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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Melodrama > Literature > Class Division > Comedy > South > Family > Controversy > Sexuality > Prejud > Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Indignation (2015/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Looking: The Complete Series and The Movie (2014 - 2016/HBO Blu-ray Set)/Men & Chicken (2015/MVD Visual/Dra

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Indignation (2015/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Looking: The Complete Series and The Movie (2014 - 2016/HBO Blu-ray Set)/Men & Chicken (2015/MVD Visual/Drafthouse Blu-ray w/DVD)/Mr. Church (2016)/The Sea Of Trees (2014/both Lionsgate Blu-rays)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for a new set of dramas that are often odd or at least different, most of which attempt comedy, but with mixed results at best...

Richard Brooks' feature film version of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) shocked Hollywood and the country by taking the controversial book and making it into a surprisingly solid film. Yes, there are some key changes made, but the tension of the dysfunctions remain. Paul Newman is an unhappily married man who misses his hometown sports days and messing around drunk at night reliving the past, gets himself injured and homebound in a cast. He is married to a beautiful southern gal (Elizabeth Taylor, impressive here too) that any man would want, but the bed-ridden husband could care less!

The book (and Newman himself for most of the film, in fairness to him) suggests he may be gay or gay again, but struggling with it, et al. Her Maggie The Cat is a classic character and doesn't know what to think of what is going on, nor does anyone else in their extended dysfunctional family in their dysfunctional town. This is stirred up more by Big Daddy (Burt Ives) whose 'Mr. Money Bags' and everyone wants to be on his good side, especially if he gets ill. He is, and tensions between he and Brick (Newman) are getting worse.

Warner Archive has issued this MGM classic on Blu-ray in a fine new transfer with some extras that spell out the rest, but the extras should be seen after watching the smart, observant film. I was surprised at how well it aged and in some ways, is as truthful as ever about human nature.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, feature-length audio commentary track by Williams biographer and scholar Donald Spoto and a self-titled behind the scenes featurette subtitled Playing Cat & Mouse about the tensions going on, including more tragedy for Taylor.

James Schamus' Indignation (2015) is another drama about sexual tensions based on a book by a key writer (Philip Roth), but we also have anti-Semitism as a young man from New York (Logan Lerman, really good here) going to college and dealing with some of that, but also just trying to concentrate on his work when he becomes interested in a pretty young female student (Sarah Gadon) that lands up having more than just a passing effect on the two. Things move fast for them, so he wants to hit the breaks with his future in mind, but it will not be that easy.

He also has the strange inquiries of his Dean and fighting against the general conformity of his school in 1950s America. Lionsgate has issued the mixed film on Blu-ray in a decent edition, but the script can unfortunately get stuck on cliches, a little predictability and does not add up as much as it could have. I like the look for the production design, the acting, some of the look and some of the directing. Though not a big success, the leads could become stars soon and it is at least a film about something being ambitious.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds two Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes in Timeless and Perceptions.

Looking: The Complete Series and The Movie (2014 - 2016) was HBO's attempt to have another gay-themed hit like their U.S. version of Queer As Folk, but it just ran into overlap and repetition despite the start we covered at this link...


After the second season did not work out the network let the makers wrap it all up in a telefilm, so this Blu-ray set gives us the complete story of these San Francisco-based characters that has its graphic moments and graphic situations, but is somehow still a bit contrived and a bit of mainstreaming does not help. Scott Bakula shows up as one of the men 'in the life' as a side character, but is no better or worse than the unknowns who make up the show.

Though this is groundbreaking enough for a major pay cable network to have, it is still behind the best works on the subject, but was not awful for its subject matter. Still, I cannot see this appealing to viewers much beyond a gay target audience.

Extras include a Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-rays add 16 cast/crew audio commentary tracks.

Anders Thomas Jensen's Men & Chicken (2015) has a very frustrated man (Mads Mikkelsen of Casino Royale and TV's Hannibal) trying to get it on with women and lucky to have a supportive brother (David Denick) as their father is ill and about to die. When this happens, he leaves an old videotape telling them they are not blood relatives with him or each other, then the tape drops off not finishing whatever the shocking truth is. Thus, sticking together, the brothers go on a sort of road trip where they land up finding their dysfunctional relatives and almost wish they hadn't.

Though performances are good, Mikkelsen is always bold and he film's not afraid to get down, dirty or graphic, it is sold as a comedy and it was never funny, only mildly amusing at best and not like Scorsese's King Of Comedy (1983) where nothing is actually funny. Maybe I am missing something about Danish humor, but I doubt it on this scale. However, it is a film of note there well promoted and I'm glad I saw it. Just wish it had worked better.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film, Original Theatrical Trailer and trailers for other Drafthouse releases.

Bruce Beresford's Mr. Church (2016) is a huge, awful miss of the film and maybe the worst thing he has ever helmed, trying to have Eddie Murphy in a dramatic role (read Oscar-begging contest) as an unorthodox housekeeper who helps out a young gal (eventually Britt Robertson) and her mother, who (you guessed it!) becomes ill. With no father around, guess who gets to fill in... badly?

The illicit appeals to pity get worse as he becomes passively repugnant and this is everything you've seen before, but WORSE as we get so many shots of Murphy that it looks like there are building a stills portfolio to send the academy. He looks bored and you'll gel bored watching all 105 LONG minutes of this melodramatic sudsfest. YAWN!!!

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds four dull Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes.

Gus Van Sant's The Sea Of Trees (2014) can also be boring, but it at least things it is trying to be thoughtful as Matthew McConaughey is a man whose life and self are a personal mews, so when tragedy strikes, he goes to Japan to find himself. Eventually, this means being out in the middle of nowhere, then getting literally stuck in a forest with a man (Ken Wantanabe) who is not well himself, but might be more disconnected from society and might be able to help.. a bit. Naomi Watts is his ill wife and again, lots of cliches, yet the film thinks it is being existential somehow. Unfortunately, despite the likable talent involved, it never worked out that way or says anything we haven't heard before. Too bad, because van Sant can be effective when he wants to be.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a self-titled Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurette subtitled A Story Of Beauty & Tragedy.

All five feature film Blu-rays are about on par with each other looking good, though each have their flaws and limits. Cat is the oldest film here, in a really impressive new transfer in a 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image with the nest color on the list and remarkably, better shots overall than the rest, sharing the same frame and 1080p as Church and Indignation, while Men (with an anamorphically enhanced DVD in the same frame that is soft and the poorest performer on the list) and Trees are offered in 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers. The rest are digital shoots and I have to say they'll date a bit in a few years.

That leaves the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Looking can look good in interiors, but there is this odd thing where outdoor sequences look degraded a bit on purpose and it makes no narrative sense or helps the show at all.

The four newer feature films and Looking are presented in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, all tie for the best sonic performers here and have consistent soundfields, but none really offer anything more impressive than that, especially since they tend to be dialogue-based. Cat comes in second with a decent-sounding DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix that is as good as I have ever heard the film, so fans will be pleased and I doubt it could sound any better.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the Men DVD is the weakest performer here and sometimes some dialogue is not clear.

To order the Warner Archive Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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