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

June 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

gold

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

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


TITLE: Gold

FILM RELEASE: 1934

DURATION: 117 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Kino Classics

RATED: N/A

Release Date: June 14, 2016


Directed by Karl Hartl

Written by Rolf E. Vanloo

Produced by Alfred Zeisler

Music by Hans-Otto Borgmann

Cinematography by Otto Baecker, Werner Bohne, Gunther Rittau

Edited by Wolfgang Becker

Art Direction by Otto Hunte


Starring:

Hans Albers as Werner Holk

Friedrich Kaybler as Prof. Achenbach

Brigitte Helm as Florence Wills

Michael Bohnen as John Wills

Ernst Karchow as Willi Luders, alias Charlie Jenkins

Lien Deyers as Margin Moller

Eberhard Leithoff as Harris, a Technician

Rudolf Platte as Schwarz

Walter Steinbeck as Braun

Heinz Wemper as Vesitsch

Hansjoachim Buttner as Becker, the Murderer

Erich Haubmann as Secretary


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How far will Holk go to get his revenge?


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles feature optional English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gold” does not come with any English subtitles.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An entertaining film worth recommending!

 

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

June 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

codeofhonor

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

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


TITLE: Code of Honor

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 106 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

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

Release Date: July 5, 2016


Directed by Michael Winnick

Written by Michael Winnick

Produced by Ryan Noto

Co-Producer: Elias Axume

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

Cinematography by Anthony J. Rickert-Epstein

Music by Michael John Mollo

Edited by Robert A. Ferretti

Production Design: Dianne Millett


Starring:

Steven Seagal as Robert Sikes

Craig Sheffer as William Porter

James Russo as Romano

Louis Mandylor as Detective James Peterson

Griff Furst as Jerry Simon

Helena Mattsson as Keri Green

Rafael Petardi as Carlos

R.D. Call as Mayor Randolf

Michael Flynn as Captain Connely

Ileana Huxlley as Natasha


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

leamiche-a

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

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


TITLE: Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817

YEAR OF FILM: 1955

DURATION: 104 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Janus Film/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2016


Based on the Novel by Cesare Pavese

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

Screenplay by Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Michelangelo Antonioni

Collaboration by Alba De Cespedes

Story by Dorothy B. Hughes

Produced by Robert Lord

Associate Producer: Henry S. Kesler

Music by George Antheil

Cinematography by Burnett Guffrey

Edited by Viola Lawrence

Art Direction by Robert Peterson

Set Decoration by William Kiernan

Costume Design by Jean Louis


Starring:

Eleanora Rossa Drago as Clelia

Gabriele Ferzetti as Lorenzo

Franco Fabrizi as Cesare Pedoni, The Architect

Valentina Cortese as Nene

Yvonne Furneaux as Momina De Stefani

Madeleine Fischer as Rosetta Savoni

Anna Maria Pancani as Mariella

Luciano Volpato as Tony

Ettore Manni as Carlo


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


leamiche-c

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

adderall

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

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


TITLE: The Adderall Diaries

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

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

Release Date: July 5, 2016


Directed by Pamela Romanowsky

Based on the Memoir by Stephen Elliott

Screenplay by Pamela Romanowsky

Produced by James Franco, VinceJolivette, JosephMcKelheer, James Reach

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

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

Associate Producer: Ali Oremus, Matthew Shattuck

Cinematography by Bruce Thierry Cheung

Casting by Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee

Music by Michael Andrews

Edited by MarcVives

Production Design: Todd Fjelsted

Art Direction by Vanessa Riegel

Set Decoration by Graham Wichman

Costume Design by Brenda Abbandandolo


Starring:

James Franco as Stephen Elliott

Ed Harris as Neil Elliott

Amber Heard as Lana Edmond

Wilmer Valderrama as Josh

Christian Slater as Hans Reiser

Cynthia Nixon as Jen Davis

Danny Flaherty as Teenage Roger

Jim Parrack as Roger

Timothee Chalamet as Teenage Stephen

Michael Cristofer as Paul Hora


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Image courtesy of © 2016 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.


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

YEAR: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (275 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: FUNimation

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: May 17, 2016


Originally Created by Yusei Matsu

Directed by Seiji Kishi

Screenplay by Makoto Uezu

Music by Naoki Sato

Character Design by Kazuaki Morita

Art Direction by Ayumu Miyakoshi, Kazuto Shimoyama

Mechanical Design by Tomohito Hirose

Production by Lerche


Featuring the following voice talent:

Aya Suzaki/Monica Rial as Kaede Kayano

Jun Fukuyama/Sonny Strait as Koro-sensei

Mai Fuchigami/Lindsay Seidel as Nagisa Shiota

Nobuhiko Okamoto/Apphia Yu as Karma Akabane

Ayaka Suwa/Michelle Rojas as Tōka Yada

Chie Matsuura/Morgan Garrett as Megu Kataoka

Eiji Miyashita/Kyle Phillips as Sōsuke Sugaya

Fuko Saito/Terry Doty as Kirara Hazama

Hisako Kanemoto as Hinano Kurahashi

Junji Majima as Ryūnosuke Chiba

Kana Ueda as Yuzuki Fuwa

Kenta Miyake as Akira Takaoka

Kouki Harasawa as Takuya Muramatsu

Mamoru Miyano as Gakushū Asano

Manami Numakura as Rio Nakamura

Megumi Ogata as Itona Horibe

Miho Hino as Sumire Hara

Minami Tanaka as Hinata Okano

Ryo Naitou as Taiga Okajima

Ryota Ohsaka as Yūma Isogai

Saki Fujita as Jiritsu “Ritsu” Shikō Kotei Hōdai

Satomi Satou as Yukiko Kanzaki

Sayuri Yahagi as Manami Okuda

Shiho Kawaragi as Rinka Hayami

Shintarō Asanuma as Hiroto Maehara

Shinya Takahashi as Kōki Mimura

Shizuka Itou as Irina Jelavic

Sho Hayami as Gakuhō Asano

Shunsuke Kawabe as Masayoshi Kimura

Subaru Kimura as Ryōma Terasaka

Takahiro Mizushima as Kōtarō Takebayashi

Takehito Koyasu as Gastro

Tomokazu Sugita as Tadaomi Karasuma

Yoshitaka Yamaya as Tomohito Sugino

Yoshiyuki Shimozuma as Taisei Yoshida


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Rick and Morty: Season 2

SERIES RELEASE DATE: 2015

DURATION: Episodes 12-21 (220 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Adult Swim/Warner Home Video

RATED: TV M

Release Date: June 7, 2016


Originally Created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon

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

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

Produced by Ollie Green, Dan Guterman, Kenny Micka

Co-Produced: Ryan Ridley, Alex Rubens

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

Music by Ryan Elder

Edited by Lee Harting, Ken Mackenzie

Casting by Ruth Lambert, Robert McGee

Art Director: James McDermott


Featuring the following voice talent:

Justin Roiland as Rick

Chris Parnell as Jerry

Spencer Grammer as Summer

Sarah Chalke as Beth

Kari Wahlgren as Jessica

Tom Kenny as Squanchy

Maurice LaMarche as Abradoph Lincler

Phil Hendrie as Principal Vagina

Brandon Johnson as Mr. Goldenfold

Dan Harmon as Birdperson


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


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

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

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

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


What is “Rick and Morty”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The main characters of “Rick and Morty” are:

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

VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

EXTRAS:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


TITLE: Hello, My Name is Doris

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Language)

Release Date: June 14, 2016


Directed by Michael Showalter

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

Screenplay by Laura Terruso, Michael Showalter

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

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

Executive-Producer: Mauricio Betancur, Michael Showalter

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

Associate Producer: Rebecca Cammarata, Valerie Contreras

Cinematography by Brian Burgoyne

Casting bySunday Boling, Meg Norman

Music by Brian H. Kim

Edited by Robert Nassau

Production Design by Melanie Jones

Art Direction by Catherine Devaney, Eva McCarney

Set Decoration by Karuna Karmarkar

Costume Design by Rebecca Gregg


Starring:

Sally Field as Doris

Max Greenfield as John

Tyne Daly as Roz

Stephen Root as Todd

Wendi McLendon-Covey as Cynthia

Peter Gallagher as Willy Williams

Natasha Lyonne as Sally

Beth Behrs as Brooklyn

Isabella Acres as Vivian

Elizabeth Reaser as Doctor Edwards

Kumail Nanjiani as Nasir

Rebecca Wisocky as Anne Patterson

Rich Sommer as Robert


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


VIDEO:

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

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

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

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rabin, the Last Day (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Rabin, the Last Day” was constructed with a lot of thought, quite a provocative film and true but also containing a message that what happened in Israel during that time, can happen in other countries where hatred and fear start to overcome peace. An important, thought-provoking political thriller that I highly recommend!

Images courtesy of © 2015 LGM Cinema, Les Films du Worso, France 2 Cinema, Orange Studio, Agav Films. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Rabin, the Last Day

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 156 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), Hebrew with Optional English Subtitles, 5.1 Surround

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: N/A

Release Date: June 28, 2016


Directed by Amos Gitai

Written by Amos Gitai, Marie-Jose Sanselme

Produced by Cyril Colbeau-Justin, Francesco Di Silvio, Jean-Baptiste Dupont, Amos Gitai, David Kessler, Sylvie Pialat, Michael Tapuah, Laurent Truchot

Executive-Producer: Shuki Friedman, Gady Levy, Benoit Quainon

Cinematography by Eric Gautier

Casting by Ilan Moscovitch

Music by Amit Poznansky

Edit by Yuval Or

Production Design by Miguel Markin


Starring:

Yael Abecassis as Interviewer

Shimon Peres as Himself

Yitzhak Hizkiya as Head of the Commission

Pini Mittelman as Commission Member

Michael Warshaviak as Commission Member

Einat Weitzman as Commission Lawyer

Yogev Yefet as Rabin’s Assassin

Tomer Sisley as Rabin’s Driver

Ronen Keinan as Commission Lawyer

Yariv Horowitz as Doctor

Amanda Soroudi as Nurse Michal


On the evening of Saturday, November 4th, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated with three bullets at the end of a political rally in the center of Tel-Aviv. His killer, apprehended at the scene, was a 25-year-old student (and observant Jew). The following investigation reveals a frightening world that made this killing possible: a subculture of hate fueled by hysterical rhetoric, paranoia and political intrigue. In Rabin, The Last Day, acclaimed filmmaker Amos Gitai (Kadosh) masterfully combines staged re-enactments with actual news footage of the shooting (and its aftermath) to create a thought-provoking political thriller.


A powerful and provocative political thriller from filmmaker Amos Gitai (“September 11”, “Free Zone”, “Kippur”, “Kadosh”), his latest film focuses on the shocking 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The film titled “Rabin, The Last Day” was an Israeli-French docudrama that would showcase modern interviews with a re-enactments of what took place before, during and after the assassination.

And now “Rabin, The Last Day” will be released on Blu-ray in north America courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The film begins with actress Yael Abecassis (“Live and Become”, “Kadosh”, “Alila”, “Prisoners of War”) interviewing the ninth President of Israel, Shimon Peres (2007-2014) about why he admired Yitzhak Rabin and would he have accomplished more if he were still alive.

The interview then transitions to archived news footage of Prime Minister Rabin’s speech for peace and people coming out to the rallies in support for peace and the Oslo I Accord which would try to find a resolution of the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The footage would feature Rabin greeting the people and heading into his motorcade.  Overhead footage is shown near the motorcade (which then transitions from archived news footage to the film re-enactment) and then a crowd surrounding the motorcade and as the door opens for Rabin to get in the car, Israeli ultranationalist Yigal Amir coming right behind him and shooting the Prime Minister.

We watch the chaos inside the car as the security guards try to keep the Prime Minister alive as they rush into the hospital.

Meanwhile, we watch as an investigative commission are discussing the lack of security, communication breakdowns, how someone was able to film the assassination from above and interviews with the man who shot the video of Rabin’s assassination and how he was able to get into the area.  And many more unfortunate circumstances that transpired on that night.

From the confusion of supporters, the mindset of other politicians but also going a few days prior to the assassination of how his political detractors (right-wing conservatives and Likud leaders who felt the Oslo peace process was an attempt to forfeit the occupied territories) were against his pursuit for peace.

But the film would then showcase a story of political rivals of Rabin who do not agree with his plan for peace with neighboring rivals and are spiteful that instead of Jewish expansion, they see Rabin as the enemy and his political rivals and their supporters asking for Rabin’s death.

And despite the trouble, Rabin and others never expected any type of terrorism or attack and also the unfortunate planning of protecting Rabin, despite the hostile detractors wanting him dead.

“Rabin, the Last Day” delves into why Yigal Amir assassinated Rabin but most importantly how this event which took place in 1995 can serve as a warning, as violent extremists who believe its in accord to their religious beliefs, for them to exact violence.  Unfortunately a mindset which continues to this day.


VIDEO:

“Rabin, the Last Day” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The docudrama manages to blend in archived news footage with staged re-enactments effectively.  News footage of course is not crystal clear but that is to be expected.  The overall film looks good and full of detail.  Skintones look natural and picture quality is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Rabin, the Last Day” is presented in Hewbrew 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and features a lossless soundtrack that has crystal clear dialogue.  There are moments where gun shots ring so clearly and you can hear the screams of despair through the various audio channels, but for the most part, the film is a center and front-channel, dialogue driven film.

Subtitles feature optional English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Rabin, the Last Day” comes with a trailer.


When it comes to international politics, for many people living in the west, one tends to focus on the politics of their own state or country.

And for some of those who are of that ethnicity and interested in their country’s politics or for those who have a an interest in global politics, there are few moments in the world that have shocked the world.

The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was no doubt a shocking moment in politics.

Because prior to the assassination, many of us watched history happen as Rabin and Yasser Arafat, along with then-President Clinton at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony back in 1993.

In my mind, I thought at the time, it would be a hard road but how wonderful that these two opposing forces can come together and try to work towards peace.

Fast forward two years later and Rabin is dead and to learn that he was killed by an observant Jew, who killed the Prime Minister because of his belief that Rabin’s peace initiative and Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank would deny Jews their “biblical heritage which they had reclaimed by establishing settlements”.  And believed that Rabin was endangering Jewish lives.  So, he felt he had the justification to assassinate Rabin because he thought of him as a threat to Jews in those territories.

At the time, I thought it to be madness.

And watching Amos Gitai’s “Rabin, the Last Day”, not only do we get to see the mindset of Yigal Amir, but we get to see those who had opposed Rabin and how violent there extremism was.  There is no doubt that one can watch this film and find it relevant in today’s world.

Where violence is conducted on a daily basis and many of those committing the violence feel they are justified with their (mis)interpretation of religion.

But it’s one thing to watch the political rival plan out their strategy to oust Rabin, but there is a slowly building message about the madness of people who want to fight against any change, even if that change was for peace.

In a long scene, we watch as a clinical psychiatrist tries to psychoanalyze Rabin and you start to realize that the professional advice she is giving is more along her political beliefs, as she tries to make comparisons with Rabin and Hitler because of the repeated use of the word “I”.  And to her, those who use “I” is a sign of megalomania.  And we start to see everyone boil with anger as they see Rabin’s government to be satanic.

But equally frustrating is to see the neglect in protection.  There was a lapse of security, police didn’t receive clear instructions of their position, there were too much finger wagging of who was at fault.  And in the end, after watching this film, the breakdown of communication and effective planning was at fault.

And even seeing how judges react to Rabin’s death and the way they handled the overall assassination was also surprising.  For example, after the assassination, they were more intent of grilling the person who filmed the assassination versus those who planned overall security and delve into the weakness of the security detail of Rabin that day.

With that being said, it is important to say that even Rabin didn’t feel he needed the security.  The former soldier was about meeting the people and not being too detached from them.

But similar to the political atmosphere of today’s United States before the Presidential elections, as more Americans are being dissatisfied with how politicians have run with the country, it is an echo of what took place in Israel.  As those who were against Rabin’s march towards peace, are now in charge.

One of Rabin’s harshest critics during the Oslo Accord I, was the now current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (and chairman of the Likud Party) is going for his fifth term and has had success, bolstered by the escalated tensions between Israel and Palestine and his strong belief of a two-state, not a one-state solution.

As for the film, I felt that filmmaker Amos Gitai, did a wonderful job of trying to show a country divided and the political and social tensions of that moment in time.  The re-enactments and the real life archived news footage were blended together with efficacy.

I enjoyed this docudrama and political thriller because it was provocative, it does open your eyes on how sensitive things were at the time but also seeing two perspectives, from Rabin’s focus for peace, while seeing even the assassin, why he was motivated to kill Rabin.  But also seeing the vitriol of the opposition.

And for those of us not living in Israel, nor an erudite of Israeli politics, viewers may take this film as 100% fact.  I’m not familiar with Israeli politics or the sociopolitical situation and how most Israeli’s feel about the film.

So, it’s important to sift through reviews especially from Israel and see how critics respond and see where the weakness of the film is and how much does Gitai get right.  Haaretz writer, Uri Klein’s review of the film points out the weaknesses of the film, and his review gave me better insight.  And also to reading interview with Gitai around the time of the film’s release in regards to how the hate was strong and there were banners and signs all over the place (and featured in the archived news footage) to show the hate campaign that transpired during that time.

Gitai told Haaretz:

“In this Rabin government, there is a profound understanding that if you want to make peace … a real reconciliation, to construct something different, you have to be aware that the other (side) exists, that he has another vision of the conflict. 

“I think that Rabin was really the first and until now the only Israeli political figure who understood,” Gitai said. 

Overall, “Rabin, the Last Day” was constructed with a lot of thought, quite a provocative film and true but also containing a message that what happened in Israel during that time, can happen in other countries where hatred and fear start to overcome peace.

An important, thought-provoking political thriller that I highly recommend!

 

DuRaRaRa!! x2 Vol. 4 (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Durarara!! x2” is becoming more intense at the series progresses as characters are now starting to see the change in Mikado’s demeanor.  With the return of Masaomi, in order to help his friend, he must unite the former Yellow Scarves members and destroy the Dollars.  If you love action-driven anime series, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

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


TITLE: Durarara!! x 2 Volume 4

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 19-24 + OVA 13.5 (175 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex Inc.

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Release Date: May 24, 2016


Originally created by Ryohgo Narita

Directed by Takahiro Omori

Series Composition by Noboru Takagi

Music by Makoto Yoshimori

Original Creator: Ryohgo Narita

Character Design by Takahiro Kishida

Art Director: Akira Ito

Chief Animation Director: Akira Takata

Anime Production: Shuka


Featuring the voices of:

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kari Wahlgren as Celty Sturluson

Toshiyuki Toyonaga/Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado Ryūgamine

Akio Ohtsuka/Doug Stone as Shingen Kishitani

Atsumi Tanezaki/Karen Strassman as Emilia

Ayahi Takagaki/Mela Lee as Erika Karisawa

Daisuke Ono/Crispin Freeman as Shizuo Heiwajima

Hiroshi Kamiya/Johnny Yong Bosch as Izaya Orihara

Jun Fukuyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Shinra Kishitani

Kana Hanazawa/Michelle Ruff as Anri Sonohara

Kazuma Horie/David Earnest as Seiji Yagiri

Mamoru Miyano/Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi Kida

Mariya Ise/Kira Buckland as Mika Harima

Sanae Kobayashi/Bridget Hoffman as Namie Yagiri

Takaya Kuroda/Patrick Seitz as Simon Brezhnev

Takuma Terashima/Spike Spencer as Saburou Togusa

Yuuichi Nakamura/Steven Blum as Kyōhei Kadota

Yuuki Kaji/Brian Beacock as Walker Yumasaki


Izaya quietly returns to Ikebukuro and schemes a plot pulling strings of various people from the shadows. Worried that Mikado may be manipulated by Izaya, Masaomi comes back to Ikebukuro as well. But he finds out that his best friend is a different person from what he remembers… In order to save Mikado, who has gotten stuck in the darkness, Masaomi determines to gather the ex-Yellow Scarf members to crush the Dollars. Meanwhile, Izaya, while searching for “Jinnai Yodogiri” who stabbed him, incidentally finds a secret of this mysterious man and finds himself in grave danger!


Masaomi Kida, the founder of the Yellow Scarves.  And a person who left the gang he founded, vowing to never be consumed by the darkness.

But now Masaomi is back in Ikebukuro and when he sees Mikado Ryuugamine (leader of the Dollars) once again, he realizes that his good friend is no longer the same and may have been consumed by the darkness.

Masaomi tries to gather ex-Yellow Scarves members in order to crush the Dollars.

Meanwhile, Izaya Orihara searches for “Jinnai Yodogiri”, the person who stabbed him.

Find out what happens in “Durarara!! x2 vol. 4” now available on Blu-ray courtesy of Aniplex!

What is “Durarara!!” all about?

Back in 2004, light novelist Ryohgo Narita, who won a Gold Prize in the 9th Dengeki Novel Prize for “Baccano!” returned with “Durarara!!” and teaming up with illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda (known for his video game work “Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor”).

With a total of eight volumes published in Japan by ASCII Media Works (ala their Dengeki Bunko imprint), a manga adaptation would be created by Akiyo Satorigi and published in the shonen magazine “Monthly GFantasy” in 2009. The popularity of Narita’s works, especially with “Baccano!” would lead to an 26-episode animate adaptation of “Durarara!!” in January 2010 and an ongoing series in 2015 titled “Durarara!! x2”.

The anime production for “Durarara!! x2” is now by Shuka (first series was by Brains Base) and the series is directed by Takahiro Omori (“Aruna”, “Gakuen Alice”, “Kuragehime”, “Zoku Natsume Yujin-Cho”) with series composition/script by Noboru Takagi (“Baccano!”, “C”, “Koi Kaze”). Character design is by Takahiro Kishida (“Cheburashka Arere”, “Dragon Half”, “Ninja Cadets”) and art direction by Akira Ito (“Elfen Lied”, “Shadow Star Narutaru”, “Street Fighter Alpha”).

The series features an ensemble cast and their experience living in Ikebukuro, Tokyo but how their storylines are somewhat connected to each other.

Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who transfers to school from a small country town to the big city in Tokyo and his childhood friend Masaomi tries to show him the ropes of Ikebukuro, which can be dangerous as color gangs have corrupted the city.

Before the yellow scarves were the dominant gang and now on top of the gangs are a mysterious group known as the Dollars, with a leader that no one knows about, all that is known is that members are chosen and are hooked up through the Internet. But recently, there have been several deaths causes by a murderer dubbed “The Slasher” and also rumors of a headless woman riding a motorcycle.

In “Durarara!! x 2” Volume 3 (episodes 19-24), chaos continues in Ikebukuro.  But it is revealed that Mikado Ryugamine has changed completely and with the return of Masaomi (who was responsible for enticing Mikado to move to Ikebukuro), he can’t believe how his friend has changed for the worse.

Meanwhile, Izaya is now back on the scene and wanting to get more information on the person who is responsible for stabbing him.

Also, will Celty arrive in time to save Shinra who was brutally attacked?


The main characters of “Durarara!! x2” are:

  • Mikado Ryugamine – A first year high schooler who moves to Ikebukuro, Tokyo after his childhood friend Masaomi had invited him. A shy guy, Mikado is trying to learn the ropes and restart his life. He becomes a class rep and starts to follow for the female class rep, Anri and because his friend Masaomi also likes her, it becomes a bit of an interesting love triangle. Mikado just wants to change and not be normal.
  • Masaomi Kida – Mikado’s childhood friend. He seems very over-confident with girls, when actually he is not good at it. Also, he has a mysterious backgrounds and something happened to a girl he knew… Like Mikado, he also likes Anri.
  • Anri Sonohara – A girl who wears glasses and is a class rep. She is shy and timid and hangs out with Mikado and Masaomi.
  • Celty Sturluson – A headless rider who is looking for her lost head. Celty is a Dullahan from Ireland (a headless woman) who has black smoke coming out of her body. Despite being depicted as monster and killer during the old days, she has been taken in by doctor Shinra Kishitani and carries out missions. Despite not having true emotions, she feels love towards Shinra but unable to understand the feelings that she has due to not having any living DNA.
  • Shinra Kishitani – A underground doctor who lives with Celty. His father was the first to operate on Celty (in exchange of giving her a place to stay) and even was given a chance to learn how to do surgery at the age of 4. He works for corporations underground in trying to help them remove memories from people. He is also in love with Celty and is able to understand her emotions despite her not having a head. He also a childhood friend of Shizuo and Kasuka.
  • Izaya Orihara – Known as the information broker. He sells information and likes to start trouble or loves to examine human’s when they are conflicted. He is a master of using a knife and causes problems for Shizuo Heiwajima.
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – A blonde guy with a very short temper who wears a bartender suit and has enormous power. He can take a lot of pain and it is not known how he is able to have enormous strength and to heal from major injuries. He is friends with Celty, his brother Kasuka (who goes by Yuuhei Hanejima) is a popular actor in Japan and if there is anything he hates more than anything, it is Izaya Orihara. Izaya’s presence makes his blood boil so much that he ends up destroying property around him.
  • Simon Brezhnev – A Black Russian who works outside a Russian sushi restaurant. He is known for his great strength.
  • Kyohei Kadota – Also, known as “Dotachin” (a nickname that he hates), he is a member of the Dollars and leader of his group of friends which include Walker, Eri and Saburo.
  • Walker Yumasaki – A carefree otaku and manga fan who hangs out with Eri. A member of the Dollars and hangs out with Dotachin.
  • Eri Karisawa – An otaku and close friend of Walker, a member of the Dollars and Kadota’s group.
  • Saburo Togusa – A member of the Dollars and Kyohei’s driver.
  • Seiji Yagiri – A classmate of Mikado’s. He quit school to be with Mika but in truth, he is obsessed with the severed head of Celty’s that was put on Mika.
  • Namie Yagiri -The older sister of Seiji. A chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and regrets introducing her younger brother to Celty’s head and for his obsession with it. She appears to also have feelings for her younger brother. She is also responsible for the human experimentation going on in the city.
  • Mika Harima – Anri’s good friend who, for some reason, has Celty’s head. She was Seiji’s stalker and now lover. Namie wants to get her revenge on Mika because Seiji just wants to be with her fulltime. Meanwhile, Celty is looking for her (because she has her head).
  • Kasuka Heiwajima – Shizuo Heiajima’s younger brother.
  • Ruri Hijiribe – An idol singer with a mysterious past.
  • Aoba Kuronuma – A mysterious 1st year student at Raira Academy and what is his connection to the Blue Square gang?
  • Shingen Kishitani – Shingen is the father of Shinra who wears a gas mask.
  • Mairu Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin sister of Kururi. Wears glasses.
  • Kururi Orihara – Youngest sister of Izaya and twin ster of Mairu.
  • Akane Awakusu – Daughter of Mikiya and granddaughter of Dougen. Not aware her family is a powerful yakuza group.
  • Mizuki Akabayashi – A.k.a. “Red Demon”, a high-ranking member of the Awakusu Family.

VIDEO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition. I praised the first season’s animation and character design as Brain’s Base really put everything they had into the series. With Shuka now in charge, there is not much divergence because nearly the same crew behind the first series, is back for the second. Vibrant animation can be seen throughout the series thus far.

“Durara!! x 2” continues to feature great character design and wonderful art backgrounds. Art director Akira Ito and crew continues to do a magnificent job in capturing the look and feel of Ikebukuro, Tokyo. There is a slight difference in quality but Shuka did a good job.

AUDIO:

“Durarara!! x 2” is presented only with a Japanese and English Linear PCM Stereo 2.0 soundtrack. Both Japanese and English soundtracks are well-acted and with that being said, dialogue and music is crystal clear through the front channels.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Durarara!! x 2” vol. 4 comes with the following special feature:

  • OVA #13.5 – Love-Dove Clip-Clop – Featuring a date between Shinra and Celty (and various cosplay).

EXTRAS:

“Durarara!! x 2” comes with a slipcase with an illustration Takahiro Kishida (Character Design), six collectible postcards, a 16-page deluxe booklet.


With the latest episodes of “Durarara!! x2”, the chaos in Ikebukuro continues.  But most importantly, we finally get to see the characters starting to see the changes that are taking place with Mikado.

As Masaomi has returned to Ikebukuro, he discovers that Mikado was in the bad place that he was once in.  Consumed by the darkness, Masaomi has vowed to never let that happen again.  But now, seeing the corruption of Mikado, he knows that he must destroy the dollars and unite his former ex-Yellow Scarves members to make it happen and somehow help Mikado.

There is also another storyline that involves Izaya searching for “Jinnai Yodogiri”, the person who stabbed him.  Also, a storyline plus an extra OAV for those who are fans of Celty and Shinra.

As for the Blu-ray release, the original crew is back but while produced by Shuka, overall quality for the series is still good. Colors are vibrant in HD and you get an LPCM 2.0 Japanese and English soundtrack. Once again, the English dub for “Durarara!!” is awesome and very well-done. I was enjoying the Japanese soundtrack but after watching the English dub track, everything fits and each voice actor that was cast is perfect for the role they play.

As mentioned, you do get an episode 13.5 OVA but you also get the Aniplex swag of six postcards and a deluxe 16-page booklet as well.

Overall, “Durarara!! x2” is becoming more interesting as the series continues. Some may find the large cast of characters to be a bit much, but similar to other series with large casts (ie. “Bleach”, “Naruto”), these characters do tie-in to the storyline and you really can’t miss an episode because of that.

But it’s a series that you need to stick with it, watch the storyline gradually reveal itself from episode to episode and you’ll start to realize how awesome “Durarara!! x2” really is!

With the fourth volume of “Durarara!! x2”, this ends the second chapter, while the next volume will kick off the third chapter.

If you love action, “Durarara!! x2” is recommended!

Get a Job (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

getajob

“Get a Job” is simply a bad film with a talented cast.  While I enjoyed it more than the 2008 film “Strange Wilderness” (which is the worst film I have ever watched and reviewed), I only recommend this film if you enjoy stoner comedies or are big fans of the talent that are in the film. 

Images courtesy of © 2016 CBS Films. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Get a Job

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 84 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Crude and Sexual Content, Nudity, Drug Use and Language)

Release Date: June 14, 2016


Directed by Dylan Kidd

Screenplay by Kyle Pennekamp, Scott Turpel

Produced by Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher

Executive-Producer: Tracy McGrath, Josh Rothstein

Cinematography by David Hennings

Casting by Sarah Finn

Music by Jonathan Sadoff

Production Design by Marcia Hinds

Art Direction by Jason Zev Cohen

Set Decoration by Cindy Coburn

Costume Design by Christine Wada


Starring:

Anna Kendrick as Jillian Stewart

Alison Brie as Tanya

Miles Teller as Will Davis

Bryan Cranston as Roger Davis

Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Ethan

Nicholas Braun as Charlie

Marcia Gay Harden as Katherine Dunn

John C. McGinley as Diller

John Cho as Brian Bender

Greg Germann as Fernando

Jorge Garcia as Fernando

Cameron Richardson as Tara

Brandon T. Jackson as Luke

Bruce Davison as Lawrence Wilheimer


Miles Teller (The Divergent Series Franchise) and Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect 1 & 2) lead an all-star cast in the laugh-out-loud comedy Get a Job, available on June 14 on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital), and Digital HD from Lionsgate. The fresh and wickedly funny film is currently available On Demand. Following the struggles facing a group of college graduates as they navigate through a tough economy, Get a Job also stars Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder), Nicholas Braun (How to Be Single), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), Alison Brie (TV’s “Community”), Marcia Gay Harden (TV’s “Code Black”),and Academy Award® nominee Bryan Cranston (Best Actor, Trumbo, 2015).

How far would you go to get a job? Recent college grads Will (Teller) and Jillian (Kendrick) desperately want to become a power couple — but first they have to get jobs! When work prospects threaten to strand Will and Jillian in entry-level hell, Will starts thinking out of the box — and hatches a hilarious assault on the job market.


From Dylan Kidd (director of “Roger Dodger” and “P.S.”) and writers Kyle Pennekamp and Scott Turpel comes the stoner comedy, “Get a Job”.

Originally made back in 2012, the film had gone through problematic distribution issues and would not be released until March 2016 via a limited release and video on demand.  And now, “Get a Job” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in June 2016.

The film would feature an ensemble cast starring Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect” films, “Up in the Air”, “Into the Woods”), Alison Brie (“Community”, “The Five-Year Engagement”, “Get Hard”), Miles Teller (“Whiplash”, “The Spectactular Now”, “Fantastic Four”, “Divergent”), Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”, “Argo”, “Drive”, “Malcolm in the Middle”), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad”, “Kick-Ass”, “Role Models”), Nicholas Braun (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, “Red State”, “The Watch”, “The Stanford Prison Experiment”), Marcia Gay Harden (“Into the Wild”, “Mystic River”, “The Mist”), John C. McGinley (“Scrubs”, “Platoon”, “Se7en”, “The Rock”), John Cho (“American Beauty”, “Star Trek”, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”), Greg Germann (“Ally McBeal”, “Here Comes the Boom”, “Sweet November”), Jorge Garcia (“Lost”, “Hawaii Five-0”, “The Ridiculous 6”, “The Wedding Ringer”) and Brandon T. Jackson (“Tropic Thunder”, “Fast & Furious”, “Percy Jackson” films).

The film revolves around Miles Teller (portrayed by Will Davis), a YouTube video editor who just graduated from college along with his girlfriend Jillian Stewart (portrayed by Anna Kendrick).

For Miles, life is kickback as he and his buddies Charlie (portrayed by Nicholas Braun, playing a character who wants to become a teacher), Ethan (portrayed by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, a programmer who is creating an app that enables one to stalk people) and Luke (portrayed by Brandon T. Jackson, a character who is getting his feet wet in working for a corporate environment) enjoy playing video games, drinking alcohol and doing recreational drugs.

Miles expects his entry to a career after college will be easy as he is expecting a job with LA Weekly, a place where he had interned as a video editor.  And for the most part, his parents, especially his father Roger (portrayed by Bryan Cranston) is proud of him.

But Miles learns that life is not that easy.  He finds out that the job at LA Weekly is not going to happen and hoping for financial support from his parents, finds out his father was fired from his job.

And while Miles applies for job, his carefree and creative attitude tends to get in the way as he quickly learns that finding a job is not easy.  And the same can be said for his father Roger, who is older and trying to get a job and compete with younger people.

But Miles also finds it difficult to get a job because of his drug use and he needs to get a drug tests for a major corporate job  for Lawrence Wilheimer (portrayed by Bruce Davidson) and work with the flirty Tanya (portrayed by Alison Brie) and his strict and controlling boss, Katherine Dunn (portrayed by Marcia Gay Harden), who could care less about his style.

But Miles must learn if finding a job that pays well is important or finding a job that doesn’t pay as well but allows him to be creative is more important.


VIDEO:

“Get a Job” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The film looks vibrant in outdoor scenes and is full of detail.  I didn’t notice any problems with overall picture quality and “Get a Job” looks very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Get a Job” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and features a lossless soundtrack that has crystal clear dialogue and music, while surround channels are more for ambiance.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Get a Job” comes with the following special features:

  • Video Resume Outtakes – (2:57) Interviews with the cast of the film.
  • Where It All Began: The Cast of GET A JOB – (6:56) The cast and crew talk about the film and the characters.

EXTRAS:

“Get A Job” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code.


No one wants to see a film fail especially with a talented cast.

But “Get a Job” is one of the worst films I have watched in the last five years.

When I read that “Get a Job” was made in 2012 and then released in 2016, typically a delay of a film is not a good sign.

And it was even more surprising to believe that a film that would star popular talent such as Anna Kendick, Miles Teller, Bryan Cranston, Marcia Gay Harden, Brandon T. Jackson, Nicholas Braun, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and many others, would not be released.

But nevertheless, I tend to find some enjoyment from a film that typically receives negative reviews and “Get a Job” was a film that tries to capture the post-graduation from college angst with stoner film comedy.

For the most part, I think there are many people who can relate to the character of Will.  Graduating from college, thinking you will score a wonderful job and then finding out that all was not all that it seems.

In his case, he is a YouTube creator that has become popular for creating crazy, non-traditional types of video but as we all know, only so many people can succeed and become profitable for many years under that platform.  And as creative as he is, his thoughts like most people who are talented is that companies would welcome that creativity and exploit it.

But Will quickly learns that they like his skillset but they want him to abide to their corporate boilerplate without straying away from that concept.  And that is difficult for him as he has a boss that is strict, wants him to become professional and he quickly needs to grow up as his father has become unemployed and his girlfriend, who also is having similar issues of thinking she has a job that will be there forever, unfortunately doesn’t happen.

And while I enjoyed that aspect of the film, the film tries to hard to incorporate things that make it a stoner film but ends up hurting the film.  For example, the character of Charlie (portrayed by Nicholas Braun) is a hardcore pothead.  He must teach a class chemistry and has them toasting his food for them and he becomes the coach of the boy’s basketball team and often using profanity towards the young children.  Personally, I found this to be poor taste.

The other involves Ethan (portrayed by Christopher Mintz-Plasse) playing a character that creates an app that allows people to stalk someone.  Even in 2012 with privacy issues for cell phones and stalking, the concept is ill-planned and ridiculous.  Granted, there is a purpose for this app in the film and how it would be used, but still, it’s an ill-conceived storyline.  Sure, Mintz-Plasse is known for playing these crazy characters, but the overall concept doesn’t work.

And then you have Luke (portrayed by Brandon T. Jackson) who is a person trying to make it in the business world and his boss tells him to prove himself by drinking jizz from an animal in front of his co-workers.  Obviously going for that gag comedy scene to be hilarious and make people gag, it is ineffective and further enforces the ridiculous nature of this film.

But there are things in the film that are funny and plausible that made me laugh, but for the most part, “Get a Job” doesn’t do anything to enhance the careers of the star talent featured.  If anything, the film was created before many of the younger talent became popular and went on to create big budget or critically acclaimed films and I can see why the film had distribution problems and took four years to be released.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good as outdoor scenes are vibrant and features great detail.  While lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and surround channels utilized more for ambiance.  You also get a few special features included as well.

Overall, “Get a Job” is simply a bad film with a talented cast.  While I enjoyed it more than the 2008 film “Strange Wilderness” (which is the worst film I have ever watched and reviewed), I only recommend this film if you enjoy stoner comedies or are big fans of the talent that are in the film.

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