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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biography > Biopic > Show Business > Sex > Murder > Crime > Politics > Fraud > Scandal > War > Teens > Pre > Auto Focus (2002/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Backstabbing For Beginners (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Blue Denim (1959/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Post 4K (2017/Fox 4K Ul

Auto Focus (2002/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Backstabbing For Beginners (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Blue Denim (1959/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Post 4K (2017/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Auto Focus and Blue Denim 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.

This set of mature, ambitious feature films take on serious social issues are as relevant as ever...

Paul Schrader's Auto Focus (2002) is the well made, ever creepy film about how all-American TV star Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear) when from radio DJ, to lead in a huge (if controversial) hot TV series... to being dead! Crane became the lead and leader of a group of Allied Prisoners Of War in the late 1960s hit TV show Hogan's Heroes (now bashed for trivializing the Holocaust and Nazis, though the show constantly bashed them; reviewed elsewhere on this site) where as the title character, he leads the spy operation in a POW camp with a perfect 'never escape' record.

Controversy or not, Crane was very popular, but while all this was going on, the married man had an obsession with sex and porn, all before the early 1970s breakout of 'hardcore' movies, magazines, et al. Thus, with his celebrity, he finds ways to take care of his addictions and when he finds a guy who shares his interests (Willem Dafoe), accelerate the madness by recording the encounters on film and newfangled home videotape recorders.

Schrader once again unmasks the seedy side of our world and the film is shocking to those who knew Crane only from the hit series or later works like Disney's Superdad (addressed well here) as Kinnear does not miss a note in a totally convincing performance. The time is very well recreated throughout (more remarkable considering the limited budget) and this R-rated film is often pretty graphic and rough going, so expect the unexpected. However, it is a really well made film telling another sad story, but Sony (who made it a Classics release) understands its limited audience and has licensed it as another one of Twilight Time's Limited Edition Blu-rays, the best limited edition series around.

It is a film worth going out of your way for, especially if you have not seen it and are curious in any way about the man or events. I was surprised these events were not more well known, but the seedy nature likely made most people want to forget and Hogan's Heroes made money in reruns for years, so...

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 Track, no less than 3 Feature Length Audio Commentary tracks (one with Director Paul Schrader, another with Actors Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe, and finally, one with Producers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, and Screenwriter Michael Gerbosi; all good), featurette Murder in Scottsdale about the actual murder, a Making-of Featurette, five Deleted Scenes with Optional Director Commentary and both Original and Red-band Theatrical Trailers.

Per Fly's Backstabbing For Beginners (2018) is a more known scandal uncovered by a young man anxious to make a breakthrough in politics and government and lands up at the U.N., following in his father's footsteps. Michael Soussan (Theo James, holding his own here) lands that job, working for a man (Ben Kingsley) who says he even knew his dad, having him do what they need to do to keep the U.N.'s 'Food For Oil' program alive and going in Iraq. Sounds humanitarian enough, though its odd that a woman high up (Jacqueline Bisset) wants to end it.

However, something very wrong is going on, mysterious figures are showing up claiming to be something they may or may not be and even the program itself may be somehow tainted. And Michael has to figure out what is going on. The result turns out to be uglier than even he expects and leads to one of the great, even underreported scandals of our time.

The film is well-intended and has its moments, but between a few predictable points and some flat ones, could have spent its 106 minutes better, but it was worth seeing for what does work here. Maybe James could become a lead at some point, but he can also act and that's a good thing.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a Making Of featurette The Truth Behind Backstabbing For Beginners.

Philip Dunne's Blue Denim (1959) has been available on a burn-to-order DVD for a while, but after a long wait, it is finally here on Blu-ray, but Fox has licensed it to Twilight Time as one of their Limited Editions, one the label has been trying to get for years.

As I said in the earlier DVD review, the film ''is a time capsule of a different time that the 1960s and 1970s ended, with a young Brandon De Wilde getting involved with an equally young Carol Lynley and getting her pregnant. What can they do? No legal abortion, birth control pills or a conformist world that is going to be unsympathetic to their plight. Thus, it is a portrait of a more relatively innocent time and reminds us of why things had to change. The script makes them both 'good family kids' and that shows there is 'still' troubles for them. Martha Hunt and MacDonald Carey lead the adult cast and the score by Bernard Herrmann is a plus. Yes, some things have dated and there are some odd moments, but at 89 minutes, it is efficient and smart for its time.''

Looking at it with the sound and image pretty much as intended, you can see and feel how Fox intended this as a big statement/big event film and by shooting in black and white when Fox in particular loved pushing color CinemaScope productions further verifies that. I still like that actors, ambition and now, the film has a new meaning at a time some rights are being pushed back to the stone age. It is definitely a film to see, especially when it looks and sounds so good.

Extras include yet 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 a fine Isolated Music Score track (DTS lossless as always) of Herrmann's score previously issued on a limited edition CD from Film Score Monthly that was still in print as of this posting (the CD also includes The View from Pompey's Head, which we reviewed elsewhere on this site; still available from them via the Screen Archive link below) and and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Steven Spielberg's new drama starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, The Post (2018), lands on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray after a celebrated award season. While it wasn't a top earner at the Oscars this year, it did get a good deal of praise from audiences and critics alike.

Top notch work all around and set in the 1970s, The Post tells the true story of the publisher of the Washington Post, Katherine Graham (Streep) and her editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) who put their jobs and more on the line in order to help expose a Government cover-up about Vietnam that was a prelude to more scandals revealed all the way to a constitutional crisis that included a potential war on freedom of the press. It does not hep that some of the press reporters and owners know the powerful too well.

The Post also stars Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, and Alison Brie.

Special Features include...

Layout: Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee & The Washington Post covers the real people portrayed in the film.

Editorial: The Cast and Characters of The Post how Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks got together to make the film.

The Style Section: Re-Creating an Era shows how hard the '70s are to recreate with this look at The Washington Post newsroom was brought alive for the film.

Stop The Presses: Filming The Post shows the shooting of the film (on film!) on the set

and Arts and Entertainment: Music for The Post has Spielberg and composer John Williams celebrating their 44-year partnership in this moving tribute to collaboration and friendship.

While it's not one of his best films, The Post is pretty interesting and worth watching for the performances and directing alone. It's crazy to think that Spielberg was simultaneously finishing up his mega-blockbuster Ready Player One (2018) at the same time that he was making this. Talk about a multi-tasker!

All the releases here look really good and as good as they could look in their respective formats.

Presented in 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image in the new 4K UHD format, The Post looks and makes you feel like you're in the same room as the actors. Presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio (shot on 35mm film) and English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless track, the realistic and quiet film isn't necessarily one that you would feel would benefit as much from this high quality, although it does. Also included is a 1080p Blu-ray disc with similar presentation specs and a digital UV copy.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Auto Focus is well shot, has consistent composition and is well edited, looking as good here as it did when it first hit theaters. A very faithful transfer, it proves a film can look fine, even on a low budget.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Backstabbing is a good HD shoot, but there are one too many instances of degraded analog or digital low/standard definition clips to throw off a consistent look. Otherwise, ti is fine, but the poorest performer on the list.

And finally we have the 1080p 2.35 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Blue Denim that barely shows the age of the materials used and is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film anywhere, including the passable DVD. If anything, it is a big jump in many respects.

As for sound, following The Post having the best sound, the remaining three films all offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless sound mixes (Auto and Blue add 2.0 Stereo DTS-MA as well that are not bad, but not as good as the 5.1 versions) and they are pretty even with each other. All three have good music scores and a big share of dialogue, but Denim's mix is an upgrade of its 4-track magnetic soundmaster with traveling dialogue and sound effects. The other films are modern surround films that are as professionally recorded and mixed without any major issues.

Thus, they could not sound any better than they do here either.

To order the Auto Focus and Blue Denim limited edition Blu-rays, buy them and other great releases while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo & James Lockhart (Post 4K)



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