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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Relationships > Abuse > Comedy > Melodrama > Divorce > Iran > African American > Good Will Hunting (1997/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Lake Effects (2011/Anchor Bay DVD)/A Separation (2011)/Think Like A Man (2012/Sony Blu-rays)

Good Will Hunting (1997/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Lake Effects (2011/Anchor Bay DVD)/A Separation (2011)/Think Like A Man (2012/Sony Blu-rays)


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



Just because something is sold as a drama does not mean we need to get serious and like it, comedy aside or not.  I was reminded of this watching the latest set of such releases.



On the one hand you have Gus Van Sant’s still enduring Good Will Hunting (1997) which gave Robin Williams his Supporting Actor Oscar and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (who co-star) their only Academy Awards to date, but as writers.  A hit for Miramax, it is the latest of the better title sin that catalog coming out from Lionsgate on Blu-ray.  They play best friends (with their own group) in Boston as street guys who are getting older.  Damon is a janitor at a college, but has personal issues and is actually a genius.


He first gets the attention of a math teacher (Stellan Skarsgard) and from there, things start to happen that might change his life forever, including a potentially serious relationship (Minnie Driver) and the film just gets better from there.  Hard to believe 15 years have past since it was made (Van Sant sort of revisited the material with the likeable Finding Forrester featuring Sean Connery) and it reminds us of how good all involved can be when they are working at their best.  If you missed it or have not seen it in a long time, it is worth revisiting.


Extras include a new 4-Part Retrospective on the film and Matt Damon Remembers Good Will Hunting featurette, plus vintage extras are also included, such as an Era Of featurette, Cast & Crew Spotlight, A Winning Season featurette, Life Goes On featurette, Production Featurette, 11 Deleted Scenes of interest with Audio Commentary, Theatrical Trailer, Behind-The-Scenes Footage, a Music Video, Academy Award Best Picture Montage and feature length audio commentary track with Van Sant, Damon and Affleck.



On the other hand, we get Scottie Thompson, Madeline Zima, Jane Seymour, Ben Savage, Casper Van Dien and Sean Patrick Flannery wasted in the corny, silly, dumb and phony Michael J. McKay mess Lake Effects (2011) about sisters (Thompson and Zima) who live separately and are brought back by the death of their dad (Jeff Fahey) in a TV movie-like work that has more clichés than Lifetime and Hallmark Channel’s fall schedules combined!


It tries to “warm your heart” to the point that you might feel ill and this never feels like anything realistic or honest.  I like many of the actors here, so it is especially disappointing to see them so wasted in what is the nadir of many of their careers.  You can try this one for yourself, but set your expectations very, very, very low.


Extras include Deleted Scenes that would not have helped and a Making Of featurette.



Then we have the 2011 Best Foreign Film Academy Award Winner, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation (2011), which is a good film, but is really not much more than another divorce drama despite being set in Iran.  The performances are fine, the storyline solid, but I did not think it was better than some other nominees in the category and though it is worth your time (unless you are sick of the subject of divorces), the tale of a woman who wants to leave her good husband and leave his sick father behind is great at showing us three-dimensional human beings in the highly restrictive country.  Now you can see for yourself.


Extras include An Evening With Asghar Farhadi featurette, Birth Of A Director featurette and feature length audio commentary track by Farhadi.



Finally we have Tim Story’s Think Like A Man (2012), which is commercially historic for out-Tyler Perrying Perry’s recent cycle of non-stop moneymakers, making a good bit of money in a relationship comedy based on a book by comedian Steve Harvey who appears in the film selling his book.  I liked some of the cast, including Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union and Kevin Hart, but it is nothing we have not seen before and becomes formulaic very quickly.


However, it is a film about modern three-dimensional African Americans with energy and that is why it was a hit, especially since we rarely still see such films and Perry cannot deliver such a film, neither can the far more political Spike Lee or the directors of the former Black New Wave who have given up as trying to direct substantial films.  It is worth your time if you are really interested, but I was not as impressed.


Extras include a Gag Reel and Deleted Scenes of interest, while the Blu-ray adds four exclusive featurettes.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hunting has some grain, but is the best transfer here despite being the oldest release, with a solid print and decent color and detail throughout, while the same on Separation is softer, styled down and has some motion blur and slight detail issues.  The 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Man also has some of those same problems, but not as dull and without limiting the color scale.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Separation and Man may not have consistent soundfields and not be the best mixes, but they are the best soundtracks here, leaving the same mix on Hunting too quiet, too much towards the front speakers and in the center channel and sounding at least second generation.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Lake still manages to be worse with too much of the sound coming through the center channel, a lack of surrounds and generally a very weak presentation.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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