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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Writing > Fraud > Royalty > War > Sex > Melodrama > British > Drugs > Crime > Poverty > Family > Philosoph > Can You Ever Forgive Me? (DVD*)/The Favorite (Blu-ray w/DVD/*both 2018 Fox)/The Mule (2018/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Marcel Proust's Time Regained (1999/Icarus/KimStim Blu-ray)/A Woman Of

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (DVD*)/The Favorite (Blu-ray w/DVD/*both 2018 Fox)/The Mule (2018/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Marcel Proust's Time Regained (1999/Icarus/KimStim Blu-ray)/A Woman Of Affairs (1928/MGM/Warner Archive DVD)



4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B-/B & C+/B-/B/C+ Sound: B-/B & C+/B-/B-/C Extras: C+/C/C/C+/D Films: B/B/B-/C+/C+



PLEASE NOTE: The A Woman Of Affairs DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.



Here's a group of challenging, intelligent dramas, old and new....



We start with Melissa McCarthy's dramatic Oscar-nominated performance is the highlight of Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018), in which she plays struggling author Lee Israel, who gets involved in a crime forging private letters of late authors, and makes a fortune doing so on the secondary literary market. Over 400 letters were printed by Lee Israel, and sold taking her from rags to riches. However, her gig doesn't last long, as her bumbling gay friend, Jack, attempts to help her from personal ruin, when the letters are discovered to be fake and she's pulled into court. Based on a true story, the film is well done, easy to watch, and a great character-driven piece.


Can You Ever Forgive Me? also stars Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Christian Navarro, Jane Curtin, and Ben Falcone. The film is directed by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)


Special Features include...

Deleted Scenes

Promotional Featurettes

Audio Commentary by Marielle Heller and Melissa McCarthy

Galleries, Theatrical Trailers and Sneak Peaks of other Fox Searchlight Films



Easily one of 2018's most underrated films and an Academy Award winner with 10 well-earned nominations, Yargos Lanthimos' The Favorite (2018) with Olivia Colman's amazing performance as Queen Anne, always ill, permanently heartbroken over a series of miscarriages that left her even more lonely and vulnerable and in the middle of conflict with France for which she is uncertain of how to handle. At her side is Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz in another amazing performance) who is more involved with her than we first suspect, but is using her influence to make herself happy and powerful with the Queen knowing.


Entering the picture is a Lady Abigail (the great Emma Stone), who has fallen from grace after an ugly, unfortunate event that has left her in bad shape. She has come to the palace to offer her services to the Queen, but Sarah takes a liking to her and takes her under her wing as an assistant. The Queen approves too, so all is fine, but men around the castle (including Nicholas Hoult in yet another excellent turn) want to get involved and to manipulate the situation for his own ends.


Some people here can be nice, but that can be taken as weakness and these high society types do not even know what to do with themselves. Sex is also a sad situation here, rarely fun, always loveless and whether it is gay, straight or lesbian sex, no one ever makes any meaningful connection that way adding to how cold the world in the film can get.


The very smart screenplay is based on research of the real life persons from a few centuries ago and the casting nothing short of remarkable. This is graphic at times about its subject matter, but not in a sleazy, stupid way and I am surprised this did not do better commercially. However, now that you can get this Blu-ray, I hope audiences who like watching this kind of cinema will catch up to it and recommend it to their friends. There is not a false note in the film and it has to at least be a minor classic of the costume drama.


To say anything else would ruin the film, but it is up there with BlacKKKlansman as one of last year's very best films and one you should go out of your way for.


Extras include Digital HD copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber-capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds Deleted Scenes and a Making Of featurette entitled The Favourite: Unstitching The Costume Drama.



For once, the bit about being based on a true story did not seem like a lie in Clint Eastwood's The Mule (2018), where Eastwood comes out of retirement as an actor to play a 90-year-old man who made a long living growing and selling flowers, which we see in a flashback. He also was not the family man he should have been. Forward many years later to the near-present and they are about to foreclose on his business and everything else. Then comes a bizarre chance encounter when he gets to a family event for friends of one of the guests looking for a driver.


The good news is that he has a flawless driving record despite his current truck looking like he's ready for a Sanford & Son revival if that, but what he does know at first is that it is delivering drugs for a Mexican drug cartel. Going into shock at the amount of money he gets for even one delivery and needing money very badly, he drifts into agreeing and the cash starts piling up. No one suspects him and the cartel is happy, if a little unnerved by his success and unpredictability.


Unfortunately, the DEA has noticed the huge uptick in drugs going into Chicago and they get a new agent (Bradley Cooper) has been asked to make a big bust because the results of our driver's success is bad news for the city.


I had heard interesting things about this one and thought it must be interesting if he wanted to act again. The result is a film making a statement on changing times that are hurting some of the most productive and clean-living people in our society and when you add the great supporting cast (Diane Weist, Andy Garcia, Michael Pena and Laurence Fishburne for starters), you get one of last year's more underrated films.


Warner has issued it as one of their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray/Blu-ray sets and that is the best way to check it out.


Extras include Digital HD Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber-capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a music video and a Making Of featurette.



Raul Ruiz's nearly three-hour adaptation of Marcel Proust's Time Regained (1999) is an ambitious production down to the casting and juggling of intertwining storylines and characters to bring the book to life. It is not a bad job, but it has too many flat moments to bring the book to life, whether you actually like the book itself or think it is overrated. Still, it is meant as a major French cinematic exercise and the casting including Vincent Perez, Catherine Denuve, Pascal Greggory, John Malkovich (whose French is so excellent you would think he was French!), Emmanuelle Beret and Chiara Mastroianni prove how serious this all was.


However well the film succeeds or not, it is at least respecting the book and I was able to stay with it, even when some parts were not that good, meaning maybe this could have been shorter and/or tried a different approach. Now that it is on this really solid Blu-ray, you can judge for yourself if it is your kind of film, but it never condescends to the audience, so that's a plus.


Extras include a new trailer and on camera interview with film critic Bernard Genin, who does his best to explain the film and book that inspired it.



Finally, we have a silent film, Clarence Brown's A Woman Of Affairs (1928) featuring a young, very pretty Great Garbo as a woman whose lady-like status is questioned when her husband commits suicide. We see he is about to be arrested, but the details are never revealed and yet, she suffers, starts to see other men being sick of the lies about her and it rocks society and its phoniness and hypocrisy even further. I had problems with some of the plotting and this runs a long 90 minutes, but MGM knew what they had in Garbo and knew audiences would sit through it.


More interesting might be the supporting cast including John Gilbert, a young Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., John Mack Brown, Dorothy Sebastian and Lewis Stone. It sure has some good form and even surreal moments in spots that make it interesting, but it can be a trying sitting, so be prepared if you take it on. It sadly also shows how some bad things never change.


There are no extras.



The 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image in Mule is the visual champ here, a decent HD shoot with some good editing and decent, consistent visuals. Eastwood is still a photochemical film director at heart, but he got the knack with HD in way that does not hurt his work. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray is not bad, but misses some color depth and nuance you get in 4K that make the film more suspenseful and palpable.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Favourite falls somewhere between the two Mule presentations, entirely shot on 35mm film so well by Director of Photography Robbie Ryan, B.S.C. and looking great, one of the best-looking films of 2018 easily and one that totally understands Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975) like few costume films since it was released do. It is constantly rich and dense, making it all the more realistic, no matter how fancy it gets. Hope we see a 4K version soon, with the anamorphically enhanced DVD here with lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound passable, but no match for the Blu-ray.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Regained might be a slight cheat over an original 1.85 X 1 or 1.66 X 1 frame, but it looks pretty good for the most part, shot on film, but with some slight flaws here and there. Color is not bad, either.


Can You Ever Forgive Me? is presented on standard definition DVD with an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. Though some compression issues are evident and would be an improved presentation in HD, it looks and sounds as good as it can here. The production design is natural and not too over stylized.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Affairs looks impressive for being 91-years-old, including the use of diffusion lenses in many shots, so don't be shocked at those soft moments as they are intentional. Some missing frame and frame damage can be seen at times, but this looks good overall. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono may be all instrumental, but it can be a little weak, but you'll have to judge if that matters to you for a silent film.


All three Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, which is increasing rare in an era of 12-track films and two of them are brand new films, but they all sound good, save some location audio issues on Mule and some obvious age issues with Regained. That means Favourite is the sonically best film here.


On the back of the Regained case, the sound is identified as SRD, which would never apply to a home video release, but does indicate the film was issued in old lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the best theatrical 35mm film prints with analog Dolby SR (Spectral Recording) as backup incase the digital failed. This was a safeguard against digital units failing (the digital sound was in between the print's sprocket holes!) and the SR is there for theaters that could not play the digital sound.



- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Ever)

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


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