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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Gangster > British > Comedy > Fantasy > Long Good Friday (1980) + Mona Lisa (1986) + Withnail & I (1987) + Time Bandits (1981/Handmade Films/Image Entertainment Blu-rays)

Long Good Friday (1980) + Mona Lisa (1986) + Withnail & I (1987) + Time Bandits (1981/Handmade Films/Image Entertainment Blu-rays)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+ (C on Lisa)     Extras: C- (C on Time)     Films: B-/B-/C/C



Though the titles form the Handmade Films company occasionally run out and go out of print in various markets, the company (co-founded by the late George Harrison (yes, of The Beatles and great solo success)) eventually has their titles surface somewhere and now comes the first wave of the feature films on Blu-ray in the U.S., which is interesting as quality of the transfers have varied on DVD and fans have overlooked the limits over the years.


Image Entertainment has picked up U.S. rights and began with four key titles on Blu-ray, but the big surprise off the bat is that they are rather basic editions.  Still, we have covered all four of them, so if you are unfamiliar with any of these British films, you can refer to the links below.  They include my previous coverage of almost all the films save one I never official reviewed before.  They are followed by technical performance in each case:


Mona Lisa U.S. DVD (Anchor Bay)



One of Neil Jordan’s better films, this character and relationship study between the two leads (Bob Hoskins as an ex con, the underrated Cathy Tyson as a high class hooker) holds up well and despite some scenes that do not work, the acting and pace are effective.  Robbie Coltrane and Michael Caine also bring out the best in the film, which helped put Jordan on the map.  A critical favorite in its time, it never developed the cult in the U.S. I expected, but you never know when something (like Caine’s current roll as big commercial star all over again) might get the film a new audience.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is not as good as it could be with Video Black that can look washed out.  I was expecting more than what the U.S. DVD delivered and Director of Photography Roger Pratt (Dorian Gray, Brazil, Twelve Monkeys) deserves better treatment.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is even worse, too much towards the three front channels and shockingly overcompressed making it the worse mono-to-DTS-MA upgrade to date.



Long Good Friday U.S. DVD (Anchor Bay)


+ Region 4 PAL Import DVD



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is ALSO Video Black weak and not much better than the U.S. DVD version, though it looks better than the Australian DVD, but that is not saying much.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix should be the best of the three, but is no better despite the abilities of DTS-MA to sound good, can be compressed and like the older DVD sound upgrades, too much towards the front speakers.



Withnail & I Blu-ray import



The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image and PCM 2.0 Stereo mix are both lesser than the Australian import Blu-ray, which offered a better DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix and a print that was not as soft and problematic.  If you love the film, go out of your way for that version instead.



Time Bandits U.S. DiviMax DVD


+ Region 4 PAL Import DVD




After several DVDs (including a letterboxed-only Criterion DVD that recycled their 12” LaserDisc), why this Blu-ray sports a 1080i 1.77 X 1 digital High Definition image when it should have a 1080p transfer (at least one foreign Blu-ray does) is very odd and the result is barley better than the best past DVD with few good shots to be happy with versus what this format can do.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is not great and not much better than the DTS on the Anchor Bay DVD.  This too needs more work.


All the HD masters apparently come from MGM, which they likely produced for HD cable and satellite broadcasts, but they are not state of the art and all need work, which extends to their prints.  Extras include an original Theatrical Trailer (in low definition) on all four Blu-rays, though only Bandits lists it has one and also adds an interview with Gilliam.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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