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

February 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Moonlight” is a film that lingers within you, because it captivates you from beginning to end. From the exceptional storyline and the wonderful acting, Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is deserving of every award it has been nominated for and has won. This film is perfect in many levels may it be in directing, story, cinematography, editing, this is rare. And typically those rare films are often called a “masterpiece”. Director Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is no doubt a masterpiece! Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Moonlight

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 111 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Some Sexuality, Drug Use, Brief Violence and Language Throughout)

RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2017


Directed by Barry Jenkins

Screenplay by Barry Jenkins

Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Produced by Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski

Co-Producer: Andrew Hevia, Veronica Nickel

Executive Producer: Tarell Alvin McCraney, Brad Pitt

Associate Producer: John Montague

Music by Nicholas Britell

Cinematography by James Laxton

Edited by Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders

Casting by Yesi Ramirez

Production Design by Hannah Beachler

Set Decoration by Regina McLarney

Costume Design by Caroline Eselin


Starring:

Ashton Sanders as Chiron

Trevante Rhodes as Black

Alex R. Hibbert as Little

Mahershala Ali as Juan

Shariff Earp as Terrence

Duan Sanderson as Azu

Janelle Monae as Teresa

Naomie Harris as Paula

Jaden Piner as Kevin (9)

Patrick Decile as Terrel

Jharrel Jerome as Kevin (16)

Andre Holland as Kevin

Stephon Bron as Travis


A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Moonlight is profoundly moving portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.


From filmmaker Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”, “My Josephine”) comes his award winning film “Moonlight”.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards and the Golden Globe winner of “Best Motion Picture”, “Moonlight” is based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” written by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

The film stars Mahershala Ali (“Luke Cage”, “House of Cards”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Janelle Monae (“The Equalizer”, “Friends with Benefits”), Naomie Harris (“Skyfall”, “28 Days Later”, “Spectre”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”), Alex R. Hibbert,  Ashton Sanders (“The Retrieval”), Trevante Rhodes (“Westworld”, “If Loving You is Wrong”), Andre Holland (“42”, “Selma”), Jharrel Jerome and many more.

And now the critically acclaimed “Moonlight” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD.

“Moonlight” revolves around the life of Chiron and is told in three parts.  The first part titled “Little” as a child, the second part titled
“Chiron” as a teenager and the third part titled “Black” as an adult.

Without spoiling too much of the film, the first part begins with introducing us to a young Chiron (portrayed by Alex Hibbert) who lives in a drug infested area of Miami.

Chiron is shy and because he is short (and often called “Little”), he is often targeted by bullies.  Unfortunately for Chiron, because he is often emotionally abused by his druggie mother Paula (portrayed by Naomie Harris), he doesn’t like going back home.

While Chiron is hiding from his bullies, a crack dealer named Juan (portrayed by Mahershala Ali) feels bad for Chiron and takes him to his girlfriend, Teresa’s (portrayed by Janelle Monae) home.

And Juan becomes like a father figure to Chiron.  Chiron is naive about how Juan makes a living and his connection to his mother.

Meanwhile, he befriends a kid named Kevin (portrayed by Jaden Piner) who befriends Chiron and even teaches him how to defend himself.

And as the film progresses, how will life be for the shy and withdrawn Chiron as he gets older, goes to high school and later in adulthood?  Will he still be the target of bullies?  And from the abuse that he endures throughout his life, how will this abuse affect Chiron?

And throughout his life, Chiron tries to learn about his identity in the midst of confusion.


VIDEO:

“Moonlight” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film features great detail on closeups but what is striking is the backdrops of Miami.  The cinematography by James Laxton (“Camp X-Ray”, “Yoga Hosers”, “Tusk”) was absolutely wonderful!  And the editing by Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders in coordination with the music by Nicholas Britell was well-done!

The film looks absolutely wonderful in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Moonlight” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  The film is primarily dialogue and music driven.  Dialogue is crystal clear and Nicholas Britell’s (“12 Years a Slave”, “Whiplash”, “The Big Short”) music is an integral part of the film and sounds beautiful.  Surround channels are reserved for ambiance but for the most part, this is a dialogue and music-driven soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Moonlight” comes with the following special features:

  • Ensemble of Emotion: Making Moonlight – (21:36) The cast and crew discuss the story and the casting for “Moonlight”.
  • Poetry Through Collaboration: The Music of Moonlight – (10:06) Composer Nicholas Britell discusses the music featured throughout the film.
  • Cruel Beauty: Filming in Miami – (5:38) A featurette about filming in Miami.
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

“Moonlight” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I am a firm believer in movie magic and as a cineaste, you always want to experience a film that is unique, magical but also thought-provoking and stays in your head for hours, days and if it’s that good, it will be a memory that stays within you for a lifetime.

“Moonlight” is an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical play “Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney.  A play written by McCraney to cope with the death of his mother who died of AIDS.  As McCraney shelved the project for over a decade, filmmaker Barry Jenkins was introduced to the work of McCraney through the Borscht arts collective in Miami and it would lead the two to collaborate on a live film adaptation and splitting the story into three chapters.

But most importantly, making sure that the film remains true to McCraney’s personal story of growing up as a homosexual, during a time when being gay was not accepted and people kept their sexual preference as private or people were confused about their identity, that they didn’t know why they were experiencing the same emotions towards the same sex.

And for McClaney and Jenkins, the two came up with a screenplay that both share similar experiences.  Both McCraney and Jenkins had mothers who struggled with drug addiction, both grew up in Liberty Square in Miami and more.

And it’s this collaboration that would prove to be magical because it’s one thing for McCraney to write a story semi-autobiographical play about his life, but for it to be envisioned into a film and having a cinematographer, editor and composer who would utilize their skills to the upmost efficacy, would work wonderfully.

Each actor portraying Chiron in difference ages of his life, performed their roles based on emotion and movement through eyes not just the words.  You feel the anguish, the sadness and the hurt that each of these characters are experiencing.

And the casting was magnificent, but it’s also important to note that filmmaker Barry Jenkins kept the three versions of Chiron from ever meeting and to have a story that plays out in different times of Chiron’s life, watching the film almost felt as you were watching the same character age throughout his life, when in fact, you are watching three actors who were able to make the audience to feel Chiron’s pain, as a child, as a teenager and as an adult.

And without spoiling the film, I’ll just keep it at that.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture and lossless audio are well-done and you get a few special features included as well.

Overall, “Moonlight” is a film that lingers within you, because it captivates you from beginning to end.   From the exceptional storyline and the wonderful acting, Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is deserving of every award it has been nominated for and has won.  This film is perfect in many levels may it be in directing, story, cinematography, editing, this is rare.  And typically those rare films are often called a “masterpiece”.

Director Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” is no doubt a masterpiece!  Highly recommended!

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Contract to Kill (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Contract to Kill” may please the hardcore Steven Seagal action film fans.  But among the action films which he has starred in recent years, this film is not one of his better ones.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Contract to Kill

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 90 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2017


Directed by Keoni Waxman

Written by Keoni Waxman

Produced by Binh Dang, Steven Seagal, Keoni Waxman

Executive Producer: Phillip B. Goldfine, Pierre-Andre Rochat

Line Producer: Cristian Bostanescu

Music by Michael Richard Plowman

Cinematography by Trevor Mirosh

Edited by Trevor Mirosh

Casting by Dominica Circiumaru, Gillian Hawser

Production Design by Dan Toader

Set Decoration by Alina Pentac

Costume Design by Oana Draghici


Starring:

Steven Seagal as John Harmon

Russell Wong as Matthew Sharp

Jemma Dallender as Zara Hayek

Mircea Drambareanu as Jose Rivera

Sergiu Costache as Ayan Al-Mujahid

Ghassan Bouz as Abdul Rauf


When the CIA stumbles upon evidence that a dangerous group of extremists is planning to join forces with a drug cartel, CIA operative John Harmon assembles a high-tech team to turn the two groups against each other in an explosive confrontation.


Producer Keoni Waxman has collaborated with action star Steven Seagal for several films and a TV series such as “True Justice” and “Mercenary: Absolution”.

And this time around, Waxman has directed and written Seagal’s latest action film “Contract to Kill”.

The film along with Steven Seagal, also stars Russell Wong (“Romeo Must Die”, “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”) and Jemma Dallender (“I Spit on Your Grave 2”, “The Mirror”, “Community”).

And the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2017.

Steven Seagal plays the role of John Harmon, a former CIA agent and now a retired mechanic who is called back into service by the C.I.A. to perform an assassination on a criminal kingpin.

Because of the high stakes involved, John requests a team with two other people.  Agent Zara Hayek (portrayed by Jemma Dallender), who was trained by Harmon and had a romantic relationship with him, is his weapons expert.  While Matthew Sharp (portrayed by Russell Wong) is a communications hacker, drone specialist and martial arts expert.

The three go to Istanbul to uncover a brutal plot of Islamic extremists using Sonora drug-smuggling routes to bring in deadly weapons and their leaders into the United States.

How can Harmon take these criminal organizations down?  And is someone leaking information to the enemies before Harmon can get to him?  Is it one of his team members?  Can anyone be trusted?


VIDEO:

“Contract to Kill” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film features great detail on closeups but special effects, such as one scene involving kids watching a plane blow up, the quality of the visual effects was quite lacking.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Contract to Kill” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. There are action scenes that are utilized by the surround channels but for the most part, this film is driven by ambiance or police chasing down the criminals.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Contract to Kill” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of Contract to Kill – (14:46) The cast and crew discuss working on the film.
  • Contract to Kill Trailer

EXTRAS:

“Contract to Kill” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


From filmmaker, writer and producer Keoni Waxman comes his action film “Contract to Kill”, as a former CIA/DEA operative named Jonathan Harmon is investigating terrorists that were captured in Mexico.  As Harmon is joined by two people, FBI Agent Zara and communications hacker/drone specialist Sharp, the three go to Istanbul to uncover a brutal plot of Islamic extremists using Sonora drug-smuggling routes to bring in deadly weapons and their leaders into the United States.

But to prevent an attack on America, Harmon comes up with an idea to have two savage forces to go against each other and waiting for the best moment for him and his team to attack.

I pretty much grew up watching Steven Seagal action films and while the Steven Seagal of the past is a much different man of the Steven Seagal of today, with his most recent films, the 2016 action film “Code of Honor” is one of his better films showcasing the actor.

Finding the better shots but also cast members that can help in carrying the film.

I tend to compare Seagal with WWE’s Hulk Hogan. Coming back as a wrestler in his 50’s at the time and taking on his younger counterparts such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a few others.  And each time Hulk Hogan returns, now knowing he is in his ’60s, knowing he can still kick a lot of butt but you know deep inside, he’s not the same man that we watched when he was in his ’20s.  He’s not as quick, he’s not the same physically, but yet he has that presence and charisma that people still root for him.

In other words, he has created a legacy built from his earlier and successful years and has carried it on to the present time.

Watching Steven Seagal in “Contract to Kill”, you’re watching a man who has few lines, speaks very slow and not the same quick action star we once knew and we know he can dish it, we know he can still be portrayed to kick extreme ass and the body count of enemies still remains high in his films.

But yet, like his counterparts such as Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Jackie Chan, these are men are in their ’60s and ’70s but action film fans still want to see them kick ass.

As I watched “Contract to Kill”, we can see Seagal leading a team but to remain the nimble action star, the older action star making love to his young co-actress, the film didn’t work for me because situations seemed quite implausible.

One of my worst pet peeves when it comes to action films is seeing people hit and yet there are no bruising, no blood, nothing to show that they’ve been beaten.  Yet, we see actress Jemma Dallender’s character of Zaya, still looking beautiful with no sign of facial trauma. And despite being trained by the best, she ends up being a damsel in distress.

And I suppose there are other things about the film that didn’t work for me in terms of editing and flow, but in the end, Steven Seagal direct-to-video films are popcorn action films that are never expected to be deep.  If anything, they are action films mean to entertain and show us that Seagal can still kick ass.

As for the Blu-ray, “Contract to Kill” comes with a few special features and the enthusiasm behind-the-scenes with the actors working on the film. discussing working on an action film.

Overall, “Contract to Kill” may please the hardcore Steven Seagal action film fans.  But among the action films which he has starred in recent years, this film is not one of his better ones.

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Tresspass Against Us (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Tresspass Against Us” features a wonderful performance by Michael Fassbender and child actor Georgie Smith. But as far as the film goes, “Tresspass Against Us” is a film that no doubt had its entertaining moments.  But in the end, the film has its share of storyline continuity problems in which some scenes were rather ineffective and also issues with the lack of character development.  Still, the film had some redeeming factors that may make one interested in giving the film a try.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Tresspass Against Us

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 100 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Pervasive Language, Some Disturbing Behavior and Brief Graphic Nudity)

RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2017


Directed by Adam Smith

Written by Alastair Siddons

Produced by Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Alastair Siddons

Executive Producer: Joshua Astrachan, Rose Garnett, Frederick W. Green, Peter Hampden, Phil Hunt, Norman Merry, Compton Ross

Associate Producer: Joe Wheatley

Music by The Chemical Brothers

Cinematography by Eduard Grau

Edited by Kristina Hethrington, Jake Roberts

Casting by Shaheen Baig

Production Design by Nick Palmer

Art Direction by Andrea Matheson

Set Decoration by  Sophie Phillips

Costume Design by Suzanne Cave


Starring:

Michael Fassbender as Chad Cutler

Brendan Gleeson as Colby Cutler

Lyndsey Marshal as Kelly Cutler

Georgie Smith as Tyson Cutler

Rory Kinnear as P.C. Lovage

Killian Scott as Kenny

Sean Harris as Gordon Bennett

Kingsley Ben-Adir as Sampson

Kacie Anderson as Mini Cutler

Gerard Kearns as Lester

Tony Way as Norman

Barry Keoghan as Windows

Ezra Khan as Jamail

Alan Williams as Noah


Academy Award® nominee Michael Fassbender stars as the conflicted yet loyal son unable to escape from the crime empire led by his father, Golden Globe® nominee Brendan Gleeson.


From filmmaker Adam Smith (“The Chemical Brothers: Don’t Think”, “Desire”, “Dr. Who”) comes his latest British-American film “Tresspass Against Us”.

Written by Alastair Siddons (“In the Dark Half”, “Inside Out”), the film stars Michael Fassbender (“Prometheus”, “Inglorious Basterds”, “X-Men: Days of Future Pass”, “X-Men: First Class”), Brendan Gleeson (“Edge of Tomorrow”, “Gangs of New York”, “Troy,”, “Braveheart”), Lyndsey Marshal (“The Hours”, “Festival”, “A Short Stay in Switzerland”, “Hereafter”), Rory Kinnear (“The Imitation Game”, “Skyfall”, “Spectre”) and young actor Georgie Smith.

“Tresspass Against Us” revolves around Chad (portrayed by Michael Fassbender), his wife Kelly (portrayed by Lyndsey Marshal) and his three children,which include eldest son, Tyson (portrayed by Georgie Smith).

Chad lives in a trailer park community (with mostly Irish travelers) in which his father Colby (portrayed by Brendan Gleeson) is the criminal ringleader who organizes heists involving others living in the community.

But Chad doesn’t like the toll its taking on his family and would prefer to leave the criminal world, so his children could get a proper education and not grow up in the trailerpark community living poor and a life of crime. Because Chad grew up illiterate, and sick of the life that he and his family have, he is wanting out of the group.

His father Colby knows nothing about life outside the trailer park and has his own belief of religion and education.  And Chad and his wife know that the more Tyson stays around Colby and others in the trailer park, he will more than likely become a criminal like him?

But would it be easy for Chad and his family to leave the life they have ever known?

Meanwhile, Colby has everyone working on a major heist?  But what happens when all things go wrong?


VIDEO:

“Tresspass Against Us” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film features great detail on closeups and retains its grain.  For the most part, picture quality for the film is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Tresspass Against Us” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Dialogue and The Chemical Brothers musical score is crystal clear. There are action scenes that are utilized by the surround channels but for the most part, this film is driven by ambiance or police chasing down the criminals.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tresspass Against Us” comes with the following special features:

      • On the Set of Tresspass Against Us – (21:54) The cast and crew discuss their work on the film and working with cast members, including the child talents.
      • Heartfelt: Director Adam Smith on The Chemical Brothers – (4:47) Director Adam Smith talks about his long working relationship with The Chemical Brothers and working with them on “Tresspass Against Us”.

EXTRAS:

“Tresspass Against Us” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


There are always people who grew up uneducated and living a life of poverty that want to become a better person, to go back to school and get their degrees in hopes they will not live the life that they or their parents or ancestors had lived.

“Tresspass Against Us” is a straightforward film about a father/husband named Chad who is starting to want out of the trailer park community full of Irish criminals led by his father, Colby.  For the sake that his family can live a decent life and their children become educated and not living a life of crime.

Chad has always been wrapped around his father’s finger, whatever his father wants, he expects Chad to do it.  And while it seems that no matter how bad things get, despite wanting to stand up for himself and his family and wanting to become more defiant against his father and leave the life they only know for a better one.

Being illiterate, Chad wants his children to become educated and leave the community but also to leave his father.  But unfortunately, Chad’s oldest son Tyson appears to have more love of their current life and often listens to their grandfather.  A man who likes telling tall-tales and giving his own opinion about the education system and more.

To be truthful, one of the film’s problems is that these characters are not likeable and very messed up.

Sure, they are the product of their environment and could they escape that environment and start over in another area?  Or once a riff raff, always a riff raff?

While the film tries to make Chad’s father, Colby the antagonist of the film, the film starts to change when it becomes a heist film and the cops want nothing more but to bust Chad and the criminals in the trailerpark community.  They just need the evidence to bust them all.  And so for these community of thieves, they find themselves as targets by the police.

For a film to be enjoyable, one should enjoy the characters and its storyline.  I felt that Michael Fassbender and youngster Georgie Smith had great chemistry as father and son on the big screen.  Georgie manages to have the pottymouth like the other travelers and you can’t help but enjoy those moments shared between father and son.

But as much as I enjoyed the film, the film lacks in character development and substance.  Enjoyable as the movie is, it’s not a film that I would want to watch for a second or third time.

The picture quality for the film is very good, as with the lossless audio and you do get a few special features included on Blu-ray.

Overall, “Tresspass Against Us” features a wonderful performance by Michael Fassbender and child actor Georgie Smith. But as far as the film goes, “Tresspass Against Us” is a film that no doubt had its entertaining moments.  But in the end, the film has its share of storyline continuity problems in which some scenes were rather ineffective and also issues with the lack of character development.  Still, the film had some redeeming factors that may make one interested in giving the film a try.

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Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition” is a film that gets better with age.  I came onto watching this film for the first time in over 25-years and realized for the first time about how awesome the casting, the writing and choreography was for the entire film.  And the fact that the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release is jammed with over six hours of special features and comes with a 7.1 lossless soundtrack makes this Blu-ray release worth owning!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1987

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2017


Directed by Emile Ardolino

Written by Eleanor Bergstein

Produced by Linda Gottlieb

Co-Producer: Eleanor Bergstein

Executive Producer: Mitchell Cannold, Steven Reuther

Associate Producer: Doro Bachrach

Music by John Morris

Cinematography by Jeff Jur

Edited by Peter C. Frank

Casting by Bonnie Timmermann

Production Design by David Chapman

Art Direction by Mark Haack, Stephen J. Lineweaver

Set Decoration by Clay A. Griffith

Costume Design by Hilary Rosenfield


Starring:

Jennifer Grey as Baby Houseman

Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle

Jerry Orbach as Jake Houseman

Cynthia Rhodes as Penny Johnson

Jack Weston as Max Kellerman

Jane Brucker as Lisa Houseman

Kelly Bishop as Marjorie houseman

Lonny Price as Neil Kellerman

Max Cantor as Robbie Gould

Charlie “Honi” Coles as Tito Suarez

Neal Jones as Billy Kostecki


In the summer of 1963, innocent 17-year-old Baby (Jennifer Grey) vacations with her parents at a Catskills resort. One evening, she is drawn to the staff quarters by stirring music, and there she meets Johnny (Patrick Swayze), the hotel dance instructor, who is as experienced as Baby is naive. She soon becomes Johnny’s pupil in dance and love.


In 1987, a low-budget film titled “Dirty Dancing” directed by Emile Ardolino (“Sister Act”, “Three Men and a Little Lady”, “Chances Are”) and a screenplay written by Eleanor Bergstein (“It’s My Turn”, “Let it Be Me”) would become a massive box office hit earning over $214 million worldwie.

The film would catapult the careers of unknown actors Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey (both starred in the 1984 film, “Red Dawn”) and “Dirty Dancing” would be the first film to sell more than a million copies on home video and its soundtrack would generate two multi-platinum albums and multiple singles with “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” winning an Academy Award for “Best Original Song” and a Grammy for “Best Duet”.

And with the 30th Anniversary of “Dirty Dancing”, Lionsgate will be releasing a 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition and normal Blu-ray release.

“Dirty Dancing” is set during the summer of 1963 and revolves around the Houseman family visiting the Kellerman resort in the Catskill Mountains.

Frances “Baby” Houseman (portrayed by Jennifer Grey) is a 17-year-old high school graduate who plans to attend the Mount Holyoke College to study economics in underdeveloped countries and then enter the Peace Corps.

Baby’s father, Jake (portrayed by Jerry Orbach) is a doctor and friend of Max Kellerman (portrayed by Jack Weston), the resort proprietor.

Bored at the resort, Baby meets Max’s grandson Neil (portrayed by Lonny Price) and immediately she is becomes smitten with the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle (portrayed by Patrick Swayze).

Johnny is from the other side of the tracks.  He is the leader of the working-class entertainment staff and is often dancing with his dance partner, Penny Johnson (portrayed by Cynthia Rhodes).

When Johnny’s cousin Billy needs to deliver watermelons to the the staff quarters, Baby volunteers and she watches Johnny and Penny doing a dance that she has never seen before, “dirty dancing”.

When Penny finds out that she is pregnant by Robbie Gould (portrayed by Max Cantor), who is a womanizing waiter and is cheating on her and dating Baby’s older sister, Lisa (portrayed by Jane Brucker) and other female guests, Penny wants to get an abortion but doesn’t have the money.

for the time being, Johnny needs a new female partner as another nearby resort is having a performance week.  So, Baby volunteers.

But will Baby learn how to learn how to dance and learn the “dirty dancing” moves along with Johnny?  And what happens when these two get closer to each other?


VIDEO:

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). For a 30-year-old film, it’s important to remind everyone that they shouldn’t expect the best HD presentation for an older film, especially for ’80s films as it seems there are quite a number of films that have received a good dose of DNR (digital noise reduction).  The good news is that “Dirty Dancing” retains its grain structure and the film looks very good in HD.  An improvement for those who love the film and own it on DVD, you’ll definitely want to upgrade.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX Auio. Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear.  With the 7.1 lossless soundtrack, great use of music and ambiance through the surround channels.  But I absolutely applaud Lionsgate for including a 7.1 soundtrack on this Blu-ray release.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary” comes with the following special features:

      • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with writer/co-producer Eleanor Bergstein
      • Audio commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrson, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman.
      • Happy Birthday, Dirty Dancing – (29:17) Celebrities and those in the entertainment industry discuss the 30th anniversary of “Dirty Dancing”.
      • Patrick Swayze: In His Own Words – (12:52) Patrick Swayze talks about dancing, performing and working on the film.
      • Eleanor Bergstein – Thoughts on a Lifetime of Dirty Dancing – (6:40) Eleanor Bergstein discusses her memories of the filming of “Dirty Dancing” and its enduring popularity.
      • Patrick Swayze Uncut – (13:22) From the last interview with Patrick Swayze about “Dirty Dancing” before his death.
      • Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon – (13:44) The popularity of “Dirty Dancing” and how well the film did for its premiere and how a low-budget film became a phenomenon.
      • The Rhythm of the Dancing – (4:08) The cast discusses the soundtrack for the film.  Patrick Swayze discusses writing and doing the music for “She’s Like the Wind” and how it got into the movie and more.
      • Hungry Eyes Music Video – Featuring Eric Carmen’s music video.
      • She’s Like the Wind Music Video – Featuring Patrick Swayze’s music video.
      • (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life Music Video – Featuring Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes music video.
      • Cast Interviews: Jennifer Grey – (11:14) Interview with actress Jennifer Grey.
      • Cast Interviews: Eleanor Bergstein – (18:35) Interview with writer/co-producer Eleanor Bergstein.
      • Cast Interviews: Miranda Garrison – (16:12) Interview with assistant choreographer Miranda Garrison (who also played the role of Vivian).
      • Cast Interviews: Kenny Ortega – (15:23) Interview with choreographer Kenny Ortega.
      • Deleted Scenes – Featuring eleven deleted scenes.
      • Extended Scenes – Featuring seven extended scenes.
      • Alternate Scenes – Featuring three alternate scenes.
      • Jennifer Grey Screen Test comparisons – Featuring two screen test comparisons: Baby Blackmails Lista and Baby Confronts Dad + Extended Scenes
      • Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey Screen Test Montage – (1:10) Dirty Dancing test montage with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.
      • Outtakes – (:37) Outtakes from “Dirty Dancing”.

EXTRAS:

“Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition” comes with a DVD version of the film and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I don’t think it’s necessary to discuss how much a phenomenon “Dirty Dancing” was back in the ’80s.  Popular film, popular musical soundtrack and a film that is an excellent case of a film that didn’t require much money to create, nor did it need all-star talent.

If anything, director Emile Ardolino and writer Eleanor Bergstein were able to create a film that resonates strongly, emotionally, visually with the audience.  But also a film that has people wanting to get up and dance and sing a long to its musical soundtrack.

And the casting of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey was absolutely perfect!

This is an example of movie magic where everything came together and now, “Dirty Dancing” is considered a classic.

And now, here we are 30-years later and I’m watching the film for the first time probably over 25-years.

I was only a young teen but my memories of the film are easy to remember.  Watching the film over and over as it was shown on cable, hearing the music play over and over on the radio but most of all, remembering as a teenager and seeing two of my favorite characters from “Red Dawn” appearing together in another film.

And to see how their careers would blossom after this film finished its run.  Patrick Swayze became a household name and he would return in two other hit films “Ghost” (1990) and “Point Break” (1991), Jennifer Grey would take on more TV films and would appear on television series, while Broadway legend Jerry Orbach would become a familiar face on the drama show “Law & Order”.

If anything, this film would become part of that ’80s allure.  The film was bold for its time, while today, the type of dirty dancing has evolved for today’s modern generation. Sexy dancing doesn’t have the same mystique now as it did back in the ’80s.

And last but not least, there have been several times when I rewatch an ’80s film and question myself of why did I like it then but didn’t like it now.  “Dirty Dancing” was a film (and its musical soundtrack) that became too much overkill and I literally strayed away from watching the film again until now.

Watching “Dirty Dancing” again 30-years  later, I felt I appreciated the film so much more now, than I did as a teenager.  The attention the film had towards choreography and even the small moments featuring Baby dancing by herself and later with Johnny, seeing her improve as a dancer but also seeing this undeniable chemistry between the two actors onscreen.

The 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release comes with a wonderful limited edition set but this normal version that I’m reviewing is no slouch as it features over six hours of extras.  I was impressed by the number of special features included on the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release and found the commentary and features to be quite entertaining.

Overall, “Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition” is a film that gets better with age.  I came onto watching this film for the first time in over 25-years and realized for the first time about how awesome the casting, the writing and choreography was for the entire film.  And the fact that the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray release is jammed with over six hours of special features and comes with a 7.1 lossless soundtrack makes this Blu-ray release worth owning!

Recommended!

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

February 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For anyone who are open to learning about new cultures and seeing the life of those living in rural regions, Otto Bell’s “The Eagle Huntress” is truly inspirational and also visually beautiful to watch.  I enjoyed it and also recommend it!

Image courtesy of © 2016 Eagle Huntress, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Eagle Huntress

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 88 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 Aspect Ratio, Kazakh 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audiences)

RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2017


Directed by Otto Bell

Produced by Otto Bell, Sharon Chang, Stacy Reiss

Executive Producer: Jeremy Chilnick, Dan Cogan, Barbara Dobkin, Susan MacLaury, Daisy Ridley, Regina Kulik Scully, Marc H. Simon, Morgan Spurlock

Music by Jeff Peters

Cinematography by Simon Niblett

Edited by Pierre Takal


Starring:

Narrated by Daisy Ridley

Aisholpan Nurgaiv

Rys Nurgaiv


THE EAGLE HUNTRESS follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries. Set against the breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe, THE EAGLE HUNTRESS features some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography every captured in a documentary, giving this intimate tale of a young girl’s quest the dramatic force of an epic narrative film.


In 2016, filmmaker Otto Bell would film a Kazakh-language British-Mongolian-American documentary titled “The Eagle Huntress”.

Executive-produced by documentarian Morgan Spurlock (“Super Zie Me”, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”, “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?”) and Daisy Ridley (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Scrawl”, “Lifesaver”), who also narrates the film.

And now the documentary will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in February 2017.

“The Eagle Huntress” revolves around Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a 13-year-old Kazakh girl from Mongolia and is from a family of nomads that spend their summers in a yurt in the Altai mountains and during the winter, they live in town.

For seven generations, her family have been eagle hunters and she wants to become one.

While Aisholpan studies hard as she dreams of becoming a doctor but also has learned from her father Nurgaiv, an eagle hunter/trainer, who has won a few Golden Eagle competitions.  She was taught by her father to care for an eagle and train them and dreams of competing in the major competition, but the competition is dominated by male eagle hunters who believe in a males-only tradition.

But Nurgaiv has always believed that males and females are equal and that Aisholpan can compete.

So, one day, Aisholpan with her father climb up a mountain and she is able to capture and train her own eaglet.

But what happens when Aisholpan enters the annual Golden Eagle Festival?


VIDEO:

“The Eagle Huntress” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). Overall picture quality shows amazing detail during closeups. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep. Many outdoor shots and for the most part vibrant and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The documentary looks very good in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “The Eagle Huntress” is presented in Kazakh 5.1 DTS-HD MA and an English audio description track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The lossless audio is primarily dialogue and musically driven, with surround channels for natural ambiance (especially with the eagle or birds squawking or chirping in the background).

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Eagle Huntress” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Otto Bell.
  • Capturing the Eagle Huntress – (10:26) Behind-the-scenes on the making of “The Eagle Huntress”.
  • Theatrical Trailer

What started with a photograph from a photographer, would lead filmmaker Otto Bell to go to western Mongolia to create a film in the least populated rural region of the country.

Observing families and how eagles were living with the humans and sure enough, when Otto Bell and his crew proposed to make a film about 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv, the daughter of an eagle hunter/trainer, from her catching an eagle to her competing in the annual Golden Eagle Festival.

But also to learn about the challenges that Aisholpan experienced because she was female competing in a competition that was primarily male-dominated.  And no doubt, a gender-breaking opportunity and showing that a female can compete along with the males.

With no money, no budget and shooting on a shoestring budget, with only a few crew (which included using GoPro cameras), the crew were able to get aerial shots with a drone and utilize a RED EPIC camera and lightweight crane to accomplish the film.

The film no doubt was able to be boosted by narration by actress Daisy Ridley but the storyline of “The Eagle Huntress” is made enjoyable with the true-to-life filming of the daily life of young Aisholpan but also the cinematography of Simon Niblett was able to capture the beauty but also showing us the risk that Aisholpan had to accomplish in hunting her first eagle but eventually training it for competition.

“The Eagle Huntress” documentary that is no doubt amazing for the accomplishment of a 13-year-old girl, who many considered not suitable to participate in the annual Golden Eagle Festival competition but what happens after and to hear the male competitors discuss her win, was no surprise.

While the documentary is inspirational, I was also impressed by what the film crew with hardly any budget was able to accomplish in getting this film made.  And with modern technology, director Otto Bell and cinematographer Simon Niblett were able to document a day in the life of a teenager and a region that many people are not familiar with.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and music.  Special features includes an insightful audio commentary but also a featurette showing the challenges of filming this documentary on a shoestring budget.

For anyone who are open to learning about new cultures and seeing the life of those living in rural regions, Otto Bell’s “The Eagle Huntress” is truly inspirational and also visually beautiful to watch.  I enjoyed it and also recommend it!

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American Pastoral (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The directorial debut of actor Ewan McGregor was no doubt a wonderful first film. With “American Pastoral”, taking on such a challenging job as a director and the film’s main protagonist, McGregor takes Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize novel and is able to make it his own, with a few changes compared to the original source. I couldn’t help but being captivated by the film and seeing how certain actions mirrors today’s society and I found the film to be fascinating, though-provoking and heartbreaking. “American Pastoral” is a film worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: American Pastoral

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 108 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Some Strong Sexual Material, Language and Deep Violent Images)

RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2017


Based on the Novel by Philip roth

Directed by Ewan McGregor

Screenplay by John Romano

Produced by Andre Lamal, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg

Co-Producer: Zane Weiner

Executive Producer: Terry McKay, Eric Reid

Music by Alexandre Desplat

Cinematography by Martin Ruhe

Edited by Melissa Kent

Casting by Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood

Production Design by Daniel B. Clancy

Art Direction by Gregory A. Weimerskirch

Set Decoration by Julie Smith

Costume Design by Lindsay McKay


Starring:

Ewan McGregor as Swede Levov

Jennifer Connelly as Dawn Levov

Dakota Fanning as Merry Levov

Peter Riegert as Lou Levov

Rupert Evans as Jerry Levov

Uzo Aduba as Vicky

Molly Parker as Sheila Smith

Valorie Curry as Rita Cohen

Hannah Nordberg as Merry Levov (12-years-old)

Julia Silverman as Sylvia Levov

Mark Hildreth as Agent Dolan

Samantha Mathis as Penny Hamlin

David Strathairn as Nathan Zuckerman


Ewan McGregor directs and stars alongside Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning in this acclaimed film adapted from Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Seymour “Swede” Levov (Ewan McGregor), a once-legendary high school athlete, is a successful businessman married to a former beauty queen, Dawn (Jennifer Connelly). When Swede and Dawn’s daughter (Dakota Fanning) disappears after being accused of a violent crime, Swede’s perfect life is broken forever and he is left to make sense out of the chaos.


Back in 1997, Philip Roth’s novel “American Pastoral” would take the world by storm.

Roth’s novel would win the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and was included in Time Magazine’s “All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels” and the crime-drama film would receive a loose film adaptation.

Actor Ewan McGregor (“Trainspotting”, “Star Wars: Episodes 1-3” films) would make his directorial debut with “American Pastoral” and would feature a screenplay by John Romano (“The Lincoln Lawyer”, “Intolerable Cruelty”, “Nights in Rodanthe”).

The film stars Jennifer Connelly (“Requiem for a Dream”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Blood Diamond”), Dakota Fanning (“War of the Worlds”, “Man on Fire”, “I am Sam”), Peter Riegert (“The Mask”, “Oscar”, “Animal House”), Rupert Evans (“Hellboy”, “Agora”, “The Canal”), Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”, “Tallulah”), Molly Parker (“The Road”, “Dead Wood”, “The Wicker Man”), Valorie Curry (“The Following”, “Blair Witch”, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”).

The film’s premiere was held at the 2016 Toronto International Film FEstival wand will be released on Blu-ray in February 2017.

The film begins with author Nathan Zuckerman (portrayed by David Strathairn) going to his 40-year reunion for Weequahic High School in Newark, Jersey.

Nathan is looking forward to seeing his old friend Seymour “Swede” Levov (portrayed by Ewan McGregor), the high school hero, star athlete who married beauty queen Dawn Dwyer Levov (portrayed by Jennifer Connelly) and is now in charge of the family glove-making business.  And the last he heard before the ’60s was that Swede and Dawn had a daughter named Merry.

When he sees Swede’s younger brother, Jerry (portrayed by Rupert Evans) at the high school reunion and starts reminiscing about Swede, he is unaware of what happened to Swede throughout the decades.  In fact, the reason why Jerry is in town is for Swede’s funeral.

Jerry then tells Nathan the story of what happened to Swede.

We learn that Swede, who is Jewish, married Dawn a devout Roman Catholic and how his father, Lou (portrayed by Peter Riegert) was against the marriage but gave in.

The couple would have a daughter named Meredith “Merry” and would settle in the town of Old Rimrock at a big farm, in which Dawn takes care of the cows, while Swede would take over his father’s business.

Merry has a stuttering problem and when Swede and Dawn talk to Dr. Sheila Smith about why she has a stuttering problem, they start to learn that its possible competition between mother and daughter for Swede’s attention.

One day, while watching television, a young “Merry” sees the Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc taking part in self-immolation and can’t understand why the man would burn himself to death.

Fastforward to when Merry is now a teenager and as the Vietnam War continues to rage on during the turbulent 1960’s, she is becoming more radicalized and often leaves to New York to take part in anti-war protests.

Swede who is concerned for his daughter tells her that he will not allow her to go to New York and that she could practice her anti-war protests at home.

A few days later, the local posts office and gas station are blown up by a bomb and the gas station’s owner is killed.  With Merry gone, she has now become the prime suspect in the bombing.

And as years have passed by without hearing from their daughter, the couple who were seen as “perfect” are destroyed by not knowing what happened to Merry but radicalized her to the point of killing someone.  The parents question themselves and don’t understand what they did wrong as parents.  And the guilt and the feeling of loss is taking its toll on both Swede and Dawn.

But one day, a woman named Rita Cohen (portrayed by Valorie Curry), a student at the Wharton School comes to Swede’s glovemaking business and immediately tells him behind closed doors that she knows about Merry’s whereabouts.

This leads Swede on a mission to find his daughter.


VIDEO:

“American Pastoral” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Close-ups show great detail and for the most part, costume design and make-up design (showing each cast member aging throughout the years/decades) is well-done.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts while watching the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“American Pastoral” is presented in English and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily a dialogue-driven soundtrack but there are moments where the surround channels are utilized, such as the bomb explosion and when Swede goes after Rita or gun shots outside of Swede’s business.  But for the most part, this is

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“American Pastoral” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Ewan McGregor.
  • American Pastoral: Adapting an American Classic – (28:01) A featurette about the difficulties of doing an adaptation of “American Pastoral” and how Ewan McGregor came to be the film’s director.  And also interviews with the cast and behind-the-scenes of making the film.
  • Making the American Dream – (17:35) A featurette with interviews with the cast and crew about being part of this film and bringing “American Pastoral” to the big screen.

EXTRAS:

“American Pastoral” comes with a slipcover, DVD and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I have watched “American Pastoral” twice and despite knowing how there are a number of differences between the Pulitzer Prize winning book and the film adaptation, I can’t help but say that this film started to grow on me.

As many of us grew up watching ’50s television shows about the perfect nuclear family and whenever there is trouble, people learn from their mistakes and it’s always a happy ending.

I found “American Pastoral” to be a film that really captivated me because of perception that the most popular athlete dating a beauty queen and having inherited his father’s glovemaking business and is financially wealthy makes the Levov family “perfect”.

It’s anything but as this couple who grew up during a time when America seemed wonderful and there were advances in technology and despite the politics and tension with Russia, for the most part, the world seemed much friendlier until the turmoil of the 1960’s rolled in.

The death of JFK, the Vietnam War and a time where people disapproved their government and wanted to make their voices heard.

And seeing how things are going on in today’s society, in someways, the film is relevant because radicalism and anger towards the government is on the forefront and it shows how families who felt they raised their children right, have no control of the life their children may leave when they become obsessed with a certain ideology.

The film deals with this perfect couple who must deal with the consequences after their beloved daughter, who they see her growing up to be more opinionated and then radicalized, blowing up the local post office and gas station, killing a man, a husband, a father.  And now their daughter is missing and both Swede and his wife Dawn, not only feel guilt, there are questions of why their daughter is gone, would she be capable of killing anyone, blowing up property and in essence, becoming a domestic terrorist.

I think in certain moments of the film, there were scenes that stood in my head as the wife of the man who was killed tells the Lenov’s that despite she losing her husband and her children losing their father, she feels bad for them because they still maintain their family.  The family will continue as it had before.  But tells the Lenov’s that their family will never be the same.

And we see how the couple grow up through the years, not knowing what happened to their girl.  Swede can’t forget his daughter and his marriage seems incomplete without his family, without his daughter Merry who he has been searching for, awaiting any clue that may lead him to her.

And as years pass, a mysterious woman shows up out of nowhere, offering Swede a chance to find his daughter and that she knows where she is.

I found the film to be smartly written and the film’s message to be powerful.  And I say this as a person who has never read the book.  I think like many adaptations of a famous book, if it deviates too far from the original source, it’s enough to make those who were entertained by the book to easily criticize the film.

In this case, I’m not in the position to discuss the differences between book and film but I do know that I found the film to be real, devastating, tragic and heartbreaking but yet watching how time has transpired for the couple, sympathize with their grief of not knowing what happened to their daughter and if she is capable of being a murderer.

The Blu-ray release features very good picture quality with a lossless soundtrack that is appropriate for the film’s dialogue and music-driven soundtrack.  And you also get a few special features included as well.

Overall, the directorial debut of actor Ewan McGregor was no doubt a wonderful first film. With “American Pastoral”, taking on such a challenging job as a director and the film’s main protagonist, McGregor takes Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize novel and is able to make it his own, with a few changes compared to the original source.  I couldn’t help but being captivated by the film and seeing how certain actions mirrors today’s society and I found the film to be fascinating, though-provoking and heartbreaking.

“American Pastoral” is a film worth checking out!

 

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USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I did enjoy “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” and how the film honors the survivors and the USS Indianapolis’ fallen crew.  But while the film was created with good intentions, it could have been much better.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Saban Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 131 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (War-Related Images and Brief Language)

RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2017


Directed by Mario Van Peebles

Written by Cam Cannon, Richard Rionda Del Castro

Produced by Michael Mendelsohn, Richard Rionda Del Castro

Executive Producer: Martin J. Barab, Shanan Becker, Bill Bromiley, Cam Cannon, Charline Cartoux, Timothy Patrick Cavanaugh, Dama Claire, Kristy Eberle, Patricia Eberle, Claiton Fernandes, Vladimir Fernandes, Yan Fisher-Romanovsky, Raymond Hamrick, Sean Leigh Hart, Frederico Lapenda, Mariusz Lukomski, Dylan McGinty, Balan Melarkode, Euzebio Munhoz Jr. Robert Nau, Michael Nilon, Lindsey Roth, Ness Saban, Jamal Sannan, William W. Wilson III

Associate Producer: Natalie Perrotta

Music by Laurent Eyquem

Cinematography by Andrzej Sekula

Edited by Robert A. Ferretti

Casting by Melissa Wulfemeyer-Valenzuela

Production Design by Joe Lemmon

Art Direction by Mark A. Terry

Set Decoration by Jennifer Lemmon

Costume Design by Patrick O’Driscoll


Starring:

Nicolas Cage as Captain McVay

Tom Sizemore as Mcwhorter

Thomas Jane as Lt. Adrian Marks

Matt Lanter as Bama

James Remar as Admiral Parnell

Brian Presley as Waxman

Yutaka Takeuchi as Hashimoto

Johnny Wactor as Connor

Adam Scott Miller as D’Antonio

Cody Walker as West

Callard Harris as Lt. Standish

Craig Tate as Garrison

Joey Capone as Alvin

Emily Tennant a Clara

Shamar Sanders as Quinn

Max Ryan as Lt. Chuck Gwinn

Patrice Cols as Jean-Pierre


Nicolas Cage, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane star in the harrowing tale of real-life American heroes shipwrecked in shark-infested waters in the waning days of World War II.


From filmmaker/actor Mario Van Peebles (“New Jack City”, “Ali”, “Baadasssss!”) and writers Cam Cannon (“Rage”, “A Haunting at Silver Falls”, “The Prince”) and Richard Rionda Del Castro (“Rage”, “Heist”) comes the American war film, “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage”.

Based on the true story of the USS Indianapolis, a Portland-class heavy cruiser who are coming back after a mission to deliver parts for “Little Boy”, the first atomic bomb used in combat.  The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy I-58 submarine and the heavy cruiser would sink in 12 minutes. And of the 1,196 crewmen aboard, 300 crewmen went down with the ship.  Leaving 900 crewmen floating with very few lifeboats and no food or water for five days and only 317 crewmen would survive the ordeal.

The film would star Nicolas Cage (“Leaving Las Vegas”, “National Treasure”, “Moonstruck”), Tom Sizemore (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Heat”), Thomas Jane (“The Mist”, “Deep Blue Sea”, “Dreamcatcher”), Matt Lanter (“90210”, “Disaster Movie”), James Remar, Brian Presley (“General Hospital”, “Port Charles”, “Borderland”), Yutaka Takeuchi (“East Side Sushi”), Johnny Wactor (“Siberia”, “Goldenbox”), Adam Scott, Cody Walker (“In the Rough”), Callard Harris (“Innocent”, “Letter Never Sent”, “The Real St. Nick”), Craig Tate (“12 Years a Slave”, “Buffalo”) and Emily Tennant (“Juno”, “Mr. Young”, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate.

The film begins with the introduction of a few of the crewman of the USS Indianapolis and their commander Captain Charles McVay (portrayed by Nicolas Cage).  The crew are on their way back to sea after completing a top secret mission to deliver parts of the atomic bomb.

On July 30, 1945, as the crew are patrolling the Philippine Sea, the ship is torpedoed and sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) submarine I-58 which immediately takes 300 crewman to the bottom of the Philippine Sea. Leaving the rest of the crewman who climbed out of the ship to be stranded at sea for five days without food and water in shark-infested waters.

But after the crewmen are rescued, Captain Charles B. McVay III would have to face charges in court.

Also, the story focuses on two childhood friends, Indianapolis diver Brian Smithwick (portrayed by Matt Lanter) and Waxman (portrayed by Brian Presley) and both men fall for Clara (portrayed by Emily Tennant).  Stuck in sea, will these men ever get back home alive?


VIDEO:

“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). For a 15-year-old film, “xXx” looks great in HD. The film features vibrant outdoor scenes. I didn’t notice any dust or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear as surround channels are reversed to the chaos inside the cruiser and on the ocean.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” comes with the following special feature:

  • The Making of USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage -(33:11) A featurette with interviews with the cast and crew.

EXTRAS:

“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Many people who have watched World War II films have been aware of the various real life tragedies of soldiers who died in battle.  And as Pearl Harbor is often discussed of American tragedies in the ocean, the story of the USS Indianapolis is well-known thanks to the reference in the 1975 film, “Jaws”.

While the story of the USS Indianapolis’ sinking and aftermath have received several adaptations, the most recent adaptation “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” directed by Mario Van Peebles goes to show how the top secret mission that the crew undertook, the sinking of the USS Indianapolis but also the political ramifications of the USS Indianapolis sinking and the huge loss of life and despite the S.O.S. messages from the USS Indianapolis being received by three stations, because of fear of Japanese submarines, no one bothered to go out and save the crew.

And how the survivors were “accidentally” discovered and because the military couldn’t not be seen as being reckless or to be blamed, someone had to be blame for the large loss of life and Captain Charles B. McVay III was the man to be blamed and was eventually court-martialed and convicted.

And because of that, McVay took the full brunt from the families of the deceased.  And while McVay’s sentence was remitted and he was restored to active duty and would eventually retire as a rear admiral several years later, the damage was already done.

The guilt that families put on McVay would lead to McVay killing himself two decades later at the age of 70.

It wasn’t until 2000 that that US Congress passed a resolution to Captain McVay exonerated the loss of Indianapolis but it was not until 2001 that the Secretary of the Navy ordered McVay’s record to be cleared of all wrongdoing.

But needless to say, several hundred Naval ships were lost in combat and McVay was the only captain to be court-martialed for the sinking and he was seriously screwed over.

While the film does what it can to restore McVay’s honor and showing how he was screwed over by politicians and the military, the film wanted to show how deadly the seas were due to the sharks that surrounded the area due to the dead bodies.  The shark attacks is noted as the largest shark attack on humans.  While most of it was well-done, there were some scenes that made the movie seem like a cheap shark infestation movie when the film shows closeups of the sharks.  And the film suffers a little when it comes to details of the period and trying to capture the 1940’s.

But I think where the script tends to fail is when it tries to create a storyline among two friends vying for a girl.  As the film tries to incorporate many characters, I felt the film should have focused more on the camaraderie of the crew and to keep any romantic element non-exisited because there is only so much you can integrate in this war film.  The writers tried to add a lot of things involving many characters but it wasn’t really needed at all and it hampered the overall plot a bit.

Nicolas Cage did a good job playing the role of Captain McVay and there is a pivotal scene when McVay confronts Hashimoto (portrayed by Yutaka Takeuchi), the man responsible for the sinking of the USS Indianapolis but also the man who helped McVay, testifying that there was no way that the USS Indianapolis could have avoided the torpedo attack.And decades later, in reality, Hashimoto would be fighting for McVay’s exoneration in 1999 before his death in 2000.

I also felt that the interviews with survivors included at the end of the film was also a good to see but also to see the photos of the actors and their real life counterparts.

If anything, director Mario Van Peebles and the film crew did a fine job of creating film that honored the crew of the USS Indianapolis.  When kept to the factual moments, when kept to the tragedies and unfortunate situations that happened to Captan McVay, the story works very well.  Stray away from that and that’s when the storyline suffers and “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is a film that tries to incorporate too much for its own good.

Overall, I did enjoy “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” and how the film honors the survivors and the USS Indianapolis’ fallen crew.  But while the film was created with good intentions, it could have been much better.

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xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who want to prepare themselves for the theatrical release of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” will no doubt want to watch “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition”. Action-packed from beginning to end, the original “xXx” film would eventually catapult Vin Diesel to action hero status! If you love adrenaline-pumping, action films, “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” is recommended.

Images courtesy of © 2002 Revolution Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition

FILM RELEASE: 2002

DURATION: 124 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Arabic, bulgarian, Chinese (Traditional), Croation, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovene, Thai, Turkish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Revolution Studios

RATED: PG-13

RELEASE DATE: January 10, 2017


Directed by Rob Cohen

Written by Rob Cohen

Produced by Neal H. Mortiz

Executive Producer: Vin Diesel, Todd Garner, Arne Schmidt, George Zakk

Co-Producer: Creighton Bellinger, Derek Dauchy

Associate Producer: David Minkowski, Matthew Stillman

Music by Randy Edelman

Cinematography by Dean Semler

Edited by Chris Lebenzon, Joel Negron, Paul Rubell

Casting by Kate Dowd, Ronna Kress

Production Design by Gavin Bocquet

Art Direction by Phil Harvey, Jonathan Lee, Brad Ricker

Set Decoration by Marina Morris, Hilton Rosemarin, Chris L. Spellman

Costume Design by Sanja Milkovic Hays


Starring:

Vin Diesel as Xander Cage

Asia Argento as Yelena

Marton Csokas as Yorgi

Samuel L. Jackson as Agent Augusts Gibbons

Michael Roof as Toby Lee Shavers

Richy Muller as Milan Sova

Werner Daehn as Kirill

Petr Jaki as Kolya

Jan Pavel Filipensky as Viktor

Tom Everett as Senator Dick Hotchkiss

Danny Trejo as El Jeffe

Chris Gann as T.J.


From Revolution Studios and and Sony Pictures, Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is a notorious underground thrill-seeker who, until now, has been deemed untouchable by the law. But when crack NSA Agent Gibbsons convinces Cage to infiltrate a ruthless Russian crime ring, this new breed of secret agent (codename: XXX) takes down the enemies of justice with a vengeance in this high-octane, turbo-charged thrill-ride from the acclaimed director of The Fast and the Furious. Synopsis for 15th Anniversary Edition Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is a notorious underground thrill-seeker who, until now, has been deemed untouchable by the law. But when crack NSA Agent Gibbons convinces Cage to infiltrate a ruthless Russian crime ring, this new breed of secret agent (codename: xXx) takes down the enemies of justice with a vengeance in this high-octane, turbo-charged thrill-ride from the acclaimed director of The Fast and the Furious.


With the success of “The Fast and the Furious” back in 2001, director Rob Cohen and actor Vin Diesel reunited for the action film “xXx” which earned over $277.4 million in the box office.

Unfortunately, for the sequel, both Cohen and Diesel dropped out due to prior commitments and “xXx: State of the Union” would feature Ice Cube as the next Triple X agent.  With Diesel’s character Xander Cage, supposedly been killed.

But with the new film “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” slated for release in theaters in January 2017, Vin Diesel returns.

The original “xXx” was written and directed by Rob Cohen (“The Fast & Furious”, “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story”, “Stealth”, “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”) and would star Vin Diesel (“The Fast & Furious” films, “The Chronicles of Riddick” films), Asia Argento (“Land of the Dead”, “Marie Antoinette”), Marton Csokas (“Lord of the Rings” films, “The Equalizer”), Samuel L. Jackson (“Pulp Fiction”, “The Hateful Eight”, “The Avengers” and “Captain America” films) and Michael Roof (“The Dukes of Hazard”, “Black Hawk Down”).

And with the 15th anniversary of “xXx”, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will be releasing “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” on Blu-ray.

The film begins with Xander Cage (portrayed by Vin Diesel), an extreme sports professional and host of his own TV show, being arrested for stealing and destroying a California senator’s car as an act of protest.

NSA Agent Augustus Eugene Gibbons (portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson) puts Cage through two major tests (a diner robbery and to escape a drug cartel’s plantation in Colombia).  As Cage passes the test, Gibbons tells him that if he takes on a mission for the NSA, his criminal record will be wiped out.

The mission, to infiltrate Anarchy 99, a mercenary group of former Russian soldiers.  And also to find out about this biochemical weapon known as “Silent Night” that has gone missing since the fall of the Soviet Union.  And the reason Xander has been chosen is because he has no ties to the U.S. government.

Cage reluctantly agrees and goes to Prague to meet with the NSA support team which includes a Czech agent named Milan Sova (portrayed by Richy Muller).  But Cage blows Sova’s cover in order to be trusted by Anarchy 99 leader, Yorgi (portrayed by Marton Csokas) and it helps that Yorgi’s brother Kolya (potrayed by Petr Jaki) is a big fan of Xander Cage’s TV show.  But for some reason, Yorgi’s girlfriend, Yelena (portrayed by Asia Argento) looks at him with cold eyes.

As Cage tries to get in closer with the group and obtain data to be sent to NSA Agent Gibbons, can he succeed with this difficult and deadly mission?


VIDEO:

“xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). For a 15-year-old film, “xXx” looks great in HD.  The film features a good amount of grain and outdoor scenes are vibrant, while closeups show great amount of detail.  I didn’t notice any dust or banding issues during my viewing of the film.  If anything, “xXx” looks great on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio,  Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.

As the film is full of action, surround channels take advantage of all action sequences, from the avalanche scene, from the various chase scenes, ambiance at a dance club and so much more.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish, French, Arabic, bulgarian, Chinese (Traditional), Croation, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovene, Thai, Turkish

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with director Rob Cohen.
  • Origins of a Renegade – (6:25) The cast of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” discuss the original film.
  • xXx: A Filmmakers Diary U.S./Pre-Production – (15:24) Rob Cohen’s discussion of documenting the pre-production phase of the film.
  • xXx: A Filmmakers Diary U.S./Post-Production – (25:25) Rob Cohen’s discussion of documenting the pre-production phase of the film.
  • Diesel Powered – (6:49) Director Rob Cohen talks about Vin Diesel being cast for “xXx” and the cast talks about working with Vin.
  • Visual Effects How Two’s – (3:02) The visual effects supervisor discusses the making of action scenes with the utilization of visual effects such as the avalanche scenes.
  • Deleted Scenes – (15:44) Featuring ten deleted scenes with optional commentary.
  • Starz! On the Set – The Making of xXx – (14:31) Starz! featurette on the making of “xXx”.
  • Agent Shavers’ Gadgets Presentation – (3:54) Michael Roof discusses the gadgets featured in the film.
  • Designing the World of xXx – (14:35) Production designers discuss creating the espionage world of “xXx”.
  • Building Speed: The Vehicles of xXx – (6:55) A featurette about the vehicles used in “xXx” and creating some of the vehicles in 3D.
  • Avalanche Scene – (5:37) Storyboard and final film cut comparison for the avalanche scene.
  • Drug Farm – (5:01) Storyboard and final film cut comparison for the drug farm scene.
  • The End Credit Sequence – Raw and Uncut – (3:32) Featuring the uncut ending sequence.
  • “I Will Be Heard” Music Video by Hatebreed
  • “Adrenaline” Music Video by Gavin Rossdale
  • Theatrical Trailer – The original theatrical trailer of “xXx”.

EXTRAS:

“xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


It’s been over a decade since I last watched “xXx”.  The Rob Cohen film that would elevate Vin Diesel to become an action hero and no doubt, help cement his “cool factor” as a no-nonsense character for all the “Fast and Furious” films.

Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel had a great working relationship at the time and while Vin Diesel would benefit from both Cohen films, surprisingly, Vin Diesel hadn’t done an “xXx” sequel until 2017, with the upcoming theatrical release of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”.

Watching “xXx”, this was a straight-up adrenaline charged, popcorn action movie.  Featuring insane stunts, creative chase sequences and you can’t help but think that Diesel shown way back then that he is a bonafide action film star.

The film was also fun to watch for Xander Cage’s quick return verbal jabs and no doubt, Cohen making sure that Xander Cage is a different man compared to the role that Diesel is best known for today, as Dominic Toretto in the “Fast & Furious” films.

As the original was driven by its action sequences and no doubt an earlier work of Diesel, as he has improved a lot as an actor since this film was made.  But now that the third “xXx” film is coming out, I’m expecting this newer action film to deliver and see Diesel in a much better developed role and that a solid storyline accompany’s all that action.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and losless audio is also wonderful.  For this 15th Anniversary, you get a special feature titled “Origins of a Renegade” featuring Diesel reminiscing of the past and his co-actors of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” discussing their memories of the first film.  And all the other special features that were included in the older DVD release are featured on this Blu-ray release.

If you owned the older 2007 Blu-ray release, you probably will not have to upgrade unless you really want to see the newer “Origins of a Renegade” special feature.

Overall, for those who want to prepare themselves for the theatrical release of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” will no doubt want to watch “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition”.   Action-packed from beginning to end, the original “xXx” film would eventually catapult Vin Diesel to action hero status!

If you love adrenaline-pumping, action films, “xXx – 15th Anniversary Edition” is recommended.

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The Light Between Oceans (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Derek Cianfrance’s “The Light Between Oceans” is a love story that tests the bonds of true love and difficult decisions made based on the strength of that love. Even though those decisions made by the film’s loving couple, for the sake of their love, is illegal.  Touching, heartbreaking but yet a film full of hope, “The Light Between Oceans” is a film worth checking out!”.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Storyteller Distribution, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Light Between Oceans

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 133 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Description Track, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

COMPANY: DreamWorks Pictures/Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Thematic Material and Some Sexual Content)

RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2017


Based on the Novel by M.L. Stedman

Directed by Derek Cianfrance

Written by Derek Cianfrance

Produced by Jeffrey Clifford, David Heyman

Executive Producer: Rosie Alison, Tom Karnowski, Jonathan King, Jeff Skoll

Music by Alexandre Desplat

Cinematography by Adam Arkapaw

Edited by Jim Helton, Ron Patane

Casting by Nikki Barrett, Francine Maisler

Production Design by Karen Murphy

Art Direction by Sophie Nash

Costume Design by Erin Benach


Starring:

Michael Fassbender as Tom Sherbourne

Alicia Vikander as Isabel Graysmark

Rachel Weisz as Hannah Roennfeldt

Florence Clery as Lucy-Grace

Jack Thompson as Ralph Addicott

Thomas Unger as Bluey Smart

Jane Menelaus as Violet Graysmark

Garry McDonald as Bill Graysmark


Lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) and radiant, spirited Isabel (Alicia Vikander) live together in married bliss on a remote, rugged island off the coast of Australia. But their windswept world is turned upside down when Isabel learns that she’s unable to bear a child. One day, a drifting lifeboat washes ashore with a crying baby in it. The dilemma the couple now face will echo far beyond the island, engulfing and irrevocably impacting their world — and that of a stranger (Rachel Weisz) — in a passionate story about love, hope, and a fateful choice.


From filmmaker/writer Derek Cianfrance (“The Place Beyon dthe Pines”, “Blue Valentine”, “Brother Tied”) comes his latest film “The Light Between Oceans”.  An adaptation of M.L. Stedman’s 2012 novel.

An international co-production between the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and New Zealand, the film stars Michael Fassbender (“Inglorious Basterds”, “Prometheus”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, “X-Men: First Class”), Alicia Vikander (“Ex Machina”, “The Danish Girl”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”) and Florence Clery.

The film was released in theaters in September 2016 and now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures and Touchstone Pictures.

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Disney in January 2017.

The film is set not long after World War I, Tom Sherbourne (portrayed by Michael Fassbender) is a man who was traumatized by the war and despite being called a war hero, he is withdrawn from his surroundings.

Having moved to Western Australia, Tom finds comfort in Isabel Graysmark (portrayed by Alicia Vikander) and both fall in love and eventually marry in 1921.  Tom is hired as a lightkeeper at Janus rock and the two embark as a married couple trying to have children.

Unfortunately, within the three years of marriage, Isabel loses two pregnancies and she becomes depressed that she will never have a child.

But as Isabel mourns in front of the burial site of her babies outside their home, Tom spots a boat from the lighthouse and Isabel hears the cries of a baby.

The two run towards the small boat that has washed up on sea and they find a dead man and inside a baby.  As Isabel goes to change the baby and feeds her, Tom tells her that must alert authorities as part of his job regulations.  But Isabel pleads for Tom to wait until the next morning before calling the authorities.

The following morning, Isabel pleads to Tom not to contact the authorities as the baby would be sent to an orphanage and begs for him to pass the baby as their own.

Knowing the pain that Isabel has been through, Tom agrees and he buries the body and they name the baby, Lucy.

A few years have past and Tom and Isabel have raised Lucy and are planning to have her christened on the mainland.  But Tom spots a woman kneeling in front of a grave.

The woman is named Hannah Roennfeldt (portrayed by Rachel Weisz) and when Tom goes to look at the gravestone, he sees the names of Frank Roennfeldt and his baby daughter Grace Ellen, who were lost at sea on April 26, 1923.  This was the day that Tom and Isabel found the ship with the deceased man and baby girl, who they ended up raising.

Tom is overcome with guilt and feels that Lucy may be Grace and he writes an anonymous letter to Hannah telling her that her husband is dead but her baby is safe and well-cared for.

But as guilt overcomes Tom, how long can he and Isabel pretend to be the real parents of Lucy and will the truth ever come out and Hannah find out the truth of what happened to her husband and child?


VIDEO:

“The Light Between Oceans” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality features wonderful detail for closeups, showcasing the film’s warm colors.  Especially when it showcases the beautiful setting of the area of New Zealand the film was shot.   And for the most part, the film looks wonderful in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Light Between Oceans” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English and Spanish 2.0 Description Audio and Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Featuring crystal clear dialogue and music, the film is primarily front and center-channel driven with surround channels for ambiance, such as earlier sequences with a storm or crowd ambiance inside the church.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Light Between Oceans” comes with the following special features:

  • Bringing the Light to Life – (16:46) Interviews with writer/director Derek Cianfrance and the cast of the film discussing the storyline and working with each other.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Derek Cianfrance and Film Studies Professor Phil Solomon.
  • Lighthouse Keeper – (5:40) A featurette about finding the location and a lighthouse that would be the main setting in the film.

EXTRAS:

The Light Between Oceans” comes with a slipcover and a Digital HD code.


Love and the bond between two people.  Some can see that bond as being unbreakable but what if that couple did something for the sake of love, even though what they were doing was illegal?

This is the predicament that couple, Tom and Isabel face in the film “The Light Between Oceans” as Michael Fassbender’s Tom is a World War I hero who is withdrawn and no doubt suffering the major effects of PTSD and has come back home with guilt hanging over him.

The only light that has come to his life was a woman named Isabel, portrayed by Alicia Vikander, with her radiant spirit and together they fall in love and get married. And move to an island where Tom has a new job as the lighthouse’s new lightkeeper.

Unfortunately, as the two want to start having a family, Isabel unfortunately two pregnancies for Isabel has led to loss and tremendous pain for her and all Tom can do is provide support.  But he knows his wife is in tremendous emotional pain, depressed and is suffering from the two losses.

But one day, a ship washes up near their home and inside, a dead man and a crying baby.

And Isabel immediately bonds with the baby and she begs her husband to have them pass the baby off as one of their own and she begs Tom to not call the authorities about the deceased man found on the boat.

For the love of his wife, he decides to go through with it and bury the man and the two raise the baby girl as their own. Giving her all the love and affection that she needs.

A few years pass and as they go to the mainland, Tom finds out that a woman he spots at a cemetery is the wife of the man who is deceased and the mother of the baby that they are raising.

Confronted with overwhelming guilt of seeing a woman mourning her loved one’s death, he can’t help but write her a letter anonymously to let her know that her husband is dead but her baby is very much alive and being taken care of.

But seeing the mother, Hannah (portrayed by the talented Rachel Weisz) in so much pain, how much longer can both Tom and Isabela keep up the lie that their daughter Lucy is not their true daughter and that she is the missing daughter that belongs to Hannah.

A love story about the bond between the two and the difficult choices they must make for the sake of each other, for the sake of the girl they raised and love.

The film is no doubt heartbreaking but also a film of hope, even though “hope” is portrayed in different situations for each character.

The performances by Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz are wonderful but it’s a film that is predictable and I don’t want to say anything more, as it would spoil the film for those interested in watching it.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good as the film features great detail.  Lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and musical score with a few special features included.

Overall, Derek Cianfrance’s “The Light Between Oceans” is a love story that tests the bonds of true love and difficult decisions made based on the strength of that love.  Even though those decisions made by the film’s loving couple, for the sake of their love, is illegal.

Touching, heartbreaking but yet a film full of hope, “The Light Between Oceans” is a film worth checking out!

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The Man Who Fell to Earth – Limited Collector’s Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Nicolas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth” may be one of the notable films in the filmmaker’s wonderful oeuvre, but the film also features the debut of David Bowie, as an actor.  A sci-fi cult classic that many fans love and appreciate for the film’s surreal tone, cineaste will no doubt love this Lionsgate 2017 40th Anniversary Blu-ray release.  It’s the definitive Blu-ray version of “The Man Who Fell to Earth – Limited Collector’s Edition” that I highly recommend!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Studiocanal Limited. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Man Who Fell to Earth – Limited Collector’s Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1976

DURATION: 139 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (2:35:1), English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Studio Canal/Lionsgate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2017


From a novel by Walter Tevis

Directed by Nicolas Roeg

Screenplay by Paul Mayersberg

Produced by Michael Deeley, Barry Spikings

Executive Producer: Si Litvinoff

Associate Producer: John Peverall

Music by John Pillips, Stomu Yamashita

Cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond

Edited by Graeme Clifford

Production Design by Brian Eatwell

Set Decoration by Simon Wakefield

Costume Design by May Routh


Starring:

David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton

Rip Torn as Nathan Bryce

Candy Clark as Mary-Lou

Buck Henry as Oliver Farnsworth

Bernie Casey as Peters

Jackson D. Kane as Professor Canutti

Rick Riccardo as Trevor

Tony Mascia as Arthur

Linda hutton as Elaine

Hilary Holland as Jill

Adrienne Larussa as Helen


Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth from a distant planet on a mission to take water back to his home planet.


Filmmaker Nicolas Roeg captured the attention of cineaste with his 1971 film “Walk About” and he would follow up the success with his 1973 film “Don’t Look Now”.

Having established himself in the industry, Nicolas Roeg and screenwriter Paul Mayersberg (“Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence”, “Croupier”, “The Last Samurai”) would work on “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, an adaptation of Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel of the same name.

The film would star musician David Bowie (in his first film as an actor), Rip Torn (“Men in Black” films, “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”, “Marie Antoinette”), Candy Clark (“American Graffiti”, “Zodiac”, “Blue Thunder”), Buck Henry (“Eating Raoul”, “The Player”) and Bernie Casey (“Under Siege”, “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, “Never Say Never Again”).

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the film, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” will be released in a Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack courtesy of Lionsgate.

The film begins with a humanoid alien named Thomas Newton (portrayed by David Bowie), sent to Earth in order to bring water to his home planet which is dying due to a significant drought.

But because his planet’s technology, he is able to amass a lot of money through patenting groundbreaking technologies for inventions on Earth and becomes the head of the technology-based conglomerate, World Enterprises Corporation.

He hires the well-known patent attorney, Oliver Farnsworth (portrayed by Buck Henry) and hopes he can make more money and amass enough wealth to construct his own space vehicle to ship water back to his home planet.

When Newton revisits New Mexieco, he collapses in the elevator in front of elevator operator, Mary-Lou (portrayed by Candy Clark).

Despite Newton being married, Mary-Lou would have a relationship with Newton and introduces him to popular customs on Earth such as going to church, drinking alcohol and enjoying the pleasures of sex.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Dr. Nathan Bryce (portrayed by Rip Torn), a college professor who tends to have sex with many of his female students.

A womaniser, Nathan grows bored with his job and decides that he will work for World Enterprises as a fuel technician.  But through working with Newton, he starts to become suspicious of him that he installs a hidden X-Ray camera.

And when he takes a picture of Newton with his specialized X-Ray camera, Nathan finds out that Newton is not human but an alien.  And sure enough, what happens when the U.S. government finds out that Newton is an alien?


VIDEO:

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). This film features the new 4K restoration by Deluxe London.  The 4K scan of the original negative and followed by a full 4K workflow with the approval of cinematographer Anthony Richmond.

The picture quality features a good amount of grain and this new restoration, I do not see any problems with dust, debris or scratches throughout the film, which is a major plus and definitely better than the 2008 Criterion Collection Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” is presented in English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio.  The film features crystal clear dialogue and music which sounds crisp and clear through the front channels.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” comes with the following special features:

  • Interviews – (2:46:01) Featuring interviews with Candy Clark, writer Paul Mayersberg, Cinematographer Tony Richmond, Director Nicolas Roeg, costume designer May Routh, stills phtoographer David James, writer/director and movie fan Sam Taylor-Johnson and producer Michael Deeley.
  • The Lost Soundtracks of the Man Who Fell to Earth – (16:43) A featurette that goes into why David Bowie didn’t do the soundtrack for the film and how Paul Buckmaster became the composer. And also the lost music for the film.
  • David Bowie Interview – French TV 1977 – (8:20) A TV interview from 1977 on French television with David Bowie.
  • Trailer – (2:18) The theatrical trailer for “The Man Who Fell to Earth”.
  • Deleted Scenes – (5:31) Featuring ten deleted scenes (without the post-production CG).

EXTRAS:

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” comes with a slipcover, DVD and UltraViolet code.  Also, the Limited Collectors edition comes with a 72-page bound book, press booklet, four art cards and a mini poster.


With last year’s passing of David Bowie, the release of the 40th Anniversary of “The Man Who Fell to Earth” on Blu-ray will be welcomed by Bowie fans, as the film would be his first film appearance.

And for fans of the film, the 2017 release of “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, they get a film that has received a 4K restoration and a limited edition wiht plenty of swag and newer special features that blows the once-definitive Criterion Collection 2008 Blu-ray release of the cult sci-fi favorite.

A loose adaptation of the original 1963 novel by Walter Tevis, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” may have not been the easiest film to shoot.  From disagreements to the film’s musical soundtrack and according to Bowie, he was stoned during the making of the film but his feelings of alienation made his role of playing an alien in a new world, work to his advantage.

But this was a time of David Bowie, the androgynous musician, who years earlier, captivated music fans with his 1969 hit, “Space Oddity” paired with “Walkabout” and “Don’t Look Now” director Nicolas Roeg.

There is no doubt the film was ahead of its time and a storyline that probably relevant even in today’s modern world with its story being a satire of corporate greed and the self-destruction of a person through sex and alcohol.

It was no doubt a much different sci-fi film when compared to the big budget, sci-fi hit of that same year, Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

When I first watched this film, I remember being amazed by David Bowie’s rookie performance but was also surprised by the sheer amount of sex and to see the comparison of the lives of Newton and Nathan play off each other.

But aside from its take on modern society with the film’s characters, no doubt a satirical look at the corruption of society, but I also liked Bowie’s performance for the sake of showcasing his alienation of living among humans and slowly being corrupted courtesy of the people he surrounds himself with.

As for the 2017 Blu-ray release of this film, this is the definitive version to own.  As magnificent as the Criterion Collection’s 2008 Blu-ray release of “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, the picture quality receiving a 4K restoration is a major plus.  And all the interviews from the 2008 Blu-ray release is included, plus newer interviews.

But the biggest attraction to this 40th Anniversary Limited Edition set is the 72-page booklet, essay/articles are also included plus a poster and four postcards.  There is no doubt that Lionsgate went all out with this Blu-ray release and surpassing the 2008 Criterion Collection Blu-ray release, which you will hardly ever hear that ever happening.  But this Lionsgate release is awesome and is the definitive version to own!

Overall, Nicolas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth” may be one of the notable films in the filmmaker’s wonderful oeuvre, but the film also features the debut of David Bowie, as an actor.  A sci-fi cult classic that many fans love and appreciate for the film’s surreal tone, cineaste will no doubt love this Lionsgate 2017 40th Anniversary Blu-ray release.  It’s the definitive Blu-ray version of “The Man Who Fell to Earth – Limited Collector’s Edition” that I highly recommend!

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