(2015/HBO Blu-ray)/Star 80
(1983/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/The
B-/C+/C/B-/C/C Sound: B/C+/C/B-/C+/C+ Extras: C/C-/C-/D/D/C
DVDs are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
for a group of films that look at the seedy side of life...
(2014) casts Hayden Christensen and Adrian Brody as brothers, with
both of them involved with criminal types and Brody a boxer who went
to prison for his brother to protect him. After all this hardship
and sacrifice, they land up going for a big bank heist against their
better judgment. They are actually good here, though not as 'street'
as they could have been, but they have enough convincing chemistry
here that you can see how this got funded.
the script and directing are a bit weak and cliched, their backstory
lacking and the heist is as badly planned as it is generic. Jordana
Brewster shows up as Christensen's girlfriend, but she is even
developed less than they are. Thus the 95 minutes here are not as
effectively spent as they should be, but at least they were ambitious
and I like these actors, do lets see what they do next.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes
capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a Making Of featurette.
Schiffli's Animals (2015) wants to tell us the tale of two
persons addicted to drugs, stealing and more, but likely in love for
as much as they can be in such damaged condition. More shocking in
the 1950s and 1960s than it could ever be now, these films can easily
get in trouble when they wallow in their sense of a 'loser world' and
that happens early on in the too-predictable 86 minutes here despite
good performances by David Dastmalchian (who wrote it) and Kim Shaw,
I really wanted this to take off, say something and/or show us
something more. However, it found little new and the ending did not
work for me either.
include a Behind The Scenes featurette and Deleted Scenes.
Bogart's Mr. Ricco
(1974) has Dean Martin in a Dirty
Harry-type urban crime
thriller, but instead of a cop, he plays a lawyer who still finds
himself in the middle of violent trouble when a hitman is identified
as a black militant who also likes to kill cops. Joe Ricco may be
partly responsible, yet he also becomes a target and has to juggle
the police, killers and other criminals in a drama with just enough
comedy to give it a look. Too bad it is inconsistent, sometimes
predictable and never fully works.
MGM's hope for a hit has a solid cast including a great turn by Cindy
Williams as Ricco's secretary (if a sequel had happened, they would
have needed to up her screen time), Eugene Roche as the main police
detective trying to solve the case, Denise Nicholas, Geraldine
Brooks, Philip (Michael) Thomas and other regular character actors of
the time who make such films of this era more watchable than mixed
successes of today.
trailer is the only extra.
(2015) has David Oyelowo as a war veteran who records his life to
seeming find closure, but slowly starts to unravel as the phoniness
of digital video and the Internet star actually chipping away at his
heart, soul, mind, individuality and sense of individual self leading
to his peace of mind being gutted out with awful results.
HBO telefilm, I had mixed feelings about this, a good performance but
also with some cliches and though to the point at 82 minutes, uneven,
could have been shorter and sometimes plays like a formula stuck-in-a
story. Still, see it once for yourself just to know what he does and
are no extras, unless you count Digital Copy.
Fosse's Star 80
(1983) quickly dramatized the awful tale of how model Dorothy
Straiten (a really convincing Mariel Hemingway) became beloved as a
Playboy Magazine Playmate and was having a good life, but she gets
their in part via her obsessed boyfriend (Eric Roberts trying for
Robert De Niro territory and sometimes succeeding) who helps her only
to eventually destroy her in a brutal murder based on the true story
that actually happened and mostly this way.
Robertson has a good turn as Playboy creator Hugh Hefner and the rest
of the cast (including Carroll Baker) are a real convincing plus,
capturing the final years of the counterculture going disco &
porn. The Ladd Company produced it and all were bold to take this on
so soon, but some would argue it was appropriate to tell the truth,
possibly in hope it would not happen again. Fosse's use of voice
over and still pictures has only appreciated in value and though the
film may be too short on exposition, its ambition and honesty are to
be admired. It now also serves as a time capsule.
are no extras.
Burz's The Summer House
(2014) wants to be a tale of a closeted bi-sexual father (Syen
Jacobs) who is having a secret affair when he starts to become
interested in an underage blond boy friend of his 11-year-old
daughter (gay Lolita style), but the script and director desex the
mother/wife too much, add a few horror movie twists and cannot
resolve itself in the end. I did like the Alternate Ending abandoned
versus the lamer one they went with.
thinking and concentration was needed on this one, especially
considering the subject matter, but it hits some false notes and
never works like it almost could have. Too bad.
include Cast/Crew Interviews, an Original Theatrical Trailer and
Deleted Scenes with Alternate Ending.
Blu-rays are digital shoots, with a 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High
Definition presentation on Heist and 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital
High Definition image transfer on Nightingale, but despite
being the best presentations here, they both have more motion blur
than expected and in both cases, do not add any kind of edge or
realism to either. As for the anamorphically
enhanced DVDs, they all look good, but not as good as the Blu-rays
is sadly the softest and most inconsistent presentation here despite
being a solid 35mm Panavision shoot. The rest are also 2.35 X 1 as
well save House
in 1.85 X 1. All four could use Blu-ray upgrades and both Ricco
would benefit the most.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on both Blu-rays are the
best sonic presentations, though Nightingale
is purposely a bit choppy and awkward to fit its idea of realism, but
that does not help it and a different approach might have helped.
Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Animals
should be able to outdo the lossy
Dolby Digital 2.0
Stereo on House
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Ricco
but it is only able to outdo Ricco
showing its lack of soundfield, mumblecore tendencies and budget
can order the Mr.
Warner Archive DVDs by going to this link for them and many more
great web-exclusive releases at: