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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Satire > Filmmaking > Italy > Ageism > Music Industry > Sports > Spoof > Technology > Relatio > Caro Diario (1993 aka Dear Diary/Film Movement Blu-ray)/The High Note (2020/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Pat and Mike (1952)/Without Love (1945/both MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)

Caro Diario (1993 aka Dear Diary/Film Movement Blu-ray)/The High Note (2020/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Pat and Mike (1952)/Without Love (1945/both MGM/Warner Archive Blu-rays)

Picture: B/B- & C/B/B Sound: B- (DVD: C) Extras: C+/C/C-/C Films: C+/C/B-/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Pat and Mike and Without Love Blu-rays are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for another set of comedies to consider...

We start with writer/director Nanni Moretti's Caro Diario (1993 aka Dear Diary) also playing the lead role as an eccentric guy traveling Italy (et al) on his Vespa trying to find fun and a better life, annoying the likes of Jennifer Beals in the process, but things take a strange turn in the latter half of the film when his health starts to go bad for reasons he does not understand. Neither to the many doctors and other medical experts he meets.

His character is also trying to write a movie script in the midst of all of this, which never adds up to as much as some of the better parts of a film, that is a mixed bag and is above average at best. Of course, it is also in the shadow of Woody Allen, whose influence will lats long after all the scandals and controversies off screen are played out. Its worth a look for those really interested. Otherwise, you get some good cinematography.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and an essay on the film, while the disc adds a Making Of featurette and Deleted Scenes.

Nisha Ganatra's The High Note (2020) has Tracee Ellis Ross as a singer at a career crossroads, past 40, still popular, a bit snobby and a singing legend, she is a vocalist in what is now more of a Hip Hop/Rap world than when she started and her record label is more interested in her touring and being a money-making legacy act than having her release a new album. Dakota Johnson is her assistant who has some ideas for the next album, though she's never produced anything major before in her life.

The film is as much a comedy as drama, but its humor is a bit off and does not always work because it accepts the arrogance of having money and success without moral consideration normal when it is toxic and the script echoes this in the childishness some of the relationships connect. Johnson is made to look especially dumb in an insulting, condescending way, to the point that it is offensive and why no one has called the film in this is odd.

That leaves us with Ross, echoing the iconic career of many a great female vocalist, the most obvious being her mother, all-time commercial powerhouse, groundbreaker and critical success Diana Ross. However, some of the comments remind us of other major, legendary singers not always treated as well as they got older by the industry, including Tina Turner (who made her comeback post-40, bucking the trend and referenced here directly if you catch it), Grace Jones, Olivia Newton-John and the next generation after them now facing the same thing. It also reminds us of those we lost too soon. The film could have spent more time dealing with that, but fails there too.

Acting is not bad, with Ross more than handling her own in drama, equal to her already known comic talents, with supporting performances by Ice Cube, Eddie Izzard and Bill Pullman. The idea of it being an inside look at the industry never works, but it has a few good moments if you can survive the many that fall flat. The notes here are more low and off than high.

Extras include ''Like I Do'' Music Video, Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes and two Making Of featurettes: The Dream Team: Inside The Creation of The High Note and Making A Legend: The Grace Davis Story.

Finally, two classic films co-starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have arrived on Blu-ray. George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952) is the more well-known of the two, with Hepburn as a woman ahead of her time, playing tennis and golf with great success and so sports promoter Tracy is determined to help her out and both of them to big success. Too bad it will not always be that easy.

Ruth Gordon (yes, the great actress) and Garson Kanin co-wrote the witty screenplay, the film has cameos by many sports stars of the day and supporting work by Aldo Ray (when he was very young) and Charles Bronson (so young he is using an earlier name here) all come together under the eye and amazing talent of Cukor who made this a hit across the board. Though not al all-time classic or completely flawless, it is well done and deserves the reputation it has had over the decades. There is wit, chemistry and energy that work well enough and some 0of this plays like a solid time capsule. Hepburn is particularly great here too.

An Original Theatrical Trailer is sadly the only extra.

Harold S. Bocquet's Without Love (1945) was made years earlier, but Tracy & Hepburn had their chemistry even then in only their third film together. Set towards the end of WWII (they did not know the war would soon be over), rations and necessity has Hepburn share her home with an inventor (Tracy) and they have to 'pretend' to be married so they can fit in one place respectably, but he may become more respectable if one of his ideas becomes a moneymaker. Gadgets always seem to haunt the Tracy/Hepburn films and this one is no exception.

Keenan Wynn, Patricia Morison, Carl Esmond, Felix Bressart and Gloria Grahame make up the great supporting cast, but the clear standout surprise here is an amazing turn by Lucille Ball, still a major player int eh Hollywood Studio System among all actresses, delivering a comic performance that is not the broad comedy she is now an icon for, but one that is restrained, clever, particular, witty and has amazing comic timing like you have never seen her deliver before. She is as strong a reason as anyone or anything here to go see this film.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, Purity Squad installment of the Crime Does Not Pay live action shorts series and MGM cartoon short Swing Shift Cinderella.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image on Caro looks very good and consistent throughout including good color and is a clean presentation, shot on Kodak 35mm color negative film, you even get a couple of demo shots. The PCM 2.0 Stereo is a little louder and clearer than expected for its age, though some might consider it slightly distorted. Either way, the film was originally issued theatrically in Dolby's older A-type analog noise reduction format. Maybe some extra digital sound cleaning was applied.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Note is an HD shoot that is more on the soft side than expected with color that holds, but a little more motion blur than a major such release should have at this point, looking worse on the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 DVD which has those issues and much softer to the point of being very hard to watch, accompanied by weak, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The Blu-ray has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix that suggests this was a 12-track film theatrically, but this is very dialogue-based and only impresses so much.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfers on Mike and Love look really good, even in the rare spots where you can show the age of the materials used. Superior a transfer to all previous releases of both films, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes are as good as the original theatrical monophonic sound on both films will ever sound.

To order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, Pat and Mike or Without Love, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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