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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biography > Biopic > Politics > History > Art > Oppression > Murder > Police State > Communism > Polan > After Image (2017/Film Movement Blu-ray w/DVD)/All The Money In The World (2017/TriStar/Sony DVD)/Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978/Umbrella Import Blu-ray)/The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928/Criterion B

After Image (2017/Film Movement Blu-ray w/DVD)/All The Money In The World (2017/TriStar/Sony DVD)/Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978/Umbrella Import Blu-ray)/The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928/Criterion Blu-ray)/A Trip To The Moon (1902 in original color version + original black & white version/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the link below.

Here's our latest set of important classics and a new gem worth going out of your way for...

When it comes to serious filmmakers of world class and renown who always had something to say, Andrzej Wajda is at the top of the list, a man who never felt pure cinema about was to be taken for granted. Always daring truth to power and speaking on a higher level, After Image (2017) turned out to be his final film and it is his tribute to another artist who was vital to his homeland of Poland, but was abused, hated, disregarded, tossed away and trashed like so many in oppressive countries like his as Poland became part of Stalin's infamous Soviet Bloc.

Often painful to watch in how the abuse, witch-hunting, censorship and abuse took place, this is sadly typical of how police states worked and such abuse still takes place in countries all over the world, but Wajda seems interested in comparing a regime that needed to fall versus someone who gave the country a distinct identity in his amazing art, but the Stalinists wanted their 'social realism' which really means to have any media be their idea of 'real life' (or whatever they decide to define that at any moment) and ANY creativity, freedom or innovation counter to that (all of those) must be annihilated. Wajda is no doubt speaking of his own experiences and of the dark side of Poland that has recently re-reared its ugly head as this arrives on home video.

Film Movement has nabbed this great film and issued it as a Blu-ray/DVD set, a film that describes a MUCH wider audience in the U.S., et al, than it got for being the final film of such a master of filmmaking. Like his entire catalog of vital work, it is more relevant now than ever before and a big surprise because like the last films of many other filmmakers, it is not a laidback, reserved final film wrapping a career up, but another, final triumph by someone who could see things as they really were and showed us how and why.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is a remarkable representation of a superior HD shoot that is up there with the best non-U.S./Non-U.K. HD productions I have seen to date. Wajda was going to have form and superior images no matter what and after all the film formats he worked with over the decades (including a few U.S. and U.K. filmmakers never even encountered), his vision persists with ease. Cheers to Director of Photography Pawel Edelman, P.S.C., for delivering on such a high level.

Originally issued in theaters in Dolby Atmos 11.1 sound, we get a very strong DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixdown with fine dialogue recording and clarity, plus a consistent soundfield that even took me by surprise. Those with state-of-the-art home theater systems will also be surprised. The anamorphically enhanced DVD with its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix are passable, but tame as compared to this sold Blu-ray.

Extras include a reversible cover, while the discs add a 95 minutes long Wajda By Wajda documentary and a feature length audio commentary track by Professor Emeritus Stuart Liebman (CUNY Graduate Center) on this film, film history, political history and Wajda's career. Overall, a great set!

Ridley Scott's All The Money In The World (2017) is the director's best film in years, after returning to genre filmmaking with mixed results, he shows and tells the powerful, remarkable, twisted story of how a group of Communist/Marxists in Italy kidnap John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer)... for money! So much for principles, but instead of a guaranteed payday and sticking it to the West, Getty the first, the richest man in the world at the time, refuses to pay a penny for his return, distracted too much by his business interests and the like.

Of course, the other big story from this film is how it was reshot at the last minute because Getty was originally played by Kevin Spacey, suddenly exposed for extremely predatory sexual behavior that helped shock Hollywood and the world in a avalanche of such revelations and Scott was so incensed, he went back to the studio (sony in this case) and they agreed to reshoot all the Getty scenes with his actor of first choice: Christopher Plummer. The result was Mr. Plummer received another Academy Award nomination and saved the film.

Yet, the whole film (at a never boring 133 minutes) has a strong cast, great locales and a pace that brings the crime and the times to life with ease. Michelle Williams is great as Getty III's mom, putting up with all kinds of toxic dysfunctional from her family and beyond, Mark Wahlberg is the most senior Getty's security troubleshooter who is called in to help fix the situation and also has issues and Scott himself is really on target with the material throughout, making this one of last year's best and most underrated feature films. I was surprised that it was not just good, but strong and you should really check this one out.

It has been issued on Blu-ray but not 4K Blu-ray yet, a release we look forward to. In the meantime, we have the DVD and the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is not bd for the old format and an HD shoot, with Scott and the great Director of Photography Darius Wolski, A.S.C., creating a visual world whose density is slyly effective and impressive throughout. The film was a 11.1 audio release, but the DVD only has a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, still only passable at best, but adequate at best foe what it is.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the DVD adds three Making Of featurettes in Ridley Scott: Crafting A Historical Thriller, Hostages To Fortune: The Cast and Recast, Reshot, Reclaimed, plus an interesting section of Deleted Scenes. Don't miss this one!

Fred Schepici's The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) is now celebrating its 40th Anniversary, so Umbrella Entertainment in Australia has issued a Blu-ray version of the Aussie classic ten years after the extras-loaded DVD we covered then at this link...


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is a superior a transfer to that DVD form the same restored transfer, but there is more motion blur than expected for some reason and I am not certain if that is a 1080i/50Hz issue or just the age of the older HD master, but it is a little annoying, yet still clearer than that DVD.

The original theatrical monophonic sound is now here a a lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 mono track that is clearer and a little warmer than the lossy Dolby Digital on the older DVD, but the low budget of the film shows here. Still, I cannot image this sounding much better and we get the same big number of extras from that older release. That makes this the best way to see the film outside of a movie theater until Umbrella enters the 4K Blu-ray market.

Restored in 4K, director Carl Theodor Dreyer's classic silent film The Passion of Joan Of Arc (1928) gets a remarkable high-def upgrade that's a must see for film fans. Thought at one point to be lost in a fire, the film was miraculously recovered in perfect condition in a Norwegian mental institution in 1981, if you can believe it! Groundbreaking for its camerawork and its cinematic technique, this is a film that is and should continue to be shown in film schools are the world.

Criterion always does great work and this release is no exception. The disc features several different versions of the film (in 24fps (a more expressionistic presentation) and 20fps (naturalistic speed, but still faster than the 16fps or 18fps pf most silent films) silent versions) with new extras and new sound mixes. Most breathtaking is the 4K transfer on this release that looks fantastic even in 1080p and is really like seeing the film for the first time.

The film stars Maria Falconetti (in a fantastic and celebrated performance), Eugene Silvain, Andre Berley, Maurice Schutz, and Antonin Artaud.

The artsy film centers around the last days of the courageous Joan of Arc and centers around the torment in her character through the eyes of those permitting her torture. A sad and quite dramatic file that is even more powerful in Gaumont's new 24 fps restoration and haunting score, the film is more focused on cinematic technique and visual storytelling that constantly feels realistic and haunting.

Presented in 1080p on Blu-ray, the 4K restoration looks great but could look even better on 4K UHD disc with HDR, which is a great thing to say about a silent classic. (Here's hoping Criterion will embrace that format in the future) The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio and is benefited by three different scores mixed in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 depending on your home entertainment system and which audio option you choose.

Special Features include...

Alternate presentation of the film at 20 frames per second with original Danish intertitles

Three scores: Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light, a choral and orchestral work performed by vocal group Anonymous 4, soloist Susan Narucki, and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Choir; another by Goldfrapp's Will Gregory and Portishead's Adrian Utley; and the third composed and performed by pianist Mie Yanashita

Audio commentary from 1999 by film scholar Casper Tybjerg

New interview with Einhorn

New conversation between Gregory and Utley

New video essay by Tybjerg exploring the debate over the film's frame rate

Interview from 1995 with actor Renre Falconetti's daughter and biographer, Helene Falconetti

Version history

Production design archive

New English subtitle translation

PLUS: An essay by critic Mark Le Fanu, a 1929 director's statement by Carl Theodor Dreyer, and the full libretto for Voices of Light

This is a great disc that filmmakers and film buffs alike should take in, a must see for all serious cinema fans.

Last but not least is a new set issued on Georges Melies' A Trip To The Moon (1902) that is not only one of the most successful short films of all time, but one of the most famous films of any kind ever made, featured in Martin Scorsese's Hugo (his 3D film) as part of the director's amazing career. Too bad most of his films were destroyed for the materials in the film prints when he was low on money, a tremendous loss!

The reason we're getting this Blu-ray set now is not just because of the film has a nice HD master that deserved Blu-ray release, as that already happened, but because the great folks at Flicker Alley have been able to nab the rights to the finally restored color version thought to be lost for decades, but a damaged print of it with missing frames was recovered a while ago and after many years of hard work and recreating missing frames with their color, we have a complete print of how it was supposed to look in that version. Turns out Melies hand colored every single frame himself as an alternate vision of his film. It is a fun variant that may lack some of the detail, depth, clarity and definition of the original black and white version also included here, but I like seeing what he would have done if he had color film. After seeing the film so many times over the years, it is a kick to check it out this way.

Flicker Alley have made this a Blu-ray/DVD set with both versions, so 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer is my slight favorite of the two, though I wish there was a way to get rid of some of the printed in damage, but the 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image color version of the film has its moments and covering up some of the flaws as it does (for better and worse) is another experience worth your time. The Blu-ray has PCM 2.0 Stereo sound and DVD lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo for the instrumentals (two brand new scores by Jeff Mills and Dorian Pimpernel, as well as an improvised piano track by Serge Bromberg with optional narration written by Georges Melies) included.

Extras include a thick & nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and an essay excerpt, while the black & white version offers two separate audio tracks of music: An orchestral score by composer Robert Israel with the original English narration written by Georges Melies; and a second track produced by Russell Merritt consisting of a troupe of actors voicing the various characters as performed in the U.S. in 1903, with piano accompaniment by Frederick Hodges. We also get The Eclipse (1904) & The Astronomer's Dream (1898, on its 120th anniversary!!!) in new high-definition versions of two lunar-related shorts by Melies and...

The Extraordinary Voyage: Directors Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange (Lobster Films) documentary chronicle the journey of A Trip to the Moon from production in 1902, to the astonishing rediscovery in 1993, to the eventual restoration and opening at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. The feature-length documentary includes interviews with filmmakers Costa Gavras, Michel Gondry, Michel Hazanavicius, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet on Melies enduring significance to cinema.

This is a fun set everyone should see and will enjoy!

To order The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and other hard to get releases:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Joan Of Arc)



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