Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Dance > Ballet > School > Biopic > Religion > Politics > Racism > Romance > Music > Dr > Ballet Boys (2014/First Run DVD)/Francesco (1989/Film Movement Blu-ray)/Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/PS Dance! (2015/First Run DVD)/Pop Life

Ballet Boys (2014/First Run DVD)/Francesco (1989/Film Movement Blu-ray)/Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/PS Dance! (2015/First Run DVD)/Pop Life (2015/Cinedigm DVD)/White Shadow (2013/IndiePix DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Guess Who's Coming To Dinner 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 from the links below.

Arts, social issues and life are dealt with in all kinds of ways in the following releases...

We start with Kenneth Elvebakk's Ballet Boys (2014), a documentary about how three young men from Norway decide to pursue ballet dancing and how serious they are. Lukas, Syvert and Torgeir land up bonding as good friends and friendly competitors, but when one has a chance to go to the U.K. to one of the top schools in the world, how will that change their dynamic? The program runs only 72 minutes, but manages to deliver answers and be a character study of them and this part of the dance world. A pleasant surprise, it is definitely recommended and is about more than just dance.

Seven bonus shorts on more of the trio are the only extras.

Liliana Cavani's Francesco (1989) is an ambitious, long at 133 minutes, dirty, dark look at the world of the 1100s that brought about St. Francis of Assisi. Mickey Rourke, in his prime still taking risks no one was expecting before his slow implosion, is the title character dealing with politics, poverty, murder, disease and other troubles in a world where the church loomed way too large for the human races' own good. I give Cavani credit for not being afraid to get her (and everyone else's hands dirty) for realistic effect, but to say she overplays the 'Italian Neo-Realist' side of this is not unjust.

She is also constantly returning to the theme of the male body, nude in dirty, blood and death throughout as if to reference issues of the flesh and mortality to its extreme and that is also bold, all removing and phoniness or 'halos' from the proceedings, but her world of muck is not always supported by a strong narrative. The other renewed interest here besides the new cycle of faith films that have nowhere near the guts to be this honest or realistic is a supporting performance by Helena Bonham Carter, who is also good and not above the darkness.

This is not a religious film for everyone, but it is more historically accurate and honest than most, even if the film is uneven. Cavani owes Pasolini more than a little credit for her approach as well.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text & two essays (one by Cavani), while the Blu-ray adds a clip of the Cannes Film Festival Press Conference on the film.

Stanley Kramer's Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967) has two controversies going for it. The more obvious one is a portrait of various layers of racism in a film that is totally and rightly against it, but the other is that it still seemed to play it safe, hold back, be a little plastic and maybe even phony outside of its message. Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton play a happy, loving couple who intend to marry despite the big taboo of the time that they have different skin color. Kramer does not make a revolutionary political film, but does make a time capsule of how far we were getting on the subject before rollback pressures from the 1980s and is not credited for sticking to his guns to tell the human story he wanted to tell.

Of course, the other big part of this is the last screen pairing of big screen movie giant Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn as her parents, plus the curio of Isabel Sanford (Louise Jefferson of the soon-to-be-groundbreaking TV hits All In The Family and The Jeffersons) as their maid who is not happy with Poitier suddenly showing up.

The melodrama becomes too much and even at only 108 minutes, it seems slow-moving, but it is a one-of-a-kind film and even telling about certain things the long (long) way, it's points are valid and for a time, the film was still ahead of its time. It is worth a serious look for what works.

Extras include another illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and smart essay by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds a new feature length audio commentary track by Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer & Paul Scrabo that is as thorough as we will ever get on the film, Isolated Music Score track, Original Theatrical Trailers, four intros for the film (by Karen Kramer, Steven Spielberg, Tom Brokaw & Quincy Jones), A Love Story for Today, A Special Kind of Love, Stanley Kramer: A Man's Search for Truth, Stanley Kramer Accepts the Irving Thalberg Award & 2007 Producers Guild Stanley Kramer Award Presentation to An Inconvenient Truth with Vice President Al Gore.

Paula Zahn is the host of Nel Shelby's PS Dance! (2015) runs under an hour, but tells us the great story of how the arts make such a big difference in schools early on, an important point now more than ever with draconian cutbacks, a rollback against the arts and even an active war on them to hurt the young and innocent in troubled school systems nationwide. Shot in New York, we see how successful (as we always) knew these programs are, have always been pennies on the dollar and made for healthier, smarter, better, more successful, happier and more well-rounded children growing up.

Dance is the particular art involved here and we see how some really great people have gone out of their way to deliver these arts to new generations who deserve them, are entitled to them unconditionally and deserve to be standard for us all. Cheers to the adults who deliver this to their student and those students who embrace it and realize how important it is. My only complaint is that this one is not longer, but everyone should see this and support a revival of the arts in our basic schools so the PS is not a post script for the arts demise there.

There are unfortunately no extras

Catina Jones' Pop Life (2015) is not about the graphic art world, but how drugs, music and culture have intertwined for centuries and uses that history to address the latest drug, Molly and its variants. This is the first synthetic hit drug and is popular at raves, so a group of persons who really seem to be in the know talk about the ins and outs of the situation, how messed up things are getting and how the latest 'harmless' drug (they said this about cocaine back in the day) is not so tame as expected.

Running 51 minutes, this is not bad, but it could have been longer and is hardly the final word on a subject that (like so many Moguldom releases0 is not being talked about but should be. It is worth a look if you want to be informed.

A few Deleted Scenes are the only extras.

Noaz Deshe's White Shadow (2013) is not connected to the classic TV series about school and basketball, save it is about racism, but of a different kind. A new kind of crisis is growing in East Africa and it has to do with the murder and worse of persons whose skin has them categorized as 'albinos' and an ugly cult has built around them that is getting many of them killed. Exploiters are creating new superstitions saying their skin and bodies bring good luck by just touching them, but much worse, many are being killed alive & wide awake with machetes and their body parts being used for rituals too ugly to go into here.

This remarkable drama with a cast that most has never acted before stars Hamisi Bazili as a young man trying to find a better life, goes to the big city to sell the likes of CDs and electronic parts and tries to avoid being captured and killed by the cults. In this respect, it had shades of The Harder They Come and would qualify as a solid piece of what was (and I guess could still be known as) Third World Cinema save the Neo-Liberal renaming of any such land as 'emerging markets' or the like. Deshe has created a formidable drama more people need to see and this genocidal crisis needs to end now. A pleasant surprise on a very serious subject, handled without a false note.

Six bonus clips about the making of this film are the extras.

As expected, the Blu-rays look best here with the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Francesco a little rough, partly shot that way on purpose, but part of the problem is this smaller film has been lucky to survive and some footage is just more aged than others. Still, this 2K restoration looks better than I have ever seen before down to past film clips. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Dinner is a new Hd master from the original camera materials that looks really fine for the most part. Unfortunately, bad rear projection, phony edges of indoor set lighting and process footage shows its age. The film was originally issued in 35mm three-strip Technicolor prints with this print often looking like one of those dye-transfer copies, but sometimes less so. Still, I cannot imagine it looking much better.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the four DVDs are behind in quality, but all have softness issues, PS and Pop have more motion blue than I would have liked and color range is not ruined on any of them, so they tie for third place.

As for sound, the Blu-rays both offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mixes with Francesco upgraded from its original Dolby A-type analog stereo to a 5.1 mix and also offered in a lesser 2.0 Stereo mix, but it shows its age and music benefits most from the restorations. Dinner is presented in 1.0 Mono that also shows the age of that film and also restored, will probably not ever sound much better than it does here. They tie for best sonics, if you can call it that. All four DVDs are presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and only Shadow is on the weak side with some location audio issues, but it sounds like this could have been transferred a bit louder and would have sounded better.

To order the Guess Who's Coming To Dinner limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com