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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Military > Dogs > Relationships > Comedy > New Age > Class Division > Urbanization > Shanghai > WWI > Canine Soldiers: The Militarization Of Love (2018/DVD*)/Hypnosis To Be Happy (**)/Intimacy (**both 2018/IndiePix DVDs)/King and Country (1964/VCI*/***)/Mountain Rest (***/****)/Wildland (***/****both

Canine Soldiers: The Militarization Of Love (2018/DVD*)/Hypnosis To Be Happy (**)/Intimacy (**both 2018/IndiePix DVDs)/King and Country (1964/VCI*/***)/Mountain Rest (***/****)/Wildland (***/****both 2018/FilmRise/*all MVD/***all Blu-ray)

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

Here's a group of offbeat dramas, most of which you probably have not heard of yet, plus a documentary that fits in well enough...

Some of the best soldiers on the battlefield are the brave canine soldiers that assist their Military handlers. This new documentary by Nancy Schiesari (Regret to Inform), Canine Soldiers: The Militarization of Love (2018), explores this undeniable bond between human and canine as these animals are trained from birth to sniff out bombs, and other threats in the line of duty, saving lives in the process. Some of the film's highlight points include video in Iraq of soldiers on the battlefield with dogs, the training of the animals, and a touching funeral for a fallen canine soldier.

The cast of the documentary includes soldiers who have bonded with combat trained dogs firsthand including SGT Tyler Budge, SSG Elizabeth Davies, SGT Marcin Radwin, SGT Brad Mrsny, SSG Copeland, and many others.

No extras.

If you're a dog lover or perhaps someone interested in the military subject, then this doc is touching, and certainly shows that no matter how many millions are spent in extensive weapons and tech, nothing can sometimes top a properly trained military dog.

Victor Audiffred's Hypnosis To Be Happy (2018) is about two friends who are not happy. Felipe and Pilar are friends drifting on their own, but he suddenly decides to ask her to marry him out of nowhere and will this help either of them? A semi-road trip film, Pilar offers him some New Age thinking from a 1970s-era audio tape to remember, though it too may be in vain.

This runs only about 75 minutes and the actors are not bad and the ideas are workable, but the script and film simply do not have enough time to get this to work, develop enough to make this effective and this is one of those rare works of late that could have used 15 to 45 more minutes to really have some impact. Nice try and anyone interested might want to try it out, especially being this short, but I was a little disappointed after a good start.

Trailers are the only extra.

Yichun Jiang's Intimacy (2018) is shot in a semi-documentary style and has all the main characters eventually meeting in Shanghai, which is made just enough into a character itself, a new city with rich architecture, increasingly iconic buildings and the idea that it could become greater tomorrow, which draws young people there, no matter how strict some of its laws may be. One comes from the country and likes the city, so she goes there, meeting a rich girl who has everything and is not too happy.

I like some of the look of the film, the idea and its attempt at character study, yet it also has more than a few moments that just seem like documentary out of nowhere and that throws the film off a bit. It runs 101 minutes and could have used its time a little better, but this is the director's first film and shows promise for the next. This is worth a look for those interested.

Trailers are the only extra.

Army lawyer Captain Hargreaves is to defend private Hamp for desertion in a military tribunal in the middle of WWI battle field. What seems like a simple open and shut case, as Captain Hargreaves pleads his case he begins to understand how it isn't a simple case. Soldiers in the field are dying everyday and when one wants to go home he is to be shot as if he was the enemy in Joseph Losey's King and Country (1964).

Captain Hargreaves is a lawyer for the military and is order to defend a private when he is caught for desertion. To the military, deserters are classified as traitors and subject to summary executions. As Hargreaves defends his 'client' he realizes private Hamp isn't a coward or traitor, he just wants to go home. In the time before PTSD, armies call soldiers 'shell shocked' and military command treated soldiers with little justice and even fewer respect. To the generals, soldiers must follow order and even die when ordered. In the end, Captain Hargreaves case for justice is ignored and Hamp is still executed as an 'example' to 'boost moral' for the troops and Hargreaves realizes the military has no respect for the lives of soldiers and their 'call' for justice was a hollow one.

This was a early historical black and white war movie that showed what was it like for soldiers during World War I and how they were treated. Soldiers in the war for long time they begin to get depressed and become tired of violence and death suffered PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which was not recognized until 1950s (and even then the military did nothing for the soldiers until the 1970s). It basically showed how the military cared more about the war than the lives of their soldiers. Dirk Bogarde, Tom Courtenay, Leo McKern, Barry Foster, Peter Copley and James Villiers lead the great cast.

Frankie takes her daughter Clara to meet her eccentric grandmother Ethel for the first time. Grandmother Ethel lives secluded up in the mountains away from society, but as she learns about her grandmother (AND her mother), she learns about their pasts, their secrets and why her mother became estranged from her. Three generations of woman come together, dark secrets from the past will brought to light and forever change how Clara sees her mother and grandmother in Alex O Eaton's Mountain Rest (2018).

Clara is a young girl on the verge of womanhood and journeys with her mother to meet her grandmother for the first time, but on meeting her, not only does she discover she is dying, but she was a former actress and was in Hollywood. Ethel lives with Frankie's ex-boyfriend Bascolm and he is her male gigolo. Bascolm still holds a torch for Frankie but he also openly flirts sexually with Clara saying she looks like Frankie when she was younger, but later Frankie hints that he maybe Clara's biological father. At first, Clara is awed by the audacity and admires her grandmother's spirit and lifestyle, and she is praised that she has talent to become an actress one day. Then she learns through town gossip her grandmother was also the town whore and she slept her way into Hollywood with anyone who could help give her a role and was kicked out naked in the streets afterwards. Only then Clara begins to realizes the townspeople and boys saw her as a future 'mini-whore'. She then begins to understand why her mother left because of the shame. Frances Conroy and Natalia Dyer lead the cast.

This was a film made by women for women. In particular it seems to focus on the relationship between mothers and daughters. The person you are closest to are sometimes also the hardest to understand. Extras include interviews, deleted scenes and trailer.

Finally, filmed during the recent California wildfires, Wildland (2018) takes you behind the scenes and follows a team of trainees as they learn to fight fire. As they struggle against themselves and natures elements, learn of their stories of how they started, came together, trained and became a team. A literal trial by fire, what started out as a group of strangers become a band of brothers to fight nature's most primary and destructive forces.

Wildland follows a group of trainee forest fighters as they learn and train on how to fight fires destroying hundreds of thousands of acres. It takes strength, endurance, fortitude and courage. The group of trainees made of drop outs, junkies, ex-cons and thrill seekers who at first wanted to find a second chance or to test their mettle. At first, they believed it to be an adventure and they would become 'heroes', but through their training they changed and learned all of what they thought is nothing, but to survive is everything. And when the call came to the real thing, life is not about the rewards but just to DO what they can to survive a REAL inferno ...and to never giving up, defending others who will never see, hear, know or thank them.

This documentary is about how ordinary people who train to fight large scale forest fires, it IS hard work, it ISN'T easy and there are NO rewards except for what they take away with them. Through their experiences they learn how fragile life is and how nature can easily destroy everything, but to survive the training and then forest fires, the one thing nature can't take away was their experiences together. Extras include deleted scenes, photo gallery and trailer.

As for playback quality, the 1080p 1.78 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image on King can look good, but also shows the age of the print, has minor compression issues and framing is a bit tight, while the 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image on Mountain has more motion blur than it ought to, so it is a surprise that the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Wildland somehow looks the best of the three Blu-rays despite the problems you can run into in live location shooting of real life and real life subjects without a script. The PCM 2.0 Mono on King shows its age, but why Mountain and Wildland have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes when they should have lossless sound is odd and gets in the way of enjoying either.

Canine is interesting from the beginning and nicely shot and cut. The film is presented on standard definition DVD with an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2.0 stereo mix. The film has some moments that look better than others as compression issues are evident, but that's native to the format and to be expected.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Happy and anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Intimacy have some good shots, but both have more motion blur than they should, plus they have burned-in subtitles that are too small and should have never gone out that way. In both cases, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is good, but could be better and would be more noticeable if you were speaking the native language of each respective film.

- Nicholas Sheffo (IndiePix), Ricky Chiang and James Lockhart (Canine)



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