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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > Hate > Love Story > Revenge > Black Experience > Urban > Racism > Poverty > Sexism > Inde > If Beale Street Could Talk (2018/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/Poetic Justice (1993/Sony Blu-ray)/Talk Radio (1988/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Wanda (1970/Criterion Blu-ray)

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/Poetic Justice (1993/Sony Blu-ray)/Talk Radio (1988/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Wanda (1970/Criterion Blu-ray)



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



PLEASE NOTE: The Talk Radio 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 and can be ordered from the links below.



Now for some good films about the serious, stark side of life...




Barry Jenkins follows up his Academy Award-winning Best Picture Moonlight (reviewed elsewhere on this site) with an impressive adaptation of James Baldwin's classic novel If Beale Street Could Talk (2018), as relevant today as ever. A young couple (Kiki Layne and Stephan James) are young, happy and fall in love somewhere in the late 1960s, early 1970s, in the early part of the film that is remarkable in its own right. We never see any couple in love honestly like this, especially of color, so it is something special. Unfortunately, the joy does not last long.


The boyfriend is accused of a rape against a hispanic woman we absolutely know he did not commit and has been partly set up by a racist, ignorant police officer who could care less about anyone but himself. From there, you have that conflict, the clash of the families on both sides (he gets zero support or confidence from his sisters and especially his own mother) and the general institutionalize racism and lack of opportunity by design land up making for an awful combination... then she has a surprise announcement.


The result makes for an excellent flipside to Moonlight, a film as worthy and one of the best releases of 2018. Regina King rightly won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as the kind of great mom and wife we do not see on the big screen enough, either. What starts out as what could have been a simple 'good mom' role slow expands into something deeper, Jenkins taking the leisure time to develop and that is why the nearly two hours here do not seem like enough, yet you feel you have had a deep, rare experience that we do not see enough of in cinema anywhere. There are a few off-moments, but otherwise, it is a film everyone should see.


I don't know where Jenkins will go from here, but this is one of the strongest back-to-back showings by any filmmaker of late and I hope he is on the beginning of a serious roll of great cinema. His first two films already produced priceless moments and we can only hope for more.


Extras include Deleted Scenes the featurette If Beale Street Could Talk: Poetry in Motion and a Feature Length Audio Commentary track by Barry Jenkins.



Janet Jackson and the late Tupac Shakur star in Poetic Justice (1993), which is a touching 'street romance' fused with love, poetry, and music. On Blu-ray for the first time and highly anticipated, the film looks and sounds fantastic and is a much needed upgrade for fans.


Directed by John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood), the film also stars Maya Angelou, Regina King (here she is again!), Khandi Alexander, Tone Loc, and Kimberly Brooks.


After witnessing the murder of her boyfriend, young Justice (Jackson) decides to forget about college and become a South Central Los Angeles hairdresser. Avoiding friends, the only way for her to cope with her depression is by writing poetry. On her way to a convention in Oakland, she is forced to ride with an independent-minded postal worker (Shakur), who don't see eye to eye. After they butt heads on various topics, they learn that they aren't so different from one another.


A digital copy is also included.


Special Features include...

10 Never before seen Deleted Scenes

Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur's Rare Screen Test

Revisiting Poetic Justice with Director John Singleton

Director Commentary

and an Original Theatrical Trailer



Oliver Stone's infamous Talk Radio (1988), gets a special limited edition version on HD for the first time courtesy of Twilight Time. Following the exploits of the foul mouthed Dallas radio talk show host Barry Champlain (Eric Bogosian), he ends up putting on the show of a lifetime on the eve of his promotion onto national radio. Diving into different parts of the successful DJ's personal life and career, the film explores the ups and downs of the often times controversial profession of being a disc jockey.


Some of Stone's most inspired work, Talk Radio is a little dated, but still a powerful and entertaining piece of cinema. The film has an excellent supporting cast with Alec Baldwin, Ellen Greene, Leslie Hope, John C. McGinley, John Pankow, and Michael Wincott.


Special Features include...


Another great illustrated booklet with another solid, key Julie Kirgo essay

Isolated Music Score Track

Filming Rage: Oliver Stone on Talk Radio

and an Original Theatrical Trailer



Finally, we have this gem of the American New Wave of independent cinema that began in the late 1960s, Barbara Loden's Wanda (1970) where the writer/director manages to play the title role with uncompromising realism: a woman of no wealth, little means, is depressed and is finished with her marriage. That includes two children, but her soon to be ex-husband has a new lady in his life and Wanda is ready to let them take over all the parenting. Wondering around the coal country of Scranton, Pennsylvania in the upper North East of the state, she starts taking up with all kinds of men.


Unfortunately, none respect her and they use her as much as she does them (sex for food and money, et al) until she meets a guy only known as Mr. Dennis (Michael Higgins) who is a crook, thief, con-artist, abuser of women and not too bright in some of his robbery ideas. They meet at a bar (no surprise there) and she just gets more and more unwisely involved. This leads to his 'brilliant' idea of robbing a big bank, in part by going after one of its managers and his family. From there, it just gets more inane, insane and Wanda keeps letting herself by used, but now as an accessory to what will soon be a federal crime!


At times, the film reminded me of Antonioni's Red Desert (1966, also on Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) and she certainly takes her time exploring and showing the character, one you feel sorry for, a victim of poverty, sexism, a lack of education and victim of a coal town in some decline. She has major issues even holding down a simple job and Loden makes this feel as real as if you were watching a documentary.


This was produced on 16mm film, finally a common thing by the early 1970s (Super 16mm was about to arrive too) and I like the look Director of Photography Nicholas T. Proferes (who also edited) pull off. This was almost a lost film, but it has thankfully been restored and is way overdue for rediscovery as the topic of women director's becomes as important as ever.


Extras include (some of this from the press release) an illustrated paper foldout with tech info and an essay by film critic Amy Taubin, while the Blu-ray adds I Am Wanda, an hour-long documentary by Katja Raganelli featuring an interview with director Barbara Loden filmed in 1980, Audio recording of Loden speaking to students at the American Film Institute in 1971, Segment from a 1971 episode of The Dick Cavett Show featuring Loden, The Frontier Experience, a short educational film from 1975 about a pioneer woman's struggle to survive, directed by and starring Loden and a new Theatrical Release Trailer.



All four Blu-rays look as good as they possibly could in the format. The 1080p 2.00 X 1 digital High Definition AVC @ 34 MBPS image on the Beale Blu-ray is a really good HD shoot that runs smoothly for the most part, though we get slight imperfections and some camera angles might work better than others. The anamorphically enhanced 2.00 X 1 image on the DVD is passable, but misses too much detail, depth and color range. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the Blu-ray is dialogue-based, but is well mixed and presented with a good choice of music. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is smaller by comparison and not as warm.


Poetic Justice is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and paired with an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless (48kHz, 24-bit, from the later analog Dolby SR-type (Spectral Recording) noise reduction system) sound, both of which are of the norm for the format. Shot on 35mm, the colors and organic feel of the film is intact with very clear audio mixes and nice levels of visual color contrast throughout.


Talk Radio is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a nice sounding English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix (from the older analog Dolby A-type noise reduction system). This is a definite improvement over previous releases of the film on disc in lesser formats. There's a little bit of grain in the image, but nothing overly distracting.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Wanda can show the age of the materials used, especially considering how some elements survived better than others, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film. You can see the improvements versus the same footage on the extras, with the restoration involving as much of the original 16mm camera materials possible, plus a 35mm blow-up print. The sound is here in PCM 2.0 Mono lossless from the original 35mm optical soundtrack and other 35mm optical sources, resulting in a impressive result considering the films, age, budget and how it was not preserved with big money for almost half a century. Some detail might not be as good in some scenes from the 16mm film stocks of the time, but 16mm professional production was new then (from the supplements, they were certainly using 16mm cameras any serious filmmaker would still absolutely want to own) and the look is very consistent throughout. Expect some minor flaws.



To order the Talk Radio Blu limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:


www.screenarchives.com


and


http://www.twilighttimemovies.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo (Beale, Wanda) and James Lockhart

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


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