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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > WWII > Sea > Ocean > Family > Melodrama > Crime > Murder > Death > Politics > Industry > Poverty > Jailbre > Against The Sun (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)/The Frontier (2013/Virgil Films DVD)/Little Accidents (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)/The Jerry Warren Collection: Violent & The Damned/No Time To Kill (1954, 1959/VCI DVD

Against The Sun (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)/The Frontier (2013/Virgil Films DVD)/Little Accidents (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)/The Jerry Warren Collection: Violent & The Damned/No Time To Kill (1954, 1959/VCI DVD Set)

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

The following dramas strive for realism, but they mostly come up short too often...

Brian Falk's Against The Sun (2014) is a stuck-on-a film based on the true story (I believed that one for once in this case) about three men (Garret Dillahunt, Jake Abel, Tom Felton) who get stuck in a small boat for a long time after their fighter crashes. Try as this might be, the script needed to come up with a newer way to approach the situation, but this instead becomes a run-on piece at 99 minutes (not to mention how Hitchcock's Lifeboat haunts it, for those who know that one) despite some good performances.

Also, one of the makers says in an extra clip that the company making it strives for accuracy, but the faked newsreel at the beginning rings false in a few ways (voiceover is too slow, Castle Films did not do newsreels and the result is awkward). Still, a serious, ambitious piece that tries, if not being too successful.

Matt Rabinowitz's The Frontier (2013) is a drama about a man and scholar (Max Gail from Barney Miller, still a solid actor) whose son (Coleman Kelly) comes back home, but the two are not exactly estranged, yet not on great terms. Between them is Nina (Anastassia Sendyk), an assistant to the scholar who becomes somewhat caught in between the awkwardness. I liked the acting and scenes, but this was a bit predictable in between those good scenes and that is enough to make this as good as anything on the list, but more nuance and a tighter script could have put this one over the top.

Sara Coangelo's Little Accidents (2014) is on the more predictable side, though it also has some great moments as a coal mining town is reeling from an accident that got some miners killed and the company (surprise!) is trying to cover some of it up despite paying some of the victim's and their families compensation. It sets up bad things for those in town who don't have much in their lives, but things get darker and uglier when a young man goes missing, though we are privy to what happened.

I liked the performances and the writing is sadly accurate about the lives portrayed, but again, there was more to say and the film does not do enough with its 105 minutes or its cast that includes Elizabeth Banks, Chloe Sevigny, Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Lofland and Josh Lucas. It is worth a look for the actors if nothing else, but have patience.

VCI's Jerry Warren Collection makes no secret that the producer was a hack and made bad movies and he apparently liked buying duds too, but they can have some campy amusement value. Carlos Hugo Christensen's Violent & The Damned (1954) is about prisoners on a chain gang escaping in a bloody incident where they couldn't take it any more. There's plenty of voice overs on stock footage or footage shot with noisy cameras where they could not blimp them or tape the sound correctly. It is very mixed watching that drags, but is only 58 minutes... even if it feels longer.

Tom Younger's No Time To Kill (1959) is a bit more watchable and has a young John Ireland in a sort of thriller where he plays a man who wants revenge after being in prison for no good reason for 8 years after being framed. There are some nice locales, pretty women and something that wants to happen here, but it never takes off in its hour-long length. With more money and time, this could have been turned into a good thriller of some sort, but that sadly never happens.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Sun and Frontier are digital shoots that look soft here, but Sun is much softer throughout and I do not see it as a style choice. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Little is also a little soft, but as good as any presentation here. That leaves the 1.33 X 1 black and white presentations on both VCI films, but Kill has slightly more detail as both show the age of their print materials.

As for sound, the three newer releases offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 that is not bad, talky and quiet, so therefore only shows off surrounds so well. They still tie for best sonics, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both VCI DVD films are old, rough, a little frail, distorted and compressed throughout. Seems they tried to clean them up, but this only helped so much.

Except for a few promo clips on Sun used in advance to promote its theatrical release, all four releases are totally absent of extras.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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