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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Writing > Murder > Mystery > Fraud > Death Penalty > Racism > Legal > Literature > Comedy > Romance > WW > Intrigo: Death Of An Author (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Just Mercy (2019/Warner Blu-ray)/Little Women/Overcomer (both 2019/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Their Finest Hour (1942, 1955, 1958/incl. Dam Busters & Cold

Intrigo: Death Of An Author (2018/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Just Mercy (2019/Warner Blu-ray)/Little Women/Overcomer (both 2019/Sony Blu-ray w/DVD)/Their Finest Hour (1942, 1955, 1958/incl. Dam Busters & Colditz Story/Film Movement Blu-ray Set)/Yesterday Was A Lie (2018/IndiePix Blu-ray)

Picture: B+/B+/B & C+/B+/B/B Sound: B+/A-/B & C+/B+/B-/B Extras: C/C+/B-/A/B/B Films: B-/B/B-/B+/B*/C

Here is a rich, wide-ranging selection of dramas, including some classics and new gems...

Based on the author Hakan Nesser, Intrigo: Death of an Author (2018) is an interesting murder mystery with an engaging cast and screenplay.

Starring Ben Kingsley, the film tells the story of an author (Benno Furmann) whose wife (Tuva Novotny) plans to leave him for another man as she is pregnant by him. After she is in a deadly car accident, it begins hard for him to cope with her loss. Her body is never found, however, he is still convinced that she is alive. He then gets a final novel to translate by a novel of an author who also died under mysterious circumstances as well. Are the two cases connected? Can the mystery be solved?

The film also features Michael Byrne, Veronica Ferres, Sandra Dickinson, Daniela Lavender, and Elizabeth Counsell. Intrigo: Death of an Author is from the Director of the original foreign Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films, Daniel Alfredson, who proves he has some chops here.

Intrigo: Death of an Author is presented in 1080p high definition with a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix. The film is highly cinematic and looks very nice here on disc. Colors are mainly natural toned with nothing too overly stylized, however, the film does have strong production value and several exotic locations. Skin textures look pretty good on the 4K upscale. Overall, a nice looking presentation here from Lionsgate.

Special Features include two featurettes:

A Portrait of Hakan Nesser

and The Making of Intrigo.

Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson star in Just Mercy (2019), which is based on a true story. Dramatic and immersive, the film is based on a Harvard graduated lawyer named Bryan (Jordan), who struggles to help prove an imprisoned man (Foxx), whose accused of murder. Bryan he believes this man is innocent and part of a cover-up. Eva Ansley (Larson), is a local advocate that helps Bryan over the many trials and tribulations (and racism) that he faces proving this man's innocence, whilst helping others along the way.

The film also stars Rob Morgan, O' Shea Jackson, Jr., Tim Blake Nelson, and Karan Kendrick to name a few. It is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, The Glass Castle).

Just Mercy is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and audio mixes in an impressive Dolby Atmos 11.1 (a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mixdown for older systems as well) lossless mix. This film is slightly stylized in terms of color correction with heavy saturation and nice slightly muted tones in areas and nice cinematography. Being mostly dialogue driven, the film looks fine on the format. A digital copy is also included.

Special Features include:

Making 'Mercy'

This Moment Deserves

The Equal Justice Initiative

and several fine Deleted Scenes

Just Mercy is an interesting film with pretty strong filmmaking and acting behind it. Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of true crime thrillers. At the same time, HBO has issued their documentary True Justice on DVD, which is a biography about Bryan Stevenson's life and the real-life cases he has had to take on. We'll cover that next time.

Next, did we really need another live action adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women after it has been covered so many times, including the Winona Ryder version that I thought was just too silly for its own good? Well, the fine actor Greta Gerwig felt she had a very worthwhile take on the story of Jo (Saoirse Ronan) and her family and her desire to be a writer and decided to take it all head-on and 'who cares?' about the other versions. Not my favorite book, good but sometimes just a bit overrated, but she does come up with a better version than I expected.

It has a good supporting cast, good tone, consistent energy and is never phony, so that helps, but that still did not make me love it. Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Chris Cooper, Tracy Letts. Bob Odenkirk, Louis Garrel and even Meryl Streep show up in the cast, but even all that and some above-average filmmaking (including some of the directing) did not make me say 'wow, what a movie and wow what a book' or the like. Still, it is worth seeing and among the many versions, I would now put this on the shortlist of the very few to even consider sitting through. Now you can see for yourself.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image was totally shot on Kodak 35mm Vision 3 color negative and the result is the most color-advanced adaptation of this book that has ever been made and probably ever will be made, with its great costumes and locales lensed by Director of Photography Yorick Le Saux. I cannot wait to see this in 4K or an actual film print.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is dialogue driven, but has some nice, subtle use of sound in the surrounds and a solid music score by the underrated Alexandre Desplat. Combined with the image, this is more than just a melodramatic costumer, but something with honest density that feels like the period and justifies it being a remake.

An anamorphically enhanced DVD with lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is also included, but it is only here for convenience and is too soft and weak to really watch seriously.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the disc adds featurettes including (per the press release) A New Generation of Little Women: The superb cast recreated the beloved world of the March family with realism, humor and vulnerability, Making a Modern Classic: The film combines its modern elements kinetic camerawork and overlapping dialogue with the historically authentic bespoke costumes, sets and locations, Greta Gerwig: Women Making Art: Go behind the camera with Writer/Director Greta Gerwig, discover her process and how she applied her own style to the story, Hair & Make-Up Test Sequence: A lovely showcase featuring the outstanding costumes, hair and make-up crafted for the film, Little Women Behind the Scenes: Take a quick look behind the scenes on the set of LITTLE WOMEN and Orchard House, Home of Louisa May Alcott: Find out more about Louisa May Alcott and visit the real-life Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts.

When the town factory closes, basketball Coach John loses his team and is forced to coach a one girl cross country team ...with asthma. However, Hannah needs a coach and John needs BE a coach (and he doesn't have much of a choice). Angry at the world and at God, John can't believe why God turned him from his basketball team to a one person cross country team. But Hannah shows Coach John how to believe God has a plan and Coach John learn how to heal his heart, home and family in Alex Kendrick's Overcomer (2019).

Coach John was once a proud basketball coach, but due to the town's factory moving he loses his entire team and he is forced to become the cross country coach (and he doesn't even like running). He meets Hannah, a young girl with asthma. By fate, he meets and learns of Hannah's blind and dying father in the hospital and Hannah has been raised by her grandmother who told her, her father was dead. Hannah's father then tells Coach John how to put God first and God will provide the rest. Coach John wants to help reunite Hannah with her estranged father, but he must find a way to mend bridges with Hannah's bitter grandmother.

This was another religious/inspirational movie about faith and the power of acceptance and forgiveness. It reminds people that even after losing everything, it isn't really everything and by turning to God there is hope.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 HD image on DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 soundmix combine to be very professional presentations that look and sound as good as any of these faith films, but there is still nothing distinct or exceptional about the presentation either. Extras include Making of Overcomer, additional and deleted scenes, commentary with director, Theme of Identity, Power of Forgiveness and a music video.

Next up is a collection of five WWII films made in the U.K. from the Ealing Studios arriving on Blu-ray in a new set called Their Finest Hour from the Film Movement label, who just landed rights to a group of key films from that catalog, often titles long overdue for reissue. They include...

Alberto Cavalcanti's Went The Day Well? (1942) is based on a Graham Greene story of Nazis invading a small town disguised as British soldiers and how the townspeople catch on and fight back. It is a little slow to start and a little uneven throughout, but has its moments and was a big deal upon its release. Leslie Banks and Elizabeth Allan lead the decent cast who are good here and the film is worth a look, if not the strongest on here.

Guy Hamilton's The Colditz Story (1955) is the 4-time Bond director's take of a Nazi Prison Camp and how the supposedly inescapable locale (deep in Germany) was broken out of eventually in a precursor to The Great Escape, with John Mills, Eric Portman, Lionel Jeffreys, Bryan Forbes and Ian Carmichael leading the cast. This is the most underrated film in the set.

Michael Anderson's The Dam Busters (1955) is the great, still fun film about how the Royal Air Force found a great way to mess up German dams by building a bouncing bomb, one that would skip over the water until it hit its target. Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave, Ursula Jeans and Basil Sydney lead the cast in this gem from the man who later directed Logan's Run and the Oscar-winning Best Picture, Around The World In 80 Days (1956).

Leslie Norman's Dunkirk (1958) tells the same story the recent Christoper Nolan film did, but without the big budget and from some different perspectives, so it may be dated in some ways, but is still not bad and has a solid cast that includes John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Robert Urquhart and Bernard Lee, four years before becoming the first 'M' in the James Bond series. Norman directed other films like Hammer's X The Unknown before becoming a go-to director for British action and spy TV classics like The Saint, The Avengers, The Baron, Department S, The Persuaders! and Return Of The Saint.

Last but not least is longtime journeyman director J. Lee Thompson's Ice Cold In Alex (1958) with John Mills, Sylvia Sims, Harry Andrews and Anthony Quayle, about a medical unit that needs escorted across Northern Africa to help the Allies against the Nazis. Shot on location, it is still impressive to this day and the energy is there, with some good action, but also some good drama. Despite a few false notes, it holds up well and rounds out this set nicely.

All five films are in 1080p black & white digital High Definition presentations, all 1.33 X 1 except Dunkirk and Alex, presented at 1.66 X 1. All have been restored and Busters is gleefully promoting its 4K upgrade. Save for some parts of a few shots that seem a little brighter and detail-challenged than they should be, these look as good as they ever did and will impress fans, as well as those surprised they can look so good for their age. The exception is the older stock footage used in most of the films, which was typical of the filmmaking of the times.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on all five films are as clear and warm as they are going to get for older theatrical monophonic releases of their time are ever going to get, so no major issues with the audio either.

Extras include a nicely illustrated booklet on all five films including informative text, an essay by film scholar Cullen Gallagher and tech info, but only four of the five discs have extras. The breakdown is (per the press release):


  • Colditz Revealed documentary

  • Restoration Comparison


  • The Making of The Dam Busters

  • Sir Barnes Wallis documentary

  • 617 Squadron Remembers documentary

  • Footage of the Bomb Tests

  • The Dam Busters Royal Premiere

  • Restoration of a Classic featurette

  • The Dam Busters 75th Anniversary trailer


  • Dunkirk Operation Dynamo Newsreel

  • Young Veteran Ealing Studios documentary (1940)

  • Interview with actor Sean Barrett

  • John Mills home movie footage


  • Extended Clip from A Very British War Movie documentary

  • John Mills home movie footage

  • Interview with Melanie Williams

  • Steve Chibnall on J. Lee Thompson

  • and Interview with the great Sylvia Syms.

If you are interested in more war genre films after seeing 1917 and the like, Their Finest Hour is a great set for you to take on.

Finally, IndiePix celebrates the anniversary release of James Kerwin's Yesterday Was A Lie (2008) with a brand new and much better looking Blu-ray presentation that film noir fans should check out. I definitely applaud this film for having a highly cinematic and attractive 'film noir' look despite its budgetary limitations. The lighting and black and white photography is really the selling point as the plot is a bit hard to follow and some of the acting iffy. This is a very nice movie to look at though.

The film stars John Newton, Chase Masterson, Kipleigh Brown, famed radio personality Robert Seigel, and even the late Peter Mayhew (Star Wars) in a cameo role. Yesterday Was A Lie tells the story of a detective who goes on a strange case that eventually uncovers the truth behind the most powerful thing in the universe - the human heart.

Yesterday Was A Lie is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (original aspect ratio is 1.85:1) and a fine sounding audio mix in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1. The black and white image has strong shadows and contrast that come across nicely in HD. There is also an English 2.0 Stereo Surround mix on the disc as well, depending on your home entertainment system limitations. This version of the film has been remastered shot by shot to create a whole new remaster of the film, which is much better looking than the previous 2008 cut available before.

Special Features include:

Audio commentary by James Kerwin, Kipleigh Brown and Chase Masterson

Multiple featurettes

Cast and Crew interviews

WonderCon Panel Discussion

and never-before-released outtakes and camera tests.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Women, Hour), Ricky Chiang (Overcomer) and James Lockhart



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