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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Racism > Child Custody > Melodrama > Sexism > East Bloc Countries > Crime > Revenge > Black Or White (Fox Blu-ray)/So Bright Is The View (IndiePix DVD)/Two Men In Town (Pathe/Cohen Media Blu-ray/all 2014)

Black Or White (Fox Blu-ray)/So Bright Is The View (IndiePix DVD)/Two Men In Town (Pathe/Cohen Media Blu-ray/all 2014)

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

These new dramas take on serious issues, but are too laid back or problematic to work...

Mike Binder's Black Or White (2014) has Kevin Costner a father with drinking issues who wants to keep fully custody of his daughter (who is partly of color) despite being a widow. All is fine until a relative (Octavia Spencer) decides to challenge that situation for unusual reasons in a disappointing drama that is too silly and loose with its serious subject matter to ever work. Any melodrama is tainted with bad 1980s mall melodrama and when its long 121 minutes ends, you too will wonder who this film was aimed at.

Anthony Mackie is also wasted as her lawyer, a relative and even that situation becomes infantile, so the script is a mess on racial relations and never gets anything done worth anyone's time. Why, why why was this made? How did they waste so many good actors. Who cares...

A few mini behind the scenes pieces and Digital HD copy are the only extras.

Joel Levy Florescu & Michael Levy Florescu's So Bright Is The View (2014) is more realistic in its look at life in Bucharest with a young, pregnant Jewish woman named Estera trying just to survive and have a life. With sexism, economic oppression and persons around her not about anything or going anywhere, she can only get into trouble, making some of this obvious and predictable, but it till has some good moments worth seeing if you can get through the flat parts.

This works best when we meet people in odd situations and don't know what they are thinking, going to do or takes up places we have not seen. That is actually where more of the story should have come from, so the co-directing brothers limit themselves in ways that do not help them or us, but it is enough to make me want to see what they do next. They just need to cohere more and have a better approach with their directing and script. At least they tried.

A trailer is the only extra.

Finally we have Rachid Bouchareb's Two Men In Town (2014), where the actors are better than the material as Forest Whitaker plays a now-Muslim man accused of being a cop killer, which does not make officer Harvey Keitel very happy since the victim was his deputy. Keitel starts harassing him as his parole officer (Brenda Blethyn, fine as usual) tries to protect him, but he has his own problems and tries to stay out of trouble, even dating. An old gangster friend (Luis Guzman) also shows up to no one's joy, but there's not much else going on here.

Guzman seems miscast and the big names (also including Ellen Burstyn) do not always gel. This makes it an interesting failure, not a package deal, but not delivering the fireworks one would hope. This is bound to be a curio down the line.

A few TV spots and documentary Fences on the locales the film is shot in, running about an hour, are the only extras.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 29 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Black has some good shots, but is a digital shoot that is also lacking at times. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Town is made to look slightly dusty in keeping with the locales, but this is a bit cliched and works against things eventually. They are a draw for first place and slightly disappointing. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on View is more obviously an HD shoot and has some good color with locales most have not seen before, but it is softer overall due to the format.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on both Blu-ray fare better than their image reproduction and are just fine with good soundfields throughout, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on View is not as good, but also has a few location audio issues at times.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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