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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Romance > Teens > Sexuality > Spain > Epic > Religion > Politics > Islam > World War II > And While We Were Here (2012/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/Animals (2012/Artsploitation DVD)/Lion Of The Desert (1980)/The Message: The Story Of Islam (1976/Anchor Bay Blu-rays)

And While We Were Here (2012/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/Animals (2012/Artsploitation DVD)/Lion Of The Desert (1980)/The Message: The Story Of Islam (1976/Anchor Bay Blu-rays)

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

These following dramas try to be something different...

Kat Coiro's And While We Were Here (2012) has Kate Bosworth in a failing relationship in another country trying to write her grandmother's memoirs (actually voiced by Claire Bloom) when she meets a young man (Jamie Blackley) who is much younger than her, but they get involved in far away Italy in what is supposed to be a real slice of life showing us how people and life change. However, we have seen this dozens of times before, especially from the recent mumblecore cycle of pseudo-independent productions and no new ground is broken here.

As a matter of fact, the whole affair feels like things we have seen before and I did not buy it hardly ever, though some scenes were good and in those moments, I had hoped this would pick up and become something different and fresh. It did not. Iddo Goldberg is the husband and we pretty much get limited character development all around. Shot in HD, the main extra is the director's original version in black and white, but it is even worse, looking phony and simply like someone turned off the HD color. Roman Holiday it is not.

Marcal Fores' Animals (2012) is a more ambitious work with a young man (Orial Pla) who has a relationship with a teddy bear he calls Deerhoof (who talks to only him!) who we are not certain is or is not real. His police officer father is not aware of this at first, but as he unexpectedly becomes interested in a young man in his school class when he never seems to have been interested in guy at all, odd complications ensue. The bear is lost early, plays drums on his music recordings and gives him off advice with a semi-robotic voice.

This had some real potential, but gets lost in its gimmick somewhat and despite some good acting, casting and ideas, never adds up including in its conclusion which gets carried away, never seriously addresses any sexuality issues (the film nearly trivializes things with one too many alternatives to reality) and in the end, this really disappoints. However, it is bound to be a curio and we're still likely to hear about it in indie circles.

Extras include a 12-page booklet on the film in the DVD case including informative text and a reversible cover, while the DVD adds a feature length audio commentary track with Fores and Travis Crawford, an Original Theatrical Trailer, the original short that inspired this feature film and a Making Of featurette.

Finally we have Blu-ray versions of Moustapha Akkad's The Message: The Story Of Islam (1976) and Lion Of The Desert (1980) which we originally covered on DVDs with extras at this link:


This time, we get no extras for some strange reason, with playback only marginally improved.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both film can show the age of the materials used, but color is improved, yet we get all kinds of motion blur from whatever the HD source is or was. Therefore, it shows a little more of the film, but new HD masters (Ultra HD?) and some film clean up is needed in the future. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Here might be cleaner, but is actually softer and has its own detail issues if not as obvious, while its black and white version looks very phony (which is a bonus version I would rate C-) and very weak throughout.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Animals is actually as good looking and has some style of its own, though it is also soft, but that is more due to the format we are covering it in. It never tries to be too fancy in banal ays either.

All three Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but The Message is the film that somehow sounds the best as Lion has compression issues and more towards the front channels than I would have liked, but it was created with a older soundfield in mind. Here is dialogue-based and too quiet and refined to be much of a sonic performer. As a result, the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Animals can more than compete with the latter two Blu-rays despite having its moments of quietness and many dialogue-driven scenes.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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