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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Police State > Torture > Murder > Apartheid > South Africa > Action > Detective > Comedy > Western > A Dry White Season (1989/MGM/Criterion Blu-ray)/Charlie Steel (1984)/The Comedians (1984)/Revenge (1985/all IndiePix DVDs)/In My Country (2004/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

A Dry White Season (1989/MGM/Criterion Blu-ray)/Charlie Steel (1984)/The Comedians (1984)/Revenge (1985/all IndiePix DVDs)/In My Country (2004/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The In My Country 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 from the links below.

South Africa has possibly the most untold stories of any country in the world thanks to the horrors of apartheid, now ended, but the country still has many problems. The following underseen films, a few you may have heard of, reveal the truth in their own way....

We start with Euzhan Palcy's A Dry White Season (1989) one of the few films still talked about and remembered from the cycle of anti-Apartheid films that turned up in the 1980s before the power structure that made the extremely violent, oppressive policy possible for decades finally collapsed, but the makers had no idea that was only a few years away. Donald Sutherland is a well-off South African man with a family and treats all persons of color fairly, but when the son of one of his friends is brutalized by local authorities for doing nothing, he believes he can intervene and get closure and answers on the situation.

A good guy, it turns out he is also a naive one, all of which takes a great turn when he seeks the services of a reputable lawyer who he thinks can help. The lawyer knows better and is apparently sick of the way things have been, but takes the case reluctantly because he knows he will not get the justice Sutherland's good father seeks. Best of all, the lawyer is played by none other than Marlon Brando, who received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for what amounts to only 17 minutes of screen time. Why?

Simple, as brutally violent and honest the film gets, it also is a little slow-moving and maybe not daring enough in other ways to make important points, so Brando shows up and essentially steals the movie and makes its most important points: the system is totally corrupt and any justice is a racially slanted fraud. After an opening where he is respectfully toying with Sutherland's character, he transforms into someone you 100% believe has lived in the country all his life and what Brando achieves is remarkable.

The rest of the cast (including obvious non-actors who work just fine) include Susan Sarandon as a reporter native to the country trying to find out what is going on, but she is also paralyzed and not able to quite get to the truth. The film runs 106 minutes, but could have used a few more and a little more about South African persons of color, though Miss Palcy is of color and the first ever hired to direct a major hollywood studio feature film. Turns out she was very correct in what she was portraying and enough so that it is why Criterion rightly includes the film in their collection.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is from a new 4K transfer and though it shows the grain present, it was there back in the 1989 35mm print I saw and that is not second-generation material. There are also great shots that exceed my rating and color range can be very impressive in ways you will not expect. The PCM 2.0 Stereo lossless mix duplicates the Dolby analog theatrical sound with mono surrounds and sounds as good as it can, though recording limitations late in the analog sound era (though from a magnetic soundmaster) can be heard as well.

Extras include a booklet with tech info and an essay by filmmaker and scholar Jyoti Mistry, while the Blu-ray disc adds a new interview with director Euzhan Palcy by film critic Scott Foundas, Five Scenes; a new program featuring Palcy, Interview from 1989 with actor Donald Sutherland, Excerpt from a 1995 interview Palcy conducted with Nelson Mandela and Footage of Palcy receiving the highest distinction for foreign dignitaries at the 2017 South African National Orders awards.

Next up are three more films made by oppressed South Africans of color for them, Bevis Parsons' Charlie Steel (1984, an attempt to do a detective film with an irrepressible lead), Japie Van Der Merwe's The Comedians (1984, a comedy about a 'magic ring' that can bring luck, but seems to bring misery and is a curse instead; the film has mixed results) and Coenie Dippenaar's Revenge (1985, a revenge western that is not bad, though not as good as Umbango).

This is the second set of three films from a restoration project of these otherwise lost films of South African cinema that are being recovered the best they can be, despite possible censorship, destruction and all being orphan films. For more on the films and the first three covered, go to this link for more information and films...


Again, a trailer is the only extra for each, while the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image quality has unavoidable flaws. The same can be said for the stereo-at-best sound presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound on all DVDs. Though I did not know what to expect, I still enjoy how hard everyone works to overcome their low budgets (most of this is shot on 16mm film, more of a luxury today, ironically) and they are all worth a look if you are interested or just pick a few to try out.

Finally, Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche star in the John Boorman's drama In My Country (2004) that looks and sounds great on Blu-ray courtesy of Twilight Time. The political drama centers around a poet and a journalist both covering the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Cape Town. It's a bit of a wild card for Samuel L. Jackson, who is usually in more tongue in cheek genre fare, but a nice retreat for him in a more dramatic role.

In My Country also stars Brendan Gleeson, Menzi 'Ngubs' Ngubane, Sam Ngakane, Lionel Newton.

The film is presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and multiple audio options in both English 5.0 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) and English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo lossless sound. This is, to my knowledge, the first time that this film has been updated to HD and Twilight Time has done a meticulous job in making sure this film looks and sounds fantastic. The cinematography is incredible in this movie and the money is on the screen.

Special Features...

Isolated Music Track

Audio Commentary with Director John Boorman

Deleted Scenes with Optional Director Commentary

Interviews with Actress Juliette Binoche, Director John Boorman, Screenwriter Ann Peacock, and Producers Robert Chartoff, Lynn Hendee, and Producer Mike Medavoy

Original Theatrical Trailer

and a Collectible Insert Booklet with essay by Julie Kirgo.

To order the In My Country limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other exclusive while supplies last at these links:




- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Country)



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