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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > City > Driving > Crime > Warehouse > Germany > Romance > Oil Industry > Period Piece > Civil > A Score To Settle (2019/RLJ Blu-ray)/The Sun Is Also A Star (2019/Warner DVD)

Chicago Cab (1997/MVD/Liberation Hall DVD)/In The Aisles (2019/Music Box DVD)/Iron Orchard (2019/Santa Rita DVD)/Jezebel (1938/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Lou Andreas-Salome (2016/Cinema Libre DVD)/A Score To Settle (2019/RLJ Blu-ray)/The Sun Is Also A Star (2019/Warner DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Jezebel Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

This group of films mix comedy and drama in different ways and degrees....

Mary Cybulski and John Tintory's Chicago Cab (1997, based on the play Hellcab) gives us a day and night in the life of a cabbie (Paul Dillon, who is really good here) and the many personalities and goofs he have to ride around to make a buck. This could have been very bad and slap happy stupid, too self-amused and consumed with itself to work, but instead, it is a raw indie film that has some poor moments, but even more interesting ones and features a cast that should have made this a much larger curio by now.

Among the amazing cast members are John Cusack as a mysterious, slightly paranoid guy we only see for a few minutes, Gillian Anderson as an Italian 'chick' annoyed by her boyfriend (looking like she's ready for a revival of Grease), Michael Ironside, Tracy Letts, Laurie

Metcalf, John C. Reilly as a guy with money who secretly sees his lady friend as nothing but good for sex (among his other issues) with her not knowing how he talks about her a very young and almost unrecognizable Michael Shannon as a coked-out goof up to no good and Julianne Moore as a customer who has just been sexually assaulted.

None of the lives really intersect and that stops it from becoming pretentious and fall into the trap of just mixing up everything in the story as if everyone always knows everyone else versus how it is in real life when they do not, especially in a big city like Chicago. Although there is no snow and it does not look too cold, it is winter and Christmas in the film, though I was not totally convinced. Still, the performances and directing works, even when some of the script does not and you have to see how good some of these actors are here for the screen time they get.

Expect a few shocking and politically incorrect moments, but they didd not bother me much. This runs 96 minutes and the editing is a plus.

These are sadly no extras.

Thomas Stuber's In The Aisles (2019) is a quietly comical tale of people working in a warehouse outlet grocery store in Germany and we follow a new employee (up and coming Frank Rogowski from Transit, also reviewed on this site) arrives to learn how to work the night shift, quirkiness and quirky people abound, keeping up shelving for the huge demand such stores must meet for their customers on a daily basis. Not so quirky is Marion (Sandra Huller) whom he befriends and then it becomes possibly something more serious.

The film runs over two hours and maybe would have worked better shorter because some parts work very well, but a few moments just fall flat, though that should not stop you from checking out once to see what works and see Rogowski, who may be on the way to becoming a major international star. The camera likes him and he can really act in ways we do not see often enough. He carries the film well and does this with surprisingly limited dialogue.

Extras includes footage from the Berlin film premiere, interview with lead Rogowski and featurette: Frank Rogowski: Shooting Star.

Ty Roberts' The Iron Orchard (2019) is set in 1939 and involves a man named Jim (Lane Garrison) who is about to enter the rough-but-profitable world of oil drilling in West Texas, but there are bad personalities, jealousy, competition and cut-throats standing in his way. His wife (Ali Corbin) helps, but The Great Depression is still droning on (with WWII around the corner without them knowing it) and they have to fight and hope they have some luck to survive or even thrive.

This is an ambitious production with some money in it, but I had a few problems with it including badly directed actors, actors speaking in an odd tone throughout that did not work and a storyline that was nothing new, special or distinct. There have been a few films to touch on this subject, but they worked better than this, even if they got muddled. Some of the period touches are not bad, but they do not go far enough, which is extremely obvious when we see actual archive footage of the people and places portrayed here in the end credits.

With some simple research and more ambition, this could have been a pleasant surprise, but it just falls flat to the ending that cannot find closure or logical continuance. For the curious only.

Extras (not listed on the case) include a trailer and feature-length audio commentary track.

William Wyler's Jezebel (1938) is back and finally on Blu-ray in a new upgraded edition after a long wait for Bette Davis fans. We previously covered the film in the second volume of her films issued by Warner on DVD and at the time I said...

''Jezebel has always been referred to as Davis' concession film for not getting Gone With The Wind, but William Wyler's film (shot in black and white) did not have the NAACP protesting it to curtail the racism and negative portrayal of African Americans in a film with heavy doses of slavery. Ironically, that dates this film much more than Wind and helped make Wind more of a classic than the NAACP would have wished. If they had known, they might have changed their protest strategy. Davis is the title character, who keeps driving her fiancee (Henry Fonda) crazy to control, manipulate and keep him, but it drives him away instead, which drives her over the top. Needless to say, she won the Best Actress Oscar.''

The film still has its racist stereotypes (even when those characters talk back to the white overlords) and there is always the thought, what if this was in color, but the new upgraded transfer by Warner Bros. for this solid Warner Archive Blu-ray release is so good, it will give you another reason to love black and white. Davis' work here holds up as well as ever and it is a must-see for all serious film fans.

Extras are slightly different here than on the Jezebel DVD and include a feature length audio commentary track by the great film scholar Jeanine Basinger, who also appears in the Jezebel: Legend Of The South featurette, Original Theatrical Trailer, promo Ramblin 'Round The Hollywood Studio with Candid Cameraman at Warner with Davis, musical short Melody Masters: Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra, and in HD and Technicolor, the animated Daffy Duck In Hollywood.

Cordula Kablitz-Post's Lou Andreas-Salome (2016) is a biopic of the woman who became a philosophical writer with friends like Friedrich Nietzsche (pre-fascism) and later Sigmund Freud, insisted on education when it was something women were discouraged from and faced some bad results from those who were jealous and/or thought they could do what they wanted to do to her and get away with it. The period is evoked well enough and the cast is decent.

Katharina Lorenz does a good job playing the real-life, too-little-known author who led a more extraordinary life than you would think. The script is uneven and the film could have spent its 113 minutes a little better, so parts of this drag and I was even disappointed a few times, plus some parts are too drawn out and are handled too obviously. However, ti is a story that needed to be told and this version has its moments. See it if you are curious and want to know more.

Extras include a trailer, photo gallery and on-camera interview with Director Kablitz-Post.

Shawn Ku's A Score To Settle (2019) sounds like the same formula crime film where a man is released from prison, has revenge and bad business with his former partners in crime and violence breaks out, sometimes with other family members involved. It is getting tired and this film does little to change it, save the freed man's son is older and they spend more time on them getting to know each other again. The script here is no better, but the film has one think going for it that saves it from being completely formulaic: Nicolas Cage.

Cage plays the man as older and ever slightly burned out and the film slugs on with and without him for the first half, then his performance really starts to kick in and he overrides the flaws with the film and its passable directing by showing why he remains one of the best actors of his generation. Still being kept out of big screen film production (over long-over money troubles I veer got the whole story of), his talent is undimmed and if you really like him, that is the reason to see this film. Otherwise, if you know the story, you've seen it already.

Benjamin Bratt also starts.

Extras include behind the scenes clips Story & Character, On The Set and Sins Of The Father.

Lastly, we have Ry Russo-Young's The Sun Is Also A Star (2019) about a young college-bound guy (Charles Melton) and beautiful young gal (Yara Shahidi) who meet by chance, then it seems that would be it. Then they both start thinking about each other and get more interested, though she is about to leave town and are not sure if the other is thinking that much about them.

The leads look good and have some chemistry, but the script is too pedestrian and flat to really capitalize on their personalities and is too tame like a bad set of TV movies (or a few bad TV movie channels that are mind-destroying, but shall remain nameless) so see this for the actors, but don't expect much else. Hope we see both of them again in better projects.

The only extra is the Love Is A Universe featurette.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Jezebel can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and a nice improvement over the previously reviewed DVD which itself was an upgrade so many years ago. I was pleasantly surprised it looked so good so often and it is the best looking film on this list despite being the oldest.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the HD-shot Settle has motion blur and flaws throughout, but still manages to be the second-best looking release here due to format and what does work in the transfer. Shaky camera work at times does not help, but a few shots are not bad.

The letterboxed 1.85 X 1 image on Cab us a rare non-anamorphic release and though the film is well-shot on color film, they did not give it that treatment, which is a shame because this is a decently shot film and has some nice visuals at times when they are not in the interior of the cab. Hope is gets a Blu-ray.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 image on Aisles and anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Iron should look a little more consistently clearer, but both have motion blur more than they should throughout.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Lou and the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Star also have some softness and blur, but not as badly, so they tie behind the Blu-rays as best playback performers on the list.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Jezebel is a welcome upgrade from the older, lossy Dolby Digital on the DVD and is about as fine as the film will ever sound, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Settle may not be as well recorded as it could be or have the most consistent soundfield, so it only ties for the best sound here, so only expect so much.

Lou, Aisles and Sun all offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, while Cab and Iron only offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Cab apparently was issued in Dolby Digital 5.1 in theaters, but it was not recorded with that fully in mind) Cab is the weakest here and tells us the video master is second-generation, thus worthy of an upgrade. That leaves the rest of the DVDs tying for second place on this list, dialogue-based with sufficient music at times.

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


- Nicholas Sheffo


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