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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.


Captain Phillips (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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Both filmmaker Paul Greengrass and actor Tom Hanks were able to use their talents in making this real-life hostage situation come to life on the big screen.  Featuring an amazing emotional performance from Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips” is a riveting and emotional film worth watching!  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Captain Phillips

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: 2hrs, 13 min., 55 sec.

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Sustained Intense Sequences of Meance, Some Violence with Bloody Images and for Substance Use)

Release Date: January 21, 2014

Directed by Paul Greengrass

Screenplay by Billy Ray

Based on the Book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea” by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty

Produced by Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin

Executive Producer: Eli Bush, Gregory Goodman, Kevin Spacey

Co-Producer: Michael Bronner, Christopher Rouse

Music by Henry Jackman

Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd

Edited by Christopher Rouse

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by Paul Kirby

Art Direction by Su Whitaker

Set Decoration by Dominic Capon, Corey Hughes Shaw

Costume Design by Mark Bridges

Starring:

Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips

Catherine Keener as Andrea Phillips

Barkhad Abdi as Muse

Barkhad Abdirahman as Bilal

Faysal Ahmed as Najee

Mahat M. Ali as Elmi

Michael Chernus as Shane Murphy

David Warshofsky as Mike Perry

Corey Johnson as Ken Quinn

Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. Based on a true story, the film focuses on the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two-time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks, Best Actor, 1993, Philadelphia; Best Actor, 1994, Forrest Gump), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. The two men are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.

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On April 7, 2009, the Maersk Alabama captained by Richard Phillips was boarded by four armed Somali pirates.

The ship which was carrying 17,000 metric tons of cargo which included 5,000 metric tons of relief supplies for Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and were enroute to Mombasa, Kenya.

In the process of being captured, despite having a crew of 20, because the crew was unarmed, Captain Richard Phillips was held hostage and the news of pirates capturing an American received nationwide media coverage, spotlighting the increasing problem of pirates in the region.

Richard Phillips survived the ordeal, none of his crew were killed and Phillips would go on to write the book “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea” which would receive a film adaptation.

The film “Captain Phillips” would be directed by Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum”, “The Bourne Supremacy”, “United 93”) and a screenplay by Billy Ray (“The Hunger Games”, “Color of Night”, “State of Play”).

The film would star Tom Hanks (“The Da Vinci Code”, “Forrest Gump”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Green Mile”), Catherine Keener (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Into the Wild”, “Being John Malkovich”), Barkhad Abdi, Michael Chernus (“The Bourne Legacy”, “Men in Black 3”), Max Martini (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Pacific Rim”), David Warshofsky (“Taken”, “Now You See Me”, “Lincoln”) and Corey Johnson (“The Bourne Ultimatum”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Kick-Ass”).

The film which was budgeted at $55 million, would go on to make over $209 million in the box office.

“Captain Phillips” begins with Richard Phillips (portrayed by Tom Hanks) receiving an e-mail at his Vermont home that he will be taking command of the MV Maersk Alabama from Port of Salalah in Oman to Mombasa, an area in the Horn of Africa that is known for its pirate activity.

While a bit tense, his wife Andrea (portrayed by Catherine Keener) talks about how their lives become more difficult and not easier (with the job that Richard Phillips does), meanwhile we see a group of young men being assembled in Somalia by an armed group meeting with village elder, selecting people and forcing them to go out onto sea and get another ship.  And if they are able to capture a ship, they will get paid.

As Captain Phillips is serious about the danger in the area, he has his crew go through drills to prepare for pirates in the region and has his second-in-command Shane Murphy (portrayed by Michael Cernus), make sure that every drill is being prepared, doors are locked and keys are secure.

But not long during the drill, Captain Phillips spot two skiffs on the radar.  As he tries to use tactics to sway the pilots from coming any closer, he manages to outrun them.

This causes concern among the crew members who feel they didn’t sign up for this danger to fight against pirates, others who respond that they knew the danger of taking the job, while others don’t like the idea they are not armed.  But they get a feeling those pirates may return and sure enough, one of them does.

As Captain Phillips contacts for help and tries to bluff the pilots that they are receiving air support and trying to use flare guns to push the pirates away, the four pirates led by Abduwali Muse (portrayed by Barkhad Abdi) managed come closer, while Captain Phillips has the majority of his crew hide in the engine room.

As the pirates board the ship, Captain Phillips tries to offer the $30,000 that he has in the ship’s safe, but because they captured an American ship, Muse wants to ransom the ship and crew for millions of dollars.

While Captain Phillips and his crew try tactics to warn his other crew of pirates searching the ship, the crew manage to capture Abduwali Muse, while the pirates have Captain Phillips.  And both agree to a trade for both men.

As the plan was to give them the $30,000 and have them escape via the ship’s lifeboat, the pirates escape on the lifeboat but also kidnapping Captain Phillips, in hopes to get insurance money.

As the pirates leave, the crew of the Maersk Alabama manages to contact the U.S. Navy and because American was kidnapped, the U.S. Navy Destroyer USS Bainbridge are contacted to stop the pirates from reaching the mainland by whatever means necessary.  Meanwhile, a SEAL Team is being dispatched to the area.

“Captain Phillips” details the danger that was involved in the rescue attempt and the ordeal that Captain Phillips had gone through when he was held by the pirates.

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VIDEO:

“Captain Phillips” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  Picture quality for this film is magnificent!  The colors are amazing, the details are perfect and you closeups feature sweat, blood and just anything that you can usually see in a person in real life, the amazing clarity of seeing those details are also amazing on Blu-ray.   There is a good amount of grain and colors and skintones are natural.  Videophiles should be pleased with the overall picture quality.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Captain Phillips” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital is also fantastic!  From the musical score by Henry Jackman to the sounds of crashing water and AK-47 shots going in the air, to bullets hitting metal, announcements on the loudspeaker to the overall sounds of being out in the ocean, everything including spoken dialogue is crystal clear.  A fantastic lossless soundtrack!

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

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Captain Phillips” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Paul Greengrass.
  • Capturing Captain Phillips – (58:17) A three part segment on the making of “Captain Phillips”: Embarkation, Full Ahead and Stand Fast.

EXTRAS:

“Captain Phillips” comes with the Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet code for digital copy of the film.

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When you have a filmmaker such as Paul Greengrass and a talented award-winning actor such as Tom Hanks together, you can definitely expect a wonderful film that would bring out the best of both men.

And in the case of “Captain Phillips”, the riveting true story of Captain Richard Phillips, a man who protected his crew but in the process was kidnapped by Somali pirates back in 2009, audiences are going to expect action and also emotional drama.  And this is where both Greengrass and Hanks were able to deliver.

Despite the criticisms by those who had worked with Captain Phillips or his novel, “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea”, the film was not about one’s personal life, it’s about a man who nearly was killed back in April 2009 and thanks to the US Navy and the Navy SEALS, he was freed and over a year later, was able to get back on the boat and work again.

But I see this film more than just a film about one Captain saving his crew and being rescued, but also see the film as a wake-up call to the growing danger for cargo ships.  The fact that we have been reading news of these ships and crews being captured, goes to show that despite the problem, there needs to be more done to help protect these individuals.

While certain ships have armed crews, many do not.  And one can make the argument that if they were armed, these individuals who are pirates, are often young people who have no decision but to work, sometimes by force through a crime boss who pretty much threatens villagers in trying to capture as many ships for the cargo and to get ransom money.

As Paul Greengrass was able to capture the tension, the emotion of what happened that day, he was also able to bring out a performance from the supporting actors.  Some who improvised with some cajoling from the director but able to get an emotion that was necessary.  This includes trying to get as much out from the Somali talent, some who have never acted before.

And of course, a lot was riding on the shoulders of Tom Hanks.  We have seen him give performances that has earned him countless Academy Awards, but it has been quite awhile, as Hanks has been known for his role as producer as of late.  And in the case of playing Captain Richard Phillips and trying to get a variety of emotions, Tom Hanks delivered.

Another person who delivered was Barkhad Abdi, who plays the lead pirate, Muse.  It’s not easy for any actor to work off the high-caliber performance by Tom Hanks, but Abdi did remarkably well.  And the film for the most part focuses on two men who are desperate.  One fighting for his life, the other wanting to prove that he is somebody back home and is capable of pulling off a significant job.

If there was one aspect of the film that felt forced and probably was not needed was its opening segment featuring Catherine Keener, trying to establish Captain Phillips as a family man who cares about his wife deeply.

The film tries to establish his love for his wife as he tries to write his final message for her, in case he was to die, but the opening sequence was probably not even needed as Keener as Phillip’s wife Andrea barely shows up in the film aside from the opening sequence and a quick line towards the end of the film.

Also, the film is more about tension and emotion as the story is straightforward, can the US Navy and the Navy SEALS stop the pirates in time?  And of course, the ending is already known because it was all over the news.  So, there are no major surprises for the viewer unless they never heard about what transpired between Captain Phillips and the Somali pirates.

But while “Captain Phillips” is not as a deep story-wise such as Hanks’ “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Green Mile” or “Cast Away”, he does manage to give an amazing performance.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic, while special features offers an audio commentary and three behind-the-scenes featurette, especially Richard Phillips telling people about differences from the film and what he experienced.

Overall, both filmmaker Paul Greengrass and actor Tom Hanks were able to use their talents in making this real-life hostage situation come to life on the big screen.  Featuring an amazing emotional performance from Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips” is a riveting and emotional film worth watching!

Recommended!

 

 

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