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All Saints (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Steve Gomer’s “All Saints” is a film that shows us the power of faith but also a community coming together for those less fortunate and also a pastor who chose to listen to God to help the Karen people, despite going against his board of Bishops. It’s a heartfelt story based on a true story that will no doubt entertain and inspire viewers. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Sony Pictures Worldwide. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: All Saints

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 109 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (2:38:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description Track, French, Polish VD 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Croation, Cech, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish and Thai.

COMPANY: Affirm Films/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG

RELEASE DATE: December 12, 2017


Directed by Steve Gomer

Written by Steve Armour

Produced by Marc Bienstock, Martha W. Chang, Steve Gomer

Co-Produced by Barrett J. Leigh, Jimmy Sprague

Cinematographer: Eduardo Enrique Mayen

Casting by Avy Kaufman, Leeba Zakharov

Production design by Suzette Ervin

Set Decoration by Diana Rice, Tyler Stein

Costume Design by Robbie McKeithan


Starring:

John Corbett as Michael Spurlock

Nelson Lee as Ye Win

Cara Buono as Aimee Spurlock

Barry Corbin as Forrest

David Keith as Boyd

Gregory Alan Williams as Bishop Eldon Thompson

Chonda Pierce as Ruth

Patrick Johnson as Father Jeffers


ALL SAINTS is based on the inspiring true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), the tiny church he was ordered to shut down, and a group of refugees from Southeast Asia. Together, they risked everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all.


From filmmaker Steve Gomer (“Sunset Park”, “Sweet Lorraine”) and writer Steve Armour (“Losing Gracie”) comes the Christian film “All Saints”.

Starring John Corbett (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, “Northern Exposure”, “Raising Helen”), Nelson Lee (“Ten Days in the Valley”, “Traffic”, “Blade: The Series”), Cara Buono (“Stranger Things”, “Mad Men”, “Person of Interest”), Barry Corbin (“No Country for Old Men”, “Northern Exposure”, “WarGames”), Gregory Alan Williams (“Remember the Titans”), Chonda Pierce (“Selfie Dad”, “Come to the Garden”) and David Keith (“Daredevil”, “Behind Enemy Lines”, “An Officer and a Gentlemen”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Affirm Films/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film revolves around a small-town preacher named Michael Spurlock (portrayed by John Corbett), who accepts a job as a former salesman turned preacher, who moves with his wife Aimee (portrayed by Cara Buono) and his son Atticus (portrayed by Myles Moore) to Tennessee to become the new preacher at the Episcopal church, All Saints.

Unfortunately, the church is not doing well and Michael and the family is expecting the church to close due to the lack of people and money.

Meanwhile, Ye Win (portrayed by Nelson Lee) is trying to help his family and other refugee Karen families who were caught in the civil war in Myanmar (then known as Burma).  Many migrated to Thailand to escape the war, as many of their people were killed.  And as 140,000 Karen refugees are living in camps in Thailand, around 50,000 Karen refugees have been resettled in different countries around the world including America.

In Smyrna, Tennessee, Ye Win and 69 others were relocated to the area.

With no work, no food, no clothes, Ye Win fears for his people’s families, as there is no way for them to get help.

One night, Ye Win and two others arrive on the porch of Michael Spurlock’s home.  He comes to the church for help and explains that they are Christians and Michael appeals to the bishop for help.  When Michael and his wife go to church, they realize that there the three families that Ye Win has brought is many.  Many who have no shoes and some are unable to read or speak English.

As Michael reads about the Karen refugee crisis and the genocide of the Karen people and how the Civil War in Myanmar still continues (as it is the world’s longest civil war), because there are many people, Ye Win asks if they can plant vegetables around the church, since there is good ground and it would help their people.

Michael knows that the Karen people need help and he begins to appeal to the business community.

Meanwhile, commercial developers are planning to knock the church down for the property in the following week to build a convenience store.  While it would be good for the community and the sale of the property would make money for the owners, Michael decides to block the sale of the church because he knows the Karen people need him.

With things not looking so good, Michael goes out and while looking around the church, it begins to rain and and he believes that God spoke to him to build a farm around the church.

The crops would help the Karen farmers, use excess crop to pay for the church.

While Bishop Eldon Thompson (portrayed by Gregory Alan Williams) is a bit upset that Michael didn’t listen to him to sell the church, the Bishop remembers his work of helping the poor in Africa and gives Michael and Karen people to prove themselves.

But with the lack of farming skill or even the necessary technology, what challenges are in store for Michael and Ye Win?  Also, how will Michael’s wife Aimee be able to help the children in the church and to get them involved and to stay out of trouble?


VIDEO:

“All Saints” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:38:1 aspect ratio).  The film shows great detail on closeups and low-light situations are presented well.  Colors are natural and for the most part, the film looks good in HD.  The film utilizes a lot of natural lighting.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“All Saints” is presented in English, Portuguese Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English – Audio Description track.  French, Polish VO 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The film is primarily dialogue-driven.  Surround channels are more for ambiance and storms but for the most part, dialogue and music is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Croation, Cech, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“All Saints” comes with following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (2:15) Featuring three deleted scenes.
  • Act of Faith – (5:23) The cast and crew talk about the true story that inspired “All Saints”.
  • All Saints: Cast & Community– (5:06) The true people that inspired the real-life characters.
  • Ye Win and the Karen – (4:37) A featurette about Ye Win and the Karen people who escaped the Thailand refugee camps.
  • On Location in Tennessee – (3:55) Cast and crew discuss shooting the film in Tennessee.
  • The Pastors of All Saints – (5:32) Michael Spurlock discusses working for a heavily indebted church with no money, his first assignment out of school and Randy Hoover Dempsey who took over after Spurlock left the church.

EXTRAS:

“All Saints” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


“All Saints” is a film based on a true story of how a first time pastor, Michael Spurlock, who relocated to a Tennessee to run a fledgling church for the short term and is meant to be sold to commercial developers.  Just stick to the plan that the Bishop council has in place and continue to give sermons to those still attending All Saints church.

But it all changes when Ye Win and families from the Karen people go to Michael and his family for help.

Ye win and the Karen people were former refugees in Thailand, whose people were caught in between a long-standing, still ongoing, civil war in Myanmar and has seen many of their people killed.  And as one of the people given a chance at a new life in America, there is not much help with the food stamps, as they have no jobs, no home, no clothing.  All they have is their Christian faith (The British once occupied Myanmar, then known as Burma, which the British brought Christianity to the land.  In 1948, the British and Japanese gave up control of the land, which led to a civil war in the country between the people in the country) and their farming skills.

Michael decides that in his heart and with God’s plan, to help the Karen people by building a farm around the church, blocking the sale of the church to the land developers and providing homes, money and food for the children.

And “All Saints” is a film about the journey that Michael and his family, Ye Win and his family and the Karen people had to face.  Challenges when it came to farming, the limited resources they had, but how fellow Christians in the community or surrounding community came together to help Michael and the Karen people.

“All Saints” is no doubt a heartfelt film that displays the awesome capability and possibility among Christians, who are there to help others in need.

The film shows that it wasn’t easy for pastor Michael Spurlock.  For one, previous pastors up and left, the community expected the same to him.

We see through Michael’s interaction with local farmer, Forrest, who attends the church to be rocky because Forrest knows the hardships of farming and has a hard time believing that Michael was told by God to build a farm.

The film also shows how people can accept people of different cultures, especially those who don’t have much.

The film also goes into how Michael’s wife Aimee, would help the children and the solitude that their son Atticus had to go through, due to moving all the time and the lack of friends.  But Aimee found her mission in life at All Saints by becoming the music teacher to the children, while Atticus would find friendship with the Karen people his age.

And for the most part, showing what brought these people together is their faith in God and when they believe in God’s love, miracles do happen.

By no means easy, but they were able to turn things around.

It’s a different type of film that we are used to seeing from Affirm Films but at the same time, a film that has a message about belief in God and overcoming adversity and coming together as Christians and to show what belief in God can do to an individual, a community and the magnificent things that do happen.

The film does not preach about Christianity and it’s one of the things that I have loved about Christian films in the last 10-15 years of the shift of tone of becoming films that show Christianity, and God’s message without alienating the viewer, especially those who may or may not be Christians.  Being accessible and entertaining but yet leaving one feel enlightened.

Overall, Steve Gomer’s “All Saints” is a film that shows us the power of faith but also a community coming together for those less fortunate and also a pastor who chose to listen to God to help the Karen people, despite going against his board of Bishops.  It’s a heartfelt story based on a true story that will no doubt entertain and inspire viewers.  Recommended!

Wolf Warrior 2 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Wolf Warrior 2” exceeds the first film in quality and performances.  A film with international flavor and shot in Africa, director and actor Wu Jing has no doubt directed and starred in his best action film yet!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Beijing Dangfeng International Culture & Communication Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wolf Warrior 2

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 124 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9, Mandarin 5.1 and English DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English and Chinese

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: December 12, 2017


Directed by Wu Jing

Written by Qun Dong, Yan Gao, Yi Liu, Jing Wu

Producer: Hallong Guan, Daoqing Ji, Jianmin Lv, Zhang Miao

Co-Producer: Qingyi Chen, Jie Cui, Lu Han, Hong Ling, Hongyan Liu, Xiaojiang Quji, Wenji Sun, Yi Xiu, Hao Zhu

Associate Producer Hao Deng, Defu Jiang, Yang Li, Kailuo Liu, Yan Wu, Zhiyong Xu, Haicheng Zhao, Jiangjun Zhao

Line Producer: Ying Liang

Music by Joseph Trapanese

Cinematography by Peter Ngor

Edited by Ka-Fai Cheung

Production Design by King Man Lee, Ligang Wang

Art Direction by King Man Lee


Starring:

Wu Jing as Leng Feng

Frank Grillo as Big Daddy

Celina Jade as Rachel Prescott

Gang Wu as He Jianguo

Hans Zhang as Zhuo Yifan

Qian Yu as Bida Qian

Nan Yu as Long Xiayoun

Shanshan Chunyu as Lin Zhixiong

Haifeng Ding as Captain Zhang

Oleg Prudius as Bear

Heidi Moneymaker as Athena

Ann James as Nesa


The Wolf Warrior is back, bigger and badder than ever, in this action-packed sequel to the 2015 blockbuster hit. With his career in tatters, China s deadliest Special Forces operative has settled into a quiet life on the sea. But when he crosses paths with a sadistic band of mercenaries terrorizing innocent civilians, he must reaffirm his duty as a soldier and save the day once again. Fists (and bullets, tanks, missiles and much more) will fly in this adrenaline-fueled tour de force of bravura action filmmaking, all culminating into a climatic battle between the Wolf Warrior and the mercenary leader (Frank Grillo, Captain America: The Winter Solider and Captain America: Civil War).


From martial arts actor Wu Jing (“Tai Chi II”, “The Mummy”, “Shaolin”, “SPL: Kill Zone”) comes his second film in the “Wolf Warriors” series in which he directs and also has the starring role.

In 2015, Wu Jing shown audience internationally that he’s the next generation of Chinese action stars and his last film, Wu Jing played the role of Sergeant Leng Feng, a a Chinese Special Forces marksman who is facing a court martial because he didn’t follow orders in the field.

This time around Leng Feng has gotten into trouble once again!  And the situation has gotten even worse.

The film was release in China in the Summer of 2017 and created with a budget of $30.1 million, the film would go on to earn $870.3 million becoming one of the top grossing films of 2017 and now the film will be released on Blu-ray in North America courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment in December 2017.

Along with Wu Jing, the film also stars Frank Grillo (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Warrior”, “The Grey”), Celina Jade (“Arrow”, “Legendary Assassin”, “Skin Trade”), Hans Zhang (“Boss and Me”, “No Limit”, “The Rise of a Tomboy”), Nan Yu (“The Expendables 2”, “Tuya’s Marriage”, “The Taking of Tiger Mountain”) and former WWE superstar Oleg Prudius.

The film continues right after the first film as Leng Feng and his fellow Wolf Brigade members bring his remains to his comrade’s family for the funeral.  But while the family are mourning, a real estate company is destroying the family’s home on the day of the funeral.

The boss of the real estate company threatens the soldiers to leave but Leng Feng kicks him.  When the boss sends his thugs after the soldiers, they easily beat them.  When the police arrives arrive, the boss of the real estate company tries to get Leng Feng in trouble and tells him to his face that he will make the family wish they were all dead when they are all gone.

Leng Feng kicks the boss and kills him.  This leads to Leng Feng being sent to prison for two years and is dishonorably discharged from the Chinese Army which he had sacrificed his life for.

After serving his two years in prison, Feng leaves to Africa where he has been spending his life as a mercenary providing security aboard a freighter delivering relief supplies to Africa.  But while aboard the freighter, they are attacked by Somalian Pirates which Feng defeats. We learn that Feng is carrying a bullet which he found when his fiance was kidnapped while on a mission while incarcerated.  And so, he has been in Africa trying to get clues of where the bullet originates from.

While having fun with the locals in Africa, they are caught in an attack by rebel forces who seek to overthrow the government.  Bloodshed happens on both sides but for Leng Feng, he tries to make sure his young friend, Tundu gets to safety.

While Feng Leng is intent of getting Tundu to safety, he doesn’t want to leave because his mother is still in the danger zone (working at a Chinese factory).

Meanwhile, we learn that the rebels are working with a mercenary group known as the Dylan Corps led by Big Daddy (portrayed by Frank Grillo).  And they are after a Dr. Chen who has the vaccination for Lamania, which many people in Africa have contracted and are dying from.

As Leng Feng manages to infiltrate the lab, Dylan Corps mercenaries are there, including Bear (portrayed by Oleg Prudius) and sharpshooter Athena (portrayed by Heidi Moneymaker) who shoots and kills Dr. Chen.  But he is not the only person that knows how to create the vaccine, so does his assistant, Dr. Rachel Smith (portrayed by Celina Jade).  Dr. Chen’s last dying wish is for  Leng Feng to take his daughter, Pasha to safety and so, Leng Feng, along with Dr. Smith and Dr. Chen’s daughter must survive the onslaught of Dylan Corps mercenaries that are after them, as they attempt to capture Dr. Smith and the girl.

 


VIDEO:

“Wolf Warrior 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition and is presented in 16×9. There is no doubt that “Wolf Warrior 2” was created with a higher budget.  It has an international feel, shot in Africa, international talent, larger explosions and everything from picture quality is much better with this sequel.  Close-ups show great detail, the film looks great in HD

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Wolf Warrior 2” is presented in Mandarin and English  5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels but also the action sequences which utilize the surround channels and LFE well. The film is quite immersive during the action sequences and the film sounds great in HD!

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Wolf Warrior 2” comes a “Behind-the-Scenes” featurette


For many films with a sequel, not all can best the original.  But there are few films that do.

“Wolf Warrior 2” can be added to those list of films that are much better than the original as the last film was too focused in a jungle and while action-packed and exciting, it became a bit repetitive.

“Wolf Warrior 2” is much different than most Chinese action films that stay focused in Asia, but this time around, Wu Jing’s latest film has an international flavor.  I’m not sure where the film was shot in Africa but with the collaboration between both countries, it was no doubt fascinating to see this international flavor for a Chinese action film.

This time you have actor Frank Grillo and even former WWE superstar Oleg Prudius as antagonists.  “Arrow” star Celine Jade as Dr. Rachel Prescott Smith as Leng Feng’s counterpart along with actors Hans Zhang and Gang Wu.

I have no doubt that Weng Ju will no doubt be the next martial arts star that we will see more of in the near future as this film is bigger, better, more explosive than the first.

It’s one thing to have action scenes from martial arts fighting, gun battles but this film has tank battles, drone attacks and high-adrenaline battle scenes.  There is so much packed into this one film that it’s a popcorn action film with substance, not all just action.

And we will no doubt see more of the character Leng Feng in the near future! (So, don’t stop watching when the credits show up.)

The film also shows the collaboration between China and Africa.  I didn’t know much about China’s presence in Africa but learned that a few years ago, the Chinese government offered a $60 billion loan and aid package to Africa to develop infrastructure, improve agriculture and reduce poverty in the content.

I read on one site that there are almost 75,000 Chinese residents living in Ghana.  Chinese businesses such as restaurants, casinos and grocery stores are being developed, facilities are being built, railways and telecom systems and more roads being developed.    Although media tends to report on the negative of illegal gold mining or illegal poaching or creating a new location for cheap labor costs and that China is exploiting the resources of a poor country.

I’m not going to be polemic upon the subject because I’m not really in the know of how things truly are economically and politically but the fact is that both countries are working together and a film such as “Wolf Warrior 2” is an example of that and wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing more Chinese films shot in Africa.

The Blu-ray looks great in 1080p High Definition and the lossless soundtrack is immersive and cool!  And you get behind-the-scene featurettes which include interviews with director Wu Jing, the talent and also filming in Africa.

Overall, “Wolf Warrior 2” exceeds the first film in quality and performances.  A film with international flavor and shot in Africa, director and actor Wu Jing has no doubt directed and starred in his best action film yet!

Recommended!

The Villainess (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Villainess” is no doubt one of the craziest, high-octane revenge action films that I have seen come out from Korea and Asian in general in the past few years.  If you are an Asian cinema fan who loves violent action films, then “The Villainess” is for you!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Next Entertainment World. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Villainess

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 124 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen), Korean and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: N/A

RELEASE DATE: November 21, 2017


Directed by Byung-gil Jung

Written by Beyong-sik Jung, Byung-gil Jung

Cinematography by Saba Mazioum


Starring:

Ok-bin Kim as Sook-hee

Ha-kyun Shin as Joong-sang

Jun Sung as Hyun-soo

Seo-hyeong Kim as Chief Kwon

Eun-ji Jo as Jim Seon

Ye-ji Min as young Sook-hee


Bloody revenge is at the heart of this stylish, kinetic action-thriller that gives a welcome shot of adrenaline to the classic femme fatale story. Honed from childhood into a merciless killing machine by a criminal organization, assassin Sook-hee is recruited as a sleeper agent with the promise of freedom after ten years of service – and she jumps at the chance for a normal life. But soon enough, secrets from her past destroy everything she s worked for, and now nobody can stand in her way as she embarks on a roaring rampage of revenge.


From the filmmaker  Byung-gil Jung who wrote and directed “Confession of a Murder” comes his latest film “The Villainess”.

Co-written by Byung-gil Jung and Byeong-sik Jung, the film stars Ok-bin Kim (“Thirst”, “The Front Line”), Ha-kyun Shin (“Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”, “Thirst”, “The Front Line”), Jun Sung (“Pluto”, “High Society”, “Shut Up Flower Boy Band”) and Seo-hyeong Kim (“Late Spring”, “The Berlin File”, “Sweet Sex and Love”).

Screened for its world premiere at the 70th Cannes Film Festival and was well-received by the audience, the film will now be released in North America on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

The film begins with one woman named Sook-hee (portrayed by Ok-bin Kim) slaughtering dozens of men before being captured.

We then see the past of Sook-hee as a 10-year-old girl, being told by her father to hide under the bed.  A group of men comes after her father who stole something from them and then she sees him killed and then bludgeoned by a sledgehammer.

While Sook-hee didn’t see the face of the man who killed her father, she sees the guy with a sledgehammer coming back into the room and it happens to be Jang Chun, a friend of her father.  She immediately thinks he is responsible for her father’s death, when in reality, it was Lee Joong-sang (portrayed by Shin Ha-kyun) that did it.

Jang Chun sells Sook-hee to become a prostitute but Lee Joong-sang ends up saving the little girl and takes her into his gang where she is trained to become a killer.  For Sook-hee (adult version portrayed by Ok-bin Kim), as she gets older, her goal is to kill Jang Chun as revenge for killing her father.

And Sook-hee gets her revenge on Jang Chun, but Jang Chun tells her that he wasn’t responsible and before he could tell her the truth, he is killed by Lee Jong-sang.  But Lee Joong-sang does all he can to make sure that Sook-hee doesn’t know the truth of who was responsible for killing her father.

And as she is trained and raised to become the perfect assassin, she falls for Lee Joong-sang.  But because she is falling in love with him, he is upset by that and cuts her off by planning a fake marriage with her and stages his own death and upset and what took place, we learn that the opening scene with the many kills by her at the beginning of the movie was in reaction to Lee Jong-sang’s death.

She is arrested but because of her mercenary talents, she is taken in by Korea’s intelligence agency along with other similar girls who will take on deadly jobs.  And for Sook-hee, because she is pregnant, she is given a chance of freedom to live with her daughter if she works for them for 10 years.

Sook-hee agrees to the terms, raises her daughter under a new name and tries to start a new life.  Meanwhile, the agency has a man named Jung Hyun-soo (portrayed by Jun Sung), who is to work undercover and keep watch on her.  But eventually these two would fall in love.

When her target is to be meeting at a nearby building, the agency stages a wedding where Sook-hee would be a sniper and take out the target from a building across the street.  But what she doesn’t expect is to find out that her target is the man that she loved…Lee Joong-sang.  The same man who killed her father.

How will life change for Sook-hee when she finds out that Lee Joong-sang is still alive?


VIDEO:

“The Villainess” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic, close ups show great detail. Great action shots and great detail for closeups. The film looks great in HD and I didn’t notice any artifact or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Villainess” is presented in Korean and English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue and music is crystal clear, as with action sequences which utilize the surround channels quite well.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Villainess” comes with a “making of” featurette.

EXTRAS:

“The Villainess” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.


Modern Korean action films have often become more slash and hack, run and shoot type of films.  Trying to show the highest of highs and lowest of lows with no shying away from true brutality.

Where no character’s love ones are spared, “The Villainess” is a film that captures high-octane action, savage brutality and an insane number of kills.

Sure, it may seem almost a bit video game-like when the film starts off with one woman, Sook-hee, decimating an entire gang and many dozens of men are shot and stabbed to death but it’s what the film is all about, a woman who was trained to be the perfect assassin.

So, wonderful at being a killing machine but disregarded by the man who help made her what she is…a villainess because she had fallen in love with him.

And because she thinks she is dead, she is recruited by the Korean intelligence agency to get a new lease of life if she fulfills a 10 year duty to pull off kills, but at the same time, she can raise her daughter and live a new life, under a new name, and pursue a career as an actress.

But because of this new life, it doesn’t mean that life is less risky.  She’s still a mercenary and being put on the most deadliest missions for the Central Intelligence Agency where her chance of dying is quite high.

But things seem to be looking up as she has fallen for her neighbor Jung Hyun-soo (portrayed by Sang Joon), not knowing that he is a spy for the agency but he genuinely falls in love with Sook-hee.

What she doesn’t expect is that her next target is actually the man that made her to an assassin, a man that she loved and a man that should be dead, Lee Joong-sang.  She doesn’t know that he is also the man that killed her father, when she was young.

An action film full of twist and turns, many people tortured, beaten, killed and a Korean action film that continues the brutality that one is used to seeing, from films such as “Oldboy” and “The Man from Nowhere”, the film almost feels as if inspired by Luc Besson’s 1990 film “La Femme Nikita”.

Some may find “The Villainess” to be a bit over-the-top and almost too video game-like but for the most part, filmmaker Byung-gil Jung knows how to target the audience that absolutely loves action films with thrilling action and crazy kills.

Picture quality and Lossless audio is very good and for those who are not into reading English subtitles and watching it in its original Korean presentation and prefer English dubs, “The Villainess” does come with a good English dub.  And the Blu-ray release does come with a “Making of”.

Overall, “The Villainess” is no doubt one of the craziest, high-octane revenge action films that I have seen come out from Korea and Asian in general in the past few years.  If you are an Asian cinema fan who loves violent action films, then “The Villainess” is for you!

Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition” is a Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Irving Berlin classic.  Presented in its original B&W and also a colorized version, this is no doubt the best presentation of the film.  But even better is the inclusion of the wonderful “Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical” on Blu-ray making this “Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition” worth owning!

Images courtesy of © 1942 Paramount Pictures Inc.  Renewed 1969 by EMKA. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Holiday Inn

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1942

DURATION: 1 Hr. and 41 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: November 28, 2017


Directed by Mark Sandrich

Screenplay by Claude Binyon

Adaptation by Elmer Rice

Idea by Irving Berlin

Produced by Mark Sandrich

Music by Robert Emmett Dolan

Cinematographer: David Abel

Edited by Ellsworth Hoagland

Art Direction by Roland Anderson, Hans Dreier

Costume Design by Edith Head

Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical

Directed by David Horn

Produced by Mitch Owgang

Executive Producer: David Horn

Post Production Producer: Bill Kabel

Associate Producer: Julie Leonard

Lighting Designer: Alan Adelman

Audio Producer: Daryl Bornstein

Line Producer: Eileen Bernstein

Edited by Gary Bradley

Online Editor: Michiel Pilgram

Associate Editor: Annette Jolles

Production Manager: Lisa Richardson


Starring:

Bing Crosby as Jim Hardy

Fred Astaire as Ted Hanover

Marjorie Reynolds as Linda Mason

Virginia Dale as Lila Dixon

Walter Abel as Danny Reed Louise Beavers as Mamie

Irving Bacon as Gus

Marek Windheim as Francois

James Bell as Dunbar

John Gallaudet as Parker

Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical

Bryce Pinkham as Jim Hardy

Corbin Bleu as Ted Hanover

Megan Sikora as Lila Dixon

Danny Rutigliano as Charlie Winslow

Morgan Gao as Charlie Winslow

Lora Lee Gayer as Linda Mason

Megan Lawrence as Louise


Screen legends Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing and dance their way into your heart in one of the most timeless holiday classics ever, Holiday Inn. Featuring the Academy Award-winning song, “White Christmas,” Crosby plays a song-and dance man who leaves showbiz to run an inn that is open only on holidays. Astaire plays his former partner and rival in love. Follow the two talented pals as they find themselves competing for the affections of the same lovely lady (Marjorie Reynolds). ‘Tis the season for one of the most sensational musical comedies of all time!


Filmmaker Mark Sandrich may be known for his films with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but he’s also known for his 1942 holiday film “Holiday Inn” which he collaborated with Irving Berlin, who wrote the story and also wrote 12 songs for the film, one which would become a holiday classic…”White Christmas”.

Featuring choreography by Danny Dare, the film would bring together Bing Crosby (“Going My Way”, “Road to…” films, “White Christmas”) and Fred Astaire (“Top Hat”, “Swing Time”, “Funny Face”) with actress/dancer Virginia Dale (“Docks of New Orleans”, “The Singing Hill”).

The film would receive a 1943 Academy Award for Best Original Song for “White Christmas” and would receive numerous nominations for “Best Score” and “Best Original Story”.

And to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of “Holiday Inn”, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will be releasing the film on Blu-ray and will feature the original but also a color-version of the film.  Also, included is Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical and a digital copy of the film.

“Holiday Inn” revolves around three individuals: Jim Hardy (portrayed by Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (portrayed by Fred Astaire) and Lila Dixon (portrayed by Virginia Dale) and these three have a popular musical act.

Jim and Lila are getting married and are planning to retire and live in a farm in Connecticut, but Lila shocks Jim by telling him that she’s not done performing and that she has fallen for Ted and will continue on as his partner.

Jim is heartbroken by Lila’s decision but goes ahead and moves to Connecticut and says his goodbye to everyone.

A year later, he returns back to New York City on Christmas Eve and he has found farm life to be difficult but he comes up with an idea to turn his farm to an entertainment venue and call it the “Holiday Inn” and it will only be open on public holidays.  Ted and his agent Danny (portrayed by Walter Abel) think it’s a bad idea but they wish the best for Jim.

While Ted and Danny are at a flower shop in the airport, the employee Linda Mason (portrayed by Marjorie Reynolds) who recognizes Danny as a talent agent, begs him for a chance to work in show business.  He refers her to Jim’s Holiday Inn and next thing you know, Jim finds a new partner.

But when Ted finds out that Lila has left him for a Texas millionaire, Ted drives to the Holiday Inn to talk with Jim.  While drunk, he sees Linda and the two start dancing and everyone is ecstatic, especially Danny who thinks that Ted has found a new partner. But because Ted was drunk, both Ted and Danny do not know the woman that Ted was dancing with and the two now search for the woman who can be their next starlet.

Jim overhears the two and doesn’t want his friend to steal Linda away, like he did with Lila.

Will Jim become successful with the Holiday Inn with Linda?  Or will Ted entice Linda to join him as his partner and become big in show business?


VIDEO:

“Holiday Inn” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio).  The picture quality of “Holiday Inn” is very good.  Remastered, the film features wonderful clarity and black and white levels are sharp and looks much better than its older DVD counterpart.

As for the colorized version, this is based on the 2008 Legend Films colorization and no doubt one of the better colorization projects that Legend Films have done.  In fact, Legend Films worked with Edith Head’s sketch artist, Jan Muckelstone, as a color design consultant for costume authenticity.

As for “Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical”, the musical is presented in 1:78:1 aspect ratio and the stage presentation is colorful but the best part of this musical is that there are many camera angles, from the center, from the left and right of the stage and also a camera above center and above left and right.  A fantastic presentation overall!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition” is presented with English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio.  The film features crystal clear dialogue and music through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Francais and Espanol.

“Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and not only is the musical crystal clear but also the live audience as well.  The musical sounds fantastic in HD!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition” comes with following special features:

  • A Couple of Song and Dance Men – (44:36) A documentary about Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire with film historian Ken Barnes and actress Julie Andrews.
  • All-Singing All-Dancing – (7:15) A featurette about how the singing and dancing was created for film before and for post-production.
  • Coloring a Classic – (8:51) A featurette about the coloring of “Holiday Inn” by Legend Film and the process and planning involved.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by film historian Ken Barnes including archive audio comments from Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and John Scott Trotter
  • Theatrical Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code and a Blu-ray disc of “Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical”.


While Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire only made two films together, the pairing of these two actors was no doubt a major collaboration between the two men known for their music and dancing. But also showcasing the dancing and the vocals of Virginia Dale and Marjorie Reynolds.

But also a collaboration between director Mark Sandrich, know for directing many of the famous Astaire/Rogers films and with songwriter Irving Berlin.

And “Holiday Inn” has remained a a class holiday film known for popularizing the holiday song “White Christmas”, which was interesting because Berlin and Crosby didn’t think much about the song and would never expect the song to be an iconic Christmas song that would endure in popularity.

Receiving rave reviews from film critics, “Holiday Inn” would be one of the top grossing films of 1942 in the United States.

The films captures the wonderful music of Irving Berlin but also the wonderful vocal and dancing talent of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.  Both Virginia Dale and Marjorie Reynolds also gave a wonderful song/dance performance throughout the film.

As positive as I am with this film, I will have to mention that for those who are sensitive to films that showcase Caucasian talents in blackface, you may be offended by the “Abraham” minstrel musical number.

While Bing Crosby is seen in blackface, in the audio commentary, film historian Ken Barnes explains how Crosby was one of the few white performers who worked with African American artists despite the criticism he received and flack he got from studio heads.

There is no option to choose an edited version of the film, which many may have seen on television via AMC.  For cinema purists against any removal of scenes, it is important to note that the complete “Abraham” musical number is included on this Blu-ray release.

A big surprise with this 75th Anniversary release of “Holiday Inn” is the inclusion of the “Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical”, a two hour fun-filled stage performance.  The musical opened on Broadway in 2016 and the storyline is a much different story than the original film and the “Abraham” minstrel performance and several songs omitted.

The storyline about Jim moving to Connecticut and Lila staying with Ted remains the same but focuses more on Jim’s time at the farm.  Also, the character of Linda Mason is an aspiring performer-turned-schoolteacher who had lived on the farm.  Both are attracted to each other but their relationship is awkward and Linda introduces Louise Badger (a farmhand who worked at the Mason Farm) to help Jim tend the farm.

But as Jim misses performing, he decides to turn his farm to an inn (only open on holidays) and he brings Linda and his friends to perform on New Year’s Eve.  But when Jim sees Ted dancing with Linda, he gets jealous and punches Ted in the face.  Which leads to a second act which I won’t spoil.

But seeing the energy from the play and the focus on character development of the musical, surprisingly, I found myself more entertained by the musical stage version than the original film.

Granted, I enjoyed both of them but the uplifting energy from the musical, plus the inclusion of other popular Irving Berlin films made me enjoy “Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical” even more!

As for the Blu-ray release, the film is presented in 1080p High Definition black and white (1:331) and also features a new colorized version from Legend Films (known for colorizing many classic B&W films).  Picture quality is no doubt better in terms of clarity and sharpness compared to the older DVD.  And as for the colorization, I used to be a bit critical of the older colorization films from Legend Films but I have to say that with newer technology, the colorization of “Holiday Inn” is well-done.

The lossless audio is in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

The picture quality of “Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical” is also wonderful and the camera work in capturing the stage version is well done!  And the lossless soundtrack in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is crystal clear!

And as for special features, you get a lengthy featurette about the Crosby/Astaire collaboration, an insightful featurette about the making of the dancing scenes and also a featurette about the making of the colorization for the film.  Also, an audio commentary is included.

Overall, “Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition” is a Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Irving Berlin classic.  Presented in its original B&W and also a colorized version, this is no doubt the best presentation of the film.  But even better is the inclusion of the wonderful “Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical” on Blu-ray making this “Holiday Inn: 75th Anniversary Edition” worth owning!

Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

This set is amazing and is the definitive Alfred Hitchcock set to own (featuring many of his films from 1942-1976) and any cineaste wanting to own these magnificent Alfred Hitchcock films on Blu-ray will want the Ultimate Collection. And this 2017 release is even better with 10 additional TV episodes included. This set is no doubt a 5 STAR release! “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Trouble with Harry (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), Torn Curtain (1966), Topaz (1969), Frenzy (1972), Family Plot (1976)

DURATION: Saboteur (1 hr., 49 min.), Shadow of a Doubt (1 hr, 48 min.), Rope (1 hr, 21 min.), Rear Window (1 hr., 52 min.), The Trouble with Harry (1 hr., 39 min.), The Man Who Knew Too Much (2 hrs.), Vertigo (2 hrs., 8 min.), North by Northwest (2 hrs., 16 min.), Psycho (1 hr., 49 min.), The Birds (1 hr., 59 min.), Marnie (2 hrs., 10 min.), Torn Curtain (2 hrs., 8 min.), Topaz (2 hrs., 23 min.), Frenzy (1 hr., 56 min.), Family Plot (2 hrs.) + 7 TV Episodes from “Afred Hitchcock Presents” and 3 TV Episodes from “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour”

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 17, 2017


Universally recognized as the Master of Suspense, the legendary Alfred Hitchcock directed some of cinema’s most thrilling and unforgettable classics. Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection features 15 iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career including Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest and many more. Starring Hollywood favorites such as James Stewart, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Paul Newman, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery and Kim Novak, this definitive collection showcases a true cinematic master at his best. Featuring over 15 hours of insightful bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate Hitchcock experience.


 

For the cinema fans who are fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Universal has released “Alfred Hitchock: The Ultimate Collection” which comes with 15 movies and 10 TV episodes plus over 15 hours of bonus features and a booklet.

Included in the “Alfred Hitchcok: The Ultimate Collection” are the following films:

  1. Saboteur – A 1942 film noir spy thriller.  The film revolves around Barry Kane (portrayed by Robert Cummings) who works at Stewart Aircraft Works in Glendale, California.  When he and his friend Mason (portrayed by Virgil Summers) bump into a man named Fry (portrayed by Norman Lloyd), not long afterward, a fire is started and when the men go to stop the fire, Mason is burned to death.  When investigators interview Barry, he tells him that the fire took place after they bumped into a man named Fry, but there are no records of Fry ever working for the company.  And now Barry is accused of sabotaging his worksite and killing his friend.  Barry becomes a fugitive and is helped by a blind man (portrayed by Vaughan Glaser), and when his niece, Patricia “Pat” Martin (portrayed by Priscilla Lane) visits, Barry tries to please his innocence to Pat.  But she is more intent of reporting him to the police.  What happens when he kidnaps Pat?  Will Barry find a way to prove his innocence?
  2. Shadow of a Doubt – A 1943 psychological thriller film noir.  The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around Charlie Newton (portrayed by Teresa Wright) who is excited when her Uncle Charlie (portrayed by Joseph Cotten) is coming to visit.  When two men come to do a national survey, they want to feature the family but Charlie gets upset when a photographer takes his picture and demands for them to give the film to him.   The men reveal to Charlie that they are detectives and suspect that Charlie is the “Merry Widow Murderer”.  Will Charlie help her uncle or will she keep tabs on him for the detectives?
  3. Rope -A 1948 psychological crime thriller film noir based on the 1929 play by Patrick Hamilton inspired by the real-life murder of Bobby Franks in 1924.  One of Hitchcock’s first Technicolor films.  The film revolves around two intellects, Brandon Shaw (portrayed by John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (portrayed by Farley Granger) who strangled their former classmate from Harvard University, David Kentley (portrayed by Dick Hogan).  The two committed the crime as an intellectual exercise and wanted to prove themselves by committing the “perfect murder” inspired by their prep-school housemaster, publisher Rupert Cadell (portrayed by James Stewart) who talked with them about the intellectual concepts of Nietzsche’s Ubermermensch and De Quincey’s art of murder as a means to show one’s superiority over others.
  4. Rear Window – A 1954 American Technicolor mystery thriller based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 short story “It Had to Be Murder”.  Considered as one of the greatest movies ever made, the film received four academy award nominations and was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (portrayed by James Stewart) being confined in a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment after breaking a leg while trying to photograph a racetrack accident.  While keeping his windows open to stay cool, he observes various people across the street. One night during a thunderstorm, he hears a woman scream and then the sound of glass breaking.  He sees the woman no longer there and a man with a large knife and handsaw.  Jeff is convinced that the man, Lars Thorwald (portrayed by Raymond Burr) may have killed his bedridden wife.
  5. The Trouble with Harry – A 1955 black comedy.  In the small town of Highwater, Vermont, the body of Harry Worp (portrayed by Philip Truex) is found.  The problem is who the person is, who was responsible for the death and what to do with the body.  No one is upset that Harry is dead.  No one really cares.  And each hope that the body will not bring the attention of the authorities to come to Highwater.
  6. The Man Who Knew Too Much – A 1956 suspense thriller film noir and a remake of Hitchcock’s own 1934 film of the same name.  The film won an Academy Award for Best Song for “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” by Doris Day.  The film revolves around an American family, Dr. Benjamin “Ben” McKenna (portrayed by James Stewart), his wife Jo (portrayed by Doris Day) and their son Hank (portrayed by Christopher Olsen) vacationing in Morocco.  One day, they see a man being chased by the police.  The man who was stabbed in the back approaches Ben and before he dies, tells Bernard that a foreign statesman will be assassinated in London soon and gives him the name “Ambrose Chappelle”.  But when Hank is kidnapped and Ben receives a call that his son won’t be harmed if the McKenna’s say nothing about the warning message Bernard received.  Will the McKenna’s get their son back?
  7. Vertigo – A 1958 film noir psychological thriller based on the 1954 novel “D’entre les morts” (From Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac.  The film focuses on former police detective John “Scottie” Ferguson.  Scottie is forced into early retirement because an incident in the line of duty which caused him to develop acrophobia (an extreme fear of heights) and vertigo (a false sense of rotational movement).  His friend and ex-fiance Midge Wood (portrayed by Barbara Bel Geddes) tells him that perhaps a severe emotional shock may cure him.  One day, Scottie is hired by an acquaintance, Gavin Elster (portrayed by Tom Helmore), as a private investigator to follow his wife, Madeleine (portrayed by Kim Novak) who is behaving strangely.
  8. North by Northwest – A 1959 thriller film considered as one of the “Greatest Films of All Time”.  Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  The film revolves around two thugs looking for George Kaplan and a waiter calling out for him, meanwhile at the same time, advertising exec Roger Thornhill (portrayed by Cary Grant) is summoning a waiter.  Immediately, Roger is mistaken as George Kaplan and is kidnapped.  He is brought to the estate of Lester Townsend and interrogated by a spy, Phillip Vandamm (portrayed by James Mason).  Roger tries to explain that he is not George Kaplan but they do not believe him.  And now Roger’s life is at risk.
  9. Psycho – A 1960 psychological horror film based on the 1959 novel by Robert Bloch. Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.  The film revolves around a real estate secretary named Marion Crane (portrayed by Janet Leigh) who talks with her boyfriend Sam Loomis (portrayed by John Gavin) how they can’t afford to get married due to his debts.  After lunch, her boss asks her to deposit a $40,000 cash deposit for her company at the bank.  Instead of depositing the money, she steals the money and gives it to Sam to pay off his debt.  But while leaving town, she sees her boss and she becomes paranoid.  While driving, she decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel, which Norman Bates (portrayed by Anthony Perkins) and his mother operates.
  10. The Birds – A 1963 horror-thrilller film based on the 1952 story by Daphne du Maurier.  Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.  Melanie Daniels (portrayed by Tippi Hedren) is a young socialite known for her racy behavior and her pranks.  While going to Bodega Bey to visit Mitch Brenner (portrayed by Rod Taylor) and her family, they all noticed that something unusual is happening to the birds and they are attacking people.
  11. Marnie – A 1964 psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the 1961 novel by Winston Graham. The film revolves around Margaret “Marnie” Edgar (portrayed by Tippi Hedren) who steals $10,000 from her employer’s safe and flees.  She changes her appearance and identity and heads to Virginia and Baltimore.  Meanwhile, Mark Rutland (portrayed by Sean Connery), hires Marnie for his company.  But what happened when she tries to pull of the same heist on her new boss?
  12. Torn Curtain – A 1966 political thriller about a US physicist and rocket scientist named Michael Armstrong (portrayed by Paul Newman) who is traveling to Copenhagen with his assistant and fiance, Sarah Sherman (portrayed by Julie Andrews).  As he receives a radiogram to pick up a book, he sees a message which prompts him to go to Stockholm.  She follows him but instead of Stockholm, they are flying to East Berlin and he is welcome to the East German government.  Has Armstrong defected?
  13. Topaz – A 1969 spy thriller based on the 1967 Cold War novel by Leon Uris. The film follows a French intelligence agent who becomes entangled in the Cold War politics which lead up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and eventually the breakup of an international Soviet spy ring in France.
  14. Frenzy – A 1972 British thriller film based on the novel “Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square” by Arthur La Bern.  In London, a serial killer is raping women and strangling them with neck ties.  Who is responsible?
  15. Family Plot – A 1976 Technicolor dark comedy/thriller and the final film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the novel “The Rainbird Pattern” by Victor Canning.  The film is about two couples, a fake psychic and her cab driving boyfriend and another that are professional thieves and kidnappers.

“The Best of Alfred Hitchcock Presents” features the following episodes:

  1. Revenge
  2. Mr. Blanchard’s Secret
  3. Lamb to the Slaughter
  4. Poison
  5. Arthur
  6. Mrs. Bixby and the Colonels Coat
  7. Bang! You’re Dead

“The Best of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour” features the following episodes:

  1. I Saw the Whole Thing
  2. Three Wives Too Many
  3. Death Scene

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Saboteur” comes with the following special features:

  • Saboteur: A Closer Look
  • Storyboards: The Statue of Liberty Sequence
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s Sketches
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Shadow of a Doubt” comes with the following special features:

  • Beyond a Doubt: The Making of Hitchcock’s Favorite Film
  • Production Drawings by Art Director Robert Boyle
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Rope” comes with the following special features:

  • Rope Unleashed
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Rear Window” comes with the following special features:

  • Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary
  • A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes
  • Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master
  • Breaking Barriers: The Sounds of Hitchcock
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Masters of Cinema
  • Feature Commentary with John Fawell (Author of “Hitchcock’s Rear Window: The Well-Made Film”)
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Re-Release Trailer Narrated by James Stewart

“The Trouble with Harry” comes with the following special features:

  • The Trouble with Harry Isn’t Over
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“The Man Who Knew Too Much” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of the Man Who Knew Too Much
  • Production Photographs
  • Trailers

“Vertigo” comes with the following special features:

  • Obsessed with Vertigo – New Life for Hitchcock’s Masterpiece
  • Partners in Crime: Hitchcock’s Collaborations
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Foreign Censorship Ending
  • The Vertigo Archives
  • Feature Commentary with Director William Friedkin
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lew Wasserman Era
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Restoration Theatrical Trailer

“North by Northwest” comes with the following special features:

  • Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest
  • North by Northwest: One for the Ages
  • The Master’s Touch: Hitchcock’s Signature Style
  • Feature Commentary by Screenwriter Ernest Lehman
  • Stills Gallery
  • Trailer Gallery

“Psycho” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Psycho
  • Psycho Sound
  • In the Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerps
  • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho
  • The Shower Scene With and Without Music
  • The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass
  • The Psycho Archives
  • Feature Commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho)
  • Lobby Cards
  • Behind-the-Scenes Photographs
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Re-Release Trailer

“The Birds” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scene
  • The Original Ending
  • The Birds: Hitchcock’s Monster Movie
  • All About the Birds
  • Storyboard Sequences
  • Tippi Hedren’s Screen Test
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Universal International Newsreels
  • Production Photographs
  • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Marnie” comes with the following special features:

  • The Trouble with Marnie
  • The Marnie Archives
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Torn Curtain” comes with the following special features:

  • Torn Curtain Rising
  • Scenes Scored by Bernard Hermann
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Topaz” comes with the following special features:

  • Alternate Endings
  • Topaz: An Appreciation by Film Historian and Critic Leonard Maltin
  • Storyboards: The Mendozas
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Frenzy” comes with the following special features:

  • The Story of Frenzy
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Family Plot” comes with the following special features:

  • Plotting Family Plot
  • Storyboards: The Chase Scene
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer

“The Best of Alfred Hitchcock” comes with “Alfred Hitchcock: A Look Back”

“The Best of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour” comes with “Fast Your Seatbelt: The Thrilling Art of Alfred Hitchcock”

EXTRAS:

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” comes with a 60-page booklet and slipcase.


For any true cinema fan, owning Alfred Hitchock films comes with the territory of a being a true cineaste.

Alfred Hitchcock films are must-own films (unless you are the type who have foresaken physical media and have gone the digital route) and should earn a spot in your cinema collection.

For this review, I’ve already reviewed many Hitchcock films, so I’m going to approach this set of why you should own “The Ultimate Collection” and whether or not it’s worth upgrading from “The Masterpiece Collection”.

When it comes to Alfred Hitchcock films, to enjoy Alfred Hitchock films,  one must know that Hitchock has worked for numerous companies in his long career.  And that there are several releases that are no doubt key collections to own.

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Classic Collection” (MGM but on Blu-ray), “Classic Hitchcock” (Hitchcock’s British films + 1 American film from the Criterion Collection on Blu-ray), “Alfred Hitchcock: The Signature Collection” (Warner Bros. on DVD) and “Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection” (MGM on DVD)  are no doubt the best collections featuring his films from 1927-1941. His first two films “The Pleasure Garden (1925) and “The Mountain Eagle (1926) may not be easy to find but the majority of Hitchcock films can be found in various collections.

But for his major cinema works from 1942-1976, the Universal Studios release of “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection” was no doubt the collection to own back in 2005.  Back then, the set featured a 14-movie collection on DVD. But in 2012, a 15-movie collection was released on Blu-ray and DVD and in 2013, Universal releasing a UK version “Alfred Hitcock: The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” with film reel type casing for the Blu-ray’s and poster art cards.

One wouldn’t think that Universal would release another Alfred Hitchcock set so soon, and if anything, one would probably think that a 4K version release would be on the horizon in the near future.  But here we are, five years later since the release of “The Masterpiece – Limited Edition Set” and Universal has now upped the ante by releasing the “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” on Blu-ray and DVD featuring the 15 films from the previous set but now including 10 TV episodes from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (NOTE: All TV episodes are on DVD, not on Blu-ray).

And simply, “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is the definitive Hitchcock Blu-ray set to own!

While Alfred Hitchcock has had a wonderful list of films in his oeuvre, his Universal films are no doubt the more memorable films.  Films such as “Psycho”, “The Birds”, “Vertigo”, “Rear Window”, “North by Northwest” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” are films that people tend to hold Hitchcock to the highest regard.  But films such as “Saboteur”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Topaz”, “Marnie” are entertaining and showcase that wonderful Hitchcock style of filmmaking.

There are no cinema duds in this set.  Sure, some people may find Hitchcock venturing into black comedy for “The Trouble with Harry” may be too different from his other films for their tastes but that is the beauty of Hitchcock films. He took on different types of films and gave it his own personal style.  From his earliest work to “Family Plot” (his final film), we see Hitchcock evolve as a filmmaker and even with his work for Universal, we see Hitchcock show why he is the Master of Suspense.  His style of filmmaking evolving from “Saboteur” to a film such as “Rear Window”, “North by Northwest” and “Psycho” and to even his final film, “Family Plot”.

Hitchcock was a filmmaker who took on various types of films and to this day, these classic films featured in the “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” are still revered, still talked about many decades later and will continue on as topics of discussion among cineaste generations from now.  That is how long-lasting, how effective and how well-respected his cinema work is.

As for the Blu-ray release, as for picture quality, all films are presented in 1080p High Definition.  The first three films are presented in full frame 1:33:1 aspect ratio, while the majority of the films are in widescreen 1:85:1.  The TV episodes are in full frame 1:33:1 aspect ratio.  The films that received the new restoration look fantastic.  Actually, all films look fantastic on Blu-ray compared to the 2005 Masterpiece DVD set.  So, picture quality-wise, you can’t go wrong!  While some may question Universal for not upscaling the TV series to Blu-ray, the fact that you get 10 additional episodes, over 15 hours of bonus features and the booklet is quite amazing.

As for the lossless audio, one should remember that the majority of all Hitchcock films were recorded in monaural and the films are presented in English DTS-HD Master 2.0.  With the exception of “Saboteur”, the other soundtracks for the films include a French DTS Surround 2.0 Mono soundtrack, the only films that have other language selections are Vertigo (which has an Espanol DTS Surround 2.0 soundtrack) and “North by Northwest” which feature a Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese 1.0 soundtrack.

As for subtitles, all films come with an English SDH  and Spanish subtitles.  Only “Saboteur”, “Rear Window”, “Vertigo”, “North by Northwest”, “Psycho”, “The Birds” and “Topaz” come with an French subtitles.

Now, everything I mentioned is positive.  What about the negatives?  Really, there aren’t any.  But if I had to nitpick, I wish that Hitchock’s 1955 film “To Catch a Thief”, which was included in the 2013 UK Blu-ray set “Hitchcock: The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” but was never included in both the US release of “The Master Collection” or this 2017 “The Ultimate Collection”.  I would imagine because it’s a Paramount Pictures film and what was allowed in UK, was not possible for the US release. It’s also important to note that “To Catch a Thief” from “The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection” had no special features whatsoever and unlike the other discs on that set, “To Catch a Thief” had no label.  So, quality-wise, on that set, the UK received an inferior Blu-ray version of that film.  So, it wouldn’t have matched with this set, as every film disc in “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” has special features.

A big question that some may ask is if one should upgrade their “Masterpiece Collection” for “The Ultimate Collection”.  My answer is if you own the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” DVD sets, then no.  But if you don’t, ask yourself if the additional ten hours of non-film entertainment is worth it for you.

The booklet is the same.  The digibook style sleeves are the same with the addition of the additional pages to hold the TV series but other than that, if you own the Masterpiece Collection, there is no additional special features as they are the same Blu-ray discs.  “The Ultimate Collection” just includes the additional 10 TV episodes.

Overall, this set is amazing and is the definitive Alfred Hitchcock set to own (featuring many of his films from 1942-1976) and any cineaste wanting to own these magnificent Alfred Hitchcock films on Blu-ray will want the Ultimate Collection.  And this 2017 release is even better with 10 additional TV episodes included.  This set is no doubt a 5 STAR release!

“Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection” is highly recommended!

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

November 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

While Mark Palansky’s “Rememory” may not be a groundbreaking film, but I enjoyed the concept and also Dinklage’s performance.  And while the film does have its faults, I did enjoy “Rememory”.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Rememory

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 112 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (2:40:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English SDH/Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: November 28, 2017


Directed by Mark Palansky

Written by Mike Vukadinovich and Mark Palansky

Produced by Daniel Bekerman, Lee Clay

Co-Producer: Ethan Lazar, Tyler Nelson

Executive Producer: Jim Reeve

Music by Gregory Tripi

Cinematography by Gregory Middleton

Edited by Jane MacRae, Tyler Nelson

Casting by Tineka Becker: Tiffany Mak

Production Design by Hank Mann

Costume Design by Patricia Hargraves


Starring:

Peter Dinklage as Sam Bloom

Matt Ellis as Dash Bloom

Jordana Largy as Freddie

Martin Donovan as Gordon Dunn

Evelyne Brochu as Wendy

Henry Ian Cusick as Lawton

Anton Yelchin as Todd

Julia Ormond as Carolyn Dunn

Gracyn Shineyi as Jane Dunn


The film explores the unexplained death of Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan), a visionary scientific pioneer whose body is found shortly after the unveiling of his newest work: a device able to extract, record and play a person’s memories. Gordon’s wife, Carolyn (Julia Ormond), retreats into her house and cuts off contact with the outside world when a mysterious man (Peter Dinklage) shows up. After stealing the machine, he uses it to try and solve the mystery, beginning an investigation of memories that lead him to unexpected and dangerous places.


From the director of “Penelope” and “A Series of Unfortunaate Events” comes the film “Rememory”.

The film stars Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, “The Station Agent”), Matt Ellis (“Final Destination 3”, “Undead Union: The Making Of”), Jordana Largy (“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”), Martin Donovan (“Ant-Man”, “Insomnia”, “Weeds”), Evelyne Brochu (“Cafe de Flore”, “Tom at the Farm”, “X Company”), Henry Ian Cusick (“Lost”, “Hitman”, “The 100”), Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek”, “Terminator Salvation”, “Fright Night”), Julia Ormon (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Legends of the Fall”, “My Week with Marilyn”) and more.

And now “Rememory” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate.

The film begins with Sam Bloom (portrayed by Peter Dinklage) at the bar with his brother Dash Bloom (portrayed by Matt Ellis).  As the two drive home, singing out loud, their car is smashed into by another car and when Sam Bloom comes to, Dash is bleeding and dying, while Sam screams for help.

Fastforward to the future and the accident still haunts Sam.  While he is watching Gordon Dunn (portrayed by Martin Donovan), a scientific pioneer who created new technology that allows for one to extract memories and watch them on an external device.

Later, the doctor is approached by a woman named Wendy (portrayed by Evelyne Brochu) who wants something back from the scientist.  We then see Todd (portrayed by Anton Yelchin) who confronts Gordon for ruining his life and bringing up something that should have stayed in the past.  Meanwhile, Cortex CEO, Lawton (portrayed by Henry Ian Cusick) listening in on their conversation.

We then see Wendy coming in and access Gordon Dunn’s Cortex device, Sam parked in the parking lot alone watching Todd, and then later Wendy leave Gordon’s office and then we also see Gordon laying on the ground, dead.

The next morning, Sam learns that Gordon Dunn is dead and when he comes to bring flowers to his widow, he manages to steal keys inside the house and manages to use it to break into his home and steal one of the Cortex prototype devices along with recordings of memories from other test users.

And through these memories, what will Sam discover?


VIDEO:

“Rememory” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio)

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rememory” is presented with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rememory” comes with following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Mark Palansky and actor Peter Dinklage
  • The Memories We Keep – (31:59) A featurette about the concept and making of the film, as well as the evolution of the script and casting for the film.  Also, remembering actor Anton Yelchin.

EXTRAS:

The Blu-ray comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


“Rememory” is a film directed and written by filmmaker Mark Palansky and created around actor Peter Dinklage and a film that looks into the extraction of memories.

The film revolves around a man named Sam Bloom (portrayed by Dinklage) who had a tragic past three years and watching scientific pioneer, Gordon Dunn, introduce his Cortex device that allows people to extract memories and watch them on an external device.

But when Gordon Dunn is found dead, we see numerous people along with Samuel who happen to be near the scene of the crime.

When Sam reads that Dunn had died, it leads him to stealing Gordon’s Cortex device in hoping he can find answers of who or what is responsible for his death but most of all, helping him come to terms with his tragic past.

If there was one issue with the film is that Cortex would go through any means of finding the stolen Cortex device and are quite aware that Sam Bloom is possibly involved.  While there are those in the company that are aware of Sam, there is buildup to painting the Cortex Corporation as a big, bad corporation and its leader, Lawton (portrayed by Henry Ian Cusick) being the film’s main antagonist.  But there was no element of danger as Sam was able to go around and accomplish things quite easily.

There is also not much time to establish the other characters in the film, they are merely subjects of tests conducted by Gordon but we don’t feel much impact with these characters at all.  If anything, the film hinges on the shoulders of Sam and Carolyn Dunn (portrayed by Julia Ormond).

I will also add that for the short moments that Anton Yelchin was in the film, you can’t help but feel sad that this young talented actor is no longer with us.  He had an emotional performance in the film and “Rememory” was among the last three films that Yelchin would make before dying in a fatal accident in the summer of 2016.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is good, especially on close-ups.  Lossless audio is primarily dialogue-driven and the audio commentary and featurette were entertaining.  I like the fact that Palansky gave people a chance to send in their own HD memories and they included a few of those selected, for their memory footage to be part of the film.

Overall, while Mark Palansky’s “Rememory” may not be a groundbreaking film, but I enjoyed the concept and also Dinklage’s performance.  And while the film does have its faults, I did enjoy “Rememory”.

Your Name. (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I have to say, Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name.” was a pleasure to watch.  I absolutely love this film and I highly recommend it!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Toho Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Your Name.

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16×9), Dolby TrueHD Japanese and English 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Funimation

RATED: PG

Release Date: November 7, 2017


Originally Created by Makoto Shinkai

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

Script/Screenplay/Storyboard: Makoto Shinkai

Music by RADWIMPS

Character Design:Masashi Ando, Masayoshi Tanaka

Art Director:Akiko Majima, Takumi Tanji, Tasuku Watanabe

Executive Producer: Yoshihiro Furusawa

Producer: Genki Kawamura, Katsuhiro Takei, Kouichirou Itou

Anime Production: CoMix Wave Films


Featuring the following voice talent:

Mone Kamishiraishi/Stephanie Sheh as Mitsuha Miyamizu

Ryunosuke Kamiki/Michael Sinterniklaas as Taki Tachibana

Aoi Yūki/Cassandra Morris as Sayaka Natori

Etsuko Ichihara/Glynn Ellis as Hitoha Miyamizu

Kaito Ishikawa/Ray Chase as Shinta Takagi

Kanon Tani/Catie Harvey as Yotsuba Miyamizu

Masaki Terasoma/Scott Williams as Toshiki Miyamizu

Masami Nagasawa/Laura Post as Miki Okudera

Nobunaga Shimazaki/Ben Pronsky as Tsukasa Fujii

Ryō Narita/Kyle Hebert as Katsuhiko Teshigawara


From director Makoto Shinkai, the innovative mind behind Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second, comes a beautiful masterpiece about time, the thread of fate, and the hearts of two young souls.

The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint.

When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, something shifts, and they seek each other out wanting something more; a chance to finally meet. But try as they might, something more daunting than distance prevents them. Is the string of fate between Mitsuha and Taki strong enough to bring them together, or will forces outside their control leave them forever separated?

The Combo comes packaged in a beautiful silver holographic foil slipcover.


Makoto Shinkai, the superstar animation filmmaker who have produced animated film which have been hit after hit and just when you wonder if Shinkai could repeat his success, he hits a grand slam with his 2016 animated film “Your Name.”.

The former Falcom graphic designer, who took the anime industry by storm back in 2001 when he released his anime OVA titled “Voices of a Distant Star”, which he created on his Power Mac G4 and using several software and voice acted by he and his wife Miko and music provided by his friend Tenmon.  The OVA inspired many for the fact it was independent, created on a small budget but looked significantly better than some major anime series by well-known animation studios.

Suffice to say, the person who grew up inspired by Miyazaki films was now given a chance to create more animated films and he would eventually achieve success with “The Place Promised in Our Early Days” (2004), “5 Centimeters Per Second” (2007) and in 2011, he directed, wrote and produced “Children Who Chase Lost Voices (“Hoshi o Ou Kodomo”) and in May 2013, “Kotonoha no Miwa” (The Garden of Words) was released.

But his 2016 animated film “Your Name.” (in Japan, known as “Kimi no Na wa.”), which he wrote and directed and was produced by CoMix Wave Films has now made Shinkai an internationally known filmmaker and the film has also broke many records in Japan.

“Your Name.” became the fourth highest grossing film of all time in Japan, the 7th highest grossing traditionally animated film, is now the highest grossing anime film and the 4th highest grossing non-English film worldwide.

The film has made over $355 million worldwide and has been nominated and has won awards worldwide and now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Funimation.

The film begins with what looks like a meteor splitting off and part of it descending.

We are then introduced to Mitsuha, a high school girl living in the Hida mountainous region of Gifu.  She wakes up and is shocked that she has breasts and her sister Yotsuba thinks she’s acting very strange.

While she goes to school with her good friend Sayaka Natori and Katsuhiko “Tessie” Teshigawara, her friends are a little surprised that she has no recollection of her behavior the previous day.

Performing a dance with her sister and embarrassed that her friends from school are watching her, while descending from the temple, she screams that she was a handsome boy living in Tokyo.

The following morning, we are introduced to a high school boy named Taki living in Tokyo.  But when he wakes up, it’s Mitsuha and she can’t understand why she’s in a boy’s body.  She goes out, trying to hang out with the guys, go to school and the work a job as a restaurant server, Mitsuha thinks she’s in a dream. Because no way she could switch to another body.  She realizes that Taki keeps a diary and starts typing on his phone.

When Taki wakes up, he is shocked to see the diary and shocked when his friends tell him how he behaved the day before.  He and Mitsuha eventually realize that they switch bodies and to prevent any problems, they make rules that neither are able to break and because they switch bodies a few times each week, the two communicate by leaving each other messages.

Mitsuha, her younger sister and her grandmother take their ritual alcohol (kuchikamizake) to an offering at a shrine on the mountaintop where a meteor hit thousands of years ago.  The shrine that the sisters leave their kuchikamizake is believed to represent the body of the village guardian god who rules human experiences and connections

She writes to Taki telling him that a comet is expected to pass Earth on the day of the village festival.  When she and her friends go to check out and see the beautiful comet, they can see a falling star.

As for Taki, the day she wrote the message was the last time he had heard from her.  The two are also unable to switch bodies.

Taki tries calling Mitsuha and all he can think about is her and he begins drawing scenes of the Mitsuha’s village and surroundings. But curious of why Mitsuha has stopped writing him, he decides to visit the Hida Region.

While arriving, he tries to show people of where a village (where a meteor hit long ago) is located.  And a restaurant owner and his wife tell Taki that they know of the village and that her husband is from there.

When Taki asks where it is, they tell him that the place no longer exists since three years ago.

Taki doesn’t understand and they explain that three years ago, a meteor hit her village and everyone very close to the impact area around the village were killed.

Taki decides to learn what happened on that fateful day and what happened to Mitsuha.  But can he find a way to send her a message or switch bodies again in order to save her and everyone in the village?


VIDEO:

“Your Name.” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Colors are vibrant and backgrounds are extremely detailed.  Character designs are fantastic and this is an awesome animated film to marvel on how far Shinaki’s work has gone through to achieve such realism!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Your Name.” is presented in Japanese and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music along with wonderful sound effects during the more action-driven scenes that utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Your Name.” comes with the following special features:

  • Interview with Makoto Shinkai – (25:35) Featuring a Funimation interview with Makoto Shinkai.
  • Makoto Shinkai Filmography – (10:47) A look at all of Makoto Shinkai’s animated films via excerpts.
  • Special TV Program – (22:26) Hosted by Ryunosuke Kamiki (voice of Taki) and guest starring Makoto Shinkai and Mone Kamshiraishi (voice of Mitsuha), the special visits various locations where Shinkai films were shot, interviews and more!
  • Trailers

I am a huge fan of Makoto Shinkai’s work.  The amount of detail to capture reality through his animated work, the ability to capture human relationships and bonding, capturing human emotion from highs and lows.

One of my favorite films from Shinkai was “5 Centimeters Per Second” (Byoku 5 Centimeter) which was a film about love through different periods of time, breaking up and moving on, his film “Children Who Chase Lost Voices” dealt with fallen relationships and sacrifice, while “The Garden of Words” explored an woman trying to find what is important about life and finding the light and learning why life is worth living, after a dark past.

Relationships are a big part of Makoto Shinkai’s work and that goes as far back as Shinkai’s shorts, “She and Her Cat” (Kanojo to Kanjo no Neko).

And as science fiction has played a big part in Shinkai’s earlier works, he manages to blend sci-fi with a touching story about a teenage boy named Taki and a teenage girl named Mitsuha who switch bodies intermittently throughout the week after they sleep.  They are not sure how it happened and why it’s happening, considering these two have never met prior and they live very far from each other.

And as the two start to communicate with each other, often playful messages of support or what happened while the other person was occupying the other person’s body, these two manage to grow close from their unique correspondence.

But one day, the communication and body switch stops which leaves Taki wanting to get answers of what happened to Mitsuha and why she stopped contacting him.  And to the surprise of Taki, the Mitsuha that Taki was communicating with died three years ago when a meteor destroyed her entire village and everyone was in the blast proximity were killed.

But what if Taki was able to relay a message to her?  What if he could switch bodies with her once more, knowing what he knows?

“Your Name.” was no doubt the best Shinkai film I have watched.  From the detail of Shinjuku, Shibuya and many other locations animated and beautifully drawn, to a script well-executed and captivating, during my viewing of the film, all I kept hoping for was a different outcome unlike “5 Centimeters Per Second”.  Rooting for the two characters and while knowing Shinkai likes to play things close to reality, I just wanted to see something magical.

While the film is no doubt unique in some ways, the storyline concept of trying to prevent one’s death in the past is not new.    In fact, the storyline of two protagonists from two different years in time and yet are able to communicate, can be seen in the 2000 South Korean film “Il Mare” (Siworae) from filmmaker Lee Hyun-seung.

But the way Shinkai writes the film and manages to explore different facets of their relationship and also interjecting some elements of “5 Centimeters Per Second” in to the film in order to make viewers guessing of what direction Shinkai would take the characters to.

As for the film on Blu-ray, picture quality is vibrant and detailed.  The Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music, while surround channels manages to utilize the various sound effects with clarity.  And the special features include an interview with Makoto Shinkai and a special TV program about “Your Name.” and Shinkai’s oevure.

I have to say, Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name.” was a pleasure to watch.  I absolutely love this film and I highly recommend it!

Dawson City: Frozen Time (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Well-researched, well-presented, “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is a fantastic documentary from Bill Morrison and a true masterpiece!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Hypnotic Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dawson City: Frozen Time

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:33:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 Surround, B&W and Color

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: October 31, 2017


Directed by Bill Morrison

Written by Bill Morrison

Cinematography by Raoul Cotard

Produced by Madeleine Molyneaux, Bill Morrison 

Assistant Producer: Paul Gordon

Music by Alex Somers

Edited by Bill Morrison


Starring:

Bill Morrison

Kathy Jones-Gates

Michael Gates

Sam Kula

Bill O’Farrell

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo


A thrilling adventure through American history, Dawson City: Frozen Time pieces together the bizarre true story of a collection of some 500 silent films. Dating from the 1910s and 20s, they were lost for over 50 years until being discovered buried in a subarctic swimming pool deep in the Yukon Territory in 1978.
Director Bill Morrison (Decasia) uses this extraordinary footage as a conduit to explore the complicated past of Dawson City, a Canadian gold rush town and First Nation hunting camp that was transformed and displaced. Dawson City: Frozen Time is a triumphant work of art that chronicles the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation, discovering another world in the process.


For many silent film fans, before Hollywood, it was known that Fort Lee, New Jersey was once the motion picture capital during the early 1900’s and it is known that 75% of all silent films were destroyed unfortunately by improper storage and the combustible nitrate film.

But how is it that 533 silent film reels were discovered in Dawson City, a town in northern Yukon (Canada) by a construction worker in 1978.

This would be the basis of “Dawson City: Frozen Time” directed by Bill Morrison, who would construct a timeline of Dawson and show its history through photos and also show a timeline of what was going on in America/Canada through various scenes of footage that are from the 533 silent film reels that were discovered.

But also to show how Dawson City brought many people for gold, many people who worked in Dawson and would become tycoons in America. But we see the transformation of Dawson, which was once an entertainment hub to have a population of tends of thousand to technology eventually lessening the role of miners and decreasing the population to a few thousand.

We see the years progress, we see through this footage of the various films that were lost, or films and news reels that only have so much surviving footage due to degradation, film warp/damage due to time and also being thrown in soil for many years and being strewn around.

And through this footage, we see history play out and “Dawson City: Frozen Time” eventually becoming a tale about the American 20th century.  From thousands of people moving to areas where there was gold, these areas becoming business and entertainment hubs, from how people in Dawson received entertainment showing what was going on in America, from the World Series, strikes, celebrity scandals and more.


VIDEO:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio).  This is a film that showcases American history through photography and videos.  For the most part, picture quality is good but depending on the surviving film footage that was found in Dawson, some reels are in good shape, others not so good.  Some footage may show excessive degradation to film damage, while others may look very good with minimal scratches.  But these scenes are short, if anything, scenes to indicate a point or reference.  As I always mention in silent films and when it comes to picture quality, considering nearly 75% of films are lost, the fact that we get to see these surviving films or even glimpses of American history is fantastic. 

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” features haunting melodies created by Alex Somers.  Lossless audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  Scenes with dialogue are crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” comes with following special features:

  • Dawson City: Postscript – (9:54) Michael Gates and Kathy Jones Gates (Yukon Historians) discussing how the premiere showing of the films would be in Dawson City.  Bill O’Farrell (Head of Film Section of the National Archives of Canada) discussed the condition of the reels when they received them.  And how a last resort of rewashing to save the film because they were in bad shape.  And also what happened to the reels after they were rescued (and how many newsreels and documentaries kept in storage vaults at National Archives Buildings caught on fire).
  • Interview with filmmaker Bill Morrison – (8:50) Filmmaker Bill Morrison discusses on the utilization of film footage and how he would create the story as he discovered Dawson City’s history and the changes that would take place.
  • Selections from the Dawson Film Find – Featuring a plethora of news reels (all silent) such as the British Canadian Pathe News from 1919, The Montreal Heral Screen Magazine of 1919, International News issue #52 of 1919, Pathe’s Weekly of 1914, scenes from “The Butler and the Maid” of 1912, D.W. Griffith’s “Brutality” of 1912, “The Exquisite Tief” of 1919, “The Girl of the Northern Woods” of 1910 and more.
  • Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Dawson City: Frozen Time” comes with a 24-page booklet with an essay by Lawrence Weschler and Alberto Zambenedetti.


For many silent film fans, before Hollywood, it was known that Fort Lee, New Jersey was once the motion picture capital during the early 1900’s and it is known that 75% of all silent films were destroyed unfortunately by improper storage and the combustible nitrate film.

But how is it that 533 silent film reels were discovered in Dawson City, a town in northern Yukon (Canada) by a construction worker in 1978.

It sounds hard to believe but while excavation was being done, in order to create a new recreation center, Frank Barrett saw reels of film that were literally dumped in the Earth.

Many were fiction films and newsreel footage from the early 1900s.

But what many people may not know is how this once booming goldmining town had a connection to the early entertainment scene and the location would include people who would go on to do great things in America back then.

In order to showcase clips from films and newsreel footage found in Dawson City but also showcasing the history of the town, filmmaker Bill Morrison created “Dawson City: Frozen in Time”.

The film would go into how an American man visiting a village of the indigenous Han people (First Nations people of Canada) who happened to be mining and discovered gold.  This would lead to other prospectors discovering gold, claiming the land, displacing the Han people and because of the mining, also destroying their hunting and fishing.

While those who came to the Yukon first were able to capitalize, would lead to one of the first restaurant and hotel (created by Frederick Trump, grandfather of U.S. President, Donald Trump and miner Ernest Levin) which offered fine dining and lodging but also scales to weigh gold.

How thousands of people would flock to Dawson to mine gold and many business were opened.  And one of the families that went to Dawson City was Sid Grauman and his parents.  And little Sid saw how people paid a lot for entertainment and Sid Grauman would grow up to open theaters in America, including the popular Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.  To Alexander Pantage who would move to Dawson and eventually found love with brothel-keeper “Klondike Kate” Rockwell and both operated the successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Oprheum.  Pantage would become famous for promoting the “movie palace” concept and creating theatres across the United States and Canada.

How Yukon Gold Company employee William Desmond Taylor would become a famous silent film director but possibly best known for his murder and a cold case which was probably intentionally by the film studios.

For sports, Dawson was host to various sporting events and boxing matches.  But with tens of thousands of people coming to Dawson, eventually bigger companies would find ways to mine for gold with devising new technologies such as floating dredges that would be less reliant on workers and the population would eventually dwindle to a few thousand.

And as time went on, we would see history play out through this film reels.  From strikes, the war to baseball such as the World Series including the Black Socks Scandal in which members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to throw the World Series games.

To video footage of multiple film laboratories and theaters that burned (which eventually led to the end of nitrate films and finding safer alternatives to creating film).

But those who stayed would create a community and life in the 1900’s to the teens were captured on nitrate and film reels were distributed around the world but as film companies didn’t feel the need to get the reels back, Dawson City which was so remote, was the last of the distribution line for film companies.

In fact, Dawson City would receive films 2-3 years later but eventually they would have many reels that were stacked up and so, they were either burned, thrown into the river (with other garbage, showing mass pollution being thrown in the river) or buried into the soil.

But it was this discovery in 1978 that would lead to people discovering reels of silent film and news footage that have been long forgotten.  Considering that many nitrate film were lost in fires and 75% of silent film were lost, this discovery was no doubt a significant find.

And I have to applaud filmmaker Bill Morrison who was able to piece together many photos to build a timeline of Dawson City’s transformation with or without the miners, the significance of buildings, especially the pool to various buildings that were destroyed or rebuilt, to those who stayed and worked in Dawson and would become famous and also featuring those who were displaced.  And inter-spread with this historical timeline are footage from various newsreels and film that help capture society during that era (focused between 1900-1919).

Well-researched, well-presented, “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is a fantastic documentary from Bill Morrison and a true masterpiece!

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