(1969/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)/All
The Way (2016/HBO
Hate (2015/Film Movement
Were Warriors (1994/Film
People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
(2016/Fox Blu-ray Set)/Take
Me To The River
(2015/Film Movement DVD)
C+/B/C+/C/B/B/C+ Sound: C+/B/C+/C+/B-/B/C+ Extras:
C-/C/C+/C/C/C/C+ Main Programs: C+/B/C+/B-/B+/C+/C+
DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the links below.
for a new slew of dramas for you to know about...
(1969) has David Hemming as the title character, who is about to help
his Saxons survive severe changes that will shape their land for
centuries to come with them even knowing it, fighting the Danes and
trying to figure out their best future. He is in love with his wife
(the underrated Prunella Ransome), but he must deal with his strong
opposite number leading the invaders (a really strong Michael York,
so underrated himself, stealing pretty much very scene in this film
in rare form).
has always been a mixed helmer to me, but still more competent than
many director's we have today and to their credit, MGM backed this
film as well as it could. Not a huge hit in its time, it is still
very ambitious from a year with so many big ambitious productions
that it is worth seeing at 122 minutes. Add Ian McKellen, Colin
Blakely, Julian Glover and Peter Vaughn and any serious movie fan
needs to put this one on their list.
trailer is sadly the only extra.
(2016) seemed like it might just be a pompous TV movie about the
mid-1960s and making Civil Rights more the law of the land, but I was
pleasantly surprised that we get Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson,
flawed and damaged and pleasantly surprised Anthony Mackie (who I
also like) played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so well. The Steven
Spielberg-co-produced project covers how LBJ had to deal with
Dixiecrats, understood how the future of his party was doomed if he
did not take big risks and just how tough it was to get his legacy
achievements done in the face of huge resistance.
Leo is amazing and unrecognizable as Lady Bird Johnson, the
ever-underrated Stephen Root is brilliant as J. Edgar Hoover in ways
that might not be apparent at first, the great Frank Langella is the
Senator related to LBJ and Bradley Whitford makes a really fine
showing as Hubert Humphrey. The teleplay is solid and consistent,
even smarter than you might expect the period and clothes are on
target and despite the 'important;/civil rights will happen' music
cliches, this is an excellent work that is worth going out of your
way for. Nice to see HBO back in prime form.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other
cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a Behind The
Scenes/Making Of featurette and second featurette Bryan Cranston
Becoming LBJ, both worth seeing after the film.
(2015) has a young man (Joseph Cross) dealing with an upset
girlfriend where they live when a young woman (Adelaide Clemens)
shows up claiming to be his cousin and tells him things about his
family he is certain are not true. When they turn out to be true, he
lands up dealing with her, meeting relatives he never knew he had,
unleashing anger, ugly secrets and a few things so sad that it I no
wonder everyone is so toxic and continues to be so.
Schiff and Ricky Jay are brothers who have not talked to each other
in eons and the script offers some very serious subject matter. The
rest of the cast is also good, but the script is a problem in being
to predictable, portraying the people as not always smart in an
'idiot plot' way that backfires and this results in a few missed
it has its ambitions, talent and I'm glad Film Movement picked it up.
See for yourself, but be warned that this is bordering on an NC-17
include a feature length audio commentary track with Director Lerner
and star Joseph Cross, plus Eva Riley's impressive 15-minutes-long
British short film Patriot.
Grandage's Genius (2016) is a portrait of publishing in the
early 20th Century with a somewhat unrecognizable Jude Law in one of
his best roles in years as writer Thomas Wolfe, Nicole Kidman is his
troubled wife, Colin Firth his publisher Maxwell Perkins and becomes
a character study of the time and people trying to say something and
live well. Firth and Law are very convincing in their exchanges
where Wolfe needs all the help he can get with his run-on ideas, Guy
Pierce shows up as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dominic West as Ernest
Hemingway and Laura Linney as Perkins wife makes this as palpable as
the accurate look we get throughout.
some scenes run on too long that could have been used for exposition
or ironic distance and we don't always learn as much about these
people as we should. Yet, there is much chemistry here and if you
can get through the lower points, it is worth your time to see it.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other
cyber iTunes capable devices, while the DVD adds two Making Of
A Portrait Of A Lost Generation.
(1994) has finally made it to Blu-ray (thanks to Film Movement) and
this masterwork about the Maori in New Zealand dealing with
oppression, poverty, being ignored and living in despair is like
nothing you have seen before. It is a rough film at times to watch,
but the people we meet we have not really met before and are like too
many we ignore. The film's opening quickly contrasts the
pie-in-the-sky beautiful tourism of the nation (and it is one of the
most beautiful countries in the world) with the plight of those not
doing as well, but especially those who had the land first before
their ancestors were pushed off most of it.
Auckland, Beth (an unforgettable performance by Rena Owen) raises her
family, putting up with the husband (Temuera Morrison, later of the
films, here in an eventually thankless role) because she loves him
and he can be there for her, yet he is also immature and puts her
household and children in the way of his drunken friends, et al.
They are also trying to get buy, dealing with racial profiling by the
police and an extreme lack of opportunity, so it is an ugly case made
worse by circumstance, depression and substance abuse.
is also about a lack of connection to the past somewhat because
though the Maori know their traditions, their history is too lost for
anyone's own good and that causes problems (the excellent book The
addresses this, but when I tried to explain this prior to the release
of this film in a college class of all things, the whole class
(including the professor!) missed my point and even turned on me in a
bizarre PC incident that is one of the most disgraceful I have ever
seen, heard of or certainly personally encountered) and Beth also
becomes an abused housewife.
film (and its great script) never pull back from this horror and is
explicitly honest about it to its great credit. It becomes the most
brutal of character studies, but a glorious moment of original cinema
that speaks the deepest truth far beyond the obvious. The cast
(mostly first time actors) are great and it all feels real and
palpable from scene one to the end. It also shows the beauty of the
Maori as for real, not exotics, not stereotypes and out of the
darkness something undeniably beautiful and great emerges in the end.
The film is 21+ years old and if anything, its become even more
powerful, important and remarkable in all those years, which is the
sign of a true classic. I love this film, even when it is hard to
watch, but you have to go through the bad to get to the good and it
is about time this incredible film is rediscovered because it is a
must-see film for anyone serious about films about people, ideas,
being human and who we all are.
industry took quick notice, so Tamahori moved quickly onto Hollywood
projects that did not work (Mulholland
Came A Spider,
State Of The Union,
and one that almost did (The
and one of the worst James Bond films ever was or will be made (Die
but this film remains his masterwork and I hope one day he gets back
to basics. Through all those films, many of which had big ad
campaigns, odd it did not get more people to see this one.
include an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text
and a fine essay on the film by the film scholar Peter Calder, while
the Blu-ray adds an Original Theatrical Trailer and vintage Behind
The Scenes featurette. Tamahori's audio commentary from past video
versions is not here sadly, but certainly don't let that stop you
from grabbing this one.
People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
(2016) is a Cable TV mini-series that wants to take on the so-called
'trial of the century' (whatever that means anymore) and lands up
taking the brutal murders of two innocent people and nearly making a
comedy out of it. Co-produced by John Travolta, who plays attorney
Robert Shapiro, the pacing, writing, directing and oddball casting
backfire and reaffirm the 'celebrated ugliness' aspects of the case
versus what really happened.
instance, Cuba Gooding Jr. plays O.J. Without losing his previous
'nice guy' persona, which is a real issue here. Nathan Lane is
inspired casting as F. Lee Bailey, but he is known mostly for his
comic acting, so that turns out odd in the end. David Schwimmer, who
can act when challenged, I Robert Kardashian, but he seems more like
his Friends character in bad make-up, though we get plenty of bad
make-up through the 10 episodes here. Rob Morrow fares better as
Barry Scheck, while Jordana Brewster makes more sense as Denise
Brown. Courtney B. Vance plays Johnnie Cochran as a bit arrogant and
almost overdoes it.
rest of the mostly unknowns are not bad, but everything is also too
long and drawn out. I was bored when I was not laughing for all the
wrong reasons and most of the even cheesiest documentaries (using
that term loosely) that covered the same material were better and
more serious, even by default and even in the face of sensationalism.
The media used the case to promote hate and racism, so justice was
never totally done and we are still suffering the repercussions of
this mess today. This version cleans too much of that mess up in a
revisionist way and that is why I was really disappointed the most.
Making Of featurettes and a timeline in the paperboard sleeve front
cover are the only extras.
we have Matt Sobel's Take
Me To The River
(2015), Logan Miller is a young gay man who is ready to 'come out'
and tell the world about himself when his mother (Robin Weigert)
decides to drag him and his dad (Richard Schiff again) to meet he
'rural' family in Nebraska. Needless to say the mother is trying to
make a family reunion out of this work, but in vein as her son
already is seen as different when he arrives dressing less
conservatively than you might on a farm. Things get really bad when
he is hanging around with a young female cousin of his, she panics,
he did nothing to cause it, but he is considered the reason for the
is made worse by hateful vandalism against them and the toxic,
dysfunctional conflict instantly becomes unsuppressed. Should they
leave? Mom thinks they should stay and resolve this, but ti also
seems she knew there would be trouble, yet insisted on going no
matter what. He semi-negligent thinking is as bad as the lacking
behavior of most 'adults' here and that makes for predictable and
even stereotypical behavior throughout. I like the cast (Josh
Hamilton is the little gals dad), but I just did not buy this as
realistic. See it for yourself, but expect a mixed time.
include on camera Cast Interviews and a feature length audio
commentary track by Director Sobel and co-stars Logan Miller and
three Blu-rays have solid performance with the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital
High Definition image on Way
a consistent HD shoot that is stylized and convincing, but the 1080p
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Warriors
looks really good from 35mm materials that have few flaws and look
like a new HD upgrade more than worthy of the old 12-inch Criterion
LaserDisc (which looked really good for that format) and gives us
some depth, detail and color the other Blu-rays do not.
1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 25 MBPS digital High Definition on the Simpson
episodes look just fine, but they get a little shaky at times and we
get a little motion blur, yet it is still very watchable otherwise if
not as natural-looking as I would have liked.
for the DVDs, the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Great
is a little uneven, but it was shot with 70mm blow-up prints in mind
from a real 35mm anamorphic Panavision shoot. The MetroColor is
inconsistent and the image can be soft, but when the image looks
good, it looks really good because the film was lensed by the
cinematography genius Alex Thompson, B.S.C., who could deliver big
screen images like no other. Color and lighting can really impress
here and the Director of Photography delivers images that hold up
today against later similar films like Kubrick's Barry
That is enough alone to see this one. The DVD releases of the
remaining 3 newer feature film releases have the same aspect ratio
presentation, but are all HD shoots. I like how they all look,
which has a consistent style of the past that works. However, it is
oddly the softest presentation here and I doubt it is this soft in HD
or if a film print was struck. We'll see down the line if I am
correct or not.
three Blu-ray releases offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless
mixes, with the TV programs sounding the best, if not particularly
spectacular or exceptional. They are professional and competent in a
good way and that's fine, while including Warriors
was originally issued in theatrical 35mm prints with Dolby's older
A-type analog sound, but was upgraded to 5.1 a while ago for DVD and
finally, this sounds better than the Criterion's PCM 2.0 Stereo with
Pro Logic surrounds mix. If anything, it is a pleasant surprise just
how clean, clear and even detailed this mix is for its age and the
limits of the film's budget.
for the DVDs, Alfred
is here in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that is not bad for its age
and even surprising, but not as much when you consider this is a
mixdown from the 6-track magnetic soundmaster with traveling dialogue
and sound effects featured on the 70mm blow-up prints. Hope the film
gets a restored treatment, because the sound design is interesting.
remaining DVDs have both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy Dolby
Digital 2.0 Stereo (save Genius,
only offering the 5.1 option) and they all sound equally good for the
format, but the fact that Alfred
can compete with them says something about how imaginative that one
order the Alfred
Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great
web-exclusive releases at: