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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > War > Murder > Revenge > Genocide > Sexism > Politics > Love Triangle > French > Affairs > William Shakespeare's Hamlet (2018)/In Syria (2017/both Film Movement DVDs)/Ismael's Ghost (2017/Magnolia DVD)/Vazante (2017/Music Box Blu-ray)/Went To Coney Island On A Mission From God... Be Back By

William Shakespeare's Hamlet (2018)/In Syria (2017/both Film Movement DVDs)/Ismael's Ghost (2017/Magnolia DVD)/Vazante (2017/Music Box Blu-ray)/Went To Coney Island On A Mission From God... Be Back By Five (1998/MVD Rewind Blu-ray)

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

This group of dramas include some unusual entries...

We start with yet another version of an oft filmed classic as Film Movement presents a unique new version of the classic William Shakespeare play in Hamlet (2018), which stars Maxine Peake (The Theory of Everything) in the reimagined title role. The updated play features modern clothing yet still the trademark Shakespearean language that fans have come to know and love. What makes this production unique is the fact that Hamlet is played by a woman for the first time since Frances de la Tour took on the role forty years ago. Peake makes for an interesting choice and the accompaniment with jazzy music makes this an interesting spin on the classic material.

The play is presented cinematically on anamorphically enhanced standard definition DVD with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a fine sounding, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix. A lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix is on the disc as well and sounds up to standards. While this would be improved with an HD transfer, the look here on DVD isn't too terrible.

No Extras.

The award winning film In Syria (2017), takes place in Damascus, where a mother attempts to keep her family safe on the inside as war rages and a sniper lies in wait just outside her home. Terrifying and very real, this is an intelligently made film that has a lot of heart of humanity behind it that's definitely makes it worth a watch.

The film stars Diamond Blu Abboud, Juliette Navin-Bardin, Hiam Abbass, Husam Chadat, and Mohsen Abbas to name a few. In Syria is directed by Phillipe Van Leeuw.

Presented on anamorphically enhanced standard definition DVD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 Arabic surround sound mix (and a 2.0 mix as well) with English subtitles, the compressed presentation isn't anything spectacular or terrible either. Overall, the presentation could definitely benefit in HD.

Special Feature includes...

Bonus Short Film - Le Pain directed by Him Abbass (19 minutes)


Arnaud Desplechin's Ismael's Ghosts (2017) lands on DVD courtesy of Magnolia and stars Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Mathieu Amalric. The slow moving romantic drama has the makings of an 'award season' film yet feels like it tries a bit too hard to fit into that category by being way too over dramatic.

Ismael's Ghosts tells the story of a filmmaker, Ismael, who re-encounters his lost love of 21 years. Of course, he's with another woman now named Sylvia all the whilst working on his next movie. Ismael is stuck at a crossroads between these two women and his demanding career.

The film is presented in anamorphically enhanced standard definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and a lossy 5.1 French Dolby Digital mix (with English subtitles). While it would be much improved in HD, it looks as good as to be expected here.

No extras.

1821, Brazil. Antonio (Adriano Carvalho) the merchant returns home to find both his wife and child died during childbirth. So he then marries his late wife's niece, Beatriz (Luana Nastas). At first, Beatriz is excited being a mistress of a large plantation, but soon she discovers she is in a loveless marriage and the only she can find solace is in a young slave in Daniela Thomas' Vazante (2017).

Antonio is the master and owner of a large (but failing) slave plantation, but after losing his wife and child he decides to marries his late wife's young niece, Beatriz who is young enough to be his daughter. At first, Beatriz thinks of herself as lucky of scoring a marriage with a rich man and to be living in a large mansion. But soon she discovers she is living in a loveless marriage on decaying property with his aging mother-in-law. She finds comfort in the arms of one of their slaves, one thing leads to another and it soon becomes affair that will destroy all the lives on the plantation.

This was a completely black and white film. There was not much dialog, but was more about the quiet ambiance between the characters. The story was both a tragedy and a cautionary tale, it reminds people of what slavery is, a time when women were seen barely better than slaves and how racism still exists.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition black and white image is on the sift side, likely an HDF shoot trying to look like monochrome and falling short, but we've seen worse attempts, so the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is more like it, well recorded with a fine soundfield. Extras include a collector's booklet, Masterclass with the Director, behind the scenes and trailers.

The coming of age drama Went To Coney Island On A Mission From God... Be Back By Five (1998), joins the ranks of other titles in the new genre defying MVD Rewind Collection. Paired with a nice soundtrack and a Wonder Years-esque feel, especially in the opening, the film captures friendship and drama in Coney Island. Based on a true story the film is both funny and heartbreaking.

The film stars Jon Cryer, Rick Stear, Rafael Baez, Ione Skye, Frank Whaley, and Peter Gerety.

Remastered from the original 35mm film elements, the film is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix and an original English LPCM 2.0 Mono track. For a low budgeted film such as this which was shot on film it's particularly impressive. The disc features a 'frame by frame' digital restoration from the original 35mm film elements so there's no doubt this is the best its going to look aside from a 4K Ultra HD presentation.

Special Features include:

NEW Introduction from director Richard Schenkman and Jon Cryer (HD)

Audio commentary from director Richard Schenkman and Jon Cryer

"Went to Coney Island... To Make a Movie" Behind the scenes featurette (18:36, SD)

"The Producer" - Comedy short film directed by Richard Schenkman (3:00, SD)

Photo Gallery

Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)

Collectible Mini-Poster

- Ricky Chiang (Vazante) and James Lockhart



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