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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Legal > France > Comedy > Books > Historical > Slavery > Kidnapping > Japan > WWI > Portugal > Rac > Conviction (2019/Icarus DVD)/84 Charing Cross Road (1986/Umbrella Import PAL Import DVD)/Emperor (2019/Universal DVD)/A Girl Missing (2020/DVD)/Hero On The Front (2018/DVD*)/The Killing Floor (1984/Bl

Conviction (2019/Icarus DVD)/84 Charing Cross Road (1986/Umbrella Import PAL Import DVD)/Emperor (2019/Universal DVD)/A Girl Missing (2020/DVD)/Hero On The Front (2018/DVD*)/The Killing Floor (1984/Blu-ray/*all Film Movement)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The 84 Charing Cross Road Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD players that can handle the PAL DVD and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for a new set of drama releases...

Antoine Raimbault's Conviction (2019) has a tale of legality and murder as one Jacques Viguier is accused of murder. One Juror (Marina Fois) is not so sure and talks famed lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti (Olivier Gourmet) to represent him. Not a thriller like Suspect (1987) or any kind of trick legal thriller, the film still asks questions about how we perceive reality and truth.

It is also not always interested in 'who done it' but how people react to a big story and how it does sometimes become a witch hunt, though people handle themselves better here than you would expect these days and this is roughly based on real events. It is also part of a cycle of films and TV show overseas either involving who might have committed murder and/or if and how someone has 'mysteriously' disappeared.

This is a mixed bag overall and the cast is not bad, but the results overall are mixed and I was a little disappointed.

There are no extras.

David Jones' 84 Charing Cross Road (1986) is the film version of a fine tale of a writer in 1950's New York City (Anne Bancroft) who also loves reading and literature, but when (somehow?!?) she cannot find good English Literature in her great town, she comes up with an ingenious plan to get what she wants and at limited cost. She decides to contact a book shop in the U.K. and see if they can supply what seems to be missing in NYC.

She lucks out with a great bookshop run by some fine people, her letter handled by one of the top booksellers and buyers in the store (Anthony Hopkins) who is a well read on the subject as she is and thus, a professional relationship begins, then grows when they start talking of other things. Before you know it, she is sending food, angered at post-WWII rationing. Then it gets better from there.

Bancroft's husband Mel Brooks produced this well-made, underrated piece that not enough people saw, but more than ever (especially in an age of the Internet and anti-intellectualism and even anti-common sense) is more charming and relevant than ever. Yes, a few parts of the film are a little off, but this is fine otherwise and is definitely recommended.

Only trailers for the Hopkins films Remains Of The Day and Howard's End are included.

Inspired by a true story, Emperor (2020) tells the legend of Shields ''Emperor'' Green who goes from slave to outlaw in the pre-Civil War South. After his son gets struck at a plantation, he ends up with blood on his hands and is soon on the run - becoming a sort of folk hero. Then he becomes an active member in abolitionist's John Brown's raid on the Harper's Ferry arsenal and seals his mark on history. The film fictionalizes Shields in many ways and also changes the ending to his true life story, which was apparently angered some history buffs and critics upon its release. The production value is so so, and the script is a bit predictable and silly for the subject manner.

Emperor stars Dayo Okeniyi, Kat Graham, Ben Robson, Keean Johnson, James Cromwell, and Bruce Dern. The film is directed by Mark Amin (Stoneheart Asylum).

No extras. Emperor is a mediocre film that shows the horrors of slavery and bends the truth about its hero in favor of a heroic ending.

Koji Fukada's A Girl Missing (2020) is another entry in that 'murder or missing' cycle I discussed above, this time in Japan where (in the Kurosawa mode) a woman (Mariko Tsutsui) who works as a private nurse for a family becomes the suspect when one of the family's daughters goes missing. Of course, others could be guilty, but since she is a worker and not monied, is easier to attack. Sometimes, the film examines this well, but sometimes it gets stuck on this.

Then things get more twisted and odd, making her life and situation worse and odder. The twist has some possibilities and the film gets to some of them, but since it is also covering territory that has been covered before, it can only overcome the overlap so much. It is well acted and shot, but only has 111 minutes and does not always use them to best advantage.

A Making Of featurette and short film Love Comes Later are the only extras.

Goncalo Galvao Teles' Hero On The Front (2018) is another too-rare WWI film, this time focusing on how the Portuguese helped fight off the Germans and how one man in particular did it with one machine gun: Anibal Milhais. Well acted and more beautifully produced (even with the dirty war footage) than expected, it is not a bad tale, based on the true story and I was glad to see it told.

The directing is not bad and acting solid, so the film only runs 89 minutes and maybe it would have worked even more if they had more money and screen time, but this is worth a look for those interested and is a story worth telling.

A trailer is the only extra.

Bill Duke's The Killing Floor (1984) is a remarkable film by the well known actor who also has had an equally compelling career as a journeyman director, one who pulls no punches when he wants to get honest and be bold about it. One of three feature telefilms he made for the great PBS series American Playhouse, this surprisingly censorship-free look at African Americans moving to Chicago in the 1910s to find work and a better future is told very honestly and is brutally realistic.

The underrated Damien Leake is the family man ready to deal with work at a meat packing plant in The Windy City if it means his family will do well, but he also has to face racism, battles between the union and meat company, segregation and other unexpected twists and turns in a tale based on a true story and the historical record. The makers have been very thorough on that point and it shows, which is why this works as often as it does.

It also has an incredible supporting cast including Alfie Woodard, Moses Gunn, Dennis Farina, Clarence Felder, Cynthia Baker, Paul Eaton, Jason Green, Nathan Davis, Robert Minkoff, John Mahoney and Ted Levine. Only a few minor parts did not hold for me, but this is an amazing film that holds up extraordinarily well.

These days, with cable TV and the money they have, it is too easy to be deceived into thinking TV never had good films made for it, but even with some of the campy genre films that were made, telefilms from the beginning were willing to deal with serious subject matter from the start and this one comes at the end of a cycle of very smart, mature, intelligent ones that began to take the industry by storm in the early 1970s. As good as anything on the list, expect some graphic language and images, but it is only being realistic and that is all too rare in any kind of film or TV being made today. Recommended!

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film including tech info and two essays, while the disc adds an Intro by Director Duke, a new Making Of featurette, recent Q&A with Damien Leake & Elsa Rassbach, a Producer on the film who is also here in a separate on-cameras interview.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Floor can show the age of the materials used a bit, including the older stick footage, but even that is in fine shape and is very well chosen. The rest of the film is shot on 16mm color negative and looks as good as anything here, very professionally and effectively shot. Thus, yet another key telefilm gets HD r4espect and restoration, especially one so important. The PCM 2.0 Mono is as well recorded as could be expected for a monophonic production of the time and sounds as good as anything on this list.

Emperor is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition on DVD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2:39:1 and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix. Compression issues are evident as is the norm with the lower grade quality in the format. Of course, the film would look much better on a higher format as the production design and cinematography are strong.

The rest of the DVDs are also anamorphically enhanced (2.35 X 1 for Conviction and Hero, 1.66 X 1 for Girl and 1.85 X 1 for Road) may have some flaws, but look about as good as they possibly could in this older format, down to decent color. Sadly, they are not as good on sound, with the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Conviction and Girl, plus even the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Girl, are on the weak side and are the poorest sonic performers here. Road does better with its lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound, professionally recorded so well for its time. Hero is also better with both 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo lossy Dolby mixes, but the 5.1 is better. All could use lossless presentations, though I hope the weaker ones would not sound bad in other ways if so.

To order the 84 Charing Cross Road Umbrella import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard-to-find releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Emperor)



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