Crystal: 700 Sundays
(2014/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Le
C+/B/B- & C/B-/C/C+ Sound: C+/B/B- & C/B/C/C Extras:
D/C+/C/B-/C/C- Main Programs: B/B-/C/B-/C/C
a wide variety of new comedy releases...
Crystal: 700 Sundays
(2014) is a long, smart stage show by the veteran comic that runs
over two hours (134 minutes), has Crystal non-stop at his best, has
him boldly telling much of his life story and doing it in a way that
is a tour-de-force of his long, often impressive career. He talks
about his early years with his family and how his father founded
Commodore Records, which became a legendary record label, launching
some of the most important jazz artists and American artists of all
time. That includes Billie Holliday and the first-ever protest song:
Strange Fruit. His father helped produce them all. After some more
ups and downs, Crystal explains how he came back and has dozens of
great character impressions throughout.
never discusses hardly any of his films or his groundbreaking success
though it is ironic that his co-star from that show Jay Johnson has
just delivered a great stand-up show of his own (see The
Two & Only elsewhere
on this site) showing the calibre of talent that show offered. They
are two of the only survivors of it left. Like Johnson, Crystal
shows sides of himself we have never seen before and to see both of
them open up so totally and honestly is remarkable. However, we've
seen Crystal in so many things, including just dealing with the loss
of the great Robin Williams that this show rings as true as anything
he ever did.
it is highly recommended!
are no extras.
Klapisch's Chinese Puzzle
(2013) is the third of a comedy trilogy by the director with some of
the same cast members returning each time. Remarkably, despite being
handled by different distributors in the U.S., we have covered the
previous releases and you can read more about them at these links on
Spanish Apartment (aka
or The Spanish Inn/2002)
years have passed this time around, but the gang has finally found
the balance between a good screenplay and a good visual shoot. The
stories of Xavier (Romain Duris), Isabelle (Cecile De France),
Martine (Audrey Tautou) and William (Kevin Bishop) are continued in
this amusing installment where Xavier has gone to New York City for
work and more. It becomes an ongoing joke that everyone suddenly is
joining him for all kinds of wacky reasons, but the cast is as good
as they ever were and the side story of Isabelle juggling lesbian
lovers while Xavier tries to get work against all odds via
immigration rules are all totally believable.
may find an appropriate comparison to the Sunrise/Sunset
film of Richard Linklater and that has validity, especially because
those films are as inconsistent as these have been, yet better to
have them awkwardly than not at all. You don't even need to see the
pervious films to enjoy this one, but it adds to it.
include a booklet inside the Blu-ray case, while the disc adds a
Making Of featurette, Original Theatrical Trailer
and Cast/Crew Interviews.
Stephens & Aaron Katz co-directed Land
Ho! (2014) is supposed to
be a funny, slice-of-life (albeit older life) about two friends (Paul
Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson) who are ex-brother-in-laws getting
together and out of nowhere, decide to leave far away for Iceland.
The idea is that this is some kind of raw, honest road movie with the
twist that they are old, don't care about much and will say anything.
However, I never found it funny, more than a little flat,
pretentious and really pointless in the end. I have seen better
films out of Iceland, but am apparently in the minority in this
Pictures Classics wants this to be a road movie with a difference,
but it is no match for earlier such successes of older men taking
road trips like Paul Mazursky's Harry
& Tonto with Art
Carney or the underrated Jim Jarmusch film Broke
Flowers with Bill Murray.
See it for yourself, but don't be too tired or you might fall
include a feature length audio commentary track by the co-stars and
co-directors, Deleted Scenes and a Q&A L.A. Film Festival
Cohen's Le Chef
(2012) is the latest of many feature films on food, with just about
all of them comedies. Not to be confused with John Favreau's film of
nearly the same name, Jean Reno shows off his comic side to great
effect as a three-star restaurant chef with a huge reputation facing
some unexpected challenges just when he had it made. There are new
competitors, brat cooks with limited talent that turn the whole
industry cynical, co-owners who want him to use cheaper ingredients
and a new molecular gastronomy trend that rings phony no matter what.
he has a big fan in the awkward, klutzy Jacky Bonnot (Michael Youn in
a brilliant comic performance) who loves his work, is inspired by him
and knows his history and recipes better than the veteran. Not able
to hold down a paying job despite having a beautiful girlfriend
(Raphaelle Agogue, who the camera just loves) he loves who is
pregnant, but his food obsessions just will not stop. He meets his
idol just in time, but can he save both of them from disaster when he
is so much a disaster himself?
there are a few parts that are predictable, but like Mystic
Pizza (1988, reviewed
elsewhere on this site), this has more than enough charm to override
those limits and the casting is dead on with all kinds of chemistry,
funny moments and a smarter script than many of the films in the
cycle have had. This is one of Reno's best films ever and Youn may
be on his way to international superstardom if he can get more films
like this. Bravo!
include a booklet inside the Blu-ray case, while the disc adds a
Blooper Reel, Original Theatrical Trailer, Two
Chefs featurette and
final two entries are independent relationship tales. Jeff Winner's
(2006) is an older, HD-shot attempt to have a character study of the
rise of a relationship as Kevin (Karl Geary) and Ro (Stephanie
Szostak) trying to decide if to be together, do they need to cut off
everything in their lives and just go away? Of course, this sounds
crazy and is problematic because in real life, this is what one
person might say to another to prove love or show some odd version of
commitment, then getting the person in trouble (out of a job, loss of
friends, acquaintances, a home, etc.), but not here.
so much else in the script, though the actors are not bad together,
there is no ironic distance throughout and the result is that I never
bought this in total or even in many of its parts. I liked a few
moments, which kept me watching, but it plays more like a demo for a
film that never got funded or thought out properly.
Producer Interview and feature length audio commentary track are the
but not least is Johnny Barbuzano's Shotgun
Garfunkel (2013), from a
TV producer made very quickly and cheaply in Johannesburg, South
Africa about the relationships and lives of some young friends. The
gimmick does not matter much, though this looks a little more
expensive than hey say it costs, but not by much. If anything it not
only cheaply duplicates the fast food film mentality we see in most
Hollywood cheap comedies, but actually imitates such films eventually
too much and that leaves it not feeling enough like a South African
product that could take us at least a little somewhere different.
cast is not bad, but this becomes repetitive and eventually implodes
in the end, even when I also imitates similar films from the U.K. and
Australia. That's a shame, because there is a better set of stories
to apparently tell form the moments here that do work, but they get
suffocated by the lack of originality. This will likely stay a curio
for a while, though.
Stills Gallery and Original Theatrical Trailer are the only extras.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Crystal is as good
as an HD-stage recording is going to be, so good here that I hope we
get a Blu-ray. Satellite, Shotgun and the Ho
DVDs have the same presentations, but only Shotgun could
compete, as the others are poor HD-shot transfers. Fortunately for
Ho, its 1080p 1.78 X 1
digital High Definition image transfer can show more detail and is a
best presentations here are the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High
Definition image transfer on Puzzle (shot in the 3-perf Super
35mm film format with ) and the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High
Definition image transfer on Chef (shot with an Arri Alexa
Plus HD camera), both with some minor issues at times, but very nice
and consistent throughout like so many Cohen Blu-rays of late.
Puzzle has the slight edge, even with its manipulated split
screen graphics, et al.
far as sound goes, all three Blu-rays offer DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but the one on Ho
is inconsistent and sometimes even sounds monophonic, while Puzzle
have very warm, pleasant, consistent soundfields throughout that
makes them very pleasant to sit through. The
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Ho
DVD is not as good and as weak as the surprisingly basic, lossy Dolby
Digital 2.0 Stereo on Satellite
which show their budget limits. That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital
5.1 mix on Crystal
easily the best of the DVD mixes.