A touching, heartbreaking and wonderful film about a family dealing with familial Alzheimer’s Disease. Featuring an award-winning performance by Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” is a film that I highly recommend!
TITLE: Still Alice
FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 101 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (For Mature Thematic Material, and Brief Language Including a Sexual Reference)
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Novel by Lisa Genova
Screenplay by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Produced by James Brown, Pamela Koffler, Lex Lutzus
Co-Producer: Declan Baldwin, Elizabeth Gelfgland Stearns
Executive Producer: Emilie Georges, Celine Rattray, Marie Savare, Trudie Styler, Christine Vachon
Music by Ilan Eshkeri
Cinematography by Denis Lenoir
Edited by Nicolas Chaudeurge
Casting by Kerry Barden, Ro Dempsey, Allison Estrin, Hunter Lydon, Paul Schnee
Production Design by Tommaso Ortino
Set Decoration by Susan Perlman
Costume Design by Stacey Battat
Julianne Moore as Alice Howland
Kate Bosworth as Anna Howland-Jones
Shane McRae as Charlie Howland-Jones
Hunter Parrish as Tom Howland
Alec Baldwin as John Howland
Kristen Stewart as Lydia Howland
Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Also starring Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish.
In 2014, “Still Alice” was released in theaters.
An adaptation of Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestselling novel, the film was written and directed by real-life couple Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (both directed “The Fluffer”, “Pedro”, “The Last of Robin Hood”).
The film was also personal as Glatzer had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” and it was important for him to create this film despite having the disease which would leave him unable to talk but was able to communicate via iPad to Wash and the cast. Glatzer would die from complications from the disease in March 10, 2015.
“Still Alice” would star Julianne Moore (“The Big Lebowski”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”), Alec Baldwin (“The Departed”, “30 Rock”, “Beetlejuice”), Kristen Stewart (“The Twilight” films, “Snow White and the Huntsman”), Kate Bosworth (“Superman Returns”, “21”, “Blue Crush”) and Hunter Parrish (“Weeds”, “17 Again”).
“Still Alice” would receive critical acclaim and actress Julianne Moore would win an Academy Award for “Best Actress”, the Golden Glove for “Best Actress – Drama” and also a SAG and BAFTA Award.
And now “Still Alice” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
“Still Alice” is a film that revolves around linguistics professor Dr. Alice Howland (portrayed by Julianne Moore). As she celebrates her 50th birthday with her husband John (portrayed by Alec Baldwin), her daughters Anna (portrayed by Kate Bosworth), Lydia (portrayed by Kristen Stewart) and her son Tom (portrayed by Hunter Parrish), the film shows how close knit the family truly are.
While she looks forward to Anna and her husband’s first child, she often worries about Lydia who doesn’t want to go to college but become an actress.
One day while at a lecture, Dr. Howard forgets a word but she starts to realize something is wrong while jogging on campus and she feels that she is lost.
Worried about her condition and thinking that she may have brain cancer, she goes to visit her doctor and she is diagnosed with early onset of familial Alzheimer’s Disease.
Because the gene can be hereditary, she tells her children about her diagnosis and explains to the children that they may have the gene and will want to get tested.
The film then focuses on Alice as she deals with the disease and how it affects her during a period of time but also how her family copes with her disease and how the disease brings them all together and how each remain supportive.
“Still Alice” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). he film looks fantastic in HD, while some scenes look soft, outdoor scenes are vibrant, closeups show amazing detail and skin tones look natural. I saw no banding, artifacts or any negative issues with this film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Still Alice” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film features crystal clear dialogue and music but for this film, the lossless soundtrack is appropriate as it is primarily front and center-channel driven. With an occasional scene with crowds for ambiance.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.
“Still Alice” comes with the following special features:
- Directing Alice – (8:41) A featurette with writer/director duo Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.
- Finding Alice – (9:21) A featurette about familial Alzheimer’s Disease and how Julianne Moore worked with Sandy Oltz who has familial Alzheimer’s Disease and was an advisor to Julianne Moore.
- Interview with Composer Ilan Eshkeri – (6:29) Composer Ilan Eshkeri discusses the motivation of creating the music for “Still Alice”.
- Deleted Scenes – (6:09) Featuring three deleted scenes.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:18) The original theatrical trailer for “Still Alice”.
“Still Alice” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code to instantly stream or download the film in Digital HD for TV, computers, tablet or smartphones.
“Still Alice” was a honest portrayal of one who has Alzheimer’s Disease and seeing the individual slowly lose themselves to the disease, while their family try to do all they can to support their loved one.
The film was also quite personal for me as I lost my grandfather to Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014 and my mother-in-law currently has it.
And the most difficult aspect for me having watched my grandfather who has had the disease is to see how quickly things became. From a man who was perfectly healthy, to remembering our names during the summer, barely remembering our names during the fall, now forgetting a lot of us by Christmas time and then within weeks, suddenly losing all bodily functions in January and eventually dying from the disease.
And because my grandfather was the first known relative with Alzheimer’s Disease in our family, I often wondered if it will be hereditary.
While, I do all I can to keep my brain fresh and active, in the back of my mind, when words don’t come as quickly or I forget certain conversations, I often think of my grandfather and the possibilities that any of us in the family will experience the same situation…younger, older… it’s something I don’t like to think about, but it’s something that is often in the back of my mind.
Watching “Still Alice”, it was heartbreaking. I have heard of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease and I was aware that actress Rita Hayworth was diagnosed at age 60. And I have watched documentaries such as Allan King’s documentary “MEMORY FOR MAX, CLAIRE, IDA AND COMPANY: BEING THERE” which showed one businesswoman who had early onset of Alzheimer’s and the first time I watched it, it was the first time I learned that people younger can also be diagnosed with it.
And the way that directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland was able to convey the story that because there is no cure, there is also no true happy ending. But as they portrayed the character of Alice doing all she can to survive and live with the disease, we know that Alice’s condition will get worse.
The performance by Julianne Moore is magnificent. She was able to play a character that made you feel that you weren’t watching a movie but a person you knew and was getting worse from Alzheimer’s Disease. We watch her as a healthy young woman and eventually see how she and her family have a difficult time ahead of them, until the last final scene in the film and for anyone who has had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, the impact becomes real.
Both Glatzer and Westmoreland were able to portray Alzheimer’s Disease handled the film in a restrained manner, being respectful of capturing the drama as if it was real. Seeing Julianne Moore perform with such efficacy was wonderful and you feel she is quite deserving of the Academy Award.
Surprisingly, the other actress that was a surprise to see in this film was Kristen Stewart as the rebellious daughter who doesn’t want to follow her mother’s advice to go back to college, and she becomes the only sibling who does not want to get tested.
But yet, despite her rebelliousness, she is the most curious about her mother’s disease. She is a daughter that wants to be there for her mother and we see this relationship grow between mother and daughter which was great to see in the film, especially for the film’s final moment.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and the film looks great on Blu-ray. Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and musically-driven through the front and center channels and the crystal clear soundtrack was appropriate for this film. You also get several special features including a featurette with the late Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. And knowing how “Still Alice” was important to both men and to see Glatzer’s determination and persistence to work on the film despite having ALS is inspirational, but also to see how happy both men were in knowing they accomplished something special with “Still Alice”.
A touching, heartbreaking and wonderful film about a family dealing with familial Alzheimer’s Disease. Featuring an award-winning performance by Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” is a film that I highly recommend!
“Foxcatcher” is a gripping film that felt real and you thank the director for his meticulous research but also the actors who pulled off their characters magnificently. This is no doubt a personal film for filmmaker Bennett Miller but this is no doubt a tragic, sad and dark film that deserves every award nomination and wins that it received. “Foxcatcher” is highly recommended!
FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 134 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Some Drug Use and a Scene of Violence)
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Directed by Bennett Miller
Written by E. Max Frue, Dan Futterman
Produced by Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik, Bennet Miller
Co-Producer: Scott Robertson
Associate Producer: Hank Bedford, Kristin Gore, Mark Schultz
Executive Producer: Mark Bakshi, Chelsea Barnard, Michael Coleman, John P. Giura, Tom Heller, Ron Schmidt
Music by Rob Simonsen
Cinematography by Greig Fraser
Edited by Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy, Conor O’Neill
Casting by Jeanne McCarthy
Production Design by Jess Gonchor
Art Direction by Brad Ricker
Set Decoration by Kathy Lucas
Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone
Steve Carell as John du Pont
Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz
Mark Ruffalo as David Schultz
Sienna Miller as Nancy Schultz
Vanessa Redgrave as Jean du Pont
Anthony Michael Hall as Jack
Guy Boyd as Henry Beck
Brett Rice as Fred Cole
Jackson Frazer as Alexander Schultz
Samare Lee as Danielle Schultz
Francis J. Murphy III as Wayne Kendall
Based on true events, “Foxcatcher” tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire (Steve Carell) and two champion wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo). Directed by Academy Award nominee Bennett Miller (2005, Best Director, “Capote”) it is a rich and moving story of brotherly love, misguided loyalty, and the corruption and emotional bankruptcy that can accompany great power and wealth.
Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Makeup
It was the true story that shocked the nation.
John du Pont, heir to the Du Pont family fortune, founder of the wrestling facility at Foxcatcher Farm, founder of the Delaware Museum of Natural History and contributed to Villanova University and other institutions would also become known as a convicted murderer.
Back in 1996, John du Pont would do the unthinkable by shooting Olympic champion freestyle wrestler, Dave Schultz. Sentenced to prison for 13 to 30 years, du Pont died in 2010 and now the story of what led to that fateful day would be featured in the 2014 film “Foxcatcher” directed by Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”, “Capote”, “The Cruise”) and co-written by E. Max Frye (“Where the Money Is”, “Something Wild”) and Dan Futterman (“The birdcage”, “Judging Amy”, “A Mighty Heart”).
The film would star Steve Carell (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “The Office”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”), Channing Tatum (“21 Jump Street”, “White House Down”, “Magic Mike”), Mark Ruffalo (“The Avengers”, “Shutter Island”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), Sienna Miller (“Stardust”, “G.I. Joe”, “Casanova”) and Vanessa Redgrave (“Howards End”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Blow-Up”).
“Foxcatcher” would receive critical acclaim worldwide and would receive five Academy Award nominations for “Best Director”, “Best Actor”, “Best Supporting Actor”, Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Makeup and Hairstyling”.
And now “Foxcatcher” will be available on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
The film revolves around Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz (portrayed by Channing Tatum) speaking to a group of elementary school kids in place of his older brother, Dave (portrayed by Mark Ruffalo).
The film begins with both Olympic gold-medal winning wrestlers and brothers going at it in a match. Dave ends up beating his brother but for Mark, it gets to him that he can’t leave his brother’s shadow.
But one day, he is contacted by the wealthy John E. du Pont (portrayed by Steve Carell), the heir to the E.I. du Pont family fortune. John offers Mark a chance to train as his private wrestling training facility, Foxcatcher and invites him to become part of Team Foxcatcher, to train for the World Championships while being paid for it.
For Mark, this is a win-win deal and he accepts the offer. But du Pont also wants Mark to enlist his brother Dave, but Dave is not really interested because he wants to be with his wife Nancy (portrayed by Sienna Miller) and two children.
But Mark moves to Pennsylvania and becomes part of Team Foxcatcher and wins a gold medal at the World Wrestling Championships. And from this point, the two develop a close friendship.
While Mark comes to respect John for his wealth, du Pont begins to introduce Mark to cocaine and the two become friends. But du Pont reveals to Mark that he had one true friend but when he turned 16, his mother Jean (portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave), paid a boy to act as his friend. And his mother sees wrestling as a “low sport” but for John du Pont, he enjoys wrestling and takes part in it.
But as Mark and his buddies watch mixed martial arts on television and take a morning off from training, this angers du Pont who verbally and physically abuses Mark. And to Mark’s surprise, John tells him that he will enlist Dave by any means necessary.
Eventually Dave decides to move his family to Pennsylvania to join Foxcatcher. But Dave realizes that something has happened to Mark and he is training alone. Mark starts to distance himself from John du Pont and even his brother.
But Dave becomes worried after he sees his brother getting worse by the minute. What has happened to Mark and will both brothers success at Team Foxcatcher?
“Foxcatcher” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). While the film looks quite soft, it does aid to the somber mood of the film. The closeups are quite detailed, especially showing the spots on du Pont’s face. There is a good amount of grain throughout the film.
For the most part, the picture quality of “Foxcatcher” is very good but it’s not a vibrant looking film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Foxcatcher” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film features crystal clear dialogue and music but where the film dos show its lossless soundtrack are during the wrestling competitions with crowds screaming and ambiance heard throughout the surround channels. But it’s also a film that utilizes sound and lack of sound with efficacy.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Foxcatcher” comes with the following special features:
- The Story of Foxcatcher – (16:21) Director Bennett Miller, the cast and crew discuss the making of “Foxcatcher”.
- Deleted Scenes – (5:09) Featuring two deleted scenes.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:20) The original theatrical trailer for “Foxcatcher”.
“Foxcatcher” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code to instantly stream or download the film in Digital HD for TV, computers, tablet or smartphones.
The story of John du Pont and the murder of David Schultz was one of the biggest news stories in America back in 1996.
How could a man who literally had it all, murder an innocent man? David Schultz was one of America’s greatest wrestlers, greatest coaches and no doubt would be destined to coach the American Olympic team.
But even to this day, no one knows why John du Pont did what he did. But in retrospect, there was no doubt that du Pont was mentally ill and he was getting worse and despite the wrestlers seeing his erratic and odd behavior, including Mark and David Schultz, there are a lot of questions of “what if?” but there is no doubt that the tragedy of David Schultz and the story of “Foxcatcher” was rather moody but a wonderfully performed film by Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.
Carrel literally transformed himself to be John du Pont and there is no doubt that he pulled it off with efficacy and is worthy of all award nominations that he received. The character of du Pont was no doubt a creepy character and while I’m not sure how close the real du Pont and Carell’s character was during that last year, I’m surprised many of the wrestler stayed.
To be fair, I know many wrestlers stayed because they were being paid a lot of money but I do know that in reality, when du Pont pointed a gun at Foxcatcher wrestler Dan Chaid, it was a red flag. But unfortunately it was a time when people didn’t know how to react with one with a mental illness.
But I do have to give director Bennett Miller a high five for creating this film.
From receiving a packet of newspaper clippings from a stranger who suggested to him of making the film, Bennett was interested in making the film but first had to get the blessings of the Schultz family before creating the film.
Miller went as far as working with David Schultz’ wife Nancy and Mark Schultz for the smallest details that would be incorporated into the film, from how Mark held a coffee cup to even supplying Mark Ruffalo, David’s actual glasses. Nancy also worked with actress Sienna Miller in terms of giving her details of what happened on the moment of the murder.
And despite the pain of the tragic death of her husband, in interviews, Nancy Schultz had said the film proved to be therapeutic for her.
As for the Blu-ray release, “Foxcatcher” is not a vibrant film, in fact it looks quite moody and depressing due to its softness… but the colors were no doubt intentional. The lossless soundtrack was much better with its ambiance, especially during competitions. As for special features, you get two deleted scenes and a 16-minute featurette, but would have been great if an audio commentary was included.
With that being said, “Foxcatcher” is a gripping film that felt real and you thank the director for his meticulous research but also the actors who pulled off their characters magnificently. This is no doubt a personal film for filmmaker Bennett Miller but this is no doubt a tragic, sad and dark film that deserves every award nomination and wins that it received.
“Foxcatcher” is highly recommended!
“Whiplash” will be remembered for its wonderful performance by J.K. Simmons and the intensity of the drum playing scenes by Miles Teller, but no doubt, jumpstart the career for writer/director Damien Chazelle for creating this spectacular, captivating film. “Whiplash” is highly recommended!
© 2014 Whiplash, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Whiplash
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 107 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 2:409:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, English, English – Audio Description Track, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Picture Classics
RATED: R (Strong Language Including Some Sexual References)
RELEASE DATE: February 24, 2014
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Written by Damien Chazelle
Produced by Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak
Co-Produced by Nicholas Britell, Garrick Dion, Sarah Potts, Stephanie Wilcox
Executive Producer: Jeanette Brill, Jason Reitman, Couper Samuelson, Gary Michael Walters
Associate Producer: Phillip Dawe
Music by Justin Hurwitz
Cinematography by Sharone Meir
Edited by Tom Cross
Casting by Terri Taylor
Production Design by Melanie Jones
Art Direction by Hunter Brown
Set Decoration by Karuna Karmarkar
Costume Design by Lisa Norcia
Miles Teller as Andrew
J.K. Simmons as Fletcher
Paul Reiser as Jim Neimann
Melissa Benoist as Nicole
Austin Stowell as Ryan
Nate Lang as Carl Tanner
Chris Mulkey as Uncle Frank
Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability—and his sanity.
From director Damien Chazelle (“Grand Piano”, The Last Exorcism Part II”) comes “Whiplash”, a film which he wrote and had a 3 million dollar budget, the film would receive critical acclaim and would receive top audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
“Whiplash” has been nominated for five awards at the 87th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. And now one of the best films of 2014 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
“Whiplash” stars Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”, “Divergent”, “21 & Over”), J.K. Simmons (“Spider-Man” films, “The Closer”, “Juno”), Paul Reiser (“Mad About You”, “My Two Dads”, “Aliens”) and Melissa Benoist (“Glee”, “Tennessee”).
Andrew Neiman (portrayed by Miles Teller) is a first-year jazz student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. He aspires to be one of the greats like Buddy Rich. He has a relationship with Nicole (portrayed by Melissa Benoist) and has a supportive father, Jim (portrayed by Paul Reiser) in his music endeavor.
When conductor Terence Fletcher (portrayed by J.K. Simmons) visits the school, he accepts Andrew into his studio band as an alternate drummer.
But it is evident immediately that Terence is emotionally abusive towards his students, which is way to bring out their best in them but also instill fear that if they mess up or don’t meet his standards, they will be removed from the band.
When Andrew gets a chance to play the drums and rehearse Hank Levy’s piece “Whiplash”, Flecher is upset and hurls a chair at him for not keeping up his tempo and to prove a point, he mocks and insults him and slaps him repeatedly in front of the class, humiliating him.
The emotional abuse that Andrew starts to endure and his drive of wanting to be the best drummer, leads him to make difficult choices in his life. But how far will Andrew go in order to achieve greatness?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Whiplash” is presented in 2:40:1 aspect ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen) in English, French, Spanish and English – Audio Description track in 5.1 Dolby Digital.
It’s important to note that if you want the best quality of “Whiplash”, you will want to check out the film on Blu-ray as it will offer the best picture and audio quality.
As for the DVD, picture quality is very good as one can expect on DVD and there is a hint of the film grain during your viewing of the film. The film is well-lit and there are so many closeups in this film that, I can imagine the clarity on Blu-ray, but on DVD, there is still good detail. The film is well-lit and looks good on DVD.
As for audio, the soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music. Once again, if you are an audiophile, you definitely will want to watch this film on Blu-ray but on DVD, soundtrack is crystal clear and well-utilized from the center, fronts and surround channels.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Whiplash” features the following special features:
- Commentary with J.K. Simmons and Damien Chazelle – A fascinating audio commentary with actor J.K. Simmons and director Damien Chazelle.
- An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival – (7:51) A short featurette with actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons with director Damien Chazelle.
- Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Whiplash”.
“Whiplash” comes with an Ultraviolet code and watch the film on various devices.
Once in a while you come upon a film that is made with a low budget that knocks your pants off.
Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” is one of those films!
While not an action film, the drumming for the film is heavy hitting, captivating and you are literally glued to the film.
Created by Damien Chazelle who was a drummer and wanted to share a few of his experiences but to create a story about music competitiveness and one’s drive to achieve greatness, “Whiplash” will no doubt be remembered.
A story about a drummer who wants to be the greatest and an abusive music teacher who wants to find a musical genius, both actors, Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons do an amazing job with their performances and making you believe these characters.
While Miles Teller knew how to play the drums, the intense training he learned for the character role was amazing as you see this young man play the drums with such intensity with sweat and including blood flying around everywhere.
J.K. Simmons is arrogant, pompous and your uber-a-hole of a music teacher but he drives people either to depression or to get them to achieve greatness through his emotionally abusive style of teaching. Simmons plays the character with such efficacy.
But it’s the writing of Damien Chazelle and the cinematography by Sharone Meir that are gripping. Chazelle’s writing building up the character of Andrew and how far this young man would go to achieve greatness and Sharone Meir capturing the various emotions, close-up. But also capturing the wonderful drumming as everything culminates into this powerful scene towards the end of the film.
I enjoyed it so much that I have watched the film several times because I found it so captivating and the ending scene is just incredible. I absolutely enjoyed the film and it was no doubt one of the best films of 2014 and is deserving of its wins and nominations.
As for the DVD release of “Whiplash”, while I strongly would cajole anyone to purchasing the Blu-ray release for its better picture quality and its lossless soundtrack, but also that the Blu-ray also contains more special features including the original “Whiplash” short film, for those who just want the DVD, should be pleased with it. The film looks and sounds good on DVD, it’s just not in HD (which is my preference).
Overall, “Whiplash” will be remembered for its wonderful performance by J.K. Simmons and the intensity of the drum playing scenes by Miles Teller, but no doubt, jumpstart the career for writer/director Damien Chazelle for creating this spectacular, captivating film.
“Whiplash” is highly recommended!
“Safe” is the film that help propel the careers of filmmaker Todd Haynes, producer Christine Vachon and actress Julianne Moore. But the film’s ambiguous nature, the unexpected and the magnificent performance by Julianne Moore and masterful direction by Todd Haynes makes this film worth watching! One can only hope for the Criterion Collection to release more films by Todd Haynes on Blu-ray in the near future!
Image courtesy of © 1995 The Chemical Films Limited Partnership. 2014 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Safe – The Criterion Collection #739
YEAR OF FILM: 1995
DURATION: 105 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, English Monaural, Subtitles: English SDH
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/THE CRITERION COLLECTION
RELEASE DATE: December 9, 2014
Directed by Todd Haynes
Written by Todd Haynes
Executive Producer: John Hart, Ted Hope
Produced by Christine Vachon, Lauren Zalaznick
Music by Ed Tomney
Cinematography by Alex Nepomniaschy
Edited by James Lyons
Casting by Jakki Fink
Art Direction by Anthony Stabley
Set Decoration by Mary E. Gullickson
Costume Design by Nancy Steiner
Julianne Moore as Carol White
Xander Berkeley as Greg White
Ronnie Farer as Barbara
Jodie Markell as Anita
Susan Norman as Linda
Chauncey Leopardi as Rory
Steve Gilborn as Dr. Hubbard
Julianne Moore gives a breakthrough performance as Carol White, a Los Angeles housewife in the late 1980s who comes down with a debilitating illness. After the doctors she sees can give her no clear diagnosis, she comes to believe that she has frighteningly extreme environmental allergies. A profoundly unsettling work from the great American director Todd Haynes, Safe functions on multiple levels: as a prescient commentary on self-help culture, as a metaphor for the AIDS crisis, as a drama about class and social estrangement, and as a horror film about what you cannot see. This revelatory drama was named the best film of the 1990s in a Village Voice poll of more than fifty critics.
Filmmaker Todd Haynes is known for his films “Far from Heaven” and the Bob Dylan biographical musical film “I’m Not There”.
While also known for “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story”, “Poison” and “Velvet Goldmine”.
But his second feature film “Safe” would garner critical acclaim upon release back in 1995, but the question is did audiences really understand the film at that time?
Nevertheless, “Safe” can be interpreted as a film of hope, a tragedy, a horror film and its ambiguity may lead to people being confused.
But the film would help propel filmmaker Todd Haynes towards the mainstream, would jumpstart the producing career of Christine Vachon and also giving young actress at the time, Julianne Moore, her first major leading role in a film.
And now “Safe” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of The Criterion Collection.
“Safe” is set in 1987 in San Fernando Valley and it begins with Carol White (portrayed by Julianne Moore) and her husband Greg (portrayed by Xander Berkeley) arriving home and then having sex. While her husband is into it, you can see face of Carol who seems as if she is uninterested.
A normal homemaker that is planning on the interior design of her home, planting in the garden and going to aerobics classes with her friends, one day while going home, Carol begins to cough uncontrollably while behind a truck that has a lot of smoke coming out of its tailpipe. Coughing to the point that she gets confused and starts coughing in a parking garage.
While going to the doctor for a checkup, the doctor feels there is nothing wrong with her and she is perfectly healthy. But she starts to develop mild to severe symptoms as she begins to lose her breath, begins to hyperventilate, has a nose bleed and makes it difficult to live life and it begins to affect her family.
As she continues to get more check ups, she is told to visit a psychiatrist and allergist as her body is producing strange reactions, coughing that she can’t stop and even convulsions that puts her into the ground.
She starts to meet groups with people who also have similar issues where doctors, significant others, friends don’t believe there is anything wrong with them but the individual themselves feel there is a significant problem.
What is wrong with Carol?
“Safe- The Criterion Collection #739” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is fantastic as the 4K restoration has brought out much better detail. There is a good amount of grain during the film and while the film is 20-years-old, it doesn’t look like it at all. Better clarity, no signs of aging colors or problematic artifacts or negative issues.
According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the original 35mm camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise management.”
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for audio, “Safe – The Criterion Collection #739” is presented in English LPCM 1.0. The monaural soundtrack is clear with no sign of hiss, crackle or any popping.
According to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX3.”
Subtitles are in English SDH.
“Safe – The Criterion Collection #739” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring a 2001 audio commentary by Todd Haynes, actress Julianne Moore and producer Christine Vachon.
- The Suicide – (20:30) Todd Hayne’s first serious directorial effort was a surreal short from 1978. Haynes thought it was lost until producer, Michael Quinn Martin, discovered a print at his parents’ home.
- Todd Haynes and Julianne Moore – (36:10) A 2014 conversation with director Todd Yanes and actress Julianne Moore.
- Christine Vachon – (15:54) Producer Christine Vachon discusses her working relationship with Todd Haynes.
- Trailer – (1:19) The original theatrical trailer for “Safe”.
“Safe – The Criterion Collection #739” comes with a poster-sized insert with the essay “Nowhere to Hide” by Dennis Lim.
Todd Haynes is a filmmaker that creates films that people think they understand, creates films that may often alienate viewers and films with no clear cut ending.
Bucking the banal Hollywood ending, “Safe” is a film that may seem simple in describing but the film itself is not simplistic at all.
A normal housewife begins having illnesses that doctors are baffled by. Each time she is told that she is healthy, her husband starts to be upset because he wants normalcy, when his wife is experiencing situations that should not be affecting her. No one knows what’s wrong with her, she believes she has some type of environmental illness and seeks some answers for why her body is behaving like it is.
Watching “Safe”, I began thinking of Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Red Desert” about a woman who feels that she drowning in her environment, lonely, isolated. For “Safe”, while Carole is by no means lonely or isolated, her reactions seem as if she feels out of place.
While some may classify Carol’s medical condition as MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity), it may easily be the case. But this is a film made during the ’80s, before people had any answer to certain illnesses and watching Carol, I felt there was something unsettling about her. The way she has sex, the way she seems a bit off at times, possibly even depressed. The fact is that she is a woman that seeks the truth of why she is what she is. She seems rather empty, distant and alienated.
And sometimes in society, people feel comfort in the most unusual or unfortunate settings. May it be cults or other forms of groups that have an outlandish ideology on life. Her difficulty of breathing, perhaps its the people around her. Her husband, the lifestyle…perhaps she feels suffocated by it all.
And possibly when the film was released, it was possibly a statement of America. The fear of AIDS, the fear of something bad was going to happen. From the wild and party years of the late ’70s, ushering towards a decade of conservatism and fear of AIDS and the Cold War but then ushering an era of the ’90s that began with war, plenty of attention towards money and social lifestyle and all in all, Carol is a person who has had enough and not sure how to deal with life. Are people a product of their environment and is there any hope for her at all?
When I first watched the film, it was almost a similar feeling I had during my late teens ala the mid-90’s of listening to Morrissey’s album “Bona Drag” over and over and listening to “Everyday is Like Sunday” and “Suedehead”, just thinking at one point in my life that what I watched on television and the constant negative news and seeing the materialism of the ’90s, which was really a drag.
And so I watched “Safe” at the time as not a film about a woman with an unexplainable disease but a woman who was affected by her environment and had no way out, until she discovered a group of others who are like herself.
Misery likes company.
And my opinion hasn’t changed so much today because the environment has shapeshifted to another type of monster with the unknown of social media, technological advances and whichever crap that exists out there today. But where people had aspired to be like 90210 back in the mid-90’s, our society has become much broker and are paying for the materialistic nature of companies of the past.
So, this film does have so much relevancy even today.
And actress Julianne Moore does a fantastic job in her first lead role of playing a character that is suffering. A riveting performance by Julianne Moore with masterful directing by Todd Haynes!
The Blu-ray release of “Safe” is rather fascinating because it’s probably the best looking version of the film to date thanks to its 4K restoration bringing out the clarity of the film and making it look like it was a film that is more recent than older and aged. The film looks magnificent and it’s monaural soundtrack is clear without any hiss.
You also get the original 2001 commentary with director Todd Haynes, producer Christine Vachon and actress Julianne Moore. You get a newer conversation from 2014 between Haynes and Moore and also an interview with Christine Vachon. But possibly one of the coolest featurettes was the discovered surreal short film by Todd Haynes titled “The Suicide” from 1978 which definitely makes even sense today as bullying has made it mainstream as more education of how messed up it is to pick on people who are short, non-athletic and what happens to one child who is picked on constantly and tormented by his bullies. A very deep short film from Todd Haynes that is probably much more relevant today than when it was created back in the late ’70s!
Overall, “Safe” is the film that help propel the careers of filmmaker Todd Haynes, producer Christine Vachon and actress Julianne Moore. But the film’s ambiguous nature, the unexpected and the magnificent performance by Julianne Moore and masterful direction by Todd Haynes makes this film worth watching! One can only hope for the Criterion Collection to release more films by Todd Haynes on Blu-ray in the near future!
Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” is still entertaining and has a lot of charm, but considering the film uses the word “magic” in its title, it is a film that is missing that special magic that we have seen on other captivating Woody Allen films.
© 2014 Gravier Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Magic in the Moonlight
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 97 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 2:39:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, English , French and English -Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Picture Classics
RATED: PG-13 (For a Brief Suggestive Comment and Smoking Throughout)
RELEASE DATE: December 16, 2014
Directed by Woody Allen
Written by Woody Allen
Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson
Co-Produced by Raphael Benoliel, Helen Robin
Executive Producer: Ron Chez
Co-Executive Producer: Jack Rollins
Cinematography by Darius Khondji
Edited by Alisa Lepselter
Production Design by Anne Seibel
Set Decoration by Jille Azis
Costume Design by Sonia Grande
Colin Firth as Stanley
Emma Stone as Sophie
Marcia Gay Harden as Mrs. Baker
Jacki Weaver as Grace Catledge
Hamish Linklaster as Brice Catledge
Simon McBurney as Howard Burkan
Eileen Atkins as Aunt Vanessa
Acclaimed magician Stanley Crawford (Academy Award Winner® Colin Firth*) dazzles his audiences with feats of supernatural amazement. But when it comes to the inexplicable, Stanley is a dedicated skeptic. Enter Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), psychic, soothsayer, and stunning seductress. As Stanley and Sophie embark on misadventures up and down the French Riviera, will they discover proof of a world beyond the laws of physics or have they fallen under the sway of a more earthly chemistry? Woody Allen pulls the strings with precision in this enchanting romantic comedy that explores the realm between what’s understood in our minds and what’s known in our hearts. *Colin Firth, Academy Award® Winner, The King’s Speech, Best Actor, 2010
Since 1977, director Woody Allen has had a film released in the U.S. and with each release, cinema fans are often debating if the director’s later films are still just as sharp and brilliant as his past films or the director’s work has waned considerably late in his career.
But for those who enjoy Woody Allen films, each movie has been fresh, different from any past films that has done and for the most part, have entertained fans for nearly 40-straight years which is remarkable.
Not many filmmakers have had this longevity nor had they had a film released each year of their working life but Allen, continues to show movie fans that he is able to make films that will entertain audiences and the same could be said for his 2014 film “Magic in the Moonlight”.
The film would star Colin Firth (“The Kings Speech”, “A Single Man”, “Love Actually”), Emma Stone (“The Help”, “Easy A”, “The Amazing Spider-Man” films), Marcia Gay Harden (“Into the Wild”, “Mystic river”, “The Mist”), Simon McBurney (“The Duchess”, “Body of Lies”, “The Last King of Scotland”), Hamish Linklater (“Fantastic Four”, “42”, “Battleship”) and Jacki Weaver (“Stoker”, “Animal Kingdom”, “Silver Linings Playbook”).
The film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics in Dec. 2014.
“Magic in the Moonlight” is set in 1928 and introduces us to the famous illusionist, Wei Ling Soo, who happens to be a British man named Stanley (portrayed by Colin Firth). After his performance, he is visited by a fellow (and not-as-popular) illusionist named Howard Burkan (portrayed by Simon McBurney), who tells him to accompany him to Cote d’Azure where a wealthy American family, the Catledges, have been taken in by a clairvoyant and mystic woman named Sophie (portrayed by Emma Stone).
The son, Brice (portrayed by Hamish Linklater) is smitten by Sophie and wants to marry her, while his sister Caroline (portrayed by Erica Leerhsen) and brother-in-law George (portrayed by Jeremy Shamos) are concerned of Brice proposing a marriage to her and want Stanley to find out if Sophie is a true clairvoyant or a fraud.
Howard believes that Sophie has uncovered secrets that no one else would know and that she may have supernatural powers, but Stanley, who is known to have debunked many charlatan mystics, will do what he can to prove that she is a fraud. Even going so far as going by another name and a man who is a businessman.
The two end up spending time together and while visiting his aunt Vanessa (portrayed by Eileen Atkins), Sophie goes into various trances and is able to pull up personal details about his life and also Vanessa’s past, including her great love affair.
Shocked by this, Stanley feels that Sophie’s powers now have changed the way he looks at the world and immediately becomes smitten by her, despite being engaged to a woman named Olivia.
But as Stanley spends more time with Sophie, will he find a woman that is true to herself or will he determine that she is actually a fraud?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Magic in the Moonlight” is presented in 2:39:1 aspect ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen) in English, French and English – Audio Description track in 5.1 Dolby Digital.
It’s important to note that if you want the best quality of “Magic in the Moonlight”, you will want to check out the film on Blu-ray as it will offer the best picture and audio quality.
As for the DVD, picture quality is very good as one can expect on DVD and there is a hint of the film grain during your viewing of the film. Skin tones do look natural but I can imagine detail and clarity would become much more evident on Blu-ray. I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues while watching this DVD.
As for audio, the soundtrack employs a lot of Woody Allen’s passion for 1920’s jazz music, dialogue is clear and for this film, is strictly a center/front channel-driven soundtrack.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Magic in the Moonlight” features the following special features:
- Behind the Magic – (11:21) The cast discuss the film, working on a Woody Allen film and more.
- On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere – (2:46) The cast promote their film at the LA film premiere.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:08) Theatrical trailer for “Magic in the Moonlight”.
“Magic in the Moonlight” comes with an UltraViolet code, so one can watch this film via online streaming.
I’m not the type of reviewer who tends to be critical of Woody Allen films to the point that they would stop watching them because they felt he has lost the magic of filmmaking.
It is surely not the case as we have seen him create wonderful films in the past five years which include “Blue Jasmine” and “Midnight in Paris” but when you look deep into his 40-year oeuvre, there are films that will no doubt captivate you, films that entertain you but you just want to see it just once and films that you feel, it’s best that he shouldn’t have made it.
“Magic in the Moonlight” is a film that interests me because knowing that Woody Allen loves the music of the 1920’s-1930’s, let alone having performed that style of music for his own band, I know he has enjoyed films from the Golden Years of Hollywood.
With his latest cinematic offering for 2014, I feel it’s another romantic comedy placed in the 1920’s that lie on the performance of its main characters played by Colin Firth and Emma Stone.
Colin Firth does a great job playing an arrogant illusionist named Stanley whose beliefs are set and anything to disrupt those beliefs are wrong and he one thing that he is skeptical about is clairvoyant mystics.
And he will do whatever he can to debunk them.
Enter Sophie played by Emma Stone. Sophie, a younger clairvoyant mystic who is able to go in a trance and provide information that shocks Stanley because of her ability to know detail about his life, let alone his aunt’s life and thus challenging his thought on life and his set of beliefs.
While the character of Stanley is your typical “know-it-all”, Firth does a good job of playing the stick-in-the-mud who goes to the South of France in order to debunk an American young woman named Sophie. Is she there to marry Brice and become wealthy? Or is she a genuine clairvoyant mystic?
While the film is more of a life-changing experience for Stanley who can’t explain how Sophie knows these deep, personal moments about his life and his aunt’s life, it gives him a new lease on life.
While entertaining, the film is rather predictable. And while the performance by Firth is very good, you can’t help but feel that his casting was a miscast as the chemistry with Emma Stone did not feel genuine onscreen. It doesn’t help that Colin Firth could probably play Emma Stone’s father in a film.
Also, the film misses the intellectual dialogue that we often get from a Woody Allen film. And its ending and overall scenarios seemed a bit rushed for my tastes.
While it’s hard to dislike this film because it is entertaining, the film seems like a step back when compared to “Blue Jasmine” and “Midnight in Paris”. While location and costume design, especially the music selection works well for the film, the Woody Allen magic we are used to seeing in his films are missing in “Magic in the Moonlight”.
But still, even Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” is still entertaining and has a lot of charm, but considering the film uses the word “magic” in its title, it is a film that is missing that special magic that we have seen on other captivating Woody Allen films.
“Land Ho!” is an entertaining road trip comedy, showing that no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to have fun! A beautiful film worth watching! A beautiful film that looks fantastic on Blu-ray!
TITLE: Land Ho!
TELEFILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 95 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English-Audio Description Track, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (Some Language, Sexual References and Drug Use)
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Written and Directed by Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens
Produced by Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy
Co-Producer: Birgitta Bjornsdottir, Hlin Johannesdottir
Executive Producer: Wendy Ettinger, David Gordon Green
Co-Executive Producer: Abigail Disney, Wendy Ettinger, David Gordon Green, Emily Ting
Music by Keegan DeWitt
Cinematography by Andrew Reed
Edited by Aaron Katz
Earl Lynn Nelson as Mitch
Paul Eenhoorn as Colin
Karie Crouse as Ellen
Elizabeth McKee as Janet
Alice Olivia Clarke as Nadine
Mitch, a bawdy former surgeon, convinces mild‐mannered Colin, his ex‐brother‐in‐law, to embark on an unplanned trip to Iceland with him. In an effort to get their grooves back, the odd couple set off on a road trip that takes them through trendy Reykjavík to the rugged outback. Mitch and Colin’s picaresque adventures through Iceland evolve into a candid exploration of aging, loneliness and friendship.
Featuring a collaboration with filmmakers Aaron Katz (“Cold Weather”, “Quiet City”) and Martha Stephens (“Pilgrim Song”, “Passenger Pigeons”) comes a comedy titled “Land Ho!” starring Earl Lynn Nelson (“Pilgrim Song”) and Paul Eenhoorn (“This is Martin Bonner”, “Chemistry”). The film was the first feature to be financed by Gamechanger Films, an equity fund dedicated to financing features and co-directed by women.
A low-budget film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and shot with a $676,000+ budget, the film will be released on Blu-ray + DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
“Land Ho!” is a film that begins with retired surgeon Mitch (portrayed by Earl Lynn Nelson) visiting his ex-brother in law Colin (portrayed by Paul Eenhoorn), who is trying to get over his divorce. Seeing how Colin has not been in the best of spirits, Mitch surprises him with tickets to Iceland in order to help get him on with life.
While Colin is more reserved, Mitch seems like a young man who is wanting to discover the good things in life through travel and cuisine. But when Mitch tries to get Colin out of his shell and visit areas such as Rejkjavik, Skogar, Jokulsarion, Landmannalaugar, Gulfoss, Strokkur and Blue Lagoon, what happens when Mitch and Colin have dinner with college students, go to a dance club and enjoy the beauty of Iceland?
“Land Ho!” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The film was shot on two Red One cameras and close-ups showcasing amazing detail to the chagrin of actor Earl Lynn Nelson who tells the viewers via the audio commentary that it’s too clear that you can see his wrinkles. But that is how detailed the picture quality is and the shots of the various locations in Iceland are absolutely gorgeous to look at.
The cinematography by Andrew Reed is absolutely gorgeous! Definitely a film that looks amazing on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Land Ho!” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English – Audio Description Track, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The lossless soundtrack is primarily dialogue driven but there are moments where you can hear the ambiance of the ocean, the geyser and of course, the crystal clear music at the dance club. But overall soundtrack and it’s dialogue-driven soundtrack is crystal clear.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Spanish and French.
“Land Ho!” comes with the following special features:
- Commentary with Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson, Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz
- LA Film Fest Q&A with Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson, Martha Stephens, Aaron Katz and Elizabeth McKee – (13:21) A fascinating post-screening Q&A with a few of the cast and crew.
- Deleted Scenes – (12:18) Featuring three deleted scenes and an alternate opening.
- Theatrical Trailer – (1:56) The theatrical trailer for “Land Ho!”.
“Land Ho!” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.
Quite often when you watch films about friends going on a trip, it usually is about a group of young people discovering another world and quite often, your banal story of self-discovery, finding love with the addition of your typical shenanigans.
With “Land Ho!”, the film we see is quite rare because the main characters are older men. Men who have had their ups and downs with women, have gone through divorce and pretty much want to enjoy life and also discover another world different from the life they currently live. Of course, in this case, the men journey through the beautiful areas of Iceland.
While the film was scripted, the film allowed for improvisation and what makes it interesting is the men are not far off from their characters. Actor Earl Lynn Nelson is nearly like his character of Mitch, not afraid to talk about the bodies of younger women and doesn’t care about seeing something and equate it to a penis or ejaculation.
And this goes beyond your general road trip, these men discuss life and Mitch enjoying life at its best and moving past his divorces and just having fun. He doesn’t care he’s older, he has no qualms of smoking weed or going to a dance club to observe younger women, he’s all good with that. As for Colin, he’s the opposite. He is reserved and is often annoyed by Mitch and his constant cajoling and he is a man that seems to wallow in his sadness because his relationships have gone south.
But through this road trip, it does touch upon the banality of road trip films of self discovery, meeting women and having fun, but instead of the teenage shenanigans, it is replaced by two men rediscovering life at an older age. And of course, the film is set in Iceland and adds to the charm and beauty of the film.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is gorgeous, while the lossless soundtrack is dialogue-driven as expected but also crystal clear. You also get a fascinating audio commentary and a LA Film Festival post-screening Q&A that I couldn’t help but laugh because both are entertaining and the comments are often unexpected.
While the friendship between Mich and Colin is rather interesting because they are total opposites, the film doesn’t play out as effectively when compared to the Gene Saks/Neil Simon 1968 comedy “The Odd Couple” but the premise of the film of two older men rediscovering life in another country is fascinating. And I found myself wanting to visit Iceland because the scenes from various locations showcase the beauty of Iceland.
Overall, “Land Ho!” is an entertaining road trip comedy, showing that no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to have fun! A beautiful film that looks fantastic on Blu-ray!
“Third Person” is a film that audiences may regard as his best or worse film which he had written and directed. For those who are inspired by Haggis’ box office hits may grumble that the film is too convoluted, while others will applaud the filmmaker for creating a film that makes audiences think and a film requires discussion. I personally enjoyed the film on its take on personal loss but also Haggis’ bold step outside of the types of films he had created and giving viewers something unique and different. “Third Person” is recommended.
TITLE: Third Person
TELEFILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 91 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), English DTS-HD MA 5.1, Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (For Language and Sexuality/Nudity)
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Directed by Paul Haggis
Written by Paul Haggis
Produced by Paul Breuls, Paul Haggis, Michael Nozik
Co-Producer: Moran Atias
Executive Producer: Nils Dunker, Fahar Faizaan, Arcadiy Golubovich, Andrew David Hopkins, Tim O’Hair, Guy Tannahill, Anatole Taubman
Associate Producer: Veronique Huyghebaert, Samuel Nozik, Emelie Vervecken
Music by Dario Marianelli
Cinematography by Gianfilippo Corticelli
Edited by Jo Francis
Casting by Elaine Grainger
Production Design by Laurence Bennett
Art Direction by Dimitri Capuani, Luca Tranchino
Set Decoration by Raffaella Giovannetti
Costume Design by Sonoo Mishra
Liam Neeson as Michael
Maria Bello as Theresa
Mila Kunis as Julia
Kim Basinger as Elaine
Michele Melega as Giorgio
Adrien Brody as Scott
Olivia Wilde as Anna
Katy Louise Saunders as Gina
James Franco as Rick
Loan Chabanol as Sam
Riccardo Scamarcio as Marco
Moran Atias as Monika
Third Person tells three stories of love, passion, trust and betrayal. The tales play out in New York, Paris and Rome through three couples who appear to have nothing related, but share deep commonalities: lovers and estranged spouses, children lost and found. Featuring an award-winning ensemble cast including Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List), Adrien Brody (The Pianist), James Franco (127 Hours), Olivia Wilde (Rush), Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential) and Maria Bello (A History of Violence). Written and directed by Academy Award® winner Paul Haggis (Best Motion Picture, Crash, 2005), Third Person is a mystery, a puzzle in which the truth is revealed in glimpses, clues are caught by the corner of the eye and nothing is truly what it seems.
Award-winning filmmaker/writer Paul Haggis is best known for writing hit films such as “Crash”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace”.
Wanting to challenge himself as a filmmaker, after completion, Haggis felt he had created the best film that he had ever made.
“Third Person” is a star-studded film starring Liam Neeson (“Schindler’s List”, “Batman Begins”, “Taken”), Olivia Wilde (“Rush”, “Tron: Legacy”), Kim Basinger (“L.A. Confidential”, “Batman”, “8 Mile”), James Franco (“Spider-Man” films, “127 Hours”, “This is the End”), Mila Kunis (“Black Swan”, “That 70’s Show”, “Ted”), Adrien Brody (“King Kong”, “The Pianist”, “Predators”), Moran Atias (“Crash”, “Land of the Lost”, “The Next Three Days”) and Maria Bello (“History of Violence”, “Prisoners”, “Payback”).
“Third Person” is a film that revolves around three different stories taking place in different cities.
In Paris, Michael (portrayed by Liam Neeson) is a writer who escapes to another country write his latest book. He has left his wife Elaine (portrayed by Kim Basinger) and is having an affair with Anna (portrayed by Olivia Wilde), who he really loves but is having hard time in committing because he also loves Elaine. But he is unaware that Elaine has a big secret.
In New York, Julia (portrayed by Mila Kunis) is a former actress who was charged for trying to kill her young son. She denies the charges and now, her son is living with his father Rick (portrayed by James Franco) and doing all he can to prevent her from getting him back. As Julia is doing all she can to get her son back, working a hotel job and living without much money, will she ever be reunited with her son?
In Rome, Scott (portrayed by Adrien Brody) is an American businessman who takes an interest in an Albanian gypsy named Monika (portrayed by Moran Atias). As he tries to pursue Monika, he is unaware that she is trying to do all she can to free her daughter who has been kidnapped by a Russian gangster who is holding her hostage. But is she really in dire trouble or is this all a setup to get his money?
“Third Person” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality of the film is magnificent as the cinematography by Gianfilippo Corticelli (“Don’t Move”, “Facing Windows”) is sexy and beautiful. The digital photography showcases the crisp details during closeups. Skintones are natural and black levels are inky and deep. But overall, picture quality for “Third Person” is magnificent with no trace of banding or artifact issues.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Third Person” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with an English – audio description 5.1 Dolby Digital track. The lossless audio is dialogue and musically driven. Both are crystal clear with crowd ambiance heard during one scene in a club. But for a film like this, the soundtrack is appropriate.
“Third Person” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with writer/director Paul Haggis, production designer Laurence Bennet, editor Jo Francis, producer Michael Nozik and actress Moran Atias.
- Q&A with writer/director Paul Haggis – (33:29) A Q&A with writer/director Paul Haggis and moderator Pete Hammond.
- The Making of Third Person – (9:49) A short featurette with the Paul Haggis and cast on the film and its characters.
- Trailer – (1:44) The theatrical trailer for “Third Person”.
I have to admit that when I was watching “Third Person”, the film was often described as a romance film.
But by the second half of the film, I realized that this film was not a romance film but a drama about characters who have gone through terrible experiences or coming off bad situations and then of course, you get eventually start to realize that these characters are interconnected because of a primary focal point that is revealed by the end of the film.
“Third Person” is a film that no many people will understand and for those who do, will realize that this film is much more than that and it’s all I can even say, because saying more would spoil the film.
Suffice to say, the three stories are interesting and very different. From writer Michael fleeing to Paris to write a book that he has having problems with. His escape is Anna, a woman that he can’t commit to.
You have Julia who is unable to reunite with her son because she allegedly hurt him and now he is with his father Rick and he wants nothing but keep his son away from her.
And then you have Scott who is smitten with an Albanian gypsy named Monika who is in dire need of money to pay off a Russian gangster in order to get her child back. But as he gets caught into her trying to retrieve her child and the gangster thinks he is a wealthy man and wants even more money, the relationship between Scott and Monika becomes even more complicated.
But I enjoyed the film is for its take on loss. There are many films about how a person grieves over a loved one. But what Paul Haggis is managed to create is a film that utilizes its characters in a fascinating way and culminate to an ending that is somber but an ending that I actually can believe in.
In many ways, this film is different from his Hollywood blockbusters because it’s a thinking person’s film. Call it arthouse, call it intellectual cinema but the film delves into the psyche of a character through its characters and attempting to achieve something different.
And because it is different, it’s one of those films that audiences either love for Haggis taking a risk on such a film and those who loathe the film for being too somber and leaving it to viewers to give their own personal interpretation of the film and its ending.
Look online and you’ll realize how people are divided about this film. But in many ways, even the greatest auteurs, have tested the waters with stories that are cerebral, stories that challenge audiences to think about cinema than forcefeeding it to them, as in traditional Hollywood cinema. Take it for what it is, if you are not a thinking person, then this film is not for you.
At 136 minutes long, the film is slowly building, details that seem improbably start to make sense as the story progresses. And there is something about the film and how Haggis able to create a film knowing that it may be uncharacteristic of his style that the audiences love him for. It’s quite daring and a bit risky and bold, as Jean-Luc Godard was after “Breathless” and then create films that were unlike it, that would baffle audiences and critics.
And as a writer and filmmaker, I applaud Haggis for wanting to escape the paradigm and try something different and new!
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and for a dramatic series that is primarily dialogue and musically driven, the lossless soundtrack is appropriate for center and front channel fare. The audio commentary is enlightening, while the other featurettes included are also entertaining.
Overall, “Third Person” is a film that audiences may regard as his best or worse film which he had written and directed. For those who are inspired by Haggis’ box office hits may grumble that the film is too convoluted, while others will applaud the filmmaker for creating a film that makes audiences think and a film requires discussion. I personally enjoyed the film on its take on personal loss but also Haggis’ bold step outside of the types of films he had created and giving viewers something unique and different.
“Third Person” is recommended.
Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a non-mainstream vampire film that is fantastic, wonderfully acted, smart and fresh! For those who have grown tired of the banal mainstream vampire film, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is highly recommended!
TITLE: Only Lovers Left Alive
TELEFILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 123 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (For Language and Brief Nudity)
Release Date: August 19, 2014
Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Produced by Reinhard Brundig, Jeremy Thomas
Co-Producer: Carter Logan, Marco Mehlitz, Gian-Piero Ringel, Christine Strobl
Executive Producer: Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Stacey E. Smith
Associate Producer: Viola Fugen, Alainee Kent, Richard Mansell
Music by Carter Logan, Jozef van Wissem
Cinematography by Yorick Le Saux
Edited by Affonso Goncalves
Casting by Ellen Lewis
Production designer: Marco Bittner Rosser
Art Direction by Anja Fromm, Anu Schwartz
Set Decoration by Christiane Krumwiede, Selina van den Brink
Costume Design by Bina Daigeler
Tilda Swinton as Eve
Tom Hiddleston as Adam
Anton Yelchin as Ian
Mia Wasikowska as Ava
John Hurt as Marlowe
Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Watson
Slimane Dazi as Bilal
The tale of two fragile and sensitive vampires, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), who have been lovers for centuries. Both are cultured intellectuals with an all-embracing passion for music, literature and science, who have evolved to a level where they no longer kill for sustenance, but still retain their innate wildness. Their love story has endured several centuries but their debauched idyll is threatened by the uninvited arrival of Eve’s carefree little sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) who hasn’t yet learned to tame her wilder instincts. Driven by sensual photography, trance-like music, and droll humor, Jim Jarmusch’s ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is a meditation on art, science, and the mysteries of everlasting love.
Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (“Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”, “Broken Flowers”, “Down by Law”) returns with a British-German vampire film known as “Only Lovers Left Alive”.
A film that was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and received positive reviews from film critics, “Only Lovers Left Alive” will now be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
“Only Lovers Left Alive” stars Tom Hiddleston as Adam, a vampire who has lived his long life helping many famous musicians and scientists but since then, has become a reclusive vampire (and a popular, working musician) that feels that humanity is doomed. And the only person he is in contact with is a rock-obsessed young ma named Ian (portrayed by Anton Yelchin).
Still living in the past and living in a neighborhood in Detroit, he survives on the blood given to him by Dr. Watson. But now, Adam has grown depressed and is contemplating suicide. He wants to shoot himself with a wooden bullet but when he gets a call from his wife Eve (portrayed by Tilda Swinton), Eve can tell how depressed Adam has been.
Living in Tangier and living through the blood from a vampire known as Christopher Marlowe (portrayed by John Hurt). Sensing his pain, Eve goes to Detroit to be with him and enjoy each other’s company.
But as the two share their time together, their peace and love is shattered by the arrival of Eve’s younger sister Ava (portrayed by Mia Wasikowska).
“Only Lovers Left Alive” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality for the film is fantastic, despite being shot primarily outdoors.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Only Lovers Left Alive” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital. The lossless soundtrack is primarily dialogue driven.
Subttles are in English, English SDH and French.
“Only Lovers Left Alive” comes with the following special features:
- Traveling at Night with Jim Jarmusch– (49:18) A featurette on the making of “Only Lovers Left Alive”, behind-the-scenes making of the film.
- Yasmine Hamdan “Hal” Music Video – (4:48)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – (26:18) Several deleted scenes from “Only Lovers Left Alive”.
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:19) The theatrical trailer for “Only Lovers Left Alive”.
You can leave it to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch to go the other direction of vampire film banality and create something unique and fresh.
The filmmaker is not trying to reinvent the way vampires are seen in film, nor is he trying to create a film that would satisfy teens or their mothers. “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a vampire film that was made for the cineaste who rather stay away from mainstream vampire films and want something very smart, yet entertaining.
The story of two old vampires that want to live as hip and stylish despite the drudgery of humanity, these vampires also have problems.
Quality blood is becoming hard to come by and when you lose your source of blood and have avoided killing humans for blood, what are you left to do?
But this film goes farther than the problems that vampires are facing but about a married vampire couple named Adam and Eve but living far from each other.
Adam is a musician living in Detroit who has lived many lifetimes but still loves taking part in making music with rare and expensive guitars. He depends on Ian to find him his musical instruments and complains of how humanity has become zombies and drives him crazy that people have moved towards digital (and watching music performers on YouTube).
Meanwhile, Eve lives in Tangier and depends on her aging handler Christopher Marlowe, a man who wrote Shakespeare’s plays and not thrilled that he never received credit for his work.
And these two vampires love the finer things in life. They live quite well, appreciate creativity and would not feast on humans because they don’t know where their blood has come from.
But as Adam has lived a long time, humanity has really made him depressed about the world and he wants to take his life. So, Eve leaves her home of Tangier to travel to Detroit and visit her husband.
In many ways, this is a fascinating drama because they are people who have lived through the best times of the world and see how humanity has changed so much to the point that they question the world and what has happened to humanity.
It’s a film that doesn’t try to be happy, nor does it try to be anything different. Real world problems affecting a vampire couple who lived a lifetime of creativity, meeting talented individuals and now seeing human decline. And for Adam, as a man who treasures music, seeing music today is severely bumming him out. It’s not a horror film, by no means is this a love film like “Twilight”.
If anything, the film is quite elegant and both Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddlestone are fantastic. The production and costume design is gorgeous, the film is creative and fresh and once again, another magnificent film in the oeuvre of filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is great but it doesn’t try to be vibrant, it’s a moody film, shot indoors primarily and the scenes are well-lit and artistic. The lossless soundtrack is primarily dialogue driven with scenes with music incorporated. And you get a few special features including a fascinating making of the film, so you can see how Jarmusch approached the film with his two talents.
Overall, Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” is a non-mainstream vampire film that is fantastic, wonderfully acted, smart and fresh!
For those who have grown tired of the banal mainstream vampire film, “Only Lovers Left Alive” is highly recommended!
Frank Pavich’s “Jodorowsky’s Dune” is a magnificent documentary on possibly the greatest sci-fi film never made. Highly recommended!
© 2014 The City Film, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Jodorowsky’s Dune
FILM RELEASE: 2013
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: PG-13 (For some violent and sexual images)
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Directed by Frank Pavich
Produced by Frank Pabich, Stephen Scarlata, Travis Stevens
Executive Producer: Donald Rosenfeld
Co-Producer: Michel Seydoux
Associate Producer: Alex Ricciardi
Music by Kurt Stenzel
Cinematography by David Cavallo
Edited by Paul Docherty, Alex Ricciardi
Nicolas Winding Refn
In 1975, director Alejandro Jodorowsky began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12-year-old son alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dalí, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including H.R. Giger and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel DUNE was poised to change cinema forever. Through interviews with legends and luminaries including H.R. Giger (artist, ALIEN), Gary Kurtz (producer, STAR WARS EPISODES IV ‘ V) and Nicolas Winding Refn (director, DRIVE), and an intimate and honest conversation with Jodorowsky, director Frank Pavich’s film finally unearths the full saga of ‘The Greatest Movie Never Made’.
Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of the welcomed named among cineaste, especially those who have appreciated his works of arts in his oeuvre such as “Fandy y Lis”, “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain”.
Provocative, scandalous, creative and magnificent, there is no doubt that you will see many who are appreciative of Jodorowsky’s work and those who simply don’t get it.
But Jodorowsky was a man that people knew about because his acid western “El Topo” was the first midnight cult film and his surrealist creations would eventually become classics.
But for Alejandro Jodorowsky and many sci-fi films, there was one film of his that was important in helping pave the ways for many of the sci-fi films of today, from “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones” films, “Aliens”, “Flash Gordon”, “Prometheus” to name a few, and to one’s surprise, Jodorowsky’s film was never made.
Yes, there was the 1984 box office bomb titled as “Dune” which was directed by David Lynch (who literally wanted nothing to do with the film due to producers and execs not giving him any creative control) but if there was one adaptation of Frank Herbert’s popular sci-fi book series, it was Jodorowsky’s vision that would help pave the way for today’s science fiction films.
And now a documentary titled “Jodorowsky’s Dune” featuring interviews with Alejandro Jodorowsky, producer Michel Seydoux and many of those who were cast for the film or knew about greatest sci-fi film never made, chime in on how “Jodorowsky’s Dune”, despite not being made, still leaves its footprints behind in today’s sci-fi cinema.
From how Alejandro Jodorowsky was able to tap into talent such as Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Salvador Dali and also music groups such as Pink Floyd and Magma but also artistic talents of H.R. Giger and Jean “Moebius” Giraud.
And also learning why this film was never made and Alejandro’s feelings when he watched the David Lynch version of “Dune” and more!
For anyone wanting to know more about Jodorowsky’s interpretation of “Dune” will definitely not want to miss out on this insightful, fun and entertaining documentary!
“Jodorowsky’s Dune” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). As one can expect from a documentary, there is footage from various sources, so not all is pristine. But for the most part, the main footage was shot digitally in HD. And the documentary as a whole, looks very good.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Jodorowsky’s Dune” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue and music are crystal clear coming from the center and front channels.
“Jodorowsky’s Dune” comes with the following special features:
- Deleted Scenes – 46:24 – There are nine deleted scenes including the reunion of Jodorowsky and producer Michel Seydoux who have not talked to each other since the cancellation of Jodorowsky’s “Dune”.
“Jodorowsky’s Dune” comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD version of the film.
When I was younger, I grew up reading Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and when I was in my very early teens, David Lynch’s “Dune” was the version that would play constantly on HBO.
But it was a maddening film for me because unlike “Star Wars” or other sci-fi films that have come out during that time, I couldn’t understand it. I watched the film so many times and felt the plot was just a mess and perhaps it was reaching out to sci-fi intellectuals that would comprehend and enjoy the film more than me.
Fast forward over a decade later and having become a cineaste and having a keen appreciation of film from the auteurs of the past and today, I started to learn more about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Dune” after I was researching his work for “El Topo” and again for “The Holy Mountain”.
Jodorowsky’s work are considered as surreal masterpiece among cineaste and his films are audacious, mesmerizing and so unique, that there is no comparison to his work.
So, if you have done any research into the work of Jodorowsky, you would learn that he was slated to direct the sci-fi film “Dune” but while you could read online about his involvement, no one delves deeper into the making of the film than filmmaker Frank Pavich for his documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune”.
With an extensive interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky, producer Michel Seydoux and many others who are aware of the work or who were connected to the film that never came to be, the documentary sheds a lot of light of how Jodorowsky was able to get Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, to name a few. But also how he was able to tap into the talents of Chriss Foss, Jean Giraud (Moebius) and H.R. Giger.
And because Jodorowsky was an artist and his canvas was film, he wanted a film that was unlike anything that has ever been made before. Unfortunately, Hollywood execs were not too keen with Jodorowsky’s “Dune” especially the duration of the film that the film never came to be.
But those who worked on the film, carried on to bring their designs on other sci-fi films, one memorable would be on the sci-fi films “Aliens” which involved a few of those who were part of Jodorowsky’s “Dune” crew.
But watching “Jodorowsky’s Dune”, you get the sense of emotion, passion and the longing that Jodorowsky had for the making of “Dune” but we get to see how devastating it was for him, to not make it. How difficult it was for him to watch David Lynch’s version of “Dune” but to see his feeling after he watched the film. But also how his plans for “Dune” has left a footprint in other sci-fi films such as “Star Wars”, “Aliens”, “Terminator”, “Indiana Jones” to name a few.
The documentary was wonderfully researched and the amount of interviews done for this documentary was well-done. H.R. Giger, Gary Kurtz, Nicolas Winding Refn really gave great insight of the greatness of the film and why it was never made, Michel Seydoux gave us a perspective on the production side, film critic Devin Faraci gave us a perspective of a sci-fan and the importance of the making of this film to Amanda Lear discussing the moments when Jodorowsky casted her and Salvador Dali.
Many tidbits that I never knew about what went on in the planning stages of what could have become an epic sci-fi masterpiece.
The Blu-ray features great picture quality and as one can expect from a documentary featuring videos and images from various sources to a clear dialogue-driven lossless soundtrack. You also get over 45-minutes worth of deleted scenes but one that caught my attention was the reunion between Alejandro Jodrowsky and producer Michel Seydoux, who stopped talking after the film was never greenlit for production.
Overall, Frank Pavich’s “Jodorowsky’s Dune” is a magnificent documentary on possibly the greatest sci-fi film never made. Highly recommended!
“The Lunchbox” is an entertaining, warm and captivating epistolary romance film! A film about how two strangers ease their sadness and loneliness by sending letters to one other through a lunchbox. Featuring strong performances by Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, filmmaker Ritesh Batra’s feature film debut, “The Lunchbox” is highly recommended!
© 2014 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Lunchbox
FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 111 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, Hindi 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: PG (For Thematic Material and Smoking)
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Written and Directed by Ritesh Batra
Produced by Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Arun Rangachari
Co-Producer: Shahnaab Alam, Marc Baschet, Benny Drechsel, Nina Lath Gupta, Nittin Keni, Cedomir Kolar, Vivek Rangachari, Karsten Stoter, Danis Tanovic
Executive Produced: Ritesh Batra, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Irrfan Khan, Vikramjit Roy
Music by Max Richter
Cinematography by Michael Simmonds
Edited by John F. Lyons
Casting by Seher Latif
Production Design by Shruti Gupte
Set Decoration by Akshi Kapoor
Costume Design by Niharika Khan
Irrfan Khan as Saajan Fernandes
Nimrat Kaur as Ila
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Shaikh
Lillete Dubey as Ila’s Mother
Nakul Vaid as Rajeev
Bharati Achrekar as Auntie
A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects Ila, a neglected housewife, to Saajan (Irrfan Khan), a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Through a series of exchanged notes that they pass back and forth through the lunches, Saajan and Ila find comfort in their unexpected friendship. Gradually, their notes become little confessions about their loneliness, memories, regrets, fears, and even small joys. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in their virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities.
Ritesh Batra was one of 2013’s success stories.
Best known for his short films, his 2013 feature romantic film “Dabba” (The Lunchbox) would receive positive reviews from film critics and audiences around the world.
Starring Irrfan Khan (“Life of Pi”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”), Nimrat Kaur (“One Night with the King”) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (“Talaash”, “Kahaani”, “Gangs of Wasseypur”), “The Lunchbox” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
“The Lunchbox” focuses on two unhappy characters.
Saajan Fernandes (portrayed by Irrfan Khan) is an accountant close to retiring and must help the younger Shaikh (portrayed by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) of how to do his job. A widowed man who is often seen as anti-social and grumpy, he is also lonely.
Lia (portrayed by Nimrat Kaur) is a married woman with a child. With the help of her auntie (featuring the voice of Bharati Achrekar), she is trying to make dishes in hopes to win her husband’s affections and feels he is having an affair.
One day, as Lia prepares a dish for her husband, the lunchbox delivery man (Dabbawalas) accidentally delivers the lunchbox to Saajan Fernandes. When Fernandes tastes the food, he notices how delicious it is.
As for Lia, hoping to hear comments about her cooking and most of all, seeing an improvement in the relationship with her husband, he doesn’t respond at all and is critical about her cooking of cauliflower which she was not responsible for.
Realizing that her food is going to another man, she writes a note to whoever may be eating her food and continues to make food for the lunchbox that is delivered to Fernandes and he responds and it ultimately leads to these two unhappy people to write each other about how they truly feel about their current life.
But what happens when their communication by mail grows to be more than strangers writing each other but a dependent on each other for support during their tough time in their lives?
“The Lunchbox” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The film looks magnificent on Blu-ray. Earthy colors, close-ups show great detail and for the most part, no signs of excessive banding or artifact issues.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Lunchbox” is presented in Hindi DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Audio descriptive track in English 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue driven as dialogue is crystal clear through the front channels. There are use of the surround channels for more ambiance (especially inside the train). But as a romantic film, the soundtrack is appropriate.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.
“The Lunchbox” comes with commentary by writer/director Ritesh Batra.
“The Lunchbox” comes both with a Blu-ray and DVD copy of the film.
The concept of accidental messages have been topics in film and television for years.
From “Il Mare/The Lake House” which dealt with mail communication from a man in the past to a woman of the future, to the Japanese TV series “With Love” about a woman who accidentally receives a composition from a music composer and begins an e-mail dialogue or “The Shop Around the Corner” and “You Got Mail” which dealt with two people counting on each other for support but hopefully finding love.
“The Lunchbox” was rather fascinating that while the film could have been another romantic epistolary film, because of the Indian culture, the storyline for “The Lunchbox” is rather different from the films just mentioned.
Similar to these other films, how communication soothes their soul and makes them reflect on their current lives, there is always that time when both agree to meet each other. Will any romance happen between the older Fernandes and the younger Lia?
One must watch and find out but most importantly, the warmness of the film, its characters and character direction was well-done.
There is no doubt that Ritesh Batra hit a homerun with his feature film debut and thanks to the magnificent acting of Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, one can only hope that the hype that “The Lunchbox” has received worldwide that she churns out another captivating film.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is magnificent. Close-up details are well-done, colors are natural and earthy. I didn’t notice any artifacts or edge enhancement issues during my viewing of the film. As for the lossless soundtrack, as one can expect from a romance film, the dialogue is primarily front-channel driven. While surround channels showcase the ambiance of the character’s surroundings, especially on a train. You get a single special feature which is a commentary with writer/director Ritesh Batra.
Overall, “The Lunchbox” is an entertaining, warm and captivating epistolary romance film!
A film about how two strangers ease their sadness and loneliness by sending letters to one other through a lunchbox. Featuring strong performances by Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, filmmaker Ritesh Batra’s feature film debut, “The Lunchbox” is highly recommended!