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Gilda – The Criterion Collection #795 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Gilda” should be watched, not only because of Rita Hayworth but watched as a well-done noir film that manages to have a great balance of acting and cinematography. And is no doubt a shining gem of Hollywood film noir. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Gilda – The Criterion Collection #795

YEAR OF FILM: 1946

DURATION: 110 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, black and white/color-tinted, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: January 19, 2016


Directed by Charles Vidor

Story by E.A. Ellington

Adaptation by Jo Eisinger

Screenplay by Marion Parsonnet

Produced by Virginia Van Upp

Cinematography by Rudolph Mate

Edited by Charles Nelson

Art Direction by Stephen Gooson, Van Nest Polglase

Set Decoration by Robert Priestley


Starring:

Rita Hayworth as Gilda Mundson Farrell

Glenn Ford as Johnny Farrell/Narrator

George Macready as Ballin Mundson

Joseph Calleia as Dt. Maurice Obregon

Steven Geray as Uncle Pio

Jow Sawyer as Casey

Gerald Mohr as Capt. Delgado

Mark Roberts as Gabe Evans

 


“Gilda, are you decent?” Rita Hayworth tosses her hair back and slyly responds, “Me?” in one of the great star entrances in movie history. Gilda, directed by Charles Vidor, features a sultry Hayworth in her most iconic role, as the much-lusted-after wife of a criminal kingpin (George Macready), as well as the former flame of his bitter henchman (Glenn Ford), and she drives them both mad with desire and jealousy. An ever-shifting battle of the sexes set on a Buenos Aires casino’s glittering floor and in its shadowy back rooms, Gilda is among the most sensual of all Hollywood noirs.


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Rita Hayworth, one of the most popular actress in America, a sex symbol who would win audiences with her performance in the 1946 film “Gilda” and would have a career that featured 61 films shot in 37 years.

Known in her earlier years as Rita Cansino, the half Spanish and half actress was born in a family full of entertainers.  Her father was a flamenco dancer, her mother was an original Zeigfeld girl, her parents were a source for her to pursue acting and dancing.  Father and daughter would become the “The Dancing Cansinos” and she would eventually catch the eye of the head of the Fox Film Corporation, Winfield Sheehan and Rita was signed to a short-term contract.

Because of her Spanish look, studios were not reluctant to hire her, so Rita would go through several procedures to change herself and when she returned to screen test for Columbia Pictures, the actress who now had red hair and would change her name to Rita Hayworth (her mother’s maiden name) would make her brand new return in 1939 and eventually would get a small but yet important part in the Cary Grant film “Only Angels Have Wings”.  And eventually, her career would blossom from then on.

In fact, during World War II, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable would become the popular pin-up girls for military serviceman.  She also had a “no nudity” policy which boosted her popularity during the 1940′s and by 1944, Hayworth was the big box office star in Hollywood.

And her 1946 film “Gilda” is considered as Rita Hayworth’s best film that she has starred in and regarded by cinema fans as one of the sexiest noir films ever created.

As the film was remastered and restored in 2013, the film will now debut in HD via Blu-ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection in January 2016.

“Gilda” would feature director Charles Vidor (who worked with Hayworth in “Cover Girl” and would feature a story by E.A. Ellington, a screenplay by Marion Parsonnet and adaptation by Jo Eisenger.  The cinematography was done by the highly respected Rudolph Maté who worked with Carl Th. Dreyer films “The Passions of Joan of Arc” (1928) and “Vampyr” (1932), costume designer Jean Louis and choreographer “Jack Cole” and feature the vocals of Anita Ellis (note: Rita Hayworth’s singing vocals were always dubbed).

“Gilda” is a film narrated by gambler named Johnny Farrell (played by Glenn Ford).  Johnny recounts the time he moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and how he won a lot of money by cheating in craps.  After collecting his winnings, Johnny is nearly robbed by a gunman until Ballin Mundson (played by George Macready) saves him.  Ballin tells him that there is an illegal high-class casino in the area but he should never use his cheating skills there.

Johnny doesn’t listen and ignores his advice and cheats while playing Blackjack and wins again.  But as quickly as he wins, he is caught by men working at the casino and is taken to meet their boss, who happens to be Ballin.  Ballin tells Johnny that he warned him.    Before anything can happen to him, Johnny tries to show his worth to Ballin by beating up one of his men and telling him that with his skills, he can protect the casino and eventually leads to Ballin hiring Johnny to be his right-hand man at the casino.  And everyone appears to be impressed by Johnny, with the exception of Uncle Pio (played by Steven Geray), the washroom attendant who is not afraid to call Johnny a “peasant”.

As business is going well and Johnny is well-liked by his boss, when Ballin returns from a business trip, he surprises Johnny by telling him that he has married a woman named Gilda (played by Rita Hayworth).  A woman who was Johnny’s girlfriend from the past and is surprised that she is back in his life, albeit being the wife of his boss.  And to make things even more difficult is that Johnny must watch over her and complicating matters even further, Gilda knows how to press Johnny’s buttons by flirting with men.

For Ballin, he can sense that Gilda despises Johnny but also that Johnny despises her.  Unaware the two knew each other long ago, he is puzzled why the two have hostilities towards each other.

Meanwhile, two German men have paid a visit to Ballin and want their money.  The men and Ballin have worked together on a project financing a tungsten cartel and to avoid being detected by authorities, everything is under Ballin’s name.  and now both men want ownership of the project which Ballin is unwilling to concede.

As Argentinian government agent Obregon (played by Joseph Calleia) is investigating the matter and thinks that Johnny may know if there is a connection between Ballin and the German men, during a party, one of the German’s end up dead (actually killed by Ballin).

As Johnny goes to find Ballin and tell him about the death of the man, he encounters Gilda and the two get into a heated argument of why they hate each other so much.  But while doing so, the two end up kissing each other and hear a knock.  Both realize that Ballin must have seen them kiss.

From that day forward, the lives of Johnny and Gilda will never be the same.


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VIDEO:

“Gilda” is presented in 1:33:1 black and white and in 1080p High Definition.   Although over 65-years-old, the film is a sexy noir film that looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray!

The film was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in cooperation with Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Library of Contress and The National Film and Television Archive (U.K.).

According to the Criterion Collection, “The new high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit DataCine film scanner from a 35 mm fine-grain master made from the original camera negative”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Gilda” is presented in LPCM 1.0 monaural.

 

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35 mm soundtrack negative.  Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 4.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Gilda – The Criterion Collection #795” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Richard Schickel.  Richard Schickel is a film critic for Time Magazine, writer and documentary filmmaker.  His commentary is very informative.
  • Martin Scorcese and Baz Luhrmann on “Gilda” – (16:05) Director Martin Scorsese talks about the allure of Rita Hayworth and growing up watching “Gilda” while filmmaker Baz Luhrmann talks about how wonderful the scenes are and how he tried to capture parts of “Gilda” in his film “Moulin Rouge”.
  • “Hollywood and the Stars: The Odyssey of Rita Hayworth'” – (25:11) A 1964 episode of “Hollywood and the Stars” about Rita Hayworth and her career.
  • Eddie Muller – (22:14) Featuring an interview with film noir historian Eddie Muller.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer – (2:11) The original theatrical trailer for “Gilda”.

EXTRAS:

“Gilda – The Criterion Collection #795” comes with a poster of Rita Hayworth on one side and the essay “The Long Shadow of Gilda” by Sheila O’Malley.


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I don’t anyone who has disliked “Gilda”, for the most part, everyone I have talked to, have all discussed how Rita Hayworth literally captured our attention from her first appearance in the film when she lifts her head and you see the popular hair toss scene.  Hayworth radiates onscreen.

And while she gives a strong performance throughout the film, it’s those certain scenes, for example, when she performs her famous nightclub song with her dark blue gown that literally grabs your attention, demands your attention and literally, you are seduced by her beauty and sexuality. “Gilda” was a film that further builds upon Hayworth’s WWII pinup status and shows us that she’s more than just a woman who can dance, but she’s also an actress that can give one hell of an emotional performance.

Hayworth not only succeeds in playing the female fatale, there is just this confidence that you see onscreen and Hayworth ultimately shines.  Confidence, vulnerability, sexiness, depressed..

Glenn Ford is the anti-hero Johnny Farrel and similar to when James Cagney shoves a grapefruit on his wife’s face, when Johnny slaps Gilda, you know this is a man that is knows nothing but harsh realities.  He is a man that is not to be trusted but nor is Gilda.  Brash, confident, consumed by his love for Gilda to the point that he despises her.

These two characters have much more in common with each other, flawed individuals who despise each other but at the same time, have this intense chemistry that yearns for each other.

In most cases, the screenplay could have fared worse if another actress or actor was cast.  “Gilda” was a film in which I am unable to picture anyone else (if the film was shot a decade later, then possibly Marilyn Monroe) but it’s a film that succeeds because of Hayworth but also the wonderful direction of Charles Vidor, the beautiful cinematography by Rudolph Mate, along with costume and set design.  There is no doubt even 64-years later that “Gilda” is one of the sexiest noir films out there that easily stands out amongst the many noir films ever created not just in the U.S. but one of the finest films created during that time around the world.  And in 2010, this film still is captivating now as it was then.

As for this new Blu-ray release, not only do you get a newly restored version of the film and yes, Hayworth’s musical performance of “Put the Blame on Mame” looks and sounds wonderful in HD.  It’s one of the more recognized scenes in the film and it’s great to finally watch it in HD!

“Gilda” doesn’t suffer the DNR that the original first DVD release had received.  In fact, the Blu-ray release features sharper and more detailed picture quality as grays and whites are well-contrast and black levels are nice and deep.  The monaural soundtrack doesn’t have any issues as dialogue is clear and no sound of warping, hiss or crackle.

As for special features,  included is an audio commentary by Richard Schickel and a featurette by Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann.  Compared to the 2013 Sony Pictures DVD release, the Criterion Collection Blu-ray features two more special features such as the 1964 episode of the TV show “Hollywood and the Stars” and an interview with film noir historian Eddie Muller.

Overall, “Gilda” is the film that turned me on to Rita Hayworth and like many other viewers throughout the decades, have just fallen in love with Rita Hayworth and her magnificent performance in the film.  “Gilda” doesn’t have a magnificent storyline but what it does feature are complexities between two individuals who probably came from the wrong side of town and someway they found each other before.  And of course, it’s that buil-up of sexual tension is what captures us from beginning to end.

“Gilda” should be watched, not only because of Rita Hayworth but watched as a well-done noir film that manages to have a great balance of acting and cinematography.   And is no doubt a shining gem of Hollywood film noir.

Recommended!

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Marie Heller’s “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is a unique and entertaining film about sexual discovery and features an amazing performance by Bel Powley.  Definitely a film worth checking out!

Image courtesy of (C) 2015 Diary the Movie, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 102 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:42:1 Aspect Ratio), English, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description Track, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Strong Sexual Content including dialogue, graphic nudity, drug use, language)

Release Date: January 19, 2016


Based on the Novel by Phoebe Gloeckner

Directed by Marielle Heller

Screenplay by Marielle Heller

Executive Producers: Amanda Marshall, Amy Nauiokas, Michael Sagol, Jorma Taccone

Produced by Miranda Bailey, Anne Carey, Bert Hamelinck, Madeline Samit

Co-Producer: Debbie Brubaker, Corentine De Saedeleer

Associate Producer: Shani Geva

Music by Nate Heller

Cinematography by Brandon Trost

Edited by Marie-Helene Dozo, Koen Timmerman

Casting by Nina Henninger

Production Design by Jonah Markowitz

Art Direction by Emily K. Rolph

Set Decoration by Susan Alegria

Costume Design by Carmen Grande


Starring:

Bel Powley as Minnie

Kristen Wiig as Charlotte

Abby Wait as Gretel

Alexander Skarsgard as Monroe

Miranda Bailey as Andrea

Carson D. Mell as Michael Cocaine

John Parsons as Burt

Madeleine Waters as Kimmie

Austin Lyon as Ricky Wasserman

Quinn Nagle as Chuck

Willie as Domino the Cat


In 1976 San Francisco, Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is growing up at the crossroads of the fading hippie movement and the dawn of punk rock. Like most teenage girls, Minnie is longing for love, acceptance and a sense of purpose in the world. Minnie begins a complex love affair with her mother’s (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend, “the handsomest man in the world,” Monroe Rutherford (Alexander Skarsgård). What follows is a sharp, funny and provocative account of one girl’s sexual and artistic awakening, without judgment.


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From actress/filmmaker Marielle Heller (“MacGruber”, “A Walk Among the Tombstones”) comes  her indie directorial debut “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”.

Having won various awards including “Best New Filmmaker” at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, “Best Feature Film” and the “Berlin International Film Festival” and more.

The film stars Bel Powley (“A Royal Night Out”, “Side by Side”), Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”, “The Martian”, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”), Alexander Skarsgaard (“True Blood”, “Battleship”, “Generation Kill”, “Melancholia”), Christopher Meloni (“Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”, “Man of Steel”, “42”, “Bound”) and Abby Wait.

And now “The Diary of the Teenage Girl” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The coming-of-age film is set in 1976 and begins with an introduction to Minnie (portrayed by Bel Powley) and is often thinking about wanting to lose her virginity, but at the same time, having esteem issues of feeling that she is unattractive.

Minnie and her young sister Gretal (portrayed by Abigail Wait) live with their Bohemian mother Charlotte (portrayed by Kristen Wiig).  And Charlotte is often partying with her boyfriend Monroe Rutherford (portrayed by Alexander Skarsgard) and often drunk or on drugs.

As Minnie is an inspiring cartoonist, she is inspired by cartoonist Aline Kominsky.  And as she starts to hang out with Monroe, she does all she can to attract him and make him have sex with her.  But after sex, she often wonders if there is more to the sex and is wanting to have more with Monroe, despite him being his mother’s boyfriend.

But as Minnie wants to learn more about her sexuality, will this sexual fling with her mother’s boyfriend continue and for how long?  And through these experiences, what will Minnie discover about herself?


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VIDEO:

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).

The film features a combination of the film and animated scenes (often when Minnie is thinking and recording herself) but overall picture quality is good.  Because the film tries to energetic a look to the past, where intentional softness is used in the film to make the setting of the ’70s feel realistic.

For the most part, picture quality is good and I didn’t notice any issues with artifacts.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is presented in English and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The film is primarily dialogue and music score driven with surround channels more geared towards the ambiance.  But overall audio is crystal clear.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Audio commentary with director Marie Heller, actress Bel Powley and actor Alexander Skarsgard.
  • Deleted Scenes – (5:25) Featuring three deleted scenes.
  • Marielle’s Journey: Bringing the Diary to Life – (23:07) How the novel became a film and interviews with director Marie Heller and the cast.
  • Q&A with Marielle Heller, Alexander Skarsgard and Bel Powley – (25:19) Q&A from the Los Angeles Film Festival.
  • Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

EXTRAS:

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” comes with a slipcover and Ultraviolet code.


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Far often, the majority of the films dealing with coming-of-age revolve around boys discovering love and also their sexuality.

With “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”, the film focuses on a female perspective and it’s perhaps a film that genuinely feels natural, neither unnatural and literally explores the character of Minnie and the self-esteem issues of her body and her thoughts about sex.

With the backdrop of the mid-’70s and the exploration of sexuality of a young woman, Bel Powley’s performance of a young woman wanting to have a sexual connection with her mother’s boyfriend is rather interesting.  Especially knowing that things are not going to go as well when caught.

Actor Alexander Skarsgard does a wonderful job of playing the role of Minnie’s attraction, but also her mother’s boyfriend.  A person that lives a bohemian lifestyle where everything goes and life is pretty much drinking, doing drugs and partying, he’s a person without true boundaries.

Kristen Wiig does a fine job in a non-comedy role and showing us that she can do serious character roles (2015 also featured Kristen Wiig in a serious role for “Nasty Baby”), but for this film, a mother who also lives a bohemian lifestyle, loving to party, drink and do drugs in front of her children.  But starts to notice her boyfriend’s attention towards her oldest daughter.

I do commend director Marielle Heller and crew for creating a film in 24 days in San Francisco on such a small budget.  The film looks great but I also enjoy the fact that she was determined on creating a film after enjoying the original book and remaining persistent in getting the rights for the film adaptation and exploring a young woman’s sexual and artistic discovery.

It’s a story which many of us can relate to.  Feelings of inadequacy, feelings of self-doubt and also those awkward moments which we have experienced in our life.  If anything, the performances sold the film and no doubt made this film much more enjoyable for me.

As for the Blu-ray release, as the film utilizes a bit of softness in order to create a ’70s atmosphere, picture quality is good and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Also, includes are informative featurettes including an entertaining LA Film Festival Q&A and audio commentary.

Overall, Marie Heller’s “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is a unique and entertaining film about sexual discovery and features an amazing performance by Bel Powley.  Definitely a film worth checking out!

The Last Naruto the Movie (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“The Last Naruto the Movie” is the best Naruto film that I have watched and a storyline that I have waited more than decade to see happen. It’s also an important film that transitions to the next generation of Masashi Kishimoto’s next work. “Good things come for those who wait” and for Naruto fans, “The Last Naruto the Movie” is a story that was a long time coming but for many fans who have waited for a Naruto/Hinata storyline, will absolutely enjoy this film!

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Last Naruto the Movie

MOVIE RELEASE DATE: 2014

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: October 6, 2015


Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Director: Tsuneo Kobayashi

Screenplay: Maruo Kyozuka

Music by -yaiba-, Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Masashi Kishimoto, Tetsuya Nishio

Background Art: Akemi Konno

Anime Production: Studio Pierrot


Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuga

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Satoshi Hino/Ben Diskin as Sai

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Jun Fukuyama as Toneri Osutsuki

Showtaro Morikubo as Shikamaru Nara

Ai Hashizume as Kaede the Kunoichi

Arisa Shida/Robbie Daymond as Tenmonkata

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Kakashi Hatake

Keiko Nemoto/Megan Hollingshead as Shizune

Masako Katsuki/Debi Mae West as Tsunade

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Ryoka Yuzuki Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Hanabi Huga/Ino Yamanaka

Hisao Egawa/Catero Colbert as Killer Bee


Two years have passed since the fated battle between Naruto and Sasuke in the Village Hidden in the Leaves. A comfortable peace has fallen over the village and the winter festival approaches with a bit more excitement than usual. Seasons of war have transformed Naruto and his friends into elite young warriors, but now they grow into the adults they were meant to be, forming bonds beyond friendship. Naruto and Hinata approach this next stage with trepidation and find their progress stalled when a mysterious and dangerous man appears with a disturbing message: the end of the world is upon them. Once again Naruto and his friends are sent to investigate and stop the impossible, a falling moon! What is the tragic fate that connects this disaster with Hinata’s Hyuga Clan? And to what lengths will Naruto go to speak the words that will change his life? The Last is the final story of Naruto as you knew him, the hero who was once an outcast, and the first chapter of the bond that will define his future.


DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE ENDING OF THE MANGA SERIES, AS “THE LAST NARUTO THE MOVIE” INCLUDES MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!

For many fans of the “Naruto” manga and anime series, we have watched Naruto grow from a young boy trying to fit in and dreams of becoming hokage.  And we have seen him change the hearts of many people, friend and foe.

Since the early “Naruto” episodes, there has been one character that has always been willing to be there for him, to die for him and has had nothing but unconditional love for him… and that character is Hinata Hyuga.

In November 2014, the manga series came to an end and with that final chapter, we see a glimpse of the future as characters that we have watched when they were youngsters, have now grown up to become parents with children.

As the series will now go to the next chapter featuring Naruto and Hinata’s young son, Boruto, there were questions of how Naruto and Hinata ended up together.

And so the final Naruto film titled “The Last Naruto the Movie” will answer that question and the film was released on Blu-ray+DVD courtesy of Viz Media.

“The Last Naruto the Movie” takes place two years after the events of the Fourth Shinobi War.  Many of the characters have matured, Naruto has become famous, Kakashi has become the Sixth Hokage and still, Hinata Hyuga has watched Naruto from afar.  Trying to build her confidence to give Naruto a scarf.

We see from a flashback of Hinata’s first encounter with Naruto, when they were young children and Naruto coming to her Hinata’s defense, as she was bullied by other youngsters because of her byakugan ability.  And a brash young Naruto, coming to her defense and getting beaten up and his scarf laying in tatters.  Hinata has kept that scarf and now as an adult, in her free time, has tried knitting one exactly like the one he had.

But with many of the village’s young ladies wanting to be with him and Naruto now sporting a new scarf, Hinata is not sure if she can give him the scarf and tell him how he really feels about her.

Meanwhile, the moon that Hagoromo Otsutsuki created long ago to seal away the Ten-Tails’ body begins to descent towards the earth and the moon has now become a meteor that can destroy everything upon impact.

It is revealed that the person responsible is Toneri Otsutsuki, a descendant of Hamura Otsutsuki and is dedicated to fulfill his ancestor’s legacy to punish mankind for using chakra as weapons throughout the course of time.

But as Hinata is unable to give him the gift, Toneri infiltrates Konoha and kidnaps Hinata’s younger sister Hanabi, but Naruto manages to prevent him from kidnapping Hinata.  But Toneri gives him a warning that he is coming back to get Hinata.

Due to the severity of the mission, Kakashi sends Shikamaru, Naruto, Hinata, Sakura and Sai on a mission to rescue Hanabi and prevent the planet from being destroyed by the moon.

As the group goes on their mission, they journey through the village of the Otsutsuki clan and through there, Naruto somehow enters Hinata’s memories and sees all the moments in time when Hinata was there for him and realizes for the first time, that Hinata has always wanted to be by his side since they were children.

What happens when Naruto discovers Hinata’s true feelings?  Can each of them prevent the world from being destroyed and beat Toneri Otsutsuki?

Find out in “The Last Naruto the Movie”!


 

VIDEO:

“The Last Naruto the Movie” tends to have this look that is appropriate for television, but for a summer movie in Japan, you expect better, detailed artistic backgrounds and the good news is that is what you get with this film. Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), the film looks absolutely vibrant. From Naruto’s transformation to the overall character designs and closeups, there is a lot of detail in the artwork.

I detected no artifacts during my viewing of the film, nor did I see any banding. Colors are vibrant, black levels are perfect and the artistic backgrounds look so gorgeous. A lot of detail in the trees, the ground, as well as the scenery.

For Viz Media’s first anime film on Blu-ray, the film looks absolutely great in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Last Naruto the Movie” is presented in English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0. And once again, I applaud Viz Media for giving anime fans a wonderful lossless soundtrack!

This is an immersive soundtrack. It’s one thing to have clear dialogue and music coming from the center and front channels, but because of the non-stop action and explosions galore, there are great directional sounds that are panning from left to right and right to left through the surround channels.

In fact, there are many moments where the LFE just sounds magnificent as you can hear and feel those explosions around you. This is an immersive soundtrack and because it is a film, they really went all out in making this film sound fantastic in HD! Impressive!

Similar to a series like “Dragon Ball Z”, with “Naruto”, I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It’s well done and the voices fit the characters very well. Especially Maile Flanagan’s Naruto Uzumaki. Personally, I didn’t think there would be a voice actor that could capture Junko Takeuchi’s Naruto vocals and sure enough, Flanagan does a great job. And I have watched the series in Japanese and English and for the most part, voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Last Naruto the Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Japanese Commercial Videos
  • Japanese Promotional Videos
  • Japanese Movie Trailers
  • Art Gallery

EXTRAS:

“Naruto: Special Episode ~After the Last~” two-page manga by Masashi Kishimoto featuring Naruto and Hinata’s first date.


DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE ENDING OF THE MANGA SERIES, AS “THE LAST NARUTO THE MOVIE” INCLUDES MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!

I have had the pleasure to grow up and watch “Naruto” since the first anime episode came out and to later read the manga series once it became available in the United States.

I have watched and reviewed a good number of “Naruto” films but watching “The Last Naruto the Movie”, I’m confident to say that this film is the best “Naruto” film I have watched.

And I enjoyed it even more, because the film has relevance in the Naruto storyline as it shows viewers of how Naruto and Hinata became a couple and also transitioning to them being parents of two children and having a son named Boruto, who will now become the focus of the next series and animated film in Japan.

While the films have had their own share of deadly antagonists, personally, I felt that Toneri was a worthy foe but in the concept of why this film was being made and so many people grew up watching “Naruto” and have waited for over a decade to see if Naruto would finally open his eyes to Hinata and not recognizing it due to his naivety, this film and its story was a long time coming.

The writers took great care in making sure they crafted a storyline and while you get a lot of action, the storyline is romantic and will no doubt leave some in tears (of joy).  And it’s probably one of the most memorable and enjoyable musical scores I have listened to from a “Naruto” film.

And I highly recommend those who watch this film, to watch through the credits and also what happens after the credits.

So, when it comes to this review as a fan, I absolutely loved this film and felt that it was a storyline that I have been waiting for over a decade to see happen.

In a way, it’s hard to believe that the series has come to an end and to see Naruto and friends now grown up but finally seeing how these two get together.  And the great news is that this was not some story that Masashi Kishimoto didn’t approve of, because not only did he have interaction in this film, but included with this Blu-ray release is a two-page manga by Masashi titled “Naruto: Special Episode ~After the Last~” featuring Naruto and Hinata’s first date.

And like previous Blu-ray releases for “Naruto” films, the animation is vibrant and looks fabulous in HD.  The lossless audio and voice acting for both Japanese and English dub is excellent.  And you also get the Japanese promotional video and commercials as well!

Overall, “The Last Naruto the Movie” is the best Naruto film that I have watched and a storyline that I  have waited more than decade to see happen.  It’s also an important film that transitions to the next generation of Masashi Kishimoto’s next work.

“Good things come for those who wait” and for Naruto fans, “The Last Naruto the Movie” is a story that was a long time coming but for many fans who have waited for a Naruto/Hinata storyline, will absolutely enjoy this film!

Mr. Robot – Season 1 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Mr. Robot” has become one of my favorite TV series for 2015. But it set the bar so high that there is a high level expectation for the same level of quality writing and performance but also an expectancy of surprises for next season. Sam Esmail and crew have created one hell of series and if you are in a mood for a heavy hitting thriller, “Mr. Robot – Season 1” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Mr. Robot: Season 1

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 8 hrs. and 4 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 1:780:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: January 12, 2016


Directed by Sam Esmail, Jim McKay, Tricia Brock, Deborah Chow, Nisha Ganatra, Niels Arden Oplev, Christoph Schrewe

Screenplay by Sam Esmail, Kyle Bradstreet, Kate Erickson, David Iserson, Randolp Leon, Adam Penn

Produced by Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis

Executive Producer: Sam Esmail, Steve Golin, Chad Hamilton, Niels Arden Oplev

Supervising Producer: Kyle Bradstreet, David Iserson

Producer: Margo Myers, Igor Srubshchik

Music: Mac Quayle

Cinematography by Todd Campbell, Tim Ives

Edited by Phil Harrison, Franklin Peterson, Sam Seig, Sharidan Sotelo, Joe Bini, Andrew Thompson

Casting by Beth Bowling, Kim Miscia,  Michael Rios, Susie Farris

Production Design by Stephen Beatrice, Mattew Munn

Art Direction by Alison Ford, Anastasia White

Set Decoration by Ann Smart

Costume Design by Kim Wilcox, Mairi Chisholm

Set Decoration by Tora Peterson, Karin Wiesel


Starring:

Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson

Christian Slater as Mr. Robot

Carly Chaikin as Darlene

Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss

Martin Wallstrom as Tyrell Wellick

Sunita Mani as Trenton

Michael Gill as Gideon Goddard

Ben Rappaport as Ollie Parker

Frankie Shaw as Shayla Nico

Ron Cephas Jones as Romero

Stephanie Corneliussen as Joanna Wellick

Azhar Khan as Mobley

Gloria Reuben as Krista Gordon


Enter the “completely captivating” (Jimmy Ryan, Spoiler TV) world of Mr. Robot. Cyber-security engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night, Elliot (Rami Malek, The Pacific) finds himself at a crossroads when the mysterious leader (Christian Slater, Very Bad Things) of an underground hacker group recruits him to destroy the firm he is paid to protect. Compelled by his personal beliefs, Elliot struggles to resist the chance to take down the multinational CEOs he believes are running (and ruining) the world. Now, watch all 10 Season One episodes back-to-back and uninterrupted of the psychological thriller that critics rave is “damn near perfect” (Jessica Rawden, Cinemablend).


From director/writer/producer Sam Esmail (“Mockingbird”, “Comet”) comes a TV drama-thriller series titled “Mr. Robot”.

Originally planned as a film, Sam would realize that he had a script that would be more suitable as a TV series.

With a pilot that was first screen online, the series would eventually find a home with the USA Network and its first season would receive critical acclaim.  And now, the series has received a green light for a ten-episode second season.

“Mr. Robot” stars Sami Malek (“Need for Speed”, “Night at the Museum” films), Christian Slater (“True Romance”, “Interview with a Vampire”, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”), Carly Chaikin (“Suburgatory”, “The Last Song”, “In a World”), Portia Doubleday (“Youth in Revolt”, “Carrie”, “Her”), Martin Wallstrom (“Ego”, “Simple Simon”, “Stockholm Stories”) and Michel Gill (“House of Cards”, “The Palermo Connection”).

The series revolves around Elliot Alderson (portrayed by Sami Malek), a talented programmer who works for the top cyber security company, Allsafe.  Allsafe is also responsible for protecting many major corporations including one of the largest companies in the world, E Corp (known to many as “Evil Corp”).

Elliot works with Angela Moss (portrayed by Portia Doubleday), a woman hew grew up with and has always liked, but to his chagrin, she is dating Ollie Parker (portrayed by Ben Rappaport).

But Elliot has mental health issues (which he sees a psychiatrist named Krista Gordon, portrayed by Gloria Reuben), addicted to morphine (which he gets from his neighbor Shalya Nico, portrayed by Frankei Shaw) and wallows in his own loneliness.  So much that he turns to his main passion which is hacking major companies, his friends and people he knows.  And despite not enjoying his job, he uses it as a way to take down E Corp.  And his boss and the entire company has been stressed by attacks against E Corp undermining the security software created by Allsafe.

Meanwhile, he meets the E Corp execs which include its CTO Terry Colby and a former programmer, Tyrell Wellick (portrayed by Martin Wallstrom) who has set his goals of becoming E Corp’s next CTO.

But someone else has tried to take down E Corp, a hacker group known as F Society unleashes a DDoS attack.  As Elliot tries to stop the attack, he finds a text file on E Corp’s server asking him to leave the malware he finds.  Making a decision to delete it or keep it on the server, Elliot chooses the latter.

And while going home, he is approached by a mysterious man named Mr. Robot (portrayed by Christian Slater) who is part of F Society and asks Elliot to join the collective of hackers which include Darlene (portrayed by Darlene), Trenton (portrayed by Sunita Mani), Romero (portrayed by Ron Cephas Jones) and others.

But will Elliot join F Society or will he continue to take down E Corp on his own?


VIDEO:

“Mr. Robot” is presented in 1080p High Definition and in 1:78:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is very good as one can expect from a TV series.

Meanwhile, it’s important to mention that if you want the 3D version of the film, unfortunately the 3D version is separate from the regular 2D version.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Mr. Robot” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  The series is primarily dialogue and musically driven.  Dialogue and music are crystal clear, while there are action scene moments with gun shots or crowd ambiance that utilize the surround channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Mr. Robot – Season 1” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (5:45) Featuring four deleted scenes.
  • Gag Reel – (5:17) Bloopers from the first season of “Mr. Robot”.
  • Making_of_Mr_Robot.Mov – (12:14) A featurette about how Mr. Robot became a TV series.

EXTRAS:

“Mr. Robot” comes with a slipcover and an Ultraviolet code.


There have been many films inspired by hackers.  But in today’s modern society and trying to capture today’s hacking groups and also looking at them as possibly the largest threat for nations and corporations, “Mr. Robot” has done an excellent job of creating a thrilling and riveting series.

And part of what makes the series so captivating is because of it’s unstable protagonist. May you think he’s an anti-hero, hero or villain the fact is that the main character Elliot is a person who is mentally unstable but happens to be excellent when it comes to programming and his hacking skills are amazing.

Combine him with other like-minded people who are excellent hackers who are determined to take down one of the largest corporations of the world and you can probably understand the chaos and trouble, but also respect that these anonymous hackers will receive.

But just when you think that the series can be predictable, the writers pull the rug right under your feet with unexpected situations that really hasn’t been done before on television.

So, you have to give credit to series creator Sam Esmail and his other directors and writers who managed to create a fresh episode every week. And having built this wonderful foundation for the first season, the question is if the crew can keep it up or season two because they pulled of so many unexpected situations for the first season.

I have to give credit to the acting of actor Sami Malek. His portrayal of the mentally unstable Elliot is simply wonderful. It’s not easy to play and fit in this type of role, but the level of efficacy of playing a person who is lonely but also amazing when it comes to hacking, you get a perspective through his mindset as Elliot narrates his thoughts. It’s an original character role that you just don’t see on television.

Add in the coolness factor with Christian Slater, who plays the mysterious character known as Mr. Robot. And one will have to keep watching in order to see how this character develops. It’s a bit of a shock, but worth watching!

I found the other character roles to be entertaining and adding synergy to the series with their own characteristics, from the spunky Darlene to the often prudent Angela, the cold and heartless Tyrell Wellick and more!

As for the Blu-ray release, “Mr. Robot” looks very good on Blu-ray. And dialogue and music is crystal clear. With certain action scenes and ambiance utilizing the surround channels. But the soundtrack is primarily front/center channel driven.

And dare I say that I absolutely love the musical soundtrack to this film! It’s like vintage Los Angeles KROQ, alternative rock music from the ’80s and ’90s and I absolute love hearing songs that I grew up with, especially obscure songs, finding its way into this series. It is another component that made this series even more enjoyable to me.

You also get deleted scenes, a gag reel and a making of featurette included as well.

Overall, “Mr. Robot” has become one of my favorite TV series for 2015. But it set the bar so high that there is a high level expectation for the same level of quality writing and performance but also an expectancy of surprises for next season.

Sam Esmail and crew have created one hell of series and if you are in a mood for a heavy hitting thriller, “Mr. Robot – Season 1” is highly recommended!

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

December 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

thewalk-a

Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk” is absolutely captivating and a thrilling film worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Columbia Pictures Industries. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Walk

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 123 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, English, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French, Spanish and Thai Audio Description 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: December 31, 2015


Based on the Book “To Reach the Clouds” by Philippe Petit

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Screenplay by Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne

Produced by Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis

Executive Producer: Jacqueline Levine, Cherylanne Martin, Ben Waisbren

Music:  Alan Silvestri

Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski

Edited by Jeremiah O’Driscoll

Casting by Scot Boland, Victoria Burrows

Production Design by Naomi Shohan

Art Direction by Felix Lariviere-Charron

Set Decoration by Ann Smart

Costume Design by Suttirat Anne Larlarb


Starring:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit

Charlotte Le Bon as Annie

Ben Kingsley as Papa Rudy

Cesar Domboy as Jeff/Jean-Francois

Clement Sibony as Jean-Louis

Steve Valentine as Barry Greenhouse

James Badge Dale as Jean-Pierre/J.P.

Ben Schwartz as Albert

Benedict Samuel as David


Twelve people have walked on the moon, but only one man – Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – has ever walked in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. Guided by his real-life mentor, Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), and aided by an unlikely band of international recruits, Petit and his gang overcome long odds, betrayals, dissension, and countless close calls to conceive and execute their mad plan. Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis uses advanced technology in the service of an emotional, character-driven story. THE WALK is a love letter to Paris and New York City in the 1970s, but most of all, to the Towers of the World Trade Center.


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In 1974, French street performer Philippe Petit pulled off one of the amazing feat by walking on a high wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

In addition to the awespiring feat accomplished by Petit, what is more amazing is how this Frenchman, who could barely speak English, was able to assemble a crew of supporters, sneak in a balancing pole, wires and go through many levels of security to accomplish the high-wire walk.

The incredible story of Philippe Petit was made into an American 3D biographical drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future” films, “Cast Away”, “Forrest Gump”) and co-written by Zemeckis and Christopher Browne.  And also inspired by Philippe Petit’s book, “To Reach the Clouds”.

The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“The Dark Knight Rises”, “Inception”, “(500) Days of Summer”) as the protagonist Philippe Petit and Joseph became fluent in French during the making of the film and also trained to walk on wire.

“The Walk” also stars Sir Ben Kingsley (“Schindler’s List”, “Shutter Island”, “Hugo”), Charlotte Le Bon (“The Hundred-Foot Journey”, “Le grand journal de Canal+”, “Yves Saint Laurent”), Cesar Domboy (“The Princess of Montpensier”, “Baby Balloon”), Steve Valentine (“Spider-Man 3”, “Crossing Jordan”), James Badge Dale (“World War Z”, “The Departed”, “Iron Man 3”), Ben Schwartz (“House of Lies”, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “This is Where I Leave You”) and Benedict Samuel (“Asthma”, “The Stanford Prison Experiment”, “Underground: The Julian Assange Story”).

And now “The Walk” will be released on 3D and also on 2D Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The story begins with the introduction to French street performer Philippe Petit who is trying to survive by juggling and wire walking.  But on a visit to the dentist for a toothache, he sees a picture of the Twin Towers that are to be built in New York City.

After seeing the buildings, Petit knew that his goal would be to walk a high-wire between the Twin Towers.

With no family to live with, Petit visits the circus and meets Papa Rudy (portrayed by Ben Kingsley) who takes him in, due to Petit’s knowledge of juggling.

While performing in the street, he meets a street performer named Annie (portrayed by Charlotte Le Bon) and both get into a relationship.

Philippe explains to Annie about his goals and she becomes his first accomplice and both fly to New York City to observe the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and do reconnaissance of the times that employees come in and out and when the security make their rounds.

Philippe then meets a photographer named Jean-Louis (portrayed by Clement Sibony) who becomes his official photographer and second accomplice and this leads Phillipe to work on finding a group of accomplices that will help him reach his goal of walking a high-wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.


VIDEO:

“The Walk” is presented in 1080p High Definition and in 2:40:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is fantastic as the outdoor scenes look wonderful in HD.  Skin tones look natural, CG elements also look wonderful.  I didn’t notice any blurriness, artifacts or any major issues with “The Walk”.

Meanwhile, it’s important to mention that if you want the 3D version of the film, unfortunately the 3D version is separate from the regular 2D version.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “The Walk” is presented in English and Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English, French, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Audio Description – Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue and musically driven and while dialogue and music are crystal clear, there are uses of the surround channels for ambiance, crowds and city atmosphere.

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Walk” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (5:45) Featuring seven deleted scenes, including an alternate opening.
  • First Steps – Learning to Walk the Wire – (9:11) Joseph Gordon-Levitt discusses working with Philippe Petit and learning to walk on wire.
  • Pillars of Support – (8:27) A featurette about how amazing Philippe Petit was able to accomplish the walk on Twin Towers.
  • The Amazing Walk – (10:48) The cast talk about the Twin Towers and the amazing walk that Philippe Petit did.

EXTRAS:

“The Walk” comes with an Ultraviolet code.


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I remember watching the news as a child about Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

And while brave, bold and risky acts have become common place today as people try to show off their daring moments on Instagram or YouTube, what Philippe Petit was able to accomplish is a rarity.

You just can’t say you want to walk between the Twin Towers, assemble a rag tag crew, do espionage and pretend you are a WTC employee, find a way to bring a lot of machinery and a balance poel and find a way up to the top of the Twin Towers and accomplish such a feat., let alone not receiving any jail time after all is said and done.

But Philippe Petit and crew were able to accomplish just that.

And before a few dismiss this film because they think it’s about a man with dreams about walking a high-wire, it goes beyond that.  It goes into how Philippe received his inspiration, his training and then years of planning to make his idea a reality.

It’s quite an achievement and the film plays off as the first half features a man and his dream, while the second half features the feat that the crew were able to accomplish.  It’s like watching a film about a rag tag crew trying to pull of the ultimate heist but in this case, the group are doing all they can to make sure that Philippe gets all the equipment he needs to accomplish his task of walking between the Twin Towers while hundreds of people watch below.

It’s a fascinating and entertaining film that is bolstered by the wonderful performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley and Charlotte Le Bon.  And Robert Zemeckis’ experience as a filmmaker definitely gave the director all he needs to pull this film off in giving viewers the sense of height, the level of tension but also making this film exciting and a lot of fun to watch.

The Blu-ray looks wonderful in HD, the lossless soundtrack is crystal clear and there are special features that go into the making of the film and the training undertaken by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who learned from Philippe Petit.

Overall, Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk” is absolutely captivating and a thrilling film worth watching!

Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser – Extended Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

joedirt2

“Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser – Extended Edition” is a worthy sequel to the original and if you loved the first film, you’ll enjoy the second!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Colton Productions. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser – Extended Edition

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 109 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2016


Directed by Fred Wolf

Written by David Spade, Fred Wolf

Produced by Jaime Burke, Amy S. Kim

Executive Producer: Adam Sandler, David Spade

Associate Producer: Mark Behar

Line Produer: Brian Tanke

Cinematography by Timothy A. Burton

Edited by Joseph McCasland

Casting by Josh Einsohn

Production Design by Cecil Gentry, John Richoux

Art Direction by Jessica Navran

Set Decoration by John Richoux

Costume Design by Kim Martinez


Starring:

David Spade as Joe Dirt

Brittany Daniel as Brandy/1965 Ashleen

Patrick Warburton as Foggie/Guardian Angel

Mark McGrath as Jimmy Yauch/1965 Rory Yauch

Dennis Miller as Zander Kelly

Christopher Walken as Clem

Toby Bronson as Toby

Ron Flagge as Blake

Rhonda Dents as Galinda


The hicksterical sequel to the 2001 cult classic marks the return of our favorite mullet-headed hero, Joe Dirt (David Spade). Now happily married with a family, Joe Dirt is “keepin’ on” when he suddenly gets swept up in a tornado. The natural disaster transports him back 
can completely change the course of history—with disastrousloved ones in the present before he loses them forever. Also starring Brittany Daniel (TV’s “The Game”), Patrick Warburton (TV’s “Rules of Engagement”), Mark McGrath (from the band Sugar Ray), Dennis Miller (TV’s “Dennis Miller Live”) and Christopher Walken (Wedding Crashers).


Back in 2001, the Happy Madison David Spade comedy film “Joe Dirt” was released in theaters.

A story about a “white trash” loser turn antihero in search of his parents that left him in the middle of a desert and how he met the love of his life Brandy, the film would go on to make $31 million in the box office.

While the film was not a favorite among critics, for fans of Happy Madison films, were thrilled to hear that David Spade would reprise the mullet-sporting antihero “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” and the film would be featured on the online distributor of original web shows, Crackle.

The film would be directed by Fred Wolf (“Grown Ups” films, “Joe Dirt”, “Saturday Night Live”) and co-written by Wolf and Spade.

“Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” stars David Spade (“Just Shoot Me!”, “Grown Ups” films, “Just Shoot Me!”), Brittany Daniel (“Sweet Valley High”, “The Game”, “Skyline”, “Joe Dirt”), Patrick Warburton (“Rules of Engagement”, “Ted”, “Family Guy”), Mark McGrath (“Sharknado” films, “Scooby-Doo”, “Father’s Day”), Dennis Miller (“Dennis Miller”, “Saturday Night Live”, “The Dennis Miller Show”) and Christopher Walken (“Wedding Crashers”, “Catch Me If You Can”, “Pulp Fiction”).

And now “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in Jan. 2016.

“Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” begins Joe Dirt wanting to talk to anyone he can while waiting at the bus stop.

He then tells his story to a woman about how he met the love of his life, Brandy (portrayed by Brittany Daniel) and how they had female triplets.

But still, he was a loser and one who could not hold a job and make money for his family.  He was still bullied and often, Brandy would come to his rescue.

But one day, a tornado comes to his area and he is swept up and transported back to the year 1965 and learns that by changing history, there are major consequences that may affect his relationship with the woman he truly loves


VIDEO:

“Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser – Extended Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition and in 1:78:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is fantastic as the outdoor scenes look wonderful and vibrant. Closeups feature amazing detail, while skin tones are natural.  I saw no problems with banding or artifacts.

“Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser – Extended Edition” looks very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” is presented in English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.  There are moments of action-scenes, a lot of sound effects (i.e. fart noises) and also music use, but for the most part, dialogue and music are crystal clear and good use of surround channels for overall ambiance.

Subtitles are in English SDH, English, Chinese (Traditional), French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” comes with no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” comes with an Ultraviolet code.


Before I begin my review, as always, I should begin with letting people know that Happy Madison films, may they be featuring Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin James, Nick Swardson and Rob Schneider, have not received the greatest reviews from film critics.

And for the most part, these comedies have been called juvenile, immature and for those expecting something deep.  And for those who are open to the films, they either love them or they hate them.

David Spade films, the same situation. You either loved “Tommy Boy”, “Black Sheep”, “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star” or “Joe Dirt” or didn’t.

I approach Happy Madison films on the context of how much they make me laugh and how entertaining they are.

And I tend to have watched David Spade films with an open mind as I felt his work with Chris Farley were fun.

When “Joe Dirt” was released in theaters, it was interesting because the character was so left field and yeah, it poked fun on a group and Joe Dirt was just the dumb, often ridiculed loser who got himself in a lot of trouble but eventually became an anti-hero and finding himself a beautiful woman to marry.

Would a sequel even be possible?  Would anyone even care?

Watching “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser – Extended Edition”, the same style of humor that made the first film a hit with its fans, features plenty of humor and I imagine quite a bit of improvised scenes.

Joe Dirt is married to Brandy, has triplets and raised them well, despite being bullied on, having to undergo a lot of unfortunate situations and somehow gets transported to the distant past?  Or was he?

The situations are ridiculous, but I know there are people who will fall for the scenes with many minutes of flatulence.

Fart jokes, bestiality, dick, heavy nut sack jokes are still in full force.  Even gay jokes, hidden within music names as Joe Dirt comes across the band of young men who would later become known as Lynyrd Skynard.  The boys want to become more popular and Joe Dirt suggest for them to use a cool name like Lynyrd Skynrd based on the name of the P.E. coach they despise but instead, the guys go through names they would like to use such as Blue Oyster Cult, Wham, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, etc.

One lengthy scene involves Joe Dirt as a logger and his co-workers start bullying him and everyone including the female co-worker starts farting on him.  Only for Joe Dirt to feel shame after his wife and three daughters see him being bullied and wonder why their father is enduring such abuse.

Another crazy scene features Brandy about to give birth and the doctors and the nurse all wanting to see what her privates look, before she gives birth.  It’s no doubt out of left field and as the female doctor and the nurse start to look for the babies, they find themselves sexually attracted to each other.

Or another scene in which Galinda, an African-American woman is sitting at the bus stop and Joe tries to talk to her and immediately gives him a tongue lashing and calling him Forrest Gump, another scene that you just don’t expect and that is probably what makes “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser” either appealing, audacious or to others, so darn wrong.

And for “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser”, there are so many of them.

It depends on how one responds to the jokes and I felt that there was no doubt that the writers wanted to make Joe Dirt 2, the ultimate trailer trash loser turn hero but to push the boundaries in some areas, but also not going too far and trying to keep things subtle.

With each Happy Madison film, I always explain how I’m not easily offended, nor do I dislike the films.  I tend to find something entertaining about them because they are a short diversion from the more serious films I tend to review week after week.

Overall, “Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser – Extended Edition” is a worthy sequel to the original and if you loved the first film, you’ll enjoy the second!

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

December 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

assassination

“Assassination” is one of more exciting Korean action films that I watched in 2015.  And it’s no surprise to me that the film did amazingly well in Korea and is the top grossing Korean film for the year.  Featuring an exciting storyline and wonderful acting, “Assassination” is a film that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2015 Well Go USA Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Assassination

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 139 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, Japanese and Korean 5.1 HD Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: December 1, 2015


Directed by Dong-hoon Choi

Written by Dong-hoon Choi, Ki-Cheol Lee

Produced by Bin Shen

Music by Dalparan, Young-gyu Jang

Cinematography by Woo-hyung Kim

Edited by Min-kyung Shin

Production Design by Seong-hie Ryu

Art Direction by Seong-hie Ryu

Costume Design by Sang-gyeong Jo, Na-ri Son


Starring:

Gianna Jun as An Ok-yun

Jung-woo Ha as Hawaii Pistol

Jung-jae Lee as Yeom Seok-jin

Jin-woong Jo as Sok-sapo

Dal-su Oh as Young-gam

Kyung Jin as Ahn Sung-Sim

Duek-mun Choi as Hwang Dok-sam


Snipers. Marksmen. Hired Guns. Double Agents. A group of exiled rebels are planning a hit on an Army Commander in Japanese-occupied Korea, but the only killer for the job is in prison. Now, the Resistance must devise a jailbreak, escape a hitman…and discover which of them is a traitor.


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Choi Dong-hoon excited moviegoers with his slick and action-packed 2012 film “The Thieves”.

Choi returns with his latest success, “Assassination” which has become the biggest box office success in Korea for 2015 and now, will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

Featuring an all-star cast which includes Ji-hyun Jun (“My Sassy Girl”, “The Thieves”, “Il Mare”, “Windstruck”), Jung-jae Lee (“Il Mare”, “The Housemaid”, “The Thieves”, “New World”), Jung-woo Ha (“The Chaser”, “The Yellow Sea”, “The Berlin File”), Jin-woong Jo (“Roaring Currents”, “The Front Line”, “Hwayi: Monster Boy”), Dal-su Oh (“Oldboy”, “The Host”, “Thirst”) and many more!

The film begins in 1911 as Yeom Seok-jin (portrayed by Lee Jung-jae) is an assassin who’s job is to take out Kawaguchi Mamoru, the governor of the Japanese garrison in Gyeongseong and Japanese sympathizer, Kang In-gook.

We learn that Yeom Seok-jin is working with Kang’s wife, who secretly works with the Korean activists/resistance and is a mother of two twins.

When Yeom Seok-jin’s assassination fails, he is imprisoned, while Kang orders his wife to be killed.  But before he has her killed, she manages to take one of her children, while having the other go with another who will raise the child in Manchuria, along with other Korean resistance.

Fastforward to the 1930’s and Korea is still under Japan’s colonial rule and Yeom Seok-jin, has escaped prison and is now an agent of the provisional Korean government.  He helps three people escape prison, the sniper and dedicated resistance fighter Ahn Ok-yun (portrayed by Jun Ji-hyun), “Big Gun” Chu Sang-ok (portrayed by Cho jin-woong) who is an excellent arms dealer and marksman and his cellmate, Hwang Deok-sam (portrayed by Choi Deok-moon), an explosives specialist.

The three are released but for the purpose of assassinating another high-up Japanese dignitary and once again, the business tycoon Kang In-gook.

But unfortunately, one of these people are secretly working with the Japanese.  And has hired freelance assassins “Old Man” (portrayed by Oh Dal-su and the legendary “Hawaii Pistol” (portrayed by Ha Jung-woo) to take them out.

Will the resistance fighters accomplish their mission or will they be thwarted by the assassins going after them?


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VIDEO:

“Assassination” is presented in 1080p High Definition and in 2:39:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is fantastic as the outdoor scenes look wonderful, closeups feature amazing detail. Skin tones are natural and I saw no problems with banding or artifacts.

“Assassination” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Assassination” is presented in Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and for an action film, one can expect a good number of immersive scenes that really do a good job in utilizing the surround channels.  Dialogue, music, gun shots, explosions…all are crystal clear and sound fantastic!

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Assassination” comes with no special features.


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When it comes to Asian live-action films, we are starting to see more and more action films that are showcasing more gun and knife battles versus martial arts films (which we are starting to see more from Indonesia and Thailand).

May they be gang films, war films, we have seen a growth of Asian live action films which tend to have a strong anti-Imperial Japan sentiment due to the atrocities committed in the past by the country towards China and Korea.

And for Korea, the pain between both Korea and Japan still exist, but fortunately, the pop culture are bringing people more closer together, while politics continues to rear its ugly head for both countries today.

With “Assassination”, this film rings clear of those pains during a time when Japan occupied Korea, Korean rebels and activists plotted to overthrow Japan and unfortunately, it was a troubling time, especially in the late 1890’s with the assassination of Empress Myeongseong and also the Kempeitai, military police who were known for their brutal tactics.

The film quickly establishes how Korean activists and rebels plotted to assassinated major Imperial Japanese dignitaries, but also had Koreans who were in it for the money and worked against their own people.

We are introduced to Yeom Seok-jin’s character Lee Jung-jae, a Korean activist who’s attempt to assassinate a Japanese governor ends with him being shot multiple times and receiving prison time, while another Korean activist, wife of a man who sells his services to the Japanese and mother of two infant twins, is killed courtesy of an order by her husband for working against him.

Fast forward years later and Lee Jung-jae escapes from prison and organizes a rag tag group of assassins who must work together in pulling off a major assassination.

But unfortunately, one of these people are secretly working with the Japanese and the goal is to actually destroy any Korean rebels who pose a threat to Imperial Japan.

Actress Jun Ji-hyun does a wonderful job playing a dual role as Ahn Ok-yun and Mitsuko, the twin daughters of the woman assassinated during Yeom Seok-Jin’s first assassination attempt.

Jun Ji-hyun has always proved herself to undertake any role, emotional or even action-based and give a fine performance.  Ahn Ok-yun was raised with the Korean rebels and is a sniper, who killed her superior and was literally raised to be a killer.  She is unaware that she has a twin sister, who was raised with a lavish lifestyle with her father, Kang In-gook the Japanese sympathizer who had his wife killed at the beginning of the film.

Fans of “Il Mare” will love the fact that Yeom Seok-Jin and Jun Ji-hyun are reunited in a film together (their last collaboration was in 2012’s “The Thieves”).  But unfortunately, their characters are not together all that much.  So, while it’s great to see them in this film, fans of “Il Mare” should not expect too much of their latest collaboration together. And this is not a romantic film, so no one should have any romantic expectations between these two talents.

Throw in a group which includes Chu Sang-ok a.k.a. “Big Gun” who is wonderful with weapons and his cellmate Hwang Deok-sam, an explosives specialists and these three are set to cause some major havok.

Meanwhile, two other assassins, “Hawaii Pistol” and “Old Man” come into play, but are they friend or foe.

“Assassination” is a captivating, action film featuring plenty of action and drama but also features one of the slickest productions I have seen in a Korean action film and the pacing of the film, the acting and the surprises really make this an exciting film worth watching.

The Blu-ray release looks and sounds magnificent and while there are no special features but a single trailer, I still recommend people on watching the film.

Overall, “Assassination” is one of more exciting Korean action films that I watched in 2015.  And it’s no surprise to me that the film did amazingly well in Korea and is the top grossing Korean film for the year.  Featuring an exciting storyline and wonderful acting, “Assassination” is a film that I highly recommend!

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

December 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

thewolftotem

“Wolf Totem” is a beautiful film about nature, respect for traditional cultural practices and what happens when humans try to interfere with the food chain.  An absolutely gorgeous and captivating film from director Jean-Jacques Annaud.  Recommended!

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Wolf Totem

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 122 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, Mandarin, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Including Images of Violence and Brief Sexuality)

RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2015


Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud

Based on the Novel by Jiang Rong

Screenplay by John Collee, Alain Godard, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Lu Wei

Produced by Yin Cao, Xavier Castano, William Kong, La Peikang, Alan Wang, Jianshai Xu, Duojia Zhao

Music by James Horner

Cinematography by Jean-Marie Dreujou

Edited by Reynald Bertrand


Starring:

Shaofeng Feng as Chen Zhen

Shawn Dou as Yang Ke

Ankhnyam Ragchaa as Gasma

Yin Zhusheng as Bao Shunghi

Ba Sen Zha Bu as Bilig

Baoyingexige as Batu

Tumenbayaer as Shartseren

Xilindule as Petit Bayar


In acclaimed director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s film adaptation of Jiang Rong’s best-selling novel, a young Beijing student is sent to live among the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Mongolia. Caught between the advance of civilization from the south and the nomads’ traditional enemies – the marauding wolves – to the north, humans and animals, residents and invaders alike, struggle to find their true place in the world.


In 2004, a young student named Jiang Rong (Lu Jiamin) wrote a Chinese semi-autobiographical novel titled “Wolf Totem” about his life as a young student from Beijing sent to the countryside of Inner Mongolia in 1967, during China’s cultural revolution.

Sent to stay with the clan chief and a group of nomads, he learned about the dangers of the area, especially due to the pack of wolves and how they were smart and cunning when they went for the attack on a herd of sheep and dragged their corpses to a cave.  Fascinated by them, he began to study the wolves and also wrote about his relationship with the nomads.

“Wolf Totem” would become a best seller, selling over four million copies in China and many countries went after licensing rights for the novel.  Despite no marketing by Jiang Rong (nor did he attend any awards ceremonies), the novel became a popular overseas and would lead to French director Jean-Jacques Annaud (“Seven Years in Tibet”, “Enemy at the Gates”, “Two Brothers”, “The Bear”) to read the book and eventually being selected to direct the film thanks to his experience with working with animals in his films.

To make “Wolf Totem” work as a film, it would require a dozen wolf pups and them being trained several years by a Canadian animal trainer.

Shot in Inner Mongolia, the film was released in theaters in February 2015 and would earn over $122 million dollars in the box office.

And now “Wolf Totem” will be released in 3D/2D on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Wolf Totem” revolves around Chen Zhen (portrayed by Feng Shaofeng), one of the two students sent to Mongolia by the Chinese government to help educate the Nomads and must live with them for two years.

Chen Zhen begins to learn about the culture of tribes and the importance of the land but also its dangers, especially when it comes to the wolves.

How the food chain would actually work is that the wolves would feed off their prey, typically squirrels, rabbits and wait for the gazelles who feast on the greenery of the land and the wolves would attack and store the gazelles in the snow as a source of food.

The Nomads would wait until the wolves leave and take the gazelles and take the meat and sell their hides for money.  And when one of the Nomads breaks the rules by giving away the area where the gazelles are stored, all the meat is taken away by another group, leaving the wolves to be hungry and seeking for other sources for a food supply.

Taking away all the wolves source for food, they now grow hungry and edge closer to human populations to look for any food they can find.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government issues an order for the Nomads to eliminate and kill all wolves in the grassland.  While for the government, this may seem like a positive idea, for Nomads, they see this as a disruption of the food chain.

But as the Nomads are forced to hunt for wolves and eliminate their cubs, for Chen Zhen, he desperately wants to rescue a wolf pup in order to study it.  And by raising it from childbirth and letting it have human contact, seeing if he can learn about the actions of wolves, not knowing what happens when you take a wolf out of its natural habitat.

So, Chen Zhen seeks to find a cub to raise and hide from his fellow Nomads, but is it that even possible?

Meanwhile, the pack of wolves want revenge for the kidnapping and killing of its own kind but also looking for a new food supply.

How will the disruption of the wolves and their food chain affect the Nomads?


VIDEO:

“Wolf Totem” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  With the 2D version of the film, the first thing you notice is how vibrant the film is and how detailed the film is.  Especially when it comes to closeups showcasing the cold or sunburned cheeks of the Mongolians to the closeups of the wolves.  The greenery of the outdoors is vibrant and for the most part, because the film is primarily shot outdoors, the film looks fantastic in HD.

As for the 3D version of “Wolf Totem”, as one would expect from this kind of film, it’s more about using the technology to showcase depth.  And in some areas of the film, it works rather well, such as when Chen Zhen is surround by a pack of wolves, you see levels of depth in the center, some in the forefront and wolves in the back.  It work rather well and during a snowstorm, we see snowflakes floating towards the front in front of the nomads and horses.  But the 3D is more or less used for depth and for this type of film, I found myself enjoying the 2D version of the film and enjoying the beauty of the grasslands more than anything.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Wolf Totem” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HDMA plus Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Descriptive Audio.

The lossless soundtrack is dialogue and musically-driven and is crystal clear.  There are moments of surround sound usage during the horse scene or the sporadic use of rifle shots, but also utilizing the ambiance of the outdoor location.

It’s important to note that the music composed for the film is the final film composed by award winning composer James Horner (“Titanic”, “Avatar”, “Braveheart”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”), who died in a tragic aircraft accident months after the film’s release.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Wolf Totem” comes with the following special feature:

  • The Director’s Adventure – (5:22) Director Jean-Jacques and crew talk about how they came upon making “Wolf Totem”.
  • A Look at the Cast – (3:17) Brief interviews with the cast of “Wolf Totem”.
  • Saving the Environment – (5:25) Interview with novel author Jiang Rong and the cast and the importance of not disturbing nature and the food chain and respecting that during the making of the film.
  • The Nature of the Wolf – (11:25) How wolves and dogs were used in the film.

“Wolf Totem” is gorgeous and breathtaking film based on the life of Lu Jiamin and his experience of living with the Nomads in Inner Mongolia.

And while the cinematography is breathtaking, what is more amazing is how director Jean-Jacques Annaud is able to showcase these wolves as characters.  Characters who are important but not showing them as antagonists to the humans of the grassland but to show how they are important, but also showing great care in showing how troubles can develop when the food chain is disrupted.

Also, taking great care in showing the Mongolian tribe as people who live on the grassland and respects nature.

We see the difference between those from the city and tribe and how the Chinese government wants to change the Nomads through education and also disrupting their culture.  And unfortunate, these are peaceful people who do not fight wars like their ancestors and they know what they are up against if not listening to government orders, so if the government forces two students upon them to educate them, they must do what the government says.

But we see the conflict through the eyes of Chen Zhen.  Learning from the Village Elder, the current wolf totem about how their culture respects all nature and the living.  The wolves pray on the gazelles for food, the humans take a few of those gazelles in order to store food but also for clothing or to make money.

And we see temptation come into play as business pry on the nomads to show them where they get their food supply and as nomads know their rule of secrecy, some can be tempted.

But seeing how the Nomads are affected when the wolves are stripped of their food, now they must look for other food sources, which leads to the bigger problem at hand when things go wrong  as the wolves are hungry and what else to pray on but the animals that the Nomads have.  Compounded by the issue of Chen Zhen wanting to save a wolf cub and raise it on his own, in secrecy.

The Blu-ray release features both the 3D and 2D version of the film.  3D used for depth, but for a breathtaking, vibrant film, I felt that watching the film in 2D does the film more justice.  The 3D is not bad, in fact, how the 3D is implemented in showing depth as the wolves look from above and observe the humans and the animals of the grassland is done well.  Details of the film look incredible in HD and the lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and a beautiful and final score by award winning composer, James Horner.

Overall, “Wolf Totem” is a beautiful film about nature, respect for traditional cultural practices and what happens when humans try to interfere with the food chain.  An absolutely gorgeous and captivating film from director Jean-Jacques Annaud.  Recommended!

 

Burroughs the Movie – The Criterion Collection #789 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

burroughs-a

Burroughs the Movie” is a fascinating documentary as one of the greatest American writers, William S. Burroughs discusses the good and bad of his life.  Filmmaker Howard Brookner made sure that nothing is left unsaid and confronts Burroughs on his success but also his failures. 

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Burroughs the Movie – The Criterion Collection #789

YEAR OF FILM: 1983

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, black and white/color, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Monaural, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2015


Directed by Howard Brookner

Produced by Howard Brookner

Executive-Produced: Edouard Douek

Cinematography by Howard Brookner, Richard Camp, Tom DiCillo, Cathy Dorsey, James A. Lebovitz, Larry Shlu, Mike Southon

Edited by Ben Morris, Scott Vickrey


Starring:

Mortimer Burroughs

William S. Burroughs

Lucien Carr

Jackie Curtis

Allen Ginsberg

John Giorno

James Grauerholz

Brion Gysin

Patti Smith

Terry Southern


Made up of intimate, revelatory footage of the singular author and poet filmed over the course of five years, Howard Brookner’s 1983 documentary about William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch) was for decades mainly the stuff of legend; that changed when Aaron Brookner, the late director’s nephew, discovered a print of it in 2011 and spearheaded a restoration. Now viewers can enjoy the invigorating candidness of Burroughs: The Movie, a one-of-a-kind nonfiction portrait that was brought to life with the help of a remarkable crew of friends, including Jim Jarmusch (Down By Law) and Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion), and that features on-screen appearances by fellow artists of Burroughs’s including Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, Patti Smith, and Terry Southern.


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William S. Burroughs II, the great American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter and spoken word performer and is best known as one of the prominent figures of the Beat Generation is revered for his influence in pop culture and literature.

Best known for his novels, “Junkie” (1953), “Naked Lunch” (1959) and popularized the literary cut-up technique (text is cut up and rearranged to create a new text) for “The Nova Trilogy” (1961-1964).

In 1983, Burroughs was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and in 1984, was ordered the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France.

In 1983, filmmaker Howard Brookner (“Arena”, “Robert Wilson and the Civil Wars”, “Bloodhounds of Broadway”) would release his documentary “Burroughs the Movie” to celebrate the work of William S. Burroughs.  The film would be the first and only documentary of the Beat Generation writer and exploring his career with his contemporaries such as Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Francis Bacon, Herbert Huncke, Patti Smith and Terry Southern.

The film explores William S. Burroughs, still influential, still working and also focusing on his relationships, such as his working relationship with American poet and Beat Generation leading figure, Allen Ginsberg; his relationship with his assistant (and partner) James Gaureholz and also his relationship or lack of relationship with his son, Billy.

The film also goes into the Beat Generation, his drug addiction and the murder of his common-law wife Joan Vollmer.

And now “Burroughs the Movie” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.


VIDEO:

“Burroughs the Movie – The Criterion Collection #789” is presented in color and black and white (1:33:1 aspect ratio).  The film is well-preserved with no major damage or color issues.  Skin tones look natural and there is a fine layer of grain throughout the film.

According to the Criterion Collection, “this new high definition transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine film scanner from a 35 mm print held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices and warps were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, jitter and flicker.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Burroughs the Movie – The Criterion Collection #789”. The film is presented in English monaural 1.0.  Dialogue is clear and no distracting hiss or crackle.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35 mm soundtrack print.  Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD iZotopw RX 4.”.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Burroughs the Movie – The Criterion Collection #789” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring an audio commentary with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who served as a sound recordist on “Burroughs: The Movie”.
  • Howard and Uncle Bill – (15:35) Interview with filmmaker Aaron Brookner, director Howard Brookner’s nephew.
  • Howard Brookner – (23:48) Audio excerpts from a July 1985 interview with director Howard Brookner about the making of “Burroughs: The Movie” conducted by William S. burroughs biographer Ted Morgan.
  • Outtakes – (20:23) Featuring five outtakes: New York City, Weapons, Nova Convent-on, Interviews and Travel
  • New York Film Festival, 2014 – (26:47) A Q&A at the premiere of “Burroughs: The Movie” at the New York Film Festival in 2014.
  • Robert E. Fulton III Edit – (23:39) Two years of filming, director Howard Brookner brought inventor and photographer Robert E. Fulton II a trunkful of his William S. Burroughs footage to see if Fulton could re-edit the film.  The result is a 23-minute cut.

EXTRAS:

“Burroughs the Movie – The Criterion Collection #789” comes with a poster/foldout with the essay “Burroughs, That Proud American Name” by Luc Sante.


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Literary genius or audacious writer, William S. Burroughs will be revered as one of greatest and most influential writers of the 20th century.  Others may see him as the most scandalous writers of the 20th century and there are others who refuse to acknowledge Burroughs for his excessive drug use, homosexuality and the murder of his common-law wife.

Excusing the latter, “Burroughs the Movie” is a peek into the life of William S. Burroughs, his accomplishment in his life, his failures in his life but filmmaker Howard Brookner’s film gives those who admire his work a peek into his life.

The film features those who have worked with Burroughs but also those who have had a strong relationship with him.  But also a film that pays respect to Burroughs as a writer, his use of cut-up text and how he inspired many people including musicians.

But the film doesn’t explore William S. Burroughs and his writing oeuvre, the film also explores many facets of his life, good and bad and Burroughs is not afraid to talk about it.  The film shows us a man who has battled with his own personal demons throughout his life.  Growing up addicted to drugs, being homosexual and enjoying nights out with friends, not all is about the fun Burroughs had.  In someway, there is a sense that he is never free from his addiction or past sins.

But there is no denying that he is intelligent, an eloquent speaker and accomplished so much in his life, but the film also exposes the darker side of the life of one of these men who came from the Beat Generation.  Where a lot of documentaries make you feel happy for one’s accomplishments, not “Burroughs the Movie” because while the film shows us his success, the film paints us the true colors of this human being who has lived through tough times and instead of placing him on a pedestal for his accomplishments, the film showcases the humanside of William S. Burroughs.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good and there is no sign of discoloration or major damage.  Lossless audio is monaural and features crisp, clear dialogue and there are a number of special features that pays respect to William S. Burroughs’ work but also to filmmaker Howard Brookner posthumously.

Overall, “Burroughs the Movie” is a fascinating documentary as one of the greatest American writers, William S. Burroughs discusses the good and bad of his life.  Filmmaker Howard Brookner made sure that nothing is left unsaid and confronts Burroughs on his success but also his failures.

You Can’t Take It With You (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

youcant

“You Can’t Take It With You” is a timeless Frank Capra romantic comedy classic.  Featuring wonderful direction by Frank Capra and an amazing performance by James Stewart and Jean Arthur, plus a 4K restoration and a digibook release, the “You Can’t Take It With You” Blu-ray release is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1939, renewed 1968 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: You Can’t Take It With You

YEAR OF FILM: 1938

DURATION: 126 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:37:1 aspect ratio, black and white, English 1.0 DTS-HD MA, French, German, Italian, Spanish Monoraul, Subtitles: English, Arabic, Czech, Dutch Fininish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Spanish (Latin America), Swedish, Turkish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: December 8, 2014


Directed by Frank Capra

Based on the Play by George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart

Screenplay by Robert Riskin

Produced by Frank Capra

Music by Dimitri Tiomkin

Cinematography by Joseph Walker

Edited by Gene Havlick

Art Direction by Stephen Goosson


Starring:

Jean Arthur as Alice Sycamore

Lionel Barrymore as Martin Vanderhof

James Stewart as Tony Kirby

Edward Arnold as Anthony P. Kirby

Mischa Auer as Kolenkhov

Ann Miller as Essie Carmichael

Spring Byington as Penny Sycamore

Samul S. Hinds as Paul Sycamore

Donald Meek as Poppins

H.B. Warner as Ramsey

Halliwell Hobbes as DePinna

Dub Taylor as Ed Charmichael

Mary Forbes as Mrs. Anthony Kirby

Lillian Yarbo as Rheba

Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as Donald

Clarence Wilson as John Blakely

Josef Swickard as Professor


Academy Award(r) winner James Stewart (1940 Best Actor, The Philadelphia Story), Jean Arthur, Academy Award(r) winner Lionel Barrymore (1931 Best Actor, A Free Soul) and Edward Arnold star in this classic screwball comedy. Arthur stars as Alice Sycamore, the stable family member of an offbeat clan of free spirits who falls for Tony Kirby (James Stewart), the down-to-earth son of a snooty, wealthy family. Amidst a backdrop of confusion, the two very different families rediscover the simple joys of life. Based on the phenomenally successful Kaufman-Hart play, You Can’t Take It With You was directed by Frank Capra and won two Academy Awards(r) (1938 Best Picture, Best Director). Now fully restored in 4K, this heartwarming and timeless classic is perfect for every family.


 As the legendary Frank Capra was known to churn out box office hits and win several Academy Awards with films such as “It Happened One Night”, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”, “Lost Horizon”, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”.

While Frank Capra and James Stewart have had a wonderful work collaboration, it began in 1938 with the romantic comedy “You Can’t Take It With You” and the first collaboration between Stewart and Jean Arthur (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”).

While the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards (and winning two Academy Awards for “Best Picture” and “Best Director”) and was the highest grossing picture of 1938, the film would continue to elevate Frank Capra’s career as a filmmaker as the film was his third Oscar for “Best Director” in five years.

The film is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play (of the same name) by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart and was released on Blu-ray in Dec. 2015 and the film has received a full restoration in 4K and will be released as a Digibook, with rare behind-the-scenes photos and an all-new essay about the making of the film.

The film begins with an introduction of wealthy banker Anthony P. Kirby (portrayed by Edward Arnold), who has returned from Washington D.C. after being granted a government-sanctioned munitions monopoly, which will make him and his partners even more wealthy.  But he needs to buy the property within a 12-block radius around a competitor’s factory in order to put them out of business, and as all owners were quick to sell, only one has resisted, no matter how much money they are offered.

Kirby tells his real estate broker, John Blakely (portrayed by Clarence Wilson) to cause trouble for the family in order to get them to move.

Meanwhile, his son Tony (portrayed by James Stewart) is the vice-president and possibly successor to the family’s business.  Tony is in love with the company’s stenographer, Alice Sycamore (portrayed by Jean Arthur) and wants to marry her.

When Tony’s mother (portrayed by Mary Forbes) sees him flirting and kissing Alice, Alice is scared because she feels that her parents will look at her family as poor and not want Tony to marry her.  But Tony doesn’t care, he wants to marry her.

Alice also turns out to be the granddaughter of Grandpa Vanderhof (portrayed by Lionel Barrymore), the patriarch who is holding out of selling his home to the Kirby’s (Tony is unaware of this).

At the Vanderhof home, this is where many people live and do experiments for their inventions.  It’s also the home that Vanderhof does not want to sell because it’s where he and his deceased wife had lived, and will never let the home go.

Meanwhile, without Alice’s knowledge, Tony has his parents come to her home and visit her parents.  But unfortunately, the home is in disarray and it leads to more trouble for both sides of the family.


VIDEO:

“You Can’t Take It With You” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is fantastic as white and grays are well-contrast while black levels are sharp. The film shows amazing clarity on Blu-ray showcases the detail of the film in high definition.

The print features the digital restoration that was done by Sony Colorworks in 2013 and the digital pictures were frame by frame digitally restored and dirt, tears, scratches and artifacts were removed.  I personally did not notice any damage to the film and was very content with the beautiful picture quality of this classic film.

Comparing to the original DVD releases that I’ve had, clarity is evident. Sharpness was evident, along with the black levels which were inky and deep. There is a good amount of grain throughout the entire film and no doubt, this is the definitive version of “You Can’t Take It With You” in terms of picture quality!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is presented in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. The monaural lossless soundtrack is crystal clear with no sign of hiss, crackle or any popping.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Chinese Traditional, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Spanish and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“You Can’t Take it With You” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Frank Capra Jr. and author Cathrine Kellison.
  • Frank Capra Jr. Remembers… “You Can’t Take It With You” – (25:37) Frank Capra Jr. talks about his father and his father working on “You Can’t Take It With You”.
  • Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for “You Can’t Take It With You”.

EXTRAS:

“You Can’t Take It With You” comes in a digibook package with 28-pages. Featuring photos from the film plus “The Making of You Can’t Take It With You” essay by Jeremy Arnold plus an ultraviolet code for the film


When “You Can’t Take It With You” was released in theaters, there was a lot of speculation of how the film would hold up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning play.

If anything, becoming the box office hit of 1938 and also earning seven Academy Award nominations, suffice to say, “You Can’t Take It With You” was a major success.  And for many film critics, the majority were positive about the film adaptation but with those who were passionate about the original play, were the main viewers to criticize the film for not being a 100% faithful adaptation.

I personally enjoyed Frank Capra’s “You Can’t Take It With You”.  In a historical cinema sense, both James Stewart and Jean Arthur had amazing chemistry which would get even better with each Capra film afterward.

It’s also one of the more joyful romantic comedy’s from Frank Capra considering that his films later in the ’30s become more darker, but the film does have a little touch of darkness but not as much as we would see later in Capra’s films.

The film has its moments where the character Martin Vanderhof is presented with doses of reality, that wealth is not everything and when you go on the path of not caring, bad things can happen.

But as Lionel Barrymore did a wonderful job as playing the elder Vanderhof, as did Edward Arnold did in playing Anthony P. Kirby, with a large cast, the film does rely on the talent of James Stewart and Jean Arthur.

From their tender moments and scenes of flirtation early in the film, as Martin holds on to Alice’s hand, while the phone is ringing.  She answers the phone by using her teeth on the telephone cord.  It’s a scene that you just don’t see happen in Hollywood films.

But the film and future films would escalate the popularity of James Stewart as an actor and as for Jean Arthur, cementing her role as the “Queen of Screwball Comedy”.  Both were true professionals and for Jean Arthur who looked as natural onscreen, is surprising that in reality, during the time of the film and even later in her career, had extreme stage fright during production, which Capra would write about in his autobiography.

But for Capra fans, the film is entertaining but as Screwball Comedy fans of the 1930’s, the film is truly heightened by its significant collaborations.

While I have owned various versions of “You Can’t Take It With You” throughout the years, this is no doubt the best version to date. Fully restored in 4K, the picture quality looks absolutely amazing. The film is sharp, white and grays are well contrast and black levels are nice and deep. I saw no blemishes while watching this film (which I was expecting, considering the restoration that took place in 2013) and I was absolutely pleased with the overall look of the film. The lossless soundtrack is in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0.  The special features includes a wonderful documentary but also good insight of the making of the film courtesy of Capra’s son, Frank Capra Jr.

And last, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is released in digibook format with 28-pages and for anyone who is not familiar with digibook, they look like a book.  There are pages, but at the front and back is where the Blu-ray’s are inserted.  Also, digibooks are released for a short time and are often changed to the usual Blu-ray casing later on. If you are a digibook collector, you will definitely want to get this film when it’s released.

Overall, “You Can’t Take It With You” is a timeless Frank Capra romantic comedy classic.  Featuring wonderful direction by Frank Capra and an amazing performance by James Stewart and Jean Arthur, plus a 4K restoration and a digibook release, the “You Can’t Take It With You” Blu-ray release is highly recommended!

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