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 > Drama > Melodrama > Romance > Crime > Corruption > Journalism > French > Sex > Relationships > Murder > Tennis > The Choice (2015/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Clearstream Affair (2014)/Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey (2014)/40 Love (2014/First Run DVDs)/Hostile Border (2015/Sony DVD)/These Thousand Years (1958/Fox Cine

The Choice (2015/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Clearstream Affair (2014)/Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey (2014)/40 Love (2014/First Run DVDs)/Hostile Border (2015/Sony DVD)/These Thousand Years (1958/Fox Cinema Archive DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: These Thousand Years is now only available from the Fox Cinema Archive series and can be ordered from the sidebar.

Here's are latest look at dramas, with some (or too much) melodrama...

Ross Katz's The Choice (2015) touts itself as the first independently-produced adaptation of a book by pseudo-romance schlockmeister Nicholas Sparks, but the formula is so beyond played out that it becomes a 111-minutes torture test and the pairing of Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer is never convincing as they fall for each other with no troubles. However, before we start to fall asleep (for those who care), trouble soon sets it. Can they survive it? Can we???

Tom Welling and Tom Wilkinson show up as part of the passable supporting cast, yet they cannot make a dent in the tiredness, obviousness and pointlessness of this cynical production trying to squeeze the last pennies out of a dead franchise. Your best 'choice' is to skip it.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while both disc releases add a feature length audio commentary track by the director & Walker, a Music Video, four Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes and Deleted Scenes.

Vincent Fareno's The Clearstream Affair (2014) is the most pleasant surprise here, a usually on-top-of-things re-accounting of one of the most infamous financial/political scandals in recent French history as journalist Denis Robert (Gilles Lellouche) so big, he becomes the target of lawsuits, threats, lies, grand schemes and much more in a very believable tale that shows how ugly rich criminals can get these days and how the war on journalism is as ugly as ever.

Running a tight 102 minutes (I could have trimmed a bit off here ands there for more impact), the cast of mostly-in-the-states-unknowns are really good here and I was surprised how engrossing this was at its best. Why have we not heard more about this one? Censorship perhaps? Of all the releases here, this is the one worth going out of your way for.

Trailers for other First Run releases are the only extras.

Lucie Borleteai's Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey (2014) wants to be a tale of female discourse as the title character (Alice played by Ariane Labed) deals with men, a rough job on a work ship and the many sexual encounters she has. In the latter, the film is rather explicit, which is not bad, but eventually happens at the expense of the narrative and we don't get enough character development as she is torn between her land-bound boyfriend and the ship captain, et al. That's a shame, because some of this works, but too much is what we've seen before and that limits the 'female discourse' too much.

In the U.S., this would just get an NC-17, but the 97 minutes here are simply unrated and I liked the acting and casting. However, there are also too many typical and down moments, so it is a mixed bag at best.

Trailers for other First Run releases are the only extras.

Stephane Demoustier's 40 Love (2014) is a drama about a father/husband (Olivier Gourmet) who is leaving a big job under cutback circumstances, but he wants more. Back at home, he is getting along with his son somewhat well, but things get more interesting when it comes to his 11-year-old son's (Charles Merienne) talents in tennis, something his father starts pushing for as he tries to launch his own business. The mother/wife (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) is not so sure about any of it and her fears are confirmed when the tennis situation gets odder and odder.

I'll stop there as not to ruin anything, but the film and its script are mixed, eventually pushing all into a corner that it cannot get out of and results in not being able to find its way to making the big statement it seems to try and make. Probably halfway is where it starts to go wrong, but you can see for yourself if your interested. I was disappointed.

Trailers for other First Run releases are the only extras.

Michael Dwyer's Hostile Border (2015) is an interesting tale of young Claudia (Veronica Sixtos) living illegally in the U.S. and running a dangerous credit card scam when she is caught and 'permanently' deported back to Mexico where she is living with her father and his wife, but things are rough down there and get worse when traffickers want to use their property to get illegal goods moved more quickly over to the U.S. and Claudia becomes eventually involved with the threatening head of the operation. Mexican Feds are also onto the case, but it will quickly get out of control with all kinds of unfortunate complications.

I really liked the acting, directing, pace and ideas here, but the execution (no pun intended) is a little weak and makes the 84 minutes not gel too well. However, with cuts in a few places and new scenes in a few others, this could have been amazing. Hope to see more of this cast and what Dwyer directs next.

No extras though.

Finally we have Richard Fleischer's These Thousand Years (1958), a big color, CinemaScope production based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning book with Don Murray as the innocent guy trying to be a cowboy with a future, but dealing with the reality of tough, scheming men in the West. What could have been just another Revenge Western has more drama and nuance than expected, though Fleischer was always an underrated filmmaker. He borrows money from a girlfriend (Lee Remick) who is in a bad relationship with a shyster (Richard Egan, who becomes the villain of the piece, but not so simply) to start his own farm. It works, but he is challenged by many and when he takes another woman (Patricia Owen) to be his wife, that leaves the past unresolved and the repressed returning quicker than he could have ever expected.

He is tricked a few times, then gets on a high horse about things, which cuts into a relationship with a best friend (Stuart Whitman) and all hell will break loose before all is said and done. Despite some spots that run on longer than they should have in this 96-minutes romp, there is much good to see here and Fox put the money into this one. Harold J. Stone, Albert Dekker and Royal Dano help make up the supporting cast, but I should add how save a mixed portrayal of Native Americans, this is not as dated as many films form the time in the genre. Definitely worth a good look, glad you can get this one on DVD, but these Fox Cinema Archive DVDs don't stay in print forever, so get it if you want it!

An Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Choice looks the best here by being consistent and being the only Blu-ray here, but it is nothing special in the way it was shot, just flat and not so memorable. The anamorphically enhanced DVD version looks OK for the format and plays as well as the rest of the DVDs here, but it is passable at best.

The rest of the DVDs are also here in anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image presentations that look good enough, save Clearstream (unfortunately, which deserves a Blu-ray release) and Love being softer throughout than I would have liked. The DeLuxe Color on Hills is the best on the list, despite being the oldest entry here.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Choice is nothing special either, but I well-recorded and consistent enough to just earn its rating, while the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD version is weaker, yet able to tie the same mix on Border and Fidelio, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the rest of the DVDs (including Hills, which might have been 4-track magnetic stereo originally) are better than usual, tying the rest of the DVDs for overall playback quality.

- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com