Blood Father (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Blood Father” is a gritty action thriller that many people have long since waited for Mel Gibson to do.  It may not be on the best list of Gibson’s action film oeuvre but Gibson still shows us that he can still kick ass on the big screen!  And for those who love popcorn action films, “Blood Father” is worth recommending!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Blood Father


DURATION: 88 Minutes

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

COMPANY: Lionsgate Premiere

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

RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2016

Based on the novel by Peter Craig

Directed by Jean-Francois Richet

Screenplay by Peter Craig, Andrea Berloff

Produced by Chris Briggs, Pascal Caucheteux, Peter Craig, Sebastien Lemercier

Executive Producer: Jennifer Roth

Music by Sven Faulconer

Cinematography by Robert Gantz

Edited by Steven Rosenblum

Production Design by Robb Wilson King, Eve McCarney

Art Direction by Billy W. Ray

Set Decoration by Susan Magestro, Penelope Rene Stames

Costume Design by Terry Anderson, Lisa Norcia


Mel Gibson as Link

Erin Moriarty as Lydia

Diego Luna as Jo0nah

Michael Parks as Preacher

William H. Macy as Kirby

Miguel Sandoval as Arturo Rios

Dale Dickey as Cherise

Richard Cabral as Joker

Daniel Moncada as Choop

Ryan Dorsey as Shamrock

Raoul Max Trujillo as The Cleaner

Mel Gibson delivers nonstop, no-holds-barred action in this dynamic thrill ride. When his estranged teenaged daughter (Erin Moriarty) is targeted by a drug cartel, ex-convict John Link (Gibson) must call upon connections from his criminal past and his own lethal skills to save his daughter’s future. Diego Luna, Michael Parks, and William H. Macy costar in this explosive story of how far one man will go to save his family.

From French filmmaker Jean-Francois Richet (“Assault on Precinct 13”, “Mesrine” films) comes his English language French action thriller film “Blood Father”.

Based on the novel by Peter Craig (writer of “The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 and 2”, “The Town”) and a screenplay which he co-wrote with Andrea Berloff (“Straight Outta Compton”, “World Trade Center”).

The film stars Mel Gibson (“Braveheart”, “Lethal Weapon” films, “Signs”, “The Patriot”), Erin Moriarty (“The Kings of Summer”, “The Watch”, “Captain Fantastic”), Diego Luna (“Milk”, “The Terminal”, “Elysium”), Michael Parks (“Kill Bill” films, “Django Unchained”, “From Dusk Till Dawn”), William H. Macy (“Fargo”, “Shameless”, “Jurassic Park III”) and Miguel Sandoval (“Medium”, “Clear and Present Danger”, “Jurassic Park”).

The film begins with a missing persons poster of Lydia (portrayed by Erin Moriarty).  The film then shifts to Lydia trying to purchase bullets for her boyfriend Jonah (portrayed by Diego Luna) and his gang.

The gang is planning to kill a tenant family who has stolen money hidden in their home.  As Jonah takes the front, Lydia who is stressed out is given some meth to calm her nerves.

As Jonah and his gang get into the house, Lydia sees the tenants children in the back yard.  As gunshots erupt, Lydia sees a dead father while Jonah is beating on the mother, demanding the woman to hell him where the money is.  When she doesn’t, Jonah wants Lydia to shoot her.  Instead, Lydia accidentally shoots Jonah in the neck and thinking she killed him, takes off and leaves.

We are then introduced to her father John (portrayed by Mel Gibson), an ex-convict on parole now working as a tattoo artist somewhere in the desert living in a trailer park. He often talks to his sponsor, Kirby (portrayed by William H. Macy) and is trying to live a happy life.

Out of the blue, Lydia calls her father and frantically asks for money and John tells her that he will meet her.  But as Lydia doses off, she sees that she is drinking a lot of alcohol and when he takes her home, carries her to the bed. John checks her purse and finds alcohol and booze.

When Lydia wakes up, she tells him that her ex-boyfriend was killed and his gang is after her.  Worried about the problems that her daughter is going through, and worried that it will ruin his parole.  Things get worse when the gang arrive at the trailer park demanding him to give them a tattoo and when John tries to avoid trouble, he goes back inside.

They start busting up his mobile home and start shooting at it and eventually ramming the mobile home and destroy it.  While John and Lydia survived the attack, they are saved by Kirby and the locals.

But John leaves the crime scene with his daughter and now they are both wanted by the police and to make things worse, there is a hit on Lydia and they are being pursued by the gangs and a hitman.

Will John and Lydia survive this ordeal?


“Blood Father” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film looks very good in HD as closeups show great detail.  May it be the pores on Mel Gibson’s skin, the water and dust on the car windows and more.  I didn’t see any artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film.


“Blood Father” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film features crystal clear dialogue and the film features a good amount of action, with gun shootouts, motorcycle revving and more.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.


“Blood Father” comes with the following special feature:

  • Lost Souls: On the Road with Blood Father – (27:50) A featurette about the making of “Blood Father” with interviews with the cast and crew.


“Blood Father” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet HD code.

It’s been awhile since we watched Mel Gibson in an action film as the primary protagonist.

While we have seen Gibson focus his career as a director and a producer, there is no denying that many people would like to see Gibson in an action film, as he had done in films such as the “Lethal Weapons” films, “Braveheart”, “The Patriot”, “We Were Soldiers” to name a few.

And sure, we have seen him in films such as “Machete Kills” and “The Expendables 3”, “Blood Father” is no doubt one of the more exciting action roles since his 2010 film “Edge of Darkness”.

In “Blood Father”, Gibson plays the role of ex-convict John Link, who has tried his best to keep out of trouble while on parole.

He has been looking for his daughter Lydia, who has gone missing and is now dating a major drug dealer and criminal, Jonah Pincerna.

When Lydia, Jonah and his gang try to kill a family who lived in a home to find stolen money hidden somewhere in the house, Lydia accidentally shoots Jonah and thinks she had killed him.

And now, Jonah’s gang are after her.  So, who does she call for help?  Her father, John who meets up with her to give her money.

But while she’s sleeping, John sees alcohol and drugs hidden in her bag and knows that she’s in bad trouble.  But doesn’t know the extent until the gang shows up to John’s trailer park and starts to shoot up the mobile home that John and Lydia are at.

Fortunately, John’s sponsor Kirby (portrayed by William H. Macy) and the locals end up chasing the gang away but while Kirby wants John to not get in trouble and risk going back to jail, he wants him to stay put. Instead he runs away with his daughter and now they become fugitives of the law, are being hunted down by Jonah’s gang and a hitman.

And will father and daughter survive the entire ordeal?

Mel Gibson does a great job of playing the role of an ex-convict.  We have seen him play a variety of roles, but this time, a man with a rough past and hardened in prison but yet being a caring father.

While Erin Moriarty plays a girl who had a lot of problems growing up and eventually gotten herself in even more major problems by geting involved with a major drug dealer.  And after accidentally shooting him and thinking he was dead, now gangs and hitmen are now after her.

The film features a lot of tension, a lot of action and while the film is about father and daughter trying to stay away from the law and gangs that are pursuing them, but the film also explores two people who have had f*cked up lives but one thing they do have is a love for each other and being reunited, father and daughter have their long awaited bonding moment.

But with the trouble they are in, how much time does father and daughter have left?

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic as close-ups show amazing detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and lossless audio during action scenes and ambiance are well-utilized through the surround channels.

Overall, “Blood Father” is a gritty action thriller that many people have long since waited for Mel Gibson to do.  It may not be on the best list of Gibson’s action film oeuvre but Gibson still shows us that he can still kick ass on the big screen!  And for those who love popcorn action films, “Blood Father” is worth recommending!

Stealing Cars (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


“Stealing Cars” is an average film with character situations that seem a bit too farfetched for its own good.  But it’s still an entertaining film to watch and pass the time.

© 2015 Cuckoo Luke LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Stealing Cars


DURATION: 101 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation 1:85:1, English, French and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Spanish, Thai

RATED: R (Language Including Some Sexual References and Brief Drug Use)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released Dated: April 5, 2016

Directed by Bradley Kaplan

Written by Will Aldis, Steve Mackall

Produced by Dan Keston, Rachel Winter

Executive Produced: Russell Geyser, Erika Hampson, Stephen Levinson, Clay Percorin, Mark Wahlberg

Co-Executive Producer: Sean Lydiard

Music by Phil Mossman

Cinematographer: Martin Ahlgren

Edited by Jarrett Fijal, Sabine Hoffman, Adam Zuckerman

Casting by Venus Kanani, Meredith Tucker, Mary Vernieu, Christina Wright

Production Design by Paul Avery

Art Direction by Lisa Myers

Set Decoration by Jesika Farkas

Costume Design by Deirdra Elizabeth Govan


Emory Cohen as Billy Wyatt

Heather Lind as Nurse Simms

William H. Macy as Philip Wyatt

Paul Sparks as Conrad Sean Lewis

John Leguizamo as Montgomery De La Cruz

Felicity Huffman as Kimberly Wyatt

Mike Epps as Sherif Till

Chance Kelly as Jimmy Carmichael

Paul Borghese as Guard Guarino

Jeff Lima as Carlos

Tariq Trotter as Lionel McWrothers

Al Calderon as Nathan Stein

Billy Wyatt (Emory Cohen) is a young man with tremendous promise, but a troubled past leads him to the Bernville Camp for Boys. Billy must navigate his way through dangerous inmates and a cruel and punishing staff, but during it all, he learns to inspire others and find out the truth about himself in the process. STEALING CARS is a compelling drama with powerful performances by Emory Cohen, John Leguizamo, Mike Epps and Academy Award nominees William H. Macy – Best Supporting Actor, FARGO, 1996 and Felicity Huffman – Best Actress, TRANSAMERICA, 2005.

The first film from filmmaker Bradley Kaplan and written by Will Aldis (“Avenging Agelo”, “Black Cadillac”) comes the American crime drama, “Stealing Cars”.

Executive produced by Mark Wahlberg, the film stars Emory Cohen (“Brooklyn”, “Afterschool”, “The Place Beyond the Pines”), Heather Lind (“Demolition”, “Turn”, “Guest House”, “A Single Shot”), William H. Macy (“Fargo”, “Jurassic Park III”, “Pleasantville”), Paul Sparks (“Mud”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “Synecdoche, New York”), John Leguizamo (“Moulin Rouge”, “Carlito’s Way”, “Romeo + Juliet”), Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”, “Transamerica”, “Sports Night”) and Mike Epps (“The Hangover” films, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”, “Next Friday”).

“Stealing Cars” made its premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2015 and now the film will be available on DVD in April 2016.

“Stealing Cars” revolves around Billy Wyatt (portrayed by Emory Cohen), a rebellious teenager who is highly intelligent but because of his troubles, he is sentenced to time at the Bernvillle Camp for Boys.

The camp is led by its cruel camp led by Montgomery De La Cruz (portrayed by John Leguizamo) and officers led by Conrad Sean Lewis (portrayed by Paul Sparks) who try to break down the kids, many who are dangerous inmates.

At first, many of the inmates see Billy as weird and unusual, but because of his rebellious nature, begins to win over various inmates by inspiring them.

Meanwhile, Emory befriends the often punished Nathan Stein (portrayed by Al Calderon) and falls for the camp’s nurse, Nurse Simms (portrayed by Heather Lind).

But as Billy tries to give hope to those in the camp, he starts to discover more about himself and the source of his troubles.


“Stealing Cars” is presented in Anamorphic widescreen (1:85:1) and is presented in English, French and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1.

Picture quality looks and sounds good as can be expected on DVD. There are moments of good surround usage during a fight and an accident.  But for the most part picture, “Stealing Cars” features crystal clear dialogue and audio..

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Japanese, Thai and Korean.


“Stealing Cars” comes with no special features.

“Stealing Cars” is a title that may imply that the film is about a young man serving time for vehicular theft.

But the film’s title is probably not the best description of this film as it is less about stealing cars and more about redemption and personal discovery.

Emory Cohen plays the protagonist, a rebellious teen named Billy Wyatt.  We are given pieces of his past which involves his father (portrayed by William H. Macy) and his sister enjoying family time together.

What we don’t know is what brought this highly intelligent teenager to the Bernville Camp for Boys.  It is quickly established that being the new guy at the camp, there are dangerous inmates but immediately, Billy shows his unusual side that irritates his fellow inmates, but also wins their respect because of his lack of bowing down to authority.

The camp which is headed by Leguizamo’s Montgomery De La Cruz runs a tight camp and the officers led by Conrad Sean Lewis (portrayed by Paul Sparks), tries to breakdown any inmate that shows any sign of weakness or disobedience.

Suffering in the camp is the often sick Nathan Stein (portrayed by Al Calderon), who is suffering, but yet the camp does nothing to help him and officers who are fed up with his sickness try to get Nathan punished.  But often to his rescue is Billy, who befriends Nathan and others at the camp.

As Billy falls for Nurse Simms (portrayed by Heather Lind) and is not happy to see his mother Kimberly (portrayed by Felicity Huffman), we start to see that something bad has happened to Billy and led him to a troublesome path.  And the cause is something he has buried deep in his head and never wanted to confront.

What crime has Billy committed and led him to the Bernville Camp for Boys?  And will he survive in the camp due to its cruel and punishing staff?

While the film is interesting and seeing bits and pieces of Billy’s past and how we start to see why he became a rebel, the film suffers from loose character connections and consistency.

As mentioned, the title of the film has nothing to do with the overall film.  The film is a drama about self-discovery but also how an intelligent and rebellious teen is able to survive punishment but also get along with his fellow inmates.

But after one escape from the heavily gated camp, it’s hard for me to believe that Billy can keep escaping from the camp and returning anytime he wants or when the Sheriff brings him back home.   Also, a potential relationship by a high school teenager and the camp’s nurse and a potential romantic scene feels out of place in the film.

Also discovering Billy’s past leaves a few questions to his criminal past and what caused a riff between him and his mother, is really never answered.  In fact, there are some plot situations that unfortunely, has no answers.

As for the DVD, “Stealing Cars” is a barebones DVD.  While picture quality and audio is what one can expect on DVD.  It’s a bummer that no special features are included.

Overall, “Stealing Cars” is an average film with character situations that seem a bit too farfetched for its own good.  But it’s still an entertaining film to watch and pass the time.

Benny & Joon (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Benny & Joon” is a romantic comedy that remains honest, fun and enjoyable after all these years.  Johnny Depp’s performance as the Buster Keaton loving Sam is fantastic!  If you have never watched this film before, definitely give this Blu-ray release a chance!

Images courtesy of © 1993 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Benny & Joon


DURATION: 98 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen (1:85:1), English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono, French Dolby Surround

COMPANY: MGM/Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: PG (Theme, a Scene of Mild Sensuality and line use of Harsh Language)

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011

Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik

Story by Barry Berman and Lesley McNeil

Screenpay by Barry Berman

Produced by Susan Arnold, Donna Roth

Executive Producer: Bill Badalato

Associate Producer: Lesley McNeil

Music by Rachel Portman

Cinematography by John Schwartzman

Edited by Carol Littleton

Casting by Risa Bramon Garcia, Heidi Levitt

Production Design by Neil Spisak

Art Direction by Pat Tagliaferro

Set Decoration by Barbara Munch

Costume Design by Aggie Guerard Rodgers


Johnny Depp as Sam

Mary Stuart Masterson as Juniper “Joon” Pearl

Aidan Quinn as Benjamin “Benny” Pearl

Julianne Moore as Ruthie

Oliver Platt as Eric

CCH Pounder as Dr. Garvey

Dan Hedaya as Thomas

Joe Grifasi as mike

William H. Macy as Randy Burch

Liane Curtis as Claudia

Oscar Nominee Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson (TV’s Law & Order SVU) and Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic) star in this hilarious, quirk comedy.  Wildly eccentric Joon (Masterson) can be very charming – especially when she takes her medicine.  Long under the thumb of her overprotective  brother, Benny (Quinn), Joon craves her independence.  During an unusual poker game, Joon loses her hand – but wins Sam (Depp), a whimsical misfit who soon charms his way into her heart.  Now if they can only find a romantic interest for her brother, love just might stand a chance in the charming, delightful film that also features Oliver Platt (“Frost/Nixon”) and Academy Award Nominee Julianne Moore.

In 1993, the romantic comedy “Benny & Joon” became a hit for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  The film would showcase the physical comedy of Johnny Depp (fresh from his hit film “Edward Scissorhands”) and its theme song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles” by the Proclaimers.

And while there was a little backstage drama behind-the-scenes as Winona Ryder who just broke up with Depp was supposed to play “Joon” and Woody Harrelson was to play the role of “Benny”. The roles were re-cast and Aidan Quinn would be playing “Benny” and Mary Stuart Masterson as “Joon”.

The film would also feature talent who would eventually become popular stars years later with William H. Macy as Randy, Oliver Platt as Eric and Julianne Moore as Ruthie.

Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik (“Burn Notice”, “Gossip Girl”, “The Avengers”, “Chuck”) and a screenplay by Barry Berman (“Waterproof”, “The Adventures of Pinocchio”), “Benny & Joon” would earn $23 million and also earn Johnny Depp a Golden Globe Award nomination.

“Benny & Joon” revolves around a mechanic named Benjamin “Benny” Pearl (played by Aidan Quinn) who takes care of his mentally ill sister, Juniper “Joon” Pearl (played by Mary Stuart Masterson).

Joon is an intelligent young woman, an avid painter but unfortunately has problems handling her anger and also is used to a certain rhythm of daily routines.  While Benny is busy at his auto shop and managing his workers, he has been dealing with various housekeepers who seem to quit their job as they are unable to deal with Joon’s outbursts.

Her doctor, Dr. Garvey (played by CCH Pounder) recommends that Benny put Joon in a group home because no housekeeper is willing to work there at his home and he is unable to manage her.  And Benny doesn’t want to because he is all she has.  We see a flashback of Benny and Joon when they were younger and they witnessed their parents being killed in a car accident and he has made sure that he has given his life and even his happiness to take care of his sister.  But one day, her anger is taken out on Benny that he realizes, maybe the doctor is right, he can’t take care of her.

In fact, even his good friend Eric (played by Oliver Platt) sees how Benny has turned down women for dates because he’s stuck caring for sister and tries to convince him to put Joon in a group home.  But Benny is not sure what he wants to do.

One night, as Benny & Joon visit a few friends for a night of gambling, his friend Mike (played by Joe Grifasi) has told him about a friend’s nephew who has moved in with him and he can’t stand him. The nephew is named Sam, a cinemaphile who is a big Buster Keaton fan (to the point that he dresses like the silent film actor and behaves like him) and we also learn that he is illiterate and is trying to learn how to read and write.

During another night of gambling, Joon wants to play and bet against Mike (without Benny being there) and Joon bets for whoever wins will paint her house and Mike bets that if he wins, she must take in his roommate Sam (played by Johnny Depp), that he can’t stand.  Sure enough, Mike wins and now Benny & Joon must take in Sam.

Eventually Sam and Joon start to know each other.  Despite an outburst from Joon one day, after Sam tries to clean the whole kitchen, he comes back by giving her a jack-in-a-box.  Eventually, this surprises Joon as this guy is not bothered by her and if anything, he sees her as normal.  She helps Sam with his writing and Sam cooks ham and cheese sandwiches for the family (via a clothes iron) and as odd as he may be, Benny can see how happy Joon is.

And needless to say, both Sam and Joon want to make Benny happy, so the two hook Benny and a woman named Ruthie (played by Julianne Moore) together.  Ruthie is currently a waitress and apartment manager but also was a former actress that is recognized by Sam and the two become friends as Sam has recognized every dialogue from a slasher film she appeared in.

And while Benny and Susie become attracted to each other, Benny has a hard time dealing with his emotions as he doesn’t know how to get close to her because of his duties of caring for Joon. Meanwhile, Sam & Joon are becoming closer and closer and eventually they fall in love.

Now that Joon has found happiness, will Benny end her happiness by putting her in a group home?


“Benny & Joon” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1).  As part of the catalog titles that are being released by MGM/20th Century Fox, I can say that this film does look better than its DVD counterpart but at the same time, does feature dust and speckles from time to time.  For the most part, the film does look very good.  The outdoor scenes are vibrant, the darker outdoor scenes or vignette type scenes have really good inky blacks.

And while colors are vibrant and there is good contrast for this film on Blu-ray, I do believe a lot of these catalog titles which include “Benny & Joon” are most likely sourced from an old HD master which was originally used for the DVD release.  But it does look better than its DVD counterpart and that is a plus.


“Benny & Joon” is presented in English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono and French Dolby Surround.    Dialogue is clear and understandable and the music, including the Proclaimers “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” comes clear through the front channels.  But it’s a decent lossless soundtrack that is appropriate for this film.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.


“Benny & Joon” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio CommentaryFeaturing audio commentary by director Jeremiah Chechik.  Chechik talks about the timelessness of the film and not so much of the technical parts of the film.  We learn how the photo of a young Aidan Quinn and Masterson was created, how the film was shot on location and more.
  • Deleted Scenes(5:12) Featuring two deleted scenes: audition and mutilator.
  • Costume, Make-Up Test and Stunt Reel – (18:45)Featuring various costume and make-up tests with the talent and a commentary track.
  • Music Video – (3:40) Featuring the music video “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:01) Featuring the original theatrical trailer to “Benny & Joon”.

It has been nearly 20-years since I have watched “Benny & Joon”, a romantic comedy that was pretty cool for it’s time because it didn’t have the typical displays of banality of a romantic comedy.  And the fact that you have a female character who is mentally ill and a young man who probably lived his life watching movies and literally transformed himself to be a hybrid Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin type of actor.  And then you throw in the older brother who has not been able to live his life because he had to care for his younger sister.

“Benny & Joon” was a film that felt natural and when I first watched it, I found it intriguing, enjoyable and hilarious.  I also credit the film for introducing me Buster Keaton and eventually making me become a silent film fan at a younger age.  But “Benny & Joon” is a film that is timeless.  Nearly 20-years-later and sure, the talents are much older but the film doesn’t look like it has aged.  The storyline remains fun, relevant, enjoyable and I have not grown tired of it yet.

I felt that the younger Johnny Depp showed an amazing brilliance of what kind of actor he would later become in this film.  The physical comedy and capturing that Keaton/Chaplin-esque style was fantastic and the same can be said with the brother and sister chemistry between Aidan Quinn and Mary Stuart Masterson.

As for the Blu-ray release, there is nothing new added to this Blu-ray release and as mentioned, I wouldn’t be surprised if the HD master was what was prepped for the DVD release.  Fortunately, PQ is good and I didn’t find any artifacting and for the most part, if you loved the film on DVD, it’s worth upgrading to Blu-ray.

Overall, “Benny & Joon” is a romantic comedy that remains honest, fun and enjoyable after all these years.

While I enjoyed the film a lot back then and even now, I do wish the Blu-ray release had a better HD transfer and newer special features but if you really enjoyed “Benny & Joon” and have not owned it on DVD or LD prior, then definitely give this Blu-ray release a chance!

The Maiden Heist (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

November 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Maiden Heist” is a fun comedy that is witty, hilarious and very entertaining courtesy of the film’s all-star cast.    All four Academy Award winners – Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken, William H. Macy and Marcia Gay Harden made this art caper so fun to watch.  Definitely a film worth checking out!

Image courtesy of © 2008 Lonely Maiden Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Maiden Heist

DURATION: 90Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Anamorphic Widescreen 2:40:1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Some Strong Language, Nudity and Brief Fantasy Violence)

RELEASED: November 24, 2009

Directed by Peter Hewitt

Written by Michael LeSieur

Executive Producer: David Glasser

Producer: Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary, Rob Paris, Bob Yari

Co-Producer: Kim H. Winther

Line Producer: Jonathan McCoy

Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams

Cinematography by Ueli Steiger

Edited by Carole Kravetz

Casting by Susan Shopmaker

Production Design by Chris Roope

Art Direction by Gershon Ginsburg

Set Decoration by Lisa Nilsson

Costume Design by Ha Nguyen


Morgan Freeman as Charles

Christopher Walken as Roger

Marcia Gay Harden as Roger’s wife

William H. Macy as George

It was a stroke of genius. But now the perfect crime is turning into a perfect disaster in this madcap comedy featuring Academy Award® winners MORGAN FREEMAN (Best Supporting Actor, Million Dollar Baby, 2004), CHRISTOPHER WALKEN (Best Supporting Actor, The Deer Hunter, 1978), MARCIA GAY HARDEN (Best Supporting Actress, Pollock, 2000) and Academy Award® nominee WILLIAM H. MACY (Best Supporting Actor, Fargo, 1996). Charles, Roger and George are the very picture of honest security guards. But when they learn their favorite artworks are being sent to another museum, they concoct a plan to switch the real masterpieces with fakes. All goes well until a mistake forces these first-time thieves into a last-minute escapade in the comedy caper that proves you’re never too old to have some new fun.

Back in May 2009, I was awaiting the film “The Maiden Heist” which featured an all-star cast featuring Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman (“Unforgiven”, “Driving Miss Daisy”, “Million Dollar Baby”), Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Wayne’s World 2”), William H. Macy (“Fargo”, “Jurassic Park 3”, “Seabiscuit”) and Marcia Gay Harden (“Pollock”, “Damages”, “Mystic River”).

The film was directed by Peter Hewitt (“Garfield”, “Zoom”), a screenplay by Michael LeSieur (“You, Me and Dupree”), music by Rupert Gregson-Williams (“Bedtime Stories”, “Made of Honor”, “You Don’t Mess with Zohan”) and cinematography by Ueli Steiger (“10,000 BC”, “Nomad”, “The Day After Tomorrow”).

All would seem good for an early summer release but then the film’s distributor Yari Film Group (known for films such as “The Illusionist”, “Kickin’ It Old School”, “The Accidental Husband”) filed for bankruptcy and the film was shelved.  The film did happen to debut at the Edinburgh International Film Festival but unfortunately, that was it.  And now the film has its DVD release courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“The Maiden Heist” starts off with Roger (Christopher Walken) who works in security for a major museum where the painting the “Lonely Maiden” is kept.  Roger absolutely adores this painting.  He dreams of himself defending the painting from thieves and he’s literally in love with the painting and knows all the details about it.  Meanwhile, back at home, his wife (played by Marcia Gay Harden) dreams about going to Miami and has been saving her money specifically for this trip.

Roger is not very talkative towards his wife.  In fact, he goes home, puts on his beret, listens to French music and just reads about the “Lonely Maiden”.

But life starts to become disrupted when he finds out that “The Lonely Maiden” and other artifacts from the museum are being shipped out overseas to Denmark.  Roger is absolutely crushed.  He then discovers that he is not the only one.  Another security guard named Charles (played by Morgan Freeman) is also enamored with another painting in the museum and has been in love with it.  So, in love to the point that he has painted the exact painting in his home.  But similar to how Roger is with the “Lonely Maiden”, Charles is with the painting that he enjoyed for so many years.

After meeting over lunch, Charles comes up with an idea…”why not steal the paintings” they love.  But of course, Roger is quite dedicated to his job and tells Charles that they are security guards with a job to protect the paintings not steal them.  But life then changes when Charles discovers another person in security who is enamored with a sculpture at the museum.  Charles shows Roger surveillance captured of the other security guard named George (played by William H. Macy).  George has some unusual fetish as a late night security guard  and likes to strip off all his clothes in front of the sculpture (which is a naked man showing off his muscles) and do a similar pose.

Charles and Roger feel that with another man to help them, they can probably pull of another heist.  After talking to George (who used to be part of the Marines), he absolutely is supportive of the idea.  Why not create forgeries of the paintings and the sculpture and replace them before they are shipped to Denmark.  Will the three be able to pull off the heist?


“The Maiden Heist” is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2:40:1) and for the most part, cinematography by Ueli Steiger is done quite well.  Shot in Boston and also at the Worcester Art Museum, most of the film takes place in the museum but also at Roger and Charles apartment.Lighting is well-done and for the most part, all three men look great and despite being older men, the film gives the men a youthful spin as these guys must try to pull of the unthinkable.  Picture quality for the most part is well done and good use of utilization of shots throughout the film but the film does look very good.

Audio-wise, the film is featured in English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The film is primarily dialogue driven and also jazzy music plays a part in the film as well.  Thus it’s more or less front and center channel driven.  I didn’t notice a whole lot of surround usage as this film is not exactly an action film.  But for the most part, dialogue is clear and understandable.

Subtitles are in English.


“The Maiden Heist” comes with the following special features:

  • Director, Writer and Producer Commentary –  Audio commentary by Director Pete Hewitt, Writer Michael LeSieur and Producer Rob Paris.  An enjoyable and informative commentary providing insight to the characters and film-making details of the set location, production design and scenes.
  • In the Presence of Art: Making The Maiden Heist Featurette – (17:40) Featuring the cast and crew talking about the film.  The cast talk about their characters while the director talked about how this film had an awesome script but it was all about when the film would become a reality.
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary – Featuring optional commentary for 12 short deleted scenes which include: Roger and Charlie Meet, Too Much Gas, Over My Dead Body, A Few Words from the Curator, Donnie, The Lovely Mr. Needlebaum, A Few Words from George, It’s Me They want, The Shirt, Waiting for Roger, The Avant Guard, More Donnie
  • Bloopers Reel – (2:45) Bloopers from “The Maiden Heist”
  • Previews – Trailers for upcoming Sony Pictures Home Entertainment films on Blu-ray and DVD.

After watching this film, I enjoyed the film and its witty sense of humor but also how clever the screenplay is.  Director Peter Hewitt said that one of the things that came to his mind when working on this film are those security guards at a museum.  Many are old and what keeps them going in such a job.  And the film tries to showcase how these three security guards just fall in love with a certain item at the museum and are very protective of it.  Granted, I don’t any security guards at museums personally to know if this happens in real life but if it does, that would be quite interesting.

As mentioned, these three Academy Award winning men look absolutely full of youth.  It was fun to see Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken and William H. Macy so energetic.  In fact, surprising enough, the PG-13 rating comes from William H. Macy’s nude scenes.  And these three play interesting characters. Although it’s not in your face, Freeman plays a gay man, Walken plays a husband who doesn’t really take notice of his wife because he’s so in love with a painting and Macy’s character, although he’s pretty gung-ho and talks about the Marines, his hobby of taking off his clothes in front of a nude male statue is a bit odd.  Especially when he gives advice to Roger (Walken) of how he should be more of  a man when taking care of his wife.  But overall, it’s just interesting to see how these men become attached so much to these beloved items and will do what it takes to keep them home and not have their own personal lives disrupted.

And as these three men are quite interesting to watch, Marcia Gay Harden is absolutely fabulous as the wife who just works her butt off for a vacation with her husband that seems to be long overdue.  She’s a talker but it seems this vacation is all that keeps her going in her marriage and she plays a great job as a wife who is determined to go on this trip.

Although a predictable, straightforward film, “The Maiden Heist” doesn’t need to be a “Mission Impossible” or highly technological style of film.  It’s all about the performances of the four talents and they all make this film happen.  It’s unfortunate that the film never received a theatrical release due to the distributor’s bankruptcy but it’s a fun, lighthearted comedy that is worth giving a try.

Overall, “The Maiden Heist” is a fun comedy that is witty, hilarious and very entertaining courtesy of the film’s all-star cast.    All four Academy Award winners – Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken, William H. Macy and Marcia Gay Harden made this art caper so fun to watch.  Definitely a film worth checking out!


July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

“An enjoyable film featuring raging hormones and teenage prom angst is magnified by an enjoyable screenplay and hilarious performance by William H. Macy.”

Images courtesy of © 2009 Starz Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DURATION: 79 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Dolby Surround 5.1, Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation 1:85:1

COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment


RELEASE DATE:  July 31, 2009

Written and Directed by Brian Hecker

Executive Producer: Stephen Benedek, Dina Burke, Mario Fallone, Pamela hirsch, Michael LaFetra, Bruce Lunsford, Brenda Galilee Rhodes, Randy Simon

Produced by Ed HArt, Galt Niederhoffer, Celine Rattray, Tony Shawkat, Reagan Silber, Jai Stefan, Daniela Taplin Lundberg

Co-Produced by Frank DeMartini, Riva Marker

Line Produer: Peter Pastorelli

Music by Jamie Lawrence

Director of Photography: Hallvard Braein

Editing by Annette Davey, Danny Rafic

Casting by Lori Wyman

Production Design by Regina McLarney

Set Decoration by Karen Virgin

Costume Design by Jacqui W. Greenhill


William H. Macy as Ernie Stein

Cheryl Hines as Beth Stein

Steven Kaplan as Danny Stein

Alia Shawkat as Camille

Brandon Hardesty as Craig

Chad Jamian Williams as Bart Beeber

Ashley Benson as Alice

Carrie Drazek as Diane

Katie McClellan as Gertie

Brittney Winton as Debbie Yang

Nerdy high school senior Danny (Steven Kaplan) spent six hundred bucks on the hotel room, the limo and the tux for his prom.  He’s only missing one thing – the girl.  Hampered by well-intentioned but clueless advice from his newly divorced parents (William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines), as well as unsympathetic mocking from his best friends (Brandon Hardesty, Alia Shawkat), Danny battles peer pressure, teen angst and his own raging hormones as he desperately searches for a promo date.  Danny’s luckless quest turns to panic when the learns that even Bart – the school’s biggest dweeb – has secured not only a date, but also a hotel room for the night.

Having achieved several “Best of Fest” awards at a few film festivals, “BART GOT A ROOM” is an independent film that is a semi-biographical film of the teenage life of writer and director Brian Hecker.

Hecker has described himself as a “pathetic girlfriendless dweeb in South Florida” but if there is one thing that Hecker is known for, it’s his 1998 thesis fillm “Family Attraction” (starring Chris Penn and Martin Sheen) which is one of AFI’s highest grossing short film to date.

Having developed scripts for film studios, Hecker returned with a film that showcases his life of trying to find a prom date but using the character Danny Stein (played by Steven Kaplan) as a high school student with raging hormones and just trying to find himself and not be surpassed by the school’s uber-nerd, Bart.

The film focuses on Danny as he has second thoughts of going to the prom with his best friend Camille (Alia Shawkat).  Hanging out with his friend Craig (Brandon Hardesty), Danny feels that with the prom coming up, he should ask another girl.  His recently divorced parents Ernie (William H. Macy) and his mother Beth (Cheryl Hines) are trying to get on with their lives by dating other people.

But it’s when the news comes that the biggest nerd in school named Bart Beeber (Chad Jamian Williams) gets himself a date but also a hotel room, does it escalate Danny’s will to ask a variety of girls to the prom and his parents to support him (helping him get a hotel room, a tux) and possibly teach him about what he should do at the prom.

As for Camille, Danny looks at her as just as a friend who he can talk intelligently or personally with but nothing more.  So, having to break the bad news to his best friend Camille will not be easy (since her parents want the two to go out to the prom together) because she won’t have a date.  But with Danny’s hormones coming into play and wanting to experience sex, Danny goes through the motions of asking a variety of female friends to the prom.   But will he be able to find a date in time?


“BART GOT A ROOM” is featured in anamorphic widescreen (1:85:1). Overall cinematography was well done and for a DVD, I didn’t see a large amount of digital compression artifacts or high noise.

The film is presented in Dolby Surround 5.1 and for the most part, the film is a dialogue-driven film that focuses on front channel usage.  There is occasional ambiance through crowd scenes that you will hear through the surrounds.  At times, the music seems to overpower the dialogue at times when volumes are low but for the most part, easily adjusted through your receiver.

So, viewers can expect a clean video and audio on DVD.

Subtitles are featured in Spanish or English SDH (Subtitles for Death and Hearing Impaired).


Aside from the upcoming films on DVD trailers, there is a “Pop-Up Production Notebook” which people can re-watch the film and you will see pop-up production notes.

I wished there was audio commentary because it would have been great to hear Brian Hecker talk about the differences between his real-life situation versus what we see on film with the character of Danny.  Also, a featurette on how they accomplished William H. Macy’s Jewish fro and interviews with the talent would have been awesome.

“BART GOT A ROOM” is an interesting teen comedy.  It could have easily went the way of other “Revenge of the Nerd” or similar type of films but it didn’t and Director Brian Hecker did a good job with showcasing the magnified peer pressure in combination with ranging hormones with the character of Danny.

Where in most films in the past, teens would be warned of not getting in trouble or getting laid but to find a film where parents were easily supportive of their son not to become as low as the school nerd was quite interesting.  Even more fun is watching William H. Macy as Ernie Stein with the ‘fro and trying to talk openly with his son about women or girls and what to do.

If anything, this is not just about a teenager trying to find a prom date and losing his virginity, there is actually a story behind this film.   How a family has grown out of its comfort zone since a divorce.  Beth Stein (Hines) has a pudgy boyfriend who likes to stroke her thigh in front of her son and then you have Ernie Stein (Macy) who just talks about sexy all the time but yet, his life has not exactly been all that exciting.  And it helps escalate the uncertainty of Danny (Kaplan) about his chances of finding a date.

If anything “BART GOT A ROOM” doesn’t need to become like any other teen film, nor does it have to incorporate teen sex or promiscuity to have a good story.  The film can easily appeal to the teen and for the adults but for those expecting T&A and not a film about family relationships or friendship, this film may be too tame for you.

Otherwise, “BART GOT A ROOM” avoids the typical teenage film cliches and becomes an enjoyably, humorous film on its own.

Pleasantville (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 1, 2002 by · Leave a Comment 

Netflix, Inc.


MOVIE COMPANY: Disney / Caravan Pictures
CAST: Starring Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J.T. Walsh and Don Knotts
DIRECTED BY: Directed by Gary Ross
PRODUCED BY: Jon Kilik, Robert J. Degus and Steven Soderbergh
RATING: Rated PG-13
TYPE OF MOVIE: Comedy, Fantasy, Drama

When 90’s teens David and Jennifer (Tobey Maguire, The ICe Storm, Reese Witherspoon, Freeway) get zapped into the perfect suburbia of the black & white 50’s sitcom, Pleasantville, what results is a “Visionary adventure” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) that Siskel and Ebert give “two big thums up!”

Pleasantville’s perfect people include a mild-mannered soda jerk (Jeff Daniels, Dumb and Dumber) a socially repressed mom (Joan Allen, Face/Off) and a father who always knows best (William H. Macy, Fargo).  But, when `90’s pop culture clashes with ’50’s family values, chaos ensues, turning the town of Pleasantville upside down and black and white into color.


• Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
• Color, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby, AC-3
• Commentary by director Gary Ross
• Isolated musical score with commentary by composer Randy Newman
• Theatrical trailer(s)
• Behind-the-scenes featurette “The Art of Pleasantville”
• Music video “Across the Universe” by Fiona Apple (qv)
• Storyboard gallery
• Color television set-up
• Widescreen anamorphic format

KNOWN DVD SECRET(S): None that I could find.


Pleasantville is one of those movies that my friends kept telling me to watch.  I grew up watching shows like Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, The Nielsen’s, Father Knows Best and whatever is showing at Nick at Nite now.

Well, I finished watching Pleasantville and I really enjoyed it a lot.  I was glued to the screen watching and nothing made me wince…well until the last minute of the movie that left me scratching my head.

The movie was even more pleasant with the many extra’s loaded with this DVD.  If there was one thing that was interesting but not worth using is the picture/color calibration for your tv set.

The colors and sound are brilliant.  This is more of a dialogue movie, so don’t think to far with the 5.1 digital surround.  Otherwise, this movie is very good and the extra’s in this fully loaded DVD makes this DVD worth purchasing.