(Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Stonewall
(Universal Blu-ray/all 2015)
B/B/B & C/C+/B Sound: B+/B/B+ & B-/C+/B Extras:
C/B/C/C/C- Films: B-/B-/B+/C/B
are five ambitious dramas from 2015 you should know about...
Hopper's The Danish Girl
is set in the 1930s when a young married man (Eddie Redmayne) decides
to explore his feminine side so much, he decides to change his
identity to the point that he goes for the first-ever unheard of sex
change operation. He and his wife (Alicia Vikander of Ex
Machina) are both
painters, but his becoming a temporary subject and starting to like
wearing women's clothes increasingly draw him to his legendary
destiny to become Lily Elbe. Shocking for decades afterwards before
gay civil rights came to be, the event was shocking, led to some ugly
comments (as expected) and permanently established a transgender
movement for those who felt best as part of it.
was surprised at how classy and smart the film was, but it also has
some moments that do not work and some of it seems too late in what
it is showing and telling. Ben Whishaw (currently 'Q' in the Bond
films and of the underrated BBC series The
Hour) is a man who
becomes interested in Lily, to Lily's surprise and these scenes are
handled best of all, unexpected, human and very well rounded. It may
not be a perfect film, but it succeeds in telling its story about as
well as can be expected (based on Elbe's own book in part) and is
worth a look just to be surprised for yourself how good everyone here
is and how good it always looks.
is an impressive dramatic version of an Academy-Award Winning
documentary about a police woman (Julianne Moore, so good here) who
is a lesbian, but never tells her co-workers in their conservative
small town because she is a private enough person and is too busy
doing her job of protecting the citizens for decades. She meets a
younger woman (Ellen Page in one of her best performances to date)
and they fall for each other, moving in and more. That might have
been it until Laurel (Moore) gets sick with a devastating disease,
but (and this is before gay marriage recently became enforceable law)
the law will not allow her to pass her hard-earned pension money to
Stacie (Page) and certain Right-Wing political forces want to keep it
challenges the community and everything, plus the couple has less to
hide than some of the men denying the benefits they are in the power
to grant. Though a few scenes did not work for me, this is
surprisingly immediate, the performances are good all around
(including Michael Shannon getting away from mean-guy roles and a
great turn by Steve Carell that is some of his best work to date)
makes for a fine film whose relevance goes beyond any minority
community. A pleasant surprise, it is definitely worth a look.
tells the ever-relevant story of how an investigative subdivision of
The Boston Globe once and for all uncovered the Catholic Church's
still-ongoing child molestation epidemic against the odds and a
massive cover up all over the place. Michael Keaton (transforming
himself into a very convincing lifetime Bostonian), Mark Ruffalo,
Rachel McAdams, John Slatterly and Liev Schreiber (also very welcome
playing more than a tired bad guy) when Schreiber's real life
newspaperman comes to the Globe and suggests they look more into a
molestation story than the paper has been.
start to get a larger investigation going and lowly start to discover
just how massive, horrid and awful the story is, including some
denial and outright obstruction getting in their way. Despite this,
they move forward and uncover (confirming what many knew and too many
have been hiding worldwide) the ugly truth and getting it into print
permanently. It is one of the great stories of journalistic triumph
and is easily one of the most underrated films of the last few years.
relevant as ever with Penn State trying to erase their own horrid
scandal of the same abuses and then some and a new Pope trying to
solve the problem against ultra-Right Wing forces in his own Church
who (like Penn State) think money and the right to do what you want
if you are a certain person, have certain friends and even more money
than usual, no matter who you hurt or kill trying to stop him, this
is sadly only the very beginning of how ugly this all is. It also
makes the case why serious, uncompromisable journalism in all
seriously free societies is a must, or good people get hurt by those
who should know better and must be brought to justice.
the truth to light and keeping it there, now more than ever in an age
of multi-media, is more important than ever and this film will grow
in importance over the years to come. A must see films and one of
the best of 2015 easily, see it!!!
is a film about the rise of the gay rights movement from the director
of Independence Day,
but I still thought that maybe he'd be able to concentrate and tell
the story well and thoroughly. Well, no aliens to time/space
dimensional machines showed up, but a poor, formulaic script did that
follows a small town guy (Jeremy Irvine) out of his small town after
getting caught having sex with a male friend who says 'they're not
gay, just doing things' and goes to Greenwich Village in New York
where he finds a gay community, as well as gay men brutalized
selectively by police officers, gangsters running the bars and even
(underplayed here) exploited by each other.
follows is too predictable and post 1990s Gay New Wave, safe and
anything with impact lands up getting very undermined. Some things
about the period are done well, but even with most of the cast
playing real life people, this is highly underwhelming, flat and
never adds up to anything with the impact the actual event is known
for. Too bad because Caleb Landry Jones, Matt Craven, Johnny
Beauchamp, Joey King, Johnathan Rhys Meyers and Ron Perlman help to
make up a good cast. This is not just the kind of film Emmerich can
joins The Front
(1976) and Guilty By
Suspicion (1990, both
reviewed elsewhere on this site) as all too rare films about the
ugliness and life-destroying Hollywood witch hunts of the 1950s, from
a committee that did not get disbanded until the mid-1970s. The
House of Un-American Activities Committee was being sold as a way to
sell The Cold War and get rid of sudden 'Communists in Hollywood'
that the studios agreed to since most studios were run by Jewish men
at the time who wanted to keep that to themselves and avoid
box-office killing anti-Semitism, but a hunt for Jews by the
committee members was part of what was going on otherwise and it was
no more a crime to be communist or Jewish than anything else anyone
was being accused of.
Trumbo (Bryan Cranston in an amazing performances) is Hollywood's
highest paid writer, writing hit after hit to major critical acclaim,
but certain people and forces in town including uppity gossip
columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren nailing the role perfectly) is
out to 'help' the hunt with friends like John Wayne and others, no
matter who gets thrown out of town, in jail or is ruined for life.
Unlike the other two films that show the evil the government was
doing, it suggests that Hopper and company were playing favorites and
on some level, totally take over Tinseltown.
dealing with jail, Trumbo stars working in secret for others
(including B-movie producers The King Brothers, played well here by
Stephen Root and John Goodman in casting so good, they could have had
their own film) and slowly working his way back to possibly
continuing his success somehow... if he can overcome those who hate
not being able to control or stop him.
Lane and Louis C.K. Also add to a great cast that tells this great
story in a film that matches the solid documentary of the same name
we reviewed at this link...
sure to see both, starting with this new film, then compare to the
documentary. It's uncanny how much they got it right.
the 1080p Blu-ray presentations are top rate, consistent and look
pretty good throughout with only minor complains, all color 1.85 X 1
digital High Definition shoots that have to capture past periods.
That is not easy, but they all manage to succeed convincingly enough
and are A-grade awards-quality filmmaking, even when shot in HD as
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on the Spotlight
DVD is weaker than expected, outdone by the anamorphically enhanced
2.35 X 1 image on Stonewall.
Otherwise, no problems here.
for sound, all Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless
mixes that are well presented and recorded, but the big surprises are
how good and well-recorded both Danish
are. They both push the multi-channel possibilities for what would
otherwise be dialogue-based films. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on
DVD cannot compete, but is not bad and is even better than the lossy
Dolby Digital 5.1 on Stonewall,
which is good, but not great.
on all five releases include Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurette
material and Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for
PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, but Freeheld
adds a feature
length audio commentary track with Director Sollett, Moore &
page, a second featurette and the original Oscar-Winning Freeheld
has 3 featurettes in all, Stonewall
has smaller clips with an Original Theatrical Trailer and Trumbo
adds a second
Making Of piece.