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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Gangster > Murder > Music > Irish > Coming Of Age > Slice Of Life > Comedy > Sweden > Great De > Angel (1982/Triumph Films/Film 4/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Here Is Your Life (1966/Criterion Blu-ray)/9 Full Moons (2015/MVD Visual DVD)/Places In The Heart (1984/TriStar/Sony/Twilight Ti

Angel (1982/Triumph Films/Film 4/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Here Is Your Life (1966/Criterion Blu-ray)/9 Full Moons (2015/MVD Visual DVD)/Places In The Heart (1984/TriStar/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Angel and Places In The Heart Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below.

These latest dramas include debut works by director's known by true movie fans...

Neil Jordan's Angel (1982) was produced by the great John Boorman and launched one of the more mixed (from art to commercial films) and uneven filmmaking careers that I still going on (extending to Jordan on the hit TV series The Borgias), yet often offering a unique perspective of what we could think of as a particularly Irish discourse. The underrated Stephen Rea, in the first of his many collaborations with Jordan, is Danny, an individualist and slightly eccentric saxophonist who works at a club that has some shady dealings. The suppression of this explodes in the worst way when he witnesses a double shooting, et al, including that of an innocent young lady.

From this, he has hardly recovered when he starts looking into the ugliness of this that he cannot trust telling anyone (including the police) about and out of moral indignation starts to get involved in the happenings in ways he would have never expected. Not bad for a first film, it has some great moments thanks to Rea, though other sections were more thriller and maybe mystery-ordinary, but it actually remains one of Jordan's better feature films, so its arrival on Blu-ray is overdue. Fans should get it while the 3,000 copies from Twilight Time stay in print.

Extras only include an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text & essay by Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray only adds an Isolated Music Score.

Jan Troell's Here Is Your Life (1966) is the long, mixed epic debut film for the Swedish director about the growth of a young man (Eddie Axberg) trying to find his way in a tough world, taking tough jobs, trying to survive and figure out what would help make his life and future best. He meets some good and bad people along the way, including one (the great Max Von Sydow) whose advice will resonate more than most in this character study that goes from some amazing moments to more than a few that are more typical and plain.

This was a hit that established Troell in world cinema and has more going for it than most so-called slice-of-life films. I especially give credit to Troell in how well he handles human sexuality here, when it surfaces (it is often oppressed, which happens to be another theme, but not one in total) is honest and by today's standards, remarkable. It is worthy of the Criterion Blu-ray treatment it gets here, but you have to be awake and have a serious attention span to take it on, so everyone should see it at least once to see what is still a classic to experience it. Nice to have such a great new edition of it.

Extras include a DigiPak with a nicely illustrated foldout on the film including informative text and an essay by film scholar Mark Le Fanu, while the Blu-ray adds a new introduction by filmmaker Mike Leigh, new conversation between director Jan Troell and the great film historian Peter Cowie, new interviews with actor Eddie Axberg and producer and screenwriter Bengt Forslund and Interlude in Marshland, a 1965 short film by Troell, starring Max von Sydow.

Tomer Almagor's 9 Full Moons (2015) wants to be a character study of a couple who have not settled on jobs, careers or anything else, with Lev (Bret Roberts) a limo driver who is always near the action if not in it and Frankie (Amy Seimetz) involved in the mixed local music scene, which is how they meet. Both are damaged souls, but find enough in each other to stick together, but the dysfunctionality in both seems to doom them in the long run.

You want them to grow and stay together, but it becomes increasingly hard for that to happen and outside of the outcome, the lack of serious character development, wasted time and way too may cliches and dead ends ruin what should have been at least a decent film. The leads are cast well, even if Roberts looks way too much like he's auditioning of a Jim Morrison film. The side stories and subplots grow increasing superfluous as the script fails the actors and people. Though I did feel like I kept getting mooned, the sun couldn't rise on this big disappointment quickly enough.

There are no extras.

Robert Benton's Places In The Heart (1984) is a film with some fine moments I have always had a mixed reaction to. Sally Fields is the mom/wife in a depression-era family who becomes the head of the household when her husband is accidentally shot by a young African American male in the segregated, ultra-racist South of the Great Depression, made more horrific by that young man's lynching murder and his corpse being dragged all over the town by motor vehicle. It is also a sexist town as she soon finds out when the bank wants to foreclose on her house.

However, she comes up with a wild idea to turn the land she owns into cotton farming, not knowing how to start, but with the help of a new helper (a solid turn by Danny Glover) might jut be able to pull it off against insane odds. As a 'favor', the banker she deals with has left his blind relative (John Malkovich) in her home, which she'll use as insurance eventually to protect her family and future.

To Benton's credit, coming from a strong sense of The Religious Left, the film does manage to make The Big Statement it intended and it resonates at its best as much as ever. By the time it arrived, sadly, the Religious Right and Reagan Revolution's war on the Religious Left had devastated that discourse, though those representing it remained strong in it. If it had just been a hit pre-1980, its impact could have been even more profound, but it still is talked about today (down to Field's work on camera and winning ways off-camera) and was long overdue for a Blu-ray release. Fortunately, Twilight Time has given us a grade-A limited edition release the film deserves.

Extras include another solid, illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and Julie Kirgo essay, while the Blu-ray adds an amazing feature length audio commentary track with film scholar Nick Redman & star Sally Fields, who is exceptionally well-spoken and has MUCH to share, an Isolated Music Score and the Original Theatrical Trailer.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Angel is pretty good, with the early scenes being claustrophobic in their immaculately set-bound feel (the location is at least slightly overbuilt like a musical of the time (Absolute Beginners, One From The Heart) but opens up when they leave that area with more light (especially natural light) and less control of that aspect of the mise-en-scene. There are a few rough spots, but it looks good otherwise.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image on Life has some stunning, demo shots in a remarkable its new 2K transfer from the original 35mm camera negative. The many outdoor shots are incredible, composition is consistent and Troell shot the film himself with surprising intimacy and effectiveness. Superior to the other presentations I have seen of the film, it makes it easier to handle its length.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Heart does a fine job of capturing the incredible visual work of Director of Photography Nestor Almendros, A.S.C. (Days Of Heaven, The Blue Lagoon (1980), The Last Metro, The Green Room) uses the color film stocks for an advanced rich emphasis on pushing the grain structures into a density that has a period feel that no HD camera can produce today and none will ever produce in the future. Thanks to Blu-ray, you can now experience the look and feel intended throughout with few flaws in this new transfer from the Sony vaults including a few demo shots of its own.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image in Moons is the poor performer here bing the only DVD, but it is not bad for a current HD shoot, yet it has some motion blur and detail issues as expected.

As for sound, all three Blu-ray were originally theatrical monophonic releases, we get a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Angel that is decently clean and clear with is well mixed and presented for the format, but it shows its age as does the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix on Heart and PCM 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Life, originating from a 17.5mm soundmaster that seems to be of magnetic origin. I cannot imagine any of the three sounding better than they do here.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Moons is the only multi-channel presentation on the list, yet it is the poorest performer since the recording is only so good, only so well recorded and the soundfield is inconsistent as the channels are not engaged as well throughout as they ought to be.

To order the Angel and Places In The Heart limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo


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