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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Stand-Up > Drama > Alcoholism > Family > Relationships > French > Filmmaking > Writing > College > Sh > Bill Maher Live From D.C. (2014/HBO/Warner Archive DVD)/Grace (2014/E1 DVD)/If You Don't, I Will (2014/Film Movement DVD)/The ReWrite (2014/Image Blu-ray)

Bill Maher Live From D.C. (2014/HBO/Warner Archive DVD)/Grace (2014/E1 DVD)/If You Don't, I Will (2014/Film Movement DVD)/The ReWrite (2014/Image Blu-ray)

Picture: C+/C+/C+/B Sound: C/C+/C+/B- Extras: D/C/C/C Main Programs: B-/C+/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Bill Maher DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

And now for four new releases that show a darker side of comedy...

Bill Maher Live From D.C. (2014) start at what seems to be a halfway point of a show in progress, as we're told by two surprise hosts that it is going into the second hour of the show, so we get about an hour of standup. However, Maher has something to say and is really good here covering the state of the nation, decay, hypocrisy, Republicans who are full of it and anything else that gets in his way, including a few audience members who talk out of turn.

Unlike his political talk shows, he gets to really let loose here as he does without the barrier of debating guests and can even get pretty gross, though some cases are to make political points and other to simply point out absurdity. To his credit, he has not sold out or lost his edge, if anything, becoming bolder as things of late have become more ridiculous, stupid and troubling. But Maher plows on unapologetic, proving he is one of the best comic minds around and as bold and honest as anyone out there. Good show.

There are sadly no extras.

Heath Jones' Grace (2014) may have been intended for theatrical release, but got sent straight to home video, yet it is at least more ambitious than much of the junk that gets dumped in theaters of late (usually package deals in the off season) to qualify for tax write-offs. Annika Marks play the title role of a woman whose alcoholism has made her out of control and her denial of the condition keeping her in a rut. When she finds herself waking up somewhere unknown on a Florida beach, a new bottom has been hit.

Luckily, she goes to a cafe where a former alcoholic (nice turn by Sharon Lawrence) spots her kind immediately and does what she can to help, including giving her a place to stay while arguing with her father and his new her-same-age wife. What follows is a mix of good moments and even more predictability, the latter of which hampers a film that could have been better if it did not try to hard on the comedy, not knowing what is funny funny and serious funny. Still, I was glad to give it a look.

The only extras are Deleted and Extended Scenes.

Sophie Fillieres' If You Don't, I Will (2014) reunited two great actors (Emmanuelle Devos and Matheu Amalric) as a longtime couple who are not at a breaking point, but are at a crossroads in where they should go and what they should do, together or not. A hike in the middle of nowhere only makes things worse, complicating them and making a problematic situation ridiculous. The actors' have chemistry that has only grown since their first feature work together and the makers try to run with that a bit, but sometimes that is at the expense of story and believability.

There are some funny moments, amusing ones and pleasant ones, but nothing was an outright howler and the script's lack of character development (even winging it) boxes the film into a somewhat predictable corner. Even with nice locales and a solid supporting cast, they cannot overcome these issues, but this was interesting enough as well to give it a look.

Separate on-camera interviews with Amalric, Devos and Director Fillieres are the only extras.

Finally in Marc Lawrence's The ReWrite (2014), Hugh Grant is back repeating himself a bit (think the superfluous Music & Lyrics that Lawrence also directed, so this is also a reunion project) as a movie screenplay writer who has not had a hit since the one that put him on the map. His agent gets him a job teaching writing at a small town New York college, which he reluctantly takes and hardly takes seriously, manifesting itself with a really bad first meeting with a feminist head teacher (Allison Janney) that only foreshadows disaster ahead.

He first meets a former Marine (J.K. Simmons) who is a teacher there giving him some good advice early on, but to no avail. After picking most of his class based on good looks (so most of them are young, pretty ladies), he gives a general class and cancels several of the following classes so they can 'work on their script' which he works on a comeback project at their expense.

What follows then are a series of hit or miss jokes that tend to be more amusing that expected, but we have seen too much of this before, though the supporting cast is really good and Marisa Tomei shows up as a potential love interest Grant and we also get good turns by Chris elliott as his eccentric neighbor (it is not overplayed) and Bella Heathcote as a younger love interest coming across nicely as Pamela Sue Martin-like. Again, not great, but I was glad to see it just once for what does work.

Deleted Scenes and a Making Of featurette are the only extras.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Maher and Grace, plus the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Will are evenly matched for some good color, some softness, some good shots and a few poor ones as is the case for the usual DVD releases we see these days. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on ReWrite can show a few flaws here and there from its shoot, but looks pretty good throughout with no major issues to my surprise and is easily the best-looking release here.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Maher is a little weaker than it should be and slightly disappoints, so be careful of volume switching and loud volumes, while the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Grace is better, yet the film is talky and on the quiet side on and off (in between dramatic and comic outbursts), but Will has both kinds of soundtracks. They are both better than Maher with its 5.1 being better than its 2.0 Stereo, but it is no better than Grace due also to its quiet moments.

That leaves the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on ReWrite also having a mix of quiet and more active moments, outdoing all the DVDs here, but it also has some weak sound moments and an inconsistent soundfield.

To order the Bill Maher Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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