Mysteries: Series 5
(2018/Acorn Blu-ray Set)/Man
With The Magic Box
(1997/Film Movement Blu-ray)
B+/C+/A Sound: B/C+/B+ Extras: C-/C-/B Main Programs:
for a new group of genre releases from overseas...
start with a series produced in the underrated, great country of New
Mysteries: Series 5
Join Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd along with DCI Kristen
Sims and DCI Sam Breen as the solve various murders in their small
but charming town of Brokenwood in New Zealand. Each time a sudden
death or grisly murder, Detective Shepherd and his team suspect it is
more than coincidences and accidents. Together, they solve cases
that are strange, macabre and at times with barely any clues to go
in Brokenwood seems like everyday news, someone is killed and it is
up to Detectives Mike, Kristen and Sam to solve the case. For a
small town, it seems like no one is shocked when it happens and the
detectives often use the town gossipers to find suspects and secrets
people are hiding. Detective Mike is the leader/brains of the team he
manages to see clues and deduce the murderer from the suspects.
Detective Kristen is the slightly jaded but the voice of reason of
the team, often she deals with the social media and the public, at
first she and Mike clashes on his methods but in time comes to
respect him. Detective Sam is basically gopher of the team and at
times seems more like a lackey than a detective, but he is the one
who gets to chase the suspects and do the physical work.
series is a lot like Midsomer
but set in New Zealand instead of England. Basically the the same
types of characters and setting. Along with the main characters
there many townsfolk who come back in different episodes. Each
season can be watched independently of another. Extras include a
look behind the scenes.
this time out are...
- A murder happens during in a traveling fair, a man is found dead on
the ghost train ...but is it really
a ghost that killed him?
Not to Be
- A bride is found dead in the river after a bachelorette party, but
is it really more than just a party gone wrong?
- The Detectives must discover who is murdering the inheritors of
fortune. Heirs are dying off one by one in suspicious 'accidents'.
- A fallen from grace doctor is found electrocuted and murdered in an
old abandoned hospital, but all their suspects are former mental
patients who were tortured by him.
Man With The Magic Box
(2017) is an interesting Polish science fiction drama about a man
(Piota Polak) who keeps forgetting things (shades of Resnais'
who keeps bouncing between several eras until he finds himself in an
ugly future Warsaw, Poland long after The Cold War that has become a
police state. An old analog radio jars a memory that helps him
remember something that might help him in his dilemma, but he
realizes he may also be being used by higher ups.
also becomes interested in a beautiful woman (Olga Boladz) tracing
some things of her own. Do they know each other from before? Did
they get involved? Do either or both of them have some dark secret
that could tear down the power structure?
film gets slightly silly early with its pop culture references and
that becomes a sign that the makers were not able to totally
concentrate on pulling off what could have been a better film,
despite a good look, convincing cast and other items that meld well
with the script. Implicit (intended or not) is some anti-Semitism as
we see no Judaism in the future and Poland is having an upsurge of it
right now as you read this (separate essay) but this is smarter than
most films in its genre of late, no matter the degree of success.
Serious fans will want to give it a look.
trailer is the only extra.
we have Vera Belomnt's Marquise
French drama finally issued in high definition on Film Movement
Blu-ray in the U.S. market. Marquise (Sophie Marceau) started out as
an exotic street dancer, but when she catches the eye of Moliere's
Theater she joins the theater under the stage name Mademoiselle Du
Parc. As the theater travels her fame quickly grows and like
wildfire she soon becomes the most popular show in all of France.
Performing for French nobility and aristocracy, she becomes the
favorite of the King Louis XIV himself, but Marquise popularity grows
she becomes the mistress of famed playwright Racine, as her
confidence grows she soon begins to realize her dream is to become
the greatest actress ever.
was a beautiful, young street dancer with amazing raw talent. She
was immediately recruited, proposed and married by Moliere into his
theater troupe when he saw her dancing. As the theater travels and
performs it soon becomes evident that Marquise/Mademoiselle Du Parc
is the star of the show and everywhere she goes the crowds come only
to see her. And while Marquise sleeps around with other men, she
also remains in love/faithful with her husband (questionable), even
when she become the mistress of the young playwright Racine. She
continues to perform for the rich and wealthy of Versailles. But her
sudden rise to fame is only rivaled by her sudden downfall, when she
falls ill and her role is stolen by her understudy, and then like all
divas she tragically commits suicide on stage in front of her beloved
audience without them realizing she wasn't acting in her final act on
was a beautiful movie if it wasn't for being a tragedy as well. It
was a rag to riches story, a young woman who became a rising star
with literally just naked ambition (all she had to do was get naked,
flash or have sex with her audience). It had beautiful costumes and
amazing actors who gave insight to the French culture of the time
period. King Louis the XIV, Versailles and the French nobility was
just like Bohemianism (except they were rich) with loose morals and
even looser pants. Extras include interview with the director, new
essay by author and professor and trailers.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Brokenwood
is an HD shoot that looks really good, especially as the makers have
upgraded their HD equipment, making this more color rich and warm
than most similar shows. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition
image on Marquise
was shot on 35mm film and the transfer rarely shows the age of the
materials used, far superior a transfer to all previous releases of
the film (what little we've seen of it over the years) and will make
fans happy. The
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Magic
is also an HD shoot, but well styled to be post-modern Science
Fiction with a good use of color and attempt to have a consistent
look. It may not have created anything original visually, but at
least they were ambitious in what they tried here.
for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on
has Pro-Logic like surrounds and is a decent recent recording was
well mixed and mastered enough, but also a bit quiet and refined,
plus why no 5.1 mix? The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) French 5.1
lossless mix on Marquise
is not bad for a digital 5.1 sound release of the time, though it is
also dialogue-rich and some limits of the recording equipment shows.
The lossy Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Magic
makes one wish for a lossless track and HD video as the makers do
their best to make this interesting.
Nicholas Sheffo (Box)
and Ricky Chiang