(2017/*both Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVDs)
B/C+/C+/C Sound: B-/C/C+/C+ Extras: B/D/C-/D Films:
Import DVDs are now available from our friends at Umbrella
Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K
Blu-ray players that can handle the PAL DVD and can be ordered from
the link below.
biopic is a staple of cinema since the silent era, so they have too
often set into a certain pattern, even if it is only about a certain
set of years in the subjects life. Here are four such releases,
three brand new and three by well-known filmmakers for you to know
start with the big epic of the four, Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei
(1966) one of his seven great films that made him one of the greatest
Russian directors of all time, up there with Eisenstein and even in
the face of constant oppression by the Soviet authorities. Taking
place in the 1500s, the title figure (Anatole Solonitsyn) is a
painter of religious faith whose ideas and beliefs get tested and
challenged in many ways throughout the course of the film. However,
this journey of religion, art and being is handled in Tarkovsky's
more complex approach.
described as dream-like and/or spiritual, it is about the man's peace
of mind, creative state of mind and more, so it has the time of
challenge about the intersection of time, space and memory you might
get in a French New Wave film of the period (shot in black and white
scope like many of Francois Truffaut's early films) and that makes it
one of the most complete and complex films on faith ever made. It is
also strong on art and being, but I think it has faith and
spirituality at the forefront, so ironic considering what would
happen to the country in a few centuries, happening while the film
give Criterion (and Martin Scorsese, who has supplied materials for
various versions of this film together)
for backing the film early on for people to know how much of a
must-see film it is. They did this, by the way, when there was still
a Soviet Union, so they can take pride in that no matter what has
happened to Russia lately. If they're backing it and celebrating it,
then you know you too must see it. Just know it can be a long film,
to be up to it energy wise for bets impact in viewing.
include a poster foldout with informative technical text, excerpt of
translated by from Tarkovsky translated by Robert Bird and An
essay by J. Hoberman, while the first Blu-ray adds Steamroller
Tarkovsky's 1961 student thesis film, The
a 1966 documentary about the writing of the film's script, On
the Set of "Andrei
a 1966 documentary about the making of the film, New interviews with
actor Nikolai Burlyaev and cinematographer Vadim Yusov by filmmakers
Sean Martin and Louise Milne, New interview with film scholar Robert
Bird, Selected-scene commentary from 1998 featuring film scholar
a new video essay by filmmaker Daniel Raim.
(2016) is a surprise dud for Reiner, whose films usually get wide
distribution, but he has had a few dud, though recent films like
did well and the title have entered the modern lexicon. Here, Woody
Harrelson, an actor still easy to underestimate by some, plays the
title politician from a few months before the JFK assassination to
how he handles the rest of the time he is with us. Harrelson is able
to be as showy as he was paying Larry Flynt, sometimes getting as
gross believe it or not, but Harrelson is able to almost totally
transform into the man and does as decent a job as any actor I have
seen try to date.
Donovan plays JFK well enough, Michael Stahl-David as brother Bobby,
the also underrated Jennifer Jason Leigh is solid as 'Lady Bird'
Johnson, plus Richard Jenkins and Bill Pullman (also always welcome)
round out a fine cast. To Reiner's credit, he is thorough about the
history and events with little to complain about, plus I loved that
he had the actors recreate iconic images and vintage footage from
scratch that is a smart move to set it apart from how often the
stories of these persons have been told.
has also been a backlash about anyone playing LBJ (Oliver Stone
thinks he had JFK killed, apparently, at least last time I heard him
on the subject) lately for some reason, so that may have worked
against the film and others might have wanted more intrigue. Also,
the subject has been covered a good bit, yet it somehow still seems
fresh to me because of its historical importance and how it built a
better America. Some may have been uncomfortable with the language
and situations we occasionally get from Harrelson's take.
any case, it is still a film worth seeing, even if you may have
covered the subject more than you would have liked. Reiner and
company definitely get a prize for ambition!
are unfortunately no extras.
Levinson is a director like Reiner who is a big name and a major, key
journeyman filmmaker in the Hollywood system whose had his share of
ups and downs lately, but his new cable telefilm
(2018) is on of his best works in years, doing a great job of
clearing up the confusion (sometimes purposely caused by the ultra
wealthy, the media, those deep in government trying to cover things
up and even some religious outfits) about the massive horror story
that is the child sex abuse scandal as the forever scarred Penn State
University, one no where near enough people went to jail for and one
that is STILL being covered up and rewritten (the showers where the
child sexual rapes took place was torn down all the sudden, for
yet another performance that shows why he is one of the greatest
actors of our time and all time, Al Pacino totally transforms into
the title character, one of the winningest coaches in college
football history, so good he long shot down retirement years ago and
understood the game so throughly that his talent was inarguable... so
is that a legacy that is permanently tarnished?
Keough is the local reporter covering the story as it happens, not
knowing just how big and insane the truth will turn out to be. Cathy
Baker is good as Sue Paterno as the entire family, right or wrong, is
portrayed with dignity and realistically, so the teleplay is very
fair in all this, making the film more honest and palpable than it
could have been. After Jerry Sandusky is exposed and all hell breaks
loose (the film realistically portrays the angry students acting like
self-entitled semi-Nazis in behavior we have seen since at the
highest levels of our very government) in a behavior we've seen a
severe increase in since the 1980s. It is of note that it is a
particular problem in Pennsylvania, all the way to Pittsburgh, but
more on that ASAP another time.
film is very brave and its value has only increased in the last few
months since the film was broadcast. It almost should have been a
theatrical release, but becomes another triumph for HBO and cable TV.
Everyone in the cast is good and the film brave, yet I cannot stop
thinking of the impact Pacino (often with no dialogue) has here. He
totally knows and understands the weigh of the man, the situation and
never, ever hits a false note to the point that it is haunting. He
and Levinson (they worked together before on the likes of You
Don't Know Jack)
have an excellent creative relationship as well.
like this as much as any release here and strongly recommend you see
if you have not already. It is one of the best films of the year,
theatrical and otherwise.
Copy and two brief clips meant to promote the telefilm are the only
we have Jaques Doillon's Rodin
(2017) which wants to be a life portrayal of the controversial
artist, years after the international success of the Camille
film, yet it makes the very mistake that film corrected by managing
to trivialize her and play as too narrow in scope. Of course, he is
the least known director here and is a journeyman at best. I did buy
the look, time period and actors (Vincent London in the title role,
Izia Higelin as Claudel and Severine Caneele as live-in-love Rose) so
that all worked, but the script and directing do not take full
advantage. The women could have been better utilized.
also arriving on home video in the U.S., I can see why this was not a
big hit here, but it is worth a look for those interested, but just
don't have high expectations.
are no extras.
for playback quality. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 black & white digital
High Definition image transfer may be on a single Blu-ray, but the
three-hour long film in its new 2K scan from a 35mm internegative has
few flaws and rarely shows the age of the materials used, making this
is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film going
back to Criterion's early 12-inch LaserDisc days (this is spine
#34!!!) when the company was introducing widescreen and letterboxing
to the U.S. home video market. It is always nice to see that rarity
of a black and white scope film, as only so many were made and they
are always visually compelling.
rougher shape is the longer version (not preferred by Tarkovsky, but
here to see the differences) that has much more obvious damage and is
also on a single disc running 20 minutes longer. The restored
edition has PCM Mono restored from a soundtrack master and also
sounds as good as it likely can, while the longer version has
slightly rougher audio.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on LBJ
look as good as they can in the format with LBJ
having the advantage of more lines and slightly better color in the
PAL format, yet this does not help the PAL presentation on the
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image from the Rodin
disc which is too soft for its own good and just has to look better
in HD of some kind.
there is the DVD sound and all three DVDs offer lossy Dolby Digital
5.1, so they should all sound on par with each other, but LBJ
sounds wrong, the mix is off, too soft and we'll hypothesize that
something was wrong in the tradedown from the 5.1 soundmaster to this
DVD, because this should not sound this poor. Be careful of high
playback levels and volume switching.
order either of the
Umbrella import DVDs, go to this link for them and more hard to find