All Good Things (2009/Magnolia Blu-ray) + Beneath
The Dark (2009/IFC/MPI DVD) + Dirty
Mary, Crazy Larry/Race With The Devil (1974 – 1975/Shout! Factory DVD) + Hereafter (2010/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD) +
The Resident (2010/Hammer/Image
Blu-ray) + Siren (2010/Lionsgate
B-/C/C+/B & C/B/C Sound: B-/C+/C+/B+ & C+/B/C+ Extras: B-/D/C+/B/D/C- Films: B-/D/C+ & B-/B-/C+/C-
for a look at a wide variety of thrillers, from A-movie productions to B-movie
successes and failures…
All Good Things (2009) is one of the
better films and stars the underrated Ryan Gosling as the real life Robert
Durst, a young man with a bad relationship with his father (Frank Langella) who
is a real estate magnate of sorts. This
does not make Robert very happy, but the beautiful Kathie McCormack (Kirsten
Dunst) seems to and he gets involved with her.
They get married and things seem to be good, until he starts becoming
possessive and abusive. When she
disappears, he is the #1 suspect, but he flees.
Then things become odder still.
the late 1970s/early 1980s, it does the period well and recreates the various
atmospheres necessary to tell the story, but it wants to show everything
without judgment and though that is good thing journalistically, it causes the
narrative of the film to not be certain what it wants to say about the
situation. Still, I liked the film
enough to recommend it and give it credit for being bold enough to at least
tell the story and tell it well.
include two feature length audio commentary tracks (you learn more about them,
but wait until you’ve seen the film before hearing them or who is on them),
Deleted Scenes of interest, three featurettes on the making of the film and BD
Live interactive features.
Feehan’s Beneath The Dark (2009) is
yet another ‘naïve couple checks into a hotel and cannot possibly believe they
are being watched’ thriller and this is as bad as any of them with no
originality, suspense, character development or point. Josh Stewart and Jamie-Lynn Sigler are the
couple and this is just a total waste. A
trailer is the only extra.
double feature offering here is Dirty
Mary, Crazy Larry (1974) + Race With
The Devil (1975) from Shout! Factory as part of their arrangement with Fox
to get some of the more cutting edge action films from their catalog out on the
market in keeping with the Shout! image.
Devil is practically the same DVD we covered (in a now out of print
edition) years ago at this link, right down to the extras:
Larry is another entry from the
bandit/chase cycle of the time and has the honor of being one of the ones with
the roughest dialogue as former NASCAR driver Larry (Peter Fonda), equally wild
Mary (Susan George) and buddy Deke (Adam Rourke) rob a supermarket (!) and are
on the run from a vicious cop (Vic Morrow) in this watchable but sometimes
uneven entry into the cycle. Extras
include feature length audio commentary by Director John Hough (Legend Of Hell House), Theatrical
Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots and making of featurette Ride The Wild Side.
Eastwood’s Hereafter (2010) received
a great amount of negative response, even down to people asking if Eastwood was
overrated as a director. I actually
think it is an interesting departure for him in two ways. One, he is trying to do something of a
European writerly narrative in conveying the psychic world and two, tries to
see if he can work with giant digital visual effects. The fact that after a brief opening scene,
the audience is hit with a giant digital tsunami flies against what you would
expect from an Eastwood film and that apparently turned off many. It also shows how superfluous such moments
are, like a bad song in a movie that stops the narrative from happening. Recent events in Japan make it seem less impressive
Matt Damon as a man haunted by death and his psychic gifts has its moments and
his quest to find peace intersecting with that of a woman (Cécile de France) is
not set up in a shallow manner, though some have pointed out that the book this
is based on has none of these elements Peter Morgan’s screenplay offers.
In a few
years, people will come back to this film and revisionist thinking will begin
on it, as well as an analysis on why it received such hostile reaction, but I
liked it more than not and give Eastwood credit for trying new things out and
keeping them within the narrative.
include Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, Step Into The Hereafter with Eastwood & Damon featurette (both
Blu-ray exclusives) and the a High Definition version of the extended
documentary The Eastwood Factor that
we previously reviewed on DVD at this link:
resurrected Hammer Films is back with Antti J. Jokinen’s The Resident (2010), a new thriller that once again has the lead
(Hilary Swank as a surgeon in this case) moving into a New York City apartment
for a price that is too good to be true.
Run by a father (Christopher Lee) and his son (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), it
is near many noisy vehicles and construction, but she takes it. Too bad someone is watching her and maybe
the locales and set-up very much with Swank continuing to prove to be one of
the best actors of her generation and we do get some creepy and suspenseful
moments worthy of the Hammer legacy.
However, this eventually becomes more formulaic than it should and at
the point its Vertigo-like twist is
revealed, it starts to implode somewhat, but I was still watching. This should have been longer and had more
twists, but still manages to be better than many similar films and having Swank
and Lee together is a plus. There are no
Hull’s Siren (2010) is a really bad
demon/seductress flick with no originality, silly sexuality, no suspense and no
point, though the island location could have been pumped up, but we instead get
something that is a combination of Dead
Calm and Knife In The Water (as
if Hull knew or understood those films) for goofs. If they had just tired to make this smart and
suspenseful, this could have at least been watchable, but it is not. Deleted Scenes and a trailer are the only
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Things
may be stylized to look like a slightly older era, but it is overdone to the
expense of detail, color and even some depth.
We also get some noise, but it holds up well otherwise. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition
image on both Hereafter and Resident are the best performers on
this list with rich images that can have solid depth, good detail and deliver
above what a DVD could deliver, as the anamorphically enhanced DVD of Hereafter proves with its weak detail,
color and very weak Video Black. Both
Blu-rays have some styling to their image, but it is limited in how detrimental
it is in playback.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the double feature are from good
color prints that have some age to show, but playback just fine otherwise,
though the similar aspect ratio framing of Beneath
is much weaker, softer and paler like the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1
image on Siren, both new bad
productions with digital shooting and/or bad digital internegative work. Very sloppy shooting too.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes on the Blu-rays very, with Things being dialogue-based and period,
so it has the most limited fidelity, though I liked the music score and choice
of hit records. Resident is in second place with more dynamic range in its music
and sound effects, plus dialogue is well recorded for the most part. That leaves Hereafter ranging between the fidelity of Resident and going further in its action and surreal sequences,
plus offering a strong .1 LFE track, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD
version cannot match it.
Digital 2.0 Mono on the double features are fine for their age and can show
their age, but are as clean as a lossy presentation like this can be. That leaves the newer thrillers Beneath and Siren with Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes that underperform, are weak, have
poor soundfields and sound barely newer than the films from the 1970s!
- Nicholas Sheffo