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Category:    Home > Reviews > Crime > Drama > Forgery > Art > Murder > Mental Illness > Road Trip > Comedy > Gangster > Thriller > Terrorism > The Forger (2013/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/The Road Within (2014/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/State Of Grace (1990/Orion/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Timbuktu (2014/Cohen Media Blu-ray)

The Forger (2013/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/The Road Within (2014/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/State Of Grace (1990/Orion/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Timbuktu (2014/Cohen Media Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The State Of Grace Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last at the link below.

Here are some new dramas for you to know about...

Philip Martin's The Forger (2013) has John Travolta back in the crime genre as the title character, a man who is in jail for being able to duplicate paintings, et al, but he is suddenly out and thanks in part to and old criminal friend who needs him to do that 'one last job' while he just wants to get back to his son (Tye Sheridan, who actually looks the part) who is actually sick with a possible terminal illness and his father (Christopher Plummer) who he has a tenuous relationship with.

Set in Boston, the visuals at least gets us outside more often than not, making viewing better, yet it does not have the impact it needs because the script is too predictable despite some chemistry going on with the cast. That includes some unknowns who are not bad here and we'll likely see again. I wanted this to work and see Travolta get back on track, but this does not work, though a close call is better than failure. Fans might want to see this one, but others will likely be a bit disappointed.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a Making Of featurette.

Gren Wells' The Road Within (2014) is a road trip movie with a profound title as three sick persons with anorexia (Zoe Kravitz, handling her well in how she underplays her role), germ phobias (Dev Pavel of Slumdog Millionaire and the great HBO TV show The Newsroom) and Tourette's Syndrome (up and coming Robert Sheenan of the BBC series Misfits) offers fine casting, real chemistry, liable actors and they are all convincing in their roles, but it all becomes too showy by default since the script is unable to be the deep character study the tile implies an is not too good a road trip film either.

Kyra Sedgwick and Robert Patrick are a plus and this does have some good moments, but if they had just cut out a little bit of the Pavel and Sheenan work (particularly dialogue) and added more depth, this cold have been the next Rain Man and something else. As a result, I was disappointed and more so since they were on track to this becoming a real surprise, but at least it tries and too few films do these days.

Extras include a Music Video, Original Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes and four interviews with the 3 leads & director.

Phil Joanou's State Of Grace (1990) is one of my favorite films of the last 25+ years and I have been raving about it and strongly supporting it, it is more than just a truly great gangster/crime film and I have talked about it often since, including in this review of a DVD edition we covered years ago at this link:


I am thrilled to say the film is finally getting a following, is among the best work of all involved and despite Orion Pictures poor release of the film where it barely made it to any theaters, it has always had positive word of mouth, is ever-underrated and even the great Tom Hardy recently noted how much he loved the film. Now, we are getting a Limited Edition Blu-ray edition from Twilight Time with extras and a transfer that can really show off how well this film was made. It remains as intense, dark (visually and thematically) and suspenseful as it ever did.

Joanou has never made a better film (as well as many other in the last quarter century, in his defense) and you know it is a classic when you keep seeing new nuances and details you may have missed or find new ways to think of it. Penn, Wright, Oldman, Reilly, Turturro and Harris have had great careers and yet, this still remains some of their best purely powerful acting work ever, melding into an exercise in pure cinema we rarely see anymore. Also, it is a pre-9/11 New York captured in a profound, priceless way that no other film ever made offers. It is for these and so many more reasons you need to see (or rewatch) State Of Grace again because it is a classic!

We finally gets extras worthy of this film including a fine illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and essay by the ever-informative Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds a smart, fun, brand new feature length audio commentary track with Director Joanou & film scholar Nick Redman, Isolated Music Score of Morricone's amazing work here and Original Theatrical Trailer.

Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu (2014) joins films like Osama (reviewed elsewhere on this site) as sad, ugly tales of terror in the Middle East by Islamic extremists against other Muslims and Arab citizens in their own countries. Mauritania is a country and this is its first-ever Best Foreign Film submission. We have seen a little too much of what we see in this film, but it has to be there because the horror and terror have only become worse since 9/11 worldwide and this film tells us this as a warning and matter of highly under-recorded record.

The locales look good, are often authentic and actors effective, plus this is well shot, edited, has a solid use of color and some of the camera shots are purely cinematic in ways we see too little of these days. This might not be the easiest film to sit through, but it is challenging in a mature, challenging way and we don't see this enough out of any country. Therefore, this one is definitely worth a look and one to remember.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film including some informative text, while the Blu-ray adds an on stage interview with Director Sissako lasting just over a half-hour.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Forger and Timbuktu, plus 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Road have good, consistent looks, yet they also have more than a few flawed shots. They are all digital shoots and even the savvy John Bailey. A.S.C. (Mishima, American Gigolo, Silverado, Pope Of Greenwich Village, Boulevard Nights, Ordinary People, Cat People (1982), Extreme Measures) delivers some of his best work in years on Forger and nearly succeeds in making Boston a character in the film, but the script, plotting and writing is against him.

Most impressive is the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Grace, finally delivering the exceptional work of the legendary Director of Photography Jordan Cronenweth, A.S.C. (Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) among others, see my review link) which remains amazing in its darkness now more than ever. Except for minor Video black limits in a few spots (even 1080p cannot handle the whole film!), this is finally a presentation that not only makes all previous video releases obsolete, but has demo shots and is worth of the mint condition 35mm film print I was lucky to see when the film barely opened 25 years ago.

All four Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but they all have moments where the dialogue tends to make the soundfield collapse and/or dissipate a few times and disappoint, except Grace, which can show its age but is actually the most consistent with Ennio Morricone's score standing out beautifully and the original Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) advanced analog recording having its audio properly upgraded without sounding choppy (like so many SR-to-5.1 upgrades have been), so it just manages to be the sonic champ here as well.

To order the State Of Grace limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and many other great exclusives while supplies last at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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