Big City Blues (1990/Film
Tale: Season Two
Runs Red 4K
(2018/Cinedigm 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Single-Handed:
Complete Collection (2007
- 2010/Acorn DVD Set)/'Til
Death Do Us Part
(2017/Gravitas Ventures Blu-ray)
Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B-/B/B+/B-/B- Sound:
C+/B/B+/B-/B Extras: C+/C/D/C/C- Main Programs: C+/B-/C/B/C
a group of releases where people have to face unusually dire
start with an orphan film from the Black New Wave, Paul DeSilva's
Big City Blues
(1990), an early film trying to deal with the beginnings of the crack
cocaine crisis, though it is disturbing that some may see this as
'the good old days' versus deadlier drugs and a giant increase in
violence make this fictional drama sad viewing. Not as effective as
Spike Lee's Jungle
with the same subject matter, this still serves as a time capsule of
how bad it was then and a sample of the resistance against the
epidemic that actually existed or a time.
writing and directing not bad, non-actors
(save Rhonda Ross Kendrick, the daughter of Diana Ross and Berry
the best they can and it is also a time capsule of New York City
pre-Giuliani, pre-9/11 and pre-gentrification, all of which will make
you think of questions the makers here could not have anticipated or
imagined. Having watched Lee's She's
Gotta Have It
recently in its fine new Blu-ray edition, the film's share a few
common denominators of the time and it is good that this little-known
(maybe better remembered than some might think) film has been
released at this time.
is also the emptiness that the persons facing the crisis had been
abandoned by their government via rollbacks of civil rights,
benefits, help, a safety net and retro-racism, but that this was also
not only pre-Obama, but pre-Clinton. Shot on 16mm full color film,
we get more than a few moments of faux analog TV scenes (including
news reports) filmed right off of an analog TV, but there was no
digital video anything much yet, especially for consumers, let alone
some of this has aged in ways no one could have expected and despite
its flaws and limits, budget and all, this is ambitious and worth a
look. I just wish the director and director of photography had been
involved in this release, because there is more to say than even in
the extras we do get.
16mm film (35mm is claimed, but was that a blow-up print?) is here in
a 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the
age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to any
previous releases of the film despite light debris and markings on
the film materials used throughout. Sometimes, the color looks
really good as well. I take the TV footage as being as good as it
should, would or could ever be. The
PCM 2.0 Mono sound shows its age much more with some harmonic
distortion, location audio issues, dubbing issues and limits of the
analog recording equipment used at the time. Note many major motion
pictures even of that time run into the same issues.
include an interview featurette and feature length audio commentary
track by producer Frazier Prince.
up is The
Handmaid's Tale: Season Two
(2018), the follow-up to the uncannily timely hit cable TV series
based on the Margaret Atwood book once made into a feature film.
Arriving at the same time an actual President supported by extreme
Right Wing Evangelicals actually took power in the real-life United
States, the series hit a nerve and fortunately, worked well. You can
read more about that first season as we reviewed it on Blu-ray at
time around, we follow Offred down a darker path as the (mostly)
secret society controlling the fallen United States under the Gilead
name fear a female uprising, so the episode set more brutal in
depicting the violence against women and all others who defy their
narrow, hateful, extremist rule (not unlike the violence of extreme
Islam we've seen in real life and used as propaganda by real-life
pseudo Christians as portrayed here) and the show was criticized for
going too far. In truth, no matter how graphic, it could never go
far enough and some of the stories we are now hearing (as we've
always heard under these circumstances) are more outrageous than what
we see here.
prove this, the show is not wallowing in the violence any more than
in the debut season, but just showing what it has to and bravely not
looking away and selling out its audience. The great cast continues
to be impressive, even when playing the characters are so ugly and
thankless. That is amazing work indeed.
actual issue this season is some awkward uses of hit music that make
zero sense turn up in a future world where said music is banned (not
addressed as it should be here), thrown in in different ways that
hurt the show more than any graphic violence could. I'm sure the
violence is a response to real life unexpected or this would have
been a bit of a different season. Still, this is one of the few
truly important TV series being made right now and I hope it
continues as long as it can.
1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 19.7 MBPS digital High Definition image is a bit
better and more stable, a little sharper and clearer than the debut
season, with even less detail issues. An HD production, glad they
picked up the visual strength they needed as these slight
improvements are welcome. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes are as sold as the
previous season, so no complaints there.
this time include featurettes: Season
Two: Off Book
(2018) centers around the case of a young teen who was the victim of
accidental murder by two police officers. While the film hits enough
hot buttons to make it topical and features a few familiar faces, it
doesn't feel as powerful or authentic as it should.
Runs Red 4K
stars Taye Diggs, John Cusack, George Lopez, Luke Hemsworth, and
Gianni Capaldi. The film is written and directed by Wes Miller
son of a small town Judge (Diggs) is killed by two Cops (Hemsworth,
Capaldi), when he's pulled over for a silly reason. Once the boy is
murdered, the system ends up setting the officers free. That doesn't
stop a detective (Cusack) from finding some incriminating evidence on
the officers and, in turn, gets Diggs and George Lopez (whose also a
mourning father) to set their own revenge plot outside the law.
definitely the feeling that this film wants to be Best Picture
(2004), or something of the like, and attempts to be edgy.
Ultimately, it feels rather flat and the performances are a mixed
bag. In the end, River
is painfully average, and probably looked better on paper. Poor John
Cusack looks incredibly bored and uninspired here, while Diggs does
what he can with what he's given.
film is presented in 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD
Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K UHD disc with
a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The audio mix is a standard
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, which works fine here.
The 4K UHD format isn't too much better than the also included 1080p
Blu-ray disc. Some shots of the film are a little soft in focus and
the cinematography on a whole isn't breathtaking. The color isn't
too overly stylized and more natural as opposed to other bigger
budgeted titles I've seen on the format that benefited better to the
feels more television movie than the sophisticated and topical drama
it so desperately wants to be.
fast paced hit Irish series, Single-Handed
(2007-2010), becomes available in this new Complete
set from Acorn that celebrates all four seasons of the show, which
follows Jack Driscoll who becomes a local constable upon his father's
retirement and encounters various incidents. The show is a mostly
police procedural in tone and style, but the Irish setting makes it a
bit more interesting than normal to us Americans.
show stars Owen McDonnell, Ruth McCabe, David Herlihy, Brian Gleeson,
and Ian McElhinney to name a few.
01 - Home,
02 - The
parts 1 and 2
03 - The
parts 1 and 2, The
parts 1 and 2
04 - Between
parts 1 and 2, A
parts 1 and 2
episodes are presented in anamorphically
standard definition DVD with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, both of which are of the standard for
the format. The program is commercial and watermark free on disc,
which makes binge watching more enjoyable.
Features: Text Interview with the Producer and Production Notes, but
for more on the series, try our earlier coverage on the first two
we have another film with Taye Diggs, Christopher B. Stokes' 'Til
Death Do Us Part
(2017) about a woman (Annie Ilonzeh) who thinks she has found the man
of her dreams (Stephen Bishop) until he turns out to be a hardcore
abuser of women and makes her life a living hell. There is a ray of
hope when she gets away and meets a seemingly good man (Diggs), but
her husband is going to stalk her and not stop no matter what.
film wants to be an anti-domestic violence project when all is said
and done and it might help a few women, but as an actual drama, we've
seen too much of this, the women are all portrayed as assumed
vulnerable too much to where you can tell a man wrote the script.
That complicates its message (partly saying just get a strong man and
everything will be fine, which has too many issues to deal with in
this text) and it sadly is also too cliched versus so many films made
on this subject already. Several of those were simply better and
give the actors credit for trying to make this work, but the women
involved should have been allowed to add to it and makers try to
figure out new and/or different ways to approach the material. Wish
it worked and was more memorable, but at least they tried.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer has motion blur
and detail issues in small parts all over, so it can be trying to
watch, while color range is more consistent. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is better and more
consistent, though it has some location audio issues. The only extra
is a Theatrical Trailer.
Nicholas Sheffo and James