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Rage of Bahamut: Genesis (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

rageofbahamut

“Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” is an exciting, action-packed series with wonderful animation, plenty of humor and fascinating characters that you will find yourself captivated by the series.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Naoshi Komi/SHUEISHA, SHAFT, MBS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Rage of Bahamut: Genesis

ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 2014-2015

DURATION: Episode 1-12 (300 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Universal/FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 26, 2016


Director: Keiichi Satou

Series Composition by Keiichi Hasegawa

Script by Akira Tanizaki, Keiichi Hasegawa, Masanao Akahoshi

Music by Yoshihiro Ike

Character Design by Naoyuki Onda

Art Director: Goki Nakamura

Chief Animation Director: Naoyuki Onda

Anime Production: MAPPA


Featuring the following voice talent:

Go Inoue/Chris Rager as Kaisar Lidfard

Hiroyuki Yoshino/Ian Sinclair as Favaro Leone

Risa Shimizu/Tia Ballard as Amira

Eri Kitamura/Leah Clark as Kerberos (Cerberus)

Hiroaki Hirata/Tyson Rinehart as Lavalley

Hiroshi Iwasaki/Brian Mathis as Bacchus

Kenjiro Tsuda/Christopher R. Sabat as Martinet

Masakazu Morita/Kent Williams as Azazel

Megumi Han/Jad Saxton as Jeanne D’Arc

Miyuki Sawashiro/Apphia Yu as Rita

Ryûzaburô Ôtomo/Vic Mignogna as Belzebuth (Beezlebub)

Showtaro Morikubo/Kyle Phillips as Hansa

Tesshô Genda/Barry Yandell as Charioce XIII


Meet Favaro Leone, professional bounty hunter and casual scoundrel. When he’s not crossing swords with his arch nemesis and former best friend, Kaisar Lidford, he can be found at the local tavern spinning tall tales to anyone who will listen. After a one-winged demoness overhears his drunken boasts, she wrangles him into an unbreakable contract that will force him to make good on the promise he made.

With nothing but a destination in mind, the pair set out on their grand adventure – completely unaware of the dark forces working to fulfill an ancient prophecy that will bring about the end of the world. That is, unless a charming rogue, a clueless demon, a disgraced knight, and a tiny zombie can band together to change the course of history.

Visually arresting and fun from start to finish, Rage of Bahamut is a can’t-miss title for any action-fantasy fan.


Back in 2012, a card battle game known as “Shingeki no Bahamut” (Rage of Bahamut) developed by Cygames and published by DeNA was released for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.

The video game topped the charts for 16 weeks on Google Play and also was a high grossing game for Apple’s App Store.

Two years later, the first anime adaptation of the game was created titled “Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis” (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis) featuring anime production by MAPPA.

The series was directed by Keiichi Satou (“Asura”, “Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary”, “Tiger & Bunny”), screen composition by Keiichi Hasegawa (“Astro Boy”, “Zoids”, “Devil Lady”, “Gegege no Kitaro”), music by Yoshihiro Ike (“DAYS”, “Blood: The Last Vampire”, “Asura”, “Tiger & Bunny”), character designs by Naoyuki Onda (“Psycho-Pass”, “Resident Evil: Damnation”, “Sol Bianca”, “Detective Story”) and art direction by Goki Nakamura (“Baku Tech! Bakugan”, “Cat Soup”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt”, “Baku Tech! Bakugan”).

Featuring 12 episodes, the anime series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in North America courtesy of FUNimation.

“Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” takes place during a time where the magical world of Mistarcia has humans, gods and demons trying to co-exist with one another.

Long ago, the winged behemoth known as Bahamut threatened to destroy the land but the humans, gods and demons fought together and sealed its power.

The God Key that was used to seal Bahamut was split into two, one half given to the gods and the other half to the demons in order to ensure that no one can unite the keys and release Bahamut from the seal.

2000 years have passed and the key is stolen by Amira, who is half god and half demon.

Meanwhile, a thief and womanizer named Favaro Leone is on an adventure to find a land known as Elhiem.  Upon hearing this, Amira shows up and asks Favaro to take her there.

At first he refuses, but seeing her beauty, he tells her he will take her if she gives him a kiss.  But soon after, one of the criminals that Favaro is fighting turns into a demon.  But immediately, Amira reveals her powers of a demon and easily defeats the demon fighting Favaro.

As Amira wants to make sure that Favaro keeps her promise, she leans to give him a kiss but instead, she gives Favaro a demon’s tail and tells him that she will only take it off, if he takes her to Elhiem.

Meanwhile, a knight named Kaisar Lidfald is on a mission to kill Favaro as revenge for the death of his father.  Discovering a young girl zombie named Rita, the two search for Favaro.

Also, Jeanne D’Arc leads her knights to find Amira for her role in stealing one half of the keys that could unseal Bahamut.  Also, unrest is happening due to the theft of the God Key and the boundaries that were in place for godkind and demonkind is starting to crumble and a war is about to begin between the two.  And the seal that kept Bahamut sealed, is now starting to disintegrate.

As Favaro tries to make good on his promise to escort Amira to Elheim, they are unaware that everyone is looking for Amira.

Can Favaro protect Amira?  And why did Amira steal the God Key?


VIDEO:

“Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series features great animation and wonderful background art.  Bahamut is well-rendered, human characters, gods and demons are well-drawn and well-shaded.

Because this is a TV series, there is a subtle softness to the overall animation, so it’s not too vibrant. Character designs, animation and background art are fantastic.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  Typically, the English dubbed soundtrack tends to have a 5.1 lossless soundtrack, but how awesome is it that both Japanese and English soundtracks are in 5.1.  So, everyone can enjoy the lossless soundtrack depending on their preference.  Voice acting is well done for both Japanese and English.  Great use of surround channels and LFE.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Episode 1 – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Sonny Strait, Ian Sinclair (voice of Favaro), Tia Ballard (voice of Amira), Chris Rager (voice of Kaisar).
  • Audio Commentary – Episode 12 – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Sonny Strait, Ian Sinclair (voice of Favaro), Tia Ballard (voice of Amira), Chris Rager (voice of Kaisar).
  • Episode 6.5 – “Roundup” – A recap of the first half of the series.
  • Episode 6.5 – “Roundup” Preview
  • Textless Opening and Closing
  • Textless Closing for Episode 12 (Full Screen)

EXTRAS:

“Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” comes with both a Blu-ray and DVD version of the anime series.


Prior to watching “Rage of Bahagmut: Genesis”, I was not aware of the video game.

I watched this anime series and thinking how fascinating it was to have a protagonist who was a redhead and had an afro.  Then seeing humans co-existing with gods (angels) and demons, meanwhile the dead are sprouting up and zombies are everywhere.  And seeing a zombie girl become a major character.

Suffice to say, the concept is nothing I have ever seen in an anime series.  And immediately, the characters you followed throughout the first half of the series are immediately put into a chaotic situation and all heck breaks loose.  Not surprising considering the series is only 12 episodes long and the writers had to make the storyline work within those few episodes.

The adventures of four individuals who are quite opposite from each other.  Favaro, the man with the ‘fro who loves to steal and spending time with the ladies.  Kaisar the knight who wants Favaro dead because he blames Favaro for the death of his father.

But I found myself being captivated by the action-driven storyline and its mysterious protagonist, Amira.  She not only kicks ass when in demon mode but she happens to have a spunky side that leads her to act out against Favaro.  And for some reason, she has stolen the God Key which keeps the behemoth known as Bahamut sealed.

And as mentioned, you have a zombie girl who hangs out with Kaisar the knight and has a pessimistic attitude.  And dare I say, there is also a talking duck that the group befriends.

And if that wasn’t crazy enough, You also have Joan of Arc who is a saint/knight who becomes the savior for the people and then ends up being put on the stake to be executed.

Behind-the-scenes, you see tensions building up between the gods and the demons and for the most part, chaos befalls on the magical world of Mistarcia.

So, much goes on throughout this series and there are a number of characters introduced quickly, but not too much that you get confused.  If anything, with 12-episodes, “Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” is an action-packed anime series that is not difficult to follow and because it’s a short series, you may find yourself captivated enough to watch it straight through.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation by MAPPA was really well done.  The series looks very good in HD and both the Japanese soundtrack and the English dub are well-done and you get two audio commentaries, a 6.5 recap episode and more.

Overall, “Rage of Bahamut: Genesis” is an exciting, action-packed series with wonderful animation, plenty of humor and fascinating characters that you will find yourself captivated by the series.  Recommended!

 

La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

lacienne-a

I absolutely enjoyed “La chienne” for its wit, Renoir’s writing and direction, the performance of Simon and Mareze. Without a doubt, “La chienne” is a film that gives us a fantastic glimpse of the auteur that Jean Renoir would one day become. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1931 Establissements Braunberger-Richebe/1974 Les Films du Jeudi. 2016 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818

YEAR OF FILM: 1931

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:19:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, French Monaural with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Janus Film/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: June 14, 2016


Based on the Novel by Georges de La Fouchardiere

Directed by Jean Renoir

Adaptation by Jean Renoir

Produced by Pierre Braunberger, Roger Richebe

Cinematography by Theodor Sparkuhl

Edited by Denise Batcheff, Pal Fejos

Art Direction by Marcel Courmes

Set Decoration by Gabriel Scognamillo


Starring:

Michel Simon as Maurice Legrand

Janie Marese as Lucienne Pelletier

Georges Flamant as Dede

Roger Gaillard as L’adjudant

Romain Bouquet as Henriot

Pierre Desty as Gustave

Mlle Doryans as Yvonne

Alexandre Rignault as LAngelard

Lucien Mancini as Wallstein

Henri Guisol as Amedee

Max Dalban as Bernard


Jean Renoir’s ruthless love triangle tale, his second sound film, is a true precursor to his brilliantly bitter The Rules of the Game, displaying all of the filmmaker’s visual genius and fully imbued with his profound humanity. Michel Simon cuts a tragic figure as an unhappily married cashier and amateur painter who becomes so smitten with a prostitute that he refuses to see the obvious: that she and her pimp boyfriend are taking advantage of him. Renoir’s elegant compositions and camera movements carry this twisting narrative—a stinging commentary on class and sexual divisions—to an unforgettably ironic conclusion.p.


lacienne-c

Considered an auteur, there is no denying that within the oeuvre of Jean Renoir is several cinematic masterpieces.

From his films “The Lower Depths” (1936), “La Grande Illusion” (1937), “La Bete Humaine” (1938) and “The Rules of the Game” (1939), a decade before, Renoir was known for his silent films.

But with many careers ending from the transition from silent film to the talkies, with the success of Renoir’s “purge bebe” (1931), he would experiment with sound and trying to create a film quickly within a budget.

And so, Renoir would work on his next film, which included music being recorded in the studio during the acting, and once again, taking on a challenge with a longer film with sound.

And the result was “La chienne” (which translates to “The Bitch”), a film that Renoir had dreamed of making because it would feature one of his favorite actors, Michel Simon and it was also a film that utilized darkness via nighttime photography which would later become an influence in cinema.

“La chienne” also was a goal for Renoir to create a film that was adapted from a novel and a play.  An adaptation of Georges de La fouchardiere’s novel, unfortunately “La chienne” wasn’t a box office draw, the film is seen as Jean Renoir’s starting point for cinema with sound and be appreciated by film critics many decades later.  And a darker US adaptation would be made in 1945, directed by Fritz Lang, known as “Scarlet Street“.

“Le chienne” is a film starring Michel Simon (“L’Atalante”, “Port of Shadows”, The Passion of Joan of Arc”, “Boudu Saved From Drowning”), Janie Mareze (“Mam’zelle Nitouche”, “Le collier”, Amours viennoises”) and Georges Flamant (“The 400 Blows”, “Blind Venus”, “Midnight Tradition”).

“La chienne” would also be the final film of actress Janie Mareze, who was killed in a car accident (driven by actor Georges Flamant) shortly after the completion of the film.

Considered as a Renoir film that is not well known, “La chienne” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

“La chienne” begins with a party featuring a cashier named Maurice (portrayed by Michel Simon) and his co-workers.  His co-workers tease Maurice because he doesn’t like to have fun, he always heads home and is often greeted with hostility by his uncaring wife Adele (portrayed by Magdeleine Berubet).

In his spare time, Maurice loves painting and his wife dislikes his paintings that litter the house.

After the party, as Maurice is going home, a couple Andre “Dede” Govain (portrayed by Georges Flamant) and his prostitute girlfriend, Lucienne “Lulu” Pelletier (portrayed by Janie Marese) are arguing as Dede needs money to pay off his gambling debts.  When Lulu tells him that she has no money, he beats her.

But immediately, Maurice comes to her rescue and brings Lulu home.

Fastforward weeks later and we learn that Maurice has purchase an apartment for Lulu with new furniture and gives her spending money.  We learn that Lulu is using Maurice, but she looks at this arrangement of being with Maurice necessary to save money but also to give Dede the money he needs, in order to strengthen their relationship.

As Maurice’s wife pushes him to rid of his paintings, he gives it to Lulu and puts it on the walls of her place.  Needing money to pay off his debts, Dede sees the paintings and creates a story that Lulu is the true painter and needless to say, collectors start to purchase the paintings.

But as Dede tries to get Lulu to squeeze more money out of Maurice, Maurice who is unable to keep up with Lulu’s new lifestyle, begins to steal money from his company.


VIDEO:

“La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818” is presented in 1:19:1 aspect ratio in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic, the film features great clarity, wonderful detail and sharpness. Black levels are nice and deep, white and gray levels are well-contrast.  It’s important to note that because of the aspect ratio, the screen size is smaller.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution from a 35 mm safety fine-grain made from the original 35 mm nitrate neagtive.  The film was restored in 2K resolution at Digimage Classics by Les Films du Jeudi and of the Franco-American Cultural Fund DGA – MPA – SACEM – WGAW.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818” in French LPCM 1.0 Monaural audio. The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue with no signs of major hissing, crackle or audio pops.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered from the 35 mm optical soundtrack negative and restored by L.E. Diapason.”

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818” comes with the following special features:

  • Jean Renoir Introduction – (2:43) An introduction to “La chienne” by director Jean Renoir from 1961.
  • On Purge Bebe – (52:01) Jean Renoir’s first sound film from 1931 starring Michel Simon.  This version is the newly restored version.
  • Christopher Faulkner – (25:24) Jean Renoir scholar Christopher Faulkner discusses the filmmakers transition from silenfilm to talkies and the importance of “La chienne”.
  • Jean Renoir le patron: “Michel Simon” – (1:35:13) A 1967 French television program featuring a conversation between Renoir and Simon, directed by Jacques Rivette.

EXTRAS:

“La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818” comes with a poster foldout which comes with the essay “He, She, And the Other Guy” by Ginette Vincendeau.


lacienne-b

Every filmmaker has their beginning, but for Jean Renoir, despite having a successful silent film career, the early 1930’s, was a new beginning for filmmakers as it would lead many to experiment with spoken voices.

While the era of the talkies was not kind to many filmmakers and talent, for Renoir, having success with his first experimental sound film “purge bebe”, his film “La chienne” would be an important film.  Some for good reasons but also for things that are not all that good.

For one, his dream was to work with actor Michel Simon, to create a film that was an adaptation of a novel and play and hope for a film that would jumpstart his career.

Unfortunately, “La chienne” would be devastating for Renoir, as his partnership of having a film starring his wife Catherine Hessling would end.  Thus causing problems within his marriage.

The film was not a box office success, as he would gain the reputation of creating good films, but films that don’t do well in the box office.  While Renoir was later told by a friend that a filmmaker must have failures, and those who have failures receive sympathy from audiences.

“La chienne” would also bring even more heartbreak as lead actress Janie Mareze would be killed in an accident with co-star and boyfriend, Georges Flamant, shortly after the making of the film.

If anything, the film made him humble but also made him serious of creating films with better scripts.  And eventually, several years later, Jean Renoir would create his well-known masterpiece from the mid-to-late ’30s.  And eventually creating films in the United States a decade later.

So, many people could see “La chienne” being important in cinema as a brand new start for Jean Renoir as a filmmaker.

As for the film, while I have been spoiled by Fritz Lang’s 1945 darker remake “Scarlet Street”, Lang’s film is definitely film noir, while “La chienne” can be appreciated for Renoir’s artistic vision, Michel Simon and Janie Mareze’s performance.

As Lang’s “Scarlet Street” felt American, tragic and truly film noir, “La chienne” had the feeling of being French from its romanticism, comedy and irony, especially the Renoir’s use of dialogue to its technical use of shooting in darkness, shooting behind windows, its montage.  But most of all, an ending that fits perfectly with French cinema and feels right.

I enjoyed this Renoir film a lot because it’s a complete film in so many levels.

Overall, I absolutely enjoyed “La chienne” for its wit, Renoir’s writing and direction, the performance of Simon and Mareze.   Without a doubt, “La chienne” is a film that gives us a fantastic glimpse of the auteur that Jean Renoir would one day become.

Recommended!

Precious Cargo (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

preciouscargo

Filmmaker/writer Mark Adams’ “Precious Cargo” is reminiscent of those ’80s late night action films you watched on cable long ago. One of those, “so bad, it’s good” films because of its unintended humor. So, many things go wrong with this film, but for those who enjoy popcorn action films, especially bad ones, then “Precious Cargo” is for you.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Georgia Film Fund. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Precious Cargo

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (for Language Throughout, Some violence and Sexual Material)

Release Date: July 8, 2016


Directed by Max Adams

Written by Max Adams and Paul V. Seetachitt

Produced by Ryan Noto

Co-Producer: Elias Axume

Executive-Producer: Jack Campbell, Ron Gell, Tony Piantedosi, Steven Seagal

Cinematography by Anthony J. Rickert-Epstein

Music by Michael John Mollo

Edited by Robert A. Ferretti

Production Design: Dianne Millett


Starring:

Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Jack

Bruce Willis as Eddie

Claire Forlani as Karen

John Brotherton as Nicholas

Lydia Hull as Jenna

Daniel Bernardt as Smon

Ashley Kirk as Zoe

Tyler Jon Olson as Lucas

Jenna B. Kelly as Logan

Christopher Rob Bowen as Glenn

Sammi Barber as Apsara

Jean Clade Leuyer as Gustavo

Nick Loeb as Andrew Herzberg


Adrenaline-pumping chases and deadly double crosses electrify this twist-filled thriller. After a botched heist, thieves and ex-lovers Jack and Karen (Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Claire Forlani) are targeted by Eddie (Bruce Willis), a murderous crime boss. To escape with their lives, Jack and Karen must steal a cargo of precious gems. But when the job goes down, allegiances are betrayed and lines are crossed as Jack, Karen, and Eddie face off in a fateful showdown.


From writer Max Adams (“Heist”, “Extraction”) comes his directorial debut with the Lionsgate Premiere Canadian action film “Precious Cargo”.

Co-written with Paul V. Seetachitt (“Rock Jocks”, “UnderCover”), “Precious Cargo” would star Mark-Paul Gosselaar (“NYPD Blue”, “Saved by the Bell”, “Franklin & Bash”), Bruce Willis (“Die Hard” films, “The Sixth Sense”, “The Fifth Element”, “Armageddon”), Claire Forlani (“The Rock”, “Green Street Hooligans”, “Meet Joe Black”, “Mallrats”), John Brotherton (“The Conjuring”, “Furious 7”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”), Lydia hull (“Marauders”, “Van Wilder: Party Liaison”, “Escape Plan”), Daniel Bernhardt (“The Matrix Reloaded”, “John Wick”, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, “Parker”) and Jenna B. Kelly (“Extraction”).

And the film will be released on Blu-ray in July 2016.

The film begins with an introduction to Jack (portrayed by Mark-Paul Gosselaar), a criminal who has his own crew. But his crew, including the sharpshooter Logan (portrayed by Jenna B. Kelly) are concerned with his past-relationship with another criminal, a thief named Karen (portrayed by Claire Forlani).

Despite having a new girlfriend, a sweet veterinarian named Jenna (portrayed by Lydia Hull), Jack can’t get over Karen. He’s always loved her and she is a woman who never shown the same love towards him.

As for Karen, she and crime boss Eddie (portrayed by Bruce Willis) have been planning a multi-million dollar heist but something happens and she takes the money and now, Eddie wants her dead.

One afternoon, as Jack and his new girlfriend are spending a romantic moment, Karen shows up to his place and tells him that she is pregnant.

As both get into a little argument of Karen’s abrupt appearance, Eddie sends his men to Jack’s home to kill Karen.

But with the help of Jack, he is able to save her life.

Afteward, Karen asks for Jack’s help in trying to make good with Eddie by pulling off a major robbery of an armored car containing $30 million in diamonds, but in truth, the job was another being planned by Eddie and Karen found out about the plan.

Jack with the help of his sharpshooter Logan and their newly assembled team, decide to assist with Karen.  For Jack, he feels that with Karen pregnant, there may be a chance that Karen will love him back, now that she is pregnant.

Will Jack be able to pull off this major heist and win Karen’s heart?


VIDEO:

“Precious Cargo” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film.  For the most part, picture quality for the film is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Precious Cargo” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. As this is an actual film, there is a lot of surround sound usage during the gun battle exchanges and also good use of LFE during the explosions. But overall, dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Precious Cargo” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Precious Cargo – (14:37) Filmmaker Mark Adams, the producers and the cast talk about making “Precious Cargo”.
  • Cast/Crew Interviews – (43:54) Interviews with the cast members: Mark Paul Gosselaar, Claire Forlani, Jenna B. Kelly, director Mark Adams, co-writer Paul V. Seetachitt and producer Scott Mann.
  • Precious Cargo Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Precious Cargo” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet Digital HD code.


A tale of three criminals.  Jack, the goodhearted criminal who loves Karen.  Karen, the criminal and thief who loves stealing money and jewels and Eddie, a crime boss who wants revenge for Karen stealing money and jewels from jobs they collaborated on.

I have to admit that when I saw the trailer and the promotional image for “Precious Cargo”, I would have never expected to see a film collaboration between Bruce Willis and Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

Granted, Gosselaar has shed his “Saved by the Bell” past with starring roles in “NYPD Blue” and “Franklin and Bash”, but as an action role as the main protagonist against Bruce Willis, the main antagonist, needless to say, it’s an unexpected film collaboration.

The film plays out with standard banal popcorn action with unfortunate choices in writing, poor plot transitions, poor pacing, spotty acting and  situations that make you want to say “are you f**#ing kidding me?”, despite the film’s problems, as a popcorn action film, in terms of 1-star films that I have reviewed, I have seen much worse.

If anything, “Precious Cargo” reminds me of 1980 indie films which I watched as young teen on HBO and Cinemax.  Films that were so bad but yet you enjoyed it because they were so bad.  No matter how many times Jack and his people are shot at, they managed to evade hundreds of bullets, survive after being shot and no matter how many times one is punched, blood and bad bruising never happens.  That is until one is shot in the head and then we see blood.

But where I do give “Precious Cargo” credit is that Bruce Willis definitely does a good job of playing a villain (for the few minutes he does star in the film) and the action-scenes, the one chase scene in the water was cool, as well as a few of the more explosive scenes in the film as well.  Enough action that worked within the confines of its budget of $10 million.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is vibrant, up-close details were very good.  Lossless audio utilized the surround channels and LFE quite well, and you also get a few special features included as well.

Overall, filmmaker/writer Mark Adams’ “Precious Cargo” is reminiscent of those ’80s late night action films you watched on cable long ago.  One of those, “so bad, it’s good” films because of its unintended humor.  So, many things go wrong with this film, but for those who enjoy popcorn action films, especially bad ones, then “Precious Cargo” is for you.

 

 

Gold (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

gold

It is rare to find any films, especially science fiction films released during the Third Reich era to be released in the U.S. And for cineaste that are passionate about German cinema, it is wonderful to see Kino Lorber releasing Karl Hartl’s 1934 sci-fi film, “Gold” on Blu-ray. An entertaining film worth recommending!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gold

FILM RELEASE: 1934

DURATION: 117 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:33:1), German Monaural with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Kino Classics

RATED: N/A

Release Date: June 14, 2016


Directed by Karl Hartl

Written by Rolf E. Vanloo

Produced by Alfred Zeisler

Music by Hans-Otto Borgmann

Cinematography by Otto Baecker, Werner Bohne, Gunther Rittau

Edited by Wolfgang Becker

Art Direction by Otto Hunte


Starring:

Hans Albers as Werner Holk

Friedrich Kaybler as Prof. Achenbach

Brigitte Helm as Florence Wills

Michael Bohnen as John Wills

Ernst Karchow as Willi Luders, alias Charlie Jenkins

Lien Deyers as Margin Moller

Eberhard Leithoff as Harris, a Technician

Rudolf Platte as Schwarz

Walter Steinbeck as Braun

Heinz Wemper as Vesitsch

Hansjoachim Buttner as Becker, the Murderer

Erich Haubmann as Secretary


A rare science fiction film made in National Socialist Germany, Karl Hartl’s GOLD is a high-tech thriller dramatizing the ongoing war between scientific progress and corporate greed (resurrecting some of the themes and spectacle of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis). Hans Albers stars as Professor Holk, an idealistic scientist developing the process of atomic fracturing, constructing an enormous electrical device to transform common lead into gold. When the operation is sabotaged by corporate rivals, resulting in the death of Holk’s mentor (Friedrich Kayssler), Holk must accept the backing of a ruthless English businessman, John Wills (Michael Bohnen), whose interest in atomic fracturing is purely economic. Though he makes a deal with the devil, in order to continue his research, Holk recognizes it as a golden opportunity not for a paycheck, but for payback and plots to destroy Wills’s titanic gold-making machinery. While Holk enacts his revenge, he captures the interest of the millionaire’s rebellious daughter (Brigitte Helm, Metropolis), who is enthralled by the scientist’s vision and integrity. GOLD is not only a handsomely-produced drama of corporate espionage, it also reveals the ways in which English and American culture was subtly condemned in films made under the Third Reich.


Best known for films such as “The Life and Loves of Mozard”(1955), “The Angel with the Trumpet” (1948) and  “Two Merry Adventurers” (1934), filmmaker Karl Hartl was known earlier in his career for his science fiction work.

Which began with “Der Tunnel”, in 1934, Hartl would work on his next sci-fi film, “Gold” which took about 14 months to shoot.

The film would star Hans Albers (“The Blue Angel”, “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”, “Two Merry Adventurers”), Friedrich Kaybler (“Der Zerbrochene Krug”, “Frisions in Distress”), Brigitte Helm (“Metropolis”, “L’Argent”, “L’Atlantide”) and Lien Deyers (“Spies”, “Captain Fracasse”, “Laughing Heirs”).

While the film was made in Germany in 1934, a French version (“L’or”) was made the same year but the only actor that would work on both films was actress Brigitte Helm for her role as Florence Wills.

And now Karl Hartl’s “Gold” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film begins with a written introduction of how for hundreds of years, men have tried to create gold artificially as it is the joy and curse of the world.  How clans, tribes and nations have been in war with each other for the sake of gold.  Men cheat, persecute and have killed for gold.

In the United Kingdom, a British scientist is convinced that he can turn base materials into gold by using a giant underwater atomic reactor.

Prof. Achenbach (portrayed by Friedrich Kaybler) is a German scientist working on a similar experiment of trying to turn lead into gold, meanwhile earlier before the experiment, the professor’s technician, Becker (portrayed by Hans-Joachim Buttner) has been given something by a group of men  in order to sabotage the experiment.

While Prof. Achenbach (portrayed by Friedrich Kaybler) and his assistant Professor Werner Holk (portrayed by Hans Albers) is working on the experiment, an explosion takes place killing the professor, while Holk is seriously injured.

With the help of the blood donation by Margit Moller (portrayed by Lien Deyers), Holk is able to heal and immediately and when he goes to check the area of the explosion, finds the lead components and feel they have been tampered with.

Offered to work with Scotch mining magnate John Wills (portrayed by Michael Bohnent), Holk wonders if Wills may be responsible for sabotaging Prof. Achenbach’s experiment.  So, Holk offers to meet with Wills in order to find out if he is responsible for Achenbach’s death.

Holk agrees to work on Wills project, but Wills knows that Holk is trying to establish a connection with him and Achenbach’s death.

How far will Holk go to get his revenge?


VIDEO:

“Gold” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio), black and white.  It’s important to note that Kino Lorber does not do any film restoration with their films, they simply present them in HD as the films are in their current format (so, if films are restored, then they will receive the latest restoration on Blu-ray and DVD).

With that being said, “Gold” does feature some damage and at times some frames have more scratches, flickering and even missing frames at times.  But by no means is the film’s picture quality terrible.  Picture quality is good and offers better clarity and sharpness over the IHF DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Gold” is presented in German monaural with English subtitles.  I personally didn’t notice any major hissing or crackle during my viewing of the film.  Dialogue including the shrieking of the atomic reactor is crystal clear.

Subtitles feature optional English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gold” does not come with any English subtitles.


With the collapse of the Weimar Republic in 1933, cinema would change in Germany as many filmmakers and performers would leave the country as the Nazis came to power and the establishment of the Third Reich and its Reichsfilmkammer (Reich Chamber of Film).

All those employed in the film industry must be members for the Reichsfachschaft film and those whose politics or personal life were unacceptable by the Nazis were excluded and denied employment.

Needless to say, the artful cinema of the Wiemar Republic had ended but UFA would create an expensive film that would take 14-15 months to create and it was Karl Hartl’s science fiction film, “Gold”.

A film that took so long to make that even actor Hans Albers tried to sue for almost double his salary.  But because two versions of the film were created, one in German and one in French (with a different cast, except Brigitte Helm who starred in both productions), the film took long to make.

Back in 1934, even Americans were enamored by the production quality of its film and mechanical designs.

“New York Times” reviewer H.T.S. wrote, “This time the dream of many ancient, and some modern, would-be gold manufacturers is realized on the screen by the UFA, with a remarkable display of thrilling scenes involving excellent views of some fearful and wonderful machinery.”

The film is primarily a revenge-driven film that showcases the competition of scientific progress and corporate greed, as countries try to find a way to create gold using atomic reactors.

In the film, the Germans are close to making a discovery and with their experiment, was sabotaged and the leading scientist is killed and the assistant is badly injured.

Saved by a woman who donated blood, the assistant, Professor Holk wants to find out who was responsible of sabotaging their experiment.  And what best way but to infiltrate the organization who he suspects are responsible, the evil Scotch mining magnate, John Wills.

But Wills knows that Holk is trying to establish a connection to him and Professor Achenbach’s death and audiences watch to find out if Professor Holk can get his revenge.

For those who have watched Friz Lang’s 1927 silent film masterpiece “Metropolis”, will love that the film stars the beautiful Brigitte Helm as the daughter of John Wills, who has fallen for Professor Holk.

But for German cinema fans, it is not very often to get any film (aside from Leni Riefenstahl films) made during the Third Reich era to be released in North America on Blu-ray. Especially UFA films of that era, before all film companies were seized and formed one corporation, UFA-Film GBMN (UFI) in 1942.

So, “Gold” is a rare gem to see and for its era, was considered a high-tech thriller, so much that Allied Censorship boards after World War II made viewers wonder if German scientists had been able to build a nuclear reactor long before it was originally thought that they did.

As for the Blu-ray release, the Blu-ray is no doubt better than the previously released IHF DVD’s.  Because of the upscale to HD, the black and whites are well-contrast but because Kino Lorber does not do any restoration work, any dust, scratches that were on the film can be seen on this Blu-ray release.  Any flickering or missing frames can be seen on this Blu-ray release.  But by no means is there any damage that makes the film unviewable, in fact, “Gold” looks very good in HD.  And cineaste should be thrilled that this rare gem was released on Blu-ray.

Unfortunately, there are no special features included, and I was hoping that either the French version of the film or featurettes with film scholars discussing the making of the film were included.

Overall, it is rare to find any films, especially science fiction films released during the Third Reich era to be released in the U.S.  And for cineaste that are passionate about German cinema, it is wonderful to see Kino Lorber releasing Karl Hartl’s 1934 sci-fi film, “Gold” on Blu-ray.

An entertaining film worth recommending!

 

Code of Honor (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

codeofhonor

Michael Winnick’s “Code of Honor” is an exciting Steven Seagal action film! While Seagal is the actor highlighting this film, the true action lead for “Code of Honor” goes to actor Craig Sheffer, who also does a great job in this action film. If you love popcorn action films, “Code of Honor” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © The Adderall Diaries © 2015 Adderall Diaries, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Artwork & Supplementary Materials © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Code of Honor

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 106 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (for Strong Bloody Violence, Sexuality, Nudity, Some Language and Drug Use)

Release Date: July 5, 2016


Directed by Michael Winnick

Written by Michael Winnick

Produced by Ryan Noto

Co-Producer: Elias Axume

Executive-Producer: Jack Campbell, Ron Gell, Tony Piantedosi, Steven Seagal

Cinematography by Anthony J. Rickert-Epstein

Music by Michael John Mollo

Edited by Robert A. Ferretti

Production Design: Dianne Millett


Starring:

Steven Seagal as Robert Sikes

Craig Sheffer as William Porter

James Russo as Romano

Louis Mandylor as Detective James Peterson

Griff Furst as Jerry Simon

Helena Mattsson as Keri Green

Rafael Petardi as Carlos

R.D. Call as Mayor Randolf

Michael Flynn as Captain Connely

Ileana Huxlley as Natasha


Oscar® nominee James Franco is riveting as a famous but troubled author whose fascination with a high-profile murder case brings his own dark past into focus. Based on the best-selling book by Stephen Elliott, The Adderall Diaries follows one man’s desperate journey through sex, drugs, and lies as he tries to separate fact from fiction and ignite a life-changing romance. Ed Harris and Amber Heard costar in this gritty story about the shocking discoveries that lie beneath the truth.


Steven Seagal (“Under Siege”, “Above the Law”, “On Deadly Ground”) returns with a new action film titled “Code of Honor”.

Directed and written by Michael Winnick (“Guns, Girls and Gambling”, “The Better Half”, “Shadow Puppets”), the action film stars Craif Sheffer (“Nightbreed”, “One Tree Hill”, “A River Runs Through It”), Helena Mattson (“Iron Man 2”, “Surrogates”, “Seven Psychopaths”), Louis Mandylor (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, “The Quest”, “In the Eyes of a Killer”), James Russo (“Django Unchained”, “Donnie Brasco”, “Public Enemies”), Griff Furst (“Focus”, “Terminator Genisys”, “Now You See Me”) and Rafael Petardi (“Angels & Demons”, “Jack Brooks Monster Slayer”, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”).

“Code of Honor” arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on July 5, 2016.

The film begins with a drug deal between two major gangs.  As the deal is made, high above on top of a silo is Col. Robert Sikes (portrayed by Steven Seagal) who takes out all of the drug dealers and gang members with his sniper and machine gun except one person.

Investigating the scene is Detective James Peterson (portrayed by Louis Mandylor) who runs into Special Agent William Porter (portrayed by Craig Sheffer).  Both men will be working on the case, but Detective Peterson is unclear of why the feds are involved.

Meanwhile, Romano, who lost a lot of money in the drug deal wants to know who is responsible for gunning down his men and ruining the deal.

At a strip bar owned by Romano, an escort named Keri Green (portrayed by Helena Mattsson) receives a call to go to her son’s school.  Before she leaves, she sees a man sitting in the back (who happens to be Col. Sykes).  As she leaves, we see Col. Sykes also getting up and leaving a brief case behind.  He ends up detonating the case inside the strip club and more people are dead.

Special Agent Porter sees Col. Sykes and confirms he is the man he is after.  He briefs Detective Peterson and his fellow agents that they are dealing with one of the best special operatives who wants revenge against all criminals due to the murders of his wife and child (who were gunned down in a drive-by shooting by gang members), while he was out serving the country. And also, Porter may have some sort of history with Sykes that he is not sharing with the police force.

Because Keri was one of the last people to leave the club and see a man at the club, Special Agent Porter knows she and her child may be in danger, as the gang mobster Romano will be looking for her.

As Special Agent Porter is doing all he can to search for Col. Sykes, Col. Sykes continues his killing spree of gang members, drug dealers and pimps.

And while the police want to stop Sykes, the media and its viewers are praising the criminal murderer, dubbed “The Super Vigilante”.


VIDEO:

“Code of Honor” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. There are moments where blood splatters from far distances in some instances look too CG but for the most part, picture quality is very good for the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Code of Honor” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. As this is an actual film, there is a lot of surround sound usage during the gun battle exchanges and also good use of LFE during the explosions.  But overall, dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features for “Code of Honor”.

EXTRAS:

“Code of Honor” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Whenever there is news of a Steven Seagal film coming out, there is one thing you can always expect and that is plenty of action.

As Seagal has been one of America’s top action heroes since the early ’90s, I have to admit that watching his latest film “Code of Honor”, while his name is featured, as with his image on the front cover of the Blu-ray and DVD, the truth is that Seagal only shows up for several scenes and the primary action star of the film is Craig Sheffer, who plays the role of William Porter.

Seagal as Col. Robert Sikes is primarily seen using a sniper or machine gun taking out criminals, but the film focuses on Sheffer’s Porter who is tasked of finding and going after Col. Sikes, but also trying to help out Helena Mattson’s character, Keri Green from being kidnapped or killed by the mafia.

And at first, what appears to be a banal cat and mouse type of storyline, the film then adds a twist that you never see coming.  And I have to give writer/director Michael Winnick some props for taking the film to a different much better direction thanks to the film’s storyline twist.

And as a popcorn action film, one can expect a lot of gun and knife battles, explosions galore and for the most part, “Code of Honor” was more entertaining than what I was expecting.  Truthfully, I was expecting an action b-movie film with a limited budget with sparse action scenes and limited action.  But the film turned out much more exciting and entertaining thanks to Porter vs. Sikes vs. Mafia storyline.

Sure, there are moments where acting by a few of the non-lead characters were a bit so-so and scenes where things such as blood splattering after shots looked a bit CG, but fight choreography and just the overall grittiness of the film and how the characters were utilized, “Code of Honor” turned out to be a cool action film.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality was solid, as outdoor scenes were vibrant, closeups show great detail.  Lossless audio was well-utilized during the gun battles and overall action sequences.  Unfortunately, there are no special features included.

Overall, Michael Winnick’s “Code of Honor” is an exciting Steven Seagal action film!  While Seagal is the actor highlighting this film, the true action lead for “Code of Honor” goes to actor Craig Sheffer, who also does a great job in this action film.

If you love popcorn action films, “Code of Honor” is recommended!

Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

leamiche-a

“Le Amiche” may be looked at as a different Michelangelo Antonioni film in the fact that it’s less alienating and not about the psychology of people but more of the focus on relationships and detachment. But what can appreciate “Le Amiche” is for its daring approach of being different from the norm of films which were focused on Italian Neorealism during that time. A precursor to Antonioni masterpieces that would come years later, “Le Amiche” is an early Antonioni film worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Titanus 1955. 2016 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817

YEAR OF FILM: 1955

DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, Italian Monaural with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Janus Film/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2016


Based on the Novel by Cesare Pavese

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

Screenplay by Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Michelangelo Antonioni

Collaboration by Alba De Cespedes

Story by Dorothy B. Hughes

Produced by Robert Lord

Associate Producer: Henry S. Kesler

Music by George Antheil

Cinematography by Burnett Guffrey

Edited by Viola Lawrence

Art Direction by Robert Peterson

Set Decoration by William Kiernan

Costume Design by Jean Louis


Starring:

Eleanora Rossa Drago as Clelia

Gabriele Ferzetti as Lorenzo

Franco Fabrizi as Cesare Pedoni, The Architect

Valentina Cortese as Nene

Yvonne Furneaux as Momina De Stefani

Madeleine Fischer as Rosetta Savoni

Anna Maria Pancani as Mariella

Luciano Volpato as Tony

Ettore Manni as Carlo


This major early achievement by Michelangelo Antonioni bears the first signs of the cinema-changing style for which he would soon be world-famous. Le amiche (The Girlfriends) is a brilliantly observed, fragmentary depiction of modern bourgeois life, conveyed from the perspective of five Turinese women. As four of the friends try to make sense of the suicide attempt of the fifth, they find themselves examining their own troubled romantic lives. With suggestions of the theme of modern alienation and the fastidious visual abstraction that would define his later masterpieces such as L’avventura, L’eclisse, and Red Desert, Antonioni’s film is a devastating take on doomed love and fraught friendship.


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Before Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni would be known as the “Master of Alienation” and would direct well-known films “Blow Up” (1966), “Red Desert” (1964), “L’Eclisse”(1962), “La Notte” (1961) and “L’Avventura” (1960), he directed his fourth feature film, “Le Amiche” (1955).

An adaptation of Cesare Pavese’s 1949 novel “Tra donne sole”, his film would star Eleanora Rossi Drago (“Violent Summer”, “David & Goliath”, “Dorian Gray”), Gabrielle Ferzetti (“L’Avventura, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”), Fabrico Fabrizi (“I Vitelloni”, “Ginger and Fred”, “Death in Venice”), Valentina Cortese (“Day for Night”, “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”, “The Barefoot Contessa”), Yvonne Furneaux (“La Dolce Vitta”, “Repulsion”, “The Mummy”), Madeleine Fischer (“The Day the Sky Exploded”, “Class of Iron”) and Anna Maria Pancani (“The Bachelor”, “Piccola Posta”, “Operazione Notte”).

And now this early Michelangelo Antonioni film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

The film revolves around Clelia (portrayed by Eleonora Rossi Drago), a successful woman who is planning to open a branch of a Rome fashion salon in her native city of Turin.

While she is overseeing the grand opening, when she goes to her hotel, her maid tells her that a young woman in the next room is dead.  Clelia goes to check on the young woman, Rosetta Savoni (portrayed by Madeleine Fischer) and sees that she tried to overdose on sleeping pills and tried to commit suicide.

While Clelia is being interviewed by police, Rosetta’s friend Momina De Stefani (portrayed by Yvonne Furneaux) comes to visit and finds out that her friend tried to kill herself.

Clelia and Momina become friends and she is introduced to her wealthy friends including an artist named Nene (portrayed by Valentina Cortese) who lives with her less successful fiance, a painter named Lorenzo (portrayed by Gabriele Ferzetti) who envies his girlfriend’s success.  But because his jealousy is pushing him away from his wife, he ends up becoming closer to the emotionally unstable Rosetta.

And their other wealthy friend, Mariella (portrayed by Anna Maria Pancani) is flirtatious and just loves the attention of men.

Meanwhile, Clelia starts to fall for Carlo (portrayed by Ettore Manni), assistant of the salon’s architect, Cesare Pedoni (portrayed by Franco Fabrizi).  But because Carlo is a member of the working class and Clelia is financially successful, both are from two walks of life.

But with the class of ego’s, unfortunate advice by one of the women would eventually lead to tragedy.


VIDEO:

“Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817” is presented in 1:33:1 aspect ratio in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic, the film features great clarity, wonderful detail and sharpness.  Black levels are nice and deep, white and gray levels are well-contrast.

According to the Criterion Collection, “Supervised by film historian Carlo Di Carlo in 2008, this 2K restoration was undertaken by L’Immagine Ritrovata, with funding provided by the Gucci and The Film Foundation, from the 35 mm original camera negative.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817” in Italian LPCM 1.0 Monaural audio. The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue with no signs of major hissing, crackle or audio pops.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at L’Immagine Ritrovata from a 35 mm optical soundtrack positive printed from the original soundtrack negative.”

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817” comes with the following special features:

  • David Forgacs and Karen Pinkus – (27:01) Featuring scholars David Forgacs and Karen Pinkus discussing “Le Amiche” and its themes, visual style and adaptation.
  • Eugenia Paulicelli – (22:25) Film scholar Eugenia Paulicelli talking about the significance of fashion in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni.

EXTRAS:

“Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817” comes with a six-page foldout which comes with the essay “Friends – Italian Style” by Tony Pipolo.


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A film about friendships, relationships but also a modern and fashionable look of successful independent women.

Unlike other Antonioni films that delves into the psychology of a relationship and the alienation of its character, this film is about independent women making choices, independent and wealthy women and their relationships that appear strong based on their free spirit and lifestyle.

But the more one delves into each of the women’s thoughts throughout the film, you realize they are much different and for some, not as strong-willed as it may seem.

The film follows the character of Clelia, who left Turin to make a life for herself. And she has become successful and now returns back to the city of Turin to open up a Rome fashion salon but to find out how much she has changed from the city she grew up in.

Where psychology is important in an Antonioni film of trying to understand a character’s alienation, “Le Amiche” is different in the fact that it delves into a bourgeois facade of life being much better for those who are wealthy and are able to sport popular fashion brands.

And one should remember that this is all quite fascinating because Italian cinema was focused on humanity and post-war suffering of the Italian people.  Italian neorealism showcased many people, many families who had not much to survive.

While “Le Amiche” is much different as it showcased women who were independent, wealthy and successful.  But at the same time, their perceptions towards life is less about family and moreso about finding a man, having fun and being stylish.

But Clelia, one of the wealthy, successful women, who is just in the city of Turin to visit, starts to see the bad with these women that she has befriended.  Clelia is independent, successful through hard work, other women she has befriended try to find themselves a wealthy man to take care of them.  She is not that type of person.

The film also tries to show viewers why, among these friends, the character of Rosetta is suicidal and unstable but why her friends are so uncaring of one of their own.

But things are not all good with only the women, a few of the men have succumbed to their own bouts of insecurity.  Lorenzo is a talented painter, but nowhere as successful as his girlfriend Nene.  And with Nene’s career blossoming, his jealousy starts to consume him.  Pushing him towards the arms of the unstable, Rosetta.

Meanwhile, Clelia starts to fall for Carlo, the assistant to the architect.  But Carlo knows that his place in society, is much different than Clelia.  And as both do have feelings for each other, both know that they are from two different worlds.

The camerawork and also Antonioni’s choreography of where people should be on film was also great to see, especially being an earlier Antonioni film.

As for the Blu-ray, “Le Amiche” looks fantastic in HD, with the clarity of the overall picture to be wonderfully contrast and sharp.  While lossless audio is free of any hiss or crackle.  You also get two special features, one that goes into the film and its difference to the novel, while the other featurette focuses on the fashion featured in Antonioni films.

Overall, “Le Amiche” may be looked at as a different Michelangelo Antonioni film in the fact that it’s less alienating and not about the psychology of people but more of the focus on relationships and detachment.  But what can appreciate “Le Amiche” is for its daring approach of being different from the norm of films which were focused on Italian Neorealism during that time.

A precursor to Antonioni masterpieces that would come years later, “Le Amiche” is an early Antonioni film worth watching!

The Adderall Diaries (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

adderall

I found “The Adderall Diaries” to be interesting in concept and a film made even more interesting by the performances of James Franco and Ed Harris.  But as a film that is an adaptation of a true-crime memoir, unfortunately the story strays too far from actual facts and filmmaker/writer Pamela Romanowsky tries to make it her own original film. Unfortunate.

Images courtesy of © The Adderall Diaries © 2015 Adderall Diaries, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Artwork & Supplementary Materials © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Adderall Diaries

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:39:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (for Language Throughout, Drug Use, Sexuality, and Some Aberrant and Disturbing Content)

Release Date: July 5, 2016


Directed by Pamela Romanowsky

Based on the Memoir by Stephen Elliott

Screenplay by Pamela Romanowsky

Produced by James Franco, VinceJolivette, JosephMcKelheer, James Reach

Co-Producer: Tyler Bacon, Anthon Brandonisio, Grant Mohrman, Kimberly Parker, Daniel Rainey

Executive-Producer: Ryan Dorff, Bill Kiely, Leo Kiely

Associate Producer: Ali Oremus, Matthew Shattuck

Cinematography by Bruce Thierry Cheung

Casting by Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee

Music by Michael Andrews

Edited by MarcVives

Production Design: Todd Fjelsted

Art Direction by Vanessa Riegel

Set Decoration by Graham Wichman

Costume Design by Brenda Abbandandolo


Starring:

James Franco as Stephen Elliott

Ed Harris as Neil Elliott

Amber Heard as Lana Edmond

Wilmer Valderrama as Josh

Christian Slater as Hans Reiser

Cynthia Nixon as Jen Davis

Danny Flaherty as Teenage Roger

Jim Parrack as Roger

Timothee Chalamet as Teenage Stephen

Michael Cristofer as Paul Hora


Oscar® nominee James Franco is riveting as a famous but troubled author whose fascination with a high-profile murder case brings his own dark past into focus. Based on the best-selling book by Stephen Elliott, The Adderall Diaries follows one man’s desperate journey through sex, drugs, and lies as he tries to separate fact from fiction and ignite a life-changing romance. Ed Harris and Amber Heard costar in this gritty story about the shocking discoveries that lie beneath the truth.


In 2009, author/filmmaker Stephen Elliott (known for his novels “Happy Baby”, “What It Means to Love You”, “A Life Without Consequences” and the film “About Cherry”) wrote “The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism and Murder” which explored the gruesome crimes committed by Hans Reiser but also incorporating his challenges with writer’s block and his dependency on Adderall, his book was later adapted into a film.

Directed and written by Pamela Romanowsky (“The Color of Time”, “Live Girls”) and an adaptation of Stephen Elliott’s work, the crime thriller is not a full adaptation of Elliot’s novel, but written for entertainment, thus loosely-based on the life of the real Stephen Elliott.

The film would star James Franco (“Spider-Man” films, “127 Hours”, “This is the End”), Ed Harris (“A Beautiful Mind”, “Gravity”, “The Abyss”), Amber Heard (“Drive Angry”, “Zombieland”, “The Danish Girl”), Christian Slater (“Interview with the Vampire”, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”, “True Romance”, “Pump Up the Volume”), Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”, “Amadeus”), Jim Parrack (“Fury”, “Battle Los Angeles”, “Annapolis”) and Wilmer Valderrama (“That 70’s Show”, “Fast Food Nation”).

“The Adderall Diaries” revolves around an author named Stephen Elliott (portrayed by James Franco).  As the film would introduce us to home video of a young Stephen and his father Neil (portrayed by Ed Harris), playing and growing together.  We start to see how this loving family was destroyed as Neil’s wife became sick, Neil had an affair and started his own family, meanwhile Stephen had difficulties growing up and becoming homeless.

We see memories of Stephen’s past and his father beating and drowning him.

As Stephen begins to write about a high-profile murder case about Hans Reiser (portrayed by Christian Slater), he meets New York Times writer Lana Edmond (portrayed by Amber Heard) and both begin a romantic relationship.

But as Stephen promotes his book about how he was homeless and how his father died a long time ago, from the crowd, his father Neil outs his son as being a fraud and that he is very much alive.

With being outted for falsifying his book by his father, his agent Jen Davis tries to do damage control and wants Stephen to come up with evidence of his past, to validate his book.

Meanwhile, Stephen turns to drugs, dangerous sex and also hanging out with his childhood friend Roger (portrayed by Jim Parrack) but, as we get to see pieces of Stephen’s life, are his memories of what happened to him as a child…fact or fiction?


VIDEO:

“The Adderall Diaries” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. I didn’t notice any problems with overall picture quality and for the most part, “The Adderall Diaries” looks very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Adderall Diaries” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue-driven, while the surround channels are utilized more for ambiance, especially during the more confrontational moments between father and son.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Adderall Diaries” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary by writer/director Pamela Romanowsky.
  • The Adderall Diaries: A Director’s Perspective – (11:48) Pamela Romanowsky discusses Stephen’s writing, the characters and the film.
  • Deleted Scenes – (9:47) Featuring deleted scenes from the film (note: The deleted scenes are all presented as one full featurette).

EXTRAS:

“The Adderall Diaries” comes with a slipcover and UltraViolet Digital HD code.


After watching Pamela Romanowsky’s “The Adderall Diaries”, I can say that I enjoyed the concept.

As dysfunctional families is common in today’s society and interpretations of why things are dysfunctional can be seen differently within each family member, memories of problematic pasts and pain can easily transition into something more than what actually transpired.

The film revolves around Stephen Elliott, a man who we learn from the beginning, had a problematic past due to his upbringing of what appears to be a father who was loving but later became abusive and eventually had died.

As Stephen becomes a successful author and chosen to write another book on Hans Reiser, a husband/father accused of murdering his wife, he develops a relationship with journalist, Lana Edmond and from then on, we start to see things spiral downward for Stephen.

His father Neil is not dead and in front of a public reading, Neil calls out his son for the lies that he wrote.  His best friend Roger questions Stephen on his interpretations of things that have happened in the past.  His agent Jen must try to rescue Stephen’s career after it was revealed that his novel about his father was a lie.  And Stephen is shown to be a masochist and trying to get his new girlfriend to try all these different type of painful and risky sexual techniques on him.

And while the film benefits from having talent such as James Franco, Ed Harris, Amber Heard, Christian Slater, Cynthia Nixon, Jim Parrack and Wilmer Valderrama, the film doesn’t utilize the cast effectively.

If anything, the protagonist Stephen Elliott comes off more as an uber douche bag who has manufactured lies in his memories which have replaced fact.

What makes “The Adderall Diaries” even more disappointing is that it strays too far from the original book and who the real Stephen Elliott really is.  So much that Stephen Elliott had to write an article for the Vulture to dispute many things that were presented on the film.

Stephen Elliot wrote, “To list everything the movie got wrong might take many pages and require rewatching the movie, something I’m not willing to do. Most of it doesn’t matter: I don’t ride a motorcycle, I’ve never taken a boxing lesson, I didn’t date a reporter at the New York Times. I also don’t date women who aren’t kinky and try to convince them to choke me. I date women whose desires are compatible with my own.”

It’s one thing to create a whole different film, but to utilize the same names and to stray far from the original book, the film is more of Pamela Romanowsky’s own creation and Stephen Elliott, is just the name of a character.

It’s one of those situations where if a book was going to be loosely adapted, then change the name, change the characters, so people who enjoyed the book will not have any high expectations.

And as for the title “The Adderall Diaries” and Stephen’s addiction that is featured in the book, it doesn’t really bare any weight in the film.  And the actual murder by Hans Reiser, that the book was primarily investigating, the film incorporates it but was it even necessary?”

The strength of the film is primarily the broken relationship between father and son and James Franco and Ed Harris do a fantastic job playing off each others anger.

The film also features quite a bit of kinky sex scenes between James Franco and Amber Heard, who clearly added these scenes to portray the character as wreckless.  But felt the scenes were used too much and took away from the film.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good showing great detail on close-ups, dialogue is crisp and clear and you also get a few special features included as well.

Overall, I found “The Adderall Diaries” to be interesting in concept and a film made even more interesting by the performances of James Franco and Ed Harris.  But as a film that is an adaptation of a true-crime memoir, unfortunately the story strays too far from actual facts and filmmaker/writer Pamela Romanowsky tries to make it her own original film. Unfortunate.

Assassination Classroom, Season 1, Part 1 Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Assassination Classroom” is an enjoyable, humorous and exciting action-packed anime series!

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Assassination Classroom, Season 1, Part 1 Limited Edition

YEAR: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 17, 2016


Originally Created by Yusei Matsu

Directed by Seiji Kishi

Screenplay by Makoto Uezu

Music by Naoki Sato

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita

Art Direction by Ayumu Miyakoshi, Kazuto Shimoyama

Mechanical Design by Tomohito Hirose

Production by Lerche


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Suzaki/Monica Rial as Kaede Kayano

Jun Fukuyama/Sonny Strait as Koro-sensei

Mai Fuchigami/Lindsay Seidel as Nagisa Shiota

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Apphia Yu as Karma Akabane

Ayaka Suwa/Michelle Rojas as Tōka Yada

Chie Matsuura/Morgan Garrett as Megu Kataoka

Eiji Miyashita/Kyle Phillips as Sōsuke Sugaya

Fuko Saito/Terry Doty as Kirara Hazama

Hisako Kanemoto as Hinano Kurahashi

Junji Majima as Ryūnosuke Chiba

Kana Ueda as Yuzuki Fuwa

Kenta Miyake as Akira Takaoka

Kouki Harasawa as Takuya Muramatsu

Mamoru Miyano as Gakushū Asano

Manami Numakura as Rio Nakamura

Megumi Ogata as Itona Horibe

Miho Hino as Sumire Hara

Minami Tanaka as Hinata Okano

Ryo Naitou as Taiga Okajima

Ryota Ohsaka as Yūma Isogai

Saki Fujita as Jiritsu “Ritsu” Shikō Kotei Hōdai

Satomi Satou as Yukiko Kanzaki

Sayuri Yahagi as Manami Okuda

Shiho Kawaragi as Rinka Hayami

Shintarō Asanuma as Hiroto Maehara

Shinya Takahashi as Kōki Mimura

Shizuka Itou as Irina Jelavic

Sho Hayami as Gakuhō Asano

Shunsuke Kawabe as Masayoshi Kimura

Subaru Kimura as Ryōma Terasaka

Takahiro Mizushima as Kōtarō Takebayashi

Takehito Koyasu as Gastro

Tomokazu Sugita as Tadaomi Karasuma

Yoshitaka Yamaya as Tomohito Sugino

Yoshiyuki Shimozuma as Taisei Yoshida


Only nostrils of steel can prevent massive blood loss during this super sexy second season of Maken-Ki! Brought to you by the director of Ikki Tousen!

Takeru and his Leadership Committee comrades are the last line of defense when it comes to ridding Tenbei Academy of mischievous Maken users. But saving all these succulent student bodies from a hoard of hocus pocus hornballs is no easy trick. Not when there’s a pervy creeper pinning bras to the bulletin board, a magical feline turning coed cuties into irresistible sex kittens, and a must-see manga fest where the costumes get mysteriously shrunken down to scandalous sizes! Through it all, Takeru keeps his mind on the mammaries – and the mammaries on his mind – as the luscious ladies of the Leadership Committee prove that their magic is breast in class!


In 2012, mangaka Yusei Matsui created the manga series “Assassination Classroom” (Ansatsu Kyoshitsu).

Matsui, who was known for the manga series “Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro” and also was a former assistant of mangaka, Yoshio Sawai, would eventually create one of the best selling manga series in the past few years.

Serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”, a total of 12 volumes have been collected into Tankobon format and the first volume has had over one million copies printed and was on the list for best-selling manga in 2013.  Came second in Media Factory’s “Book of the Year” and won the #1 position for “2014 Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” voted by male readers for Takarajimasha.

With an anime adaptation in Japan that debuted in 2015, the first part of the first season of “Assassination Classroom” was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNIMATION.

The anime series is produced by Lerche (“Danganronpa the Animation”, “Persona 4: The Animation”, “Re: Hamatora”) and was directed by Seiji Kishi (“Angel Beats!”, “Persona 4: The Animation”, “Ragnarok the Animation”, “RE: Hamatora”), a screenplay by Makoto Uezu (“Kamisama Dolls”, “Arslan Senki: Fujin Ranbu”, “Quiz Magic Academy”, “Is This a Zombie?”), music by Naoki Sato (“Blood-C”, “Eureka Seven”, “Heroic Age”), character design by Kazuaki Morita (“Kamisama Dolls”, “Tentai Senshi Sunred”, “Persona 4: The Animation”) and art direction by Ayumu Miyakoshi (“Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Noba DC”) and Kazuto Shimuyama (“Daganronpa the Animation”, “Devil Survivor 2: The Animation”).

The series begins by introducing us to a powerful alien creature that destroyed 70% of the moon, making it a crescent moon forever.  The alien has said that within a year, he will destroy the Earth but he does give mankind a chance to prevent it.

Having special speed and quick reflexes, with a number of tentacles like an octopus, the alien known as Koro-sensei, becomes a teacher for the lowly class 3-E at the prestigious Kunugigaoka Junior High School.

Government worker Tadaomi Karasuma tells the entire class 3-E what problems they are facing and how Koro-sensei will destroy the Earth.  But the deal the alien made with the government and military is that if he is assassinated before the end of the year, he will spare Earth.  So, Tadaomi Karasuma announces that the focus of class 3-E is to kill their homeroom teacher.

And Koro-sensei is hoping the students can do it..but can they?

For volume 1, we are introduced to Nagisa Shiota, a weak student but very observant and smart and studies Koro-sensei’s color-changing moods and tries to find any weakness that he can.

Meanwhile, bad boy Karma Akabane joins class 3-E and was suspended from school prior to Korosensei’s arrival and now, Karma wants to do all he can to kill Koro-sensei.

But each time the students try to kill Koro-sensei, his mach 5 ability makes him difficult to see and kill and all fail.  But when they try to kill him, Koro-sensei tries to teach each student on becoming a better person and in someways, making him likeable to a point.

With the destruction of Earth many months away, can these students kill Koro-sensei before it’s too late.

Also, a new English teacher is brought to Kunugigaoka Junior High School.  Her name is Irina Jelavich who is very fashionable, sexy and no doubt has her own ways to charm the guys.  But in truth, this new teacher is a mercenary and one of the best.  But will she be skillful enough to assassinate Koro-sensei?

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Kunugigaoka Private Academy’s principal Gakuho Asano and learn how he views Class E!


VIDEO:

“Assassination Classroom” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The anime series is colorful and vibrant.

Backgrounds are well-painted and it was interesting to see the darker character lines for how the main characters are drawn.  But for the most part, the animation does compliment the manga series very well!  And the overall anime series looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Assassination Classroom” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD stereo. “Assassination Classroom” is a series that features crystal clear dialogue. Both soundtracks are well-acted but I felt the English dialogue had the advantage of the use of the surround channels when it comes to lossless audio utilization.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Assassination Classroom” Season 1, Part 1 comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Co-ADR Directors: Joel McDonald and Apphia Yu.
  • Episode 7 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Monica Rial (voice of Kaede Kayano), Leah Clark (voice of Yukiko Kanzaki) and Clifford Chafin (voice of Tomohito Sugino).
  • Episode 0 “Meeting Time”– (10:06) Koro-sensei’s story of how he met Karasuma.
  • Interview with the Cast – (20:22) Interviews with the English dub actors Sonny Straight, Austin Tindle, Apphia Yu and Martha Harms.
  • Textless Opening Song – “Seishun Satsubatsuran”
  • Textless Closing Song – “Hello, shooting-star”
  • U.S. Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Assassination Classroom” Season 1, Part 1 comes with a chipboard box, four postcards, student handbook & school diary, slipcase for season 1 (part 1 and 2) and a Blu-ray and DVD version of the series.


My first introduction to “Assassination Classroom” was from the Vita video game “J-Stars Victory Vs.”  And was wondering why there is yellow octopus in the game.

After googling and doing my research, I eventually learned about “Assassination Classroom” and wasn’t sure if it was a horror-based storyline or a manga series with humor and action.

So, I have been anticipating Yusei Matsui’s “Assassination Classroom” and it being adapted to an anime series because it has done so well in Japan.

The anime series is quite interesting as an alien who threatens to destroy the planet, unless the students of class 3-E can kill him before the year is over.  I wonder how Yusei Matsui came up with the idea to make this series. It’s so far out but yet you welcome anything new and fresh.

And while the series features many characters, we are slowly introduced to the primary characters such as the weak but smart Nagisa Shiota; the cunning, smart and coldblooded Karma Akabane; and then there is Tomohito Sugino, who dreamed of becoming a baseball player, but his hopes lost when his grades got worse and thus, having him become part of class 3-E.

As the students do all they can to kill Koro-sensei, we get to learn how difficult it is because he is lightning quick and has various tricks, also many tentacles to have him do multiple things all at once.

But it’s not just students.  We are introduced to a sexy English teacher named Irina Jelavich, who is an actual assassin who has succeeded in using her sexy charm to allure men and then kill them.  And now, she is brought to the Academy to kill Koro-sensei…but can she?  And will her style even fit in a school setting as a teacher?

We are introduced to the principal of the academy, Gakuho Asano and we start to learn how much they despise Class E.  Of course, no one in Class E knows about Koro-sensei and the plan to assassinate him, but we learn how hostile the student body is towards the class.

Meanwhile, the government turns to a professional assassin known as “Red Eye” to assassinate Koro-sensei, as well as a fighting machine known as “Autonomous Intelligence Fixed Artillery” joins Class E.  And much more!

The story and premise of what the students must do is the same.  As the students do all they can to kill Koro-sensei, we get to learn how difficult it is because he is lightning quick and has various tricks, also many tentacles to have him do multiple things all at once.

But each time they know they must kill him, they start to learn that he’s actually teaching them a lot about survival, their studies and are doing much better than they were before.  In fact, he’s become quite likable.  But can students kill a teacher that they like?  Unfortunately, with this alien teacher planning to destroy the planet in one year unless they kill him…they have no choice.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is vibrant and colorful, voice acting for both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-done.  You also get a good number of special features included, from audio commentary to an interview with a few of the voice talent and more.  Also, you get a slipcase (which can hold part 1 and part 2 of season one), a chipboard and art cards.

Overall, “Assassination Classroom” is an enjoyable, humorous and exciting action-packed anime series!

Rick and Morty: Season 2 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Rick and Morty” is one of those animated series that you love it or hate it. I enjoy self-deprecating, juvenile humor and watching this animated series which I found to be quite crazy, for me, each of these episodes were unpredictably fresh, but yet so nonpolitically correct. If you loved the first season and enjoy mature animated series such as “South Park” and even the tame “Beavis & Butthead”, then by all means, definitely give “Rick and Morty” a chance!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Cartoon Network, Adult Swim. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Rick and Morty: Season 2

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 12-21 (220 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition/16:9 HD Widescreen, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Adult Swim/Warner Home Video

RATED: TV M

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Originally Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon

Directed by Pete Michels, Bryan Newton, John Rice, Stephen Sandoval, Wesley Archer, dominic Polcino, Jeff Myers, Juan Jose Meza-Leon, Justin Roiland

Written by Dan Harmon,  Justin Roiland, Eric Acosta, Tom Kauffman, Wade Randolph, Mike McMahan, Matt Roller, Brian Wysol, David Phillips, Ryan Ridley, Abed Gheith, Rashad Gheith, Dan Guterman, Rich Fulcher, Alex rubens, sarah Carbiener, Jessica Gao and Erica Rosbe

Produced by Ollie Green, Dan Guterman, Kenny Micka

Co-Produced: Ryan Ridley, Alex Rubens

Executive Producer: Delna Bhesania, Keith Crofford, Dan harmon, Mike Lazzo, Justin Roiland, Barry Ward, Joe Russo

Music by Ryan Elder

Edited by Lee Harting, Ken Mackenzie

Casting by Ruth Lambert, Robert McGee

Art Director: James McDermott


Featuring the following voice talent:

Justin Roiland as Rick

Chris Parnell as Jerry

Spencer Grammer as Summer

Sarah Chalke as Beth

Kari Wahlgren as Jessica

Tom Kenny as Squanchy

Maurice LaMarche as Abradoph Lincler

Phil Hendrie as Principal Vagina

Brandon Johnson as Mr. Goldenfold

Dan Harmon as Birdperson


Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland) is still living with his daughter Beth’s (Sarah Chalke) family and causing more trouble than ever. This season the rest of the family, his son-in-law Jerry (Chris Parnell), grand-daughter Summer (Spencer Grammer) and grand-son Morty (Justin Roiland) are dragged into Rick’s intergalactic adventures, as he faces new threats and mysteries of his secret past are revealed. Can the family survive Rick’s insanity and all the chaos the universe throws at them?


Summer joins Rick and Morty for their latest inter-dimension adventures.  But what happens when they unfreeze time and noticed that the timelines are decaying?

What happens when Jerry becomes a stowaway on Rick and Morty’s adventures and discovers other Jerry’s?  What happens when Rick reunites with his ex-lover Unity.  And who are all these alien parasites and this new friend known as Mr. Poopy Butthole?

What happens when Rick transforms into a younger body and calls himself Tiny Rick?  What happens when Rick and Morty go to a “Festival”, an annual event where people are free to commit crimes for one night without consequences?

Find out in season 2 of the critically acclaimed Adult Swim animated series, “Rick and Morty”, available now on Blu-ray!


What is “Rick and Morty”?

When voice actor Justin Roiland (“Fish Hooks”, “Adventure Time”, “Gravity Falls”) created an animation parody of “Back to the Future” for the film festival, “Channel 101”, it would capture the interest of the TV network/website’s co-founder, Dan Harmon (creator of the NBC comedy series “Community”).

And the two would collaborate on an mature animated series for Adult Swim titled “Rick and Morty”.

Premiering back in December 2013, the series received critical acclaim and since then, the series has done very well and a third season is set to air in late 2016.

“Rick and Morty” revolves around an alcoholic (mad) scientist named Rick who moves in with his daughter Beth, who is a veterinarian and equine cardiac surgeon.  Rick is often working on high-tech projects which he includes his grandson Morty and later, his granddaughter Summer on dangerous adventures through their own or other alternate universes.

Because Rick has a potty mouth and often talks down to his grandchildren, it tends to stress Morty out.  But somehow, together, they make it thorugh their adventures.

In Season Two, here is a spoiler free synopsis for each episode:

  • Episode 12 – A Rickle in Time – Six months after the events of last season’s finale, Rick, Morty and Summer unfreeze time, but find out they are displaced from time.
  • Episode 13 – Mortynight Run – As Rick and Morty are flying, Jerry has stowed-away in the vehicle.
  • Episode 14 – Auto Erotic Assimilation – Rick, Morty and Summer follow a distress signal to a planet where Rick’s ex, Unity lives.
  • Episode 15 – Total Rickall – Rick kills an alien parasite who was posing as Jerry’s brother Uncle Steve.
  • Episode 16 – Get Schwifty – A massive alien head has appeared over Earth and causing several global disasters.
  • Episode 17 – The Ricks Must Be Crazy – Rick, Morty and Summer are exploring a multi-verse but Rick’s vehicle won’t start.
  • Episode 18 – Big Trouble in Little Sanchez – Rick transforms into a younger body and comes to Summer’s school to deal with vampires.
  • Episode 19 – Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate – Jerry eats a pint of Cherry Garcia which was actually Rick’s virulent bacteria.
  • Episode 20 – Look’s Who’s Purging Now – Rick and Morty go to a planet where people are preparing for a “Funeral” where people are free to commit crimes for one night without consequence.
  • Episode 21 – The Wedding Squanchers – Rick receives a wedding invitation from Birdperson.

The main characters of “Rick and Morty” are:

  • Rick Sanchez – An alcoholic mad scientist who loves women.  His daughter is Beth and he is the grandfather of Morty and Summer.  He is often irresponsible but despite Beth’s husband Jerry thinking Rick is up to no good.  Beth defends her father’s scientific creativity.  He often takes Morth and Summer on dangerous adventures through their own universe or other alternate universes.
  • Mortimer “Morty” Smith – A stressed out 14-year-old due to the adventures of his grandfather.  Often questions his grandfather, thus on the receiving end of Rick’s verbal chastising.
  • Summer Smith – A 17-year-old who is intelligent and superficial.  Often jealous that Morty gets to accompany her grandfather on his adventures.
  • Beth Smith – Rick’s daughter who is a cardiac surgeon for horses and a vet.  Often struggles with her husband Jerry who thinks that Rick is always up to no good.  She is not phased of how Rick treats her children and always sees her father in a positive light (over her mother).
  • Jerry Smith – Beth’s insecure husband and dislikes Rick’s dangerous tendencies around his children.

VIDEO:

“Rick and Morty” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  Colors are vibrant and the animation features a colorful palette.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding issues.  Line art shows no jaggies and for the most part, looks crisp.  Overall, “Ricky and Morty” looks very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rick and Morty” Season 2 is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and English subtitles.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear. Sound effects are well-utilized through the surround channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rick and Morty” Season 2 comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Justin Roiland, Dan Harmon, Ryan Ridley and Wes Archer.
  • Deleted Animatic Sketches – (2:11) Featuring animatic sketches that were deleted.
  • Rick and Morty Season 2 Premiere Party Featuring Chaos Chaos – (43:13) Featuring Chaos Chaos concert at the Rick and Morty Season 2 Premiere Party.
  • Animatics – Featuring 11 Animatics for each of the episodes of season 2.

EXTRAS:

“Rick and Morty” Season 2 comes with a Plumbus Owner’s Manual, a slipcase and an Ultraviolet code.


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For those looking for a mature, nonpolitically correct animated series, one can look towards “Rick and Morty” to provide a hilarious and crazy time thanks to its inter-dimensional adventures and fun characters.

With Rick being an alcoholic, mad scientist and a grandfather who has no qualms of cussing at his grandchildren and a daughter who refuses to see her father’s faults because she wants to have a better relationship with him, suffice to say, it’s a series that is crazy and lewd.

No doubt, “Ricky and Morty” is a series that will either be something that you either will enjoy or not.  It’s not an animated series to show around the children, especially with the sexual jokes and profanity.  But it’s an animated series for those who grew up watching “Beavis and Butthead” and “South Park” and can’t get enough of the jokes and situations.

You just won’t see series where a grandfather has no problems telling his grandkids “f*** you” and really tearing them up emotionally and the parents don’t really do anything about it.  If you are politically correct, this series is not for you because it’s so wrong, it makes the whole situations so crazy and unpredictable.

With season 2, we get to see more of eldest daughter Summer now joining Rick and Morty on their adventures.  And similar to Morty, Rick treats here just the same as he did with Morty.

In another episode, we get to see an assassin who actually is a fart and Morty freeing Fart against Rick’s wishes.

In another episode, we see how alien parasites have taken the bodies of various characters and the family having a new friend named Mr. Poopy Butthole.

A hilarious episode featuring an alien head appearing over Earth and killing all of Earth’s famous musicians, except Ice-T.

Another episode in which Rick gets trapped in a young body and an episode where Rick’s penis can be used to be converted to a replacement heart for Shrimply Pibbles, the galaxy’s most famous civil rights activist.  Will Rick agree to donating his penis?

And what happens when Morty gets his own advanced power armor suit?

Needless to say, this is just a few things that happen in season two and I happen to find the series to be quite hilarious and crazy.  And while I laughed at various scenes, meanwhile my wife who watched a few episodes alongside with me, would shake her head and often interrupt and say that she hoped that our young teenage son never watched “Rick and Morty” because of the adult humor.

As for the Blu-ray release, animation is vibrant, lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music.  And there are a number of special features including a concert performance by Chaos Chaos.

Overall, “Rick and Morty” is one of those animated series that you either love it or hate it.  I enjoy self-deprecating, juvenile humor and watching this animated series which I found to be quite crazy, for me, each of these episodes were unpredictably fresh, but yet so nonpolitically correct.

If you loved the first season and enjoy mature animated series such as “South Park” and even the tame “Beavis & Butthead”, then by all means, definitely give “Rick and Morty” a chance!

Hello, My Name is Doris (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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And while the film is certainly plausible, the film is made enjoyable thanks to the wonderful performance by Sally Field. A charming comedy, “Hello, My Name is Doris” is a film worth watching.

Images courtesy of © 2015 Retro Jumpsuit, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Hello, My Name is Doris

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:86:1), English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Language)

Release Date: June 14, 2016


Directed by Michael Showalter

Based on the short film “Doris & The Intern” by Laura Terruso

Screenplay by Laura Terruso, Michael Showalter

Produced by Kevin Mann, Riva Marker, Jordana Mollick, Daniela Taplin Lundberg

Co-Producer: Christopher Boyd, Anthony Brandonisio, Dominic Ottersbach

Executive-Producer: Mauricio Betancur, Michael Showalter

Co-Executive Producer: Tiana Idoni- Matthews, Alison Sanders

Associate Producer: Rebecca Cammarata, Valerie Contreras

Cinematography by Brian Burgoyne

Casting bySunday Boling, Meg Norman

Music by Brian H. Kim

Edited by Robert Nassau

Production Design by Melanie Jones

Art Direction by Catherine Devaney, Eva McCarney

Set Decoration by Karuna Karmarkar

Costume Design by Rebecca Gregg


Starring:

Sally Field as Doris

Max Greenfield as John

Tyne Daly as Roz

Stephen Root as Todd

Wendi McLendon-Covey as Cynthia

Peter Gallagher as Willy Williams

Natasha Lyonne as Sally

Beth Behrs as Brooklyn

Isabella Acres as Vivian

Elizabeth Reaser as Doctor Edwards

Kumail Nanjiani as Nasir

Rebecca Wisocky as Anne Patterson

Rich Sommer as Robert


After a lifetime of being overlooked and ignored, Doris (Sally Field) finds her world turned upside down by a handsome new coworker (Max Greenfield) and a self-help guru that inspires her to take a chance on love. Hello, My Name Is Doris is a witty and compassionate late-life coming-of-age story that will make you cheer and want to say, “I’m Possible!”


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Academy Award winning actress Sally Field has had a successful career which began with the 1965-1966 TV series “Gidget” and continued into the ’70s with “The Flying Nun” and “The Girl with Something Extra”, in the 2000’s with “ER” and “Brothers & Sisters”.

Field would show her diverse acting on the big screen with films such as “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993), “Forrest Gump” (1994), “The Amazing Spider-Man” films and “Lincoln”.

And now, she returns with another wonderful performance in the 2015 comedy “Hello, My Name is Doris”, which will be available on Blu-ray in June 2016.

Directed by Michael Showalter (“Wet Hot American Summer”, “The Baxter”) and co-written with Laura Terruso (which the film is based on Laura’s short film, “Doris & the Intern), the film would star Sally Field, Stephen Root (“No Country for Old Men”, “NewsRadio”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”, “Bridesmaids”, “Reno 911!”), Max Greenfield (“New Girl”, “Veronica Mars”, “The Big Short”), Tyne Daly (“Cagney & Lacy”, “Judging Amy”, “The Enforcer”), Peter Gallagher (“The OC”, “While You Were Sleeping”, “Mr. Deeds”), Elizabeth Reaser (“The Twilight Saga” films), Natasha Lyonne (“American Pie” films, “Kate & Leopold”), Beth Behrs (“2 Broke Girls”, “American Pie Presents the Book of Love”) and many more.

The film focuses on the character of Doris (portrayed by Sally Field), a sixty-something woman who is an office worker and has taken care of her mother and a while taking care of her mother who has passed, has become a hoarder.

Trying to find a new purpose in life, her best friend Roz (portrayed by Tyne Daly) tries to get her out of the house.  And when Roz takes Doris to see a motivational speaker (portrayed by Peter Gallagher), about taking big risks and pursue new goals, Doris wants to get out of her comfort zone and try something new.

When John (portrayed by Max Greenfield) moves from Malibu to work in Manhattan and Doris’ company, needless to say, wanting to try a risk and pursue a new goal, she becomes attracted to John and fantasizes about him.  So, much that she has Roz’s young teenage daughter Vivian create a social media account for her and create a fake profile in order to learn more about John and try to enjoy the things that he enjoys.

Meanwhile, Doris’ brother Todd (portrayed by Stephen Root), his wife Cynthia (portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Dr. Edwards (portrayed by Elizabeth Reader), try to intervene out of concern for Doris’ hoarding lifestyle and are trying to get her to rid of the junk she has in her home, so they can sell the house and for Doris to start anew.

Will Doris be able to turn her life around?  And will she be able to get closer to John?


VIDEO:

“Hello, My Name is Doris” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and close ups are full of detail. I didn’t notice any problems with overall picture quality and for the most part, “Hello, My Name is Doris” looks very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Hello, My Name is Doris” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  While the film is primarily dialogue-driven, there are many scenes which involve a party and also going to the club.  So, the surround channels are utilized more for ambiance at these crowded locations.  And music is crystal clear!

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hello, My Name is Doris” comes with the following special features:

  • Filmmaker Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary by director Michael Showalter.
  • Deleted Scenes and Alternate Opening – (25:05) Featuring 16 deleted scenes and an alternate opening.

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Actress Sally Field delivers a wonderful performance in the comedy “Hello, My Name is Doris”.

A film about a sixty-something single woman who gave up most of her life to take care of her mother and work and through that time of staying at home, accumulating many things and literally becoming a hoarder.

With the death of her mother, she now can live her life but the world has changed a lot.

But as she starts to embrace her new life, she becomes smitten with a young executive and even begins fantasizing about him.  Making her want to pursue a new goal, to become closer to him and eventually have a relationship with him.

Her best friend thinks she is crazy but for Doris, she wants a new chance at life.

Meanwhile her brother Todd and his wife Cynthia want to sell her house (which belonged to her mother) and most of all, to put an end to Doris’ hoarding ways.

But will Doris find a new lease on life?  And begin anew?

Directed by Michael Showalter and co-written by Laura Terruso and Showalter, “Hello, My Name is Doris” features a talented cast alongside Field such as Stephen Root, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly, Peter Gallagher, Natasha Lyonne, and Beth Behrs to name a few.

Max Greenfield has the task to play Doris’ love interest, John.  The character of John is for the most part a good guy, to the point where he doesn’t look at Doris as too old and invites her to watch a live concert with him.  And because she is short, carries Doris on his shoulders.  The two develop a friendship and Doris interprets John wanting to spend time with her as possibly inching closer to love.  But does he feel the same about her?

As for the film on Blu-ray, the picture quality is very good as close-ups feature a lot of detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and lossless audio compliments the film’s dialogue and music.  There are numerous deleted scenes included and also an audio commentary by filmmaker Michael Showalter.

While “Hello, My Name is Doris” is made better by the performance by Sally Field, the film is charming but also a little predictable.

While I was not expecting something like Hal Ashby’s 1971 film “Harold and Maude” (about a young man having a romantic tryst with an older woman), it would have been interesting to test similar waters.

While I don’t want to spoil the film and whether or not Doris and John find love, the film has its share of deep moments as Doris’ friends question her change and not wanting to “act her age” and her brother and sister-in-law trying to get her to rid of her belongings (because Doris is a hoarder).

And while the film is certainly plausible, the film is made enjoyable thanks to the wonderful performance by Sally Field.

A charming comedy, “Hello, My Name is Doris” is a film worth watching.

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