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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Faith > Sex > Japanese New Wave > Melodrama > Relationships > Cable TV > Scotland > TV Mini-Series > Akio Jissoju: The Buddhist Trilogy (1970 - 1972/Arrow Blu-ray*)/Big Little Lies: The Complete Second Season (2019/HBO DVD Set)/The Cry (2018/Acorn DVD Set)/Mrs. Lowry & Son (2019/DVD/*both MVD)/The We

Akio Jissoju: The Buddhist Trilogy (1970 - 1972/Arrow Blu-ray*)/Big Little Lies: The Complete Second Season (2019/HBO DVD Set)/The Cry (2018/Acorn DVD Set)/Mrs. Lowry & Son (2019/DVD/*both MVD)/The Weekend (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

Picture: B/B-/C/C/B+ Sound: B/B-/C+/C+/B+ Extras: C+/C+/D/C/D Main Programs: B- C+ B-/C+/C+/C+/B+

These diverse dramas cross over into various cycles and genres, but are worth knowing about...

We start with three films from Japanese filmmaker Akio Jissoji are highlights of the Japanese New Wave and are three drastically different entries tied together by visual motifs and style. Captured here in this collection that fans are sure to enjoy are three of his productions: This Transient Life, Mandara and Poem, forming The Buddhist Trilogy (1970 - 1972).

While Jissoji also did a lot of television work including a few episodes of the original Ultraman (reviewed elsewhere on this site), this is obviously touching upon a heavy subject where he felt that more artistically free. This Transient Life is a bizarre story of two siblings who become very close and end up resenting the Buddhist ideologies that are expected of them. Mandara is shot in color and follows a bizarre cult that hopes to achieve true ecstasy who rape and other nasty means. And finally, Poem, follows a young boy who idealizes his two brothers and is a return to black and white for Jissoji.

The Buddhist Trilogy is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc in various aspect ratios depending on the films include 2.35:1, 1.85:1, and 1.37:1, however they have been lovingly restored for this limited edition set. The audio mixes are superb in Japanese LPCM Mono mixes that support the color and black and white images present in this set.

Special Features include:

Audio introductions and selected scene commentaries by David Dresser

and slip-box with collectible insert booklet.

Cinematographers and film students should definitely check out these films, as they are all beautifully photographed and superbly made from a filmmaking perspective. While the content of the trilogy doesn't completely appeal to this reviewer, I can see from an arthouse film perspective that they are certainly interesting and bold pieces of work.

The all star cast of Big Little Lies is quite impressive, whether you're a fan of the show itself or not. HBO has lined up Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Alexander Skarsgard, and Meryl Streep to name a few. The show is essentially an acting exercise for each of its leads as nearly every scene has some level of drama to it. Big Little Lies: The Complete Second Season (2019) has now hit home video.

Based on the bestseller by Liane Moriarty, a beachfront town in California is home to normal folk, but also murder. As a small group of mothers attempt to cover up a death, they end up dealing with their lives in different and strange ways. The show focuses on their sexual, comedic, parenting, and friendship in their personal and social lives as well.

Season 2 consists of seven episodes including What Have They Done?, Tell-Tale Hearts, The End of the World, She Knows, Kill Me, The Bad Mother, and I Want to Know.

Big Little Lies is available on both DVD and Blu-ray, but we are just covering the Blu-ray release in this review. The show is beautifully photographed and the money is certainly on the screen here. (As is usual with every HBO program.) The show is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen with a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix that's highly compressed as opposed to the 1080p Blu-ray or even HD streaming.

Special Features:

Conversation with the Cast

and The Lies Revealed featurette

Big Little Lies is a showcase for great acting and fine filmmaking and is a fine dramatic piece for HBO, but at times is a bit predictable and maybe too life-like for its own good.

The Cry (2018) is a TV mini-series from Scotland about a couple whose newborn baby goes missing and the usual two-pronged disaster happens: the couple is upset and perplexed hoping for help and a quick solution, while media coverage takes shortcuts in thinking and automatically wants to accuse them both for the disappearance. A bit of this, which we have seen before, is borderline child-in-jeopardy programming that I do not like, but this four-episode tale has other flatness and issues that do not help it.

Jenna Coleman and Ewen Leslie play the couple against a pretty unknown cast and they are all OK in their roles, but this offers nothing suspenseful, different or interesting overall and never has any points where it seems like it might get smarter or pick up. It is also near exploitation a few times and was forgettable overall. Only the most curious should bother checking it out.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.00 X 1 image is a title softer than expected and not just because of any chosen style, which makes watching this even more annoying and frustrating, as it already struggles to work. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is fine for what it is for a mostly dialogue-driven show. The combination is professional at best.

There are no extras.

Adrian Noble's Mrs. Lowry & Son (2019) is yet another film trying to look into the life and creative motivations and inspirations of a popular artist from many years ago, with Timothy Spall as painter L.S. Lowry, whose abstract detail in capturing street scenes was distinctive and unique. His mother Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave) is bed-ridden and always putting him down for not being a success, discouraging his artwork and the sad, toxic relationship resulting is sad as usual.

It can also be predictable despite the fine acting and the supporting cast is not bad when they show up. This could almost have been a stage play, but has some other moments that save it from that. I don't know if we get all the answers the film seeks on how the painter accomplished what he did and how he saw things, but this is not unambitious and worth a look for those interested.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is not bad, but has a soft style, yet this transfer has an additional softness it should not have, so watching this one is weird. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix fares a bit better, but this is a dialogue-driven film, so you can only expect so much from this sonically.

A Making-Of featurette and trailers are the extras.

Finally, Zadie (Sasheer Zamata) takes a weekend getaway with her ex-boyfriend Bradford and his current girlfriend at her mother's B&B. Nothing can go wrong, can there? But when the handsome boarder Aubrey also stays the weekend, is it the prefect chance for Zadie to find a new relationship ...or to make her ex-boyfriend jealous and to win him back?

In The Weekend (2018), Zadie is also a comedian. She is funny and fun to be with, but she can never be responsible. However she has always felt like she has been the bridesmaid and never the bride. For some reason, she and her ex-boyfriend and his current 'girlfriend' is taking a road trip together as 'friends'. Zadie dislikes his current girlfriend and she shows off every chance she gets that she has known Bradford longer to prove she is the more superior woman, but she doesn't stop there, she flirts outrageously with the other handsome boarder at her mother's B&B, knowing that her ex would be jealous if he thinks another man will have sex with her. Meanwhile she deals with her own mother and the drama between their mother daughter relationship.

This was drama filled movie, it was like watching Desperate Housewives with black women. It teaches women how to make men feel guilty and to make them think it is their fault for everything wrong it the relationship and how make them do what they want. The comedy comes in with the main character/girl making jokes, no one can tell when she is making fun them or just insulting them.

Tone Bell. Kym Whitley and DeWanda Wise also star.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is shot on HD and is very smooth throughout, as is the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix with well-recorded dialogue and an overall well-mastered soundfield.

Extras include trailers.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Cry, Lowry), Ricky Chiang (Weekend) and James Lockhart



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