Region Free Import Blu-ray)/The
Escape (1939/Fox Cinema
Archives DVD)/Henry VIII &
His Six Wives
(1972/Umbrella Region 4/PAL Import DVD)/The
Rats Of Tobruk
(1944/RKO/Umbrella Region Free/PAL Import DVD)/Two
B-/B/C+/C+/C+/C Sound: B/B-/C/C+/C+/C+ Extras: C/C+/D/D/B-/C-
The Fox DVD The
is an online exclusive available at Amazon.com from the sidebar of
our website, while The
Region Free import Blu-ray, Henry
Region B and Tobruk
Region Free PAL DVD imports are now only available from our friends
at Umbrella Entertainment and can be ordered from the link below.
follows are some serious dramas, two dealing with very serious
subject matter, two about crime and one about history and does it
more successfully that many like it...
(2013) is the first of two films on the list that involve criminal
activity pulling families into it, though they are not outright crime
families. Co-written by the director and James Gray (The
and taking place in Brooklyn in the year 1970, Billy Crudup is Frank,
a cop whose brother Chris (Clive Owen, hitting his New York accent
perfectly dead on, along with his overall performance) is a crook
coming out of prison. He is there for him upon release, trying to
help him immediately, but he is not leading his criminal life just
yet. Can Frank stop him from ruining himself?
seen this scenario literally a few hundred times, but the makers five
it a try to make it work with more realism, some good moments that
work and a great supporting cast that includes James Caan, Marion
Cotillard, an easy to underestimate Mina Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Matthias
Schoenaerts, Lili Taylor and Griffin Dunne among them. It is
definitely worth a look for what does work, the talent involved and
its consistency, but they cannot escape the classical Hollywood
Gangster crime narrative, which I will get to more below in The
Still, if you like this kind of film, see this one once.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes
capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a
Behind The Scenes
(1977) is an important, daring drama we have covered before about
institutionalized church abuse of underaged boys, but now it is back
from Umbrella Entertainment as a Region Free import Blu-ray. Here is
my coverage of the DVD:
I don't think the film goes far enough, yet it is ambitious and
helped put Schepsi
on the map. I think it works better when you can see and hear it
better, so cheers to this upgrade, but as recent events since the
last time I covered this one reveals, you can never deal with this
uncomfortable subject matter because big money interests are STILL
lying about such things and covering them up, with big money,
terroristic death threats and more. We have a long way to go in
dealing with this crisis, but this film at least did not hurt.
repeat the DVD release and include a Making Of featurettes,
feature-length audio commentary by Schepisi, stills, trailers and on
camera interviews with Schepisi (39 minutes long) and those who made
each given film with him.
(1939) is a Fox melodrama about a gangster criminal Louie (Edward
Norris) who comes out of prison to find his sister (Amanda Duff)
engaged to an upright police officer (future Shadow and Spy Smasher,
Kane Richmond), but still intends to pull off a big crime. This one
has an interesting subplot of Louie's daughter kidnapped (or is she)
and we get melodrama criss-crossing the crime plot. By design from
the Classical Hollywood Production Code and how it affects genres,
the similarities between this film and Blood
(75 years apart!) shows how ingrained some of the ideas of justice
and a Post-Code moral stance against crime lead to the same formula.
At least this film has an excuse being one of the early results of
that, it says and does what it needs to in a short 58 minutes and is
not as rich as Blood
yet they are stuck on ideas and concepts that may be nice, but do not
always ring true and are played out. This was still well done for
what it is and deserves a DVD release, showing a little-seen Fox film
worth your time.
are sadly no extras.
is hard to do historical epics and Kubrick's Barry
(1975) put age and datedness on most films before it, but Waris
VIII & His Six Wives
(1972) is among the many smart ones that hold up and have more
substance than you might first think. Keith Mitchell (who played the
same role in a 1970 TV Mini-Series) is the infamous king in this
well-made., two-hour tale of his determination to have a son and heir
at all costs in this lush production with a solid script, solid
directing by Hussein (Quackster
Fortune Has A Cousin In Brooklyn,
Of Joey Delaney)
and terrific cast that includes Donald Pleasence, Charlotte Rampling,
Jim Bryans, Jane Asher, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Brian Blessed, Michael
Gough, Michael Godfrey, Peter Madden, John Bennett and Michael
film starts off well and stars interesting the whole time, though a
few moments fall flat, this is one of the fine lost costume dramas
people have forgotten far too easily and deals with the history
itself with more depth and intelligence than most of its kind since.
Nice to see it on DVD!
are sadly no extras.
Rats Of Tobruk
a classic war drama about the Australians stopping Rommel and the
Nazis in North Africa before the war was finished. It is a
remarkable film well acted and made with a trio of leads with
chemistry to spare in Peter Finch (Network),
Chips Rafferty (Wake
and Grant Taylor (Five
Million Years To Earth,
British TV's U.F.O.).
It holds up very well, gave Australian cinema part of its early
identity and has been well-restored for this new DVD release. Also
known as The
Fighting Rats Of Tobruk,
it is here in its full-length 96-minutes-long version finally.
some visual effects have dated, others are fine because they were
done for real and the story is so consistent and the script has such
a constant flow, any age to the film only adds to its charm and feel
of authenticity. Like Wake In Fright, this is must-see
Australian Cinema worth going out of your way for.
Stills Gallery, Trailer and terrific documentary featurette on
Chauvel entitled The
very much worth your time.
but not least is Georg Maas' Two
(2012), a Norwegian drama about deep, dark secrets finally about to
be revealed as the Berlin Wall falls in 1990, but going all the way
back to WWII, ugly plots by The Nazis and more ugliness by the
soon-to-be obsolete East Germany. The characters don't know that
yet, of course, but a woman (Juliane Kohler) has had a happy life
with her family, but has been living a lie. She is a spy and lied
about being the daughter of a woman (the legendary Liv Ullmann) whose
daughter went missing. Who is this woman, then?
of this deals with those family lies, other the governmental lies of
the Cold War, Holocaust, WWII and the like, then of those people have
to hold to keep going no matter how twisted their lives. I won't say
much more, except that this is a challenging drama worth your time
and worth going out of your way for with Ullmann putting it in the
credibility zone if all else would fail you.
trailer is the only extra.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Playground
may can show the age of the materials used at times, but it is the
best image performer on the list and this is far better than the
import DVD we previously reviewed. The
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Ties
is a new production was shot on an Arri Alexa HD camera, styled to be
in the 1970s, but a little softer than it should be. It is the
second-best performer here, but slightly disappoints.
for the DVDs, the 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Escape
(restored) and anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Henry
(with its highlights, shot by the legendary Peter Suschitzky and
issued in three-strip Technicolor prints!) tie for their place,
looking pretty good for the format and form decent prints. They
should all be issued om Blu-ray. That leaves the anamorphically
enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Lives
just too soft throughout despite some nice shots.
to sound, the DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Ties
is the sonic champ here as expected and as it should be, more
consistent than what could have been merely a dialogue-driven film
been. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on
is a nice improvement over the DVD despite the age of the film and
limits of its budget, but that is still enough to place it second in
best sonic playback here.
lossy German/Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Lives
(very dialogue-based and a bit quiet) and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0
Mono on Henry
(restored) tie for third place sounding as well as can be expected
for this old codec. But the oldest film here shows its age too much
as the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Escape
sounds soft and a generation down.
order either of the
Umbrella import Blu-rays or DVDs among many other hard-to-find gems
(many of which we have covered on this site), go to this link: