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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Historical > WWII > History > Biography > British > Stage Play > Poverty > Mental Illness > Comedy > R > Darkest Hour (2017/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds (1972/Fox)/Husbands and Wives (1992/Tri-Star/Sony/Both Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/I, Tony

Darkest Hour (2017/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds (1972/Fox)/Husbands and Wives (1992/Tri-Star/Sony/Both Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)/I, Tonya (2017/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds and Husbands and Wives Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the links below.

Up next are three of the big recent awards season films, plus two older gems in the same league...

Joe Wright's The Darkest Hour (2017) starts out at first to be a little more comical than expected with the U.K. facing a severe Nazi threat as Neville Chamberlain and his fellow conservatives have so appeased Hitler that their hopes to keep some kind of old order is a big illusion. Chamberlain has to go, but who will Parliament agree to as his successor? Though hardly a popular choice they turn to controversial Winston Churchill (from his failure at Gallipoli noted in the film to his Gandhi-bashing the film skips), who uneasily succeeds Chamberlain, though that camp thinks they can throw him out if he trips up and fails.

With limited to no resources (the British Empire has declined) at this point dangerously so, Royalty is unsure of him, any collision government will be fragile at first and a situation in Dunkirk (which the great Christopher Nolan films shows so well gets a good description here) potentially a nightmare where the country will lose a generation at the worst possible time, Churchill (Gary Oldman in a stunning turn that ranks as one of the best of so many great performances in his career) has lives a bit in a bubble too.

Soon, the film gets slowly more serious as the situation and world get more grim and Churchill (along with his wife, played well by Kristin Scott Thomas), we see Churchill take on the establishment and come up with the best answers against all odds and darker forces who'd rather sell England out than fight. The film shows how he helped save the free world and made moral, adult choices one wonders if many people in his position now could.

I was not certain if the film would work or tell a version of his story and history that I was false or compromised, but this rings true for pretty much its two-hour length and I will not say any more about it as not to ruin it, but I must confess Oldman is so powerful here he overrides any minor issues I have with the film and if I did not know it was him under all that make-up, it would have taken me a while to figure out it was that man giving this performance. Don't miss it!

Paul Newman's The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds (1972) is based on the stage play by Paul Zindel about a poor mother named Beatrice (Newman's wife Joanne Woodward, who is amazing here) dealing with two daughters, money troubles and her own dreams lost to reality and her own personal, private issues. At first, it is comical because Beatrice has a big mouth, says what no one would have the nerve to say and in the gritty early 1970s, that was refreshing. However, there is pain to all this (of course) and her two daughters (Nell Potts, Woodward and Newman's real-life daughter (now on many packages of great Newman's Own products) & Roberta Wallach) are numb from it at this point. To make ends meet, they even try to take in someone to rent a room from them, but the results are not what you'd expect. Thus, this is a darkly humorous, slice-of-life piece about people we rarely hear from or about (especially since the 1980s, making this one of the many films to get lost in that denial.shuffle since) and a rich one very worthy of rediscovery. Add that Newman knew how to direct and you have a real gem worth going out of your way for. I also liked the supporting cast and locations, all of which were very palpable.

However, this is a limited edition Blu-ray release from Twilight Time, so get a copy while you can.

Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives (1992) was made at a time of great change for the director, finding a new home at TriStar Pictures after Orion Pictures folded, one of his more serious films about relationships falling apart and one that would mark the ugly end of his fruitful relationship with Mia Farrow, a break up so ugly, it still resonates over a quarter century later. This makes it one of the most painful and painfully honest films he ever made.

He and Farrow play a happy couple stunned when a best friends couple (Judy Davis and Sydney Pollack) announce casually that they are breaking up, but that they are fine with it and it is no big deal. However, the shock starts to affect them and this leads to a combo of extra-marital affairs and mid-life crises. Juliette Lewis, Liam Neeson, Blythe danner and the supporting cast is great and it is sadder than ever to watch.

Of course, this posts as there is talk of boycotting Allen, his work and making any future films with him because of accusations in what was one of the saddest, ugliest, most toxic and angry break-ups in and out of Hollywood, where the issues have been revived. Allen has some brave defenders and many are either bashing him because they always hated him or just moving away from him because they do not want to become entangled in an ugliness that we're probably never going to know everything about. In that, I at least think throwing out his 50+ years of work is a mistake, censorship, has witchhunt elements to it and is immature. If you don't respect the man, at least acknowledge his work has been important and impressive. Those who care will want to see this film again.

Craig Gillespie's I, Tonya (2017) has a title that may recall the biography of Tina Turner or Asimov's classic Robot tale, but it is far from both and despite being an awards-winner, is a bit of whitewashing and revisionist history of the infamous events surrounding the at-first mysterious assault (turns out murder was actually considered) of the great skater Nancy Kerrigan. Turns out friends of her competitor (the film tries to say she did not know what had happened at first, but one wonders how true that is since we were lied to about so many other things) Tonya Harding (played here by the great Margot Robbie, who is good here, but still too pretty and glamorous to convince me she is Ms. Harding, even with her looks dulled down) as her then (abusive) husband Jeff (Sebastian Stan, convincing in an obviously thankless role) helps make happen to help Tonya win over Kerrigan by having her knee bashed in.

We don't see Kerrigan much here, so egotistical and even cynical is this telling of what happened, almost insulting to the viewer, though I will buy the parts where Ms. Harding was an abuse victim and often the victim thereof, yet that excuses ZERO of what happened, no matter what she claims and once the awards shine and its accompanying honeymoon period is over, that will all become more obvious.

Allison Janney is the surprise here as her hateful, angry mother who constantly bashes here and goes out of her way to put her down, jealous that she might be a success when her mom hardly tried, though this is also the activity of angry, petty relatives who might have personal or financial success, et al, and Janney gets it in her award-winning performance of the kind of self-entitled pettiness mixed with hate that makes this kind of person(ality) possible.

The film runs about two hours, quitting just while it was ahead and I bought the performances and even the period when I did not buy the story, though it could have even been more accurate. Thus, that is another reason why I did not buy this side of the story so much because there are a few other things that just do not ring true. Still, it is worth a good look, though some people despise the title woman so much, they are going out of their way to skip this one. I would still give it a chance.

That still leaves us with another one of the best films of 2017 and our final entry here, the intense award winning drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), featuring an all-star cast of Oscar Winners Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell for their roles in the film along with Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, and Abbie Cornish. Directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) and based on a true story, this is a film for the ages and certainly one that stands out on the new 4K Ultra HD format.

When the investigation surrounding the death of her innocent daughter reach a dead end, Mildred Hayes (McDormand) takes matters into her own hands and brings the case's attention to the community by writing a controversial message on three billboards outside of town. Targeting the town's dying Chief (Harrelson), his second in command Officer Dixon (played by Rockwell) brings his violent tendencies to the case and muddles up the lines between Mildred's wishes to seek justice for her daughter and revenge.

Presented in a 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K UHD disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a great sounding English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 track, the film looks and sounds great on 4K and includes a 1080p Blu-ray version of the film as well.

A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include...

Featurette: "Crucify 'Em: The Making of Three Billboards"

Six Shooter (Short Film)

Deleted Scenes


This is a fantastic drama that is realistic and heavy hitting and definitely worth watching. It definitely lives up to the hype that followed it throughout the awards season.

The rest of the discs look fine to, starting with the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Tonya Blu-ray, which does not go idiotically out of its way to look 'period' and is not badly edited either, with the anamorphically enhanced DVD version passable. We get more than our share of 1.33 X 1 'interview' footage that is almost too much, but that's it.

The other three films are presented in 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition and all are shot on film except Hour, which is a decent HD shoot that does look period, yet never rings phony. However, the anamorphically enhanced DVD version is just a little too soft for my tastes.

Marigolds is the oldest film here and not only does it have its share of grain, that grain is part of the look of the film, reflecting the poverty and limits of the world the main characters live in. Color here is very consistent and this is how the film has always looked at its best. Husbands is another Allen film lensed by the great Director of Photography Carlo, DiPalma, A.I.C., with fine camera movement, compositions and a smooth look reflecting the upper/middle class NYC world the characters live in. This too is as good as I have ever seen the film look.

Continuing on sound, Hour actually has lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 sound (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) and Tonya offer the expected, quality DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that both sound good though Hour is very dialogue-driven and Tonya has more than its share of needed music, while Marigolds and Husbands (originally issued theatrically in Dolby SR!) only have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes that are good for what they are, but are far from sonically thorough. Marigolds has a few spots of harmonic distortion that make it hard to hear what is being said, but is typical of analog optical mono sound of the time, while Husbands benefits from the advanced Spectral Dolby noise reduction. The Hour and Tonya DVDs only have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes that are passable at best.

Extras on Marigolds and Husbands include nicely illustrated booklets on each respective film with informative text and yet more excellent essays by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-rays add Isolated Music Scores with select Sound Effects and Original Theatrical Trailers. Hour and Tonya both offer Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the discs add feature length audio commentary tracks with their respective directors and Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes. Tonya has trailers too.

To order The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds and Husbands and Wives limited edition Blu-rays, buy them and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo & James Lockhart (4K)



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