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

July 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


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

YEAR OF FILM: 1966

DURATION: 168 Minutes

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

COMPANY: The Criterion Collection

RELEASED DATE: July 14, 2015


Directed by Jan Troell

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

Written by Bengt Forslund and Jan Troell

Produced by Bengt Forslund

Cinematography by Jan Troell

Edited by Jan Troell

Art Direction by Rolf Boman

Costume design by Knut Nylen


Starring:

Eddie Axberg as Olof Persson

Gudrun Brost as Olof’s Stepmother

Ulla Akselson as Olof’s Mother

Bo Wahlstrom as Older Brother

Rick Axberg as Second Brother

Holger Lowenadler as Kristiansson

Goran Lindberg as Olsson

Tage Sjogren as Lund

Tage Johnson as Linus

Allan Edwall as August

Max von Sydow as Smalands-Pelle

Ulf Palme as Larsson

Jan-Erik Lindqvist as Johansson


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

July 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


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

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: Episodes 14-25 (300 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 13 and up

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

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

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended!

 

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

June 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

teenbeach2

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

Images courtesy of © 2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Teen Beach 2

DURATION: 104 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Disney

RATED: G

RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2015


Directed by Jeff Hornaday

Based on Characters Created by Mark Landry, Vince Marcello

Story by Dan Berendsen, Robert Horn

Teleplay by Billy Eddy and Matt Eddy

Executive Producer: David Buelow

Associate Producer: Jeff MacVittie

Cinematography by Mark Irwin

Edited by Bron Smith, Lisa Bromwell

Casting by Natalie Hart, Jason La Padura

Production Design by Jennifer Dehghan

Art Direction by Wing Lee

 Set Decoration by Monica Monserrate

Costume Design by Anthony Tran


Starring:

Grace Phipps as Lela

Maia Mitchell as McKenzie/Mack

Garrett Clayton as Tanner

Ross Lynch as Brady

Mollee Gray as Giggles

Chrissie Fit as CheeChee

Piper Curda as Alyssa

Jordan Fisher as Seacat

John Deluca as Butchy

Ross Butler as Spencer

Kent Boyd as Rascal

Jessica Lee Keller as Struts


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Teen Beach 2″ features the following special features:

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

EXTRAS:

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

June 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

DVD TITLE: House of Cards: The Complete Third Season

DURATION: 12 Episodes (60 Minutes each)

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen, Dolby Digital English Stereo

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: July 7, 2015


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

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

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

Co-Executive Producer: Robert Zotnowski, John Mankiewicz

Producer: Jay Carson, Karen Moore

Supervising Producer: Frank Pugliese

Music by Jeff Beal, Series

Cinematography by Martin Ahlgren, Peter Konczal, Paul Elliott

Edited by Bron Smith, Lisa Bromwell

Casting by Julie Schubert, Laray Mayfield, Jo Edna Boldin

Series Production Design by Steve Arnold

Series Art Direction by Halina Gebarowicz, Guy Barnes

Series Set Decoration by Tiffany Zappulla, Wendy Ozols-Barnes

Costume Design by Johanna Argan


Starring:

Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood

Robin Wright as Claire Underwood

Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper

Nathan Darrow as Edward Meechum

Mahershala Ali as Remy Danton

Molly Parker as Jackie Sharp

Derek Cecil as Seth Grayson

Rachel Brosnahan as Rachel Posner

Jimmi Simpson as Gavin Orsay

Elizabeth Marvel as Heather Dunbar


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


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

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

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

What is “House of Cards” all about?

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

June 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

DVD TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC Showdown

DURATION: 65 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Dolby Digital English Stereo

COMPANY: Nickelodeon/Paramount

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: June 9, 2015


Directed by Roy Burdine and Lkoyd Goldfine

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

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

Producer: Sarah C. Nesbitt

Supervising Producer: Lloyd Goldfine

Edited by Richard Kronenberg


Featuring the voices of:

Michael Sinterniklaas as Leonardo (voice)

Wayne Grayson as Michelangelo (voice)

Sam Riegel as Donatello (voice)

Gregory Abbey as Raphael (voice)

Darren Dunstan as Splinter (voice)

Marc Thompson as Casey Jones (voice)

Veronica Taylor as April O’Neil (voice)

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

Greg Carey as Hun (voice)

Karen Neil as Karai (voice)


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


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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

May 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested for 13 and Up

Release Date: April 28, 2015


Originally created by the Hunting Cap Brothers

Series Directed and Series Composition by Tensai Okamura

Original Character Design by Kouhaku Kuroboshi

Character Design by Keigo Sasaki

Music by Tatsuya Katou

Anime Production by A-1 Pictures

Featuring the following voice talent:

Misaki Kuno as Kate Hoshimiya/Venera-sama

Erii Yamazaki as Roboko

Kana Hanazawa as Natasha/Professor Um

Kousuke Toriumi as Yasu/Odin

M.A.O as Renge Komadori

Maaya Sakamoto as Kaori Hayabusa/White Falcon

Mariya Ise as Itsuka Shikabane/Plamja-sama

Minako Kotobuki as Miki Shirasagi

Minoru Hirota as Gorō Shikabane/General Pepel

Natsuki Hanae as Asuta Jimon/Dva

Takaya Kuroda as Kyoshiro Jimon

 


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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


 

worldconquest-b

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Winter Sleep (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


DVD TITLE: Winter Sleep

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 196 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Adopt Films/Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: May 5, 2015


Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Written by Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Inspired by the Short Stories by Anton Chekhov

Produced by Zeynep Ozbatur Atakan

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

Executive Produced by Sezgi Ustun

Cinematography by Gokhan Tiryaki

Edited by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Bora Goksingol

Art Direction by Gamze Kus


Starring:

Haluk Bilginer as Aydin

Melisa Sozen as Nihal

Demet Akbag as Necla

Ayberk Peckan as Hidayet

Serhat Mustafa Kilic as Hamdi

Nejat Isler as Ismail

Nadir Saribacak as Levent

Emirhan Doruktutan as Ilyas


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this leads to individuals reexamining their relationship to Aydin.

 


VIDEO & AUDIO:

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Winter Sleep” comes with no special features.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Winter Sleep” is highly recommended!

 

Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 212 – Original & Uncut” is a volume featuring both entertaining and action-packed filler episodes but also episodes that deal with the Great Ninja War, so there is a good balance of episodes featured. If you are a “Naruto” fan staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto/2007 Shippuden. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut

DURATION: Episodes 271-283 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, Bilingual (Japanese & English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Shonen Jump/Viz Media

RATED: Rated T for Older Teen

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Series Directed by Hayato Date

Produced by Tomoko Gushima, Ken Hagino

Series Coordinator by Junki Takegami, Satoru Nishizono

Character Design by Tetsuya Nishio, Hirofumi Suzuki

Music by Yasuharu Takanishi, Yaiba

Music Production by Aniplex

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Pierrot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Sabaku no Gaara (Gaara of the Desert)

Hideo Ishikawa/Crispin Freeman as Itachi Uchiha

Houchu Ohtsuka/David Lodge as Jiraiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Hatake Kakashi

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Kenyuu Horiuchi/Troy Baker as Pain

Kouichi Toochika/Steve Staley as Neji Hyuuga

Kousuke Toriumi/Kyle Hebert as Kiba Inuzuka

Kujira/Steven Blum as Orochimaru

Masako Katsuki/Debi Mae West as Tsunade/Fifth Hokage

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuuga

Nobutoshi Canna/Henry Dittman as Kabuto Yakushi

Rikiya Koyama/Troy Baker as Yamato

Romi Paku/Tara Platt as Temari

Ryoka Yuzuki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Ino Yamanaka

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Shinji Kawada/Derek Stephen Prince as Shino Aburame

Yasuyuki Kase/Michael Lindsay as Kankurou

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

The Fourth Great Ninja War rages on, and danger comes from every angle. Old comrades and enemies have risen from the grave under the control of Kabuto to fight the Allied Forces. While some retain their calm, others must wrestle with their emotions.

Naruto’s training has made him more powerful, but some believe his possession of the Nine Tails makes him a liability. Meanwhile, Sakura and the Medical Ninja face unique danger, as an enemy may be in their midst behind the allied lines. Can the Allied Forces survive assassins and their reanimated friends to win the war?

With the latest 22nd volume of “Naruto Shippuden”, Naruto can sense the nine tail chakra within Kinkaku and Ginkaku and realizes that his fellow leaf ninja are trying to keep him locked up.  With Naruto suspecting something is awry, he wants to leave but his fellow ninja must stop him in order to protect them.

Meanwhile, the Great Ninja War is underway and the enemy has taken the appearance of allied ninja and are intending to slaughter the medical unit.

All this and more in “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut”.

What is “Naruto”?

Since 1999, “Naruto” created by Masashi Kishimoto (“Karakuri”) has been one of the most popular anime and manga series in Japan and has easily become a favorite best selling anime/manga series among fans all over the world.

For the anime series, since 2002, “Naruto” lasted until 2007 with a total of 220 episodes. The series would follow the adventures of a boy named Naruto Uzamaki, who may not be the brightest ninja from the Konoha Village but he makes it up with heart and also tremendous power as the killer beast known as the nine-tailed fox has been sealed within him.

Earlier in the series, the anime series focused on Naruto and his team members Sasuke Uchida and Sakura Haruno as they would go on adventures and learn to become a team and also honing their ninja abilities. The series would then begin to introduce other young ninjas from the village who Naruto would be paired up with and the young ninjas would take on rival clans to helping people in need. But somehow as the series continued, Sasuke Uchida would then go off on his own personal mission to stop his brother Itaki Uchida, who murdered the whole Uchida clan and his family, only leaving Sasuke alive.

Within those six years, we have seen Naruto and his friends grow as friends and also in their abilities. For Naruto, all he has wanted is to become the next Hokage (the leader of the village) when he grows older and to help his friends accomplish missions. He knows that to be a good leader, he will need to get stronger so he can protect the village once he grows older. Of course, there is so much involved in the “Naruto” anime series and what makes its special is its humor, its action but also how well the series integrates so many characters but yet features a good number of character driven episodes that makes the viewer appreciate many of the characters in the series.

“Naruto”, the first series ended with the young ninja leaving to train with Jiraiya for two-and-a-half years.

What is “Naruto Shippuden”?

Sasuke has aligned with the Akatsuki who wants to destroy the Leaf Village – Konoha. Madara has declared war and thus an Allied Shinobi Force is formed. The elder leaders of all villages, allies to the Leaf Village have realized that the Akatsuki are after Naruto (Nine Tail) and Killer B (Eight Tail Beast). They have since accomplished extracting the beasts (Jinchuriki) from others.

In “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20″, the series now returns back to storyline that is featured on the manga series.

As Naruto tries to control the power of the nine tails, Naruto’s mother enter his consciousness to explain the secrets of his birth and learns about heir hopes and renews his vow to be come Hokage!

All is revealed about what transpired during the day of Naruto’s birth and who was responsible for attacking the Leaf Village with the nine tails. And given the final moments to meet and speak with his mother one last time.

And as Naruto has become the prime target of the Akatsuki, Yamato, Guy and a few other Leaf Ninja, including Killer B have convinced Naruto that he is on an S-Ranked Environmental Mission at an island.

With volume 22, Naruto who has trained with Bee, is starting to feel the chakra of the nine-tail fox and now he wants to know why he is being locked up and why his fellow ninja are acting strangely.

Meanwhile, as Sakura and other medics tend to the wounded, someone has infiltrated the medical unit and is slaughtering them.  And he’s out to kill Sakura.  Will Sakura find out who the culprit truly is?

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Naruto Shippuden” is an anime series that was never known for having spectacular background art, but it’s know for its action and its characters and how it captures emotion and its intense battles. While in this episode, a lot of episodes are contained in areas near lush green trees, water or dirt, it’s not so much of the background but how the characters are design and how well the battles are portrayed. And I can easily say that with “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20- Original Uncut”, the fast-paced action in this volume is great for a TV series and good for what one can expect on DVD.

It’s important to note that in 2014, Viz has went from releasing episodes on three DVD discs to two DVD discs per volume.

As for the audio, the audio for “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 20″ is pretty much Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 Bilingual (Japanese and English). Similar to a series like “Dragon Ball Z”, with “Naruto”, I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It’s well done and the voices fit the characters very well.

Especially Maile Flanagan’s Naruto Uzumaki. Personally, I didn’t think there would be a voice actor that could capture Junko Takeuchi’s Naruto vocals and sure enough, Flanagan does a great job. But I have watched the series in Japanese and English and for the most part, voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done.

Since the series is front channel driven, for those with a modern home theater receiver probably will enjoy a more immersive soundscape by selecting stereo on all channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut” comes with the following special features on disc 2:

  • Storyboards
  • Clean Openings/Endings
  • More from Viz Media – Viz Media trailers

With the release of “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut”, the volume features a balance of filler episodes and episodes that were actually featured in the manga in relation to the Great Ninja War.

The volume features the final episodes of season 12 and the beginning episodes of season 13.

But while some of the filler episodes are just filler, there are episodes that go into more detail in showcasing relationships.  In this case, a lot is focused on the Ino, Shikamaru and Choji team, as they must go against a re-animated version of Asuma.

The main storylines from the manga that relate to the Great Ninja War features Naruto sensing the chakra of the nine tails and wondering why is he feeling it, especially when the training room is supposed to seal all chakra.

And now Naruto, and also Killer Bee, want to escape the training room and help their fellow ninja.

The other storyline features the medical team being infiltrated by a White Zetsu who has taken appearances of various ninja including Ninja in order to kill all medical staff.  Will Sakura be able to find out the culprit?

Meanwhile, we get filer episodes featuring Ino, another featuring Kurotsuchi paying a visit to the fifth division where Deidara is being held as prisoner and Konohamaru and friends trying to protect the village.

As for the DVD set, you get a total of 12 episodes on two DVD’s and special features which include storyboards, clean opening and endings.

Overall, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 212 – Original & Uncut” is a volume featuring both entertaining and action-packed filler episodes but also episodes that deal with the Great Ninja War, so there is a good balance of episodes featured.

If you are a “Naruto” fan staying in for the long haul, “Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 22 – Original & Uncut” is recommended!

 

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

magi-km1a

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1″ is a fantastic, action-packed anime series! For now, it kicks off the solo adventures of Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu but no doubt is building to something even bigger. Recommended!

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


DVD TITLE: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1

TV SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Aniplex

RATED: 13 and up

RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2015


Originally Created by Shinobu Ohtaka

Directed by Koji Masunari

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Screenplay by Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Toshifumi Akai

Art Director by Ayu Kawamoto

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures


 Featuring the following voice talent:

Kaori Ishihara/Erica Mendez as Aladdin

Yuuki Kaji/Erik Kimerer as Alibaba Saluja

Haruka Tomatsu/Cristina Vee as Morgiana

Darrel Guilbeau/Kensho Ono as Ren Hakuryu

Julie Ann Taylor/Asami Seto as Seishun Li

Keith Silverstein/Yoshimasa Hosoya as Masrur

Kira Buckland/Kana Hanazawa as Ren Kogyuku

Lucien Dodge.Takahiro Sakurai as Ja’far

Marc Diraison/Shinichiro Miki as Ithnan

Matthew Mercer/Daisuke Ono as Sinbad

Patrick Seitz/Toshiyuki Morikawa as Ugo

Sean Chiplock/Jun Fukuyama as Cassim

Todd Haberkorn/Ryohei Kimura as Judal

Trinity Lee/Nana Mizuki as Ren Hakuei

Vic Mignogna/Kenichi Suzumura as Ka Kobun


In order to realize their objectives, the adventurers each embark on a new journey. Aladdin sets his sights on the land of Magnoshutatt to study magic while Alibaba travels to the Leam Empire to challenge the gladiators of the coliseum. Morgiana sets sail towards her homeland of Katarg, and Hakuryu returns to the Kou Empire…

Equipped with a charm to mask his powers as a Magi, Aladdin arrives in Magnoshutatt with another goal – to investigate this nation’s relation with the Al-Tharmen – the power behind the “Abnormalities of the World.”

Meanwhile, the royal family of the Kou Empire is in mourning for their Emperor’s passing, and is shocked when the throne is passed on to someone they had not expected. An ominous cloud looms over the Empire as the flames of revenge burned within Hakuryu. The Magi of the Leam Empire, Scheherazade, also senses this threat from across the sea and grows concerned for her people.

Back in Magnoshutatt, Aladdin is hard at training at the academy when he meets Titus Alexius, a prodigy from Leam. But then Aladdin realizes that Titus is also equipped with the same charm that he has! What is Titus’s true identity!?

With the success of conquering a dungeon, Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu Ren know that they must each embark on a new journey alone.

Aladdin must train to become a stronger magi, Alibaba travels to the Leam Empire to challenge the gladiators, Morgiana heads to her homeland of Katarg and Hakuryu makes his return to the Kou Empire as a different man.

Will each of them learning anything from their training?

Find out in “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1″.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1″ is presented in 16:9 widescreen and Japanese and English Dolby Digital 2.0.

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

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

Subtitles are available in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1″ comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1″ comes with a slipcase, a two-sided deluxe illustration board and a mini-poster.


 

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

As Aladdin’s storyline, we get to see Aladdin grow in his study of magic.  And while we expect the character to grow and become powerful, Aladdin is the one that is most interesting.

Mainly because he arrives to his destination, looking as if he was homeless and malnourished.  With that being said, his story is the most bloody and violent as he must take on gladiators at the Colosseum and must deal with his powers, that may tear his body apart.

Morgiana’s storyline is no doubt fraught with danger but it’s her naivety that may put her in deeper trouble.

And as we expect the primary three characters to learn and grow, the most troubling would be Hakuryu.  With the first season, he was the whiner and the cry baby but by the second season, after finding his true power, we learn that he has had a twisted upbringing.  But somehow he has changed to another person that is more darker and not happy as before.  He is the question mark of the entire crew because of his unpredictability and the way he is behaving, not sure if he’ll be friend or enemy.

For those wondering if the series is safe to watch around children, this is a show for teens. There is quite a bit of violence, maybe not as bloody as some of the episodes of the first half, but there is quite a bit of fighting violence.  Also, you can expect to see Aladdin’s attraction to women with large boobs.

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

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

Overall, “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic – Complete DVD Set Vol. 1″ is a fantastic, action-packed anime series! For now, it kicks off the solo adventures of Aladdin, Alibaba, Morgiana and Hakuryu but no doubt is building to something even bigger.

Recommended!

 

Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas” is a fantastic DVD release. The Criterion Collection has been a solid supporter of Ozu’s work and to see these three crime dramas finally be released in the U.S., has been a long time in waiting for fans of his films. If you are a big fan of Yasujiro Ozu and his films, then this Eclipse Series set is a no-brainer, “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1933 Shochiku Co., Ltd. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas

YEAR OF FILM: Walk Cheerfully (1930), That Night’s Wife (1930), Dragnet Girl (1933)

DURATION: Walk Cheerfully (96 Minutes), That Night’s Wife (65 Minutes), Dragnet Girl (100 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Piano Score, Optional English Subtitles, 1:33:1 Aspect Ratio

COMPANY: The Criterion Collection

RELEASED DATE: April 21, 2015

 


The great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is best known for the stately, meditative domestic dramas he made after World War II. But during his first decade at Shochiku studios, where he dabbled in many genres, he put out a trio of precisely rendered, magnificently shot and edited silent crime films about the hopes, dreams, and loves of small-time crooks. Heavily influenced in narrative and visual style by the American films that Ozu adored, these movies are revelatory early examples of his cinematic genius, accompanied here by new piano scores by Neil Brand.


dragnetgirl

Yasujiro Ozu is one of the world’s beloved directors. Having made many films since the 1920’s, the director is best known today by cineaste for his films about the Japanese family and often its dissolution.

And while the Criterion Collection has released Ozu’s silent films via the Eclipse Series which depicted the Japanese family, during his time working for Shochiku, he also took on the gangster genre which were inspired by Hollywood cinema during the ’30s.

To showcase the films of this era, the Criterion Collection will be releasing “Eclipse Series #42: Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas” featuring the films (please click on the link to read the review):

“Walk Cheerfully” (1930)

“That Night’s Wife” (1930)

“Dragnet Girl” (1933)


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Yasujiro Ozu’s 14th film “Hogaraka ni ayume” (Walk Cheerfuly) revolves around Kenji Koyama (portrayed by Minoru Takada), also known as “Ken the Knife”, who runs a group of thieves.

While accompanying his right hand man Senko (portrayed by Hisao Yoshitani), he is captivated by Yasue (portrayed by Hiroko Kawasaki), a woman he sees walking to a jewelry store and assumes that she is wealthy.

In truth, Yasue is poor and works hard to pay the bills to take care of her mother and her younger sister.  She hates working for her boss, because each time she is alone in his office, he sexually harasses her, often blocking the exit way, so she can leave the office.

As Ken tries to pretend he is wealthy and tries to learn how to play golf, during a drive with one of his thieves, they nearly run over a young girl.  The girl turns out to be Yasue’s younger sister and Kenji comes to their rescue.

This is the beginning of Ken and Yasue’s relationship as he learns that she is not wealthy but he loves spending every moment with her.

But when Chieko (portrayed by Satoko Date), one of the female thieves becomes jealous of Kenji going after Yasue, she tries to tell her the truth that Kenji is a gangster and that he is using her.

She finds out that Chieko is telling the truth and for Ken, the thought of not being with Yasue hurts him.  Enough for him to want to change his lifestyle and be a man that plays by the rules.

But can this former criminal escape from his past?

It was very interesting to watch an Ozu silent that revolves around a group of criminals but the film is not so far removed from the Japanese family struggles that he tended to depict in his earlier films.

“Walk Cheerfully” is no doubt a story about a man who wants to change his life, get away from crime and do all he can in order to make the girl he loves, respect him.

We see the transformation that the character Ken goes through as being a cold thief to a man with integrity.

A mix of comedy, romance and drama, “Walk Cheerfully” is an easy film to watch because of its characters but you can’t help but root for Ken and his willingness to change for Yasue.  You also want to see Yasue happy because you realized that she came from a poor family and has done all she can to take care of the family and help make ends meet.

Actor Minoru Takada does a great job at playing Ken, but he also becomes a male actor that you eventually see more and more in an Ozu film.  Actress Hiroko Kawasaki also shines as the character Yasue, a character that has to play a wide range of emotions but you also can’t help wanting to see more of her, because she brings vibrancy and innocence to the film.

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“That Night’s Wife” begins with a man committing a robbery at a nearby office.  He beats and ties up everyone in the office and leaves with bags of cash.

As the police are on the lookout for this criminal, when he gets home, we realize that at home, he is hardly a thug.

The criminal is Shuji Hashizume (portrayed by Tokihiko Okada), a married man and loving husband to Mayumi (portrayed by Emiko Yagamo) and has a child named Michiko (portrayed by Mitsuko Ichimura) who is very ill.

The reason why Shuji has been stealing money is primarily for his daughter as he doesn’t have any money to pay for medicine or a doctor.  And she is so ill, that she may not survive the night.

He doesn’t like the fact that he has to steal to pay for his daughters doctor bills but he has no choice.

But when the police detective Kagawa (portrayed by Togo Yamamoto) pays a visit to their home in order to capture him, the detective realizes the criminal’s true intention, but does that pardon him from the crimes that he has done?

And for those who like a little comedy, romance and drama, will surely find Ozu’s “Walk Cheerfully” to be an entertaining silent film!

The second film featured, “Sono yo no tsuma” (That Night’s Wife) is the shortest of this crime dramas and is a film adaptation of a novel by Oscar Shisgall.  It also has a more darker storyline compared to the other two crime dramas.

Watching “That Night’s Wife”, it does have a banal theme of a man driven by bad luck of his daughter’s ill health and now must steal to pay for her doctor’s bills.

While the storyline has been done and redone over again, “That Night’s Wife” is much different in the fact that you get this back-and-forth between characters, not knowing how this film is gong to end.

There is no doubt a message in the film of how crime doesn’t pay but this is a film that tries to have the viewer put themselves in the shoes of the criminal.  How far would you go for your sick child who may die any minute?

In this case, Shuji and also his wife, will do all they can to protect their family.

But as mentioned, it’s rather interesting to see how the three actors, Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto interact with each other through the back-and-forth scenes of who will outbest who.

Also, the film shot primarily in the family’s home and so, it’s very interesting to see how Ozu was able to capture the plight of each individual in such cramped quarters.

Once again, this film is another wonderful addition to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”.  It’s shorter and much darker than the other two films, but still, entertaining and keeps you on your feet as how you think the film may end, may keep changing, because of the way the final 10 minutes is structured.

Still, “That Night’s Wife” is a short, entertaining silent film from Yasujiro Ozu with a wonderful performance by Tokihiko Okada, Emiko Yagumo and Togo Yamamoto.

With his inspiration coming from Hollywood films, as there were films that combined gangster activity, pool playing and even boxing, all those elements can be seen in Ozu’s “Dragnet Girl” which was shot in 1933.

The film revolves around former boxer Jyoji (portrayed by Joji Oka).  Often at the boxing club to spot the latest talent, including rookie featherweight Hiroshi (portrayed by Hideo Matsui), he is often working with his secretary Tokiko (portrayed by Kinuyo Tanaka).

Often seen as the stylish right-hand gal for Jyoji, she quickly becomes jealous when she hears that Jyoji is spending a good amount of time with Kazuko, the nice and gentle sister of Hiroshi.  And her good nature makes Jyoji think about his own life.

Jealous…how far will Tokiko go to keep Jyoji and stop him from messing around with other women.

With the third film featured in the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”, “Dragnet Girl” has a lot in common with the other two films but also the Hollywood gangster films that Ozu was enamored with.

The recurring theme of criminals wanting to get out of the profession is common. The recurring theme of a criminal changed by another woman outside of their world is common, but where Hollywood would take risks of showing a woman going so far to kill due to their jealousy (and we have seen this happen with many men), “Dragnet Girl” is fascinating in the fact that the jealous woman finds herself taking a liking to the good-natured woman as well.

Similar to “Walk Cheerfully” as the protagonist, a criminal wanting to make a change in their life for the better good, Ozu no doubt makes the viewer (especially during that era) feel that a life of crime doesn’t pay and there is always an escape.

But the obstacle in the film is that the main character, Jyoji, is being tied to that criminal world by the woman that loves him, but it’s the woman he really loves that makes him want to quit and that is the conundrum.

But leave it to Ozu to show that there is always a glimmer of hope, even for those who have committed crimes.

“Dragnet Girl” is a wonderful inclusion to the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas”. It’s no doubt a film that is inspired by Ozu’s love for Hollywood film noir.

And with these three films featured in the “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Three Crime Dramas”, this release gives the Ozu cineaste a chance to see more silent films created during the silent era but also another side of Ozu’s oeuvre that we would not be able to see in his other, later feature films.

Sure, they are gangster films with message of hope but you can see a glimmer of the Ozu style that he would exhibit in his later films.  From the way he shoots his characters, the way he is able to utilize small sets but also location shots.

Overall, “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas” is a fantastic DVD release.  The Criterion Collection has been a solid supporter of Ozu’s work and to see these three crime dramas finally be released in the U.S., has been a long time in waiting for fans of his films.

If you are a big fan of Yasujiro Ozu and his films, then this Eclipse Series set is a no-brainer, “Eclipse Series #42 – Silent Ozu: Thee Crime Dramas” is highly recommended!

 

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