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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Relationships > Satire > Slapstick > Surrealism > Crime > Drugs > Cars > Romance > Dark Humor > Satir > Alice (1990/Woody Allen/Orion/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/American Made 4K (2017/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Cannonball Run II (1984/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Do

Alice (1990/Woody Allen/Orion/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/American Made 4K (2017/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Cannonball Run II (1984/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Doc Hollywood (1991/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The Hospital (1971/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B/B+/B-/B/B Sound: B-/A/C+/B/C+ Extras: C+/C+/D/C-/C+ Films: B-/C+/C-/B/B

PLEASE NOTE: The Alice and The Hospital 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, while the Doc Hollywood Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Comedies can range from the totally idiotic to very dark, as these new releases show...

Woody Allen's Alice (1990) is another of his Mia Farrow films, so you always watch them knowing how badly things ended and still so with her son helping to break open the series of sexual harassment scandals going on now, but before, they made some good films. Farrow is the title character, a married writer how is unhappy. Her husband (William Hurt) is not a bad guy, but she finds another guy (Joe Mantegna) more exciting, has an editor (Cybill Shepherd) who may or may not be a help, so she goes for help to a special kind of doctor (Keye Luke) more into hypnotism and herbs than the usual medicine.

This is one of the latter films Allen made at Orion Pictures before the mini-major studio sadly collapsed and folded. The film becomes more surreal when the comedy gets sillier including a visit from her muse (Bernadette Peters) and a former lover as a ghostly figure (Alec Baldwin), along with funny, off-kilter visual moments, Blythe Danner as her sister and great turns by Judy Davis and Gwen Verdon, et al. The film could be seen as Annie Hall-lite or a more intellectual variant of Hall on a smaller scale, though Allen does not show up in the film.

It reminds me that Allen and Farrow actually had chemistry that worked while their relationship lasted and though it is over in the worst way, some good films were made. MGM, who now owns the later Orion catalog, has allowed this to be yet another Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray, of which in Allen's case, we have now covered over a dozen.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image was lensed once again by Carlo Di Palma, A.I.C., who was able to deliver amazing shots for Allen and they were a great team together. This transfer shows how good this is and even when some visual effects have dated, that only makes the film funnier. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is one of the rare films in mono recorded and issued in Dolby's more advance SR (Spectral Recording) analog noise reduction system and the clarity here is impressive. Stanley Kubrick first employed older Dolby noise reduction on A Clockwork Orange, the first film to use Dolby of any kind, though the film was monophonic. In his final films at Orion, a studio that was very high on the SR process, Allen become the first artist to use SR for monophonic sound... and the last/.

Extras include another 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 with select Sound Effects and Original Theatrical Trailer, which is about all the Allen films have been getting. Get it for the isolate music if nothing else!

Tom Cruise and Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) team up again for American Made (2017), which is far different than the sci-fi extravaganza The Edge of Tomorrow (also known as Live, Die, Repeat, that they both made a few years back and which is reviewed elsewhere on this site) expanding on a real life figure who also turned up a few brief times in the great Narcos TV series' first two seasons. American Made also stars the gorgeous Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Jayma Mays, and Connor Trinneer. The film is produced by Hollywood heavyweight Brian Grazer.

'Based on a true lie', American Made stars Cruise as Barry Seal, a talented TWA (a now-defunct airline) pilot who got mixed up in the business of drug running for the CIA in the 1980s. Starting out as a bored pilot who feels like TWA is becoming a bit too safe and routine for his likings, he gets an offer he can't refuse from a CIA Agent (Gleeson) and soon has more money than he knows what to do with. Despite the life threatening risks of the job, Barry still is at his happiest at home with the wife (Wright) and his three young children. However, when employer Pablo Escobar and others start getting heat from the Reagan Administration, Barry soon feels that his flyboy days are about to end... and a poor life behind prison becoming closer to reality.

The film reminded me a little bit of the Johnny Depp drug running film Blow (2001), however here, Cruise isn't portrayed as taking part in the drugs but is in it more for the thrills of law breaking and money making than getting a high. Still, the film moves at a fast pace and gives us a different 'down to earth' side of Cruise that isn't dodging explosions at every turn.

The film is presented in a 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Ultra HD disc with a great sounding DTS-X 11.1 (and a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mixdown), both of which are at a high standard for the new format. Also included is the lesser quality 1080p high definition Blu-ray disc, which isn't as impressive as the HDR presentation of the 4K UHD disc. There are lots of beautiful aerial shots of various foreign territories in the film and has a few sequences that look as if they are shot on various formats including VHS, super 16mm, and others. However, the looks pulled off here could be digital trickery, it still is effective onscreen.

Also included is a digital UV copy of the film.

Special Features include...

Deleted Scenes

American Storytellers - The American Made filmmakers share their thoughts on the appeal of their film as another important American story to be told.

Cruise and Liman: A Conversation - Tom Cruise and Doug Liman discuss the making of American Made.

In the Wings - Sarah Wright Olsen, Caleb Landry Jones, and Domhnall Gleeson discuss their characters.

Shooting American Made - A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.

Flying High - Tom Cruise and Doug Liman discuss the aerial stunts in the movie.

The Real Barry Seal - Aaron Seal reflects on his father's life.

2017 was no doubt a little rough on Cruise, whose other Universal film (The Mummy reboot) wasn't exactly a huge hit. Still, he has has plenty of upcoming projects for fans to look forward to, including another entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise and a possible Top Gun sequel that has been in discussion for years. For what it is, I enjoyed American Made and found it to be a nice 4K disc that's worthy of checking out for its presentation alone.

Hal Needham's notoriously bad Cannonball Run II (1984) may still hold the records for most major actors picking up a paycheck for doing very little, in one of the most unnecessary sequels of all time still, with zero point, a mix of a few good cars and many dated ones in a nightmare George Orwell could have never predicted. As is often the case today, the producers did not realize how lucky their Gumball Rally knock-off got at the box office and Reynolds in particular made the error that his record run as a #1 box office star made him invulnerable to slop jobs like this.

Instead, he started barely showing up for his sequels, if at all and critics shredded him as fans started to get bored. Add a false attack that he had AIDS early in the crisis (he lost a great amount of weight suddenly, but after a stunt accident, yet some Right Wing homophobe who hated Hollywood conjured up the lie and it did not help him or anyone) and the unthinkable happened... Reynolds box office run ended abruptly. Choices like this did not help and set him up for his own downfall.

A barely present Burt Reynolds (are those all outtakes?), Jackie Chan (lesser-known then), Sammy Davis, Jr., Catherine Bach, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Marilu Henner, Telly Savalas, Ricardo Montalban, Jamie Farr, Shirley MacLaine and infamous Frank Sinatra spins around in a leather desk chair appearance are among the stars who show up in what plays like a slightly upscale Hollywood Squares with cars on film, but a half-hour game show would have had a far more substantial plot.

Umbrella in Australia has issued this dud as a Region Free import Blu-ray, so now at home, you can see more vividly than ever why it is so horrid and a knowing waste of time. It did not do well at the box office, but how much could it really have cost? Incredibly, it was still not enough of a bomb that a third installment was attempted and at least one was transformed into a non-sequel still filmed and released. Many more bad imitators surfaced at times until a new era began with the infamous Stallone big budget megabomb Driven which co-starred Reynolds and a smaller film at Universal no one expected anything from that was a surprise hit: The Fast & The Furious. The rest is more awful cinema history.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used and though color can be good, this can look strained and a little off at times. The only track here is a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix with weak Pro Logic surrounds, but the film was never sonically impressive either.

There are fortunately no extras.

Michael J. Fox stars in Doc Hollywood (1991), which is my favorite film of the actor's distinguished resume outside of the Back to the Future Trilogy. Released for the first time in HD, the film remains a funny, romantic, and heart warming feature.

The film also stars Julie Warner, Woody Harrelson, Bridget Fonda, David Ogden Stiers and Barnard Hughes.

Hot shot L.A. Doctor Ben Stone (Fox) ends up in small town in South Carolina on the way home and gets into a minor accident. Sentenced by the court to work in the small town as a Doctor after destroying a fence with his classic car, Ben soon gets his life turned upside down as he has to put in sixteen hours of community service before a deadline back west. Things shift into a new gear when he meets the girl of his dreams (Warner) and begins to self examine his life and career in the process.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo track with Pro Logic surrounds from the original analog Dolby A-type noise reduction release (their oldest system), the film looks and sounds better than I've ever seen it here. Having seen the film so many times on cable TV, it's nice to see it as originally intended. A little dated but not without a great soundtrack, if you're a fan of the film then you'll want to seek this release out.

The only special feature is a restored HD trailer. Which is a bummer as it would have been nice to have a cast/crew retrospective on the film.

Last but not least is Arthur Hiller's film of Paddy Chayefsky's The Hospital (1971), bashing the medical system starting to head for its then-worst long before HMOs in the 1980s (invented in the 1970s with Nixon's help as it turns out) expecting greed, apathy and idiocy to ruin vital medical help for people. Once again, Chayefsky was more accurate than he lived to see. At a Manhattan hospital where protests are taking place during the counterculture movement and patients from all over the urban city area come in, bureaucracy is catching up. Patients are dying, but not just from ill health, but because of scheduling mistakes, patient mix-ups, insurance mishaps ands distracted doctors, one of whom is having sex with various nurses, et al. When he and some other patients, doctors, nurses, etc,. start turning up dead, is there a killer at the hospital?

George C. Scott is the head doctor trying to cut through the chaos, but he himself falls for a very sexy, attractive female daughter (Diana Rigg) of a patient whose father is even using Native american chanting and dancing to be cured. If the mishaps keep happening, what could it hurt?

The film may not be as biting as Network! would be a few years later, but in a world where people could afford health care more (jobs that generously gave them proper humane coverage), had higher expectations form their institutions and government in general and doctors still did house calls (there were so many mom and pop docs then), this was funnier in comparison to real life than the mess we have now all the way to 'Obamacare' which tries to being back coverage people had before the gutting of everything that started in the 1980s. Barnard Hughes also shows up here along with Richard Dysart, Robert Walden, Frances Sternhagen, Nancy Marchand, Christopher Guest and Stockard Channing.

Yes, its one of those kind of great films more people need to see, from the amazing cast (including stars to be) to what the film has to say for how well it is written, acted and made. This might be Hiller's best film, a real gentleman Hollywood director who made his share of blockbusters (Love Story, Silver Streak) and other smart, fun films. He tends to be underrated and deserves more credit than he gets, especially in how he handled comedy, which he was really fine at. This was made by United Artists at its later peak and MGM has decided to let this hem be issued as a Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray. Hard to believe this is not a more prominent film, but its comeback cannot happen fast enough, Definitely worth going out of your way for, the return of The Hospital is one whose time has come!

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film even in the softer sections because the naturalistic soft look is the look of the film. At that time, it connoted realism and even with 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints being issued (this only looks like that one of the time, but that's not a bad thing as the transfer is consistent enough), the idea was more honest color than TV could deliver and old Hollywood did.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless sound mix shows its age (as does the isolated music score), but that is the fidelity of mono of the time and I doubt it could sound much better, but is fine for what it is. Despite the moments of yelling, fighting and chaos, this can also be a quiet film.

Extras include another 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 with select Sound Effects and Original Theatrical Trailer that is also amusing, but should not be seen until after watching the film.

To order the Alice and/or The Hospital limited edition Blu-rays, buy them and other great titles while supplies last at these links:




...and to order the Doc Hollywood Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo & James Lockhart (4K, Doc)



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