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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Western > Murder > Greed > Oppression > Silent Film > Soviet Cinema > Sound Short > Art Film > Famil > Comes A Horseman (1978/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Ghost That Never Returns (1930/Flicker Alley Blu-ray)/Interiors (1978/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edit

Comes A Horseman (1978/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Ghost That Never Returns (1930/Flicker Alley Blu-ray)/Interiors (1978/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Manchester By The Sea (2016/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Trespass Against Us (2015/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Comes A Horseman and Interiors Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies each and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below, while The Ghost That Never Returns Blu-ray is now available online and can be ordered from our friends at Movie Zyng via the order button atop this review or on top of our right hand sidebar.

The following films have complex human stories to tell with multiple characters to the point they create their own worlds of specific densities and are all ambitious. A few are even classics and minor classics....

Alan J. Pakula's Comes A Horseman (1978) is what you would call a 'modern western' though set towards the end of WWII in 1945, though that might be new enough to call it a 'contemporary western' as well. Its concerns are the same as many, a greedy man (Jason Robards) is determined to get land he has always wanted, no matter what. He tried to do this decades ago by destroying the owner by telling him he had sex with his young daughter, now grown up (Jane Fonda) is still working it against many odds besides his interference. Then the title character (James Caan) shows up and slowly starts to get involved.

An earlier incident where the man he was riding with is killed for no good reason, pulls him in. At first, he does not know the situation or the players and his meeting with the now-hardened woman is not exactly one that goes off without a hitch, but they eventually start working together, all as her old nemesis closes in and they have to face the bank trying to foreclose. The set-up is almost reminiscent of Johnny Guitar, but instead of a landmark, Transitional Western as that one was, this turned out to be one of the last ones (along with The Shootist, Heaven's Gate and the few Clint Eastwood would make in this time period) to actually be the last words in the genre as it headed for decline and into a deep sleep for a long time.

It is also among the last of the United Artists films made under the regime that built the studio before they had a falling out with corporate owner Transamerica and left the studio to form Orion Pictures. Of course, Cimino's Heaven's Gate killed the studio's desire to make Westerns from how badly it financially bombed (propaganda war against it included), but the genre was still running out of steam and if it was not that film, it would have been something else. Today, in which we get so many bad westerns and very few good ones, the film holds up well, the acting is top notch, this is one of Fonda's most surprising performances and its better than most films in the genre today. Some aspects may be obvious, but Pakula tried something different and it worked.

The look of the film is great too (more in the tech section below) and always had a unique look without overdoing it. It is certainly a bit visually darker than you might expect for a film of its kind of the time, but with so many films getting dark in pointless ways, the shots here are superior and more complex in that approach. That makes seeing the film a one-of-a-kind experience and if the genre had found a few more years in it, it might have had a chance to be more influential. Glad MGM allowed Twilight Time to issue this one as a Limited Edition Blu-ray, even if they did not have a great print available.

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds an Isolated Music Score and Original Theatrical Trailer.

Abram Room's The Ghost That Never Returns (1930) is a late silent entry from the former Soviet Union (now Russia) about a man named Jose Real (Boris Ferdinanov) to work in the oil business in South America, but gets jailed for trying to unionize the workers. He is freed later to see his family, but a killer has been hired to get rid of him, as he is considered still too subversive to their own financial good. A great companion to films like Salt Of The Earth and Wages Of Fear, it suddenly seems as timely as ever and the great video label Flicker Alley has issued it on Blu-ray in its full-length 94-minutes version. The film manages to be not a mere propaganda film, but one with something to say, show and asks the audience to think. Glad it was saved!

The only extra is the first experimental Soviet sound film Pacific 231 (1931) with its own interesting background.

Woody Allen's Interiors (1978) was an amazing about-face from the perennial comedy director, not taking self-reflective jabs as his comedy persona yet, but daring to make a film in the mode, look, feel and deep emotional content of his favorite filmmaker, international art film legend Ingmar Bergman. That took guts as at this time, Bergman was STILL at the height of his popularity, powers and every film he released (like Allen) was considered a serious cinematic event. Instead, Allen's film is so successful, the title is now often used to start to describe Bergman's films!

Geraldine Page is the overbearing father of a family that looks like it has it all, but is unhappy and worse inside, from the father (E.G. Marshall) to his three daughter (Mary Beth Hurt, Kristin Griffin and of course, Diane Keaton) and after being in this state for at least a generation, something's got to give. But being this is a film in the Bergman mode, that will be slow, painful, long and very difficult... like real life. It is one of Allen's best films because he remains himself all while taking after an all-time master like Bergman and to be blunt, hardly anyone alive now, then or ever could have come close to what he achieves here. It remains one of his most important films and has only become greater with age.

This was shocking in its time coming from him (and a year after Annie Hall), but now, it makes much more sense after all the dark, mature, deep films Allen has made on occasion. Sam Waterston, Richard Jordan and Maureen Stapleton also star.

Extras include a well-illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds an Isolated Music Score.

Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester By The Sea (2016) was originally set to be a non-commercial lead acting turn for Matt Damon, whose big blockbuster commercial success has likely had him really wanting to get back to basics, though he has been good and on a roll in his recent set of releases that have usually fared well. Yet, it was bigtime moviemaking that forced him to drop out of this one at the last minute. However, his replacement was Casey Affleck, not only the brother of Damon's longtime filmmaking partner Ben, but an underrated actor on his own who has often been overshadowed by his brother and whose best work has gone underseen. This time, Casey not only pulls off the best performance of his career, but a hit that shocked viewers, won him a Best Actor Academy Award and that yes, proves he was even a better choice for the role than Damon.

We find his character Lee a janitor just barely making it, alone, in solitude, not that happy and obviously in some pain. How he got there is a question, but we soon start to learn (in clever flashback) when his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) suddenly dies way too young. This leaves him in awful shock, but not as much of a shock as the one he gets when he hears he has been made caretaker of Joe's son Patrick (Lucas Hedges in a breakthrough role) that he feels totally unprepared for. Worse, he has to deal with an ugly event of the past that simply destroyed him as a person.

I will save that as a surprise if you do not know, because it helps the impact of the film, but it includes what happened between him and his now ex-wife Randi (an unbelievably great Michelle Williams, one of our best actresses, hitting yet another home run) not talking about what no one wants to talk about in the town of the title. It is not something evil or vicious that has happened, but horrible and so painful, misdirected anger is very easy to throw around. Everyone is damaged on some level in the film as it manages to be so honest, real and palpable down to the way the locales are so well shot. Williams and Hedges were nominated and Lonergan (who may be overshadowed in his comeback film here) does a brilliant job of bringing it all together and it is NOT easy what he pulled off here. So many things could have gone wrong, but they did not and the result is a true gem of a film. We'll still be talking about it decades from now!

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a Making Of featurette entitled Emotional Lives, Deleted Scenes and A Conversation with Writer/Director Lonergan.

Finally we have Adam Smith's ambitious film Trespass Against Us (2015) with Michael Fassbinder as a family man down and out, living with them in the European equivalent of a trailer park, still dealing with a criminal father (Brendan Gleeson) who is pushing him to be part of a heist that has very, very high risks. The heist is interesting, there are some funny moments here, the acting is impressive, but the script gets muddled and uneven, taking a road sometimes too familiar and settling for that as reality.

There are a few good moments here and actors I bet I'll see again soon who deliver, but the film ultimately is not too memorable despite only running 100 minutes-long. Those interested in the situation might like it more, but I was slightly disappointed, so be awake and alert in fairness to it if you catch it. Rory Kinnear and Sean Harris also star.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds two Making Of featurettes: Blood Bonds and Heartfelt, where Smith discusses the contributions of The Chemical Brothers.

For starters technically these Blu-rays all look fine, even when the print in two older cases have some issues. As Twilight Time has told customers in advance, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Horseman has many little instances of print flaws, but they felt it was too important a film not to release, even if a restored print was not available. It was shot by the legendary Director of Photography Gordon C. Willis, A.S.C., and the fact that it still looks good in a flawed print speaks volumes about his talent. If anything, the film has only appreciated in value visually and its impact as solid as ever.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 (centered in a 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 frame with bookends) black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Ghost obviously is going to show the age of the materials used, but this looks pretty good for its age and Blackhawk, Flicker Alley and comes from a 16mm print of the only surviving full-length version of the film. It retains the intent of darkness and other qualities that made this such an important early piece of Soviet Cinema. Nice.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Interiors rarely shows the age of the materials used, is far superior to all previous releases of the film and also happens to be shot by Director of Photography Gordon C. Willis, A.S.C., miraculously capturing the look and feel of the signature density of Ingmar Bergman films. It is no phony copy, as engaging as ever and still stunning in its power after all these years. Note that Willis did both in a years time!!!

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Manchester is a terrific, naturalistic HD shoot (using the Arri Alexa) that is among the best of its kind we have seen to date and because the makers took their time to get it to look so good, so smooth and edited it with such superior flow. The powerful acting, directing and screenplay come across with all the more power, even in the lesser, anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image DVD version that is passable, but cannot give you the idea of what the makers pulled off here. Cheers to Director of Photography Jody Lee Lipes for such great work.

Last but not least is the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Trespass, a gritty shoot that still manages a great use of color and Director of Photography Edu Grau gets it all to match nicely.

In the sound department, Manchester and Trespass have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that are pretty well mixed and presented with consistent, warm soundfields through that make them the sonic champs on the list. Horseman and Interiors have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mixes from their original optical mono theatrical presentations and sound a little more compressed than I'd like, but play as well as can be expected. The PCM 2.0 Mono on Ghost is obviously the oldest, most aged film here, but the music is just fine, tying the 1978 films and all three are tied by the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Manchester DVD for second and last place. The Blu-rays could not sound much better than they do here.

To order the Comes A Horseman and Interiors limited edition Blu-rays, buy them and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo


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