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The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

thegoldbergs-s3

“The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious, fun and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” marks a season of change and setting up the next stage for season five.  Overall, a series that is highly recommended!

© 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 Sony Pictures Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2017

DURATION: Episodes 72-95 (518 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1), English, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: September 12, 2015


Directed by David Katzenberg, Jay Chandrrasekhar, Victor Nelli Jr., Lew Schneider, Richie Keen, Jon Corn, Richie Keen, Joanna Kerns, Kevin Smith, Peter B. Ellis, Christine Gernon, Beth McCarthy-Miller, Lea Thompson, Jason Blount, Anton Cropper, Jude Weng

Written by Adam F. Goldberg, Lacey Marisa Friedman, Lauen Bans, Aaron Kaczander, Annie Mebane, Dan Levy, David Guarascio, Adam Armus,Josef Adalian, Kerri Doherty, Brian Hennelly, Rob Lieber, Matt Esdall, Matt Mira, Hans Rodionoff, Erik Weiner

Executive Producer: Adam F. Goldberg, Seth Gordon, Doug Robinson, David Guarascio, Adam Armus

Producer: Dan Levy, Annie Mebane, Rob Lieber, Dan Levy

Co-Executive Producer: Annette Sahakian Davis, Lew Schneider, Chris Bishop, Stephen Basilone, Andrew Secunda, David Katzenberg, Brian Keith Etheridge

Co-Producer: Mary Rohlich, Billy Wee, Mac Marshall

Consulting Producer: Michael J. Weithorn

Cinematography by Jason Blount, Scott Browner

Editing by Ruthie Aslan, Peter B. Ellis, Kevin Leffler, Jon Corn, Dave Canseco, Robert Lanford

Casting by Leslie Litt

Production Design by Cory Lorenzen

Art Direction by Bill Brownell

Set Decoration by Suzette Sheets, Donald Krafft

Costume Design by Keri Smith


Starring:

Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg

Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg

Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg

Hayley Orrantia as Erica Goldberg

George Segal as Albert “Pops” Solomon

Jeff Garlin as Murray Goldberg

Patton Oswalt as the Narrator

AJ Michalka as Lainey Lewis

Virginia Gardner as Lexy Bloom

Sam Lerner as Geoff Schwartz

Natalie Alyn Lind as Dana Caldwell

Kenny Ridwan as Dave Kim

Stephn Tobolowsky as Principal Ball

Jackson Odell as Ari Caldwell

Jacob Hopkins as Chad Kremp

Matt Bush as Andy Cogan

Noah Munck as “Naked” Rob Smith

Bryan Callen as Mr. Mellor

Sean Marquette as Johnny Atkins

Alex Jennings as Carla Natali

Tim Meadows as Mr. Glascott


The VCR-loving, mixtape-making, spandex-wearing Goldbergs are back! For geeky and movie-obsessed youngest child Adam, his wonder years were spent documenting the hilarious and awkward antics of his colorful family. This season finds the siblings fighting off huggies, snuggies and nubbies as they navigate what it means to grow up as a Goldberg. .


In 2013, the series “The Goldbergs” created by Adam F. Goldberg (“Breaking In”) aired on television.

Starring Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Brides Maids”, “Reno 911!”), Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Daddy Day Care”), George Segal (“Look Who’s Talking”, “The Cable Guy”), Haley Orrantia, Troy Gentile (“Nacho Libre”, “Drillbit Taylor”, “Good Luck Chuck”), Sean Giambrone (“I Heart Shakey”, “Clarence”) and narration by Patton Oswalt (“The King of Queens”, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”).

With a fifth season set to air on ABC, the third and fourth season will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“The Goldbergs” is a comedy set in the 1980’s and is based on the life of series-creator Adam F. Goldberg (at the end of each episode are real life video camera footage that Adam filmed of him and his family from the ’80s).

The series takes place in Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania and features Murray Goldberg (portrayed by Jeff Garlin) as the furniture salesman and family patriarch, the intruding but loving mother Beverly (portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey).

Both Murry and Beverly are parents to the popular and rebellious Erica (portrayed by Hayley Orrantia), the always trying hard but very naive, mama’s boy Barry (portrayed by Troy Gentile) and the young but mature for his age, Adam Goldberg (portrayed by Sean Giambrone).

The family are often visited by the children’s grandfather Albert “Pops” Solomon (portrayed by George Segal), who tries to help when he sees his daughter Beverly getting too involved in the kid’s lives. And what happens when Murray’s father and brother come to Thanksgiving?

The following is a spoilerless summary of the fourth season of “The Goldbergs”:

  • EPISODE 72 – Adam dresses like John Bender of “The Breakfast Club” for his first day in High School, while Beverly tries to be a substitute at her kids HS.
  • EPISODE 73 – What happens when Lainey, Erica and Beverly find a video dating service in the mall.
  • EPISODE 74 – What happens when Adam wants to ask the cute “Waffle Girl” for date?
  • EPISODE 75 – What happens when Murray buys an answering machine?
  • EPISODE 76 – What happens when Adam tries to write a horror novel?
  • EPISODE 77 – Adam tries to convince his father to fund his own action movie.
  • EPISODE 78 – Adam wants to go to the Gimbels Thanksgiving Parade after finding out K.I.T.T. of “Knight Rider” will be there?  But how will he get to the parade?
  • EPISODE 79 – What happens when Mrs. Cinoman changes the play from “The Wizard of Oz” to “Phantom of the Opera”?
  • EPISODE 80 – Murray has tickets to a Harlem Globetrotters and wants to take Barry.  But when Murray has amnesia, what happens when he takes Adam?
  • EPISODE 81 – What happens when Adam gets a rare VHS bootleg copy of “Star Wars Holiday Special”?
  • EPISODE 82 – Inspired by “Dead Poets Society”, what happens when Beverly gets a one-month substitute teacher’s job?
  • EPISODE 83 – Due to heavy snow, the Goldberg children have to figure out what to do on their day off?
  • EPISODE 84 – Adam is upset that his buddy Chad Kremp can’t devote more time to “Chadam Productions” due to tennis.
  • EPISODE 85 – What happens when Barry and Erica try to get a mob at Spencer’s Gifts store?
  • EPISODE 86 – Adam wants to become famous but when a casting agent sees Adam playing a nerd role, Beverly feels her son deserves a better part.
  • EPISODE 87 – When Adam reads the other Adam Goldberg’s review of “The Karate Kid”, he challenges him to a fight.
  • EPISODE 88 – What happens when the guys want to induct Deadhead into JTP?
  • EPISODE 89 – Lainey is accepted to a fashion design school in Savannah, Georgia and Barry panics of what he will do after high school.
  • EPISODE 90 – With prom night approaching, how will Erica and Geoff continue their relationship?
  • EPISODE 91 – Murray wants his daughter Erica to attend his alma mater, Penn State University.
  • EPISODE 92 – What happens when Barry gets a job at a local country club?
  • EPISODE 93 – What happens when Barry, Lainey and the JTP watch “The Day After” with Murray?
  • EPISODE 94 – Barry and Lainey vs. Erica and Geoff compete for “Cutest Couple” in the yearbook.
  • EPISODE 95 – It’s graduation day.  How will the lives of Erica, Geoff, Lainey and Barry change after graduation?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality on DVD is very good as the series is broken up in three discs. Audio quality is good with clear dialogue. I did not notice any artifacts or any problematic issues during my viewing of the series.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring 20 deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Kara-Te Kid” with Adam F. Goldberg, Doug Robinson, Lew Schneider, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Troy Gentile.
  • Gag Reel – (4:45) Season four gag reel.
  • The Goldbergs Trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” comes with a slipcover.


With the fourth season of “The Goldbergs”, the season marks a change as Erica graduates high school and plans to go to college, while finding herself more emotional as she notices that she has developed feelings for Schwartz.

As Lainey is about to graduate and go to fashion school, Barry knows that things are changing and he starts to learn that he is good and math and has interests of becoming a doctor.  But will he pursue career or trying to be close to Lainey?

Meanwhile, as season three was a change for Adam as he experienced puberty, for season four, Adam and friends begin high school.

And just when life for these three teens are difficult enough, they are shocked when they find out their mother, Beverly has gotten her substitute teaching license and she intends to teach at her children’s high school and show offer her love for her children in front of all the students.

All this and more in season four of “The Goldbergs”!

As a child of the ’80s and having experienced the fads, the music, the clothing, the toys of that time period, how awesome and fresh is it to find a TV show that incorporates the pop culture of that timeline but making it accessible for today’s generation and also for those who grew up during that time period.

And to find out that the Goldberg’s are modeled after series creator, Adam F. Goldberg’s life and being treated with actual video camera footage, how cool is that?

But there is so much to enjoy about this coming-of-age comedy series. Many of us can sympathize with young Adam Goldberg because we grew up with the amazing toys of the ’80s such as the Transformers (in season two, Adam anguishes over the death of Optimus Prime after watching “The Transformers: The Movie”) and also grew up watching movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, which both the character Adam and Barry try to re-enact and also the well-known scene from “Say Anything”.

But while the series does jump different years during the ’80s, it still tries to capture the ’80s through music and pop culture.

This is pop culture that I grew up with and it’s brought to the masses tastefully to the point that you can’t help but be entertained. In fact, my wife and my teen son are now addicted to the series and watching “The Goldbergs” is family night for us!

But what makes this series work so well is its characters.

While Adam is the level-headed, trying to figure out life young teen, Barry is that awkward guy that many of us guys had seen or had similar experiences that were just as awkward. Trying to fit in, trying to be cool, being a wannabe breakdancer or rapper, Barry is that awkward side that many of us get embarrassed by watching, but knowing that he’s cool in his own way at times, despite others thinking that he is a bit uncool.

Both Goldberg brothers make major headways in the second season as they both get girlfriends and it’s interesting because of the shenanigans that take place.

And you have the popular sister, the often medling mother and the father who just wants to be cool, relax after a hard day at work (and likes to drop his pants before sitting and watching television) but is also more than often having to be the husband trying to prevent his wife from doing something embarrassing to their children, as she wants to often meddle in their affairs. And of course, you have the cool grandfather with “Pops”, who also tries to play things cool with the kids.

Each of the talent does a great job in portraying their character and all episodes of “The Goldbergs” have been nothing but entertaining and fun and definitely one of my favorite comedy series on television.  And as everyone grows older in the series, the show reflects that and this season no doubt marks change among the characters.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good and you get an audio commentary, deleted scenes and a gag reel.

Overall, “The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious, fun and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Fourth Season” is highly recommended!

The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

thegoldbergs-s3

 “The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious, fun and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” is highly recommended!

© 2014, 2015, 2016 Sony Pictures Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season

YEAR OF TV SERIES: 2016

DURATION: Episodes 48-71 (539 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen (1:78:1), English, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: September 12, 2015


Directed by David Katzenberg, Jay Chandrrasekhar, Victor Nelli Jr., Lew Schneider, Richie Keen, Jon Corn, Richie Keen, Joanna Kerns, Kevin Smith, Peter B. Ellis, Christine Gernon, Beth McCarthy-Miller, Lea Thompson, Jason Blount, Anton Cropper, Jude Weng

Written by Adam F. Goldberg, Lacey Marisa Friedman, Lauen Bans, Aaron Kaczander, Annie Mebane, Dan Levy, David Guarascio, Adam Armus,Josef Adalian, Kerri Doherty, Brian Hennelly, Rob Lieber, Matt Esdall, Matt Mira, Hans Rodionoff, Erik Weiner

Executive Producer: Adam F. Goldberg, Seth Gordon, Doug Robinson, David Guarascio, Adam Armus

Producer: Dan Levy, Annie Mebane, Rob Lieber, Dan Levy

Co-Executive Producer: Annette Sahakian Davis, Lew Schneider, Chris Bishop, Stephen Basilone, Andrew Secunda, David Katzenberg, Brian Keith Etheridge

Co-Producer: Mary Rohlich, Billy Wee, Mac Marshall

Consulting Producer: Michael J. Weithorn

Cinematography by Jason Blount, Scott Browner

Editing by Ruthie Aslan, Peter B. Ellis, Kevin Leffler, Jon Corn, Dave Canseco, Robert Lanford

Casting by Leslie Litt

Production Design by Cory Lorenzen

Art Direction by Bill Brownell

Set Decoration by Suzette Sheets, Donald Krafft

Costume Design by Keri Smith


Starring:

Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg

Sean Giambrone as Adam Goldberg

Troy Gentile as Barry Goldberg

Hayley Orrantia as Erica Goldberg

George Segal as Albert “Pops” Solomon

Jeff Garlin as Murray Goldberg

Patton Oswalt as the Narrator

AJ Michalka as Lainey Lewis

Virginia Gardner as Lexy Bloom

Sam Lerner as Geoff Schwartz

Natalie Alyn Lind as Dana Caldwell

Kenny Ridwan as Dave Kim

Stephn Tobolowsky as Principal Ball

Jackson Odell as Ari Caldwell

Jacob Hopkins as Chad Kremp

Matt Bush as Andy Cogan

Noah Munck as “Naked” Rob Smith

Bryan Callen as Mr. Mellor

Sean Marquette as Johnny Atkins

Alex Jennings as Carla Natali

Tim Meadows as Mr. Glascott


Before there were parenting blogs, trophies for showing up and peanut allergies, there was a simpler time called the ‘80s. For geeky Adam Goldberg, these were his wonder years, and he faced them armed with a video camera to capture all the crazy. Barry and Erica get into some “risky business,” Adam uses “Weird Al” Yankovic and magic to his advantage in dating, Murray learns to dance and Beverly begins a new “Super Hanukkah” tradition. The Goldbergs are a loving family like any other — just with a lot more yelling.


In 2013, the series “The Goldbergs” created by Adam F. Goldberg (“Breaking In”) aired on television.

Starring Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Brides Maids”, “Reno 911!”), Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Daddy Day Care”), George Segal (“Look Who’s Talking”, “The Cable Guy”), Haley Orrantia, Troy Gentile (“Nacho Libre”, “Drillbit Taylor”, “Good Luck Chuck”), Sean Giambrone (“I Heart Shakey”, “Clarence”) and narration by Patton Oswalt (“The King of Queens”, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”).

With a fifth season set to air on ABC, the third and fourth season will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“The Goldbergs” is a comedy set in the 1980’s and is based on the life of series-creator Adam F. Goldberg (at the end of each episode are real life video camera footage that Adam filmed of him and his family from the ’80s).

The series takes place in Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania and features Murray Goldberg (portrayed by Jeff Garlin) as the furniture salesman and family patriarch, the intruding but loving mother Beverly (portrayed by Wendi McLendon-Covey).

Both Murry and Beverly are parents to the popular and rebellious Erica (portrayed by Hayley Orrantia), the always trying hard but very naive, mama’s boy Barry (portrayed by Troy Gentile) and the young but mature for his age, Adam Goldberg (portrayed by Sean Giambrone).

The family are often visited by the children’s grandfather Albert “Pops” Solomon (portrayed by George Segal), who tries to help when he sees his daughter Beverly getting too involved in the kid’s lives.  And what happens when Murray’s father and brother come to Thanksgiving?

The following is a spoilerless summary of the third season of “The Goldbergs”:

  • EPISODE 48 – Barry, Erica and Lainey are planning a “Risky Business” style of party.  Meanwhile, Beverly becomes a temporary smother for Lainey.
  • EPISODE 49 – Adam is going through puberty and is a soloist for “A Chorus Line”.
  • EPISODE 50 – Adam tricks his father to assist him in a learning-based project building a robot.
  • EPISODE 51 – Adam is failing in P.E.  How can his mother make him feel better and for him to take part in P.E.
  • EPISODE 52 – What happen when Erica has Barry dressed like Boy George to stay with Lainey.
  • EPISODE 53 – Adam wants to spend time with Dana during Halloween and they dress up as Alien and Ellen Ripley.
  • EPISODE 54 – Erica throws her annual Troop Beverly Hills pajama party.
  • EPISODE 55 – It’s Thanksgiving and Beverly invites Murray’s estranged father, Pop-Pop.
  • EPISODE 56 – Barry is inspired by “Top Gun” and he enlists in ROTC.
  • EPISODE 57 – Beverly wants her family to be like the Kremps during Christmas.Erica is not happy that Barry is spending
  • EPISODE 58 –  Beverly wants to remodel her kitchen after visiting the Kremps’ home.
  • EPISODE 59 – Barry and Erica sign up to be part of the “Hands Across America” and Beverly wants to be in charge.
  • EPISODE 60 – What happens when Adam and Emmy finds out that “Double Dare” is hosting auditions at their school.
  • EPISODE 61 – Barry wants to do anything crazy for Valentine’s Day and is inspired by Lionel Richie’s music video of “Hello”.
  • EPISODE 62 – Dana comes back to town and wants to spend a romantic weekend together with Adam.
  • EPISODE 63 – Barry thinks he is “Student Athlete of the Year” but when he is dejected and embarrassed, he tries to find a way to become a champion of something.
  • EPISODE 64 – Erica and her mother are inspired by “Dirty Dancing” and want the next school dance to become a “Dirty Dancing” theme.
  • EPISODE 65 – Adam is inspired by Dave Kim’s tape collection as a member of the Columbia House music service.
  • EPISODE 66 – Barry avoids the PSAT test and is disappointed when he finds out that Lainey and his friends are planning to take the test.
  • EPISODE 67 – Adam is tired of being humiliated because he since he is not athletic and often picked last, but what happens when Coach Mellor makes him a team captain.
  • EPISODE 68 – Barry is jealous that his mother is playing favorites with her children and making Adam “World’s Best Son”.
  • EPISODE 69 – What happens when Barry and Erica forget Mother’s Day.
  • EPISODE 70 – Tired of seeing Barry always wearing his “Big Orange” Philadelphia Flyers jersey, his mom Lainey accidentally ruin his jersey.
  • EPISODE 71 – Adam is a freshman and is scared of “Freshman Fear Week”.
  • SPECIAL: The Goldberg’s: An ’80s Rewind – A special episode on the making of “The Goldbergs”.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality on DVD is very good as the series is broken up in three discs. Audio quality is good with clear dialogue. I did not notice any artifacts or any problematic issues during my viewing of the series.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 3:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Dirty Dancing Dance” with Adam F. Goldberg, David Katzenberg, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Troy Gentile.
  • Gag Reel – (5:07) Season three gag reel.

EXTRAS:

“The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” comes with a slipcover.


With the third season of “The Goldbergs”, Beverly does all she can to make her family perfect and making sure she’s part of her children’s lives. While her husband Murray, tries to be part of his children’s life and help whichever way he can.

Barry and Lainey are boyfriend and girlfriend (and Lainey becoming like another member of the family) and he wants to prove his love for her.  Adam is going through puberty and going through body and vocal changes.  Erica is not wanting her brother Barry to one up her and wanting to find love, while Schwartz does all he can to see if he can get Erica’s attention.

More shenanigans, fun and snuggies in season three of “The Goldbergs”!

As a child of the ’80s and having experienced the fads, the music, the clothing, the toys of that time period, how awesome and fresh is it to find a TV show that incorporates the pop culture of that timeline but making it accessible for today’s generation and also for those who grew up during that time period.

And to find out that the Goldberg’s are modeled after series creator, Adam F. Goldberg’s life and being treated with actual video camera footage, how cool is that?

But there is so much to enjoy about this coming-of-age comedy series. Many of us can sympathize with young Adam Goldberg because we grew up with the amazing toys of the ’80s such as the Transformers (in season two, Adam anguishes over the death of Optimus Prime after watching “The Transformers: The Movie”) and also grew up watching movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, which both the character Adam and Barry try to re-enact and also the well-known scene from “Say Anything”.

But while the series does jump different years during the ’80s, it still tries to capture the ’80s through music and pop culture.

This is pop culture that I grew up with and it’s brought to the masses tastefully to the point that you can’t help but be entertained. In fact, my wife and my teen son are now addicted to the series and watching “The Goldbergs” is family night for us!

But what makes this series work so well is its characters.

While Adam is the level-headed, trying to figure out life young teen, Barry is that awkward guy that many of us guys had seen or had similar experiences that were just as awkward. Trying to fit in, trying to be cool, being a wannabe breakdancer or rapper, Barry is that awkward side that many of us get embarrassed by watching, but knowing that he’s cool in his own way at times, despite others thinking that he is a bit uncool.

Both Goldberg brothers make major headways in the second season as they both get girlfriends and it’s interesting because of the shenanigans that take place.

And you have the popular sister, the often medling mother and the father who just wants to be cool, relax after a hard day at work (and likes to drop his pants before sitting and watching television) but is also more than often having to be the husband trying to prevent his wife from doing something embarrassing to their children, as she wants to often meddle in their affairs. And of course, you have the cool grandfather with “Pops”, who also tries to play things cool with the kids.

Each of the talent does a great job in portraying their character and all 25 episodes of “The Goldbergs” have been nothing but entertaining and fun and definitely one of my favorite comedy series on television. I really enjoyed this third season a lot!

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good. While you get an audio commentary, a gag reel but also included with season three is the special, “The Goldbergs: An ’80s Rewind”!

Overall, “The Goldbergs” is nostalgic, hilarious, fun and addictive! “The Goldbergs: The Complete Third Season” is highly recommended!

Beatriz at Dinner (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Miguel Arteta’s “Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling but the mark of a very good film is one that will prompt people to debate, to talk and possibly to learn from.  Is it a great film, no it’s not.  But it’s a film that will no doubt resonate for each person who watches it, may it be positive or negative.

Images courtesy of © 2017 Brown Amy LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Beatriz at Dinner

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 83 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

RATED: R (Language and a Scene of Violence)

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: September 12, 2017


Directed by Miguel Arteta

Written by Mike White

Produced by Aaron L. Gilbert, David Hinojosa, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon

Co-Produced: Fiona Walsh Heinz, William B. Macomber

Executive Producer: Jason Cloth, Brad Feinstein, Lewis Hendler, Richard McConnell, Andrew Pollack, Alan Simpson, Jose Tamez  Co-Executive

Producer: Brenda Gilbert, Steven Thibault

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Cinematography by Wyatt Garfield

Edited by Jay Deuby

Casting by Joanna Colbert, Meredith Tucker

Production Design by Ashley Fenton

Set Decoration: Madelaine Frezza

Costume Design: Christina Blackalier


Starring:

Salma Hayek as Beatriz

John Lithgow as Doug

Connie Britton as Kathy

Jay Duplass as Alex

Amy Landecker as Jeana

Chloe Sevigny as Shannon

David Warshofsky as Grant

John Early as Evan


Beatriz (Salma Hayek), an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a spiritual health practitioner in Los Angeles. Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) is a cutthroat, self-satisfied billionaire real estate developer. When these two opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.


With all the political turmoil that currently exists in the world, especially in America, filmmaker Miguel Arteta (“Youth in Revolt”, “The Good Girl”, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”) and writer Mike White (“School of Rock”, “Nacho Libre”, “The Good Girl”, “Orange County”) reunite for another film that takes on today’s hot topic in regards to the clashing of cultures but also a clash between rich and poor.

The film stars Salma Hayek (“Frida”, “Desperado”, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”), John Lithgow (“Interstellar”, “3rd Rock from the Sun”, “Cliffhanger”), Connie Britton (“Nashville”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Spin City”), Jay Duplass (“Transparent”, “Togetherness”, “Cyrus”), Amy Landecker (“Doctor Strange”, “Project Almanac”, “Transparent”), Chloe Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry”, “Big Love”, “Love & Friendship”) and David Warshofsky (“Taken”, “Captain Phillips”, “Now You See Me”).

And now the film will be released on DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

The film begins with a woman named Beatriz (portrayed by Salma Hayek) having a dream of riding in a boat and paddling in the waters and seeing a white goat.  She awakens when a brown goat in her bedroom starts making a lot of noise.  As Beatriz tries to quite down her two dogs and the goat, she leaves for her job to a massage therapy center.

Beatriz leaves her job to tend to a client, Kathy (portrayed by Connie Britton)who lives in a wealthy, gated home.  As Beatriz massages Kathy, Beatriz tells Kathy of how her neighbor had killed one of her goats and becomes emotional when discussing it.

As she is done with her client and is about to head out home, her car doesn’t start.  She tells Kathy that she is unable to leave the driveway as her car is not working but her friend will be picking her up after he is done with work.

Kathy invites Beatriz to join them for dinner and while her husband, Grant (portrayed by David Warshofsky) is against it, because real estate developer Doug Strutt (portrayed by John Lithgow) would be arriving and it’s an important dinner, he eventually decides to allow Beatriz to join them for dinner.

Immediately, Beatriz tries to fit in by trying to make conversation with lawyer Alex (portrayed by Jay Duplass) and Shannon (portrayed by Chloe Sevigny), Doug and his wife Jeanna (portrayed by Amy Landecker).  And as Beatriz introduces herself and how she knows Kathy and what she does, the two don’t have much of an interest talking to her.

And as these three couples are celebrating their latest project and Kathy introduces the ladies to Beatriz as a healer and they start talking mean about a female celebrity, which the women get into but Beatriz is wondering why these women would talk so mean about a person they don’t know.

As she goes to visit Grant, Doug and Alex, Doug mistakes her as a servant but Grant explains that she is a guest.  As she talks about where she came from, Doug makes jokes which leads to Beatriz to say that she has seen him before.

We then see the three women looking at photos and they see Kathy and Doug’s daughter who had cancer and her daughter standing alongside Beatriz.

Kathy then tells the other women about Beatriz’ challenges of being separated by her family as a child, leaving her hometown and being raised by her grandmother in the United States but also losing her husband.

As the group gather to dinner, they all have conversation about their successful project, which Beatriz then interrupts and talks about coming from Mexico and Doug asks if she came legally.

She explains that her hometown in Mexico was destroyed by a failed hotel and she asks if Doug was the developer.  He denies it.

As Beatrix leaves and makes a call, she calls up a friend and asks if Doug Strutt was the developer that they protested against.

As the group goes into the dining room, Doug talks about hunting and the excitement of hunting and killing a wild animal and shares photos of him killing a rhinoceros on his last safari.  This sets off Beatriz who tells everyone it’s disgusting and she throws his phone.

Everyone is shocked at Beatriz’ behavior and it leads to an awkward evening between Beatriz and the home she is temporarily staying at.

And Beatriz contemplating if it’s fate that she’s at the house and perhaps she is destined to get revenge by killing Doug.  Will she do it?  What will happen throughout the evening?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Beatriz at Dinner” is presented in 1:85:1 and is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD. .  Closeups show good detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and for the most part, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film. The soundtrack is primarily dialogue driven

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Beatriz at Dinner” comes with a trailer.

EXTRAS:

“Beatriz at Dinner” comes with a slipcover.


“Beatriz at Dinner” is a provocative film that will no doubt get people talking.

Beatriz who represents the poor who came from Mexico and living in the United States and works a healer is  an animal lover, cares about the land and willing to stand up for it.  She is spiritual, caring and a very good person.

But poor Beatriz, her car breaks down at a wealthy client’s home and while she is invited to the party, these wealthy people surely don’t want Beatriz around.

It’s immediately evident as Beatriz tries to fit in.  First the women, as they discuss a female celebrity in a mean-spirited way and talks about the celebrity’s vagina and photos online which leads Beatriz to leave and tries to talk with the men.

Developer Doug thinks Beatriz is a servant and asks her to get him more alcohol, a wealthy land developer which Beatriz believes may be the person that forced her and people from her village out of their area in Mexico to build a hotel.

And to cap things off, when Doug starts talking about his hunt from his last Safari trip, this immediately sends Beatriz off the edge and she starts to think, what if she was destined to be at this party for one reason.   And that reason was to kill a man responsible for hurting the land, hurting living things.

Miguel Arteta and Mike White have no doubted crafted a film that touches on hot topics that we have seen in the news these past few years.

For me, I can see both sides because I grew up in an area of California where the population is mostly Mexican and I have had numerous Mexican friends, especially those with Native American ancestry, who come from families who are very spiritual people and feel strongly about the land, respecting the living animal that they must kill for food.

And also, I also come from an area where there are many hunters (not all Caucasian) and I have many friends who are hunters.  And I also have friends who are wealthy and those who are lawyers and real estate developers.

A number of them are two opposite ends in terms of perspective and livelihood and I knew that if you were to put them in a household together to discuss these hot topics, each would be strong with their beliefs and conviction that either side won’t back down.

This is the fracture of American society that is more evident more than ever thanks to social media.  One posts a photo of killing a deer or wildlife, despite it being legal, there are numerous people who will be passionate to show their distaste over the photo or video posted and as we have seen in news reports, a lot of the time, they receive death threats.

As for the destruction of land, this is an ongoing hot topic that has existed globally.  From the chopping of trees, especially the effects of deforestation and saw its effects on Easter Island and we are seeing it going on in the rain forests of other countries.  We have seen people forced to leave their lands and even going to inner city where gentrification is forcing lower income households to move.

There are passionate debates on both ends and there probably will not be any decorum, especially in a world where people feel that the haves do not have any compassion for the have nots.

“Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling because for me watching this film, I knew that it would be an awkward situations.  Beatriz is compassionate about people, about animals and about life.  And when she is in the presence of people who celebrate over the killing of life, the development of land for business and forcing people to move, you see a ticking time bomb that is about to detonate.

You just wonder how far Beatriz will go.

The film features a wonderful performance by Salma Hayek and it’s no doubt the most unsettling and provocative film I have seen her star in.  Also, a film where she’s not glamoured up, she is able to portray a character that represents many people who feel they have no voice in today’s society.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect.  But it’s pretty much a barebones DVD with no special features but a theatrical trailer.

Overall, Miguel Arteta’s “Beatriz at Dinner” is provocative and unsettling but the mark of a very good film is one that will prompt people to debate, to talk and possibly to learn from.  Is it a great film, no it’s not.  But it’s a film that will no doubt resonate for each person who watches it, may it be positive or negative.


The Wedding Plan (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Rama Burshtein has crafted an entertaining romantic comedy that is unpredictable, fresh and a wonderful performance from actress Noa Koler.  “The Wedding Plan” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Norma Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Wedding Plan

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 110 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital with Audio with Available English Subtitles, Subtitles: English, Spanish

RATED: PG (Thematic Elements)

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: September 5, 2017


Directed by Rama Burshtein

Written by Rama Burshtein

Produced by Assad Amir

Co-Produced: Adar Shafran

Associate Producer: Tammy Cohen

Music by Roy Edri

Cinematography by Amit Yasur

Edited by Yael Hersonski

Art Direction by Uri Aminov

Costume Design: Hava Levi Rozelsky


Starring:

Noa Koler as Michal

Amos Tamam as Shimi

Oz Zehavi as Yos

Irit Sheleg as Sosh, Michal’s Mother

Ronny Merhavi as Feggie

Dafi Shoshana Alpern as Noam, Michal’s Sister

Oded Leopold as Assaf

Udi Persi as Ronen, Blind Date

Jonathan Rozen as Alon, Blind Date (Deaf)


THE WEDDING PLAN is a poignant and funny romantic comedy about love, marriage, and faith in life’s infinite possibilities. Michal, blindsided by her fiancé’s decision to call off their wedding with only a month’s notice, is unwilling to return to single life. Michal decides to put her trust in fate and continue with her wedding plans, believing Mr. Right will appear by her chosen date. As the day of the ceremony grows closer and no suitor appears, Michal puts everything on the line to find happiness.


From filmmaker Rama Burshtein (“Fill the Void”) comes her Israeli film “Laavor et hakir” (a.k.a. “Through the Wall”) and will be released on DVD in North America with the title, “The Wedding Plan”.

Screened at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival and earning actress Noa Koler the “Best Actress” award at the Haifa International Film Festival 2016.  And the film opened in the U.S. back in May 2017 and received positive reviews from film critics nationwide.

The film begins with Michal (portrayed by Noa Koler), an Orthodox Jewish woman in her early 30s and notices that her fiance is not being straightforward with her.  When she pushes him to tell her what is wrong, at first he refuses, but after plenty of cajoling by Michal, he tells her the truth…he is not in love with her.

And their wedding which is called off.

Determined to marry 22 days later on the eighth night of Hannukkah, the film is about Michal in despair, trying to find someone to marry her.

Michal goes to a fortune teller (portrayed by Odelia Moreh-Matalon) and tells her the truth that she wants to be married, wants a man that she can love and loves her.  And the fortune teller tells her that her dreams will come true and she recommends her to seeing her son Shimi (portrayed by Amos Tamam), a man who runs a wedding hall in Jerusalem.  And Shimi tells her that he would give her a discount if she gets married at his wedding hall.

And so Michal decides rent a hall and continues to prepare for a marriage despite not having a man to marry and to continue as originally planned and leaves it up to God to decide on her groom.

Michal goes on several dates and meets a man who vows to not look a woman in the face if she is not his wife.  She meets a deaf man (portrayed by Jonathan Rozen) that she had refused to meet earlier.  And during a pilgrimate to Nachman of Breslov, she meets a man named Yoss (portrayed by Oz Zehavi), who happens to be an Israeli pop star.

But as the wedding date approaches, will Michal get married to anyone?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Wedding Plan” is presented in 1:85:1 and is presented in Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD.  Closeups show good detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and for the most part, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Wedding Plan” comes with a photo gallery and trailer.

EXTRAS:

“The Wedding Plan” comes with a slipcover.


One of the things that I love about foreign films is to learn about culture and perspectives from other countries.  And Rama Burshtein has given us a look at arranged marriages and with her 2012 film “Fill the Void”, she gave us a perspective of a young Hasidic Jewish woman pressured into an arranged marriage to an older widower.

In 2016, Rama Burshtein tackles the topic of marriage again with her romantic comedy “The Wedding Plan”.

The film revolves around a Jewish Orthodox woman named Michal who wants to be married, wants to love and wants to be loved by a man.

And when her fiance calls of their wedding a month before their actual wedding date, this sends Michal in a path of despair.  Not wanting to cancel her marriage and is determined to get married on the date of her marriage, with the support of her family and friends, Michal goes on various dates with men who also want to be married.

But nothing goes as planned in these dates as the men she meets are not interested in her and her wanting to meet with these men is not much for love but more for despair.

And as the days near her wedding date, Michal starts to become unsure whether or not she will get married.  Will she get married?

Featuring a wonderful performance by actress Noa Koler and a soundtrack with great music, “The Wedding Plan” is unique that it’s not formulaic by any means.  Most of the time, with most films, you expect the protagonist to meet the right person they want to marry, run into complications but yet they get married.

This is not so with “The Wedding Plan”.  Until the film gets to the end, you really don’t know if Michal will marry.  And so, the film still remains fresh and leaves the viewer wondering, will she or won’t she get married?

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality good as one can expect on DVD.  Closeups look very good, outdoor scenes are vibrant, dialogue and music is crystal clear and there are few special features included such as a photo gallery and theatrical trailer.

Overall, Rama Burshtein has crafted an entertaining romantic comedy that is unpredictable, fresh and a wonderful performance from actress Noa Koler.  “The Wedding Plan” is recommended!


With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story” is a fantastic documentary honoring the comic book legend who has created many characters that many generations have grew up and loved. His legacy will continue to live on forever and at 94-years-old, while Stan Lee continues to appear at conventions and appear on film, its amazing how he continues to touch the lives of many today, as he has done many decades earlier. “With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story” is highly recommended. ‘Nuff said.

Images courtesy of © 2015 True Believer Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story

YEAR OF FILM: 2010

DURATION: 80 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:33:1, English 2.0, English Closed Captioning

RATED: N/A

AVAILABLE ON: July 18, 2017


Directed by Terry Dougas, Nikki Frakes, Will Hess

Written by Nikki Frakes, Will Hess

Produced by Terry Dougas, Nikki Frakes, Will Hess, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis

Co-Produced: Max Work

Music by Kostas Christides, Minos Matsas

Cinematography by Keyan Safyari

Edited by Nikki Frakes, Nicholas Stich

Art Direction by Pierre Buffin


Starring:

Stan Lee

Joan Lee

Avi Arad

Sean Astin

Dick Ayers

Tobey Maguire

Frank Miller

Bryan Singer

Joe Quesada

Kevi Smith

Patrick Stewart

John Romita Sr.

Seth Rogen

Kenneth Branagh

Ian Bryce

Nicolas Cage

Gill Champion

Michael Chiklis

Thomas Haden Church

Paris Hilton

Gene Colan

Roger Corman

Grant Curtis

Tom DeSanto

Ramin Djawadi

Kirsten Dunst

Danny Elfman

Harlan Ellison

Mark Evanier

Jon Favrewau

Kevin Feige

Lou Ferrigno

James Franco

Evan Goldberg

Jim Goodkind

Michael A. Helfant

Samuel L. Jackson

Kenneth Johnson

Jason Lee

Jim Lee

Ralph Macchio


WITH GREAT POWER: THE STAN LEE STORY explores the vivid life and imagination of Stan Lee, the 89-year-old comic book legend who co-created over 500 legendary pop culture characters including Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk. Featuring interviews with both fans and colleagues including Kevin Smith, Patrick Stewart, Samuel L. Jackson, and Eva Mendes, the film is the tale of one man’s determination to tell incredible stories that have enchanted the world for over 40 years.


When it comes to comic books, Stan Lee is a true legend.

Known for writing comic books and was an editor and publisher for Marvel Comics, but known for co-creating Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, thor, the X-Men and many other characters.

Known for his humor and also challenging the comic industry’s censorship organization, the Comic Code Authority, Stan Lee was inducted to the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the National Medal of Arts in 2008.

Back in 2010, the Epix documentary “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story” was aired.

Directed by Terry Douglas, Nikki Frakes and Will Hess

While released in DVD in 2012, the DVD will be re-released, the documentary honors Stan Lee’s legacy, his working relationship with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the challenges of making Marvel television series and earlier films, his appearances in the superhero movies but also the personal lasting relationship between him and his wife Joan, raising a daughter and also the pain of losing a child and more.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story” is presented in 1:33:1 and in English 2.0.  As with most documentaries, the footage utilizes footage from a variety of sources from different periods of Stan Lee’s life, so picture quality varies for certain footage.  For the most part, picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD and dialogue is clear.

Closed Caption in English is included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by filmmakers Terry Dougas, Will Hess, Nikki Frakes, cinematographer Keyan Safyari and co-producer Max Work.
  • Disc 1 Special Features – Featuring the following:  A Star is Born, Stan Lee’s Love Story, The Biggest Fan, Music is the Story, Pow! Zip! Boom! The Sound of cinema, Heroes Helping Heroes!, Stan Lee at UCLA with Kevin Smith & Joe Quesada, A Coffee with Stan Lee: Slamdance 2012, Further Thoughts from Stan, An Unsung Partnership, SDCC 2007 Q&A, Characters Stan Co-Created, Trailer, Stan Lee Biography
  • Disc 2 Special Features – Additional Extended Interviews – Featuring extended interviews with Avi Arad, Sean Astin, Dick Ayers, Kenneth Branagh, Nic Cage, Gill Champion, Michael Chiklis, Gene Colan, Roger Corman, Tom Desanto, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Evanier, Jon Favreau, Kevin Feige, Lou Ferrigno, James Franco, Thomas Haden-Church, Paris Hilton, Sam Jackson, Jim Lee, Paul Levitz, Tobey Maguire, Todd McFarlane, Jim McLauchin, James Marsden, Frank Miller, Jeremy Piven, Joe Quesada, Seth Rogan with Evan Goldberg, John Romita Sr., Joe Simon, Bryan Singer, Joe Sinnott, Kevin Smith, Ringo Starr, Flo Steinberg, Patrick Stewart, Mel Stuart, Roy Thomas, Michael Uslan

I am a huge comic book fan.  I grew up reading comic books with his name gracing the front or interior pages, hearing his voice on “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” and pretty much, part of my childhood, college years and even my adulthood.

I credit Stan Lee for creating these wonderful superhero characters that have been part of my life but also millions of people from different generations.

Watching “With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story” (and I probably have watched this documentary a dozen times as it is one of my favorites) is something that I feel that true comic book fans should watch in their lifetime.

The filmmakers not only get to interview the legendary writer/editor/publisher and entertainer and audiences get to see the comedic side but also the personal side.  But most importantly, many people from the comic book industry and entertainment industry who were just as moved by Stan Lee and grew up reading comic books, are part of this documentary.

It’s one thing to read about Stan Lee in the many interviews featured online or comic book magazines from the past, but this DVD gives us a perspective of Stan Lee that I haven’t seen before and that’s Stan Lee, the loving husband and father but also hearing his heartfelt answer when asked about his relationship with Jack Kirby.  Prior to this documentary, many people assumed there was bad blood between Lee and Kirby, but we realize it’s admirable respect that both men had with each other.  Part of the problem was that Stan Lee was famous for being Stan Lee and as a writer, the media covered him more, while Jack Kirby the artist wasn’t.  Which would eventually lead to Kirby leaving Marvel Comics.  (You can read more about the dispute on this article from Vulture.)

The documentary does an amazing job of showing the wonderful career of Stan Lee, which one would expect from a documentary about the legend.  But the filmmakers also knew that they would have to take on the more challenging questions, from the failed TV series of the ’70s and terrible films of the ’80s and early ’90s, which Stan Lee said he tried, but entertainment company execs wouldn’t listen.

And also, the filmmakers showcase the scandal involving Stan Lee Media and the company’s bankruptcy, one of the dark clouds that hovered over Stan Lee in his career.

But for the most part, this documentary is a positive document showcasing the career and respect that people have towards Stan Lee.

As the film is being re-released on DVD, a lot has changed since the release of this documentary.  The loving wife of Stan Lee passed away earlier this month.  Joan, died at the age of 93, and watching this documentary, you realize how in love these two are.  As Stan Lee is featured prominently in the documentary, in order to get to the personal side of Stan Lee, the filmmakers also chose to feature Joan Lee and Joan’s vibrance and love towards Stan is frequently featured.

While the documentary is pretty much safe for the entire family to watch, this DVD release contains two DVD’s with hours of special features including appearances at Stan Lee at various conventions and Q&A’s, to extended interviews with many big names from the comic book industry taking part.  These are not family friendly, especially the interviews with Kevin Smith (hilarious, but expect a lot of profanity and sexual discussions).

Overall, “With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story” is a fantastic documentary honoring the comic book legend who has created many characters that many generations have grew up and loved.  His legacy will continue to live on forever and at 94-years-old, while Stan Lee continues to appear at conventions and appear on film, its amazing how he continues to touch the lives of many today, as he has done many decades earlier.

“With Great Power… The Stan Lee Story” is highly recommended.  ‘Nuff said.


Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is a fascinating film and possibly one of the best performances in Richard Gere’s career.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Oppenheimer Strategies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 110 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, English SDH – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Some Language)

AVAILABLE ON: July 11, 2017


Directed by Joseph Cedar

Written by Joseph Cedar

Produced by Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, David Mandil, Oren Moverman, Eyal Rimmon, Gideo Tadmor

Executive Produced by Michael Graidy, Caroline Kaplan, Jim Kaufman, Amanda Marshall

Co-Producer: Luca Borghese, Carrie Fix

Associate Producer: Racheli Sternberg

Music by Jun Miyake

Cinematography by Yaron Scharf

Edited by Brian A. Kates

Casting by Jodi Angstreich, Laura Rosenthal, Hila Yuval

Production Design by Kalina Ivanov, Arad Sawat

Art Direction by Barbara Matis

Set Decoration by Joanne Ling

Art Direction by Barbara Matis

Costume Design by Michelle Matland


Starring:

Richard Gere as Norman Oppenheimer

Lior Ashkenazi as Micha Eshel

Michael Sheen as Philip Cohen

Charlotte Gainsbourg as Alex Green

Dan Stevens as Bill Kavish

Steve Buscemi as Rabbi Blumenthal

Jonathan Avigdori as Lior Keshet

Yehuda Almagor as Duvy

Caitlin O’Connell as Sister Agnes

Hank Azaria as Srul Katz

Harris Yulin as Jo Wilf


Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) lives a lonely life in the margins of New York City power and money, and strives to be everyone’s friend. His incessant networking leads him nowhere until he ends up befriending a young but charismatic politician, Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), at a low point in his life. Three years later, the politician becomes the Prime Minister of Israel. Norman uses Eshel’s name to leverage his biggest deal ever: a series of quid pro quo transactions linking the Prime Minister to Norman’s nephew (Michael Sheen), a rabbi (Steve Buscemi), a mogul (Harris Yulin), his assistant (Dan Stevens) and a treasury official from the Ivory Coast. Norman’s plans soon go awry, creating the potential for an international catastrophe he must struggle to prevent. Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is a comedic and compassionate drama of a man whose downfall is rooted in a human frailty all too easy to forgive—a need to matter.


Have you ever met a person, seems like they know everyone, seems like they are very well connected but in truth, they probably are not.

This is the premise of director/writer Joseph Cedar’s “Norman”.  Cedar, best known for films such as “Footnote”, “Beaufort” and “Campfire” has crafted a fascinating film which stars Richard Gere (“Pretty Woman”, “Days of Heaven”, “Hachi”, “Primal Fear”), Lior Ashkenazi (“Big Bad Wolves”, “Walk on Water”, “Footnote”), Michael Sheen (“Kingdom of Heaven”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Underworld”), Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Nymphomaniac” films, “Melancholia”, “Antichrist”), Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”, “The Guest”, “Beauty and the Beast”), Steve Buscemi (“Fargo”, “Armageddon”, “Reservoir Dogs”), Jonathan Avigdori (“The Blacklist”, “Elementary”, “The Unit”) and Hank Azaria (“The Simpsons”, “, “The Smurfs”, “Godzilla”).

And now “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The film revolves around a man named Norman Oppenheimer (portrayed by Richard Gere), a persistent consultant who claims to know everyone important, name drops consistently and always offers to introduce a person to major players in the city.

But does Norman really know these people and do they really know him?

We often see Norman talking with people but the only one he truly has conversations with is with his nephew, Wall Street lawyer Philip Cohen (portrayed by Michael Sheen).

But with everyone else, Norman talks as if he has known people for many years, knows when to take advantage of opportunities but when asked of how he knows these individuals, he clams up and becomes vague.

In truth, Norman is a person who networks to know end, wanting to be part of an important circle, wanting to be important.  And Norman would get the opportunity when he meets an Israeli politician named Micha Eshel (portrayed by Lior Ashkenazi), who happens to be visiting New York.  Seeing the man as great potential to further his networking abilities, Norman offers to pay for expensive Lanvin shoes that Eshel was lookinga t.

Remembering the generosity of Norman, three years later, Micha Eshel has become the Israel Prime Minister.  And because of that generosity that Norman gave to him three years ago, Eshel introduces Norman to the political elites, to the chagrin of Eshel’s political aides.

Seeing this as a way to use his contacts, Norman begins to make promises to New York’s Jewish community, including rabbi Blumenthal (portrayed by Steve Buscemi) and the more exaggerations that Norman creates, especially towards an investigator Alex Green (portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg), the more problems he creates for himself as he is unable to keep those promises.  Or can he?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video. Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels is primarily used for ambiance.  But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional) and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” comes with the following special features:

  • Making the Connection: Norman on the Red Carpet – (4:35) The cast and crew discuss working on the film and interviews on the red carpet.
  • An Evening with Norman – (22:48) A post-screening Q&A with director Joseph Cedar and actor, Richard Gere.
  • Theatrical Trailer

I think that many people have met a person like “Norman” in their lifetime, in fact there are those who probably have that generous side of “Norman” within them.  Wanting to help people, making promises that they may or may not keep and happen to know a lot of people.

Having worked in the political and also the entertainment industry, meeting people like Norman is commonplace.  Doing things that Norman would do is commonplace ala “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality of giving favors and expecting a favor back.

That’s all good and normal but in the case of Norman Oppenheimer, we have a man who lives his life consistently meeting people, networking with people, claiming to know everyone, trying to connect anyone with those people.  They are fueled by it, they are consumed by it and they make promises and never think of the ramifications of what if it doesn’t pan out?

Filmmaker Joseph Cedar has managed to create a great character study of Norman Oppenheimer but what makes this film work is the wonderful acting performance of Richard Gere.

Norman is a man that is persistent.  Finding ways to get invited to top politicians parties (or just showing up and getting inside their homes), knowing the routines of politicians or leaders when they are on their morning jog or just knowing when to strike when the opportunity is hot.  He’s out there, he knows his role and for the most part, Norman does a great job of meeting people and name dropping.  But when he is asked how he knows certain individuals, he clams up.  He doesn’t know what to say, so he plays naive, as if he’s a man that doesn’t want to reveal anything but in truth, he doesn’t know much about the person and vice versa.

And life for Norman changes dramatically when he helps a politician from Israel, Micha Eschel (portrayed by Lior Ashkenazi) by buying him expensive shoes.  It was a major risk but the generosity is remembered by Michael three years later once he becomes the Israel Prime Minister and all of a sudden, Norman is jettisoned into Eschel’s inner circle and meeting key politicians, leaders.

Problem is…he then starts to use these contacts to make promises towards his fellow Jewish community leaders.  And even worse, he starts spouting exaggerations to an investigator named Alex Green (portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg) who specializes in political corruption.

Needless to say, Norman is not aware of how his exaggerations are causing problems nor does he know how badly he has screwed up.  Or has he?

It’s a fascinating and fresh film that you don’t usually see all that much but writer/director Joseph Cedar did a solid job in crafting this film.

The DVD looks great but if you want the best quality, you definitely will want to watch this film on Blu-ray.  The DVD also comes with a few special features as well including a Q&A with Cedar and Richard Gere.

Overall, “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is a fascinating film and possibly one of the best performances in Richard Gere’s career.  Recommended!


Land of Mine (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Martin Zandvliet’s “Land of Mine” is a thought-provoking post-war film with a strong message for humanity that militaristic actions which happened after World War II with enemy POWs should never be repeated. “Land of Mine” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Nordisk Film Production. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Land of Mine

YEAR OF FILM: 2015

DURATION: 101 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, German, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Violence, Some Grisly Images and Language)

AVAILABLE ON: June 6, 2017


Directed by Martin Zandvliet

Screenplay by Martin Zandvliet

Produced by Malte Grunert, Mikael Chr. Rieks

Executive Produced by Daniel Baur, Oliver Simon, Henrik Zein

Line Producer: Arno Neubauer, Louise Birk Petersen

Music by Sune Martin

Cinematography by Camilla Hjelm

Edited by Per Sandholt, Molly Marlene Stensgaard

Casting by Simone Bar

Production Design by Gitte Malling

Art Direction by Malina Ionescu

Set Decoration by Katja Schlomer

Art Direction by Seth Turner

Set Decoration by Kay Anthony

Costume Design by Stefanie Baker, Claudia Maria Braun


Starring:

Roland Miller as Sgt. Carl Rasmussen

Louis Hoffman as Sebastian Schmann

Joel Basman as Helmut Morbach

Mikkel Boe Folsgaard as Lt. Ebbe Jensen

Laura Bro as Karin

Zoe Zandvliet as Elisabeth

Oskar Bokelmann as Ludwig Haffke

Emil Belton as Ernst Lessner

Oskar Belton as Werner Lessner

Leon Seidel as Wilhelm Hahn

Karl Alexander Seidel as Manfred

Maximilian Beck as August Kluger

August Carter as Rudolf Seike

Tim Bulow as Hermann Marklein

Alexander Rasch as Friedrich as Schnurr


As World War II comes to an end, a group of young German POWs is captured by the Danish army and forced to defuse and clear 2 million land mines from the Danish coast. With little to no training, the boys soon discover that the war is far from over. Inspired by true events, LAND OF MINE exposes the untold story about the young men who faced overwhelming odds in a post-war world.


Fight the monsters who you are against in war.  But does one turn into the same kind of monster that you are fighting against when your country has the other country’s Prisoner of War (POW)?

For the Danish-German film “Land of Mine”, filmmaker/screenwriter Martin Zandvliet (“A Funny Man”, “Applause”, “Teddy Bear”) takes on that question in his war film that sympathizes with the prisoners of war.

As Nazi German soldiers buried around two million mines around the Danish Coast during their occupation and because of the danger these mines were to the public, the Danish Army used German POWs (a decision by the British military who controlled the area and a violation of the Geneva Convention), the majority of the POWs who were boys to defuse and clear as many mines.

Hated because they are German, there was no sympathy towards these boys because they were German soldiers.  And nearly half of the German POWs were killed or injured with permanent or serious disabilities during the operation.

Today, the subject is still debated as others say the POWs, despite their young age, were experienced soldiers who participated in Nazi atrocities, while others argue that these were kids that were innocent and inexperienced.

For Denmark, it was their belief that the Germans put the mines in the area, they should be responsible for removing them.  And most believed that Germans had no rights and could not expect any mercy after the war’s end.

“Land of Mine” is set days following the surrender of Germany in May 1945 and German POW’s were handed over to Danish authorities out to the West Coast of Denmark where more than two million mines were placed by Germans in the sand along the coast.

Danish Sgt. Carl Leopold Rasmussen (portrayed by Roland Moller) receives a group of 14 German POWs, expecting a group of men but instead they are teenage boys.  These boys were trained for three days by the Danish Army and sent to take on the job by crawling in the sand with their bare hands and removing the pin and explosive from each mine.

Sgt. Rasmussen and many of the locals and soldiers of the Danish army have no sympathy towards the Germans and these boys are rarely fed and work long exhausting shifts.  Because the training was insufficient, we see these young soldiers beg for a break because they are ill, some who feel they rather die because they feel they will never go back home.

But because these boys are not men, should they be treated inhumanely, especially if they have nothing to do with the German occupation of Denmark?  This is the conflict that Sgt. Rasmussen must deal with.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Land of Mine” is presented in 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen and in German/English 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video. Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels is primarily used for ambiance and mine detonations.

But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Land of Mine” comes with the following special features:

  • In Conversation with Director Martin Zandvliet – (17:50) Post-screening Q&A with director/writer Martin Zandvliet.
  • Theatrical Trailer

For anyone who has experienced, watched or learned about war, we often learn about the dirty things about war.  Especially for one’s home country, you learn through school or through cinema of the atrocities committed by the enemy in World War II.

For those of us who grew up in America, we learn about the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany.

But in the case of Denmark, given thousands of German POWs, with the majority of them being young teenage boys, the Danish Army didn’t look at their ages, they pretty much felt that because Nazi German buried over two million mines throughout the Western Coast, the Germans should be responsible for removing them.

And because of the large influx of German POWs, these teenage boys would be responsible for removing them.

What filmmaker/screenwriter Martin Zandvliet does well is showing sympathy to these German POWs.  There is no denying that Nazi Germany did a lot of atrocious things but when you watch “Land of Mine”, you think that these are just children.  Teenagers who were either led to believe they should join the military for the good of their country or their evil leader.  But many of these kids, can they be blamed for what the adults have done?  Are these kids to be seen in the same light as the adults?

We see the change within Sgt. Carl Rasmussen, a hard-edge soldier who could care less about the Germans but when he gets children not men, who are assigned to him to clear out the mines, we see how he’s hard on them, he could care less if they are sick and makes them work.  But when he sees these children dying, getting their bodies blown up, seeing brothers separated and the look on their faces of no hope but death, it gets to him.

This is the ugliness of war.  Even with the Geneva Convention, after World War II, these countries despised the enemies and could care less of their POWs and it was unfortunate that Allied forces were doing some of the things that Germans were being prosecuted for.

Overall, Martin Zandvliet’s “Land of Mine” is a thought-provoking post-war film with a strong message for humanity that militaristic actions which happened after World War II with enemy POWs should never be repeated.

“Land of Mine” is recommended!


Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam – Live from Sin City (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam – Live from Sin City” may not be for everyone, but for those who are entertained by vulgar, profane and not overly sensitive, then definitely give this latest DVD a chance! You may enjoy it!

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


DVD TITLE: Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam – Live from Sin City

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 91 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Presentation, 16×9 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: May 23, 2017


Executive Produced by Shaquille O’Neal, Mike Parris, Quincy Newell, Jeff Clanagan

Producers: Anthony C. Hall, Tamra Goins, Leslie Small

Produced by: Valarie Benning Barney

Edited by Julian Gooden, Leslie Small


Starring:

Shaquille O’Neal

Lavell Crawford

K-Dubb

Cocoa Brown

Donnell Rawlings

Earthquake


Shaquille O’Neal presents host Lavell Crawford (”Breaking Bad,” MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES, and AMERICAN ULTRA) with special guests K-Dubb, Cocoa Brown, Donnell Rawlings, and Earthquake to deliver one of the funniest nights of comedy yet. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL’S ALL-STAR COMEDY JAM: LIVE FROM SIN CITY was filmed live at the Penn & Teller Theater in Las Vegas.


From the ’80s “Kings of Comedy” to the ’90s of “Def Comedy Jam” and in recent years of Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy”, each have provided a venue to see up-and-coming or established African American comedians.

With “Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy – Live in Sin City”, Lavell Crawford (“Breaking Bad”, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”, “American Ultra”) now takes the stage as the host and joining him are comedians K-Dubb, Cocoa Brown, Donnell Rawlings and Earthquake.

Filmed live at the Penn & Teller Theater in Las Vegas.


VIDEO & AUDIO:

Picture quality is presented in 1:78:1 and English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio with Spanish subtitles.

Picture quality is good as it can get on DVD and overall soundtrack is crystal clear.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy – Live in Sin City” comes with no special features.


For those who grew up watching “Def Comedy Jam”, “Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam” takes the similar path of featuring established or up-and-coming African American comedians and letting them go full-force in unabashed rawness and profanity.

Sure, there are those who may have a problem with some of the comedy content, may it be too adult in content (ie. discussion of sex) and there are some who feel that the comedy may be demeaning to people who are African American, but this debate has gone long and for some performers, comedy is an outlet to express themselves and how they grew up.

For “Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam – Live from Sin City – Live in Sin City”, the host is a much slimmer Lavell Crawford.  Discussing everything from growing up with a cranky grandma, Black Lives matter, the killing of Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo, the light-skinned Golden State Warriors and more.

K-Dubb’s comedy routine talks about relationship, Cocoa Brown tears it up with her comedy about an ex-boyfriend, getting back into dating, men and female body parts and more.

Comedian Donnell Rawlings talks about ISIS, wanting to be light-skinned, reading out loud in school and more.

The show ends with Earthquake talking about Lamar Odom, Bill Cosby his love for women.

The latest offering of “Shaquille O’Neal Presents” is no doubt humorous, but at the same time, I know that there has been a growing resistance towards this form of adult comedy and it’s the same arguments that existed when “Def Jam Comedy” was often profiled in media.

Is “Shaquille O’Neal Presents” vulgar?  Yes.  Are people going to find the comedy routines to be insensitive.  I’m sure there are people that are.  But it all depends on the people watching it.  If you don’t like this type of comedy, then don’t watch.

One thing that I did notice watching this latest “Live from Sin City” is seeing audience reactions.  There are those who are laughing hard and you’ll see someone barely laughing, almost like they didn’t get the joke or didn’t care for it.  This is how comedy is and there are those who dig it and some who don’t.

Overall, “Shaquille O’Neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam – Live from Sin City” may not be for everyone, but for those who are entertained by vulgar, profane and not overly sensitive, then definitely give this latest DVD a chance! You may enjoy it!


Toni Erdmann (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It is very common for us cineaste to go back into the past and select films that shocked us, that surprised us and enjoing cinema that inspires us. Films that we are truly passionate for, because of the director’s vision, a film’s creativity and originality and for some auteurs that have created such films, we have regarded these films as a masterpiece. I feel that I can watch Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” over and over, enjoy it and know that I have watched a masterpiece. Each time you watch “Toni Erdmann”, you gain a deeper appreciation for the film and it’s a true feeling that makes you proud that cinema is still alive! “Toni Erdmann” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Komplizen Film. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Toni Erdmann

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 133 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, German, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Strong Sexual Content, Graphic Nudity, Language and Brief Drug Use)

AVAILABLE ON: April 11, 2017


Directed by Maren Ade

Screenplay by Maren Ade

Produced by Maren Ade, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Michel Merkt

Co-Producer: David Keitsch, Sebastian Schipper, Antonin Svoboda, Bruno Wagner

Executive Produced by Ada Solomon

Line Producer: Ben von Dobeneck

Cinematography by Patrick Orth

Edited by Heike Parplies

Casting by Viorica Capdefier, Nina Haun, Amanda Tabak

Production Design by Silke Fischer

Art Direction by Malina Ionescu

Set Decoration by Katja Schlomer

Costume Design by Gitti Fuchs


Starring:

Sandra Huller as Ines Conradi

Peter Simonischek as Winfried

Michael Wittenborn as Henneberg

Thomas Loibi as Gerald

Trystan Putter as tim

Ingrid Bisu as Anca

Hadewych Minis as Tatjana

Lucy Russell as Steph

Victoria Cocias as Flavia

Alexandru Papadopol as Dascalu

Victoria Malektorovych as Natalja


Winfried rarely sees Ines since she left for a high-powered corporate job. So when he drops by to visit, the two quickly find themselves at odds as his quirky antics clash with her slick lifestyle. Determined to be part of her world, Winfried reappears as alter ego “Toni Erdmann,” an outrageous life coach who turns his daughter’s career plans upside-down. In the course of all the madness, the two discover that maybe they have more in common than they imagined.


From filmmaker, writer and producer Maren Ade (“Everyone Else”, “The Forest for the Trees”) comes the German/Austrian comedy-drama “Toni Erdmann”.

The film stars Sandra Huller (“Requiem”, “Uber Uns Das All”, “Brownian Movement”), Peter Simonischek (“Oktober November”, “Geburtig”, “Saphirblau”), Michael Wittenborn (“Wir Sind Die Neuen”, “Ein Freund Von Mir”, “Yella”), Thomas Loibl (“Ende der Schonzeit”, “3096 Days”, “Like a Cast Shadow”), Trystan Putter (“Phoenix”, “War Horse”, “Passion”), Ingrid Bissu (“Outbound”, “BloodRayne”), Hadewych Minis (“Borgman”, “Bloed, Zweet & Tranen”) and Lucy Russell (“Following”, “The Lady and the Duke”).

The film has received critical acclaim and was named “Best Film of 2016” by “Sight & Sound” and won five awards at the 29th European Film Awards for “Best Film” (the first for a film directed by a woman), “Best Director”, “Best Screenwriter”, “Best Actor” and “Best Actress”.  The film was also nominated for “Best Foreign Language Film” at the 89th Academy Awards.

And now “Toni Erdmann” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The film begins with the introduction of Winfried Conradi (portrayed by Peter Simonischek), a divorced music teacher and often likes to pull pranks, take on different personas and sport fake teeth.

Since the divorce, he hasn’t had much of a relationship with his daughter Ines (portrayed by Sandra Huller), a business consultant  and is currently working on an outsourcing project in the oil industry and so, she is always busy and doesn’t have much time for anyone, including her family.  That even Winfried makes jokes that he wants to hire a replacement daughter to cut his nails.

After the death of his dog, Winfried decides to travel to Bucharest, Romania spontaneously without letting Ines know that he is coming.

Surprised by the visit, Ines allows her father accompany him to a reception at the American Embassy with Henneberg, a German oil company CEO and Ines is desperate in trying to secure a consulting contract with him.

While at the reception, Winfried ends up talking to Henneberg and jokes about hiring a replacement daughter to cut his nails and because of this, Henneberg ends up inviting both Ines and her father for drinks.

Winfried gets to see how life is for her daughter as she is constantly stressed out, doesn’t get much sleep and when she oversleeps one day, she gets upset and gives her father a hint that she’s too busy and they will meet up when she has the time.

After a difficult day of trying to win a contract with Henneberg, Ines goes out with her two friends for dinner but out of nowhere, a man approaches and offers them drinks.  He introduces himself as Toni Erdmann and to Ines’ shock, the man is her father in another disguise.  Toni tells the women that he is in Bucharest to attend the funeral of his friend’s turtle.

And this is just the beginning as Ines starts to see Toni Erdmann at major parties and also near her office but she allows her father to continue with his jokes and not acknowledging to anyone that he is her father.

But will this odd behavior from her father push her away, considering how frustrated and unfulfilled she is with work?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, a Blu-ray release of “Toni Erdmann” is available.  With that being said, the film is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and in German/English 5.1 Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video.  Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels primarily ambiance (especially during scenes with crowds).

But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Toni Erdmann” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with actress Sandra Huller, actor Peter Simonischek and producer Janine Jackowski.
  • Toni Erdmann at AFI Fest – (16:04) Featuring scenes from the red carpet and Q&A.
  • Theatrical Trailer

Whenever one can watch cinema that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you want to watch it over and over again, you know that film is truly special.

Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” is no doubt a special film free from banality, creative and original and not predictable.

It’s one thing to have a film about a father wanting to reconnect with his busy, stressed-out daughter and as the film slowly introduces us to Winnfried and Ines in the first half of the film, showing us how the father is literally a class clown but just wants to be a part of his daughters life.

While Ines is always frustrated, feels underappreciated and literally does whatever she can to win a contract, even if it means meeting a client’s wife to help her with shopping.  You can literally feel the tension, the frustration that she is on a verge of a nervous breakdown.

So, when her father shows up spontaneously to Bucharest without letting her know and during a time she is trying to win a major client, it’s one thing as daughter gives her father a chance to see how her life is.

By the second half of the film, we then start to see her father taking on the persona of Toni Erdmann and somehow ending up at posh parties that she is attends and somehow seeing him continue with this a ridiculous persona but yet letting him continue.

But it’s certain scenes, while very sexual or have a lot of nudity that come out of nowhere and just shows us how Ines is dealing with her life and literally giving a message of “I don’t give a f*ck anymore!”.

And as for Winnfried, as a father knowing that despite her busy and tough nature, somewhere inside her, she still daddy’s little girl.

The performances by actress Sandra Huller and Peter Simonishchek was truly amazing.  Huller gives us a performance of a lifetime and she just gets better and better with each film that she stars in.

Overall, it is very common for us cineaste to go back into the past and select films that shocked us, that surprised us and enjoing cinema that inspires us.  Films that we are truly passionate for, because of the director’s vision, a film’s creativity and originality and for some auteurs that have created such films, we have regarded these films as a masterpiece. I feel that I can watch Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” over and over, enjoy it and know that I have watched a masterpiece.

Each time you watch “Toni Erdmann”, you gain a deeper appreciation for the film and it’s a true feeling that makes you proud that cinema is still alive!

“Toni Erdmann” is recommended!


Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge vol. 2 – Extinction (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Extinction” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart with the final ten action-packed episodes of the second and final season. If you love the first season of “Power Rangers Dino Charge”, definitely check out “Power Rangers Dino Super Charge” on DVD!

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


DVD TITLE: Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge vol. 2 – Extinction

TV SERIES (YEAR): 2016

DURATION: Episodes 11-20 [Episodes 33-52] (2 Hrs. and 12 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: Not Rated

AVAILABLE ON: March 7, 2017


Directed by Charlie Haskell, Peter Salmon, Mike Smith, Jonathan Brough, Peter Burger, Karl Zwicky, Michael Duignan

Written by Judd Lynn, Haim Saban, Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale, Mark Litton, Jeffrey Newman, Peter Wiseman, James W. Bates, Tanya M. Wheeler, Marc Handler, Ann Knapp

Produced by Sally Campbell

Executive Produced by Judd Lynn, Brian Casentini, Haim Saban

Music by Noam Kaniel

Cinematography by Kevin Riley, D.J. Stipsen

Edited by Allanah Milne

Casting by Iris Hampton

Production Design by Tracey Collins

Art Direction by Davin Voot

Costume Design by Sarah Voon


Starring:

Brennan Mejia as Tyler Navarro/Red Dino Charge Ranger

Camille Hyde as Shelby Watkins/Pink Dino Charge Ranger

Yoshua Sudarso as Koda/Blue Dino Charge Ranger

Michael Taber as Riley Griffin/Green Dino Charge Ranger

James Davies as Chase Randall/Black Dino Charge Ranger

Claire Blackwelder as Kendall Morgan/Purple Dino Charge Ranger

Campbell Cooley as the Mecha Voice

Davi Santos as Ivan

Estevez Gillespie as Wrench

Paul Harrop as Fury

Eve Gordon as Keeper

Adam Gardiner as Sledge

Jackie Clarke as Poisandra

Ryan Carter as Heckyl


The action is supercharged and the adventures are out of this world as the Power Rangers call upon their teamwork and abilities to protect the Energems!


The second season of “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” concludes with the final ten episodes as the Power Rangers must take on a new enemy, Lord Arcanon.

Meanwhile, the Power Rangers prepare for their final battle against Sledge and the team gets assistance from the one person that would least likely to help them in the past.  But with the threat of the Dark Energem, can the Power Rangers endure and defeat their enemies?

What is “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” about?

In 2015, “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” debuted on television. And as usual with Power Rangers series, a second season follows and in January 2016, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge” made its debut.

The 23rd season of the “Power Rangers” series continues with the same actors as season one: Brennan Mejia, Camille Hyde, Yoshua Sudarso, Michael Taber, James Davies, Claire Blackwelder and Davi Santos.

And new antagonists with Heckyl and Snide.

The storyline begins with the opening narration:

Millions of years ago, the evil Sledge tried to steal the greatest power in the universe. But an alien named Keeper entrusted them to dinosaurs. As for Sledge… He was blasted deep into space. Now the Energems have been found, and Sledge returns to battle a new team of heroes; they are…Power Rangers Dino Charge!”

As Heckyl and Snide continues to look for the remaining two Energems, a team of Power Rangers form to find the the Energems before their enemies can and prepare themselves for the battle ahead.

Power Rangers Dino Charge consists of:

  • Dino Charge Red Ranger – Tyler Navarro (portrayed by Brennan Mejia) – The leader of the team and works as the chef at Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum’s restaurant, the Dino Bite Cafe. He commands the T-Rex Zord. His father had gone missing when he was a child and Tyler hopes one day he can find him.
  • Dino Charge Pink Ranger – Shelby Watkins (portrayed by Camille Hyde) – A waitress at the Dino Bite Cafe and knows a lot about Dinosaurs. She commands the Tricera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Blue Ranger – Koda (portrayed by Yoshi Sudarso) – A Cro-Magnon caveman who found the Blue Energem a hundred thousand years ago in a Stegosaurus fossil. He was unfrozen by Kendall and Chase and becomes the Dino Charge Blue Ranger. He works as a dishwasher for Dino Bite Cafe and Amber Beach Museum digger. He commands the Stego Zord.
  • Dino Charge Green Ranger – Riley Griffin (portrayed by Michael Taber) – Works as an intern at the Amber Beach Museum and as a waiter at Dino Bite Cafe. He is calm and very intelligent. He commands the Raptor Zord.
  • Dino Charge Black Ranger – Chase Randall (portrayed by James Davies) – The flirtatious and laid-back member who likes to ride a skateboard. Works as a janitor at Amber Beach museum and is an expert paleontology digger. He commands the Para Zord.
  • Dino Charge Gold Ranger – Sir Ivan of Zandar (portrayed by Davi Santos) – A Mideival knight who served the royal family of Zandar 800 years ago. He commands the Ptera Zord.
  • Dino Charge Graphite Ranger – Prince Phillip III (portrayed by Jarred Blakiston) – The wealthy crown prince of Zandar and descendent of Prince Colin. He is helpful and cares about the environment and wants to become a Power Ranger. He commands the Pachy Zord.
  • Kendall Morgan (portrayed by Claire Blackwelder) – A 26-year-old scientist who manages the Amber Beach Dinosaur Museum and heads the paleontology digging group.

As “Power Rangers: Dino Charge” featured a total of 22 episodes, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Extinction” features the last ten episodes of the second season.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Extinction”:

  • Episode 33 – “Love at First Fight” – Can Beauticruel use Poisandra’s magic to make men fall for her?
  • Episode 34 – “Catching Some Rays” – When the team discover Koda’s old cave, they ignore Koda’s grandfather’s warning.
  • Episode 35 – “Recipe for Disaster” – Food Critic Catherine Allister visits the Dino Bite, but what happens when Chase’s dish doesn’t come out as he expected.
  • Episode 36 – “Silver Secret” – The Silver Ranger lands on Earth.
  • Episode 37 – “Wings of Danger” – Doomwing comes to challenge Zenowing.
  • Episode 38 – “Freak Fightday” – What happens when a monster switches the rangers bodies around?  Can the team get back at being their original selves?
  • Episode 39 – “Worgworld” – Why is everyone turning into zombies?
  • Episode 40 – “The Rangers Rock” – What happens when Badussa turns the Rangers into stone?  Can Shelby and Zenowing save the day?
  • Episode 41 – “Edge of Extinction” – The rangers discovers a Greenzilla Egg, meanwhile the team receives help from an unlikely person.
  • Episode 42 – “End of Exctinction” – The final fight against Sledge.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Extinction” is presented in 1:78:1 Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital and French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.

Closed Captions are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Extinction” features no special features.

EXTRAS:

“Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Extinction” comes with a slip cover.


For over 20-years, many people have grown up watching “Power Rangers”.

Sure, a lot of the stories are campy but for those who enjoyed the action, the costumes and the good old story of good vs. evil, that concept has remained consistent season after season.

“Power Rangers: Dino Charge – Extinction” continues the trend that Lions Gate did with the last released “Roar” by including the final ten episodes of the season instead of the standard five (note: the two specials are not included and will most likely be released for the complete collection).

As one who has grown up watching the Japanese sentai series and also the original “Power Rangers” and now having a child and nephews that are interested in them, one thing that I am glad to see is that the series retains its action and family-oriented storylines.

Nothing too violent and nothing that would make parents wince. Granted, some may object to the fighting but personally, costumed heroes vs. monsters (people in rubber suits), it’s not exactly something that I worry about in terms of fighting action. As parents, it’s how we teach our children and to not practice Power Rangers moves on other people.

As for this DVD volume, it’s pretty much the final ten episodes of season two and feature stories revolving around each character. From Kendall’s grandmother visiting the area, Chase trying to cook a dessert recipe for a renown food critic, Tyler and Shelby getting closer but the focus is on the return of Sledge and a new enemy, Lord Arcanon.

And as the team are in for the fight of their lives, they receive help from the person they would never expect to help them.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and there are no special features. Unfortunately, unlike previous DVD releases, there is no digital HD code included.  But usually, a complete collection is typically released and with those, one should expect all episodes including the two specials episodes.

Overall, “Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge – Extinction” is a DVD that I recommend for young fans and the young at heart with the season’s final ten action-packed episodes. If you love the first season of “Power Rangers Dino Charge”, definitely check out the second season on DVD!

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