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Robot Chicken: Season 7 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Robot Chicken: Season 7″  retains the adult humor and continues the craziness and bold parodies that the series is known for.  While there are some sketches that will appeal to many of the people who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s,  for the most part, if you are into over-the-top, adult humor, especially involving toys and claymation characters, you’ll love this latest season of “Robot Chicken”!


DVD TITLE: Robot Chicken: Season 7

DURATION: (Episodes 121-139) 220 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Adult Swim

RATED: TV MA

Release Date: July 21, 2015


Directed by Zeb Wells

Written by Douglas Goldstein, Tom Root, Jordan Allen-Dutton, Zeb Wells, Matthew Ireland Beans, Rachel Bloom, Jason Reich, Mehar Sethi, Jessica Gao

Executive Producer: John Harvatine IV, Eric Towner

Co-Producer: Ethan Marak

Supervising Producer: Janet Dimon

Line Producer: Victoria L. Howard

Associate Producer: Nakia Trower

Music by Shawn Patterson

Cinematography by Helder Sun

Edited by Matt Mariska, Jenny McKibben

Casting by Ivy Isenberg

Art Direction by Trisha Gum

 


Featuring the voices of:

Seth Green

Breckin Meyer

Matthew Senreich

Dan Milano

Tom Root

Laurent Vernin

Seth MacFarlane

Jamie Kaler

Abraham Benrubi

Victor Yerrid


Adult Swim’s Emmy® Award-winning stop-motion animated series Robot Chicken returns on DVD with 20 all-new episodes from Season 7, including the now famous “Bitch Pudding Special”. Packed with hours of bonus content, Robot Chicken Season 7 will include 20 commentaries from show creators and cast, deleted animatics, outtakes, interviews, behind the scenes, and more.


In 2005, actor Seth Green (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Austin Powers” films) and Matthew Senreich along with writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root went on to create “Robot Chicken”.

Back when “ToyFare” was published, the magazine writers Senreich, Goldstein and Root would feature a humorous photo comic-strip  and sure enough along with Green, the guys would create a sketch comedy featuring parodies of popular American pop culture using toys via stop-motion or claymation.  Inspired by a dish at Kung Pao Bistro, “Robot Chicken” was born and it would air on Carton Network’s “Adult Swim” in 2005.

The show has won an Annie Award including three Academy Awards and as the series will continue for another eighth season on Adult Swim, the seventh season of “Robot Chicken” has been released on DVD in July 2014.

And this time around, the crew bring in more celebrities for voicework but also a few female writers for a fun and crazy season!

For those not familiar with “Robot Chicken”, each episode is about eleven minutes long and features a number of stop-motion and claymation skits. The episodes are not for children as their is profanity and adult discussions on each episode.

For the seventh season, there are a total of 20 episodes:

1. Bitch Pudding Special
2. G.I. Jogurt
3. Link’s Sausages
4. Secret of the Booze
5. Rebel Appliance
6. Legion of Super-Gyros
7. El Skeletorio
8. Snarfer Image
9. Up, Up and Buffet
10. Panthropologie
11. Catdog on a Stick
12. Super Guitario Center
13. Noidstrom Rack
14. Stone Cold Steve Cold Stone
15. Walking Dead Lobster
16. The Hobbit: There and Bennigan’s
17. The Robot Chicken Lots of Holidays but Don’t Worry Christmas is Still in There Too so Pull the Stick Out of Your Ass Fox News Special
18. Batman Forever 21
19. Victoria’s Secret of Nimh
20. Chipotle Miserables

Plus the following specials “Bitch Pudding Special”, the 2013 Christmas special “Born Again Virgin Christmas Special” and the 2014 Christmas/New Year special “Lots of Holidays but Don’t Worry Christmas is Still in There Too so Pull the Stick Out of Your Ass Fox News Special”.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Robot Chicken: Season 7″ is presented in widescreen.  While the series received an HD release last year, for the seventh season, the DVD releases is good as one can expect on DVD. The details can be seen on the toy and claymation figures but there are some jaggedness with animation and DNR is applied.

Dialogue is clear and understandable, while certain scenes with explosions have good dynamic range coming from the front channels.  For the most part, the episodes are primarily front and center-channel driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Robot Chicken: Season 7″ comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary – All episodes come with audio commentary.
  • The Ones That Got Away – (6:07)  A featurette about sketches that got cut.
  • Beneath Harv’s Beard – (6:54) John Harvatine IV gets a shave after losing a bet.
  • Favorites from the Room – (4:00) The creators discuss their favorite sketches.
  • The Gummy Bear Challenge – (5:01) A few of the staff members take the gummy bear challenge.
  • Born Again Virgin Christmas Special – (11:10) The 2013 “Robot Chicken” Christmas special
  • Stoopid Buddy Stodios Takes San Diego Comic Con – (4:02) The crew visits San Diego Comic Con.
  • Cut Sketches – (18:04) The crew discuss some of their cut sketches and feature the sketches (with voice acting).
  • The Making of Bitch Pudding Special – (4:21) A special feature about the making of the Strawberry Shortcake sketch character and how the fan demanded more of Bitch Pudding.

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As a fan of “Robot Chicken”, the comedy around stop motion and action figures/toys was a fascinating and hilarious concept when it was first conceived and still remains crazy, hilarious and fun today!

Sure, the comedy is mature and each episode is about 11 minutes long but part of the allure is how much stop-motion and the amount of creativity that goes into the making for each small stop-motion story in each episode.

I haven’t personally counted on how many stop-motion toy skits there are per episode but I can imagine that the serious takes a long time just to create but most importantly, the creativity that comes into writing for each episode and trying to emulate what is seen on the script and making it happen and believable with the action figures and toys.

But with the seventh season of “Robot Chicken”, it’s even more crazy and raunchy as ever (yes, I know I say this every year).

You can expect a good number of crazy episodes in season 7 as Cobra wants to outdo G.I. Joe when it comes to PSA’s, watch what happens when Punky Brewster become evil, the crew of the video game “Punch Out” visits Doc’s funeral, a Star Trek parody, many “Masters of the Universe” skits, Superman visiting Santa Claus and more!

This seventh season DVD set also features the return of Bitch Pudding, the mean Strawberry Shortcake sketch character in her own special. The DVD also includes the hilarious and crazy Christmas and New Years special titled “Robot Chicken: Lots of Holidays but Don’t Worry Christmas is Still in There Too so Pull the Stick Out of Your Ass Fox News Special”, with one of the craziest parody of “The Chipmunks” which always makes me laugh, each time I have watched it.  And also, the inclusion of the 2013 special which was not included on the season six Blu-ray or DVD.

As for the DVD release, this is a jam-packed and fans should love it as their are many hours of special features.  For one, each episode has audio commentary, then there are a number of hilarious featurettes included and also many deleted sketches and more.

Once again, this is a series not for children.  So, just because there are toys in stopmotion and claymation, there is a lot of profanity and adult humor featured on each episode.

Overall, “Robot Chicken: Season 7″  retains the adult humor and continues the craziness and bold parodies that the series is known for.  While there are some sketches that will appeal to many of the people who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s,  for the most part, if you are into over-the-top, adult humor, especially involving toys and claymation characters, you’ll love this latest season of “Robot Chicken”!

 

 

Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five: Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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A fascinating storyline after the Arrancar arc, we knew life would not be the same for Ichigo Kurosaki, and this latest volume shows how life 17-months later has been tough on him since losing his powers. If you have stayed with this series for the long haul, this second-to-last volume of “Bleach DVD: Original & Uncut” is worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Pierrot. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five – Original and Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 343-354 (288 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: VIZ Media

RATED: 13+

Release Date: June 23, 2015


Originally created by Tite Kubo

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Masashi Kudo

Art Director: Natsuko Suzuki, Sawako Takagi

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Studio Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Fumiko Orikasa/Michelle Ruff as Rukia Kuchiki

Masakazu Morita/Johnny Yong Bosch as Ichigo Kurosaki

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jamieson Price as Sado “Chad” Yasutora

Kentarou Itou/Wally Wingert as Abarai Renji

Masakazu Morita/Johnny Yong Bosch as Hollow Ichigo

Noriaki Sugiyama/Derek Stephen Prince as Ishida Uryuu

Satsuki Yukino/Wendee Lee as Shihouin Yoruichi (human form)

Shinichiro Miki/Michael Lindsay as Urahara Kisuke

Yuki Matsuoka/Stephanie Sheh as Inoue Orihime

Kaya Matsutani/Megan Hollingshead as Rangiku Matsumoto

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Vic Mignogna as Ikkaku Madarame

Jun Fukuyama/Brian Beacock as Yumichika Ayasegawa

Romi Paku/Steve Staley as Toshiro Hitsugaya


A year has passed since Ichigo lost his Soul Reaper powers and resumed the life of a normal teenager. But those ordinary days come to an end when Ichigo meets a mysterious man named Kugo Ginjo, who offers to help him get his Soul Reaper powers back-and gives him only a day to decide! Ichigo is dead set against it, until Uryu is injured by an unknown attacker. Ichigo, powerless to help, turns to Ginjo and is introduced to the group Xcution, whose Fullbring powers Ichigo must face in battle if he ever hopes to get strong again!


Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager who has developed incredible powers has lost it all during his battle with Aizen 17-months earlier.  Since then, he has kept him distant from his family and friends.

No powers, unable to feel the hollow’s spiritual energy, Ichigo Kurosaki feels that he is no use to anyone anymore.  But will Ichigo ever recover his powers?

Find out what happens in “Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five” which features season 16 (episodes 343-354)!


 

So, what is “Bleach”?

“Bleach” is one of those titles, alongside “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball Z” that has managed to capture the attention of anime fans and continues to reinvent itself with new sagas and characters. Created in 2001 by mangaka Tite Kubo, the manga has been published on Weekly Shonen Jump and the animated series has been airing on Japanese television since 2004.

The series has manged to grow its fandom worldwide, especially in the US as the series has aired on television on the Cartoon Network and the various video games for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP have also been popular among the fans as well.

The manga series revolves around teenager Ichigo Kurosaki, who has the ability to see Soul Reapers (a military group that escorts the souls of the dead) and in this case, Ichigo has seen a female Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki. One day, a hollow (a monster that was once a human soul) has come to attack and when Rukia was injured, she transferred her spirit pressure to Ichigo in order for him to fight the hollow.

The series focused on Ichigo and Rukia’s friendship as somehow nearly all her spirit pressure had been transferred to Ichigo and stripping away her soul reaper power and thus Ichigo now has the power to take on the hollows while Rukia helps guide him through the battles with her knowledge. As Rukia temporarily lives with Ichigo, the two together battle hollows.

With the release of “Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five: Original and Uncut”, while the manga series continues after this arc, the anime series ends.  So, this volume begins the 16th season and vol. 26 will be the final season of “Bleach” for the time being (these episodes were released in Japan back in 2012) and there may be a possibility of more episodes with the completion of the manga series.

In this latest volume, Ichigo has lost his power.  While his friends continue to fight against the Hollows, including his sister Karin who has developed the power to see and fight Hollows, 17-months later and Ichigo is still down in the dumps.  Feeling that the loss of power, he can’t do greater things to help the world like he used too.  He also misses seeing his friends from the Soul Society and all he can do is participate in school activities and go to work.

But there is someone keeping his eye out for Ichigo and even Orihime senses that he is being followed.  As does Uryu, and when he goes towards Ichigo’s home, Uryu sees someone running with unbelievable speed.  And the person is not a Soul Reaper.

And by the time Uryu goes to catch him, the assailant injures him.

What is going on and who are these people with special abilities and who is following Ichigo?

The main characters of “Bleach” are:

  • Ichigo Kurosaki – The main protagonist. A teenager who becomes a substitute soul reaper after absorbing Rukia’s powers. Accepting his new powers and wanting to protect everyone around him. Ichiro manages to grow in power with every battle he gets involved in.
  • Rukia Kuchiki – A Soul Reaper who transferred her spiritual power to Ichigo.
  • Orihime Inoue – A longtime classmate of Ichigo who is very caring and manages to develop her spiritual awareness and after her brother is killed by a hollow, she has managed to grow in power which is tied to a hairpin that her brother had given her.
  • Yasutora “Chad” Sado – A friend of Ichigo and very quiet. Developed a sense of seeing hollows and eventually gaining a power of strength and a right arm that is literally a weapon to fight against hollows.
  • Uryu Ishida – A classmate of Ichigo and a descendant of a priest group that hunted hollows known as Quincy. Earlier on, Uryu was a rival of Ichigo due to his hatred towards the Soul Reapers and eventually becomes friends with him.
  • Kon – A modsoul who’s life soul is put into a stuffed lion. When Ichigo is a Soul Reaper, Kon takes over Ichigo’s body, so no one including Ichigo’s family knows that Ichiro is actually not there. Mostly a comedy-driven character known for his perverseness and always complaining about something.
  • Kisuke Urahara – Owner of the Urahara shop and a former captain of the 12th Division in the Soul Society. He caught Aizen converting Soul Reapers to Visoreds but before he can save them, Aizen framed him for the crimes and Urahara fled to the real world.
  • Yoruichi Shihoin – An old friend of Kisuke Urahara who can turn into a black cat. She is the former captain of the 2nd Division and former Commander in Chief of the Secret Mobile Corps.
  • Renji Abarai – Lt. of the 6th Division in the Gotei 13 under Captain Byakuya Kuchiki. Known to be cocky about his skills, Renji cares deeply for Rukia and thus the reason why he is seen with Ichigo and friends.
  • Byakuya Kuchiki – 28th head of the Kuchiki Clan and Captain of 6th Division in the Gotei 13. Stepbrother of Rukia.
  • Toshiro Hitsugaya – Captain of the 10th Division in the Gotei 13.
  • Rangiku Matsumoto – Lieutenant of the 10th Division of the Gotei 13.

VIDEO:

If there is one thing that I’ve always enjoyed about “Bleach” is that for a TV series that is cranked out in Japan, the TV series features a good amount of detail in the background art. The series tends to really showcase quite a bit of locations and thus, not always reusing scenes.

Also, the character designs, despite not always being detailed, is shown great care by character designer Masashi Kudo who definitely respects the original illustrations of Tite Kubo. Some closeups are really well done and there is a good amount of focus on the actual animation during the battle sequences.

For a TV series, especially knowing how in Japan, many of these studios tend to crank them out because they have other deadlines taking on other series, “Bleach” continues to look very good.

As for picture quality, of course on DVD, you are going to see some softness, banding and edge enhancement but for the most part, picture quality is very good on DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five – Original and Uncut” is presented in stereo English and Japanese. Both dialogue tracks are clear and understandable. For those with a modern receiver may want to set their setting to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five – Original and Uncut” comes with the following special features:

  • Clean Opening and Ending – The clean opening and ending themes.
  • Omake – The ending omake for episodes 343-354.

17-months after his battle with Aizen and losing all his powers, it’s interesting to see how dissatisfied he is with life because he can contribute and help out his friends.  Being normal is starting to get on his nerves and he is starting to push family and friends away.

Without spoiling anything with this volume, what I can say is that someone is following Ichigo and there is a new group of supernatural people that have their eyes on not just Ichigo but also his friends.  Something bad is going on and when one of them makes contact with Ichigo, looking for his father.  Suffice to say, it’s driving Ichigo crazy because he can’t do anything to protect his family.

But when Uryu is severely injured, this puts Ichigo in a problematic situation.  What can he do?  And who are these mysterious individuals?

With this latest volume of “Bleach”, it sets up the final volume on DVD for now (the anime series ends with this season/arc).  The storyline is no doubt a new chapter in the life of Ichigo Kurosaki.  Powerless and now just a normal human being, you know that the lead protagonist can only be powerless for so long.  The question is how will he get his powers back?  These new mysterious people in town may have the answers that Ichigo has been looking for.

If you are a fan of “Bleach” and stood with this anime series from the very beginning or have followed the anime/manga series for a very long time , “Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Five: Original and Uncut” features a new storyline not featured on the manga series and no doubt will entertain “Bleach” fans! A fascinating storyline after the Arrancar arc, we knew life would not be the same for Ichigo Kurosaki, and this latest volume shows how life 17-months later has been tough on him since losing his powers.

If you have stayed with this series for the long haul, this second-to-last volume of “Bleach DVD: Original & Uncut” is worth watching!

 

Hiroshima mon amour – The Criterion Collection #196 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Hiroshima mon amour” is an Alain Resnais masterpiece. The filmmaker no doubt has wonderful gems in his oevure, but “Hiroshima mon amour” is a unique film that is ahead of its time and as it had captivated me in my younger years when I first watched the film, the film still entertains me today because I see this as forward thinking, wonderful cinema that I absolutely love. “Hiroshima mon amour” is highly recommended!

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


TITLE: Hiroshima Mon Amour – The Criterion Collection #196

YEAR OF FILM: 1959

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:37:1, French Monaural, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: July 14, 2015


Directed by Alain Resnais

Written by Marguerite Duras

Produced by Anatole Dauman, Samy Halfon

Music by Georges Delerue, Giovanni Fusco

Cinematography by Michio Takahashi, Sacha Vierny

Edited by Jasmine Chasney, Henri Colpi, Anne Sarraute

Production Design by Minoru Esaka, Mayo Petri, Lucilla Mussini

Costume Design by Gerard Collery

 


Starring:

Emanuelle Riva as Elle

Eiji Okada as Lui

Stella Dassas as Mother

Pierre Barbaud as Father

Bernard Fresson as German Lover


A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) engage in a brief, intense affair in postwar Hiroshima, their consuming mutual fascination impelling them to exorcise their own scarred memories of love and suffering. With an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award–nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour is a moody masterwork that delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish.


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A few years after creating his award-winning documentary short “Night and Fog”, filmmaker Alain Resnais would return with “Hiroshima mon amour”.

While many would give credit to Jean Pierre Melville for jumpstarting Nouvelle Vague (The French New Wave) with his 1956 film “Bob le Flambeur” and employing the jump cut, in 1959, Alain Resnais’ latest film would be seen as innovative for its use of miniature flashbacks in creating a unique nonlinear storyline.

The film would become a co-production from both France and Japan and would utilize a film crew and cinematographer from both countries.

“Hiroshima mon amour” would star first-time actress Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”, “Leon Morin, Priest”, “Three Colors: Blue”) and Eiji Okada (“Woman in the Dunes”, “Antarctica”, “The Ugly American”) and would receive an Oscar nomination for “Best Screenwriting” for screenwriter Marguerite Duras, a Fipresci International Critics’ Prize at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and would win the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association in 1960.

The film would receive praise from film critics including filmmakers involved in the French New Wave such as Jean-Luc Godard and Eric Rohmer.

And now “Hiroshima Mon Amour” will receive its first Blu-ray treatment and DVD re-release from the Criterion Collection.

“Hiroshima mon amour” is a story that takes place within 36-hours in Hiroshima, Japan.  A married French actress (portrayed by Emmanuelle Riva) who is filming a film about the effects of the Hiroshima bomb, has a one night stand with a married, Japanese architect (portrayed by Eiji Okada) have spent the night together.

But on the day that the actress is supposed to leave and go back to France, the Japanese architect wants to see her again and for her to stay a little longer.

But the actress tells him no and it’s impossible.

As he becomes persistent of wanting to be with her, the two partake in a series of conversations and we learn more about her life and past relationship, while he contradicts her statements.  Rejecting her perspective and the things she says and continues to pursue her.

But learning of why the actress compares Hiroshima to her youth in the French town of Nevers.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Hiroshima mon amour – The Criterion Collection #196″ is presented in 1:37:1 aspect ratio (black and white) and French/Japanese monaural with English subtitles.

It’s important to note that if one wants the best picture and audio quality, they will want to purchase this film on Blu-ray. But the DVD features very good picture quality as I didn’t notice any damages to the film, white and gray levels are well-contrast, as one can expect on DVD.  And an improvement over the older Criterion Collection DVD release.

According to the Criterion Collection, “Restored in 2013 by Argos Films, the Fondation Groupama Gan pour le cinema, the Foundation Technicolor pour le Patrimoine du Cinema and the Cineteca di Bologna, with support from the Centre national du cinema et de l’image animee, this new digital was created in 4k resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the original camera negative, the internegatives of teh special effects, and various archival footage held at L’Immagine Ritrovata at the cineteca di Bologna.  The original monaural soundtrack was restored by L’Immagine Ritrovata and the Criterion Collection.”

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hiroshima mon amour – The Criterion Collection #196″ comes with the following special features:

  • Alain Resnais – (5:42) Featuring an interview with Alain Resnais in 1961 for the TV show “Cinepanorama” and in (10:52) 1980 with Francois Chalais for “Le Cinema des cienastes”.
  • Emmanuelle Riva – (5:41) Interview with Emmauelle Riva in 1959 (for the debut at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival) and in 2003 with the Criterion Collection (19:19).
  • Francois Thomas on Hiroshima Mon Amour – (26:21) Film scholar Francois Thomas, author of “L’Atelier d’Alain Resnais” in Paris, March 2015.
  • Memory and Meaning: The Music of “Hiroshima Mon Amour” – (10:11) Tim Page, professor of music and journalism at USC talks about the contributions of composers Giovanni Fusco and Georges Delerue.
  • Revoir “Hiroshima”… – (11:13) The process of working on the 4k digital restoration of “Hiroshima mon amour” in 2013.

EXTRAS:

“Hiroshima mon amour – The Criterion Collection #196″ comes with a 30-page booklet with the essay “Time Indefinite” by Kent Jones and “A Conversation About ‘Hiroshima mon amour'”.


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Watching “Hiroshima mon amour” once again, more than a decade later, I watched the film and I realized how the film was ahead of its time.

But where most films that are far ahead of its time tends to have this connotation that audiences don’t get it, I mean far ahead in the fact that the film would showcase an intelligent film about a French woman and a Japanese man, an interracial relationship and a relationship in acquiescence.

Being an Asian American cineaste, I tend to watch these films without thinking about my own race, but with “Hiroshima mon amour”, the film spoke to me at a younger age.  It made me interested in French pop culture.  It captivated me because of the love scenes between two different cultures and both engaged in intellectual conversation.  You just don’t see this in cinema, not just in the past but also in the present.  If anything, today, you are more apt to see an Asian woman with a Caucasian man, but once again, being an Asian American male, this film captivated me because of the characters and its storyline of impossible love.

An arbitrary moment of two married individuals, both happily married but yet found each other, drawn to each other because of the risk, because of the impossibility, longing for eachother but knowing deep inside, it’s never going to happen.

A storyline of two individuals engaged in a conversation and what takes place between the two throughout the day, as we learn about why the French actress does not want to see the man, while the man is intent of wanting to see her again.  It’s a clash between perspectives.  She says one thing, he against it.   She see things a certain way, he sees things differently.

I found this engagement of wits between these two characters to be interesting but even more exciting, bypassing any banality courtesy of its use of flashbacks and stylistic differences courtesy of Alain Resnais choice of using two cinematographers, a Japanese crew for the main story, while the woman’s flashbacks in France, courtesy of a French crew.

Because of its stylistic differences from traditional cinema and it was one of the earlier films to be part of Nouvelle Vague (the French New Wave), it was seen as unique and different.  A tete-a-tete that makes you want to see if any of the two will give in to each other, while seeing how the horrors of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima is weaved into the storyline but also how it’s woven into this intricate and wonderful film that I still enjoy to this day.

While I am reviewing the 2015 DVD version of this film, it is important for me to emphasize that if you want the best picture quality, the Blu-ray release is the way to go.  The 2015 DVD is very good and crisper and sharper than its previous Criterion Collection counterpart and also includes a few new special features as well.

Overall, “Hiroshima mon amour” is an Alain Resnais masterpiece.  The filmmaker no doubt has wonderful gems in his oevure, but “Hiroshima mon amour” is a unique film that is ahead of its time and as it had captivated me in my younger years when I first watched the film, the film still entertains me today because I see this as forward thinking, wonderful cinema that I absolutely love.

“Hiroshima mon amour” is highly recommended!

 

Here Is Your Life – The Criterion Collection #766 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Mesmerizing!  Jan Troell’s “Here Is Your Life” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1966 An Svensk Filmindustri. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Here Is Your Life – The Criterion Collection #766

YEAR OF FILM: 1966

DURATION: 168 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and white/color, 1:66:1 Aspect Ratio, Swedish Monaural, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: The Criterion Collection

RELEASED DATE: July 14, 2015


Directed by Jan Troell

Based on the Novel “Romanem om Olof” by Eyvind Johnson

Written by Bengt Forslund and Jan Troell

Produced by Bengt Forslund

Cinematography by Jan Troell

Edited by Jan Troell

Art Direction by Rolf Boman

Costume design by Knut Nylen


Starring:

Eddie Axberg as Olof Persson

Gudrun Brost as Olof’s Stepmother

Ulla Akselson as Olof’s Mother

Bo Wahlstrom as Older Brother

Rick Axberg as Second Brother

Holger Lowenadler as Kristiansson

Goran Lindberg as Olsson

Tage Sjogren as Lund

Tage Johnson as Linus

Allan Edwall as August

Max von Sydow as Smalands-Pelle

Ulf Palme as Larsson

Jan-Erik Lindqvist as Johansson


This mesmerizing debut by the great Swedish director Jan Troell (The Emigrants, The New Land) is an epic bildungsroman and a multilayered representation of early twentieth-century Sweden. Based on a series of semi-autobiographical novels by Nobel Prize winner Eyvind Johnson, Here Is Your Life follows a working-class boy’s development, from naive teenager to intellectually curious young adult, from logger to movie projectionist to politically engaged man of the people—all set against the backdrop of a slowly industrializing rural landscape. With its mix of modernist visual ingenuity and elegantly structured storytelling, this enchanting film—presented here in its original nearly three-hour cut—is a reminder that Troell is one of European cinema’s greatest and most sensitive illuminators of the human condition.


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While filmmaker Jan Troell will be known for his working relationship with Max von Sydow for films such as “The Emigrants”, “The New Land”, “Hamsun” and his 2008 film “Everlasting Moments”, he will also be known for his Swedish drama, “Here Is Your Life”.

Directed and co-written along with Bengst Forlund and created with a low-budget, the film was an adaptation of Eyvind Johnson’s semi-autobiographical series of four novels “Romanem om Olof”.

The film won Gold and Silver Hugo Awards at the 1967 Chicago International Film Festival for “Best Film” and “Best Director”, winner of “Best Director” at the 4th Guldbagge Awards, “Here Is Your Life” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection in July 2015.

“Here Is Your Life” revolves around 15-year-old Olof Persson (portrayed by Eddie Axberg).  With his aunt not having any money to take care of him, and his family (also not in the best financial setting) trying to nurse his sick father, while his mother tries to feed the other children in the family.  The young Oloff decides to do something about his life and that is to work full time.

Taking up survival jobs such as working at a logging camp and befriending August (portrayed by Allan Edwall), who tells him a story of his deceased wife.

Due to a mishap, Oloff moves on to other jobs which include working at a sawmill , working at a cinema, working at the freight yard, falling for the much older circus queen, Olivia.  Having fun in the outdoors with a friend and more.

This is a coming of age film showcasing a boy who has no choice but to grow up and become a man during a poverty-stricken time in Sweden.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Here Is Your Life – The Criterion Collection #766″ is presented in 1:66:1 aspect ratio (black and white and in color) and Swedish monaural with English subtitles.

It’s important to note that if one wants the best picture  and audio quality, they will want to purchase this film on Blu-ray.  But the DVD features very good picture quality as I didn’t notice any damages to the film, white and gray levels are well-contrast, as one can expect on DVD and the Swedish monaural audio is understandable with no noticeable hiss.  English subtitles are also easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Here Is Your Life – The Criterion Collection #766″ comes with the following special features:

  • Jan Troelle and Peter Cowie – (33:45) Featuring a conversation with co-writer, director, cinematographer and editor Jan Troell and film historian Peter Cowie in Sweden, March 2015.
  • Eddie Axberg  – (15:46) Interview with actor Eddie Axberg in Stockholm, March 2015.
  • Bengt Forslund – (14:54) Interview with producer co-writer Bengt Forslund in Stockholm, March 2015.
  • Interlude in the Marshland – (30:09) A short from Jan Troell’s 1965 omnibus film “4×4″.

EXTRAS:

“Here Is Your Life – The Criterion Collection #766″ comes with an insert with the essay “Great Expectations” by Mark Le Fanu.


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Jan Troell’s “Here Is Your Life” is a fascinating film that showcases 20th century Sweden and a teenage boy who has no choice but to start making a living in order to support himself.

Knowing that he can’t depend on his parents (his mother raises his brothers, while his father is sick), he takes on jobs with other older men and literally has to grow up and earn money for himself.

The storyline revolving around Oloff is showing us how this young boy had to endure a harsh life and literally skip over his teenage years in order to work.  Jobs that are not safe but it was the only way he is able to survive.

With each job taken, there is wonderful focus on the characters and the setting.  There is also experimentation as the logging scene features the eldest August telling Oloff a story of his wife, which then becomes a colorful surreal escape from the black and white film, a woman searching for her children but in the end, succumbs to death.  While a scene that is different, it is interesting to see filmmaker Jan Troell taking part on experimental scenes and incorporating it into the final cut of the film.

And while we see Oloff trying to endure each job he takes, we see him grow from a timid young boy to a young man.  A young man discovering his sexual desires, a young man influenced by other men in wanting to make money and more of it.  But also enduring unusual people and situations that make you hope that Oloff is able to have some sort of good life, for all the trouble he has endured.

As for the DVD release, as mentioned, if you want the best picture quality, then go for the Blu-ray release.  As for the DVD release itself, picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD.

As the majority of the film is in black and white, the overall picture quality looks good on DVD and the monaural soundtrack shows no signs of hiss or crackle.  You also get a few special features as the Criterion Collection revisits the filmmaker, the producer/co-writer and also Eddie Axberg who plays Oloff in the film.

Overall, “Here Is Your Life” is quite long at 168 minutes long, but Jan Troell was able to create a mesmerizing film adaptation that makes you feel that the film is authentic and real.  The experimentation and the camera work for the film is also very well done and the fact that Troell and also writer/producer Bengt Forslun had to wear different hats in order to make this a reality, especially for Troell, it’s a surprise of how much he accomplished in making this film during frigid conditions and attention to detail.

Jan Troell’s “Here Is Your Life” is recommended!

 

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2″ is a fantastic, action-packed conclusion to the second season and I can’t wait for a third season! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Shinobu Ohtaka/SHOGAKUKAN, Magi Committee, MBS. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 14-25 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 widescreen, Japanese Stereo and English Dolby Digital 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 13 and up

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun


In their second year at the Academy, Aladdin, Titus, and Sphintus are granted Second Class Citizenship in Magnoshutatt and are allowed to venture outside of the campus. There, the group witnesses the harsh realities of racial inequalities and discrimination among the magicians and the humans. Even though Aladdin is shocked to learn the bitter history between the two races that acted as a catalyst for these prejudices, he is unable to agree with the Academy’s Director Mogamett’s vision of building a “country solely for magicians.” Aladdin also concludes that the magicians at Magnoshutatt are somehow connected to Dark Magic after coming into contact with the black rukh in his class. After learning that Titus defected to Magnoshutatt, the Leam Empire finally declares war. With the powerful Fanalis Corp. leading the attack, the Leam military begins its invasion! As Aladdin stands between the two nations to stop them with his powers as a Magi, some familiar faces come to his aid! Now with even the Kou Empire entering the war, countless black rukh cover the skies. The clash of nations may be just the beginning of the end of this world! Contains episodes 14-25 plus a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


A year has passed and Aladdin continues his training at the Academy with other magicians.

Having made friends with Titus and Sphintus, Aladdin and friends learn that the Academy’s Director Mogamett has a goal to build a country only for magicians, but because Mogamett’s feelings towards non-magicians, the Director may be preparing to start a war.

Can Aladdin protect his friends and the innocent people who are drawn into the war?

Find out in “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2″.

What is “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” about?

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role. But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

And now this shy artist would not only have a hit manga but also anime series!

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college. And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become 22 volume manga series and also a 22-episode anime series.

After completing “Sumomo Momomo”, Shinobu then created “Magi” which would be serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009 and to this day, the series is till ongoing (currently, at 18 volumes) and a 25-episode anime adaptation which was aired in Japan in Oct. 2012 – March 2013 and a 25-episode second season which was completed in Japan.

And now episodes 1-13 of the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” was released on DVD in the United States courtesy of Aniplex in March 2015.

In the second season of the series, the story takes place after Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu have defeated the dungeon.

But with Aladdin wanting to leave and go on his own adventure in order to grow stronger and study magic, the others realize they need to get stronger too and each go on their own direction.

For Aladdin, he knows he must learn how to master his magic and find out what kind of magic he can take control of. But needs to learn the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World”. He comes across a mysterious prodigy from Lea named Titus Alexius. But who is this man?

Alibaba must get stronger, so he decides to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum but he learns that he has two magoi in his body that may tear his insides apart.

Meanwhile, Morgiana goes back to her home of Katarg but is told that if she goes to other side of the mountain, she will be unable to come back to the other side.

As Hyakuren goes back to the Kou Empire in hopes that he will be the new leader but someone else has been assigned as leader.

In the second half of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, Aladdin continues his training at the Academy but the Academy’s Director has his own plans of what he is expecting from the magician’s and that is all out war against non-magicians.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2″ is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Japanese and English Dolby Digital 2.0.

While I was hoping for a Blu-ray release of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”, the series is well-animated, well-shaded and tends to feature hilarious character designs during the more comedy scenes, while showcasing emotion and drama during the most serious situations. Action scenes are well-animated, background art is well-detailed and painted beautifully.

Audio on the DVD is front-channel driven but voice acting is well-done for both Japanese and English soundtracks. Dialogue, sound effects and music are clear.

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2″ comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2″ comes with a slipcase, a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


 

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With the second season of “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic”, we get a whole season dedicated to the training and growth of each of four individuals: Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu for the first half.

But the storyline for the second half focuses on Aladdin and his year-long training at a magician’s academy, growing in power, learning about magic but also preparing for a major war in the Kou Empire as true evil has descended in the land.

As episodes 13-16 focuses on Aladdin’s training, by episode 17, war begins as what begins as a major battle between nations, grows to a major battle against a monster that drains all White Rukh.

But what I enjoyed about this second half of season two is the focus on Aladdin and seeing him grow.  He’s come such a long way since we first saw him and now he’s taller, he’s braver and he’s starting to get a better grasp of what is important to him but also what he wants to fight against.

I know my summary is quite vague but in truth, I really don’t want to spoil or even mentioned in the second half, who appears because the battles are intense and the storyline is quite appealing that it no doubt sets up for even more stories in the future.   Expect to see a few surprises, especially for the viewer who have followed the series for so long.  And especially in the final minutes of episode 5, which I never saw coming!

While I wish “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” received a Blu-ray release, the DVD still looks very good. And the voice acting for both English and Japanese soundtracks are well-done!

The DVD may not have any significant special features but for those who have purchased Aniplex products know by now, the company is known for providing swag. In this case, you get a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.

Overall, “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 2″ is a fantastic, action-packed conclusion to the second season and I can’t wait for a third season!

Recommended!

 

Teen Beach 2 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“’50s surf musical meets modern Disney musicals in the sequel to “Teen Beach”!  If you loved the original, you’ll more than likely dig the sequel!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Teen Beach 2

DURATION: 104 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen, English, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: G

RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2015


Directed by Jeff Hornaday

Based on Characters Created by Mark Landry, Vince Marcello

Story by Dan Berendsen, Robert Horn

Teleplay by Billy Eddy and Matt Eddy

Executive Producer: David Buelow

Associate Producer: Jeff MacVittie

Cinematography by Mark Irwin

Edited by Bron Smith, Lisa Bromwell

Casting by Natalie Hart, Jason La Padura

Production Design by Jennifer Dehghan

Art Direction by Wing Lee

 Set Decoration by Monica Monserrate

Costume Design by Anthony Tran


Starring:

Grace Phipps as Lela

Maia Mitchell as McKenzie/Mack

Garrett Clayton as Tanner

Ross Lynch as Brady

Mollee Gray as Giggles

Chrissie Fit as CheeChee

Piper Curda as Alyssa

Jordan Fisher as Seacat

John Deluca as Butchy

Ross Butler as Spencer

Kent Boyd as Rascal

Jessica Lee Keller as Struts


Dive in and rock out with the hottest surf sequel under the sun! Now that summer’s over and school has begun, Brady (Ross Lynch) and Mack’s (Maia Mitchell) relationship seems headed for a wipeout — until Lela, Tanner and the “Wet Side Story” kids show up! Dazzled by the novelty and variety of the modern world, Lela wants to stay, but the real world and the “reel” world just don’t mix. Can Mack and Brady find the magic to get the kids home and get their own romance back on track before it’s too late? Packed with electrifying song & dance numbers and hilarious fish-out-of-water wackiness, TEEN BEACH 2 is “wow-abunga” fun for everyone!


Brady, Lela, Tanner and Mack are back in the sequel to the hit 2013 Disney musical “Teen Beach”, which is available now on DVD!

In the sequel, Brady (portrayed by Ross Lynch, “Austin & Ally”, “Muppets Most Wanted”) and his girlfriend Mack (portrayed by Maia Mitchell, “The Fosters”, “After the Dark”) return to the beach where they first met to celebrate their “Meet-iversary” and to celebrate, Brady shows her “Wet Side Story” on projector and the two have fun watching their favorite ’50s surf musical.

But with another year of high school to begin, the two call it a night but before they depart, Mack realizes that she lost her magical necklace that Lela (portrayed by Grace Phipps, “The Vampire Diaries”, “The Nine Lives of Chloe King”) gave her.

While the two start High School, Brady is hoping he can spend more time with Mack, but being a dedicated activist, she is often hanging out with her equal, Spencer (portrayed by Ross Butler), leaving Brady a bit jealous.  As he wants to just have fun with his girlfriend, she is more interested in organizing a “Save the Beach Dance” and also preparing for college via the college fair.

Meanwhile, in the “Wet Side Story”, the cast is shocked by Lela’s sudden change in script, as she wants to do something differently for some reason.  Lela feels there is more out there in the world and Tanner (portrayed by Garret Clayton) goes after her.  As the two head out onto the ocean, they arrive on land and somehow end up in Brady and Mack’s world in the future.

Shocked by modern technology, Mack and Brady know that they need to send Tanner and Lela back home, but Mack and Brady enjoy modern society and technology so much that they don’t want to leave.

With objects and people suddenly disappearing, Mack and Brady fear that if Tanner and Lela never go back to the movie world, then they would never meet and become a couple.

Can Mack and Brady convince Tanner and Lela to go back to the movie world?  Things become complicated when the entire “Wet Side Story” gang ends up in the real world!


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Teen Beach 2″ is presented in widescreen (1:78:1 aspect ratio) and English, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.

Picture quality is vibrant for an outdoor musical series and overall quality is as good as one can expect on DVD.  While I wished the film was presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital, dialogue and music is clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Teen Beach 2″ features the following special features:

  • Cast Dance Rehearsals – (6:15) The “Teen Beach” gang talks about returning for a new film.

EXTRAS:

“Teen Beach 2″ comes with a special necklace (similar to what Mack wears in the film) plus a Disney Movie Rewards code.


 

For those who enjoyed the first “Teen Beach” film, many will enjoy the return of the gang in the 2015 sequel!

Once again, the story of time travel returns as Mack and Brady are on the receiving end as Lela and Tanner come out of the movie world and entire the real world.  An event caused by Mack losing Lela’s necklace in the ocean.

And now with Lela and Tanner in the real world and not wanting to leave, this can cause disruptions in the real world as both Mack and Brady are together for the fact that they are big fans of the ’50s surf musical.  And if Lela and Tanner do not return, then the film probably would have never happened and Mack and Brady would not become a couple.

But with the entire “Wet Side Story” gang now making it into reality, Lela and Tanner will do all they can to bring them back to the real world…if they can!

As the film maintains some of that cheese factor of the original 50’s surf TV shows and films, as it meets with with today’s  modern Disney musicals makes the series quite fun and entertaining.

The songs are hilarious and fun and similar to the “High School Musical” and “Camp Rock” films, it’s great to see something a bit different, but while I enjoyed it (for the fact that I am also familiar with shows such as “Gidget” and the old Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon “Beach Party” films), it’s interesting to see two time periods meet.

And for the most part, I feel that Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Garrett Clayton and Grace Phipps do a good job with their various vocal and dance performances.

While I know there are people who find any revival of ’50s surf musicals to be best left in the past, some may find the humor in “Teen Beach 2″ but also enjoy its songs and dance performances which are much better in the sequel.

Overall, ’50s surf musical meets modern Disney musicals in the sequel to “Teen Beach”!  If you loved the original, you’ll more than likely dig the sequel!  Recommended!


 

House of Cards: The Complete Third Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“House of Cards” focuses on Frank and Claire Underwood and where Frank was always seen as the man gearing himself to become the most powerful man in the United States, we now see Claire now preparing herself to become a powerful woman which pits husband and wife against each other in terms of their political perspectives.  While the third season has a much different vibe and is no doubt setting things up for season four, “House of Cards: The Complete Third Season” is worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: House of Cards: The Complete Third Season

DURATION: 12 Episodes (60 Minutes each)

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen, Dolby Digital English Stereo

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: July 7, 2015


Directed by James Foley, John David Coles, Robin Right, John Dahl, Tucker Gates, Agnieszka Holland

Written by Andrew Davies, Michael Dobbs, Laura Eason, Melissa James Gibson, Bill Kennedy, Kenneth in, John Mankiewicz, Frank Pugliese, Beau Willimon

Executive Producer: Dana Brunetti, Andrew Davies, Michael Dobbs, David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, Beau Willimon, Joshua Donen, Eric Roth

Co-Executive Producer: Robert Zotnowski, John Mankiewicz

Producer: Jay Carson, Karen Moore

Supervising Producer: Frank Pugliese

Music by Jeff Beal, Series

Cinematography by Martin Ahlgren, Peter Konczal, Paul Elliott

Edited by Bron Smith, Lisa Bromwell

Casting by Julie Schubert, Laray Mayfield, Jo Edna Boldin

Series Production Design by Steve Arnold

Series Art Direction by Halina Gebarowicz, Guy Barnes

Series Set Decoration by Tiffany Zappulla, Wendy Ozols-Barnes

Costume Design by Johanna Argan


Starring:

Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood

Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper

Nathan Darrow as Edward Meechum

Mahershala Ali as Remy Danton

Molly Parker as Jackie Sharp

Derek Cecil as Seth Grayson

Rachel Brosnahan as Rachel Posner

Jimmi Simpson as Gavin Orsay

Elizabeth Marvel as Heather Dunbar


In Season 3 of “House of Cards”, President Underwood fi ghts to secure his legacy. Claire wants more than being the fi rst lady. The biggest threat they face is contending with each other. This Emmy®-winning original thriller series stars Golden Globe® winner Kevin Spacey as ruthless and cunning Francis Underwood, who will stop at nothing to conquer the halls of power in Washington D.C. His secret weapon: his gorgeous, ambitious and equally conniving wife Claire (Golden Globe® winner Robin Wright).


Vice President Frank Underwood has now become the 46th President of the United States but the power-hungry politician is starting to have people in his own party working against him.

Meanwhile his wife Claire, who is now the First Lady, desires more power and has her eyes set on becoming more than just the wife of the President of the United States.

Find out what happens to the Underwood’s in “House of Cards: The Complete Third Season”.

What is “House of Cards” all about?

In 1990, the British political thriller “House of Cards” aired on BBC and received critical acclaim. Fast forward to 2013 and an American adaptation of the series was developed and produced by Beau Willimon and is based on the novel by Michael Dobbs.

With the first three seasons streaming on Netflix and a fourth season scheduled for 2016, the third season of “House of Cards” (featuring episodes 27-39) will be released on Blu-ray and DVD.

“House of Cards” is a series that revolved around power-hungry congressman, Francis Underwood (portrayed by Kevin Spacey) of South Carolina, who is the House majority whip. With the election of President Garrett Walker, Underwood is agreed that he would be moved up to Secretary of State.

The first season dealt with President Walker passing over Underwood and not backing their original agreement, which leads to Underwood planning behind the President’s back with a goal to become Vice-President.

We also learn how Frank’s wife is also just as cold and power-hungry as her husband. In season two, Frank is sworn in as vice president but discovers a scandal involving the President that can possibly lead him into power.  But how far would the President go to hide his secrets?

And here we are with season three, with Frank Underwood now becoming the President of the USA, opposition towards him grows within the Democratic Party and while he plans to run for President in 2016, Claire desires to take a position in politics after becoming First Lady and desires even more power.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“House of Cards: The Complete Third Season” is presented in widescreen.  It’s important to note that if you want better HD picture quality and lossless HD audio, the series is available on Blu-ray.

As for the DVD release, picture quality features a dreary, cold style like previous seasons.

While close-ups do showcase detail, the series was never meant to be vibrant.  But on DVD, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Dialogue is crystal clear and the series features a good amount of ambiance that showcases the city environments.  But on DVD, the soundtrack sounds very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“House of Cards: The Complete Third Season” features the following special features:

  • Backstage Politics: On the Set of House of Cards –  (25:00) A featurette on how it takes one year for 13 hours of episodes.  A look at the making of “House of Cards”.

Season three takes a different direction from the previous two seasons of “House of Cards” now that Frank Underwood has accomplished his goal to become a President and has become the most powerful man in the United States.

But the series also focuses on the marriage between Frank and Claire, as both are planning their path of power but in different ways.

As there is dissent within the Democratic Party of Frank Underwood now the President of the United States, his focus is now on the American Works Program to eliminate unemployment but also planning to not run for Presidency in 2016 in return to have Democratic support for his projects.

But also, trying to work with Viktor Petrov, the President of the Russian Federation before the summit meeting. Meanwhile, Claire is determined in becoming the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. but she finds herself at odds with her husband.

But will their differences lead to a problem in their marriage?

As for Doug Stamper, Underwood’s chief of staff, having survived after being smashed in the head repeatedly by prostitute Rachel Posner (in season two’s finale), who has since relocated to New Mexico, a recovering but still psychotic Doug wants nothing more but to find her, by all means necessary.

With the third season leading up to the 2016 Presidential elections, things will never be the same between the Underwoods!

As for the DVD release, picture quality is good, considering the series has always had this murkier style to it.

Dialogue features crystal clear dialogue and showcasing ambiance from its environments, surprisingly unlike last season, a 25-minute behind-the-scenes featurette is included.

Overall, “House of Cards” focuses on Frank and Claire Underwood and where Frank was always seen as the man gearing himself to become the most powerful man in the United States.

We also now see Claire now preparing herself to become a powerful woman which pits husband and wife against each other in terms of their political perspectives.

While the third season has a much different vibe and is no doubt setting things up for season four, “House of Cards: The Complete Third Season” is worth watching!

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC Showdown (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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If you grew up with this action-packed animated series and still appreciate it or want to introduce your own child to watch the 2003 animated series, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC” is a very cool series to tie one over.  While I wish Nickelodeon released a box set instead of a DVD with three episodes (which are far less than the more recent TMNT DVD releases), for those who enjoyed the 2003 animated series, may want to pick this one up.

Images courtesy of © 2015 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC Showdown

DURATION: 65 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital English Stereo

COMPANY: Nickelodeon/Paramount

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: June 9, 2015


Directed by Roy Burdine and Lkoyd Goldfine

Written by Robert David, Matthew Drdek, Kevin Eastman, Lloyd Goldfine, Peter Laird

Executive Producer: Frederick U. Fierst, Norman J. Grossfeld, Alfred Kahn, Gary Richardson

Producer: Sarah C. Nesbitt

Supervising Producer: Lloyd Goldfine

Edited by Richard Kronenberg


Featuring the voices of:

Michael Sinterniklaas as Leonardo (voice)

Wayne Grayson as Michelangelo (voice)

Sam Riegel as Donatello (voice)

Gregory Abbey as Raphael (voice)

Darren Dunstan as Splinter (voice)

Marc Thompson as Casey Jones (voice)

Veronica Taylor as April O’Neil (voice)

Scottie Ray as The Shredder / Ch’rell (voice)

Greg Carey as Hun (voice)

Karen Neil as Karai (voice)


It’s a total Turtles NYC takeover in this retro Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles release.  Leo, Raph, Donnie and Mikey return to New York with one goal in mind: to destroy the Shredder once and for all.  And this battle promises to be a fight to the finish!


In 1984, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird began working on a comic book series titled “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for Mirage Studios. Featuring a darker, action-driven storyline, the comics became major collectors items due to its short print run. And because of the popularity of the comics, Playmates Toys Inc. was approached to create an action figure toyline and before they began working on the risky project, the toy company would only agree to do so, if an animated TV series was created.

Geared for children and featuring characters with color coded masks, spoke with stereotypical surfer dialogue and a love for pizza, the series was a major hit. Created in 1987, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” would air on television through 1996, and along with the TV series, the toyline was also a big success and would continue on with a live action series, multiple video games and also several live action films.

In 2003, the series was resurrected by FOX and with 4Kids Entertainment, the remake would be produced by Mirage Studios (the original series had no ownership by Mirage) and would be more edgier like the original comic books and much more darker than its 1987 counterpart and once again, the series and its toyline would become a major success and would last through 2009.

And over a decade since the 2003 animated series debuted on Nickelodeon, a new DVD release titled “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC Showdown” featuring episodes 21-23 showcasing the battle against the Shredder will be released in June 2015.

In this three episode arc, the Shredder believes he destroyed the turtles but in truth, the Ninja Turtles have had enough and do whatever is necessary to defeat him and the Foot Mystic Ninjas.  But another person has revenge in mind when it comes to the Shredder.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC Showdown” is presented in full screen format. For the most part, the best thing about this animated movie is to see the three different Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their various styles. From the original animated TMNT to the modern day TMNT but also the TMNT from the original comic book series (the darker black and white version). For any fan of the animated series or original comic book series, to see the various Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in one special is fantastic.

Animation is well-done, certain scenes are more detailed than others. But overall, this movie definitely features a good amount of colors, vibrant at times.  I did notice compression artifacts during my viewing of the series, but nothing to hinder one’s enjoyment.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC Showdown” is also presented in Dolby Digital English Stereo. This special is front-channel driven and for the most part, audio and music is clear and understandable. It is important to note that the original actors who recorded for the original animated series are not involved with this movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC Showdown” comes with no special features.


 

I was very fortunate to be around when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book came out and since then, like many other adults who grew up with the franchise, it’s been part of our lives. May it be when were a child watching the animated series or playing the video game at the arcade or at home on a video game console. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” has been a big part of American pop culture for 25 years.

So, the mere thought of bringing the various incarnations of the popular characters together in one animated film is pretty incredible. The storyline bringing the three versions of the Turtles together worked and the whole animated feature was just a wonderful celebration of 30 years with the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.

Just to see the modern TMNT with the 1987 TMNT is awesome. For those who grew up with the original animated series, thinking about it now, especially with the modern, more serious and darker series, the original was pretty light in content and in someways a bit goofy with the surfer-like talking Turtles and their addiction to pizza but considering how many series was back then, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” had an exceptional run through the 80’s and 90’s.

So, having watched the series a decade ago as an adult and watching it with my young son, we both had a good time watching the series.

It’s important for people to know that this DVD release is only three episodes from season one (episodes 21-23).  The series features the Turtles and Splinter going through the Shredders headquarters to take him on, and their enemies thinking they are dead.  Needless to say, the Ninja Turtles face a lot challenges and whether or not they can get the job done and defeat the Shredder!

There is no doubt a level of excitement courtesy of the series showcasing many action scenes.  But considering that many people (with the exception of the fans were around or was a child back in 2013, ) have never watched this series, it’s great for the 2003 series to be released on DVD.  But it also make one wonder why Nickelodeon chose to release these 2003 DVD’s mid-way from season one instead of starting from the beginning.

So, it’s important for those wanting to buy the DVD is that it’s not episodes 1-3 but episodes 20-22.

Overall, if you grew up with this action-packed animated series and still appreciate it or want to introduce your own child to watch the 2003 animated series, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC” is a very cool series to tie one over.  While I wish Nickelodeon released a box set instead of a DVD with three episodes (which are far less than the more recent TMNT DVD releases), for those who enjoyed the 2003 animated series, may want to pick this one up.


 

World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set (a J!-ENT Anime on DVD Review)

May 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series that left me wanting to watch every episode. Humorous, action-packed, unique and unpredictable, “World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set ” is definitely one of my favorite anime releases for 2015!

Image courtesy of © 2015 ANIPLEX INC. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 + OVA (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 Widescreen, Japanese 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested for 13 and Up

Release Date: April 28, 2015


Originally created by the Hunting Cap Brothers

Series Directed and Series Composition by Tensai Okamura

Original Character Design by Kouhaku Kuroboshi

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Misaki Kuno as Kate Hoshimiya/Venera-sama

Erii Yamazaki as Roboko

Kana Hanazawa as Natasha/Professor Um

Kousuke Toriumi as Yasu/Odin

M.A.O as Renge Komadori

Maaya Sakamoto as Kaori Hayabusa/White Falcon

Mariya Ise as Itsuka Shikabane/Plamja-sama

Minako Kotobuki as Miki Shirasagi

Minoru Hirota as Gorō Shikabane/General Pepel

Natsuki Hanae as Asuta Jimon/Dva

Takaya Kuroda as Kyoshiro Jimon

 


What does it take to conquer the world? Every leader of the past has thought of it… but all they have done was to merely dream of its greatness. World domination… nobody has been able to achieve it. Until one little girl by the name of Kate Hoshimiya came along. Kate Hoshimiya will shock the world! How was she was able to carry out such a magnificent stunt? So frightful! So glorious! Could this be… the Zvezda Plot!? The light of Zvezda will shine upon the whole world!


 

In 2014, Okamura and Meteor Hoshizora of the Japanese game company Type-Moon would go on to write “Sekai Seifuku: Boryaku no Zuvizuda” (World Conquest: Zvezda Plot) with plans of three manga adaptations and an anime series produced by A-1 Pictures and direction by Tensai Okamura.

And now, the anime series will be released on DVD courtesy of Aniplex, Inc.

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot” begins with an introduction to Asuta Jimon, a second-year middle school who runs away from home.

Because monsters have been invading Tokyo, a curfew has been implemented in the city and while hiding from authorities, Asuta finds a young girl passed out on the road.

The currently homeless and hungry Asuta Jimon offers her some food and helps get her back on her feet.

The young girl named Kate Hoshimiya tells Asuta that she is actually Lady Venera, the leader of Zvezda, a secret organization that is planning to conquer the world and that she is looking for her stuffed animal named Galaktica.

At first Asuta thinks that she is crazy but immediately, he see a huge monster attacking Tokyo and sees a group of tanks trying to fight it.  He also sees Kate’s stuffed animal and manages to rescue it.  But as the tanks come charging at him, he runs into Kate now in her special outfit and her fellow followers.  She takes her stuffed animal and sees her generate a major weapon from it and realizes, maybe Kate was telling the truth afterall.

Immediately, Kate drafts Asuta into Zvezda and gives him a place to live but also eat.  She introduces him to Goro Shikabane, the strong man of the team; his daughter Itsuka, a girl that wears an eyepatch and is a master at swordfighting; Natalia “Natasha” Vasylchenko, a short and intelligent blonde who barely wears anything but is in charge of the science and technology for Zvezda;  their residential troublemaker, Yasubee “Yasu” Morozumi and is seen often smoking and often the person responsible for the trouble the group gets into; and their robotic girl, Roboko, created by Natasha and is powered by Udo.

And while Zvezda has certain missions they must take part in, before they can conquer the world, targeting the group is the city protectors known as White Light.


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set ” is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Japanese 2.0 stereo.  While I was surprised that Aniplex released this as a DVD, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future, the series is re-released with an English dub and possibly on Blu-ray.

But on its own, animation and background art are great and the anime series is definitely vibrant thanks to the many colors employed throughout the series. Character designs are well-done and well-shaded and art backgrounds are beautifully painted.

Audio quality is clear through the front channels.  Dialogue and sound effects are very clear but once again, it’s important to emphasize that this release does not come with an English dub.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set ” comes with the textless opening and ending, episode 13 OVA preview, trailer and commercials.

EXTRAS:

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set” comes with a collectable special pin-up, soft box cover and mini-poster illustrated by “Juroboshi Kouhaku” and a 2-sided reversible DVD cover illustrated by Keigo Sasaki.


 

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I have to admit that when I watch an anime series, it is rare to find an anime that catches my attention for the first episode alone.

“World Conquest: Zvezda Plot” attracted me immediately for its sci-fi elements and its crazy characters and it happens to be a series that kept me consistently wanting more and more.  So, for me, that’s a very positive sign that I was going to enjoy this anime series entirely.

And having watched Aniplex’s “World Conquest: Zvezda Plot”, it didn’t disappoint me at all and left me wondering if there would be another season?

The series features unpredictable episodes showcasing their group on their path of domination.

In one episode, the group take on Tokyo’s smokers and what happens when they manage to get many people on their side to prevent smokers spreading their second hand smoke on others.

Another episode features the group having to endure Itsuka’s terrible cooking and just the image of Asuta Jimon tasting her vegetables was hilarious!

And as the group tries to accomplish their path towards domination, you have White Light trying to stop them, and of course Asuta not knowing that the White Light’s captain, White Robin, is actually someone he knows very well.

Of course, things become more serious as the series progresses and we get to see more action as the tide turns against the team, but how they endure each challenge, you’ll have to watch each episode.

As for the DVD, this release was only released as a DVD for now with only the Japanese soundtrack.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Aniplex re-releases this title with an English dub but it’s definitely a series that I hope is considered for a Blu-ray release.  Picture quality showcases a vibrant, colorful palette and gorgeous art backgrounds.  Special features are limited, but at least Aniplex included the 13th OVA episode.

And as usual, you get the cool Aniplex swag such as a collectable pinup, mini-poster, reversible DVD cover and more.

Overall, “World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set” has turned out to be a fantastic anime series that left me wanting to watch every episode.

Humorous, action-packed, unique and unpredictable, “World Conquest: Zvezda Plot – Complete DVD Set ”  is definitely one of my favorite anime releases for 2015!

 

 

Winter Sleep (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Winter Sleep” is an entertaining, smartly written, conversational film from director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. A film that uses conversation as a way to bring out the characters, in a similar style of Bergman and Rohmer, I was captivated by the film for its intelligence and beauty. “Winter Sleep” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Adopt Films. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: Winter Sleep

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 196 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, 16:9, Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Adopt Films/Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: May 5, 2015


Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Written by Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Inspired by the Short Stories by Anton Chekhov

Produced by Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan

Co-Produced by Remi Burah, Mustafa Dok, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Olivier Pere

Executive Produced by Sezgi Ustun

Cinematography by Gokhan Tiryaki

Edited by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Bora Goksingol

Art Direction by Gamze Kus


Starring:

Haluk Bilginer as Aydin

Melisa Sozen as Nihal

Demet Akbag as Necla

Ayberk Peckan as Hidayet

Serhat Mustafa Kilic as Hamdi

Nejat Isler as Ismail

Nadir Saribacak as Levent

Emirhan Doruktutan as Ilyas


Directed by the Turkish cinema master, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, this enthralling, brilliantly photographed film won the top prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and was Turkey’s entrant in the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film category. Ceylan’s Once Upon A Time in Anatolia had shared the top prize at Cannes in 2011. Set in the amazingly picturesque Cappadocia region in central Turkey, the exterior scenes strikingly capture the remarkable topography a World Heritage site while the interior scenes bring Rembrandt to mind. A retired actor has inherited a small hotel where he is ensconced with his recently divorced sister, his much younger and growingly discontented wife. A seemingly trivial incident sets in motion a drama of personalities at odds with each other and the paths their lives have taken. The superb cast of actors quickly takes your attention and won’t let it go.


From Award winning Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan (“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, “Three Monkeys”, “Distant”) comes his latest film “Winter Sleep” (Kis Uykusu), an adaptation from the short story “The Wife” by Anton Chekhov.

The film would star Haluk Bilginer (“The International”, “Innocence”), Melisa Sozen (“Hunting Season”, “Cenneti Beklerken”), Demet Akbag (“Eyyvah Eyvah”, “Vizontele”), Serhat Mustafa Kilic (“Remember Darling”, “Veda – Ataturk”) and Nadir Saribacak (“Yozgat Blues”, “Sarmasik”).

“Winter Sleep” was the winner of the Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and now, the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Adopt Films.

“Winter Sleep” is set in Anatolia (western Asia) and revolves around a famous and retiring actor Aydin (portrayed by Haluk Bilginer).  Aydin runs a mountaintop hotel known as Cappadocia and is also a writer for the local newspaper and often researches the history of Turkish theater for a possible book.

He is married to Nihal (portrayed by Melisa Sozen) and lives with her and his sister Necla (portrayed by Demet Akbag).  He happens to be wealthy, educated and quite opinionated.

One day as Aydin and his assistant Hidayet (portrayed by Ayberk Pekcan) are driving to a nearby village, a young boy named Ilyas, throws a rock and shatters his window.  Hidayet takes Ilyas to his father Ismail (portrayed by Nejat Isler), which we learn that Ismail and his family are behind on rent and so Aydi sent a collection agency after them and took away their television and refrigerator and because Ismail resisted, he was beaten by the local police.

As Hidayet tries to get an answer of why Ilyas threw the rock, Ismail slaps his son and breaks his fist on a window to see if they are satisfied with the punishment.  But Ismail’s anger starts to get the best of him and before things get messy, his brother Hamdi (portrayed by Serhat Mustafa Kilic), a local imam (a worship leader in the community), intervenes.

Because of the messy situation, Hamdi repeatedly tries to bring Ilyas in an attempt to make amends with Aydin but because it annoys him, he writes a column of how an imam should be to their community.

But we then gradually get to see how the people close to Aydin resents him because of his critical verbal ways.  His sister Necla feels he uses his power just sitting and writing and criticizing people (and the two often exchange barbs towards one another).  While his young wife Nihal is often disturbed by him and while she tries to give back by fundraising for developing schools, Aydin dismisses her actions as nothing that will result to failure because unlike him, she is inexperienced and not educated.

And this leads to individuals reexamining their relationship to Aydin.

 


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Winter Sleep” is presented in 16:9 and Turkish 5.1 Surround Sound with English subtitles.  If one wants the best picture and audio quality, I highly recommend going for the Blu-ray version of this film, rather than the DVD. With that being said, the DVD does look and sound good, but as best as one would expect for DVD.  I didn’t notice any major compression issues or problems with audio.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Winter Sleep” comes with no special features.


“Winter Sleep” is another wonderful film from filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

But I classify his films, almost in a similar context with French filmmaker Eric Rohmer or Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman in which intelligent conversation dominates the entire film.

I am drawn to smartly written films in which conversations explore one’s perspective towards life and these conversations and their reactions are ways of character development.  Something quite rare to see in today’s cinema.

Earlier in the film, we know of Aydin’s power in the village and how there is a unique divide as he is wealthy, he is very critical and in his mind, his thoughts are almost final and no one can change it.

In showing the character of Hidayet and Ismail or even Hamdi and Ismail, he is not a character that can put himself in the shoes of those who are without money.   He can not and will not care for the poor, he has a set way of thinking.  Why did young Ilyas throw a rock at the window of Aydin’s car?  It’s evident that the young boy despises the landlord who has made his family suffer.

And while Hamdi also despises Aydin, as the imam of his village and also his family is involved, he must try to make sure any friction is calmed before things can get any worse.

But while Hamdi and Aydin’s scenes show the divide between rich and poor, the juxtaposition between Aydin and his young wife Nihal is what I find most interesting.

Nihal’s face shows how distant she is from Aydin, her face shows nothing but discontent of a woman who knows that everything she says to her husband, does not matter.  He is opinionated and everything must go his way and nothing else.  She is not an equal partner in this relationship, she is just a woman that remains with him because of his power, wealth and influence.

But the film wouldn’t be as enjoyable if the women did not at least challenge Aydin in his thoughts and beliefs, both Nihal and his sister Necla do their best to challenge his beliefs, especially of the topic surrounding one should not resist evil.  A debate if one is attacked by something evil, do you let it happen or do you fight back? Will the victim’s choice change the perpetrator if they did not fight back or resist?

But a film examines that for Aydin, does this man have a care, a heart towards the people around him?  Or has his beliefs made him indifferent to others?

As for the DVD, it’s important to note that if you want the best picture or audio quality, a Blu-ray version is available for the film.  The DVD does look good, as one can expect from DVD, and there are no special features included.

Overall, “Winter Sleep” is an entertaining, smartly written, conversational film from director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.  A film that uses conversation as a way to bring out the characters, in a similar style of Bergman and Rohmer, I was captivated by the film for its intelligence and beauty.

“Winter Sleep” is highly recommended!

 

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