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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Sexual Harassment > Legal > Media > Politics > Slavery > Kidnapping > Murder > Poisoning > Pollution > Bombshell (Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Buoyancy (2019/Umbrella Region 4 PAL Import DVD)/Dark Waters (Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/A Hidden Life (Fox Blu-ray)/1917 4K (Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray

Bombshell (Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Buoyancy (2019/Umbrella Region 4 PAL Import DVD)/Dark Waters (Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/A Hidden Life (Fox Blu-ray)/1917 4K (Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray + Blu-ray/DVD Set)/Richard Jewell (Warner Blu-ray)/Temblores (aka Tremors/Film Movement DVD/all 2019)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B & C+/C+/B+ & B-/B/B & C+/B+/B- Sound: B & C+/C+/B+ & B-/B/B+ & C+/B+/B- Extras: C+/D/C+/D/B/C+/B Films: B/B-/B/B-/B/B/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Buoyancy Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray, 4K and DVD players that can handle Region 4 PAL DVDs and can be ordered from the link below.

Up next are some of the best and most challenging dramas of the year...

We start with one of last year's best films, Jay Roach's Bombshell (2019) about the Fox News Network sex scandal where it turns out network co-founder and CEO boss Roger Ailes (an amazing John Lithgow) was mixing sexual harassment and worse with is ultra-right wing propaganda. This turns out to have extended to the biggest women at the network including Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) who is the first to get sick of it all, leaves and sues. Of course, she is criticized, written off and even verbally attacked and defamed, but she stands by the truth waiting for the next development. She knows she cannot be the only one.

Little does she know that Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron, whose transformation into the real-life woman is unreal here) has also had the same experience, but is not saying anything yet, but a sexy new employee (Margot Robbie) is the next one to experience Ailes' predatory behavior and things are just going to get worse until something gives.

The film is underrated, did get some awards during the big movie season, but deserves even more and I hope audiences catch up with it. There is some amazing work here (including bringing the Fox News offices to life) and tells the story of one of the greatest falls of anyone in the media in recent years, how politics and bullying kept Ailes in place and by women who sold out other women. I was looking forward to this one and it was as good and better than I expected. Go out of your way to see this one.

Not issued in 4K yet, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is a smooth, smart HD shoot with color consistency and warmth that makes me wish this were out in 4K, but you also get some nice shots and smart editing, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is dialogue-based, but has plenty of detail in its sound design, healthy surrounds and good music. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 DVD with lossy Dolby Digital 5,1 sound is passable, but not as effective as the Blu-ray.

Extras include Digital Copy, Original Theatrical Trailer, plus No Easy Truths: The Making of Bombshell 7-Part Documentary including Convergence: Genesis of the Film, Quid Pro Quo: Charlize, Nicole, Margot, John, Human Dynamics: The Ensemble Cast, Breaking the Fourth Wall: Visual Design, Layer by Layer: Makeup, Hair & Clothing, A Unique Skill Set: Jay Roach, and Catalyst for Change: Parting Thoughts.

Rodd Rathjen's Buoyancy (2019) is a new import drama that tells the story of how both slave labor and slavery are alive and well now because the outrage is never backed up enough by laws enforced, et al. Chakra (Sam Heng) is only 14-years-old (thus, this also bashes the lack of child labor laws enforced as well) helps his family with their rice fields, but wants to make more money and go places. Sneaking to Bangkok with a friend to work in a factory with the promise of better pay, they get kidnapped and forced to work 22-hour days on a fishing ship for nothing.

They also get beat up, threatened, starved and terrorized throughout, so the film hammers home how bad this gets, including throwing the weak and no longer useful slave/kidnapees overboard to drown when they stop becoming productive. We've seen some of this before, but usually in tales set in the past, not on that is happening now, but that's what we got here and at 92 minutes, this makes its important points well. Well done and it pulls no punches.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is a decent digital shoot that works best in the daylight sequences, but is fine, while the Khmer/Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix is often dialogue-based, but works fine too.

There are no extras.

A fine drama inspired by the true story of Attorney Robert Bilott, Dark Waters (2019) stars Mark Ruffalo and a top notch cast. The legal thriller centers around Attorney Robert Bilott (Ruffalo) who uncovers a Government cover-up and a town that has been exposed to a a deadly chemical in their water supply for several decades. The film has a very 'real' feel to it with several solid performances and superb filmmaking by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Safe, I'm Not There).

The film also stars Anne Hathaway, Bill Pullman, Tim Robbins, and Victor Garber.

Dark Waters is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a nice sounding English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. The film has some interesting color correction done to it with very stylized greens and other colors that makes the film a bit more cinematic. As for the audio, it comes across fine and clear throughout, though this is mainly a dialogue driven film.

Also included is an anamorphically enhanced standard definition DVD version with a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and similar widescreen aspect ratio, however the image a bit more compressed than HD, as native to the format.

Special Features include:

Uncovering Dark Waters featurette

The Cost of Being a Hero featurette

and The Real People featurette.

Terrence Malick is back with A Hidden Life (2019) about a German man named Franz (August Diehl) who has a family, home and works in the beautiful countryside as Hitler is taking over Germany on the advent of WWII starts to hear bad things about it all and simply wants to be left alone with his family and not get involved. However, Nazi fascism wants everyone to mindlessly, blindly, totally and passively surrender to supporting Hitler, which almost all around him have quietly started doing. Uninterested and disturbed, he confides to his local priest, who turns out to be a confederate who has already sold out to the Nazis.

This eventually leads to him being harassed (along with some of his family) then targeted, profiled and eventually arrested. From there, also for not serving in the military, there is prison and worse as the film goes along. Based on actual letters from the real-life incident, the film is still a bit long at 174 minutes, but it is thorough and the cast is also very convincing. Also starring Bruno Ganz, Valerie Pincher and Matthias Schoenaerts, it is definitely worth a look, but make sure you have the time and energy to get through it to experience its full impact.

Sadly not available yet in 4K, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is a fine HD shoot combining the usual elements we are now familiar with in Malick's later work, constantly impressive large shots with vistas and views that impress, combined with personal shots of the actors, often with lingering close-ups in the Ingmar Bergman mode. Hope we see this in 4K at some point, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix is apparently a mixdown of the 12-track soundmaster. Still, it sounds good and is well recorded.

There are sadly no extras.

Sam Mendes' 1917 4K (2019) is an all-too-rare film about WWI and is based on stories he was told as a child about the war, but in this case, it focuses on two young soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) who have to take a message far over to the other side of a large battlefield to stop a British attack as it is secretly a set-up by the Nazis to kill almost 2,000 British soldiers, including the brother of one of the men. They don't have too much time to do this, but must dodge any Nazis and get their in time to save lives.

Lensed in pretty much one continuous shot (Hitchcock first did this in Rope in 1948, then Russian Ark revived this kind of thing a few years ago as HD started being used in feature film production) and that seems like something that would invite contrivances and gimmicky moves, but not here. This has a nice flow to it, does not get ridiculously sweeping and brings the distant war back to life anew so we do not forget. It still could not totally escape the shadow of Kubrick's Paths Of Glory (1957, reviewed elsewhere on this site on Criterion Blu-ray) and especially where shooting in the trenches are concerned, but offers a fully-realized view of the war that is not about the battles directly for most of the film. Also expect some other interesting casting. Easily one of 2019's best films, it is a classic of the genre and highly recommended, definitely go out of your way for this one.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1 Dolby Vision/HDR (10+; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K disc is the best entry of all the films here with some demo shots that rank above its letter grade, all shot on new, smaller 4.5K Arriflex Ultra HD cameras that make it an experience that has its surprises. Color and style are very consistent, images very clear. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is also not bad, but no match for the amazing 4K presentation, though is still consistent for a downtraded image. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the DVD version is just too soft to be enjoyed and lightyears away from the incredible work of Director of Photography Roger Deakins, B.S.C., A.S.C., so this is the kind of release that should make you upgrade to a 4K system with Dolby Vision and 12-track sound if you do not already have one.

The Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) lossless sound is also impressive, with dialogue-driven moments, silences and sound that kicks into all the speakers when called for. Also offering some demo moments, Thomas Newman's score is a plus and very well thought out. This mix appears on both the 4K and regular Blu-ray, leaving a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD that is on the weak side comparatively speaking and is just missing too much detail versus the Atmos mix.

Extras are great and (per the press release) include The Weight of the World: Sam Mendes - Academy Award winner Sam Mendes discusses his personal connection to World War One, Allied Forces: Making 1917 - Learn how the one shot, 360-degree format was executed and the pivotal role Academy Award-winner Roger Deakins served in bringing Sam Mendes' vision to life, The Music of 1917 - Composer Thomas Newman and filmmakers discuss the important role of the Academy Award-nominated score, In The Trenches - Go behind the scenes with the cast of 1917, Recreating History - Filmmakers offer a detailed look at the production design challenges of recreating the First World War, a Feature-Length Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Sam Mendes and a Feature-Length Commentary with Director of Photography Roger Deakins.

Based on the true story of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing as told through the lens of Academy Award-Winning Director Clint Eastwood, Richard Jewell (2019) is an interesting story of an American Security Guard (the title person) who located a bomb at the Olympic games and was later targeted wrongly by the media for being a primate suspect. The film tells the story of Jewell before, during, and after the incident and how it ruined his life for a period of time.

The film stars Paul Walter Hauser as Richard Jewell with Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, and Olivia Wilde.

Richard Jewell is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, the film looks and sounds up to par with the format and looks fine on disc. Employing his strong crew behind the camera, Eastwood gives the film a nicely stylized look with interesting colors and nice clarity in the image. There is no 4K UHD release of this film at the time of this writing.

Special Features:

The Making of Richard Jewell

and The Real Story of Richard Jewell.

While the film wasn't a huge hit nor did it sweep the Oscars, Richard Jewell is another interesting film to add to Eastwood's filmography and attempts to give the story a fresh yet honest approach much like he did with Sully a few years ago. A controversial plot twist caused the controversial, but you'll have to see it for yourself before we say anything else.

And finally, this foreign examination of homosexuality will surely appeal to those who are interested in the subject. Temblores (aka Tremors, 2019) follows an evangelical father with a great wife and highly Christian oriented family, who one days comes out of the closet and announces that he is leaving his wife for another man. Shocking everyone, his desperate family tries to make him snap out of his radical decision, but he can't shake his gut feelings.

The film stars Juan Pablo Olyslager Munoz, Mauricio Armas, Diane Bathen, Maria Telon, and Sabrina De Hoz to name a few. The film is directed by Jayro Bustamante and has won several awards on the film festival circuit.

Temblores is presented in anamorphically enhanced standard definition on DVD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a lossy Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (and 2.0) mixes. Aside from normal compression issues inherent with the format, the film looks and sounds fine on disc. The color grading is particularly interesting with heavy blues and blacks that give the film a very nice stylized look.

Special Features:

Behind the Scenes featurette

and Short Film: Black Hat, Directed by Sarah Smith.

To order the Umbrella Buoyancy import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Waters, Jewell, Temblores)



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