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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Police State > Science Fiction > Politics > Terrorism > Cable TV > Crime > Heist > Character Study > The Handmaid's Tale: Season One (2017/MGM Blu-ray Set)/Hell Or High Water 4K (2016/CBS/Lionsgate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Images (1972/Robert Altman/United Artists/MGM/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Rebecka

The Handmaid's Tale: Season One (2017/MGM Blu-ray Set)/Hell Or High Water 4K (2016/CBS/Lionsgate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Images (1972/Robert Altman/United Artists/MGM/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Rebecka Martisson: Series One (2017/Acorn DVD Set)/Run, Chrissie, Run! (1984/Umbrella PAL Import DVD)/Underworld U.S.A. (1961/Sony/Columbia/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B-/B/B+/B-/C/B Sound: B/B+ & B/B+/B-/C+/C+ Extras: C/C+/B/D/D/B Main Programs: B/B-/B/B/C/B

PLEASE NOTE: The Underworld U.S.A. Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while Run, Chrissie, Run! is now available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment and will play on all DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray players that can handle the PAL video format. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a strong set of smart mystery thrillers for your consideration...

Back in the later 1980s was the first filmed adaptation of her dystopian novel about how the Ultra Religious, Ultra Right-Wing took over a nation, trashing all civil rights and the country itself by using any emergency to seize power. We'll hopefully take a closer look at that film in the near future, but despite some great casing and accurately dark moments, I felt it did not go far enough.

About three decades later, it has become a hit TV series (via Hulu) and even won awards, so what is The Handmaid's Tale: Season One (2017) doing that the feature film did not? Well, it is in for the long haul, so it has the luxury of not having to get everything in from the book in a few hours. Atwood is backing the new show, a big plus, while casting is still as solid as the original film.

A plague has occurred that made a vast majority of women unable to have children, so those of lower-classes (or unreligious) are kidnapped and forced to be slaves for the new order of Christo-Fascism in Gilead, a place where the politicians take their orders from 'God' (a Theocracy) though it has its own issues. The story is told mostly form the point of view of Offred (Elisabeth Moss, really good here) whose story we learn of before her abduction, et al.

Recapping the book and the previous film, we learn of her backstory when she was still free, the ugly circumstances of her capture and what a mess the country has become since. At least as relevant now as it was when the book was first published, then theatrical feature film was made, the ten episodes have some very ugly moments and re-remind us of the potential insanity such a world would bring. The series is also more pro-active about resistance to the police state portrayed, but I wonder if this still does not go far enough, i.e. is the show not brutally honest and violent enough to show how bad this would be?

Since this is only the first season, I cannot honestly answer that, but I am impressed how consistent, smart and well thought through this is for the path taken. Cheers also for sly updates that include connective nods to event since, including bits about 'terrorism' and how Christianity here is as bad as any 'Islamo-Fascism' you can think of. Joseph Finnes, Yvonne Strahovski and Samira Wiley lead the supporting cast.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is from an impressively consistent HD shoot, but the show overdoes manipulating the color to be slightly darkened and on the gray side, almost making it all seem to otherworldly in a way that backfires a little bit. On the other hand, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on each episode is pretty good and well recorded throughout, so that is a plus too.

We only get two Making Of/Behind The Scenes featurettes as extras: Script To Screen and Hope In Gilead.

Definitely catch this show and move onto Season Two after you've seen this set, as we have at this link...


David Mackenzie's somewhat under-appreciated crime drama from 2016 is back, now issued as Hell Or High Water 4K and still one of the best films of that year. The tale that pits smart cop Jeff Bridges against Chris Pine and the ever-underrated Ben Foster as brothers robbing banks to save their property is now in the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, including the regular Blu-ray we already reviewed at this link...


Though the film has a few minor flaws throughout, I still like the film very much, including in its performances and the chemistry between the actors. This caused no creative boom as CBS Films, but I know it is a film that is respected by just about everyone who sees it and will likely only grow in audience as did Shawshank Redemption and other films that are not as showy and do not always get talked about as they should, but have great respect when they do.

Thus, it makes total sense this should hit 4K ASAP, especially when the 2160p HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision (12-bit color)/HDR (10-bit color; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image here delivers the film with more detail, depth and clarity than the already decent 1080p Blu-ray we covered before. You also get to enjoy the actors more by seeing just how good they are here with less effort and the locales are more vivid.

And while that regular Blu-ray had a really solid DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, the new 4K 2160p version offers a more expanded, open and articulate Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on older systems) lossless mix that improves over what was already a very professionally recorded, edited and mixed soundmaster. That even gives us some demo moments that al 4k UHD TV owners will want to see.

It repeats the same extras as the previous Blu-ray/DVD set as well, so you cannot lose with this fine set. Get it!

Susannah York stars in Robert Altman's Images (1972), a psychological piece centers around a pregnant and confused children's author (with schizophrenia) who keeps confusing her husband with her lovers and her self as she has a mental breakdown. The film is interestingly shot with the location in Ireland and produced and features a Pre-Spielberg score by John Williams that's spot on.

The film also stars Rene Auberjonois (an Altman regular), Marcel Bozzufi, Hugh Millais, and Cathryn Harrison.

Images is mainly from York's perspective, and the camera hardly leaves her during the most part. This no doubt helps put the audience in her shoes, but allows for and almost Hitchcockian feel that will no doubt make you feel a little uneasy at times. York won the Best Actress award at Cannes for her role in this film, which certainly isn't surprising.

Presented on 1080p Blu-ray disc with a startling 4K remaster, the film looks fantastic in its original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an original English Mono 1.0 (uncompressed LPCM tracks) that bring the film to life. Considering the age of the film, it looks clean but isn't without some grain as was evident on the original 35mm master. Shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), this is no doubt a proud achievement in his career.

Special Features...

Audio commentary by Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger

Scene-select commentary by writer/director Robert Altman

Imagining Images, an archive featurette with Altman and cinematographer Zsigmond

Brand new interview with actor Cathryn Harrison

An appreciation by musician and author Stephen Thrower

Original Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Carmen Gray and an extract from Altman on Altman.

A sleek Swedish crime show, Rebecka Martinsson, centers around a Stockholm lawyer who gets wrapped up in murder and intrigue in her hometown of Kiruna after the murder of a childhood friend. The scariest part about the lot of the show is that it feels like it could easily happen with ex-Nazis, dead bodies frozen under ice, and a complex investigation all part of this Series One (2017) primary focus.

Featuring a fantastic performance by Ida Engvoll as the title character, the show is character-driven and mainly from Martinsson's perspective. The neo-noir series is based on 4 crime novels written by author Asa Larsson.

There are eight episodes in the series that span two discs and are around 45 minutes a piece.

Presented in standard definition on DVD with an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Swedish Dolby Digital sound mix with English subtitles, the show looks as good as it can. Nicely shot with icy blues and natural-looking atmosphere, the show is very cinematic and has some beautiful shots of Sweden throughout that are easy on the eyes.

Worth checking out if you're looking for a foreign female driven crime series!

Chris Langman's Australian thriller Run, Chrissie, Run! (1984, aka Money Hunters or Moving Targets) arrived at the end of the original OzPloitation cycle and has a 15-year-old as the title character (Annie Jones) being terrorized with her mother (Carmen Duncan of Turkey Shoot) because the mother knows too many shady characters and now they want to get her, putting them both and their quiet life in permanent jeopardy.

Allegedly also made for TV, this is violent and enough so that I wonder if this cut could have been broadcast then in this form, but the problem is that it is everything we've seen before, the bad guys are a bit cliche and the ending is dull. Shane Briant is the only supporting actor I recognized by name and barely by face. A curio at best, this film (an Umbrella PAL Import DVD) is for completists only.

The 1.33 X 1 image is on the weak side and looks a generation down, so is it a TV print? This could look better, but we'll have to wait for a Blu-ray if one surfaces to finds out. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is better than expected, so it does not need as much work and makes sitting through the image issues easier. A trailer for its home video release is the only extra.

Last but not least is Samuel Fuller crime thriller Underworld U.S.A. (1961) that we reviewed as part of a great DVD box set of his films a good few years ago. Now it is on Blu-ray as a Twilight Time Limited Edition (joining the Crimson Kimono Blu-ray from the same label reviewed elsewhere on this site, another Fuller film) and as I said in the DVD review...

'Cliff Robertson plays a man who joins the Mob to get revenge on them for killing his father when he was a child. A very effective, uncompromising revenge thriller and one of Robertson's finest moments, Fuller had also made the transition into widescreen filmmaking with ease.'

The second viewing of late offers an upgrade even better than Kimono with some shots demo for black and white and above the letter grade we've given the film, with some sharpness, depth and detail that will surprise and please fans & movie lovers alike. The ideas of criminals, gangsters and big business presented here are as bold as ever and parts of the film even grow on you. Impressive, well done and relevant as ever, its worth going out of your way for.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer rarely shows the age of the materials used, is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and cheers to Sony and their restoration/preservation efforts. This easily outdoes the old DVD, as does the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless sound mix, showing how weak the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound on the DVD really was.

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 disc adds the featurette Martin Scorsese on Underworld U.S.A., Sam Fuller: Storyteller program (both on different DVDs from the DVD box set), Isolated Music Score and Original Theatrical Trailer.

To order the Underworld U.S.A. limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these links:




...and to order the Run, Chrissie, Run! Umbrella import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard-to-find releases:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Images, Acorn)



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