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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Relationships > Melodrama > Mystery > Biography > Music > Britain > Religion > Sexual Abuse > Sexual > After The Wedding (2019/Sony Blu-ray)/Blinded By The Light (2019/Warner Blu-ray)/Devil's Playground (1977/Artsploitation DVD)/The Demons (2015) + Genese (2018/both Film Movement DVDs)/Olivia (1950/Ica

After The Wedding (2019/Sony Blu-ray)/Blinded By The Light (2019/Warner Blu-ray)/Devil's Playground (1977/Artsploitation DVD)/The Demons (2015) + Genese (2018/both Film Movement DVDs)/Olivia (1950/Icarus Blu-ray)

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

Here are a new set of dramas, including some foreign films you may not have heard about, including a lost classic and what is one of the nest films of 2019...

That film is Bart Freundlich's After The Wedding (2019) that begins at an orphanage in India, doing well in part because of a woman who is working hard to do so and is paying attention to everything (the always great Michelle Williams) and she is loved by the children there. Suddenly, a shockingly good offer to help support the institution with a $2 Million donation!

She'll have to travel to New York City to accept and it is all expenses paid, so she goes and meets the rich businesswoman (the amazing Julianne Moore) who makes the offer. However, her daughter is getting married and she asks Isabel (Williams) to stay and attend. Then things get odd when she meets the husband/father (Billy Crudup) on this family and he asks why she is there. They know each other and something is going on that all are going to want to get to the bottom of immediately.

From there, this takes some amazing twists and turns, but is not a thriller or even a regular melodrama, but an extraordinary character examination of a situation that has happened to people in the past and will again. From there, I was just very impressed by the realism, honesty, heart, soul and strength of the film. This is one of those increasingly rare mature, adult, serious films that Hollywood used to know how to make all the time and seems to have lost the ability to do so over the last few decades. I did not know what to expect when I first started watching, but this just slowly builds and builds and builds into a strong film that more and more people should see. The performances are amazing all around and though I will not say much else about the content, I strongly recommend you go out of your way to see this one.

Extras include a Making Of featurette and some Sony trailers.

Gurinder Chadha's Blinded By The Light (2019) is based on the best-selling book about a young man who fells he has nowhere to go in life, is unhappy with what his future looks like and sees nothing hopeful until he hears the music of Bruce Springsteen and his life is transformed for the better for good. We have seen this story many times before, but this one is made with some energy, ambition and depth. The problem is, If you are not a Springsteen fan and many non-fans exist, then the film will not be as convincing.

Taking place in 1987 in Thatcher's England in early regression mode, the dead-endedness is very relatable and we guess Puck Rock was too late for Javed (Viveik Kalra, who does give it his all here) while the singer is still in his early commercial and critical prime. It even gets the period correct for the most part, if not densely so. Even the supporting cast is good, but I just found it uneven and not totally effective overall, but those more interested should give it a try.

Extras include Digital Copy, then the disc adds Behind The Scenes piece, Making Of featurette and Deleted Scenes.

1953, a Catholic seminary for boys taught by priests struggles to raise teenage boys into future priests, but their greatest problem lies in how to deal teenage sexuality. As the boys mature into young adults, they are isolated, denied and told it is a sin to have anything sexual. Only problem is, it's not just the boys too in Fred Schepisi's The Devil's Playground (1977), now finally out on DVD in the U.S. market.

It's the '50s and in an all boys schools for priests, the priests are repressing and denying the boys from sexual education and instead telling them to 'focus' their energies elsewhere, but the boys begin find themselves attracted to each other, and being repressed they start getting into homosexuality, self torture, hazing to vent their sexual frustrations. Unfortunately, it is not just the boys, the priests are also sexually repressed and frustrated, the only difference is they have been on it longer than the boys. On their day off in town (and behind close doors) the priests spend drinking, gambling and having sex too, but after tragedy strikes and the priests begin to question why are they denying the boys what nature and God had intended?

The 'Devil's Playground' was/is a figure of speech, there was no 'Devil' but the characters own desires and sexual nature. It teaches when religion/society puts up too many rules ends up repressing people into tragedy. Watching it remind me of a darker and older version of 'Dead Poets Society' and those in charge refuse admit they have a problem (much less change or take responsibility). Extras include interviews with Director Fred Schepisi and crew, commentary and trailer, but for more on the film, try this link:


Philippe Lasage's The Demons (2015) and Genese (2018) are the director's first and third feature film, possibly semi-autobiographical, but with other things going on that makes us wonder how much, if so. In the first film, 10-year-old Felix (Edouard Tremblay-Grenier) is alone, has a wild imagination and is dealing with adults the best he can when someone is going around kidnapping children. As the crimes increase, he becomes increasingly disturbed, but will he be an actual target?

Taking place in Montreal, Genese has three teens also dealing with growing up, but no killer is on the loose, though they are having their first encounters with falling in love, including a now older Felix (Edouard Tremblay-Grenier again, only somewhat recognizable) and no killer on the loose. His friend Guillaume (Theodore Pellerin) is also dealing with is sexuality, something we saw Felix deal with in the last film, so they both have bi-sexual tendencies at least, but both have female encounters and friends here too, so we are left to see where they will go with their lives and explorations.

Obviously, it makes the viewer more of a voyeur than usual, which is fine, but problematic when involving children, especially when they are in jeopardy like the first film. No matter how honest the director may be trying to be, the films become problematic at worse and offer few new ideas at best, so Truffaut fans have nothing to worry about. There is nothing new to discover here and I think the first film still has child-in-jeopardy issues, intended or not. Now, you can see both back to back for yourself and try to find something more than I did. Neither were very memorable, but he was at least thorough in what he made with both films.

Extras include a trailer on Demons, but a feature length audio commentary by Director Lasage and Tristan Aymon's short film The Lesson on Genese.

Finally, we have Jacqueline Audry's Olivia (1950) which is a lost French film finally found and saved. Made before the French New Wave and with a female director, the film takes place in the later 19th Century in France and deals with a woman's boarding school where the two women running it (Simon Simone and Edwige Feuillere) are not only rivals in competition for each other, but it has a sexual element as they compete with each other for the affections of young women who arrive there all the time.

This gets heated when the title character (Marie-Claire Olivia) shows up and they both want her and things get more tenuous than usual. Because the period is a little more oppressed than today, this does not become a soap opera, Dynasty set over 100 years ago or anything phony, so everything is always boiling under, especially since lesbianism was not very open then and that adds more tension and authenticity to this period piece than if it were made by most people today.

That it is also an authentic female discourse is a plus, but the film was buried for far too long, not revived by the French film critics or anyone from the French New Wave, it is more than progressive enough and its rediscovery and rerelease are a true event that Icarus has issued in this fine new Blu-ray. It is a must-see for all serious film fans and worth your time.

Extras include a Vintage Original Theatrical Trailer, rerelease/restoration trailer and 10-minutes interview with Director Audry on French TV in 1957.

As for playback performance, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Wedding is very nicely shot, consistent and one of the few really good-looking films of 2019, with some styling that makes it soft at times and good color as well. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is obviously dialogue-driven, but very well done.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Blinded is an HD shoot that is good for what it is, but is rarely anything extraordinary, but still consistent. The Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) is also dialogue-based, so the tracks only kick in for the music, which is fine if you like it, but hardly demo material, of course.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Olivia can show the age of the materials used, but was almost a lost film, so many minor flaws (taken form a nitrate print and original camera materials) is to be expected. The Grey scale is fine, as is the Video Black. The French DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo is a decent attempt to upgrade the old theatrical monophonic sound, but the film still shows its age.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Playground DVD with its lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound shows its ager and is a little weaker than the Australian DVD, but both are outdone by the Australian import Blu-ray, so at least you have choices.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Demons and anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Genese tie for best-looking DVDs here, though I could see room for improvement if Blu-rays ever rolled around. Both also offer lossy French Dolby Digital 5.1 and even 2.0 Stereo mixes, but the 5.1 is a bit better in both cases and Genese has some English dialogue. Both offer plenty of talk, so you know you only get so much sound, but both mixes are consistent enough.

- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Playground)


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