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Guernica (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Guernica Lo Res Box Art

“Guernica” is a harrowing and heartbreaking film about what transpired in 1937 to the village and villagers of Guernica. Not many people in the world may be aware of what transpired in Guernica in 1937, but with this film, it honors the bravery of real life journalist George Steer and his coverage of what happened to Guernica and making the world aware of one of the greatest tragedies in modern mankind.

Images courtesy of © 2015 Pecado Films SL, Travis Producciones SL. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Guernica

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: 111 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French, Japanese, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Portuguese, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (War Violence, Brief Nudity and Language)

AVAILABLE ON: August 2, 2016


Directed by Koldo Serra

Story by Jose Alba

Written by Carlos Clavijo Cobos, Barney Cohen

Produced by Jose Alba, Daniel Marc Dreifuss

Co-Produced by Carlos Clavijo Cobos, Nahikari Ipina

Associate Producer: Raul Bernabe, Orlando Pedregosa

Music by Fernando Velazquez

Cinematography by Unax Mendia

Edited by Jose Manuel Jimenez

Costume Design by Ariadna Papio


Starring:

James D’Arcy as Henry

Maria Valverde as Teresa

Ingrid Garcia-Johnsson as Marta

Alex Garcia as Marco

Barbara Goenaga

Joachim Assboeck

Burn Gorman

Jack Davenport as Vasyl

Natalia Alvarez-Bilbao as Maria


1937 Spain: lines are being drawn, sides are being chosen… and the world will never be the same. As the citizens of the village of Guernica live with the day-to-day realities of the Civil War, an American journalist (James D’Arcy) secretly joins forces with a local press-office censor (María Valverde) to work against the stringent restrictions that are becoming more common. But everything changes when German forces attack the town, and the freedom of the press becomes a vital weapon. Based on the historical events of the bombing that set the stage for World War II.


During the mid-1930s, Spain was engaged in a Spanish Civil War between the Republicans (democratic and left-leaning Second Spanish Republic) and the Nationalists, a falangist group led by General Francisco Franco.  And the battle was between democracy and fascism.

When the Nationalists worked with the Germans, the Nazi German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion and the Fascist Italian Aviazione Legionaria, an aerial bombing was conducted in the Basque town of Guernica and is considered as one of the first raids on a defenseless civilian population.

While it is not know what is the true death count, the horrors of the bombing became the subject of the famous anti-war painting “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso, which helped bring worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War.

But the one story that brought worldwide attention and would lead Picasso to create his anti-war painting was the writings by British reporter George Steer, who worked for the “Times” and the “New York Times” and wrote about his account of the war.

To celebrate the 79th anniversary of the bombings, “Guernica”, a film that is loosely based on George Steere’s account of what transpired in “Guernica” premiered at the Malaga Film Festival in Spain in 2015.  Names have been changed in order to make a more dramatic story.

The Spanish/American production is directed by Koldo Serra (“The Backwoods”, El tren de la bruja”, “Amor de madre”), a story by Jose Alba and written by Carlos Clavijo Cobos and Barney Cohen.

The film stars James D’Arcy (“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”, “Cloud Atlas”, “Let’s Be Cops”), Burn Gorman (“The Dark Knight Rises”, “Pacific Rim”, “Layer Cake”), Jack Davenport (“Pirates of the Carribean” films, “The Kingsman”), Maria Valverde (“Exodus: Gods and Kings”, “Three Steps Above Heaven”, “Cracks”), Ingrid Garcia Jonsson (“Beautiful Youth”, “Sweet Home”, “Berserker”) and Alex Garcia (“Kamikaze”, “Love in Difficult Times”, “Tierra de Lobos”).

And now the film will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in August 2016.

The film begins with the introduction of American journalist named Henry Howell (portrayed by who has been sent to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War.  For Henry, he’s not passionate about covering war, so far that he would make up stories and really doesn’t want to be in Spain.

Meanwhile, he joins photographer Marta (portrayed by Ingrid Garcia Johnson) who wants to cover the war and get into the dangerous areas to cover the world.  But Henry doesn’t believe in risking his life to make money for newspapers.

We are then introduced to Theresa (portrayed by Maria Valverde), a local press-office censor who goes after those who tries to write the truth of what’s happening in Spain.  She works for Vasyl (portrayed by Jack Davenport), the head of the propaganda unit and works under the strict rules of  a secret police led by Mr. Consul (portrayed by Burn Gorman), who executes those who write negative about the Nationalists or Germans.  And he is in need of executing anyone and expecting Vasyl to deliver anyone who may be causing trouble, even if they haven’t.

The Nazi German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion is planning to bomb the village of Guernica, which is considered the identity of the Basque and their spiritual capital.  The village is also the location of the Spanish weapons manufacturer who supply the Spanish military and policeman. And for the Germans, the bombing of the city is seen as a gift for Adolf Hitler.

But as Henry is not thrilled about covering Spain, especially with the local press-office censor Theresa often on him, in truth, Theresa is a loyalist using her position to help the Nationalists for democracy and wanting Henry Howell to write the truth of what is happening during the Spanish Civil War.

But for Henry, Theresa and many others…they aren’t aware of the destruction that awaits them.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Guernica” is presented in 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English, French, Thai and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD but I’m surprised the film was not released on Blu-ray. Audio is crystal clear for dialogue but during the more intense segments of air raid bombings to the sounds of screams and panic, the film utilizes the sound channels very well, especially LFE during the bombing segments of the film.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Guernica” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes:  A total of nine deleted and extended scenes are included.

When it comes to “Guernica”, there really has not been any film that would showcase the tragedy of the village that was bombed by the Nazis, leaving many innocent people dead.

While Alain Resnais and Robert Hessens created a 1950 French film that showcases a voiceover, poetry and numerous paintings and sculptures of the atrocity by Pablo Picasso, but the 2015 film “Guernica” directed by Koldo Serra, really does give a whole new perspective of the Spanish Civil War which I never knew much about, aside from Picasso’s famous anti-war painting.

While the names were changed and situations in order to create a dramatic film of characters within the chaotic setting in the village of Guernica, the film is loosely based on the life of George Steer, the British reporter who brought the horror of Guernica in 1937 to the masses.

Steer would have his article published after the Nazi air bombers decimated the village.  This would inspire Picasso to create his painting “Guernica” four days later.

To create a film, similar to how “Titanic” would build upon the drama around the relationship of two characters, “Guernica” would feature the relationship of Henry Howell (inspired by George Steer), an American writer who is not interested in covering war or to make newspapers rich and the local press-office censor, Theresa.

At first these two do not get along, as Theresa tends to give Henry a hard time but in truth, Theresa was looking for a writer that can publish his work about what is happening in Guernica.

As the two find comfort in each other, unfortunately their romance is challenged courtesy of a consul that wants to see editors/writers/photographers (innocent or guilty) being killed and preventing the truth from getting out.

Henry is seen as a threat and they would go as far as doing whatever they can to frame him, so they can kill him.  But when the Consul slips a stamp inside Henry’s jacket, instead of he taking a fall, Theresa takes the blame.  And she will be punished.

Henry and friends do whatever they can to find her and save her but none of them know that on that fateful day in 1937, the Nazi bombers are planning to decimate the village as a present for Adolf Hitler.

The film would feature a solid cast with James D’Arcy, Jack Davenport, Maria Valverde, Ingrid Garcia Jonsson, to name a few.

D’arcy and Valverde have a good working chemistry onscreen, while actor Jack Davenport is the head of the press-office and is made to do things by the consul that he does not want to do.

But for me, the person who really sells this film is actress Maria Valverde, who has to show various emotions and skillfull acting, may it be romantic, sad, helplessness, anger, you name it, she had to deliver in this film and she succeeds in pulling it off!

As for the DVD, once again, I’m disappointed that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is releasing another entertaining film with no Blu-ray release.  Not sure if DVD and Digital is their primary focus but as much as I would have loved “Guernica” on Blu-ray, it’s only on DVD and picture quality was as good as one can expect from a DVD release.  Would have loved to hear this film in lossless audio as well, but the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is good.  And as for special features, you get a few deleted/extended scenes.

Overall, “Guernica” is a harrowing and heartbreaking film about what transpired in 1937 to the village and villagers of Guernica.  Not many people in the world may be aware of what transpired in Guernica in 1937, but with this film, it honors the bravery of real life journalist George Steer and his coverage of what happened to Guernica and making the world aware of one of the greatest tragedies in modern mankind.

 

High Strung (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

highstrung

“High Strung” is an entertaining music and dance film showcasing wonderful choreography.  While the film does suffer from uneven pacing and spotty acting at times, I did enjoy the film and feel it’s worth watching if you enjoy dance films.

Images courtesy of © 2016 High Strung LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: High Strung

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2016

DURATION: 96 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Thematic Elements and Mild Language)

AVAILABLE ON: August 2, 2016


Directed by Michael Damian

Written by Janeen Damian, Michael Damian

Edited by Cameron Hallenbeck

Casting by Jeff Gerrard, Gillian hawser

Set Direction by Asen Bozilov


Starring:

Kennan Kampa as Ruby

Nicholas Galitzine as Johnnie

Jane Seymore as Oksana

Sonoya Mizuno as Jazzy

Richard Southgate as Kyle

Paul Freeman as Kramrovsky

Maia Morgenstern as Markova

Ian Eastwood as Rik

Anabel Kutay as April

Marcus Emanuel Mitchell as Hayward jones III

Comford Fedoke as PopTart

Simon A. Mendoza as Ollie

Miranda Wilson as Mary


When a hip hop violinist busking in the New York subway encounters a classical dancer on scholarship at the Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts, sparks fly. With the help of a hip hop dance crew they must find a common ground while preparing for a competition that could change their lives forever.


Michael Damian may be known for his soap opera work in “The Young and the Restless” and his singing career in the ’80s and ’90s.

But in the last few years, Michael Damian is a filmmaker and has directed several TV movies, direct-to-video films and his last films were the TV movie “The Sweeter Side of Life” and the film, “Love by Design”.

And he and his wife, producer and writer Janeen Damian (“A Princess for Christmas”, “Moondance Alexander”, “Hot Tamale”, “Marley & Me: The Puppy Years”) have co-wrote the film “High Strung”, which Michael Damian has directed.  And choreography overseen by Dave Scott (“Step Up 2: The Streets”, “So You Think You Can Dance”).

The film stars Kennan Kampa (“Swan Lake 3D – Live from the Marlinsky Theatre”), Nicholas Galitzine (“The Beat Beneath My Feet”, “Handsome Devil), Jane Seymour (“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”, “Wedding Crashers”, “Live and Let Die”, “Somewhere in Time”), Sonoya Mizuno (“Ex Machina”, “Beauty and the Beast”), Richard Southgate and Paul Freeman (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Hot Fuzz”, “The Long Good Friday”).

The film was also shown at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival for domestic and international buyers.

And now “High Strung” will be released on DVD in August 2016 courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film introduces us to Ruby (portrayed by Kennan Kampa), a dancer from the midwest who gets an opportunity to attend a prestigious dance/music school in New York to focus on classical music education.

She moves in to the dorms with her roommate and fellow ballet dancer Jazzy (portrayed by Sonoya Mizuno), who is more interested in guys and dating bad boys.

But while Ruby receives the support of her teacher Kramrovsky (portrayed by Paul Freeman), her other teacher Oksana (portrayed by Jane Seymour) is often on Ruby for not developing her modern dance routine.

The film also introduces us to Johnnie (portrayed by Nicholas Galitzine), a talented violinist who plays on the streets of New York to earn money, but he is also staying in the United States illegally and hoping the money he saved can get him a green card, so he can live in the U.S. legally.

Unfortunately, Johnnie ends up being bamboozled and loses his money, meanwhile his violin is stolen.

He ends up meeting Ruby and the two have an undeniable attraction that will lead them in participating in a competition that will change their lives forever.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“High Strung” is presented in 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD but I’m surprised the film was not released on Blu-ray.  Audio is crystal clear and features crystal clear dialogue and music.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“High Strung” comes with no special features.


When it comes to dancing films, there are those that really stand out in your mind for story, music and choreography.

From the classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger films to modern films such as  “Footloose”, “Dirty Dancing”, “Step Up”, “Save the Last Dance” to name a few.

While films in the past decade have featured much better choreography and much better ways to capture the choreography on camera, I admit that there have been dance films where the story is lacking.

“High Strung” manages to showcase cool choreography, wonderful music playing but suffers from questionable scenes (that I would have edited out of the film) and at times, a bit of spotty acting and pacing was a bit off at times.  But for an independent film and a film that doesn’t have a huge budget, I give the film a bit of leeway.  They worked with what they had and for the most part, the film achieves what it sets out to do and that’s to entertain.

But there is something about the film that I found charming, enjoyable and real.  Unlike other dance films that have a huge budget and star power, “High Strung” is inspired by writer Janeen Damian’s real life experience of being awarded as scholarship to Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York.  Janeen’s mother was an artistic director of a ballet company, while director Michael Damian is not just an actor, but a singer and his mother is a classical pianist.

With music and dance playing a major role in the film, the creators of the film were able to inject real and plausible situations and show that a girl that is not from the big city, can try her best and make it.

Someone from another country can become a musical genius.  A dedicated dancer can easily lose focus when she gets caught up in a relationship and without sleep, can easily prevent one from succeeding as a dancer.

But it helps to have protagonists who actually know the skills that they are doing in the film.  Actress Keenan Kampa is a ballerina, in fact, she was the first American to join Russia’s prestigious Marlinsky Ballet.  So, it was great to see her showcase her dance moves in the film.

As for actor Nicholas Galitzine, while not a professional violinist (he plays the guitar), he did take a crash course on learning how to play the violin and also learn how to dance the tango.

And to add to the street cred of the film, you have the talented Dave Scott as choreographer for the film.  You have talented dancers in the film who helped boost the awesomeness of the dance battles featured in the film.

But for the most part, “High Strung” is an enjoyable music and dance film because it’s so different from other dance films but many of the situations in the film are plausible and for the most part, I found the film to be entertaining.

As for the DVD, once again, I wish it was released on Blu-ray but unfortunately, only on DVD and there is no UltraViolet code which was surprising.  There are no special features either, so it’s a barebone DVD release.  Picture and audio quality was good as one can expect on DVD but I was hoping for special features that went into the making of the film and also was hoping to see more of the choreography sessions.

Overall, “High Strung” is an entertaining music and dance film showcasing wonderful choreography.  While the film does suffer from uneven pacing and spotty acting at times, I did enjoy the film and feel it’s worth watching if you enjoy dance films.

 

 

Sniper: Ghost Shooter (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

sniper-gs

If you are a fan of films with action-packed gun battles or you are a fan of the previous “Sniper” films, “Sniper: Ghost Shooter” is a high-octane, popcorn action film worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Sniper: Ghost Shooter

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2016

DURATION: 99 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French, Portuguese and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Portuguese, Thai, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R for Language and Sequences of Violence

AVAILABLE ON: August 2, 2016


Directed by Don Michael Paul

Written by Chris Hauty

Edited by Cameron Hallenbeck

Casting by Jeff Gerrard, Gillian hawser

Set Direction by Asen Bozilov


Starring:

Billy Zane as Richard Miller

Dennis Haysbert as Colonel

Stephanie Vogt as Robin Slater

Chad Michael Collins as Brandon Beckett

Nick Gomez as Miguel Cervantes

Presciliana Esparolini as Gina Aungst

Nigel Barber as Killian Grun

Enoch Frost as Sgt. Joe Barnes

Velislav Pavlov as Gazakov


Elite snipers Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins) and Richard Miller (Billy Zane) are fighting extremists in the Middle East when Colonel (Dennis Haysbert) gives them a new mission: to protect a gas pipeline stretching from the Republic of Georgia to Western Europe from extremists eager to make a political statement. But when skirmishes with the enemy lead to U.S. snipers being killed by a ghost shooter who locks into their exact location, a security breach is suspected. Fingers are pointed and battle lines are drawn, all leading up to an explosive climax.


Back in 1993, the film “Sniper” was released in theaters.  The film would lead to five sequels: “Sniper 2”, “Sniper 3”, “Sniper: Reloaded” and “Sniper: Legacy” and now “Sniper: Ghost Shooter”.

The film continues the story of Brandon Beckett (portrayed by Chad Michael Collins), the son of the legendary sniper, Thomas Beckett (from the original “Sniper” films) and also an appearance by sniper instructor Richard Miller (portrayed by Billy Zane).

The film also stars Dennis Haysbert (“24”, “The Unit”, “Heat”), Stephanie Vogt (“The Royals”, “Strike Back”, “The Forest”), Nick Gomez (“The Walking Dead”, “Dexter”), Presciliana Esparolini, Nigel Barber (“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”, “Spectre”), Enoch Frost (“Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Skyfall”, “Outpost”) and Velislav Pavlov (“The Expendables 2”, “Thick as Thieves”).

Together again, in a high-octane, action-packed film, “Sniper Ghost Shooter” will be available on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film begins with Richard Miller leading his sniper film to save a group of hostages from extremists in the Middle East.

When Brandon hesitates under command to kill a child terrorist, who is about to slit the neck of a hostage, the mission is nearly compromised and a few of Brandon’s teammates question his ability to follow orders and make the kill.

Colonel (portrayed by Dennis Haysbert) gives the sniper team a new mission, and that is to protect a gas pipeline stretching from the Republic of Georgia to Western Europe from extremists.

But with the team having high technology to back them up, especially with drone technology, the team should be able to defeat their enemies.

But when the U.S. snipers are being killed by a ghost shooter who happens to know their exact location, Brandon believes a security breach is suspected and believes someone in their unit is feeding information to the enemy.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Sniper: Ghost Shooter” is presented in 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English, French, Portuguese and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD but I’m surprised the film was not released on Blu-ray like the previous “Sniper” films.

Audio is crystal clear and because of the action showcased throughout the film, the film features really good use of the surround channels and LFE.  But once again, for an action film, I wished “Sniper: Ghost Shooter” was released on DVD.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sniper: Ghost Shooter” comes with no special features.


There is no doubt that “Sniper” films have become favorites of those who love action films with a plethora of gun battles.

While not the greatest action films, the “Sniper” films, including the direct-to-video films have been consistent in showcasing high action, an exiting storyline and at times, cheesy dialogue and farfetched sequences.

This time around, with “Sniper: Ghost Shooter”, Brandon Beckett, the son of the late legendary sniper, Thomas Beckett (who was played in the previous films by Tom Berenger).

Yes, it has a lot of sniper action and the addition of Billy Zane reprising his role as Richard Miller (from the original film) was a solid choice, but I was a bit surprised that a veteran like Brandon Beckett, would hesitate in making a kill.  He comes off the beginning like a rookie, and it would be understandable for a new character but not for someone who has taken part in numerous battles.

I admit that I’m glad that the banal love scene was not showcased in “Sniper: Ghost Shooter”, you still have Sgt. Beckett falling for the beautiful Robin Slater (Stephanie Vogt), but she is in odds with Beckett as the military leader who believes that her high technology can not be compromised.

Dennis Haysbert reprises his role as the Colonel as the no nonsense leader who depends on Richard Miller to have his team ready for any mission.

While the film is a really cool popcorn action film, it does have it’s fair share of lame brain moments and cheesy dialogue.  But the action more than makes up for it and as direct-to-video films, these last few “Sniper” films have been enjoyable and I enjoyed “Sniper: Ghost Shooter” from beginning to end.

And it’s important to note that you don’t have to have to watch any of the previous films in order to enjoy “Sniper: Ghost Shooter”.  Although, for those who want to see the passing of the torch between the Beckett’s, will be entertained by the history of the film and it’s characters.

If you are a fan of films with action-packed gun battles or you are a fan of the previous “Sniper” films, “Sniper: Ghost Shooter” is a high-octane, popcorn action film worth watching!

 

Louder Than Bombs (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

louderthanbombs

“Louder than Bombs” is smartly written, elegantly crafted and while not as deep or dark as director Joachim Trier’s previous films, the film is worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2015 Mollys, Memento Films Production. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Louder than Bombs

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: 109 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R for Language, Some Sexual Content, Nudity and Violent Images

AVAILABLE ON: August 2, 2016


Directed by Joachim Trier

Screenplay by Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt

Produced by Joshua Astrachan, Albert Berger, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Thomas Robsahm, Marc Turtletaub, Ron Yerxa

Executive Produced by Naima Abed, Michael B. Clark, Sigve Endresen, Emilie Georges, Frederick W. Green, Nick Schumaker, Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt

Music by Ola Flottum

Cinematography by Jakob Ihre

Casting by Laura Rosenthal

Edited by Olivier Bugge Coutte

Production Design by Molly Hughes

Art Direction by Gonzalo Cordoba

Set Direction by Michelle Schluter-Ford

Costume Design by Emma Potter


Starring:

Gabriel Byrne as Gene

Isabelle Huppert as Isabelle

Jesse Eisenberg as Jonah

Devin Druid as Conrad

Amy Ryan as Hannah

Ruby Jerins as Melanie

David Strathairn as Richard

Megan Ketch as Amy


LOUDER THAN BOMBS explores the death of a famous photographer (Isabelle Huppert), and how her husband (Gabriel Byrne) and sons (Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid) cope while unraveling the truth behind the mysterious accident that claimed her life.


From Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier (“Oslo, August 31st”, “Reprise”, “Procter”) comes his ambitious film “Louder than Bombs”.

Co-written with Eskil Vogt (“Blind”, “Oslo, August 31st”, “Reprise”), the film stars Gabriel Byrne (“The Usual Suspects”, “In Treatment”, “Miller’s Crossing”, “Ghost Ship”), Isabelle Huppert (“Amour”, “The Piano Teachers”, “8 Women”), Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”, “Now You See Me”, “Zombieland”, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”), Devin Druid (“Disgrace”, “Troop 491: The Adventures of the Muddy Lions”, “13 Reasons Why”), Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”, “Birdman”, “Escape Plan”, “Win Win”) and David Strathairn (“The Bourne Ultimatum”, “L.A. Confidential”, “Lincoln”, “Good Night, and Good Luck”).

“Louder than Bombs” was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.  And now the film will be released on DVD in August 2016.

“Louder than Bombs” revolves around a father, Gene (portrayed by Gabriel Byrne) and his sons: Jonah (portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg) and Conrad (portrayed by Devi Druid).

The family has become severely dysfunctional after the death of wife/mother Isabelle (portrayed by Isabelle Huppert), a famous and world renown New York Times photographer who died in a car accident.

Gene knows the real reason why his wife Isabelle had died, and he has kept the truth away from his sons.  The film explores Gene’s relationship with his wife but his yearning to get closer to his sons and start his life over again.  Especially with Conrad’s teacher Hannah (portrayed by Amy Ryan), without his younger son’s knowledge.

Jonah is married to Amy (portrayed by Megan Ketch) and his wife just gave birth to a baby.  As the oldest son and having a relationship with his mother, he is a person who has not gotten over his mother’s death and tries to put on a good face that he’s alright.  But despite what should be a joyful moment in his life, he is having a difficult time of moving forward.

Conrad is the youngest son who was severely affected by the death of his mother.  Not knowing the real reason why she had died, in his mind, he thinks of what his mother went through before she was killed in the accident.  He puts most of his time playing video games, has become an introvert but has a crush on cheerleader Melanie (portrayed by Ruby Jerins).

“Louder than Bombs” explores the mindset of the three male family members but when Isabelle’s colleague, Richard (portrayed by David Strathairn) wants to write a column to coincide with a posthumous retrospective of Isabelle’s artwork,  the real reason of the death of Isabelle will come out but how will it affect Gene and his two sons?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Louder Than Bombs” is presented in 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD but I’m surprised the film was not released on Blu-ray. Audio is crystal clear and is primarily a dialogue-driven film with surround channels used in ambiance for parties, scenes in the classroom or the brother watching cheerleaders on the field.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Louder than Bombs” comes with the following special features:

  • Director’s Commentary – (15:29) A selected scene director’s commentary by Joachim Trier.
  • Behind the Scenes Featurette – (3:46) A short behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Louder Than Bombs” featuring interviews with the cast and director Joachim Trier.
  • Photo Gallery

“Louder Than Bombs” is a fascinating film that explores the mindset of three family members, a father and his two sons, who are handling the death of their wife/mother, renown New york Times photographer, Isabelle.

The film explores the differences that Gene, older son Jonah and younger son, Conrad, have dealt with pain and loss of a person they were close to.

While Gene has moved on with another woman, the retrospective of Isabelle’s and an in-depth column about Isabelle due to come out, Gene knows that skeletons will be unearthed with this article but also the truth of how his wife’s death.

As Gene wants to tell his sons about the upcoming article, he realizes how detached he is from his children since his wife’s death.

Older son, Jonah is a new father but instead of being joyous of the birth of his son, he ends up taking off to spend time with his father and his younger brother.  And is dealing with his own personal issues.

Younger brother Conrad seems to be a mess, an introvert who has a crush on cheerleader but most of his time, he is playing video games.  He has a short-temper, especially towards his father and has not been able to move forward as the thoughts of his mother and her death keep replaying in his mind.

While the film tries to strike a balance with the three male characters and how they cope with their mother’s death, the film is less dark when compared to director Joachim’s “Oslo, August 31st” and even “Reprise”.

But I found the film to be captivating in the sense that the banality of pain and loss is apparent, but yet featured differently.  As we watch, we often wonder which of the three characters are in the worst of shape.  And whether or not they are able to move forward, especially when they find out about an article about their mother, that will be featured on the New York Times.

This is where writing duo, Trier and Eskil Vogt have done well together.  By taking a film that may be banal, stripping away the banality and doing away with traditional cinema conventions in order to create a story with a unique structure.

The acting by Gabriel Byrne and Isabelle Huppert is fantastic, albeit Huppert’s role is short and subtle but hauntingly effective.

As for the DVD, picture quality and audio quality is good on DVD, while special features are short and the director’s commentary is selected scenes only and not the entire film.

Overall, “Louder than Bombs” is smartly written, elegantly crafted and while not as deep or dark as director Joachim Trier’s previous films, the film is worth watching.

 

Naked and Afraid XL: Season 1 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

naxl

If you are an endurance and survival challenge enthusiast and a “Naked and Afraid” fan, you’ll no doubt love “Naked and Afraid XL: Season 1”! Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Naked and Afraid XL: Season 1

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: 7 Hours and 20 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Closed Captions

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: TV 14

AVAILABLE ON: July 12, 2016


Written by Tim Furlong, Conner Schmitt, Daniel Snyder, Shauna Stoddart, David Story

Produced by Jonny Zwick, Conner Schmitt, Tim Furlong, Katie Gallagher, Nicole Gormley, Paul Sutera

Executive Produced by Joseph Boyle, Sean Foley, David Garfinkle, Jay Renfroe

Co-Executive Producer: David Story

Producton Supervisor: Mark DiCristofaro

Story Producer: Shauna Stoddart, Layla Halfhill

Music by Devin Powers

Cinematography by David E. West, Rob Llewellyn, Christopher Locktt, Martin Mourino, Alex Perez, Kip Robbins

Edited by Malinda Zehner, Mark S. Andrew, Jeannie Gilgenberg, Brad Ley, Nino Martinez, Fab Mirfakhrai


Starring:

Alana Barfield

Danielle Beauchemin

Honora Bowen

Chris Fischer

Hakim Isler

Dani Julien

Shane J. Lewis

Luke McLaughlin

Eva Rupert

Jeff Zausch

E.J. Snyder

Laura Zerra

Michael Brown as Narrator


It’s the ultimate contest of courage, wits, and endurance when twelve of the world’s best survivalists from the Naked and Afraid TV series return to take on a grueling survival challenge: 40 days and 40 nights in the Colombian badlands, with no food, no water, no clothes—and no help from the camera crews. Hunting for food and building shelters is only the beginning, as the survivalists confront such dangers as a fierce puma, a giant electric eel, debilitating heat, and the terror of Piranha Lake. Some contestants will tap out and go home. For any competitor who makes it to the final extraction point, there is no prize—only the pure adrenaline rush of survival.


Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid” is best known for pairing a man and a woman somewhere in the world with no clothes, no food, no water but one item.  And together, they must endure for 20 days and finding ways to survive.

But for “Naked and Afraid XL”, what happens when you get 12 survival experts, those who have succeeded and some who didn’t succeed on “Naked and Afraid”and put into a variety of teams in the ultimate challenge for survival of 40 days and 40 nights in the Colombian badlands.

An intense survival experiment to test the limits of human endurance, each must prove they have the physical and metal strength, the intelligence and survival skillset to survive the harsh environment.

For season one, the women include: Alana Barfield (Fiji Islands), Dani Beau (Colombia), Honora Bowen (Brazil), Dani Julien (Andros Islands), Eva Rupert (Madagascar) and Laura Zerra (Panama and the Amazon). The men include Chris Fischer (Dominica), Hakim Isler (Himalayas), Shane Lewis (Costa Rica), Luke McLaughlin (Namibia), E.J. Snyder (Tanzania and the Amazon) and Jeff Zausch (Madagascar).

This time around, there are teams of three alpha males, three female survivalists, two men and a woman and two women and a man.  Each group are miles away from each other, but with water and food sources are low and the scorching heat of the Colombian badlands, will the environment or animals be the biggest obstacle?  Or getting along with each other, provide to be the biggest challenge?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Naked and Afraid XL” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and audio is easy to comprehend and understand throughout each episode.

Closed captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Naked and Afraid XL: Season 1” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Naked and Afraid XL: Season 1” comes with a slipcover and a Digital UltraViolet code.


With the second season of “Naked and Afraid XL” having just aired on television, the first season is now available on DVD.

Featuring past champions and some who didn’t make it through the full 20-days but want redemption, what made “Naked and Afraid XL” so captivating, aside from the ultimate contest of courage, wits and endurance of the normal TV series is we have four different teams and the producers have no doubt put individuals, best known for their cockiness, bad mouth and negative attitudes together with people of clashing temperaments.

You have the first team which features naturist Alana, the vegetarian Danielle who will not eat any meat for survival and you have alpha male and short tempered Shane.   Shane wants to get active and get things done, while Alana believes in conserving her energy.  And the two women and Shane begin to clash on survival strategies.

You have the alpha male team which consists of two-time survivor and army combat vet EJ, martial artist Hakim and big game hunter Jeff.  Dropped in Roca Diablo, the hottest part of the Savana.  How will these three deal in an area with no water in sight?

You have the female survivalist team which consists of rock climber Eva, sear and rescue specialist Danielle and two-time survivor and taxidermist Laura.  But what happens when Danielle is unable to find her group?

And then you have marine vet and commercial fisherman Chris, wilderness therapist Jeff and herbalist, Honora, who wants redemption but the last time she was on “Naked and Afraid”, she did not get along with her male partner.  And this time, a similar situation happens once again.

And while the series is a contest of courage, wit and endurance, who will become the biggest challenge, the environment or relationships with each other?

Needless to say, “Naked and Afraid XL” no doubt takes things to a more extreme direction than the normal TV series and because you have people who have done remarkably well on “Naked and Afraid”, some who have competed twice, its the drama component that some of the hardcore survivalists begin to fear.

And seeing the different strategies employed and the drama galore, suffice to say, I was captivated that I watched all episodes in one sitting.  That’s how much I enjoyed “Naked and Afraid XL”.

And of course, what reality show wouldn’t be complete without the reunion show.  So, it was interesting to see how certain individuals would react for the final episode.

As for the DVD release, picture and audio quality for “Naked and Afraid XL” was as good as one can expect on DVD (would have loved a Blu-ray release) and unfortunately there are no special features.  But you do get a Digital UltraViolet code which is included.

Overall, if you are an endurance and survival challenge enthusiast and a “Naked and Afraid” fan, you’ll no doubt love “Naked and Afraid XL: Season 1”!

Recommended!

 

My Best Friend (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

mybestfriend

If you are a parent looking for a very safe family film for your children, you can’t go wrong with “My Best Friend”.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: My Best Friend

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: 99 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: G for General Audience

AVAILABLE ON: July 19, 2016


Directed by Paul Della Pelle

Written by Paul Della Pelle, Erika Kao-Haley

Co-Produced by Benjamin Cooper

Executive Produced by Sean T. Haley, Erika Kao-Haley

Cinematography by Adonis Cruz

Production Design by Yvonne Michelle Aragon

Set Direction by Damon Chesse

Costume Design by Rachel Lopez


Starring:

Catherine Bach as Pearl

Patric Muldoon as Allen

Alexis Rosinsky as Kristen

Madeline Vail as Sandra Powell

Dane Jamieson as Zach

James Phillips as Bo

Hannah Kercheval as Ashley

Spike Spencer and the voice of Stanford the Horse


When changing times force tween girl Kristen to leave the city for the countryside, she struggles to deal with school friends and a handsome young ranch hand. But Kristen finds comfort in a new friend: a horse! By chatting telepathically with her faithful bronco Sanford, Kristen gains the confidence she needs to face the brave new world of adolescence. Starring Patrick Muldoon and Catherine Bach, My Best Friend shows that true pals come in all shapes and sizes.


When a young teen has to move from the city to the countryside, how will she deal with the pressures of a new school, new friends and a talking horse?

This is the story for the family film directed by Paul Della Pelle (“Lizard Boy”) and co-written with Erika Kao-Haley, “My Best Friend” stars Catherine Bach (“The Dukes of Hazard”, “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot”), Patrick Muldoon (“Starship Troopers”, “Days of Our Lives”), Alexis Rosinsky (“Our Little Secret”), Madeline Vail (“Holy Man”, “The Christmas Bunny”, “The Big Bang”) and Dane Jamieson (“Straight”, “Mother Fakers”).

“My Best Friend” begins with an introduction to Kristen (portrayed by Alexis Rosinsky) and her best friend Ashley (portrayed by Hannah Kercheval).  The two love shopping at thrift stores, mixing and matching clothes and listening to music.

Unfortunately, the best friends must say goodbye as her father Allen (portrayed by Patrick Muldoon) is moving back to the countryside after his business fails and losing his wife.  So, he and Kristen goes to live with his mother, Pearl (portrayed by Catherine Bach) at the family ranch.

But for Kristen, life in the countryside is not the same as the city.  She doesn’t have access to wifi, she dresses differently from the other girls in the countryside and she feels alone without her friend Ashley.

And for Kristen, she’s not thrilled that working for her grandmother is her father’s ex-girlfriend, Sandra Powell (portrayed by Madeline Vail).

As for Sandra, she is still dealing with the heartbreak of Allen leaving her and the countryside to pursue his business dreams in the big city.

When Pearl has to go to Europe to help a relative who is ill and her father having to deal with the family business, Sandra is left to take care of Kristen.

As Kristen is feeling bad about living in the country and having to be taken care of by Sandra, she befriends a teenage ranch hand named Zach (portrayed by Dane Jamieson) who teaches her about country life and Kristen also becomes good friends with her (talking) horse, Stanford.

Will Kristen be able to take on the challenges coming her way?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“No Men Beyond This Point” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and a lot of video footage showcasing various eras were made to look aged and from that era. Dialogue is clear and understandable.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“My Best Friend” comes with the following special features:

  • Cast Interviews – Featuring cast interviews with Patrick Muldoon, Catherine Bach, Alexis Rosinsky and Dane Jamieson.
  • Minuscule Bonus Episodes – Featuring short animated features: Out of a Tin Can, A Mosquito Day Afternoon, Horsefly and A Rolling Snail Gathers No Moss.
  • My Best Friend Trailer

For children and young teens, especially for those who love horses, “My Best Friend” is a family film about a girl who is displaced from the big city and having to start life over in the countryside.

Having no friends, having a new and different lifestyle and the facing different challenges, what happens when the only thing that can communicate and help her through her troubles is her horse.  A horse that can talk, but she is the only one that can hear him.

“My Best Friend” is a family film for younger audiences looking for something simple and fun without becoming too deep.  And pretty much a film about a girl who tries to overcome the various challenges in her life.

For adults, the film may come off as campy, some scenes were not as well acted and the fact that Catherine Bach is playing the mother of Patrick Muldoon’s character is a bit of a stretch.

But of course, this is a family film targeted for children and for the most part, kids should find the film to be entertaining and fun.

And for adults, there is enough to keep you interested as there is a little adult drama as Kristen’s single father comes across his ex-girlfriend, who happens to be working for his mother.  And also, for those who ever wondered what happened to Catherine Bach and Patrick Muldoon since their TV years, will be happy to see them again in this family film.

As for the DVD, picture quality is good, dialogue is crystal clear and you get a few special features such as interviews and also an UltraViolet digital code.

Overall, if you are a parent looking for a very safe family film for your children, you can’t go wrong with “My Best Friend”.

 

No Men Beyond This Point (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

nomenbeyondthispoint

“No Men Beyond This Point” is well-done and I found it to be intelligent and cleverly made.  Part of the fascination with this film is how unique it is in presentation.  If anyone is looking for a humorous, thought-provoking and well-made mockumentary, Mark Sawers “No Men Beyond This Point” is recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2015 YXY Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: No Men Beyond This Point

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: 80 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Some Suggestive Material and Smoking)

AVAILABLE ON: July 12, 2016


Directed by Mark Sawers

Written by Mark Sawers

Produced by Galen Fletcher, Kaleena Kiff

Executive Produced by Mark Sawers

Associate Producer: Lynne Carrow, Patrick Gilmore

Music by Don MacDonald

Cinematography by Thomas Billingsley, Christopher Charles Kempinski

Edited by Mark Sawers

Casting by Lynne Carrow

Production Design by Theresa Konrad

Art Direction by Lee Patola

Costume Design by Megan Leson


Starring:

Tara Pratt as Terra Granger

Kristine Cofsky as Iris Balashev

Patrick Gilmore as Andrew Myers

Cameron McDonald as Darius Smith

Tom McBeath as Jim

Ali Skovbye as Zinnia Jones

Jill Morrison as Linnea Ruben

Rekha Sharma as Ajala Bhatt

Andrea Brooks as Young Helen Duvall

Morgan Taylor Campbell as Dahlia Granger


Imagine a world where, since 1953, women have been able to reproduce without men and they are no longer giving birth to male babies. Now, over 60 years later, this deadpan mocumentary follows the youngest man still alive – 37 year-old Andrew Myers. Working as a housekeeper for a family of women, Andrew finds himself at the center of a battle to prevent men from going extinct. No Men Beyond This Point is a feature film that asks the question,what would the world be like if women were in charge?


From director Mark Sawers comes the Canadian mockumentary “No Men Beyond This Point”.

Starring in the film are Patrick Gilmore (“Stargate Universe”, “The Killing”), Kristine Cofsky, Rekha Sharma (“Battlestar Galactica”, “V”, “The 100”), Tara Platt and Cameron McDonald.

The film gives us a story set in an alternate world where spontaneous pregnancy (via parthenogenesis) of women begin happening in the 1950’s.  And the women would give birth to only females.

Because sexual reproduction has become rare and all babies being born are all female, the male population has dwindled.  And the world has become a place of peace, no wars and women are in leadership, while men are relocated to sanctuaries, as they are no longer needed in the world.

The mockumentary focuses on 37-year-old Andrew Myers (portrayed by Patrick Gilmore), who is the youngest male on Earth and he is the ostensible subject of being the youngest man in the world.

He works as a housekeeper for couple Iris Balashev (portrayed by Kristine Cofsky) and Terra Granger (portrayed by Tara Pratt) and for the couple and other females living that he lives with, the film shows the relationships they have with the man and their perspective of him.

Meanwhile, the film shows the history of when the first documented parthogenesis in the 1950’s took place, interviews with the women who gave birth without a man and the challenges they faced, as no one believed it was possible.  To the 1960’s where a backlash towards men would become more apparent, as the female population has grown as parthogenesis had become more common.

And as women became the leaders of the world and felt there is no need for men in the workplace and the home, the men are upset that they are no longer needed in society and have been organizing rallies for “RESPECT NOW”.

Can women and men co-exist in this new world?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“No Men Beyond This Point” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and a lot of video footage showcasing various eras were made to look aged and from that era. Dialogue is clear and understandable.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“No Men Beyond This Point” comes with no special features.


A fascinating mockumentary of “What if women were to reproduce without men and are no longer giving birth to male babies?”.

Filmmaker Mark Sawers’s “No Beyond This Point” is a comedy that manages to be thought-provoking, cleverly written and for the most part, done very well.

From the mock archived sources of the first parthogenesis and then the growing numbers of women that began to reproduce throughout the ’50s and ’60s and to see how men reacted.

And of course, with hardly any men around and many of them relocated to male sanctuaries, “No Men Beyond This Point” would focus on a 37-year-old Andrew Myers, the youngest male in the world.

As the mockumentary follows him and the women he works for, we start to see the development of a small conundrum as the the couple he works for, one of them starts to feel emotions towards him.

But not to make the film sentimental, the film’s objective is to show how women have reproduced without a man and how it changed various eras, leading to the first female President of the United States, independent women who would become leaders and also change the landscape of the world as there are no fighting, there are no wars, no crime and it’s a peaceful world.

As for the DVD, picture quality is good and as mentioned, archived footage was purposely made to look like it was from the ’50s and ’60s. But for the most part, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD.  Audio is also good as dialogue is clear and understandable.  Unfortunately, there are no special features included on this DVD.

Overall, “No Men Beyond This Point” is well-done and I found it to be intelligent and cleverly made.  Part of the fascination with this film is how unique it is in presentation.  If anyone is looking for a humorous, thought-provoking and well-made mockumentary, Mark Sawers “No Men Beyond This Point” is recommended.

 

Dear Eleanor (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

deareleanor

“Dear Eleanor” is a delightful entertaining coming-of-age roadtrip film. A film not entrenched in banal roadtrip moronic hijinks, nor is it a deep film, neither risque or offensive.  In fact, it is a more accessible film as it really doesn’t feature profanity, sex or anything troublesome.   And if that sounds good to you, then “Dear Eleanor” is a film that will be worth your time!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Nine Nights, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Dear Eleanor

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2016

DURATION: 89 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Some Suggestive Material and Smoking)

AVAILABLE ON: July 5, 2016


Directed by Kevin Connoly

Written by Cecilia Contreras, Amy Garcia

Produced by Caleb Applegate, Hillary Sherman, Chuck Pacheco

Executive Produced by Robert Abramoff, David Hillary, Chuck Pacheco, Mary Vernieu

Associate Producer: Samuel Warren

Music by Aaron Zigman

Cinematography by Steven Fierberg

Edited by Jim Flynn

Casting by Sean Jourdan, Mary Vernieu, Michelle Wade Byrd

Production Design by Chase Harlan

Art Direction by Chase Harlan, Ada Padilla, Jeff Wallace

Set Decoration by Jill McGraw

Costume Design by Justine Seymour


Starring:

Isabelle Fuhrman as Max the Wax

Liana Liberato as Ellie Potter

Jessica Alba as Daisy

Josh Lucas as Frank Moras

Luke Wilson as Bob Potter

Patrick Schwarzenegger as Bud

Ione Skye as Charlotte

Joel Courtney as Billy Hobgood

Claire van der Boom as Caroline Potter

Paul Johansson as Hugh

Meggie Maddock as Marilyn Monroe


Best friends Max (Isabelle Fuhrman) and Ellie (Liana Liberato) decide to leave their rural hometown on an adventurous, cross-country road trip to meet former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Sneaking away in a bright blue convertible belonging to Ellie’s dad (Luke Wilson), they set out with the wind in their hair and the radio turned up. While trying to stay a step ahead of Ellie’s father and the police, the girls cross paths with an eclectic mix of people which truly make this an entertaining, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Also stars, Jessica Alba, Josh Lucas, Ione Skye, Joel Courtney and Patrick Schwarzenegger.


From “Entourage” and “Unhappily Ever After” actor and filmmaker Kevin Connolly and writing duo, Cecilia Contreras and Amy Garcia comes the coming-of-age film, “Dear Eleanor”.

The film was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions.

“Dear Eleanor” stars Isabelle Fuhrman (“Orphan”, “The Hunger Games”, “Cell”), Liana Liberato (“If I Stay”, “Trust”, “Erased”), Jessica Alba (“Sin City” films, “Fantastic Four” films), Josh Lucas (“American Psycho”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Poseidon”), Luke Wilson (“Legally Blonde”, “Old School”, “The Royal Tennebaums”), Patrick Schwarzenegger (“Stuck in Love”, “Grown Ups 2”), Ione Skye (“Say Anything”, “Wayne’s World”, “Four Rooms”), Joel Courtney (“Super 8”, “Mercy”, “Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn”) and Claire van der Boom (“The Square”, “Red Hill”, “Sisters of War”).

And now, “Dear Eleanor” will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Dear Eleanor” is set in 1962 and begins with Ellie Potter (portrayed by Liana Liberato) receiving encouragement from her mother Caroline (portrayed by Claire van der Boom) and reminded to respect Eleanor Roosevelt for what she has done for women.

As Caroline leaves the home, tragedy hits as Ellie’s mother is killed in a car accident and America is saddened by the death of Marilyn Monroe.

With the death of her mother, her best friend Max the Wax (portrayed by Isabelle Fuhrman), wants to cheer her up, so she and their other friend Billy Hobgood (portrayed by Joel Courtney) send a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt.  In hopes for a reply or even an autograph.

Meanwhile, Ellie must now fill in as the the mother in raising her younger siblings, because her father Bob (portrayed by Luke Wilson) is still devastated by the death of his wife.  And he is often just parking and drinking, or out playing pool.

But if there is any important thing for the family and for Bob, it’s keeping their mother’s piano at home and taking care of it.

As Ellie is busy raising the kids, Billy ends up writing a fake letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Ellie and Max the Wax that she would like to meet with them in New York.

Excited by this news, Ellie decides to sell her mom’s piano in order to raise the funds for her and her friends to travel from Manteca, California to New York.

What adventures awaits Ellie and Max the Wax?  And how will her father react when he finds out what Ellie did?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Dear Eleanor” is presented in 2:39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English, French and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good.  Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dear Eleanor” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Kevin Connolly.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by writers Cecilia Contreras and Amy Garcia.

When two teenagers from Central California find out that they have the opportunity to meet Eleanor Roosevelt, the teenagers take a road trip through the country and discover more about themselves and their friendships through a variety of situations.

Set in 1962, this coming-of-age film definitely has a solid cast with Isabelle Fuhrman, Liana Liberato, Jessica Alba, Josh Luas, Luike Wilson, Joel Courtney, Ione Skye and Patrick Schwarzenegger.

Whereas most road films featuring guys have become so banal and typically focused on sex, drugs and alcohol, it’s actually quite refreshing to get away from the banality and find a film that is fun and and enjoyable with Kevin Connoly’s “Dear Eleanor”.

While the film plays out as an innocent joyride ala cross country, of course the film is about discovery and one wanting to achieve the dream of her dead mother and that is to pursue her independence as a young woman like Eleanor Roosevelt and thus her passion of wanting to meet her.

Unfortunately, the letter of the meeting is not real and was created by her friend Billy in order to ease her pain after the death of her mother.

So, Billy nor Ellie’s father knows that she is intending to drive cross country with her friend, Max the Wax in order to meet a distinguished woman who influenced her.

Jessica Alba plays the role of Aunt Daisy, a dancer who wants to be an actress and actually joins the two teenagers for a short while.  Alba, who showed her sensual dancing in “Frank Miller’s Sin City” shows us that she still has the moves in “Dear Eleanor”.

Josh Lucas plays the role of an escaped felon who joins the teens on their joy ride, hoping that the two don’t reveal to the cops that he is a criminal.

While Luke Wilson is the mourning father who hasn’t been the same since his wife died and has leaned on Ellie to raise the children.  Finding out that his daughter has driven cross country, he joins Billy in hopes of finding her.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good.  As one can expect on DVD and there are two audio commentary tracks included for special features.

“Dear Eleanor” is an independent film which was helped with the budget given by the Colorado state economic incentive to attract production in the state.  And many towns of Colorado are featured in the film.

Overall, “Dear Eleanor” is a delightful entertaining coming-of-age roadtrip film. A film not entrenched in banal roadtrip moronic hijinks, nor is it a deep film, neither risque or offensive.  In fact, it is a more accessible film as it really doesn’t feature profanity, sex or anything troublesome.   And if that sounds good to you, then “Dear Eleanor” is a film that will be worth your time!

 

Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

prdc-breakout

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout

TV SERIES (YEAR): 2015

DURATION: 92 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1  Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: July 5, 2016


Directed by Charlie Haskell, Peter Salmon, Mike Smith, Jonathan Brough, Peter Burger, Karl Zwicky, Michael Duignan

Written by Judd Lynn, Haim Saban, Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, Mark Litton, Jeffrey Newman, Peter Wiseman, James W. Bates, Tanya M. Wheeler, Marc Handler, Ann Knapp

Produced by Sally Campbell

Executive Produced by Judd Lynn, Brian Casentini, Haim Saban

Music by Noam Kaniel

Cinematography by Kevin Riley, D.J. Stipsen

Edited by Allanah Milne

Casting by Iris Hampton

Production Design by Tracey Collins

Art Direction by Davin Voot

Costume Design by Sarah Voon


Starring:

Brennan Mejia as Tyler Navarro/Red Dino Charge Ranger

Camille Hyde as Shelby Watkins/Pink Dino Charge Ranger

Yoshua Sudarso as Koda/Blue Dino Charge Ranger

Michael Taber as Riley Griffin/Green Dino Charge Ranger

James Davies as Chase Randall/Black Dino Charge Ranger

Claire Blackwelder as Kendall Morgan/Purple Dino Charge Ranger

Campbell Cooley as the Mecha Voice

Davi Santos as Ivan

Estevez Gillespie as Wrench

Paul Harrop as Fury

Eve Gordon as Keeper

Adam Gardiner as Sledge

Jackie Clarke as Poisandra

Ryan Carter as Heckyl


The Power Rangers will have to outsmart a puzzling villain, save a prince, and try to defeat Sledge’s monsters. When the evil Fury unleashes the powerful Ptera Zord, only the Power Rangers can regain control with the help of their newest ally – the Gold Ranger!


In 2015, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” debuted on television.

The 22nd season of the “Power Rangers” series, the series would star Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Yoshua Sudarso, Michael Taber, James Davies, and Claire Blackwelder.

The storyline begins with the opening narration:

Millions of years ago, the evil Sledge tried to steal the greatest power in the universe. But an alien named Keeper entrusted them to dinosaurs. As for Sledge… He was blasted deep into space. Now the Energems have been found, and Sledge returns to battle a new team of heroes; they are…Power Rangers Dino Charge!”

As Sledge continues to look for the Energems, a team of Power Rangers form to find the the Energems first and fight various enemies.

As “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” features a total of 22 episodes, “Breakout” is the third “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” DVD to be released and contains episodes 9-12.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Power Rangers: Dino Charge”:

  • Episode 9 – “When Logic Falls” – Puzzler teams up with Fury and captures the Dino Charge Rangers.  Can Riley save them?
  • Episode 10 – “The Royal Rangers” – Fury tries to take control of the Ptera Zord.
  • Episode 11 – “Breakout” – Prince Phillip III is attacked by Poisandra, Fury, Wrench, Curio and Vivix but discover a new ally.
  • Episode 12 – “Knight After Knights” – With the discovery of the Gold Ranger, Fury sends out the criminal Bones of Fury to take on the Power Rangers.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout” comes with a slip cover and HD UltraViolet code.


For over 20-years, many people have grown up watching “Power Rangers”.

Sure, a lot of the stories are campy but for those who enjoyed the action, the costumes and the good old story of good vs. evil, that concept has remained consistent season after season.

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout” is rather interesting because of the dinosaur angle.

As one who has grown up watching the Japanese sentai series and also the original “Power Rangers” and now having a child and nephews that are interested in them, one thing that I am glad to see is that the series retains its action and family-oriented storylines.

Nothing too violent and nothing that would make parents wince.  Granted, some may object to the fighting but personally, costumed heroes vs. monsters (people in rubber suits), it’s not exactly something that I worry about in terms of fighting action.  As parents, it’s how we teach our children and to not practice Power Rangers moves on other people.

As for this DVD volume, it’s pretty much four episodes that deal with the introduction of the gold power ranger and whether or not the team will gain a new teammate.

While I wished there are more episodes than just the standard four, fans of the series or parents of children who love “Power Rangers: Dino Charge”, will no doubt enjoy this DVD.

As for the DVD, picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and there are no special features.  Fortunately, a digital HD code was included.

Overall, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Breakout” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart!

 

Emma’s Chance (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

June 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

emmaschance

One can hope that through watching “Emma’s Chance”, it may make one want to volunteer or donate to their local horse rescue non-profit. “Emma’s Chance” is a heartwarming film that I recommend for the whole family!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Taylor & Dodge, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Emma’s Chance

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2016

DURATION: 92 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, French and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese (Traditional), Korean, Portuguese, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Thematic Elements)

AVAILABLE ON: July 5, 2016


Directed by Anna Elizabeth James

Written by Anna Elizabeth James

Story by Tyler W. Konney

Produced by Tyler W. Konney

Executive Produced by Blake Goza, Barbara Greaves, Natalie Metzger, Richard Switzer

Co-Producer: Daniel S. McCoy

Music by Gareth Coker

Cinematography by Alex Jacobs

Edited by Brian Scofield

Casting by Amey Rene

Production Design by Kyle Fenning

Charles William Bren

Art Direction by Carly Lujan

Set Decoration by Annie Jung

Costume Design by Amanda Wing Yee Lee


Starring:

Greer Grammer as Emma

Joey Lawrence as Kevin Chambers

Missi Pyle as Susan Peirce

Jennifer Taylor as Miranda Bailey

Christina Robinson as Lexi Smith

Ryan McCartan as Jacob Murphy

Lia Marie Johnson as Meg Bowler

Amber Frank as Kate Rogers

Shanna Strong as Catherine Conner

Tracy Nelson as the Principal


While volunteering at a horse rescue, Emma forms an unlikely bond with an abused horse that won’t let anyone else ride him. Gaining new skills and confidence, Emma hatches a plan to redeem herself and ultimately save the ranch she’s grown to love.


From writer/director Anna Elizabeth James (“Diary of a Teenage Nobody”) and a story by Tyler W. Konney (“Blue Line”, “Altitude”, “The Escort”) comes the heartwarming film “Emma’s Chance”.

Starring Greer Grammer (“Life Partners”, “Awkward.”, “Deadly Sorority”), Joey Lawrence (“Melissa & Joey”, “Blossom”, “Brotherly Love”), Missi Pyle (“Gone Girl”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “The Artist”, “Big Fish”), Jennifer Taylor (“The Waterboy”, “Wild Things”, “Two and a Half Men”), Christina Robinson (“Dexter”, “Equestrian Sexual Response”, “Simon”), Ryan McCartan (“R.:. Stine’s Monsterville”, “Summer Forever”) and Lia Marie Johnson (“Expelled”, “Terry the Tomboy”, “The Lady in the Walls”)

“Emma’s Chance” revolves around teenager Emma (portrayed by Greer Grammer), a smart girl who’s grades are starting to drop after hanging out with her friends and getting into some trouble.

When Emma is caught trying to sneak into a horse rescue with her friend Meg (portrayed by Lia Marie Johnson), she is the only one caught by the police.

Emma gets into big trouble and her punishment is to volunteer at the horse rescue and her mother grounds her from going out and going out to the school dance.

Working for horse rescue operators Susan Peirce (portrayed by Missi Pyle) and horse caretaker Kevin Chambers (portrayed by Joey Lawrence), what at first was a punishment becomes a blessing as Emma starts to bond with an abused horse that has taken a liking to her.

But as many troubled kids just do their time of volunteering and leave, a former troubled student, Lexi (portrayed by Christina Robinson) gives Emma the could sholder, because she thinks Emma is a person that will probably do her time and just leave.

And all is not good as the horse rescue is needing money to stay open and they are desperately needing money soon.

How will Emma be able to help them?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Emma’s Chance” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English, French and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Adventures in Babysitting” comes with the following special features:

  • Adventures in Outtakes – (1:40) Outtakes

For those who love horses and animals, one can’t help but be proud of those who run rescue homes for animals.

In Chino Hills, Susan Peirce has dedicated her life in running Red Bucket Equine Rescue and saving starving, abused and abandoned horses.

She has found loving and forever homes for horses.

But of course, running a stable and rehabilitating, sheltering and feeding many dozens of horses does cost a lot of money and so, Red Bucket Equine Rescue has continued in building awareness and also having ongoing fundraising in order to pay off mortgages and to keep the stable properly running and giving the horses the attention they need.

But to build awareness of horse rescues and rehabilitation, not just for Red Bucket Equine Rescue but also possibly for other horse rescue non-profits out there, a film by writer/director Anna Elizabeth James and writer Tyler W. Konney was created.

A heartwarming tale about a girl named Emma who gets into trouble and has to serve her punishment by volunteering at a horse rescue.  But what seemed like punishment at first, became a blessing for Emma, who found her true calling and love of taking care of her horses.  Having to rescue, rehabilitate and find these horses a good home.

For the most part, the film is a family film.  There is no violence, there is no profanity, it’s a wholesome film about the challenges that horse rescue non-profits face.

The film is simple, predictable and straightforward and in some ways, it kind of reminds me of the old, heartwarming afterschool specials with a clear and positive message.  It’s a family film that does a great job of educating the public about horse rescue operations.

It’s great to see Missi Pyle playing the role of horse rescue non-profit owner Susan Peirce, Joey Lawrence as the horse caretaker, Kevin and for us adults, it was great to see Tracy Nelson as the principal.  And of course, younger viewers will no doubt be happy to see YouTube star, Lia Marie Johnson in this film.

But I have to give credit to main actress Greer Grammer.  Daughter of actor Kelsey Grammer (“Frazier”, “Cheers”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, “Transformers: Age of Extinction”) and the younger half-sister of actress Spencer Grammer (“Greek”, “Rick and Morty”).  Greer Grammer is no doubt an emerging actress and she does a great job of playing the role of Emma.

And for anyone who has thought about volunteering a horse rescue, donating or even wanting to know more about horse rescue operations, you can see a little of it through “Emma’s Chance”.

The horses featured in the film are horses that were rescued and also features staff from Red Bucket Equine Rescue.  From reading online of the success that Red Bucket Equine Rescue has made by finding homes for these horses but also taking these horses through the process of rehabilitation and healing, it’s really incredible and honorable.

As for the DVD, picture quality is good, dialogue is crystal clear.  Unfortunately there are no special features.

I was hoping some of the videos that made it to the Emma’s Chance Facebook page from the behind-the-scenes of the film, would have made it on the final cut of the DVD.  But a good reason for one to visit the film’s Facebook page.

Overall, one can hope that through watching “Emma’s Chance”, it may make one want to volunteer or donate to their local horse rescue non-profit.

“Emma’s Chance” is a heartwarming film that I recommend for the whole family!

 

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