(1988)/The Color Of Money (1986)/Evita (1996)/Ransom (1996/Touchstone/Hollywood/Disney Blu-rays)
Picture: B-/C/B/B- Sound: B-/C+/B/B- Extras: D/D/C+/C- Films: C-/B/B/C-
four back catalog films that Disney so values that they are releasing them
directly instead of through another company.
Donaldson’s Cocktail (1988) is a
nearly cynical, silly date movie that has Tom Cruise going to business school,
but taking a night job at a bar that is half a Broadway-style theatrical
performance (dancing while spinning bottles of hard liquor) in a film not on
AA’s list of recommended film or should be much on anyone else’s list. A silly mall movie and date movie, Cruise
works at Bryan Brown’s bar, wants to be with Elisabeth Shue and still get to
know some other ladies at the bars maybe.
The script is shallow, silly and everyone is at least a half-dumb
features horrid 1980s songs like Hippie
Hippie Shake and the especially brain-destroying Don’t Worry, Be Happy, though it also boasts a #1 hit for The Beach
Boys in Kokomo, which does not sound
like there better songs or have the character of their last big uncredited
chart work, backing Chicago a decade or so earlier on Wishing You Were Here. It
was a calculated, marketed hit and it worked, but it is also a very dated relic
and time capsule of its time. Donaldson
is a much better director than this (see White
Sands or The Bank Job) but does
fluff like this to be commercially viable, but he and everyone else here are
above this and they almost know it.
Benedict (Mr. Bentley on the hit TV series The
Jeffersons) plays Cruise’s one strict business teacher and seems a little
out of his element, though he is as good as anyone here acting wise. There are no extras, including any Music
Videos, so that is a good thing.
with whether to stay a filmmaker, Martin Scorsese turned in one of his most
commercial films with The Color Of Money
(1986), a belated sequel to Robert Rossen’s pool table playing drama The Hustler (1959) both with Paul
Newman as “Fast Eddie” Felson. You can
read about the original film on Blu-ray at this link:
the remake is not as dirty (some have criticized it is at times like a
recycling of Rocky at points), its
flaws are offset by Scorsese’s smart directing, a performance by Newman that
finally got him a Best Actor Academy Award, Tom Cruise in some breakthrough
work, the underrated Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in her early prime, John
Turturro in his early prime and an all-around solid cast backed by a smart
Richard Price screenplay.
sequel that works, it became Scorsese’s biggest hit to that time and still
managed to be streetwise and dark enough to work, though it still seems stuck
in the 1980s and some of the choices of music (like Phil Collins’ obnoxious
(what songs of his are not) One More
Night) not what you would ever find in any
Scorsese film. It is worth seeing on its
own, but works much better when you see The Hustler first.
there are no extras.
wondered if Alan Parker was wise to have Madonna take on the title role in the
musical Evita (1996) that had been
played by so many on stage and in dramatic works, but the contract was signed
and the resulting film is pretty good.
Playing opposite Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce and a great cast of
more people who should be more known by now, Madonna got serious about this and
it worked well enough. Despite the most
famous song (Don’t Cry For Me Argentina)
and the new song written for the film (You
Must Love Me), this is actually a Rock Opera like Tommy and that is easy to forget because the Disney promo was more
interested in selling it as a smart, calm musical.
It was a
hit and has some fine moments in what is Parker’s last strong film. He has been bashed for his music work, but
has a good track record with the underrated Bugsy Malone (1976, his first film), original Fame (better than that horrid remake), The Commitments (all reviewed elsewhere on this site) and
inarguable Pink Floyd The Wall show
he has music as a major component of his legacy and this is as good as any of
all, it has the excess of that subgenre/genre and does not sell out or lose its
edge trying to be corporate friendly or politically correct, so the result is a
musical that holds up nicely and still remains a little bit underappreciated. If you have never seen it, this is the way
top go outside of a good 35mm film print.
include a Making Of featurette, Teaser Trailer and Music Video for You Must Love Me.
more or less least is Ron Howard’s very commercially successful remake of Ransom (1996) with Mel Gibson freaking
out (like we have not seen more of that since) when his rich businessman
character and his wife (Renee Russo) have their son kidnapped. Originally written by Cyril Hume (Forbidden Planet, the original 1932 Tarzan The Ape Man) and Richard Maibaum
(most of the Bond films to 1989) and was even adapted by the very capable
Richard Price (Color Of Money) and
Alexander Ignon, but it is really dull and predictable.
problem is not Howard, but that the original film was really not that good, so
all we get is a mall-safe kidnapping film that has nowhere much top go and can
only run on what used to be Gibson’s star power. It is not very memorable and even a
supporting cast that includes Gary Sinise, Lily Taylor, Delroy Lindo, Donnie
Wahlberg (yes, he can act just like his brother, which is good), Live Schreiber
and Brawley Nolte can’t make it really work.
Even Howard is directing professionally, but all we get is competent
corporate product that made money. It
does not hold up well either.
include Deleted Scenes, “What Would You Do? Cast/crew featurette, International
Theatrical trailer, Behind-The Scenes featurette and feature length audio
commentary by Ron Howard.
1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on all here but the 2.35 X 1
on Evita show a range of quality
that goes from shockingly bad to could be better. The worst transfer here is on Money, despite the fact that the film
was recently restored, this looks like a bad old 720p transfer recycled and
follows Gangs Of New York as the
second Scorsese film Disney has botched on Blu-ray. Color is awful, detail worn, grain and noise
all over the place, depth flat and is not representative of the film at its
best or from the new restoration. Why?
Cocktail is not so good either, showing
wear and a certain flatness outside of the 1980s flatness it always had. Ransom
is almost as problematic, only saved by looking a little better by being a
newer film and having a little more style.
That makes Evita the playback
image champ with Director of Photography Darius Khondji (Se7en, Alien Resurrection,
Panic Room, Midnight In Paris) using darkness effectively and not overdoing it,
while still delivering great visual character including visuals that further the
narrative. In addition, he uses the wide
scope frame very effectively at a time even then when cameramen were loosing
that ability or interest or even realizing how they were botching the scope
Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but Cocktail (original an old analog
Dolby-A presentation) is weak, Money
is at least one generation down sonically as to be problematic (and not
typically Scorsese), as is Ransom to
a surprising extent, leaving Evita
the only one of the four to sound really good.
That is ironic since some previous multi-channel home video versions had
issues and were substandard. I don’t
know if this is totally accurate or a well-rounded sound presentation, but it
is pretty close to what I experienced when I saw it theatrically in 35mm when
it was first released.
- Nicholas Sheffo