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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Drug Addiction > Biography > Relationships > WWII > Religion > Catholocism > Britain > Women > Nazis > Bright Lights, Big City (1988/United Artists/MGM)/Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988/Arrow)/Gas Food Lodging (1992/Arrow)/Serpent's Egg (1977/Bergman/Arrow)/Windtalkers (2002/MGM/Arrow/all MVD Blu-rays

Bright Lights, Big City (1988/United Artists/MGM)/Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988/Arrow)/Gas Food Lodging (1992/Arrow)/Serpent's Egg (1977/Bergman/Arrow)/Windtalkers (2002/MGM/Arrow/all MVD Blu-rays)



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



Here's a group of dramas that were much discussed in their time, even doing some business at the box office, but not as discussed today. It is a great time for them to arrive on Blu-ray, a few of which are re-releases...



We start with a film where the star lead gave a better performance than he got credit for at the time. Michael J. Fox stars in this cautionary tale that will make you think twice about partying too hard. A realistic horror story, Bright Lights Big City (1988) tells the story of Jamie Conway (Fox), who goes from aspiring writer to drug addicted night walker whose addicted to coke and booze in the '80s Manhattan Underworld of bars and clubs. He lets his addiction get the best of him when his life and job start to crumble before his eyes.


The film also stars Phoebe Gates, Keifer Sutherland, and Dianne Wiest. The film is directed by James Bridges. This film no doubt inspired other 'cautionary tales' in cinema in the years to come such as Trainspotting (both movies have creepy babies!) and Requiem for a Dream.


It's clear to see that this film was a change of pace for Michael J. Fox, especially since this was made after the first Back to the Future and just before the second and third installments were produced. Fox is playing a bit more of an adult in his role here, and his character comes across heavily in voice over to describe his drugged out state of mind, and physically too. There's some comedic scenes in the film too, though, including one sequence where a ferret is let loose in an office.


Presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an English 2.0 Stereo Sound (PCM) mix with Pro Logic surrounds (this was one of the last major analog Dolby A-type Dolby System stereo with mono surround theatrical releases before analog Dolby SR and then, Dolby Digital arrived). Also on the disc are tracks in Spanish Mono (lossy Dolby Digital), and French 2.0 Stereo Surround. The film looks and sounds great on Blu-ray and I believe this is the first time that it has been released in HD. The film is very 1980s in terms of its style, music, and overall look, and has been presented nicely here. The soundtrack to the film is pretty notable with tracks from New Order, Depeche Mode and Prince.


Special Features include...

Commentary with Author/Screenwriter Jay McInerney

Commentary with Cinematographer Gordon Willis

"Jay McInerney's The Light Within" featurette

"Big City Lights" featurette

Photo Gallery

and an Original Theatrical Trailer



A stirring British drama from Terence Davies, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) gets a grand 4K restoration (from the British Film Institute) on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy. A portrait of a Catholic working class family living in war torn Liverpool during the 1940s and 1950s, the film stars Pete Postlethwaite, Fred Dowie, and Lorraine Ashborne. The film won the International Critics' Prize at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival to give you an idea of its caliber.


Inspired by Terence Davies own childhood, the film centers around a Catholic Family throughout many years and the various trials and tribulations that they had to go through during this scary time in the world. At the center of the family is an abusive father (Postlethwaite) and a family that struggles to survive in the midst of a war.


Presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an original uncompressed PCM 2.0 Stereo audio mix with Pro Logic surrounds (this too was one of the last major analog Dolby A-type Dolby System stereo with mono surround theatrical releases before analog Dolby SR and then, Dolby Digital arrived), this is a great looking presentation of this British classic. While there is a considerable amount of grain throughout the film, most notably in darker scenes, the colors and details are intact and the end result is beautiful.


Special Features include...


Commentary by Terence Davies


Interview with Terence Davies


Interview with Art Director Miki van Zwanenberg


Introduction by Mark Kermode


Images of Liverpool: Archive Films


Theatrical trailer/ Re-release Trailer/ Image Gallery


Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio


and First Pressing Only: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Christina Newland plus archival essays.



This powerful film is definitely worth watching if you're a fan of British cinema or films that paint a startling and real portrait of war.



Next, Arrow Academy presents the coming of age drama Gas Food Lodging (1992) in this nice new Blu-ray presentation that's nothing short of impressive. Directed by Allison Anders and starring Brooke Adams, Fairuza Balk, and Ione Skye, the film centers around a mother and her two daughters who are all caught in a hard time.


Nora (Skye) is looking for love in all the wrong places while avoiding her loser of an ex husband, and her two teenage daughters: Trudi (Adams) who drops out of school to be a waitress with her mom and Shade (Baulk) whose socially awkward and enjoys watching bad matinees in a local movie theater. Artfully and stylistically shot, the film has great acting and directing all around, but is a bittersweet and often times depressing watch.


Presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and original uncompressed PCM 2.0 Stereo audio mix with Pro Logic surrounds (older analog Dolby A-type Dolby System stereo with mono surround theatrically before analog Dolby SR and then, Dolby Digital arrived; this sound was still being used on independent and/or low budget productions), the film looks and sounds great on the Blu-ray format with rich colors that definitely bests any previous release of the film on home video. This Director-Approved edition was remastered from the original film elements and captures the natural look and feel as intended.


Special Features include...


The Road to Laramie: A Look Back at Gas Food Lodging, a brand new interview with Allison Anders and Josh Olson


Cinefile: Reel Women (Chris Rodley, 1995), a documentary looking at the challenges women face in the film industry from independent to studio filmmaking, featuring interviews with Allison Anders, Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion, Penny Marshall, Gale Anne Hurd and others


Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin


and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film.



Arrow presents the Ingmar Bergman film, The Serpent's Egg (1977), which stars the late David Carradine. The period drama centers around a bizarre cabaret where Carradine plays a Jewish-American circus performer whose life gets turned upside down. He and his sister-in law (Luv Ullmann) end up getting a job at medical facility where their lives take a dangerous turn.


The Serpent's Egg also stars Heinz Bennent, Gert Frobe, and Christian Berkel.


Cultured cinephiles seem to love Bergman's work and it's definitely an acquired taste. While beautiful to look it and solid in terms of filmmaking, his films tend to be slowly paced and very 'real' in terms of feel. This film is no different, however, it portrays a realistic view at the past with its gorgeous production design that will make you feel as if you've stepped out of a time machine. However, this hasn't been on the shelf with his better received works, with a lot of mixed reviews out there.


The film is presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.66:1 widescreen and an uncompressed English LPCM Mono mix, both of which are of high quality for the format. This transfer seems highly similar (or it could even be the same transfer) to the Criterion Collection scan of the film, which is available on Blu-ray disc.


Special Features include...


Bergman's Egg


Away from Home featurette


Theatrical Trailer


Image Gallery


and a Collectible Insert Booklet/Reversible Cover


A haunting and unique period piece, The Serpent's Egg isn't necessarily a film that this reviewer would seek out or necessarily recommend, but is certainly worth watching if you're a fan of Bergman's expansive work.



Finally, the biggest hit and most expensive film on the list, one that holds up better than many expect. Nicholas Cage has jumped back into the spotlight recently thanks to the excellent Mandy (2018) (which is reviewed elsewhere on this site). But let's not forget John Woo's war epic, Windtalkers (2002), which is certainly worth revisiting in this new two disc ultimate edition. This heart touching war drama is up there for me along with The Patriot (which was recently released on 4K UHD and reviewed elsewhere on this site), as a strong early 2000s Hollywood epic.


The all-star cast includes Adam Beach, Christian Slater, Peter Stormare, Mark Ruffalo, Noah Emmerich, Frances O'Connor and Jason Issacs to name a few in a really impressive cast.


A hardened Marine named Joe Enders (Cage) is assigned to protect Ben Yahzee (Beach) - a Navajo code talker, and who also happens to be the Marines' new secret weapon. Enders' orders are to protect his code talker, but if Yahzee should fall into enemy hands, he's to protect the code at all costs. The Battle of Saipan closes in on the team, and Enders is forced to do what's right despite all odds...


The film has been presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.41:1 (original ratio is 2.39:1) and audio tracks in English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and various French and Spanish tracks. The film was released on Blu-ray before, but only as a bare bones release that did not include the unrated Director's Cut. Theatrical Version of the film is on Disc 1 and the unrated Director's Cut is on Disc 2. I don't personally have the previous release in my collection to compare it to this one, but I didn't notice anything detracting or jarring from the presentation on my system. The film's rich cinematography comes across nicely here, as does the beautiful score by the late James Horner.


Special Features include...

Audio Commentary with Director John Woo and Producer Terence Chang

Audio Commentary with Christian Slater and Nicolas Cage

Audio Commentary with actor Roger Willie and real-life Navajo code talker consultant Albert Smith

Deleted Scenes

"The Code Talkers - A Secret Code of Honor" (23:12)

WWII Tribute Piece "American Heroes: A Tribute to Navajo Code Talkers" (9:00)

"The Music of Windtalkers" (4:30)

Four Fly-on-the-Set Scene Diaries (23:37)

"Actors Boot Camp" Featurette (15:05)

Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery

Windtalkers Theatrical Teaser and Original Theatrical Trailer.


For more on the film on those other version we've had other writers cover, try these links for the Blu-ray...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/4675/Windtalkers+(Blu-ray/Theatrical+Cut


And 3-disc DVD set...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/206/Windtalkers+(MGM/3+DVD+Set


Both including more production information on the film as well.



- James Lockhart

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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