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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > History > WWII > Russia > Soviet > Jolene (2007/E1 Blu-ray) + The Way Back (2010/Image Blu-ray)

Jolene (2007/E1 Blu-ray) + The Way Back (2010/Image Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B-/B     Extras: D/C     Films: D/C



Two films on Blu-ray that were ambitious, but did not quite work out are next up…


Jolene (2007) is based on a book by E.L. Doctorow, who also wrote Ragtime, which also failed as a feature film.  Whole Wide World (a film about Conan creator Robert E. Howard) director Dan Ireland tries to make this work and has talent, but the whole idea is doomed.  Like Oliver Stone’s Heaven & Earth, it has yet another female protagonist (written and directed by male(s)) going from one bad situation to the next, drifting, being abused, making bad choices, having the worst things happen and it becomes tired and unintentionally a self-satire when it goes on long enough like Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls, though it is not bad that way.  Jessica Chastain is the title character (they never use the Dolly Parton classic song for her semi-stereotypical character) with a cast that includes Dermot Mulroney, Teresa Russell, Frances Fisher, Rupert Friend, Chazz Palminteri and Michael Vartan.  And the abuse she goes through starts to wallow in itself early on.


Then there is Peter Weir’s new WWII drama The Way Back (2010) which also runs on and on, deals with a group of people escaping a hard labor prison camp and as is usually the case with Weir, throws history around in shallow ways that backfire on the film.  Ed Harris and Colin Farrell are among the escapees who (in a script based on “real events” in 1940) managed to make it 4,500 miles to freedom, even if they all do not make it.  We get a few good moments thanks to the actors, but the film starts to become predictable early and slow implodes as it goes along until it does not know how to end.  I am no Weir fan and this continues his string of duds for me.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on both Blu-rays actually look really good, making them easier to watch, with limited manipulation of the color and the like.  A few shots are underwhelming, but these are professional visual productions to their credit.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes differ though as Jolene is dialogue-based and is not as sonically adept as Back, which has a more consistent soundfield.  Extras on Jolene include a feature length audio commentary, Bloopers and on-camera interviews, while Back has a Trailer and Behind The Scenes featurette.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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