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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Love > Prison > French > Philosophy > Relationships > Religion > Iran > Medical > Sports > Football > Il > Down By Love (2016/Icarus DVD)/Mohsen Makhmalbaf: The Poetic Trilogy (1996 - 2002/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray Set)/No Date No Signature (2018/Icarus DVD)/100 Yards (2018/RLJ DVD)

Down By Love (2016/Icarus DVD)/Mohsen Makhmalbaf: The Poetic Trilogy (1996 - 2002/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray Set)/No Date No Signature (2018/Icarus DVD)/100 Yards (2018/RLJ DVD)

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

These releases want the audience to think more than usual, but sometimes in very different ways...

We start with a film by Pierre Godeau, Down by Love (2016) is a French love story that's based on a true story that occurred in a Versailles prison in 2011, of a sultry affair between a young female inmate named Anna (Adele Exarchopoulos who starred in Blue is the Warmest Color) who falls in love with her much older (and married) Prison Governor (Guillaume Gallienne).

While this storyline has been done time and time again, the film does happen to prove that true love can be objectionable. While it is in French, this film could be in any language really as it happens every day around the world. The film's main theme of love vs. lust is explored heavily, as this should be essential viewing of what 'not to do' when you're a married man with kids!

The film is presented on standard definition DVD with an anamorphically enhanced widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 2.0 lossy Dolby Digital French track with English subtitles. The film is very nicely photographed, especially the love scenes, which are a bit stylish and surreal. Compression issues are evident, as is common with the standard definition format, but the photography is fine for what it is.

Extras include and Trailers and a About Icarus Films/About Distrib Films bit.

Next up is Mohsen Makhmalbaf: The Poetic Trilogy (1996 - 2002) with three short stories from the Middle East as feature films written and directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, The Gabbeh, The Silence and The Gardner. The Gabbeh is a story of an old man and woman washing a rug and suddenly a beautiful woman appears and tells the story of the rug. The Silence is the story of a blind boy as he goes to work. The Gardner is more like a series of documentary on the nature of religion in the Middle East through the eyes of the younger generations.

In The Gabbeh, the story of the old man and woman is actually the story of the old woman in her younger days as she traveled with her clan and as she weaves the rug it tells of her life story how the rug represents life, death and their struggles. As she follow her daily life she dreams of running away with a young horseman and years later they are here. The Silence (also involving a young boy like Bergman's classic) story of the blind boy is how he makes a living tuning instruments, but if he becomes distracted he is unable to properly tune the instruments he needs to listen to only good or 'pure' music. In The Gardner, it is a series of interviews with the younger generation in a beautiful garden as if different religion are like plants in the garden, how every religion preaches love and peace and yet they fail to achieve it by causing intolerance and war, how quick religion is to claim everything good comes from God and all evil is the fault of man/world.

These short stories are more like cultural insights and little life/moral lessons through simple stories. Through it, the audience can see a bit of what life is like in the Middle East and they can only imagine what would it be like if one had to live in that culture their whole life.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 and 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers are pretty good, but have some flaws, though two of the films (The Gabbeh and The Silence) are from new 2K scans of the camera negatives. Color is good, but expect unevenness here and there. The PCM 2.0 Farsi audio on all three films are fine, but often quiet or limited.

Extras (per the press release) include an audio commentary on Gabbeh by critic Godfrey Cheshire, Poetry in Motion: An Interview with Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an in-depth conversation between the Iranian auteur and film critic Jonathan Romney, newly produced for this edition, Mohsen with Closed Eyes, an imaginatively filmed archival interview with Makhmalbaf on The Silence, Original trailers, Stills and collections gallery, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring new writing by film academic Negar Mottahedeh and Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

Another Iranian drama, this time from director Vahid Jalilvand, No Date No Signature (2018) is an award winning film that was thought by many that it got snubbed for a Best Foreign Film, Oscar Nomination last Awards Season. The complex film centers a forensic pathologist Doctor Nariman, who has a freak car accident with a motorcyclist and injures his 8-year-old son, and things just get crazier from there.

The Doctor offers to take the child to a clinic nearby, but the father refuses his help and money. A few days later, in the hospital where he works, Dr. Nariman finds out that the little boy has died, and is brought the body for autopsy. Did Dr. Nariman cause the child's premature death due to his reckless driving or did the child die due to of food poisoning according to other doctors' diagnosis?

The film stars Amir Aghaee, Navid Mohammadzadeh, Hedye Tehrani, and Saeed Dakh.

The presentation here is quite nice for DVD and presents the film in a 1.78:1

widescreen aspect ratio and pairs it with a lossy 5.1 Farsi Dolby Digital language track with English subtitles. The film is nicely shot in a desaturated tone throughout with high contrast, and would look even better in HD.

The only extras are Trailers for other titles in the Icarus library.

This is an interesting, yet mentally exhausting, film that's definitely worth a watch.

Finally we have the drama 100 Yards (2018). Rich Porter had it all, good looks, money and was to be drafted as the next big American pro football player, though he is also an arrogant alcoholic and angry at the world and blaming everyone but himself for his mistakes. Instead of playing pro football, he goes to the Philippines in search of his missing mother who disappeared doing charity work there. While he searches for his mother he discovers he has a tumor and is dying. In the hospital he meets a young boy with the same condition that changes his life and with the help of a caring nurse ...he just might have a second chance.

He alienated his teammates and then is framed by his ex-girlfriend and paparazzi, but then tragedy really hit home when he discovers he was dying of brain cancer. In the hospital he meets a young boy who has cancer like him and helps turn his life around. Along with a caring nurse he begins to find his faith and religion again after losing his reputation, health and everything. It is only when he learns how to forgive others and himself does he start turning his life around.

This was another heart warming sports movie about not giving into the evil temptations of the world, it was a redemption story in how a man so full or hate, malice, anger and grief can still change himself and it is never too late to change. It is not just a singe change, but it takes many steps and it is filled with hardships and pain, but it is how we rise from those things do we truly define ourselves and do we being to live life.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 are as good as they can be for the format and for something so simply and basically produced. There are no extras.

- Ricky Chiang and James Lockhart (Icarus DVDs)



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