(2008/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD)/At
(2019/Cinema Libre Blu-ray)/Bless
Their Little Hearts
Of Wine And Roses
(1962/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Jirga
(2018/Film Movement DVD)/Pretenders
(2018/Cleopatra DVD/*both MVD)
C+/B/C+/B/B+/C+/C+ Sound: C+/C+/C/B-/C+/C+/C+ Extras:
B/C-/B/B/C/C/C- Films: B-/B-/B-/B/C+/C+/C
for a new group of dramas, usually very challenging in what they
(2008) is based on the famous, sometimes controversial book by Yoram
Barzilai about the amazing stage performer Adam Stein, who was one of
the top entertainment acts in remarkable 1920s Berlin, only to be
taken to a concentration camp because he was Jewish and the horrors
he deal with there, then barely surviving, lives to see his captivity
and the end of WWII with much pain, post-traumatic disorder and more.
the earlier parts are told in flashback while he stays at a hospital
that includes several Holocaust survivors, watched over by a wise
doctor (the always great Derek Jacobi) who honestly tries to help
him, but Adam's memories and pain are more multi-layered than even
the bright doctor can understand. The easy to underestimate Jeff
Goldblum is impressive playing Adam throughout the years and in all
his various conditions of pain and sometimes, triumph and shows what
a great actor he really is if you are only use to his many and
growing commercial hit appearances.
this might be hard to handle for some people between the murders and
humiliation of several persons throughout, it is as faithful to the
book, one of those considered unfilmable' that it could be, though
purists will likely still find flaws in it. I do not think it is a
perfect film by any means and from the deleted scenes included, some
choices might have been made for a different cut that would have been
more profound and hader to criticize. Either way, the film is
underseen, it got made as well as it could be, though the book will
always be the book.
too to Willem Dafoe who plays a man who was once part of a 1920s Adam
Stein show, who finds him just as Adam is brought to a concentration
camp, but is now a leading Nazi solider who saves him from death, but
uses him for other means.
include another great feature length audio commentary track by
Schrader, Deleted Scenes, an Image Gallery and Original Theatrical
(2019) is not unlike Schrader's Blue
(1978) in which it deals with unions taking on big companies that
employ them and how ugly that relationship can get, but instead of
the auto industry in the U.S., deals with industry now in France.
The company has asked the workers to work extra hard to keep a plant
open, yet suddenly has no extra money to share with them when they
hit record profits, so the strike is nearly about to begin.
has occurred since the Schrader film's stark look (and warning for
all intent, even with some flaws) and was a warning of how bad things
could and would go with unions (from capitulation by them to the
leaders selling workers out to governments trying to minimize and
cause them to collapse) yet they still exist and tend to be stronger
in Europe and other advanced nations versus the U.S. staring in 1980.
story has over a thousand workers in jeopardy of losing their jobs
over a plant the company wants to close and/or move when they acted
like it would survive if the profits jumped like they did. Timely as
of this posting as General Motors just solved a strike with far more
workers and Ford just followed. This film asks us to ask what it all
means, if workers are being used and dumped and what is the future of
workers with robots and other forms of production arriving. The
script here is rightly interested in the toll workers needs not being
immediately met means, but suggests more in its decent 115 minutes
running time. It is worth a look and is the kind of film Hollywood
or U.S. cinema rarely makes anymore, sadly.
Original Theatrical Trailer is the only extra.
Their Little Hearts
a stark, sad tale of one African American family slowly falling apart
in a poor neighborhood, one that has a father (Nate Hardman) that can
find little work and has little while his wife (Kaycee Moore) has
most of the employment to keep them and their children going. This
eventually leads to a remarkable argument that tips the film's
already amazing slice of life realism. Though it was made almost 35
years ago, it could have been made in the late 1960s to early 1970s,
so realistic an independent film it is.
Burnett shot and wrote the screenplay and Moore went on to star in
the classic Daughters
Of The Dust,
all before the Black New Wave of the ealy 1990s kicked in and a few
years before Spike Lee's She's
Gotta Have It
(1986) arrived on the scene. Now recognized as an important film, it
may be one of the last to mark the early independent era before the
Reagan Era totally kicked in and a combination of home video and
phony mall movies necessitated a new Black Cinema. Cheers to the
supporting cast and the interesting choice of shooting locations.
include a booklet inside the DVD case with tech info., illustrations
and essays by filmmaker Allison Anders and Cornell University
professor Samantha N. Sheppard, while the disc adds a Feature Length
Audio Commentary by New York University professor Ed Guererro, a New
2K restoration of The
(1980): Billy Woodberry's first film, Workshop with Billy Woodberry:
video courtesy of Indiana University Black Film Center/Archive, Billy
and Charles: Ross Lipman's interview, an interview with Ed Guererro
Their Little Hearts
behind-the-scenes photos courtesy of Billy Woodberry.
Of Wine And Roses
(1962) is one of the films where Jack Lemmon left his clever cycle of
comedies aside to tackle a serious subject, adults who love each
other (and marry and have a child in this case) both having
alcoholism problems. He plays the husband and the great Lee Remick
plays the wife in this smart character study that is all too
painfully real and predictable in the saddest way in how they're
behavior will doom them, whether they are actually aware of it or
get some dysfunctional behavior early on (he criticizes her
appearance when they meet on a boat to go to a cocktail party) and
the toxic behavior very slowly continues to build until the bottom
falls out. Edwards is usually so known for his comedies, especially
the ones that followed later, but he was just as smart, sensitive and
capable of dramas and honest adult work in real cinema space as
anything he ever did and that is why I am glad this film is finally
coming out on Blu-ray from Warner Archive. It is a work that needs
to be rediscovered and is as relevant as ever. Jack Klugman and
Charles Bickford also star.
include a feature length audio commentary track by Edwards, a vintage
Jack Lemmon interview designed to look like he was being interviewed
by anyone (it is in split screen) and Original Theatrical Trailer.
ex-soldier returns to Afghanistan to where he had several
'operations' to face the aftermath and his personal 'war crimes'. He
seeks out his former target's families and faces their justice system
- "the Jirga".
Benjamin Gilmour's Jirga
US soldier voluntary returns to Afghanistan to face the family of the
man he killed and to face the consequences of his actions. As he
travels the beautiful and war torn country he meets it's people and
it's culture. However, all this is dampened by the his previous
actions when he was a soldier. He comes as an unarmed man to where
Taliban will still shoot Americans on sight. According to the
'Jirga', the family of the men he killed has a right to decide if he
lives or dies, but according to their religion all those who come
seeking forgiveness and redemption should be forgiven. So which will
world would be more peaceful if soldiers had to meet the families of
the people they killed. It is easy to be a soldier as long as you
are on the winning side (and don't see the families you destroyed),
but the real truth is so much simpler (and harder to accept),
government soldiers are paid murderers, men who kill on ordered. It
takes a honorable man (or foolish soldier, depending on your point of
view) to face the friends and family of enemies you killed
(especially if you don't have to) but then how else can peace begin?
Extras include making of the movie and trailers.
(2018) is our other film here to deal with the Holocaust and Nazis
during WWII, but this one is different in that we have a Russian
Countess named Olga who becomes part of the French Resistance and
lands up having two of the wrong kind of men get interested in her.
One is Helmut, who fell in love with her before the war and is now an
S.S. Officer when she arrives at a concentration camp, while Jules is
a French-Nazi collaborator investigating who she is and what she is
the film jumps between eras before, during and after WWII and almost
as effectively, even with some mystery to it as well. But Olga is
used as a way to ask us about how problematic separating the good,
bad and pure evil actions people do when put into harrowing
situations and how simple morality cannot tell the whole story all
the time. Not an apologist piece for genocide or the Holocaust in
any way, shape or form, the film is just being thoughtful on what
WWII and hate did to too many and though it may not always work, is
worth a look for what is being shown and what they are trying to say.
short film Red
is the only extra.
we have James Franco's Pretenders
(2018) from the actor who has sort have been blacklisted due to some
things he should not have done with up and coming actresses, but
still is making film and TV shows, including acting in them. I
always thought he was a good actor when taking a role seriously and
not being too coy or silly, save comedies like Pineapple
where he has to be comical.
playing loose with gay roles that should have gone to openly gay
actors and some other missteps we do not have time for here have
caught up with him outside of off-screen lady complications that
should have never happened. His idea here is to tell a honest story
of young people in the later 1970s with decent leads Jane Levy, Jack
Kilmer and Shaneik Moore. They are not bad here and get good support
from the underrated Juno Temple, Dennis Quaid, Brian Cox and Franco
problem is we've seen everything here before in at least several
better films and I never thought it got the period correctly despite
the fact that he just finished an HBO TV series that was perfectly
the late 1970s! What gives? The result is a work that runs on too
long, never works and disappointed me. I was hoping for a surprise,
but I got a very mixed, cliched work instead. Hope he does better
Image Gallery and Original Theatrical Trailer are the only extras.
playback is as good as it can get in the formats each disc has been
issued, including the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Adam,
with its use of color film and remarkable recreation of black and
white and other monochrome films of the earlier era, used to define
the rise and fall of both a liberated Germany, rise and fall of Nazi
Germany and the aftermath.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on At
is better and has some good color for what is an all-HD shoot, but
detail is lacking in some shots, especially ones of video screens,
but that is expected.
1080p 1.85 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on Roses
can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a
transfer to all previous releases of the film and has some fine
detail and depth from what looks like a new video master.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the HD shot
looks just a little better than the rest by default, but that is
because the film is very short at 79 minutes and has plenty of room
on its disc.
1.33 X 1 black & white image transfers on Hearts
also look good, though Hearts
is much older, the monochrome plays nicely on both throughout and
will make you want to see then in HD.
leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Pretenders
looking good, somewhat stylized, but never convincing in any of its
portrayals of the 1970s or early 1980s visually either despite a few
touches that sort of could have worked... maybe.
for sound, these are mostly dialogue-driven dramas with limited
activity ion their audio, but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1
lossless mixes on At
could be a bit better, but this is how they were recorded, so it is
surprising that the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on
can more than compete with anything on this list and for an older
theatrical monophonic release, just sounds more consistent and
offers both older lossy DTS 5.1 and lesser, also lossy Dolby Digital
5.1 and it sounds good, but seems very slightly compressed. The
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Hearts
shows its age and budget limits by the lack of sonics and flatness of
the location recording, so it is clear, but sometimes you can hear
the sound not coming through consistently or in detail at times.
with lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 with mixed that sound fine, but not
great, so I wonder if lossless versions might sound better. Maybe
we'll find out one day.
Days Of Wine And Roses
Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great
web-exclusive releases at:
Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Jinga)