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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Shorts > Silent Cinema > Heist > Teens > Animation > Crime > Breakthrough 4K (2019/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/DVD)/Charlie Chase At Hal Roach: The Talkies Volume Two 1932 - 33 (Sprocket Vault* DVD)/Corvette Summer (1978/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Extraordin

Breakthrough 4K (2019/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/DVD)/Charlie Chase At Hal Roach: The Talkies Volume Two 1932 - 33 (Sprocket Vault* DVD)/Corvette Summer (1978/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Extraordinary World Of Charlie Bowers (1917 - 1940/Flicker Alley Blu-ray Set)/Little (2019/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Winter Passing (2005/Blu-ray/*both MVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Corvette Summer Blu-ray 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 comedies and dramas from over a 100 years period, including silent and sound shorts, even with animation, that you should know about...

The dramatic and odd Roxann Dawson faith film Breakthrough (2019) is one of the goofiest and unusual of all the films in this inexplicable, forced cycle we have encountered over the years. Allegedly based on a true story, the title refers to both a young boy falling through ice into freezing water and being near death, then in finding a new state of faith as a result of something so horrific.

The problem with that is always that it implies it is somehow a 'good thing' the accident happened (along with all the near death items about it) and that it was additionally 'meant to be' as if it were somehow part of 'God's plan' versus dealing with it as the awful incident it is. Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Dennis Haysbert and Chrissy Metz show up in the cast, but they made zero difference in making this any more believable. I never bought it, it goes on way too long and in the end, I had a new respect for the Raquel Welch film Flare-Up which I already liked.

Extras include Digital Copy, then the Blu-ray adds a Stills Gallery, Deleted Scenes, audio commentary by Director Dawson and Producer DeVon Franklin, two featurettes and a deleted scene.

Next up is the latest collection of an underrated comic actor from the past in Charlie Chase At Hal Roach: The Talkies Volume Two 1932 - 33 which consists of 16 shorts (one in Spanish!) he made when the company was still being distributed by MGM (that contract was alive and well when these were made) and they can be funny and have their moments, but they are3 a little less funny in total than older past sets we have covered of the still too-unknown filmmaker (reviewed elsewhere on this site) so it is not the set I would start with, but it is entertaining in many places if it is a set you happen upon first.

Chase scholar Richard M. Roberts offers more audio commentary to all the shorts and we get a nice stills gallery too.

MGM was in its final years as a solo studio still doing comedy (they soon bought United Artists a few years later) when they released Matthew Robbins' Corvette Summer (1978) with the added luck of having Mark Hamill signed to this the year Star Wars became a massive hit. He plays a high school kid who is part of a group taking a junkyard car and rebuilding it as part of a project there. Wendy Jo Sperber (later of Bosom Buddies) and Danny Bonaduce (who is really good here, but neither actor is noted on the back cover!) plus Brion James of Blade Runner even shows up and they forgot him too.

The class rebuilds an old Stingray Vette into a gaudy, shiny, sharp, fun, metal-particle red painted dream car, but when one of the class drivers (Bonaduce) goes for drinks for everyone, he takes the keys, but leaves the engine running. It gets stolen, so Hamill is devastated, then decides he will hunt it down by any means necessary and possible. When he gets a lead, he lands up going to Las Vegas (shot a little diffused versus the sharpness of the likes of Diamonds Are Forever, Viva Las Vegas, Night Stalker (1972) or Scorsese's Casino) where he meets a sexy young van driver (a lovable Annie Potts).

The cast is great and the locales fine, but the screenplay is all over the place and often plays like a bad TV movie when it needed to be more, including a rewrite it should have had as soon as Star Wars made so much money, even if it meant delaying its release. Instead, it is a mixed curio with some talent from a fun time that is a curio Warner Archive has issued on Blu-ray in a new restored version that is as good as this will ever look. Those interested should try it out to see Potts so good so early and how good Hamill really was before he hit it big.

An original theatrical trailer is the only extra, but I really like the font that uses prism lettering common on fancier iron-on t-shirts of the time.

Next is another collection of comedy shorts by a comedy talent lost to time named Charlie, but not the one we just covered above. The Extraordinary World Of Charlie Bowers (1917 - 1940) is about a comic writer, actor, performer and eventually director who also was an animator, yet his films and name have disappeared and after seeing these films, it makes no sense why. From early silent hand-drawn animation to distinctive and even unusual (though meant to be amusing and funny, it sometimes has a strange side that is not) stop-motion animation inserted into all his live action works, it makes no sense why these were lost except that they became orphan films and thankfully were found in France. Thus, this 17 title set of shorts, though some are missing footage for now.

Though I will not ruin anything, the amazing effort to build crazy contraptions and even go wild with them in the silent shorts is nothing short of incredible for any era of filmmaking, especially in our increasingly lazy digital CGI era gives one a whole new reason to see this great set, on two Blu-ray discs. Flicker Alley manages to find something great yet again and it is worth going out of your way for.

Extras include another great souvenir booklet on high quality paper with tech info., illustrations, pictures, an introduction by Serge Bromberg and essay by Sean Axmaker, a reversible cover and the disc adds a Stills Gallery and featurette Looking For Charlie Bowers (15 minutes long).

Jordan Sanders is the horrible boss of a small-but-successful tech company, but one day she wakes up in her 13-year-old body and the next day she has her biggest sales pitch ever for her company. Now, she is forced to rely on her assistant April (which she daily bullies and torments along with the rest of the company) to step up to her position while she tries to figure out how to fix her situation. But before the day is over, she will learn there's more to life than just being the 'boss' in Tina Gordon's Little (2019).

Jordan as a child was the ugly nerdy girl who was bullied in school, as a result she grew up to be smart, success and the boss of her own company and now she gets to bully others. She rather bully others than be the bullied, but she is hated by all her employees. But due to a little miracle she is returned 13-year-old self to relive her childhood. She relives high school she is forced to remember what it is like to be a child, all the meanwhile she bonds with her assistant April who gives her a different view on life. It is only after she learns to be nice to others, how to be a friend, and helping a group of bullied kids to not walk down the same path she did does she return to normal.

This movie was like a mix blend of the movies Freaky Friday and The Devil Wears Prada. It has comic drama making fun of office bullying and high school bullying. It is a story on how the bullied one day can become the bosses and then they become the bullies. It also seems to point out how black girls (those who want to be successful) believe popularity and appearance is everything, but eventually the characters learn there will be always bullies, but it doesn't mean you have to grow up to become one. Issa Rae, Marsai Martin and Regina Hall star.

Extras include a gag reel, More than a Little talent, Marsai Martin Presents... , Black Momma Whuppin' Situation, Regina Goes Method, Issa Rae's Assistant Survival Guide, Commentary and trailers.

Finally, the likable Zooey Deschanel stars alongside Will Ferrell and Ed Harris in Winter Passing (2005), a dismal comedy/drama that has paints a picture of an actress Reese Holden (Deschanel), who has been offered a small fortune by a book editor if she can secure for publication the love letters that her father (Harris), a bizarre reclusive novelist, wrote to her mother, who has passed away. Returning to Michigan, Reese finds that an ex-grad student (Amelia Warner) and a gay would-be musician (Ferrell) have moved in with her father, who cares more about his new friends than he does about his own health and well-being. The film is directed by Adam Rapp, to whom is mostly known as a playwright.

Zooey leads the show here and does so with her usual schtick that doesn't take her too far out of her comfort zone. Will Ferrell was definitely trying to get some attention in the indie circuit with his more serious role here as a gay wannabe musician. He plays off well with Ed Harris, who is dying physically and who keeps a bed outside to sleep on.

Special Features include:

BTS featurette

and Trailers for Winter Passing and other MVD titles.

If you like offbeat indies or are a fan of the leads, this is a film that may have fell past your radar.

Winter is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and an audio mix in English 5.1 Dolby Surround and a LPCM English 2.0 Stereo Sound mix. The overall look of the film is natural yet cinematic and is captured well here, which is likely the film's first proper presentation on Blu-ray disc.

You would think the 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1 HDR (10+; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Breakthrough 4K would be the performance champ on this list, but the production is a standard HD production with plenty of detail issues and motion blur moments, so this is one of the most obvious upscalings we have ever seen on a 4K disc and is ultimately no better than the regular 1080p Blu-ray with the same aspect ratio.

Thus, Winter Passage is joined by the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Corvette (with great labwork by MetroColor), the 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfers on Bowers (the shorts can obviously show the age of the materials used (including some color shorts), but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of these lost films) and the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Little as looking better than the 4K release here.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on the Little DVD is predictably much weaker than the rest and the 1.33 X 1 black and white image on the Chase shorts look decent and are up to the other DVD.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Breakthrough is featured on both disc versions, is dialogue-based and does not have the most consistent soundfield. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Little can more than compete and has a better soundfield. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD version of Little is passable. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Bowers includes plenty of music that sounds fine, but plays back well, while the same configuration on Corvette sounds as good as that film ever will.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound on the Chase DVDs are fine for the old codec, would probably sound better lossless and will do.

To order the Warner Archive Corvette Summer Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Little) and James Lockhart (Winter)



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