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Outlander: Season One – Volume One (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

outlander

Sexy, captivating and an exciting adventure series, “Outlander: Season One – Volume One” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Sony Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Outlander: Season One – Volume One

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 8 Episodes (459 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2015


Directed by Anna Foerster, Brian Kelly, John Dahl

Written by Diana Gabaldon, Ronald D. Moore, Ira Steven Behr, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenney, Matthew B. Roberts

Exeuctive Producer: Ronald D. Moore, Jim Kohlberg

Produced by Matthew B. Roberts

Co-Executive Producer: Ira Steven Behr, Maril Davis, Paulo De Oliveira, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenney

Music by Bear Mcreary

Cinematography by Neville Kidd, Martin Fuhrer, Denis Crossan, David Higgs

Edited by Michael O’Halloran, Liza Cardinale

Casting by Suzanne Smith

Production Design by Jon Gary Steele

Art Direction by Emer O’Sullivan, Fiona Gavin, Nicki McCallum

Set Decoration by Gina Cromwell

Costume Design by Terry Dresbach, Glenne Campbell


Starring:

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh Fraser

Graham McTavish as Dougal Mackenzie

Tobias Menzies as Frank Randall

Grant O’Rourke as Rupert Mackenzie

Stephen Walters as Angus Mhor

Gary Lewis as Colum Mackenzie

Lotte Verbek as Geillis Duncan

Nell Hudson as Laoghaire Mackenzie

Bill Paterson as Ned Gowan

Finn Den Hertog as Willie

James Fleet as Reverend Wakefield

Annette Badland as Mrs. Fitzgibbons

Aislin McGuckin as Letitia Mackenzie


British combat nurse Claire Randall is reunited with her husband after returning from the battlefields of World War II. While on their second honeymoon, she walks through one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles and is suddenly transported to 1743 Scotland, torn by war and rogue Highland clans. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigue and danger when she is accused of being a spy. Forced by circumstance to marry an outlawed Highlander, she finds herself falling in love and torn by her loyalties to two men in vastly different times, all of which may threaten her life and shatter her heart. Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling book series is stunningly realized by Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore in Season One’s first eight episodes.


Based on the best-selling “Outlander” series novels by Diana Gabaldon, a 16-episode series created by Ronald D. Moore (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Star Trek: Voyager”, “Battlestar Galactica”) would air on the Starz cable network.

The series stars Caitriona Balfe (“Now You See Me”, “Super 8″, “Escape Plan”), Sam Heughan (“A Princess for Christmas”, “A Very British Sex Scandal”), Duncan Lacroix (“Vikings”, “Game of Thrones”), Graham McTavish (“The Hobbit” films, “Rambo”) and Tobias Menzies (“Casino Royale”, “Atonement”, “Finding Neverland”).

With a second season to air on Starz, “Outlander: Season One – Volume One” (featuring the first eight episodes) will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2015.

“Outlander” begins with Claire Randall (portrayed by Caitriona Balfe), a World War II combat nurse visiting Inverness, Scotland with her loving husband, Jonathan Randall (portrayed by Tobias Menzies).  The two are deeply in love and while observing a modern Druid ritual on the hill of Craigh na Dun, Claire hears a strange noise emanating from the stones.

As Claire goes to reach for it, she instantly finds herself nearly 300 years earlier in time, during the skirmish between the Redcoasts (British) and the Highlander (Scottish) rebels.  While she sees a man that looks exactly like Jonathan, the man is the cruel and sinister, “Black Jack” Randall, Captain of His Majesty’s Dragoons.

As he is about to rape Claire, she is saved by a Scotsman and befriends Jamie Fraser (portrayed by Sam Heughan) and travels with the Highlanders as their nurse.

Of course, because she is not Scottish, the Highlanders treat her as a spy and don’t trust her and think she is an English spy.

As Claire tries to acclimate herself with her new setting and not sure why she has traveled back to the past and must do all she can to make sure the Highlanders think she is from their era, Claire must be careful.  Especially from the British, especially Black Jack Randall.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Outlander: Season One – Volume One” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  It’s important to note that if you want the best presentation of this series, the Blu-ray is the way to go!

Otherwise, if you are not picky about the quality and you don’t have the equipment to take advantage of HD, then you’ll be happy with the picture and audio quality of “Outlander” on DVD.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Outlander: Season One – Volume One” comes with the following special features:

  • Outlander: An Epic Adaptation – (7:12) Author Diana Gabaldon discusses the adaptation from novel to TV Series, interviews with executive producer Ronald D. Moore and the cast.
  • Authentic in Design: The Dresses & Kilts of Outlander – (6:32) A featurette on the costume design for “Outlander”.

EXTRAS:

“Outlander: Season One – Volume One” comes with a slipcover.


Sexy, captivating and exciting!

The time travel storyline about a woman trapped hundreds of years in the past, not knowing how to get back home and trying to adjust to her new life is quite fascinating and yes, I will dare say it, I absolutely enjoyed “Outlander”!

When it comes to the work of Ronald D. Moore, so far, each of his sci-fi series have been entertaining and I’ve been big fans of the series (despite my feelings towards the latter season of “Battlestar Galactica”).  But when he creates a series, he knows how to get the viewers emotionally involved and making you want to watch episode after episode.

“Outlander” was quite interesting because I was expecting something along the lines of what we have seen in previous Moore series, a lot of visual effects, awesome costume design and cool and also sexy characters.  But with “Outlanders”, you get the awesome costume design, sexy characters but you also get a number of sex scenes and nudity and also, quite a bit of violence… so I’m kind of glad I didn’t watch the series with my child.

But it’s because of how mature, how well-written and how well-acted the series is, is what kept me captivated.  From not knowing what will happen to Claire Randall, as she travels with a group of men, many who look at her as a spy or like some piece of meat.  But despite being a sexual character earlier on, she’s also smart and strong and I love how she sticks up for herself, especially to other men who mistreat her.

But now she is in a conundrum of being stuck in the past and not knowing if she can get back home.  To make things worse, her husband in present-time, his ancestor hundreds of years ago that looks exactly like him, is the ultimate jerk.

Caitriona Balfe absolutely shines as the protagonist Claire Randall and her performance is heightened with the casting of Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Graham McTavish as Dougal MacKenzie.  It also helps to have an antagonist like Tobias Menzies as “Black Jack” Randall.

The costume design by Terry Dresbach and Glenne Campbell is fantastic!

So, for only eight episodes aired, Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore and his writers have done a magnificent job with the first eight episodes and I can’t wait for the continuation of the first season.

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality of this series, Blu-ray is the way to go!  Otherwise, the DVD is good for those who are not as picky and don’t have the equipment to support HD.  You get two special features with the DVD release.  But for those who are hesitant about purchasing because there are only eight episodes, I would not be surprised if the first season receives a re-release with the complete first season.

Overall, “Outlander” is one of the most awesome shows on television.  While capturing the battle between the Redcoats and the Highlanders back in the 1740’s with wonderful cinematography and costume design, the series boasts awesome performances by its talent especially from actress Caitriona Balfe.

Sexy, captivating and an exciting adventure series, “Outlander: Season One – Volume One” is highly recommended!

 

Adventure Time: Frost & Fire (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

adventuretime-frost-a

If you are a fan of “Adventure Time”, I can easily say that you’ll enjoy this 16-episode DVD release of “Adventure Time”. Crazy, hilarious, addictive and so much fun, “Adventure Time – Frost & Fire” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Cartoon Network. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Adventure Time: Frost & Fire

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012-2013

DURATION: 176 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 5.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Cartoon Network/Warner Bros.

RATING: TV PG

Release Date: March 3, 2015


Created by Pendleton Ward

Directed by Larry Leichliter

Written by Pendleton Ward, Patrick McHale, Kent Osborne, Mark Banker, Adam Muto, Merriwether Williams, Rebecca Sugar, Cole Sanchez, Timothy McKeon, Ako Castuera, Bert Youn, Tom Herpich, Thurop Van Orman, Somvilay Xayaphone, Steve Little, Jesse Moynihan, Sean Jiminez, Elizabeth Ito, Luther McLaurin, Armen Mirzaian, Niki Yang, Benton Connor, Dick Gruner

Excutive Producer: Fred Seibert, Curtis Lelash, Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Rob Sorcher, Rob Swartz, Derek Drymon

Producer: Kelley Crews

Co-Producer/Executive Producer: Pendleton Ward

Supervising Producer: Thurop Van Orman

Music by Timothy Kiefer, Casey James Basichis

Production Design by David O’Reilly

Art Direction by Nick Jennings


Featuring the following voice talent:

Jeremy Shada as Finn

John DiMaggio as Jake

Tom Kenny as Ice King

Hynden Walch as Princess Bubblegum

Pendleton Ward As Lumpy Space Princess

Maria Bamford as Wildberry Princess

Niki Yang as Beemo

Olivia Olson as Marceline

Dee Bradley Baker as Cinnamon Bun

Steve Little as Peppermint Butler

Kent Osborne as Joshua

Jessica Di Cicco as Flame Princess


Adventure Time: Frost & Fire is the brand’s latest DVD release and joins the best-selling Adventure Time complete seasons one through four, as well as existing episodic releases, Adventure Time: Finn the Human, Adventure Time: Jake the Dad, Adventure Time: Jake vs. Me-Mow, Adventure Time: My Two Favorite People, and Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere, among others, all of which are currently available at retail. Supported by a huge following that includes more than 18 million Facebook fans, this home entertainment franchise join a strong line of consumer products that includes toys, interactive, publishing, apparel, comics, costumes, posters, youth electronics, and much more. Additionally, Adventure Time continues to grow its roster of collaborators making co-branded products for the brand, with the latest addition Dr. Marten’s, launching a line of boots for juniors and adults that will be available at retailers worldwide this spring.


Join Finn and Jake with a compilation of 16 episodes from seasons 1-6 showcasing the Ice King, Flame Princess, various wizards and more in “Adventure Time: Forst & Fire” on DVD.

The DVD comes with the following episodes:

1. Frost & Fire – Episode 134 – Finn Dreams of Flame Princess and Ice King fighting each other.
2. Earth & Water – Episode 136 – Princess Bubblegum tests Flame Princess to understand why her emotions are volatile.
3. Jake the Brick – Episode 176 – Jake fulfills his lifelong ambition of being a brick.
4. The Prince Who Wanted Everything – Episode 165 – Lumpy Space Princess kidnaps the Ice King.
5. Something Big – Episode 166 – Maja the Sky Witch summons Daren, the Ancient Sleeper and orders him to attack the Candy Kingdom.
6. Return to the Nightosphere – Episode 83 – Fin and Jaken awaken in the dreaded Nightosphere and are buried under a pile of bananas.
7. Daddy’s Little Monster – Episode 84 – Fine and Jake try to save Marceline.
8. Joshua and Margaret Investigations  – Episode 172 – Jake tells Finn and BMO a story about how his parents followed hunted a menace in the fields.
9. Davey – Episode 111 – Finn takes on an alternate persona, Davey.
10. The Pit – Episode 145 – Kee-Oth the Blood Demon kidnaps Jake and takes him to a demonic dimension and imprisons him in a pit.
11. Freak City – Episode 20 – Finn is transformed into a foot by Magic Man.
12. Memories of Boom Boom Mountain – Episode 10 – Finn remembers an upsetting experience when he was a baby.
13. James – Episode 146 – Fin and Jake accompany Princess Bubblegum on her study of the Desert of Wonders.
14. Time Sandwich – Episode 137 – Finn and friends try to retrieve Jake’s sandwich which Magic Man has stolen.
15. Apple Thief – Episode 63 – A mysterious ghost tries to kill everyone at the masquerade ball.
16. Thanks for the Crabapples, Giuseppe – Episode 169 – Iceking, Abracadaniel, Little Dude, The Life-Giving Magi and other wizards go on a road trip.


What is “Adventure Time”?

Pendleton Ward is known for writing for animated series such as “Random! Cartoons” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” and most recently “Bravest Warriors”, but in 2010, Ward would create a series that would become a popular animated series on the Cartoon Network titled “Adventure Time”.

Originally produced by Frederator’s Nicktoons Network animation incubator series “Random! Cartoons”, the short for “Adventure Time” would first become a viral hit on the Internet before being picked up by the Cartoon Network and featured on television in 2010.

Heavily inspired by “Dungeons and Dragons” and video games, “Adventure Time” is hand-drawn animation and is recorded as a group, than with voice talent recorded individually.

With a sixth season of “Adventure Time” having aired, “Adventure Time” has no doubt become a ratings hit for the Cartoon Network.

“Adventure Time” is an award-winning series that revolves around Finn the Human, a 14-year-old boy and his best friend, a talking yellow dog named Jake, who has magical powers to change shape, stretch and shrink.

The two live in a post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo where they interact with friends such as Princess Bubblegum, the Ice King, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Flame Princess, BMO, Lady Rainicorn and more!


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Adventure Time: Frost & Fired” is presented in 16×9. Colors are vibrant, color palette is colorful and while the character designs may lack incredible detail and shading of other animated series (note: background art is shaded), what makes “Adventure Time” work is its abundance of characters, creative backgrounds, locations and more. The series is still colorful on DVD (not as sharp or vibrant as the Blu-ray “Adventure Time” releases) and looks good overall!

The DVD is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. While my picky side would prefer for a 5.1 immersive soundtrack, the fact is that a lot of animated series is presented in stereo. Dialogue is clear! Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Adventure Time: Frost & Fire” comes with no special features:


adventuretime-frost-b

If you love “Adventure Time”, the latest DVD volume “Frost & Fire” features 16 episodes from season 1 through 6!

As one can expect from “Adventure Time”, expect a lot of crazy episodes and shenanigans as Jake and Finn get tied up on various shenanigans with Ice King, Flame Princess, Marceline, various wizards and more!

It’s important to note that anyone can jump in to these episodes without having previous knowledge of the series (as each episode are standalone). The series is pretty much an episode of adventures featuring Finn and Jake and what happens when the come across a variety of characters. Some crazy, some goofy, some evil and more!

Part of the enjoyment I had while watching this series is the fact that it’s not banal. You can’t predict what will happen with each episode as it is not formulaic, crazy things happen and just to see how each character deals with a certain situation, you can’t help but laugh and be entertained.

So, there are plenty of awesome episodes in “Adventure Time: Frost & Fire” to keep fans entertained for now, while Blu-ray and DVD season sets for the first, second and third seasons are currently available.

Overall, if you are a fan of “Adventure Time”, I can easily say that you’ll enjoy this 16-episode DVD release of “Adventure Time”.  Crazy, hilarious, addictive and so much fun, “Adventure Time – Frost & Fire” is highly recommended!

 

To Write Love on Her Arms (A J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

towriteloveonherarms

And for this film’s inspiring story and the continued and positive difference that the non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms, are making in people’s lives, I definitely recommend “To Write Love on Her Arms”.

Images courtesy of © 2014 Possibility Pictures, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: To Write Love on Her Arms

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 102 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Strong thematic content involving addiction and disturbing behavior throughout and for brief language)

RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2015


Directed by Nathan Frankowski

Written by Kate King Lynch, Nathan Frankowski

Story Consultant: Bob Massey, Josh Lujan Loveless, Jamie Tworkowski

Produced by Kim Dawson, David Nixon

Co-Producer: Ralph Clemente

Executive Producer: Larry Frenzel, Pattie Mallette, Jayson Stringfellow, Tom Swanson

Associate Producer: Josh Lujan Loveless, Rick Ramsey, Steve Warner

Music by Robbie Bronnimann, Andy Hunter

Cinematography by Stephen Campbell

Edited by Nathan Frankowski, Gordon Grinberg

Casting by Amy Severson

Production Design by Mark Garner

Art Direction by Kirk Walchek

Set Decoration by Christian Guevarra, Ronald Quiliche, John Tegethoff

Costume Design by Beverly Safier


Starring:

Kat Dennings as Renee Yohe

Chad Michael Murray as Jamie Tworkowski

Rupert Friend as David McKenna

Mark Saul as Dylan

Juliana Harkavy as Jessie

Corbin Bleau as Mackey


Based on the true story that started a global movement, TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS presents a vision of hope, healing and redemption. Kat Dennings (“2 Broke Girls”) stars as Renee, a Florida girl who struggles with addiction and abuse. In a creative blend of artistic fantasy and music conflicted with hard reality, Renee discovers the value of genuine friendships and embarks on a daunting yet courageous journey towards recovery. The film also stars Chad Michael Murray, Rupert Friend and Corbin Bleu.


The American non-profit organization, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), has been helping people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide since its formation back in 2006.

With a goal of bridging the gap between traditional treatment such as rehab, counseling, help lines and having a strong social media presence, thanks to musicians and bands wearing the organization’s t-shirts.

But the story of how To Write Love on Her Arms is quite fascinating and while founded by Jamie Tworkowski in 2006, the story begins with Renee Yohe.

The story of Renee’s life is the story featured in the film “To Write Love on Her Arms” (a.k.a. “Day One”).

Released back in 2012 and shown at a variety of music festivals, the film is co-written and directed by Nathan Frankowski (“No Saints For Sinners”, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”) and co-written with Kate King Lynch (“The Avatars”).

The film stars Kat Dennings (“2 Broke Girls”, “Thor”, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”), Chad Michael Murray (“One Tree Hill”, “A Cinderella Story”, “Freaky Friday”), Rupert Friend (“Pride & Prejudice”, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, “The Young Victoria”), Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical” films), Mark Saul (“The Social Network”, “Grey’s Anatomy”), Juliana Harkavy (“Dolphin Tale”, “House of Wax”).

The film begins with an introduction to Renee Yohe (portrayed by Kat Dennings), how a girl who would believe in fairy tales would be disturbed by nightmares and affected by her dark days.  We see how in high school, despite being diagnosed as bipolar, she chooses not to take her medication.

She hangs out with her best friends Dylan (portrayed by Mark Saul) and Jessie (portrayed by Juliana Harkavy).

One day she was invited to a party and slipped with a drink.  While her friends wanted to leave the party, she wanted to stay and something led to her spirally going downhill.  Avoiding friends, becoming a drug addict and often cutting her wrists.

Two years later, she is drugged out and living with a group of men, snorting cocaine and being raped, she runs away from a heavy abuser and decides to call her friends out of the blue.

Dylan comes to pick Renee up, while Jessie hardly speaks to her.  They end up taking Renee to a place that Dylan works at.  Working for musician David McKenna (portrayed by Rupert Friend), who is a former addict and now tries to help people through his tale of barely surviving because he was hooked on cocaine.

Hearing his story, Renee asks David for help and David along with her friends, try to take her to rehab.  They refuse to take her in because of her self-cutting and how it would affect the others in rehab.  David is told that if he can keep her sober for five days, bring her back.

Unfortunately, her own family won’t take her in because of her cutting and how it affected her younger sister.  So, David agrees to take her in at his home, only if David and Jessie help watch over her.

With strict rules, they must do all they can to make sure she doesn’t do any drugs and not cut herself.

Meanwhile, a musician and friend of David’s, Jamie Tworkowski (portrayed by Chad Michael Murray) stays over their home for a week and tries to encourage David to get back into music with his band but finds himself captivated by Renee’s recovery.

But the question is will Renee be able to recover, will she be rehabilitated and because of her, how will this lead to Jamie and friends start the non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“To Write Love on Her Arms” is presented in 2:39:1 anamorphic widescreen and in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The film is well-shot and its use of visual effects are well-done.  But while I wish this film was released in HD on Blu-ray, the DVD does look good with its vibrant colors during the outdoors and good lighting.  Because of the film’s music, dialogue and music sound very clear through the center and front channels.  With good use of ambiance through the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“To Write Love on Her Arms” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (9:42) Featuring 18 deleted scenes.
  • Making of the Movie – (26:18) A featurette about the making of “To Write Love on Her Arms” with interviews with director Nathan Frankowski and the cast.  Including the real life people who created the non-profit organization.
  • Music in the Movie – (6:24) A featurette about the importance of music in the movie.
  • First Look – (3:12) A short featurette with director Nathan Frankowski discussing how Renee inspired the organization To Write Love on Her Arms, to be created and interviews with the cast.
  • Character Profiles - (11:59) Featuring character profiles as the cast talk about the real-life people they are portraying.
  • On Set Blogs – (3:44) Featuring the various video blogs during the production of “To Write Love on Her Arms”.

There is no doubt that the film “To Write Love on Her Arms” have inspired a lot of people.

The story of Renee Yohee inspired the creation of the Non-Profit Organization but it also took a positive step forward in showcasing an American non-profit organization being built upon one’s battle against addiction, depression, self-mutilation but inspiring others thanks to the efforts of the organization and social media.

The film has been shown at various music festivals and as one hoped for distribution, unfortunately, the film was among the few that were released days before their theatrical release by hackers and unfortunately hurting the film’s theatrical distribution.

But moving beyond the unfortunate, I do feel that “To Write Love on Her Arms” is a film that has relevance for today’s younger generation.

From it’s slick production, visual effects, the use of social media and music, the film also doesn’t portray one who has had such a traumatic life of becoming 100% better.  To show that it’s an uphill battle to stay sober but to also that it’s OK to say that you don’t feel well, but to inspire others to possibly seek help because of one story or the actions by others in trying to get people rehab, counseling or some type of treatment.

I commend director Nathan Frankowski and his co-writer Kate King Lynch of taking a story but giving us a film with visual style but also  to show one young woman’s journey towards rehabilitation and the difficult she faces, but thanks to friends that care, doing all she can to use that energy towards helping others.

But not painting things all sunny and happy, because most often for a lot of these people suffering…there is only darker clouds.  But this film does show that beyond those dark clouds is sunshine, but its going to take work, effort and one’s ability to challenge themselves to move past the darkness and make something positive happen.

“To Write Love on Her Arms” is the story of how the non-profit organization was created, how a 19-year-old named Renee Yohee inspired the creation of the organization, but it’s a story with a positive message that not only will reach beyond Melbourne, Florida but also nationwide and possibly worldwide.

And maybe the film will help someone that is watching it.

As for the DVD, while I wish this film was released on Blu-ray, the DVD does feature good picture and audio quality, as best one can expect on DVD.  There are many special features to also show people the journey it took in making this film for those behind-the-scenes with the non-profit organization, the crew and staff for the film and what they hoped to accomplish.

A portion of the net proceeds of the film will be donated to the To Write Love on Her Arms non-profit organization which is another positive for this DVD release.

Overall, “To Write Love on Her Arms” is a film that is straightforward and it’s not a happy film nor does it pretend to be one.  The life of Renee Yohee was no doubt traumatic, but how she was able to work hard in getting better by wanting to get better is a first step which one can hope will inspire others who are suffering to do the same, by getting the help they need.  But most of all letting them know that no matter how dark those clouds are, their is hope.

And for this film’s inspiring story and the continued and positive difference that the non-profit organization, To Write Love on Her Arms, are making in people’s lives, I definitely recommend “To Write Love on Her Arms”.

 

 

Jasper: Journey to the End of the World (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

jasper

For parents looking for a safe and enjoyable children’s film, “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2008 Toons’ Tales FilmProduction GMBH, Fun Movies, Dacodac Studios, a German-French-Romanian Co-Production. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Jasper: Journey to the End of the World

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2008

DURATION: 60 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Shout! Factory

RATED: For All Ages

DATE: March 10, 2015


Directed by Eckart Fingberg, Kay Delventhal

Written by John Chambers, Eckart Fingberg, Michael Madel

Translation by Martin Quaden

Produced by Sunita Struck

Associate Producer: Roch Lener, Andreas Messerschmidt

Line Producer: Marc Dhrami

Music by Florian Tesslof

Edited by  Reiko Pfeiffer


Featuring the voices of:

Malte Arkona as Jasper

Maresa Sedlmeier as Emma

Christoph Maria Herbst as Dr. Block

Rufus Beck as Kakapo

Torsten Lennie Munchow as Rolf

Christine Leyser as Diva

Manou Lubowski as Jasper’s father

Katrin Frohlich as Jaspers Mother


Join the cutest and most curious penguin you’ve ever seen in the delightful animated adventure Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World!

Down at the icy South Pole, Jasper and his family live a peaceful and happy life. But when he and his brother Junior run afoul of the evil Dr. Block and a scheme to steal some rare parrot eggs, it’s up to the plucky penguin to save the day! With the help of Junior and their new friend, a nine-year-old girl named Emma, Jasper embarks on an incredible journey that will take him to places he’d never imagined before.

With a gentle sense of humor and a bright, colorful animation style, Jasper: Journey To The End Of The World is perfect penguin fun for you and your little one.


In 2008, the animated film “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” was released.

A German, French and Romanian co-production,  the family film will be released on DVD courtesy of Shout! Factory in March 2015.

The film begins with a young penguin named Jasper who feels he spotted a green bird.  As he tells his father, his parents feel that he has a great imagination and doesn’t believe him.  Years later, after the birth of his little brother, he sees the green bird again and then a figure (that is a ship) and tries to tell his family and friends about it, but when he shows them, no green bird is to be found.

Meanwhile on a ship, a nine-year-old named Emma rides with her father, the captain of the ship.  Riding on the ship is the evil Dr. Block and his henchman, who have been trying to capture eggs from a threatened parrot species, Kakapo.  And to use the ingredient from Kakapo’s for his lemonade.

But as Emma spies on Dr. Block, she knows they are up to no good and tries to tell her father.  But his father thinks she is imagining everything and is starting trouble, so he entrusts Emma during the duration of the trip to singer, Madame Svetlana Bolamova.

One day, as Jasper tries to show his little brother Junior around their area, Junior runs off and jumps on icebergs and scares Jasper because his little brother doesn’t know how to swim.

Junior ends up landing on an iceberg that takes him to a far destination and Jasper goes after him.  When he does, the two end up coming close to a ship and the green kakapo, who goes by the name of Agent Kakapo.

The three go on board the ship and they decide to team up in order to find the stolen kakapo eggs.

But when junior starts messing around and runs off, the three end up running into Emma and they tell her of their mission to recover the stolen eggs that Dr. Block has stolen.  Now knowing that Dr. Block is evil, Emma joins the three in hopes they can retrieve the kakapo eggs, but will they succeed?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and in Dolby Digital.  The CG animation is probably best summarized as CG animation that is a bit better than the standard CG animated children’s shows on television.   Animation is well-shaded and the figure movements are good but it’s a European CG style that is not a big-budget animated film but still features good movement and good shading.  And for the most part, most children will enjoy the CG animation.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” comes with no special features.


“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is a enjoyable children’s animated film.

The story about a penguin named Jasper that sees a ship and a green bird, but yet no one believes him.  And a 9-year-old girl named Emma who feels that Dr. Block is up to no good, but yet her father doesn’t believe her.

And their parents for the most part feel they imagine everything despite Jasper and Emma knowing that something is definitely happening, but can’t prove it.

So, when Emma, Jasper and his little baby brother Junior and Agent Kakapo team up in order to retrieve stolen Kakapo eggs, it sets them up in an adventure aboard a ship,  as they try to outwit Dr. Kakapo and his assistant.  But can they?

“Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is a short animated film, but no doubt, a film that will entertain children thanks to its cute characters and adventurous plot.  There is no major violence (aside from Emma and friends being caught and tied up) but these group of friends know they can succeed with teamwork.

The DVD is barebones with no special features, but overall, for parents looking for a safe and enjoyable children’s film, “Jasper: Journey to the End of the World” is recommended.

 

Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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As a fan of Godard’s oeuvre, “Every Man For Himself” is a Godard film that is best experienced than reading reviews about it.  No words can describe the film correctly because everyone will have their own opinion of what the film is about.  But if you have enjoyed Godard’s films from the past to even his later films, one can appreciate Godard’s contribution to cinema.  In this case, a creative, bold and unique film that can never be duplicated.  “Every Man For Himself” is highly recommended!

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

TITLE: Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744

RELEASE OF FILM: 1980

DURATION: 88 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, 1:66:1 Aspect Ratio, French Monaural, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Janus Films/The Criterion Collection

RELEASED: February 3, 2015

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Scenario by Anne-Marie Mieville and Jean-Claude Carriere

Music by Gabriel Yared

Director of Photography: Renato Berta, William Lubtchansky, Jean-Bernard Menoud

Edited by Jean-Luc Godard, Anne-Marie Mieville

Art direction by Romain Goupil

Starring:

Isabelle Huppert as Isabelle Riviere

Jacques Dutronc as Paul Godard

Nathalie Baye as Denise Rimbaud

Cecile Tanner as Cecile

Anna Baldaccini as Isabelle’s Sister

After a decade in the wilds of avant-garde and early video experimentation, Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless) returned to commercial cinema with this work of social commentary, star-driven and narrative while remaining defiantly intellectual and visually cutting-edge. Every Man for Himself, featuring a script by Jean-Claude Carrière (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) and Anne-Marie Miéville (Ici et ailleurs), looks at the sexual and professional lives of three people—a television producer (Van Gogh’s Jacques Dutronc), his ex-girlfriend (The Return of Martin Guerre’s Nathalie Baye), and a prostitute (White Material’s Isabelle Huppert)—to create a meditative story about work, relationships, and the notion of freedom. Made twenty years into his career, the film was, according to Godard, a second debut.

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After a decade of focusing on militant left-wing films and becoming a different type of filmmaker unlike the Nouvelle Vague director that everyone had come to appreciate back in the ’60s, by 1980, Jean-Luc Godard was ready to step back into the mainstream.

With more money and well-known French film stars, Godard would create “Sauve qui peut (la vie)” (a.k.a. “Every Man for Himself”), a film which Godard has called his “second first film”.  It was a film which would lead Jean-Luc Godard to promote the film heavily in the United States but it was also a chance for Godard to show the world of his experimental style of filmmaking, which he had dubbed as “decomposition” (which features slowing down of action via frame by frame).

The film would star Isabelle Huppert (“Amour”, “The Piano Teacher”, “I Heart Huckabees”), Jacques Dutronc (“Sightseers”, “Factory Girl”, “Moonrise Kingdom”), Nathalie Baye (“Catch Me If You Can”, “An Affair of Love”, “Tell No One”) and Cecile Tanner (“Three Colors: Red”, “Requiem”).

The film would earn Jean-Luc Godard a Palme d’Or nomination at the 19980 Cannes Film Festival and nominations at the Cesar Awards, which actress Nathalie Baye would win “Best Actress – Supporting Role”.

And now, “Every Man For Himself” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

It’s important to note that this film is not easy to describe.  It’s a film that is rather interesting because of its out-of-left-field dialogue but also because of it’s unusual characters and the experimentation which Jean-Luc Godard employs throughout the film.  From slow motion shots, music and sounds just being cut or shortened and how far each of these characters go in order to find their own happiness or to survive.

The film is split up into three sections.  In the first section, we are introduced to Paul Godard (portrayed by Jacques Dutronc), a filmmaker who is dating his estranged girlfriend, Denise Rimbaud (portrayed by Nathalie Baye).

Denise is trying to decide if she wants to give up a hotel she shares with Paul and leaving her job from a TV station where Paul currently works.  She is often riding a bike.

The second section features Paul, who is picking up his daughter Cecile (portrayed by Cecile Tanner) from soccer practice and immediately, he has discussion with the soccer coach if he ever felt like touching his own daughter or having sex with her.  We see Paul’s relationship with his ex-wife and his daughter, but also the arguments that he and Denise tend to have.  Meanwhile, Paul meets Isabelle (portrayed by Isabelle Huppert), a prostitute.

The third section focuses on Isabelle and we get to see her life as a prostitute and the unusual requests that she gets.

By the final segment, everything comes full circle and we see the connection between each character.

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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744″ is presented in 1:66:1. Before I begin, it’s important to note that if you want the best picture quality, you will want to get the Blu-ray version of this film.

On DVD, the film looks very good for a film of its age. While I’m sure the Blu-ray version is superior, “Every Man For Himself” shows good contrast, clearer picture quality and grain. While I noticed no film damage during my viewing of the short film.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit DataCine film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative.”

Audio is presented in French monaural and according to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm sound negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 4.”

Dialogue is clear through the monaural soundtrack with no sign of hiss or pops.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744″ comes with the following special features:

  • Scenario De “Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie)” – (5:47) A 20-minute video submitted to the Centre national du cinema, in place of a screenplay, to secure Godard financing for the film.
  • Sound, Image, and Every Man For Himself – (25:54) Film historian Colin MacAbe explores the way Jean-Luc Godard plays with sound and image.
  • Jean-Luc Godard on the Dick Cavett Show - Featuring a promo plus two episodes (25 min. each) of Jean-Luc Godard being interviewed by Dick Cavett for “The Dick Cavett” sow.
  • Godard 1980 – (16:19) A short film featuring Jon Jost, Don Ranvaud, and Peter Wllen interview Jean-Luc Godard;
  • Interviews – Featuring interviews with Marin Karmitz, Isabelle Huppert, Nathalie Baye, Renato Berta and William Lubtchansky and Gabriel Yared.
  • Trailer – Features the theatrical trailer for “Every Man For Himself”.

EXTRAS:

“Every Man For Himself – The Criterion Collection #744″ comes with a 6-fold insert with the essay “Themes and Variations” by Amy Taubin.

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“Every Man For Himself” has always been a film that I look at in a variety of ways.

Jean-Luc Godard back home from vacation.  Jean-Luc Godard has had enough of a decade without money making militant left-wing films and now he wants to come back to mainstream cinema.

While I did enjoy “Tout va bien” in 1972 and for the most part, the Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin collaborative years, the ’70s was a political time in Godard’s life as a filmmaker.

By 1980, the filmmaker was ready to take on mainstream cinema with “Every Man For Himself” which included a promotional effort by Godard to promote the film.  With the support of producer Alain Sarde, who loved Godard’s films, he was able to obtain financing from television stations from France, West Germany and Switzerland.

Unlike his films from the past, “Every Man For Himself” marked a new direction for Jean-Luc Godard, the filmmaker.  A difference of technology (in this case, it was the use of a video tape instead of a storybook) but also a difference in cinema.  People held a newfound respect towards Godard for his contributions to French cinema.

But on the set, like his previous films, Godard was still Godard and his attitude on the set was well-known to be problematic, challenging and troubled.

The fact is that the character of Paul Godard reflected Jean-Luc Godard, the character of Denise was modeled after Godard’s companion, Anne-Marie Mieville.

No one knew what to expect from the film because Jean-Luc Godard never informed them what the scene would be about.

In one scene in the film, Godard has the camera focused on young actress Cecile Tanner who played the character of Cecile.  A daughter who played soccer, while her father asks incestuous questions to the coach about his daughter.  While Godard filmed Tanner close-up, she had no idea of the discussion the two men were having about the character.

For Isabelle Huppert (known for her performance in “Amour” and “The Piano Teacher”), she would have one of the more memorable scenes in the film, because they revolve around sex. And they are sexual scenes that are quite interesting to watch on the big screen and don’t expect to see in a Godard film.

From the character of Isabelle trying to get her sister involved in prostitution, meeting an older single man in his hotel room and wanting to roleplay or a scene which involves with a wealthy businessman with naughty requests.

But it’s a film where actress Isabelle Huppert shined.  A woman who was the neutral balance to the characters, but in Godard’s words, wanted a character that would be a woman in suffering.

Nathalie Baye would portray the woman, Denise, a woman who wanted to escape.  Escape the man, the city, the job, the home in order to go about her new life.

The film today may feel as Godard’s triumphant “fuck you” to humanity considering he is a filmmaker who walked on the beat of his own drum.   Saying things that may have contradicted himself, cinema.  Saying things that irritated his fellow filmmakers and even those closer to him.  But it’s because of his style of non-wavering to traditional Hollywood form and being unique and different that we appreciate about him.

Using freeze frames and other cinema expressions that would drive most traditional and modern cinema viewers mad, yet to not understand why a director would make such a film.  The initial response received from those who watched at Cannes for “Every Man For Himself” is no different to Godard in the past and Godard in the present, people will say negative things about his film, there are those who will praise him for raising that middle finger in his films to no abandon, but this is Godard.  This is cinema! He has done things his way, not everyone’s way.  Every film, every decade we have seen a different Godard but for me, having appreciated his films for his audacious direction and going against traditional Hollywood norm, I appreciate him for that.

But I have to admit that I was a bit taken back, once you watch the Criterion Collection release of “Every Man For Himself” of the promotion he did for the film.  Of course, he was making a mainstream film…yet Godard is Godard.

Wanting to create a film that he believed in and took the opportunity to promote the film with talk show host Dick Cavett (that was no doubt seemed at times during the interview that it could have been a disaster) and the return of Godard to cinema, alas, this movie should have been celebrated as his celebrated return to cinema but instead he experienced the ire of viewers who were not supportive of the film’s provocative sexual scenes.  Which I can definitely see why the film shocked viewers then and I can see viewers being shocked about it in the present.

To save the film after the disaster at Cannes, the film was quickly called as “a work in progress” but later shown to the same journalists without any edits and interestingly, would be called a masterpiece.  “Sauve qi peut” (Every Man for Himself) became the talk amongst critics worldwide.

“Every Man For Himself” had become Godard’s “second first film”.  A moniker which he created and a film that will be remembered for its audacity and while one will never fully grasp what message Godard wanted to send to audiences, it’s a film that one would discover something new each time it’s viewed.

I enjoyed this film greatly because it was so unlike any film he had made previously.  The sex scenes were unexpected for a Godard film, the dialogue was surprising but there was also some of that older Godard with the halting of music, the tragic death scene, the woman looking directly into the camera, the creative play of editing that would drive most movie fans crazy because they were never exposed to Godard’s art of cinema.

As a fan of Godard’s oeuvre, “Every Man For Himself” is a Godard film that is best experienced than reading reviews about it.  No words can describe the film correctly because everyone will have their own opinion of what the film is about.

But if you have enjoyed Godard’s films from the past to even his later films, one can appreciate Godard’s contribution to cinema.  In this case, a creative, bold and unique film that can never be duplicated.

“Every Man For Himself” is highly recommended!

 

 

Whiplash (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Whiplash” will be remembered for its wonderful performance by J.K. Simmons and the intensity of the drum playing scenes by Miles Teller, but no doubt, jumpstart the career for writer/director Damien Chazelle for creating this spectacular, captivating film.  “Whiplash” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Whiplash, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Whiplash

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 107 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:409:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, English, English – Audio Description Track, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Picture Classics

RATED: R (Strong Language Including Some Sexual References)

RELEASE DATE: February 24, 2014


Directed by Damien Chazelle

Written by Damien Chazelle

Produced by Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak

Co-Produced by Nicholas Britell, Garrick Dion, Sarah Potts, Stephanie Wilcox

Executive Producer: Jeanette Brill, Jason Reitman, Couper Samuelson, Gary Michael Walters

Associate Producer: Phillip Dawe

Music by Justin Hurwitz

Cinematography by Sharone Meir

Edited by Tom Cross

Casting by Terri Taylor

Production Design by Melanie Jones

Art Direction by Hunter Brown

Set Decoration by Karuna Karmarkar

Costume Design by Lisa Norcia


Starring:

Miles Teller as Andrew

J.K. Simmons as Fletcher

Paul Reiser as Jim Neimann

Melissa Benoist as Nicole

Austin Stowell as Ryan

Nate Lang as Carl Tanner

Chris Mulkey as Uncle Frank


Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability—and his sanity.


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From director Damien Chazelle (“Grand Piano”, The Last Exorcism Part II”) comes “Whiplash”, a film which he wrote and had a 3 million dollar budget, the film would receive critical acclaim and would receive top audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

“Whiplash” has been nominated for five awards at the 87th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.  And now one of the best films of 2014 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“Whiplash” stars Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”, “Divergent”, “21 & Over”), J.K. Simmons (“Spider-Man” films, “The Closer”, “Juno”), Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”, “My Two Dads”, “Aliens”) and Melissa Benoist (“Glee”, “Tennessee”).

Andrew Neiman (portrayed by Miles Teller) is a first-year jazz student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. He aspires to be one of the greats like Buddy Rich.  He has a relationship with Nicole (portrayed by Melissa Benoist) and has a supportive father, Jim (portrayed by Paul Reiser) in his music endeavor.

When conductor Terence Fletcher (portrayed by J.K. Simmons) visits the school, he accepts Andrew into his studio band as an alternate drummer.

But it is evident immediately that Terence is emotionally abusive towards his students, which is way to bring out their best in them but also instill fear that if they mess up or don’t meet his standards, they will be removed from the band.

When Andrew gets a chance to play the drums and rehearse Hank Levy’s piece “Whiplash”, Flecher is upset and hurls a chair at him for not keeping up his tempo and to prove a point, he mocks and insults him and slaps him repeatedly in front of the class, humiliating him.

The emotional abuse that Andrew starts to endure and his drive of wanting to be the best drummer, leads him to make difficult choices in his life.  But how far will Andrew go in order to achieve greatness?


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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Whiplash” is presented in 2:40:1 aspect ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen) in English, French, Spanish and English – Audio Description track in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

It’s important to note that if you want the best quality of “Whiplash”, you will want to check out the film on Blu-ray as it will offer the best picture and audio quality.

As for the DVD, picture quality is very good as one can expect on DVD and there is a hint of the film grain during your viewing of the film. The film is well-lit and there are so many closeups in this film that, I can imagine the clarity on Blu-ray, but on DVD, there is still good detail.  The film is well-lit and looks good on DVD.

As for audio, the soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Once again, if you are an audiophile, you definitely will want to watch this film on Blu-ray but on DVD, soundtrack is crystal clear and well-utilized from the center, fronts and surround channels.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Whiplash” features the following special features:

  • Commentary with J.K. Simmons and Damien Chazelle – A fascinating audio commentary with actor J.K. Simmons and director Damien Chazelle.
  • An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival – (7:51) A short featurette with actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons with director Damien Chazelle.
  • Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Whiplash”.

EXTRAS:

“Whiplash” comes with an Ultraviolet code and watch the film on various devices.

 


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Once in a while you come upon a film that is made with a low budget that knocks your pants off.

Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” is one of those films!

While not an action film, the drumming for the film is heavy hitting, captivating and you are literally glued to the film.

Created by Damien Chazelle who was a drummer and wanted to share a few of his experiences but to create a story about music competitiveness and one’s drive to achieve greatness, “Whiplash” will no doubt be remembered.

A story about a drummer who wants to be the greatest and an abusive music teacher who wants to find a musical genius, both actors, Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons do an amazing job with their performances and making you believe these characters.

While Miles Teller knew how to play the drums, the intense training he learned for the character role was amazing as you see this young man play the drums with such intensity with sweat and including blood flying around everywhere.

J.K. Simmons is arrogant, pompous and your uber-a-hole of a music teacher but he drives people either to depression or to get them to achieve greatness through his emotionally abusive style of teaching.  Simmons plays the character with such efficacy.

But it’s the writing of Damien Chazelle and the cinematography by Sharone Meir that are gripping.  Chazelle’s writing building up the character of Andrew and how far this young man would go to achieve greatness and Sharone Meir capturing the various emotions, close-up.  But also capturing the wonderful drumming as everything culminates into this powerful scene towards the end of the film.

I enjoyed it so much that I have watched the film several times because I found it so captivating and the ending scene is just incredible.  I absolutely enjoyed the film and it was no doubt one of the best films of 2014 and is deserving of its wins and nominations.

As for the DVD release of “Whiplash”, while I strongly would cajole anyone to purchasing the Blu-ray release for its better picture quality and its lossless soundtrack, but also that the Blu-ray also contains more special features including the original “Whiplash” short film, for those who just want the DVD, should be pleased with it.  The film looks and sounds good on DVD, it’s just not in HD (which is my preference).

Overall, “Whiplash” will be remembered for its wonderful performance by J.K. Simmons and the intensity of the drum playing scenes by Miles Teller, but no doubt, jumpstart the career for writer/director Damien Chazelle for creating this spectacular, captivating film.

“Whiplash” is highly recommended!

 

Violette (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Violette” is a fantastic film from Martin Provost about one of the greatest French writers from the 20th century, Violette Leduc  showcasing an emotional, powerful performance by Emmanuel Devos. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Adopt Films, LLC. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: Violette

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 138 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Adopt Films/Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014


Directed by Martin Provost

Screenplay by Martin Provost, Marc Abdelnour, Rene de Ceccatty

Producer by Milena Poylo, Gilles Sacuto

Co-Producer: Olivier Rausin

Associate Producer: Myrina Mane, Sebastian Schelenz

Cinematography by Yves Cape

Music by Hugues Tabar-Nouval

Edited by Ludo Troch

Production Design by Thierry Francois

Set Decoration by Catherine Jarrier-Prieur

Costume Design by Madeleine Fontaine


Starring:

Emanuelle Devos as Violette Leduc

Sandrine Kiberlain as Simone de Beauvoir

Olivier Gourmet as Jacques Guerin

Catherine Hiegel as Berthe Leduc

Jacques Bonnaffe as Jean Genet

Olivier Py as Maurice Sachs


Violette is a finely nuanced portrait of Violette LeDuc (Emmanuelle Devos), one of the foremost French writers of the 20th century. In a beautifully mounted production, director Martin Provost (Séraphine) depicts LeDuc’s extraordinary life, from her low beginnings as the illegitimate daughter of a servant girl to becoming ensconced in France’s literary elite. In spite of her wretched years as an unwanted child, followed by tense years as a black marketeer during WWII, Violette LeDuc is determined, obsessed even, to make something of her life. Writing is her ticket out of misery, and with the encouragement and mentorship of legendary intellectual Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kiberlain), Violette achieves admiration, renown and controversy for her emotionally raw novels and memoirs, finally winning freedom from wondering where her next meal will come from. Superb performances by Emmanuelle Devos (Coco Before Chanel) and Sandrine Kiberlain (Mademoiselle Chambon) make this gorgeously shot and directed life story an engrossing and memorable cinematic achievement.


Violette Leduc is known for her novels lasting from 1946-1973.

Her first novel, “L’Asphyxie” (In the Prison of Her Skin”), her novel earned praise from Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet.  But it’s her memoir “La Batarde” that would receive prominent acclaim.

But the life of Violette Leduc was never easy, in fact, her life was tense and full of anxiety and misery and her life was brought to the big screen courtesy of filmmaker Martin Provost (“Seraphine”, “Le Ventre de Juliette”).

The film would star Emmanuelle Devos (“Read My Lips”, “Kings & Queen”, “Coco Before Chanel”), Sandrine Kiberlain (“The Women on the 6th Floor”, “Alias Betty”), Olivier Gourmet (“The Son”, “Read My Lips”, “La Promesse”), Catherine Higel (“French Twist”, “A French Gigolo”), Jacques Bonnaffe (“Venus Beauty”, “The Page Turner”) and Olivier Py (“When the Cat’s Away”, “Les yeux fermes”).

The film is set during the final years of World War II.  A hopeful writer Violette Leduc (portrayed by Emmanuelle Devos) lives with her husband, author Maurice Sachs (portrayed by Olivier Py), a gay man who does not love her, but for Violette, she is a woman who needs acceptance but always not feeling wanted.

Violette is the illegitimate daughter of a servant girl and spent most of her childhood suffering from poor self-esteem due to her mother’s cold treatment and excessive protectiveness of her.

And now, she works in the blackmarket trying to secure food products for money.  As Maurice encouraged Violette to write, it wasn’t until she began to focus writing her novel, while working in the blackmarket to survive.

But as she finishes writing her first novel, she sends her book to renown writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir (portrayed by Sandrine Kiberlain).  Simone helps guide Violette by critiquing her novel but was impressed by Violette’s first book as Violette is able to deliver her true self and not hide behind anything.  So, Simone is encouraged to send her final manuscript to publisher Albert Camus for his new collection.  And Simone introduces her to other contemporary intellectual icons such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet and Albert Camus.

But as Violette looks to make a living through her books, her anxiety and low self-esteem start to get the best of her as she receives lower-print runs than her male counterparts.

And as Violette slowly starts to succeed, she begins writing more books, but when publishers ask for revisions, Violette is disturbed, hurt and frustrated that her work will never be accepted.   And when her depression starts to kick-in and prevent her from writing another book, will this be the end of Violette Leduc as a writer?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Violette” is presented in 16:9. Outdoor scenes look good as one could expect on DVD, especially Violette visiting the countryside.  Skin tones are natural and for the most part, the film is colorful and well-presented.

As for the soundtrack, the French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is clear and understandable and the English subtitles are easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Violette” comes with no special features.


Martin Provost’s “Violette” is a fascinating film about author Violette Leduc, one of the well-known writers from France in the 20th century.

While the film centers on her adult life of writing her first book and other books she wrote not long after, the film is clearly a portrait of Violette Leduc, the woman and the emotional difficulties she had faced.

And despite the hardships, Provost shows Violette as a woman who tries her best to take on her demons, to try and take hold of her life, not only to survive but to make it as a writer.  Especially during the times when women had no rights compared to their male counterpart.

Simon de Beauvoir was not only seen as a feminist but also a woman who believed in Violette’s work and for the most part, defended her and did whatever she can to make Violette’s work reach the public.

Unlike many writers who hide behind the truth, it’s Violette’s sincerity that captivated her and and many readers.

And fortunately, the performance by Emmanuelle Devos and Sandrine Kiberlain were both magnificent.  Devos gives an award-winning performance as she must go through the various emotional states of Violette and make us believe the character’s anguish.  Kiberlain, while Simone de Beauvoir is not as emotional, the character remains a pivotal character in the development of Violette throughout the years as a writer.

The film is beautifully shot by  Yves Cape (“Holy motors”, “Ma Vie en Rose”, “White Material”) in capturing the emotion but also the beautiful landscape where Violette goes to escape.

As for the DVD, there is no Blu-ray version of this film that has been released.  And it’s a bare-bones release with no trailers included.

Overall, “Violette” is a fantastic film from Martin Provost about one of the greatest French writers from the 20th century, Violette Leduc  showcasing an emotional, powerful performance by Emmanuel Devos.

Recommended!

 

 

A Day in the Country – The Criterion Collection #746 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“A Day in the Country” may be an incomplete short film, but it gives us insight to Jean Renoir before he went on to bigger films but also gives us insight to Jen Renoir as a director and how things were behind-the-scenes during pre-production and during production.  For any Jean Renoir fans or fans of French cinema, “A Day in the Country” is a wonderful release worth owning and a Criterion Collection that I definitely recommend!

Image courtesy of © 1942 Caidin Film Company. All Rights Reserved. © 2012 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: A Day in the Country – The Criterion Collection #746

RELEASE OF FILM: 1936

DURATION: 41 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Janus Films/The Criterion Collection

RELEASED: February 10, 2015

Directed by Jean Renoir

Written by Jean Renoir

Based on a short story by Guy de Maupassant

Produced by Pierre Braunberger

Music by Joseph Kosma

Director of Photography: Claude Renoir

Edited by Marinette Cadix, Marguerite Renoir

Set Decoration by Robert Gys

Starring:

Sylvia Bataille as Henriette

Georges D’Arnoux as Henri

Jane Marken as Madame Dufour

Andre Gabriello as Monsieur Dufour

Jacques B. Brunius as Rodolphe

Paul Temps as Anatole

Gabrielle Fontan as La grand mere

Jean Renoir as Pere Poulain

Marguerite Renoir as La Serante

This bittersweet work from Jean Renoir (The Rules of the Game), based on a story by Guy de Maupassant, is a tenderly comic idyll about a city family’s picnic in the French countryside and the romancing of the mother and grown daughter by two local men. Conceived as part of a larger project that was never completed, shot in 1936, and released ten years later, the warmly humanist vignette A Day in the Country ranks among Renoir’s most lyrical films, with a love for nature imbuing its every beautiful frame.

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Jean Renoir will forever be remembered as the legendary director and producer of French cinema.  Best known for his films such as “Grand Illusion” (1937) and “The Rules of the Game” (1939), he was also known for his work in French silent cinema during the 1920’s.

Of course, Jean Renoir will also be known as the son of the famous French artist/painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and a son trying to make a name for himself.  And thus, by the early and mid-30’s, Jean Renoir was a rebel and active in the Popular Front (an alliance of left-wing movements including the French Communist Party, the French Section of the Workers’ International and the Radical and Socialist Party).

His films that he was creating at the time were a precursor to the Italian neorealist movement and so, in some ways, it was a surprise by many that Renoir would work on the film “Partie de campagne” (known as “A Day in the Country” in the U.S.).

The film was shot in July of 1936 not long after France had elected the Popular Front government and employers negotiated the Matignon agreement which led to wage increases, 40-hour work weeks, trade union rights, paid holidays and social services for employees.

“A Day in the Country” was meant to be a short film that was created in 1936 and working with producer Pierre Braunberger, the film was hopefully going to capture a love affair during the 1860’s, which takes place along the banks of Seine.

Unfortunately, Renoir never finished the film because of a strike in the film industry, continuing weather problems and by the time that he was supposed to go back to work on the short film, he was scheduled to work on “The Lower Depths”.

Suffice to say, it was a blow to the entire production and for the crew and cast of the short film.  And without Renoir, it would prove to be difficult to shoot anymore without him.

The film would have an introduction and an ending but everything else in between was never shot.  But producer Pierre Braunberger released the edited film into a release in 1946, followed a release in 1950 and while unfinished, the film still received praise from film critics from past and present for its style.

“A Day in the Country” would star Sylvia Bataille, Georges D’Arnoux (“The Crime of Monsieur Lange”, “Toni”), Jane Marken (“Children of Paradise”, “…And god Created Woman”), Andre Gabriello (“The Lower Depths”, “Street Without a King”), Jacques B. Brunius (“The Lavender Hill Mob”, “The Crime of Monsieur Lange”) and Paul Temps (“The Lower Depths”, “Just Before Nightfall”).  Director Jean Renoir would also make an appearance in the film.

“A Day in the Country” begins with Parisian shop owner Monsieur Dufour (portrayed by Andre Gabriello) taking his family and his shop assistant Anatole (portrayed by Paul Temps) for a day of relaxation to the countryside.

As they stop at a roadside restaurant owned by Poulain (portrayed by Jean Renoir), two young men, Henri (portrayed by Georges D’Arnoux) and Rodolphe (portrayed by Jacques B. Brunius) eye Monsieur Dufour’s daughter Henriette (portrayed by Sylvia Bataille) and her mother, Madame Dufour (portrayed by Jane Marken).

The two try to come up with a scheme to have alone time with the women, so they get both Monsieur Poulain and Anatole to go fishing, while Henri and Rodolphe enact their plan.

But will they succeed?

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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“A Day in the Country – The Criterion Collection #746″ is presented in 1:37:1.  Before I begin, it’s important to note that if you want the best picture quality, you will want to get the Blu-ray version of this film.

On DVD, the film looks very good for a film of its age.  While I’m sure the Blu-ray version is superior, “A Day in the Country” shows good contrast, while I noticed no film damage during my viewing of the short film.

According to the Criterion Collection, “this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution from a composite fine-grain at Digimage in Montrouge, France. The restoration was undertaken by Les Films du Jeudi and the Cinematheque francaise, with the support of the CNC and the contribution of the Franco-American Cultural Fund DGA-MPA-SACEM-WGAW.

Audio is presented in French monaural and according to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the optical soundtrack positive at L.E. Diapason in Epinay-sur-seine, France.  Further restoration was performed by the Criterion Collection, using the manual removal of clicks, thumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation and iZotope RX 4.”

Dialogue is clear through the monaural soundtrack with no sign of hiss or pops.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“A Day in the Country – The Criterion Collection #746″ comes with the following special features:

  • Introduction by Jean Renoir – (5:47) Featuring an introduction by Jean Renoir.
  • A Road to a Day in the Country – (24:37) Jean Renoir scholar Christopher Faulkner discusses the film’s complicated production history.
  • Pierre Braunberger on Jean Renoir - (5:32) An excerpt from a 1979 interview with “A Day in the Country” producer Pierre Braunberger and his relationship with Jean Renoir and the difficulties of making the short film.
  • Renoir at Work – (16:19) An essay, written and narrated by Renoir scholar Christopher Faulkner of the outtakes from the production of “A Day in the Country”.  The only outtakes that have survived from a Renoir film.
  • Un Tournage a La Campagne – (1:28:47) In 1962, filmmaker Alain Fleischer helped the Cinematheque edited selected portions from the 4 1/2 hour worth of outtakes to create an 89-minute film “Un tournage a la campagne”.
  • Screen Tests – (8:54) Screen tests shots for “A Day in the Country” back in June 25 and 26, 1936.

EXTRAS:

“A Day in the Country – The Criterion Collection #746″ comes with a 6-fold insert with the essay “Jean Renoir’s Sunday Outing” by Gilberto Perez (Noble Foundation Chair in Art and Cultural History of Sarah Lawrence College).

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Watching “A Day in the Country”, there is no doubt in your mind of how glorious it would have been if Jean Renoir was able to complete this short film.

It no doubt had the elements of drama but also wonderfully capturing romance, nature and emotional anguish yet incomplete.

As a Criterion Collection release, one must think that why would a incomplete film be released.  For one, it is a Jean Renoir short film that was released in theaters and does have a beginning and ending, so everyone can follow the film easily.  It’s also the only Jean Renoir film in which many hours of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage were kept and restored, and so the short film and its outtakes are featured on the Blu-ray and DVD release of “A Day in the Country”.

As for the short film, it’s no doubt an elegant look and reproduction of an era which Jean Renoir’s father had painted.  The storyline while natural about two young men wanting to seduce the women that have come to town, the way various scenes were shot were fantastically framed.

And the film is considered a precursor to Italian neorealism, Jean Renoir capturing human nature.

And for those who may be debating whether or not this Criterion Collection release is worth purchasing, I will say that the inclusion of “Un tournage a la campagne” featuring the compilation of outtakes is fantastic, the inclusion of the screen tests and also Renoir scholar Christopher Faulkner lending us his knowledge about the film’s production but also how the film fits into Renoir’s oeuvre is quite informative.

Overall, “A Day in the Country” may be an incomplete short film, but it gives us insight to Jean Renoir before he went on to bigger films but also gives us insight to Jen Renoir as a director and how things were behind-the-scenes during pre-production and during production.

For any Jean Renoir fans or fans of French cinema, “A Day in the Country” is a wonderful release worth owning and a Criterion Collection that I definitely recommend!

 

The Song (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“The Song” is a wonderful film about love, the hardships of marriage but also discovering love and faith during your darkest hour.  Alan Powell and Ali Faulkner make a wonderful onscreen couple thanks to their powerful performance and Richard Ramsey’s writing and directing a film that many people can possibly relate to, makes “The Song” a film worth watching!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 City on a Hill Studio. All rights reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Song

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 116 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, 2:39:1 aspect ratio, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese Traditional, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Thematic elements including some substance abuse, smoking and rude references)

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2015


Directed by Richard Ramsey

Written by Richard Ramsey

Executive Producer: Kyle Idleman, Tony Young

Producer: Shane Sooter, Cassandra Arza Pelan

Co-Executive Producer: Chris Bolinger, John S. Howard

Cinematography by Kevin Bryan

Music by Vince Emmett

Edited by Jared Hardy

Production Design by Benjamin Rodman

Casting by Regina Moore, Vin Morreale Jr.

Costume Design by Daniel Hawks


Starring:

Alan Powell as Jed King

Ali Faulkner as Rose Jordan King

Caitlin Nicol-Thomas as Shelby Bale

Danny Vinson as Shep Jordan

Aaron Benward as David King

Kenda Benward as Bethan King

Jude Ramsey as Ray King

Gary Jenkins as Stan


Aspiring singer-songwriter Jed King is struggling to catch a break and escape the long shadow of his famous father when he reluctantly agrees to a gig at the local vineyard festival.  Jed meets the owner’s daughter, Rose, and an instant connection quickly turns to love.  Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose “The Song”, which becomes a breakout hit and he is suddenly thrust into the spotlight and a world of temptation.  As Jed’s life and marriage begin to fall apart, can he find the strength and the faith to change his path?


Inspired by “Song of Solomon”, a book of the bible accepted as holy scripture, comes the 2014 film, “The Song”.

Written and directed by Richard Ramsey, the film would star Alan Powell (“Out of the Ashes”, “Charlie & Boots”, “Where Hope Grows”), Ali Faulkner (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1″, “The Secret Village”), Caitlin Nicol-Thomas (“Nashville”) and Danny Vinson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Walk the Line”, “Tallaadega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”).

The film would begin with Jed King (portrayed by Alan Powell) talking about his parents and how his country singing/musician father and mother met (both were married but had an affair) and his relationship with  his father from his younger years and up to his death.  But establishing how Jed became a musician.

Jed is a singer/musician who wants a bigger break to perform at a larger venue.  His manager Stan (portrayed by Gary Jenkins) advises him to find heart and inspiration of why he wants to sing and to get out of his father’s shadow.  He is told about a vineyard holding a festival and wants Jed to play at the event.

Jed would meet Rose (portrayed by Ali Faulkner), the daughter of Shep Jordan (portrayed by Danny Vinson), the owner of the vineyard.

And for his first performance at the festival, he makes a song for Rose and eventually they start dating, fall madly in love and get married.  He promises to build a chapel for her and eventually would start a family and have a son.

Meanwhile, Jed creates a song for Rose titled “The Song” and it becomes a hit.  His big break eventually leads to a major tour and large venues.  But each time he comes home, Rose is tired taking care of her son, while Jed is often touring around the country and when he is home, he just wants a romantic night with his wife, who is often tired and falls asleep before they would do anything.

As Jed continues playing on tour, he meets his opening act, the sexy Shelby Bale (portrayed by Caitlin Nicol-Thomas), a country singer/violinist who immediately has her eyes set on Jed.

But as Jed is busy on tour and feeling that his wife is too busy to have a romantic night with him, he begins to be tempted by Shelby Bale, who wants to have sex with Jed and be with him.

Shelby also tries to help Jed cope with the anxiety of touring across the U.S. by introducing him to drugs and from there, Jed’s life begins to spin out of control.

Will Jed ruin his career and most importantly destroy his marriage and his family?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Song” is presented in 2:39:1 aspect ratio and in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1.  Picture quality is very good, as one can expect on DVD.  I was hoping the film would have had an HD release with better picture quality and a lossless soundtrack, considering music is dominant throughout the film.  But picture quality is good, dialogue and music is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Chinese Traditional, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Song” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by writer/director Richard Ramsey
  • Meet the Cast – (9:06) The cast of “The Song” discuss their involvement in the film.
  • King Solomon on Screen – (4:28) Writer/director Richard Ramsey discusses the integration of the “Song of Solomon” in the film.
  • Author Kyle Idleman on Love, Sex & Marriage – (10:49) The use of love, sex and marriage in film.
  • Metaphors & Poetry – (4:43) Writer/director Richard Ramsey discusses the use of metaphors and poetry in the film.
  • Bryan and Amy: Hope Restored – (4:04) Married couple Bryan and Amy talk about how their marriage was rescued.
  • Awaken Love: A Journey for Couples – (2:33) Featuring a promotional video with writer/director Richard Ramsey.

When it comes to Christian films, we have a seen a major transformation from the more independent films to becoming big budget films featuring big screen stars.

But the biggest difference is that the films have become more dedicated to better production quality, better acting, becoming less preachy in terms of its Christian message but most of all, becoming more realistic in its portrayal of modern society .

To show that Christians are far from perfect and typically, their lead protagonist, who often have their faults, find faith and inspiration someway, somehow.

In 2014, “The Song” was released in theaters and while some may feel its a less complex version of the TV drama series “Nashville”, the film is inspired by “Songs of Solomon”, a book in the bible.

The “Songs of Solomon” is rather intriguing in the Bible as it celebrates sexual love between two lovers.  Each falling in love, each desiring each other and rejoicing in sexual intimacy.

The way that writer/director Richard Ramsey integrates this into the film is about how an aspiring singer/songwriter named Jed King would fall head over heels with Rose.

But whereas this film could celebrate the love between the two, Richard Ramsey knows that this film, made in this day and age, reality is not always that simple.  In this age where marriages can end quite easily, every couple, including Christian couples, have faced problems in their marriage.  Ramsey knows not to underscore the problems that can happen within a marriage, the changes in romance between a husband and wife after children.  Nor does Ramsey make love seem too perfect.  He shows that even Christians can experience significant hardships during a marriage but also, their can be greater love between husband and wife.

But “The Song” was a film that I was absolutely captivated and entertained by the performance of Alan Powell and Ali Faulkner.  The chemistry between both talent felt real and convincing.  They are the dream couple that you want to root for, but know (especially seeing it in trailers) that their love will be tested.

While the story may seem banal of a popular musician away from his family and goes on tour with another female singer who wants too hook up with him and destroy the marriage.  I know there will be some Christian purists who would rather see more integration of God in message of a Christian film, especially in preventing temptation for the story’s protagonist.  But Ramsey goes into detail in the audio commentary featured on this DVD of how he was going to portray the couples, and also explaining the use of tattoos in the film and more.  It’s a very insightful commentary.

As for the DVD, as much as I would have liked to see this film on Blu-ray, the picture quality and audio is good on DVD.  And you get a good number of special features in addition to the audio commentary such as “Meet the Cast”, “King Solomon on Screen”, “Metaphors & Poetry” and more.

If you love the music for the film, it’s important to note that “The Song Album” soundtrack will be released and featured are the music by Alan Powell, Caitlin Nicol-Thomas, Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris and more.

Overall, “The Song” is a wonderful film about love, the hardships of marriage but also discovering love and faith during your darkest hour.  Alan Powell and Ali Faulkner make a wonderful onscreen couple thanks to their powerful performance and Richard Ramsey’s writing and directing a film that many people can possibly relate to, makes “The Song” a film worth watching!

Recommended!

 

 

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

January 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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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-Three: Original and Uncut” features a new storyline not featured on the manga series and no doubt will entertain “Bleach” fans!  The series does manage to connect things quite well after the Aizen battle but for the most part, each episode features quite a bit of action and an interesting storyline and if you are a fan of “Bleach” the animated series, then definitely give this latest DVD a try!

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

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

DURATION: Episodes 317-329 (307 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: VIZ Media

RATED: 13+

Release Date: December 16, 2014

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

With Aizen’s defeat, peace has returned to the both the Soul Society and the World of the Living. But soon reports begin to surface of Soul Reapers going missing in the Precipice World, and Ichigo is a prime suspect. He and Rukia go on the run from the 13 Court Guard Squads, while in the World of the Living, Kon finds an unconscious girl lying in the street. When Ichigo and Rukia find out more about the girl, Nozomi, they realize their world, as well as the Soul Society, is in danger, and the Soul Reapers pursuing them and Nozomi are actually imposters known as Reigai, who have switched places with the missing Soul Reapers!

With the downfall of Aizen, all things should be peaceful in the Soul Society.

But strange events have taken place in the Soul Society as numerous Soul Reapers have disappeared without a trace.  Ichigo Kurosaki and friends investigate the phenomenon and must prepare for whoever may be responsible, despite losing his powers during his previous battle with Aizen.

Find out what happens in “Bleach DVD Set Twenty-Three” which features season 15 (episodes 317-329)!

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.

It’s important to note that because of how quickly the animated series has caught up with the manga series, in order to give Tite Kubo enough time to continue the storyline on the manga series, an original storyline was crafted for the 15th season of “Bleach”.

For this season, Ichigo and friends must find out why numerous Soul Reapers are disappearing without a trace in the Soul Society.  Who is responsible?

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-Three – 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-Three – 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 317-329.

As the fight against Aizen had come to an end, while the manga series in Japan was continuing slowly, the writers needed to come up with original episodes for the 15th season to give Tite Kubo some time to work on his manga series.

And the result was this new storyline about Soul Reapers suddenly disappearing from the Soul Society.  As a weakened Ichigo (due to his battle with Aizen) and his friends investigate the phenomena, they are attacked by Renji and Ikkaku.  Fortunately, Yoriuchi comes to their aid but explains that the Soul Reapers are being replaced secretly by Reigai, which houses the spiritual essence of Soul Reapers and thus functioning like a Gigai.

To make things much more challenging, the reigan contains near-perfect copies of a Soul Reaper’s memories, personalities and behaviors.

But who is responsible for this?

And suffice to say, there are fans who will enjoy this new storyline that was created for the series and those who have followed the manga series and will feel this season was all-filler.

But this is a common ongoing situation with “Bleach” as the anime series is catching up to the manga series very quickly and the only way to give Tite Kubo enough time to craft more stories is to let him do what he has to do for the next seven months, while writers can focus on this new storyline.

In some ways, while these episodes were never featured in the manga series, writers were able to craft episodes that take place right after the Aizen conflict but also focus on stories of a weakened Ichigo.  And his struggles of losing his power after fighting Aizen.

So, for now, one can expect DVD set 23-25 to focus on the Gotei 13 Invading Army Arc before getting back to episodes that reflect what is happening in the manga.

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-Three: Original and Uncut” features a new storyline not featured on the manga series and no doubt will entertain “Bleach” fans!  The series does manage to connect things quite well after the Aizen battle but for the most part, each episode features quite a bit of action and an interesting storyline and if you are a fan of “Bleach” the animated series, then definitely give this latest DVD a try!

 

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