the Fish”, “Father and Daughter” and “The Aroma of Tea”.

The touching 2000 animated short “Father and Daughter” made an impression on legendary Japanese animation filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki with the intent for Studio Ghibli to co-produce a film with Wild Bunch but with Michael Dudok de Wit to be part of the project.

Wild Bunch met with Dudok de Wit and it didn’t take long for him to say yes, as he is a huge fan of Studio Ghibli animated films.  And together with writer Pascale Ferran, she and Dudok de Wit would create “The Red Turtle”.

Studio Ghibli giving Dudok de Wit input but for the most part, giving him the creative freedom for this animated project.

Making its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the film would receive applause and eventually critical acclaim.

The film would be nominated for “Best Animated Feature” for the Academy Awards and now “The Red Turtle” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“The Red Turtle” is a film that has no dialogue but yet manages to captivate one’s attention with wonderful storytelling through actions of the characters and their surrounding environment.

The film begins with a man caught in a storm in the ocean and wakes up on a deserted island.

The man tries to leave the island by making a raft made of bamboo but unfortunately, his raft is destroyed when it hits an animal in the ocean.

The man tries to leave again with another raft that he had built, but once again, something in the ocean has prevented him from leaving.

When the man tries for a third time to leave the island with the raft, once again his attempts are foiled but this time, the man finds out that what is preventing him from leaving and it is a red turtle.

When the man spots the red turtle walking inland, the man gets his revenge by hitting the turtle on the head, turning the turtle on its back and jumping on him.

As the man tries to leave the island again with a raft, he feels guilty about what he had done to the turtle and catches a fish to feed it.  But it’s too late, the red turtle had died and the man is racked with guilt for what he had done.

Overnight, while sleeping with the dead turtle, he wakes up when he hears the turtles shell crack open through the center.  When the man looks out to the ocean and turns his head back to the turtle, to his shock and surprise, the turtle is gone and a woman is inside the shell and she is alive.

And when the man tries to take care of the woman and try to revive her, what will happen on the deserted island?


VIDEO:

“The Red Turtle” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). While the film is not a Studio Ghibli film in terms of animation style, the film features simple but yet well-drawn characters (which includes wonderful animated movements such as people running, swimming, etc.) and beautifully drawn environments, may it be the bamboo forests, water reflections, lighting effects, reflections on water, or even ocean water moving towards the shore, the film looks great.   There is no banding issues or artifacts.  Daylight animated scenes are vibrant and overall picture quality is great.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “The Red Turtle” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Englsh Audio Description 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.

While there is no dialogue throughout the film, there is great use of ambiance of life living in a deserted island and a wonderful musical score by Laurent Perez Del Mar.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Red Turtle” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director and co-writer Michael Dudok De Wit.
  • The Birth of the Red Turtle – (56:34) A featurette on the birth and making of “The Red Turtle”.
  • The Secrets of the Red Turtle – (17:44) Featuring director/co-writer Michael Dudok de Wit showing the secrets to sketching the film and tracing for setting up a frame and more.
  • The Red Turtle at AFI Fest Q&A – (20:44) Featuring a Q&A with director/co-writer Michael Dudok de Wit.
  • Theatrical Trailer

I have to admit that I was a little standoffish about a collaboration of Studio Ghibli with another company and director outside of Japan.

Having grown up with Studio Ghibli films, especially with Hayao Miyazaki films, there is part of you that will never forget classics such as “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, “Laputa: Castle in the Sky”, “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”, “Howl’s Moving Castle”, to name a few.

Films that go beyond wonderful animation but stories that touch your soul.  Symbolization through actions that mirror the world, messages in a film that make you think twice and so much included in a film that you discover new things each time you view them.

That is the power of a Studio Ghibli film.  But when I read that Hayao Miyazaki was the person that wanted director Michael Dudok de Wit to be involved in a collaboration project, you can’t just say “why?”.  You have to put your trust that Studio Ghibli wanted Dudok de Wit for a reason.

I personally have not see any of Michael Dudok de Wit’s films, so I didn’t know what to expect with “The Red Turtle”.

When I started to watch the film, I noticed how different it was from the Japanese film productions of Studio Ghibli, but Wild Bunch and Dudok de Wit’s storytelling are strong, the symbolism is strong but most importantly, like Studio Ghibli films before it, this film left me with an emotional impact.  I discovered new things each time I have watched the film (which have been multiple times already).

While character designs may seem simple, the movements and the actions of the characters are what capture your attention.  The environments compliment the characters with reflections to water visual effects but it’s the humanity of the film that you are captivated from beginning to end.

A man who is stuck in a deserted island, feeling isolated, feeling guilty for killing an animal and to see it transform to a beautiful woman.  And where marriage, we know of the words “‘Til Death Do Us Part”, this film is about love between a couple, a love between a family, the joys of growing with your family but also the heartbreak of enduring near tragedy and of course, the process of life of growing old the one you love.

This is a magical love story that needs no words to tell the story.  It’s simple yet complex and it’s a Studio Ghibli, that may be visually different but yet the storyline captures your attention.

I absolutely love this film.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant, the lossless soundtrack is primarily outdoor ambiance and ocean sounds but the musical soundtrack by Laurent Perez Del Mar is emotionally moving.  Also, there are numerous, lengthy special features that admirers of the film will enjoy watching or listening to.

Overall, “The Red Turtle” was an ambitious collaboration, the first for Studio Ghibli with a company and director overseas.  Filmmaker Michael Dudok de With and co-writer Pascale Ferran have truly created a film that is magical and captivating.  I really love this film and I can’t highly recommend it enough.  “The Red Turtle” is magnificent!

 

Toni Erdmann (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It is very common for us cineaste to go back into the past and select films that shocked us, that surprised us and enjoing cinema that inspires us. Films that we are truly passionate for, because of the director’s vision, a film’s creativity and originality and for some auteurs that have created such films, we have regarded these films as a masterpiece. I feel that I can watch Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” over and over, enjoy it and know that I have watched a masterpiece. Each time you watch “Toni Erdmann”, you gain a deeper appreciation for the film and it’s a true feeling that makes you proud that cinema is still alive! “Toni Erdmann” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Komplizen Film. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Toni Erdmann

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 133 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, German, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Strong Sexual Content, Graphic Nudity, Language and Brief Drug Use)

AVAILABLE ON: April 11, 2017


Directed by Maren Ade

Screenplay by Maren Ade

Produced by Maren Ade, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Michel Merkt

Co-Producer: David Keitsch, Sebastian Schipper, Antonin Svoboda, Bruno Wagner

Executive Produced by Ada Solomon

Line Producer: Ben von Dobeneck

Cinematography by Patrick Orth

Edited by Heike Parplies

Casting by Viorica Capdefier, Nina Haun, Amanda Tabak

Production Design by Silke Fischer

Art Direction by Malina Ionescu

Set Decoration by Katja Schlomer

Costume Design by Gitti Fuchs


Starring:

Sandra Huller as Ines Conradi

Peter Simonischek as Winfried

Michael Wittenborn as Henneberg

Thomas Loibi as Gerald

Trystan Putter as tim

Ingrid Bisu as Anca

Hadewych Minis as Tatjana

Lucy Russell as Steph

Victoria Cocias as Flavia

Alexandru Papadopol as Dascalu

Victoria Malektorovych as Natalja


Winfried rarely sees Ines since she left for a high-powered corporate job. So when he drops by to visit, the two quickly find themselves at odds as his quirky antics clash with her slick lifestyle. Determined to be part of her world, Winfried reappears as alter ego “Toni Erdmann,” an outrageous life coach who turns his daughter’s career plans upside-down. In the course of all the madness, the two discover that maybe they have more in common than they imagined.


From filmmaker, writer and producer Maren Ade (“Everyone Else”, “The Forest for the Trees”) comes the German/Austrian comedy-drama “Toni Erdmann”.

The film stars Sandra Huller (“Requiem”, “Uber Uns Das All”, “Brownian Movement”), Peter Simonischek (“Oktober November”, “Geburtig”, “Saphirblau”), Michael Wittenborn (“Wir Sind Die Neuen”, “Ein Freund Von Mir”, “Yella”), Thomas Loibl (“Ende der Schonzeit”, “3096 Days”, “Like a Cast Shadow”), Trystan Putter (“Phoenix”, “War Horse”, “Passion”), Ingrid Bissu (“Outbound”, “BloodRayne”), Hadewych Minis (“Borgman”, “Bloed, Zweet & Tranen”) and Lucy Russell (“Following”, “The Lady and the Duke”).

The film has received critical acclaim and was named “Best Film of 2016” by “Sight & Sound” and won five awards at the 29th European Film Awards for “Best Film” (the first for a film directed by a woman), “Best Director”, “Best Screenwriter”, “Best Actor” and “Best Actress”.  The film was also nominated for “Best Foreign Language Film” at the 89th Academy Awards.

And now “Toni Erdmann” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The film begins with the introduction of Winfried Conradi (portrayed by Peter Simonischek), a divorced music teacher and often likes to pull pranks, take on different personas and sport fake teeth.

Since the divorce, he hasn’t had much of a relationship with his daughter Ines (portrayed by Sandra Huller), a business consultant  and is currently working on an outsourcing project in the oil industry and so, she is always busy and doesn’t have much time for anyone, including her family.  That even Winfried makes jokes that he wants to hire a replacement daughter to cut his nails.

After the death of his dog, Winfried decides to travel to Bucharest, Romania spontaneously without letting Ines know that he is coming.

Surprised by the visit, Ines allows her father accompany him to a reception at the American Embassy with Henneberg, a German oil company CEO and Ines is desperate in trying to secure a consulting contract with him.

While at the reception, Winfried ends up talking to Henneberg and jokes about hiring a replacement daughter to cut his nails and because of this, Henneberg ends up inviting both Ines and her father for drinks.

Winfried gets to see how life is for her daughter as she is constantly stressed out, doesn’t get much sleep and when she oversleeps one day, she gets upset and gives her father a hint that she’s too busy and they will meet up when she has the time.

After a difficult day of trying to win a contract with Henneberg, Ines goes out with her two friends for dinner but out of nowhere, a man approaches and offers them drinks.  He introduces himself as Toni Erdmann and to Ines’ shock, the man is her father in another disguise.  Toni tells the women that he is in Bucharest to attend the funeral of his friend’s turtle.

And this is just the beginning as Ines starts to see Toni Erdmann at major parties and also near her office but she allows her father to continue with his jokes and not acknowledging to anyone that he is her father.

But will this odd behavior from her father push her away, considering how frustrated and unfulfilled she is with work?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, a Blu-ray release of “Toni Erdmann” is available.  With that being said, the film is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and in German/English 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video.  Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels primarily ambiance (especially during scenes with crowds).

But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Toni Erdmann” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with actress Sandra Huller, actor Peter Simonischek and producer Janine Jackowski.
  • Toni Erdmann at AFI Fest – (16:04) Featuring scenes from the red carpet and Q&A.
  • Theatrical Trailer

Whenever one can watch cinema that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you want to watch it over and over again, you know that film is truly special.

Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” is no doubt a special film free from banality, creative and original and not predictable.

It’s one thing to have a film about a father wanting to reconnect with his busy, stressed-out daughter and as the film slowly introduces us to Winnfried and Ines in the first half of the film, showing us how the father is literally a class clown but just wants to be a part of his daughters life.

While Ines is always frustrated, feels underappreciated and literally does whatever she can to win a contract, even if it means meeting a client’s wife to help her with shopping.  You can literally feel the tension, the frustration that she is on a verge of a nervous breakdown.

So, when her father shows up spontaneously to Bucharest without letting her know and during a time she is trying to win a major client, it’s one thing as daughter gives her father a chance to see how her life is.

By the second half of the film, we then start to see her father taking on the persona of Toni Erdmann and somehow ending up at posh parties that she is attends and somehow seeing him continue with this a ridiculous persona but yet letting him continue.

But it’s certain scenes, while very sexual or have a lot of nudity that come out of nowhere and just shows us how Ines is dealing with her life and literally giving a message of “I don’t give a f*ck anymore!”.

And as for Winnfried, as a father knowing that despite her busy and tough nature, somewhere inside her, she still daddy’s little girl.

The performances by actress Sandra Huller and Peter Simonishchek was truly amazing.  Huller gives us a performance of a lifetime and she just gets better and better with each film that she stars in.

Overall, it is very common for us cineaste to go back into the past and select films that shocked us, that surprised us and enjoing cinema that inspires us.  Films that we are truly passionate for, because of the director’s vision, a film’s creativity and originality and for some auteurs that have created such films, we have regarded these films as a masterpiece. I feel that I can watch Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” over and over, enjoy it and know that I have watched a masterpiece.

Each time you watch “Toni Erdmann”, you gain a deeper appreciation for the film and it’s a true feeling that makes you proud that cinema is still alive!

“Toni Erdmann” is recommended!


 

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