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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

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

August 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Oren Moverman’s “The Dinner” may not have the same shock factor of its novel counterpart and its bleek characters.  While characters and their actions are much more subdued in this film adaptation, the film is still provocative, that I can’t help but recommend for people to watch it.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Tesuca Holdings. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Dinner

FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 120 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH

COMPANY: Lions Gate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: August 8, 2017


Based on the Novel by Herman Koch

Directed by Oren Moverman

Screenplay by Oren Moverman

Produced by Caldecot Chubb, Lawrence Inglee, Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman

Executive Producer: Eva Maria Daniels, Leonid Levedev, Angel Lopez, Olga Segura

Cinematography by Bobby Bukowski

Edited by Alex Hall

Casting by Jodi Angstreich, Maribeth Fox, Laura Rosenthal

Production Design by Kelly McGehee

Art Direction by Gonzalo Cordoba

Set Decoration by Joanne Ling

Costume Design by Catherine George


Starring:

Richard Gere as Stan Lohman

Laura Linney as Claire Lohman

Steve Coogan as Paul Lohman

Rebecca Hall as Katelyn Lohman

Chloe Sevigny as Barbara Lohman

Charlie Plummer as Michael Lohman

Adepero Oduye as Nina

Michael Chernus as Dylan Heinz

Taylor Rae Almonte as Kamryn Velez

Joel Bissonnette as Antonio


Golden Globe® winner Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Steve Coogan star in this dark psychological thriller about how far parents will go to protect their children


Dutch author Herman Koch wrote the novel “The Dinner” and was first published back in 2009 and has become an international bestseller and has received three film adaptations.  The first in Netherlands (2013), the second in Italy (2014) and the most recently was in 2017 directed by Oren Moverman (writer of “The Messenger”, “I’m Not There.”, “Rampart”), who also wrote the English screenplay.

The film stars Richard Gere (“Pretty Woman”, “Primal Fear”, “Hachi”), Laura Linney (“The Truman Show”, “Mystic River, “Primal Fear”), Steve Coogan (“Philomena”, “Alan Partridge”, “Tropic Thunder”), Rebecca Hall (“Iron Man 3”, “The Prestige”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Chloe Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry”, “Big Love”, “Love & Friendship”), Charlie Plumber (“King Jack”, “Granite Flats”) and Adepero Oduye (“12 Years a Slave”, “The Big Short”, “Pariah”).

And now, “The Dinner” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Lions Gate.

“The Dinner” revolves around a dinner between brothers, politician Stan Lohman (portrayed by Richard Gere) and his brother, former professor Paul Lohman (portrayed by Steve Coogan), who has a mental illness which has progressively gotten worse).  Joining them are Paul’s loving wife Claire (portrayed by Laura Linney) and Stan’s wife Katelyn (portrayed by Rebecca Hall).

But this is a dinner which Paul does not want to be a part of but his wife cajoles her husband to go.  Meanwhile, Paul discovers the smartphone of his son Michael (portrayed by Charlie Plummer) and sees that his son may be getting himself into some trouble.

As the four meetup for dinner and things often get volatile, Stan tries to explain that he gotten everyone together because he has something very important to discuss.

But each time he tries, Paul gets into a fit and often gets angry or leaves the table.  Paul looks at his brother, a wealthy politician as a sign of what is corrupt in society.

Through flashbacks, we learn that Paul has a mental illness, lacks any empathy towards people, obsessed with the Civil War but how his mental illness had gotten worse.  If there is one thing that is certain, his love for his wife and his only son, Michael.

Meanwhile Stan, is trying to get a mental health bill passed, which was inspired from his brother’s mental illness, but also their mothers mental illness.

But as we see how challenging of a relationship both Stan and Paul has had, the hot and heated marriage between Stan and his wife Katelyn (portrayed by Rebecca Hall), Claire Lohman is more of the rock in the family of Paul and Claire’s marriage.

We learn that Stan has been married before to Barbara (portrayed by Chloe Sevigny) who has had a mental breakdown and in that marriage, they adopted an African American boy named Bo.

We then see multiple flashbacks involving Paul’s child Michael (portrayed by Charlie Plummer), a friend and Bo going to a party.  We learn from Flashbacks that perhaps Michael may have symptoms like his father, lacking empathy.  In fact, going so far to diss Bo because he’s Black and doesn’t care.

While walking home, they want to go to an ATM but find a homeless person sleeping in the ATM booth during the cold winter.  Wanting to use the ATM, Michael tells the homeless woman to leave.  She doesn’t and so he and his friend find trash to throw at the homeless woman but then, doing the unthinkable.

But what happens during the dinner and why does Stan Lohman, who is on a major political campaign, find it important to bring his brother and sister-in-law together?


VIDEO:

“The Dinner” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Closeups show good detail but for the most part, the film was shot indoors, in the evening but overall, the film looks very good with no signs of significant artifacts or banding issues.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Dinner” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and features crystal clear dialogue.  While surround channels capture ambiance, this film’s soundtrack is primarily dialogue-driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Dinner” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Oren Moverman and actress Laura Linney.
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

EXTRAS:

“The Dinner” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.


When Herman Koch’s novel was published, needless to say, it was a novel that shock people to its core and showing how apathetic a family could be in order to protect their children.

While the novel pulls off a lot of surprises, Oren Moverman’s adaptation of the Koch novel is more subdued.  Less troubling, but nevertheless suspenseful and still entertaining despite not being a 100% faithful adaptation.

Without spoiling the film, “The Dinner” is a film that touches upon various characters.  The often-angry and apathetic Paul Lohman who suffers a mental illness (which is never revealed in the film or the book) who doesn’t want to see his brother, a successful politician named Stan.  Who has invited Paul and his wife Claire over for dinner at a restaurant to discuss something important.

Meanwhile, Paul is suspicious of his son’s behavior due to what was on his phone.

And we start to see through flashbacks of the things that his son have done and unfortunately there are repercussions that affect Stan and Paul’s family.

In the film, there is focus on mental health but also for people who are of privilege.  Does morality prove to be much more important over family union or politics?

The novel tends to show how each person is guilty of immoral choices and actions, which do not make it into the film.  There was no doubt that the book was very dark and it’s not something that filmmaker Oren Moverman wanted to take on.  And this is where people who have read the book may have a problem with the film, for not going where Herman Koch was able to go in the novel.

And Oren’s choice of a more subdued storyline is no surprise where people not familiar with the book, probably don’t want to watch a film so bleek and f’d up.  But for storyline purists, creating a film that strays from the source is not cool!

There were a lot of bad things that should have happened, but they don’t in the film.  But the provocative message involving every major character in the film still drives the message through of how far people would go to protect their children (especially those with money and power).

The performance by Steve Coogan, especially from Richard Gere were quite solid.  Coogan who had to play Paul in various states of mental illness was no doubt difficult, but he manage to pull it off with efficacy.  Richard Gere is a talented actor along with Laura Linney who both shine in this film and it’s great to see the two united since their film “Primal Fear”.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality is very good and the lossless soundtrack is dialogue-driven, so more front channel speaker focus for this film.  And you also get special features including an insightful audio commentary by filmmaker Oren Moverman and actress Laura Linney.

Overall, Oren Moverman’s “The Dinner” may not have the same shock factor of its novel counterpart and its bleek characters.  While characters and their actions are much more subdued in this film adaptation, the film is still provocative, that I can’t help but recommend for people to watch it. Check it out!

Love & Friendship (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Love & Friendship” is entertaining and so fun to watch! Everything about the characters, the storyline, the costume and set design and the always entertaining Stillman verbal quips that we get from every film of his, this film is delightful and one of the better Jane Austen adaptations out there. Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Blinder Films, Chic Films, Revolver Amsterdam and Arte France Cinema. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Love & Friendship

FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 93 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Thematic Elements)

Release Date: September 6, 2016


Based on Jane Austen’s novella, “Lady Susan”

Directed by Whit Stillman

Written by Whit Stillman

Produced by Lauranne Bourrachot, Katie Holly, Whit Stillman

Co-Producer: Remi Burah, Marco Cherqui, Olivier Pere, Raymond van der Kaaij

Executive-Producer: Collin de Rham, Russell Pennoyer, Keith Potter, Kieron J. Walsh, Nigel Williams

Line Producer: Cathleen Dore

Associate Producer: Trevor Brown

Cinematography by Richard Van Oosterhout

Music by Benjamin Esdraffo

Edited by Sophie Corra

Casting by Kerry Barden, Colin Jones, Paul Schnee

Production Design by Anna Rackard

Art Direction by Louise Mathews, Bryan Tormey

Set Decoration by Stuart Crinnion

Costume Design by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh


Starring:

Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan Vernon

Morfydd Clark as Frederica Vernon

Tom Bennett as Sir James Martin

Jenn Murray as Lady Lucy Manwaring

Lochlann O’Mearain as Lord Manwaring

Sophie Radermacher as Miss Maria Manwaring

Chloe Sevigny as Alicia Johnson

Steven Fry as Mr. Johnson

Jemma Redgrave as Lady DeCourcy

James Fleet as Sir Reginald DeCourcy


LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan in which a beautiful young widow Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) visits her in-laws’ estate while waiting for social chatter about her personal indiscretions to pass. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant daughter, Frederica. Enlisting the assistance of her old friend Alicia (Chloe Sevigny), Lady Vernon attracts the simultaneous attention of the young, handsome Reginald DeCourcy, the rich and silly Sir James Martin and the divinely handsome, but married, Lord Manwaring, complicating matters severely.


From the Whit Stillman, director of “Metropolitan”, “Barcelona”, “The Last Days of Disco” and “Damsels in Distress” comes his latest film, “Love & Friendship”.

Featuring an adaptation of Jane Austen’s short novel, “Lady Susan” (and a title that is derived from an early Jane Austen epistolary novel), the film stars Kate Beckinsale (“Underworld” films, “Aviator”, “Pearl Harbor”), Morfydd Clark (“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, “The Falling”), Tom Bennett (“David Brent: Life on the Edge”, “Mascots”, “PhoneShop”), Jen Murray (“Brooklyn”, “Dorothy Mills”, “Testament of Youth”), Lochlann O’Mearain (“King Arthur”, “Poison Pen”), Sophie Radermacher, Chloe Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry”, “Big Love”) and Stephen Fry (“QI”, “V For Vendetta”, “Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows”).

The film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The subject of Jane Austen comes up in Whit Stillman’s films but who would ever have thought the filmmaker would create a loose adaptation of a Jane Austen novella into a comedy but also a film to showcase women in stronger roles.

The film revolves around Lady Susan Vernon (portrayed by Kate Beckinsale), who is recently widowed and has the reputation of seducing single and married men.

Because she is a widow, her financial status is now in jeopardy.  So, now Lady Vernon must create a scheme and tries to reach her goals through flirtation and seduction of wealthy men to be her next husband, but to also make sure she can get her daughter Frederica (portrayed by Morfydd Clark) to marry the idiotic, Sir James Martin (portrayed by Tom Bennett), so she can be taken care of financially.

Lady Vernon and Frederica do not have a close relationship and is not affectionate to her at all.

But Federica does not want to marry the man, she chooses to be independent and perhaps become a teacher and make her own money.

But Lady Vernon is not alone as she has collaborated with her American confidante, Mrs. Johnson (portrayed by Chloe Sevigny).

Lady Vernon finds a way to stay in the home of her sister-in-law Catherine DeCourcy Vernon (portrayed by Emma Greenwell) and her husband Charles (portrayed by Justin Edwards).

Immediately, Lady Vernon begins to set her sights on Catherine’s gullible, younger brother Reginald (portrayed by Xavier Samuel), to the dismay of Lady DeCourcy (portrayed by Jemma Redgrave) and Sir Reginald DeCourcy (portrayed by James Fleet).

But will Lady Vernon succeed in her scheme to become a wealthy woman by enticing Reginald on marrying her?


VIDEO:

“Love & Friendship” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is fantastic. Closeups show great detail, skin tones look natural and black levels are nice and deep.  But the true winner is the film’s art direction courtesy of Louise Mathews and Bryan Tormey, costume design by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh and set design by Stuart Crinnion in capturing the 19th century and making the film look authentic.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Love & Friendship” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.

The film is primarily dialogue driven, as dialogue is crystal clear.  The film features occasional music but for the most part, the film is primarily all dialogue with surround channels showcasing ambiance such as steps walking on wooden floors and up the stairs.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Love & Friendship” comes with the following special feature:

  • Behind the Scenes: Love & Friendship – (9:36) A featurette with interviews with the cast and crew of “Love & Friendship”.

For any cineaste who have watched Whitt Stillman films, there are several things you can often expect.

Intellectual conversations, humor and wonderful utilization of its characters.

For Stillman’s latest film, for this romantic comedy, he collaborates once again with actresses Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny (who both starred in his film, “The Last Days of Disco”) for his loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1794 novella, “Lady Susan”.

Entertaining, smart and hilarious, one can easily see how filmmaker Whitt Stillman feels comfortable in working within the 19th Century and bringing life to Austen’s characters.

The film is an interesting take of a golddigger who will scheme her way into finding a man who will be able to keep her financial status after becoming a widow.

Susan is a woman who can care less about her own daughter and the men she marries, she is more driven to having the lifestyle and the recognition of being wealthy. And what best than to target a young, naive young man.

While women such as Lady Lucy Manwaring and Catherine DeCourcy Vernon are suspicious of Susan, they care deeply for Lady Susan’s daughter, Frederica.  A woman who desires her own freedom and is not thrilled of her mother trying to cajole her into marrying a man, who keeps bumbling words and suggests there were 12 commandments.

For the most part, I loved how Whitt Stilman utilized each of the actors.  Kate Beckinsale was fantastic as Lady Vernon, as she was calm and collected as she performed her scheme, even when she is called out, she kept to her demeanor.  Although, I was expecting a more cold “Mommy Dearest” type of character between Lady Vernon and her daughter Frederica, that was not the case.

I also, enjoyed how supporting characters lent to the delightfulness of the film.  Stephen Fry as Mr. Johnson was entertaining to watch and of course, the performance by Tom Bennet as the bumbling idiot, Sir James Martin was fun to watch.  And also, the frantic and emotional performance of Jenn Murray as Lady Lucy Manwaring.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and lossless audio features crystal clear dialogue and the occasional music.  Although there is only one special feature included, it’s better than none.

Overall, “Love & Friendship” is entertaining and so fun to watch! Everything about the characters, the storyline, the costume and set design and the always entertaining Stillman verbal quips that we get from every film of his, this film is delightful and one of the better Jane Austen adaptations out there.

Recommended!

Lovelace (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

lovelace
“Lovelace” is a film that had potential to be so much more.  But it does feature a few details of Linda Lovelace/Boreman’s life as a sexual icon of the ’70s but behind the facade of stardom, is an even deeper story of a victim of severe abuse by her husband and how she was able to escape and write about it. Featuring a wonderful performance by Amanda Seyfried, Peter Saarsgard and Sharon Stone, “Lovelace” is a film worth watching, but I also recommend people to read more into the life of Linda Boreman and read about other details not featured in the movie.

Images courtesy of © 2012 Lovelace Productions, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Slam Dunk

DURATION: 93 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong sexual content, nudity, language, some domestic violence, drug use)

RELEASE DATE: November 5, 2013

Directed by Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Written by Andy Bellin

Produced by Heidi Jo Markel, Laura Rister, Jason Weinberg, Jim Young

Co-Produced by Marvin V. Acuna, Bob Dohrmann, Benjamin Scott

Executive Produced by Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Mark Gill, Merritt Johnson, Avi Lerner, Amanda Seyfried, Trevor Short, John thompson

Music by Stephen Trask

Cinematography by Eric Alan Edwards

Edited by Robert Dalva, Matt Landon

Casting by Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee

Production Design by William Arnold

Art Direction by Gary Myers

Set Decoration by David Smith

Costume Design by Karyn Wagner

Starring:

Amanda Seyfried as Linda

Peter Sarsgaard as Chuck

Sharon Stone as Dorothy Boreman

Robert Patrick as John Boreman

Juno Temple as Patsy

Chris Noth as Anthony Romano

Bobby Cannavale as Butchie Peraino

Hank Azaria as Gerry Damiano

Adam Brody as Harry Reems

Chloe Sevigny as Feminist Journalist

James Franco as Hugh Hefner

Debi Mazar as Dolly

Wes Bentley as Thomas – Photographer

Eric Roberts as Nat Laurendi

Ron Pritchard as Sammy Davis Jr.

In 1972 before the internet, before the porn explosion Deep Throat was a phenomenon: the first scripted pornographic theatrical feature film, featuring a story, some jokes, and an unknown and unlikely star, Linda Lovelace. Escaping a strict religious family, Linda discovered freedom and the high-life when she fell for and married charismatic hustler Chuck Traynor. As Linda Lovelace, she became an international sensation-less centerfold fantasy than a charming girl-next-door with an impressive capacity for fellatio. After struggling to break free from Traynor whose endless abuse nearly killed her, Linda made it her life’s mission to fight violence against women.

lovelace-b

In 1972, Linda Susan Boreman because the American sex icon known as Linda Lovelace, starring in the 1972 American pornographic film “Deep Throat”.  It was the only time where a pornographic film (with a plot, character development and high production standards) was screened in theaters and became a success.

“Deep Throat” grossed $1 million in its first seven weeks of release.  In fact, in six months, the film made $3 million in its first six months of release, becoming one of the top 10 grossing films of 1972.

While it’s still debated of how much money the film had grossed, the film has yet to be unreleased uncensored in the U.S (a 2006 censored edition was released on DVD).

But despite the controversy that surrounded the film that was banned all over the U.S., behind-the-scenes, while one would think that Linda Susan Boreman got rich from the profits made from the film, the fact is that Boreman’s life was not the best.   In fact, Boreman only made $1,200 from the film which grossed over $600 million.

In her book “Ordeal”, Linda wrote about her abusive marriage to Chuck Traynor and how she was coerced to becoming a porno star, how she was raped and forced into prostitution. It’s important to note that despite people criticizing Linda’s facts and others who corroborated her story of abuse, the publisher did do a polygraph test in which she passed and led to the printing of the book.

Boreman would join the feminist anti-pornography movement and in her testimony at the 1986 Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography, Linda said that the movie “Deep Throat”, people saw her being raped and it is a crime that the movie is still being shown because there was a gun to her head the entire time.

While Linda Boreman died in 2002 after a serious automobile crash, in 2011, the story of Linda Boreman was inspirational for women who wanted to leave their abusive husbands but also the campaign against pornography.  But for Boreman, her life had a major story to tell, a story which many may not be familiar with.

So, filmmakers Rob Epstein (“The Celluloid Closet”, “Howl”, “The Times of Harvey Milk”) and Jeffrey Friedman (“The Celluloid Closet”, “Howl”, “Paragraph 175”) along with writer Andy Bellin (“Trust”) began working on a film titled “Lovelace” based on Linda Boreman’s life.

“Lovelace” would feature an all-star cast which includes Amanda Seyfried (“Les Miserables”, “Mamma Mia!”, “Red Riding Hood”, “Letters to Juliet”), Peter Sarsgaard (“Jarhead”, “Green Lantern”, “Flightplan”), Sharon Stone (“Total Recall”, “Basic Instinct”, “Casino”), Robert Patrick (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, “Walk the Line”, “Bridge to Terabithia”), Juno Temple (“The Dark Knight Rises”, “Killer Joe”, “Atonement”), Chris Noth (“Law & Order”, “Sex and the City”), Bobby Canavale (“Win Win”, “The Bone Collector”, “Parker”), Hank Azaria (“Godzilla”, “The Simpsons”, “Mad About You”), Adam Brody (“The O.C.”, “Jennifer’s Body”, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”), Debi Mazar (“Goodfellas”, “The Insider”, “Collateral”) and James Franco (“127 Hours”, “Spider-Man” films, “Oz the Great and Powerful”).

“Lovelace” begins with Linda (portrayed by Amanda Seyfried) as a teenager and having fun with her fried Patsy (portrayed by Juno Temple).  Linda’s mother Dorothy (portrayed by Sharon Stone) is extremely strict, Catholic matriarch and her father John (portrayed by Robert Patrick) was also strict.

As the two teenagers want to have fun, Linda meets an older man named Chuck Traynor (portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard) and the two hit it off.

As Chuck meets the parents, Linda and Chuck would engage in a lot of sexual acts but one day after coming home late after her 11:00 curfew, she is punished by her mother and Linda leaves home and moves in with Chuck.

While living with Chuck, Linda starts to see his interest in pornography and sex, even teaching her to have a deep throat during oral sex.  Six months later, he calls her from jail and he is in bad financial shape.

He takes her in for a film audition for Butchie Peraino (portrayed by Bobby Cannavale) and director Gerard Damiano (portrayed by Hank Azaria) and while evident that she can’t act, he shows her film footage of her “deep throat” skills and immediately, she is cast for the film alongside Harry Reems (portrayed by Adam Brody) and given the name Linda Lovelace.

While Chuck and Linda was paid only $1,200, “Deep Throat” became a success in the box office, earning a lot of money for the filmmakers and how life appeared as if it was happy and going well for Linda Lovelace.

But even her co-star Dolly Sharp (portrayed by Debi Mazar) would see bruises on Linda’s body and then the film fast forwards to Linda being polygraphed for a tell-all book that about her life in the industry and the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her husband Chuck Traynor.

The film would then show us how the day on her marriage, Chuck saw Linda as nothing but a sexual object in which he would sexually assault her and physically abuse her.  How he needed money badly, so he would take money from people and pimp her out to others.

And Linda knowing that she needs to escape the abuse, but even going to her mother, who’s only advice was to be a good wife and do what your husband tells you to do, no questions asked.

“Lovelace” is a story of one of America’s well-known pornstars, the truth behind the making of “Deep Throat” and a biographical film about a lost soul who was used, sexually and physically abused but yet lived to tell her story.

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VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Lovelace” is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.  It’s important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality, a Blu-ray release of “Lovelace” will be released on the same day of the DVD release.

Cinematography by Eric Alan Edwards (“The Break-up”, “The Change-Up”, “Knocked Up”) is good, as it manages to capture the early ’70s very well thanks to the costume and hair design.  Picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has very good dynamic range.  Music and dialogue is clear and understandable.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lovelace”” comes with the following special features:

  • Behind Lovelace (13:57) Interviews with the cast and behind-the-scenes of making of “Lovelace”.

EXTRAS:

“Lovelace” comes with a slipcover.

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There are many stories of women who get caught up in the porn industry through unfortunate situations.

But there is no doubt that Linda Boreman, also known as Linda Lovelace, and her life story is one of the most shocking stories of one involved in the porn industry.

I personally had no knowledge of Linda Lovelace, but the things that people heard about during her anti-pornography campaign and also the alleged details that came from her book.  But knowing that there are women who have had traumatic pasts that led to a career in pornography, I really never knew how big of a name Linda Lovelace was during the early ’70s, let alone aware that a pornographic film was shown in theaters and did well in the box office.

I can’t even imagine that ever happening but it did.  The film would make over $600 million in the box office and a lot more through video sales and Linda Lovelace, seen as a sex icon at that time, eventually became a crusader against the film that she made popular and against pornography as a whole.

The story of Linda Boreman as featured in “Lovelace” is shocking, brutal and I would imagine that for filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the goal was to bring realism to a character for the big screen.

While Rob Epstein is the writer of documentaries such as “The Celluloid Closet” and The Times of Harvey Milk” and Jeffrey Friedman was co-director along with Epstein on “The Celluloid Closet”, “Lovelace” was a biographical film that was inspired by Boreman’s appearance on “Donahue” to discuss her book and the filmmakers wanted to let her story be known. As the same with actress Amanda Seyfried, who wanted to see Linda Boreman receive some justice for this film.

I found the film fascinating because of Epstein and Friedman’s approach to the film, by utilizing documentary and traditional filmmaking for “Lovelace” and finding the emotional truth to the character, situation and overall story.  To showcase one side of Linda Boreman/Lovelace and showing a sunny and happy life of Linda Lovelace but then to show the other side that her life that was full of pain.  Suffice to say, it was Rashomon-esque.

While the film follows Linda Boreman’s accounts as mentioned in her book, I know that there are people who dispute her accounts but with that being said, in order for her book to be published, in 1979, Linda underwent a polygraph examination which she passed and those accounts are what is featured in the movie.

The film uses old television footage and also uses digital magic with the Donahue appearance footage (via removing the real Lovelace and putting Amanda Seyfried as Linda).

Acting by Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard were well-done and the film does a good job in trying to establish that Linda did a pornographic film against her will, but her life should not define her as a porn star.  She should be seen as a woman who was strong to discuss domestic violence and bring awareness to it back in the ’70s through her unfortunate experience.

But Seyfried gives an amazing performance and take on a role outside of her comfort zone in portraying Linda Lovelace.  Sharon Stone also did a fantastic job playing the strict and repressed mother.  And Saarsgard as Chuck Traynor, definitely captured everything sleazy and making the character unlikable.

But not all of Lovelace’s unfortunate experiences were shown onscreen.  There is no mention of the bestiality film that Linda Lovelace was forced to do, there is no mention of how far she was pimped out by Traynor, the loops that she was part of before making “Deep Throat”, but there is more to the story of Linda Boreman that goes beyond “Lovelace”, and I hope others continue to explore these details after they see this film.

While I enjoyed the film to a point, there are some problems with the film, primarily the filmmakers and writers not wanting to go to far with this film and take some risks.  As mentioned, there is so much that happened to Lovelace that only a few of those situations were presented in the film.  We know the character of Traynor is a sleazeball, we know that Lovelace was able to escape the abuse and write a best-selling book but the film could have captured so much more.

And I suspect, many who want to see how the porno industry was back then, may be disappointed as the film is not about porn but abuse that one of America’s sexual icons in the early 70’s had endured. It is contrived, it is not breaking any new ground and I’m sure those who want to see more about the old porn industry, may get more out of “Boogie Nights” than “Lovelace”.

As for the DVD, one will want to go for the Blu-ray release for better picture and audio quality but on DVD, the film looks good and you one behind-the-scenes special feature.

Overall, “Lovelace” is a film that had potential to be so much more.  But it does feature a few details of Linda Lovelace/Boreman’s life as a sexual icon of the ’70s but behind the facade of stardom, is an even deeper story of a victim of severe abuse by her husband and how she was able to escape and write about it. Featuring a wonderful performance by Amanda Seyfried, Peter Saarsgard and Sharon Stone, “Lovelace” is a film worth watching, but I also recommend people to read more into the life of Linda Boreman and read about other details not featured in the movie.

 

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