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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Relationships > Class Division > Sexuality > Sex > British > Film > WWII > Italy > Drug Addic > AfterGlow (1997)/Ray Meets Helen (2018*)/Ammonite (2020/Universal Blu-ray)/Cinema Paradiso 4K (1989/Arrow 4K Set*)/A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (2020/Film Movement DVD)/Ivans XTC (2000/Arrow*)/Short H

AfterGlow (1997)/Ray Meets Helen (2018*)/Ammonite (2020/Universal Blu-ray)/Cinema Paradiso 4K (1989/Arrow 4K Set*)/A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (2020/Film Movement DVD)/Ivans XTC (2000/Arrow*)/Short History Of The Long Road (2019/FilmRise/*all MVD Blu-rays)/A Tale Of Two Cities (1935/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The A Tale Of Two Cities Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a solid new sets of dramas for you to consider as awards season continues...

First up are two of the last films by Robert Altman associate Alan Rudolph, who directed in his style and with his realism and sometimes blunt points, but never totally developed his own style. That becomes evident in both AfterGlow (1997) and Ray Meets Helen (2018), now here as a double feature Blu-ray.

AfterGlow won Julie Christie an acting Oscar and she steals some of the scenes she is in, the wife of a handyman (Nick Nolte) who gets involved with the wife (Laura Flynn Boyle) of her distracted, unsexual husband (Jonny Lee Miller) in a romp that has some moments, but is a little predictable, especially after he and Altman have done some of what we see here before. This runs about two hours and was always a mixed bag to me. I always felt it had more potential than it delivered on, but it is worth seeing once just to see what does work.

Ray Meets Helen is a meeting I wish I could have skipped, has both title characters (David Carradine and Sondra Locke) as two people who com into new money late in life, then meet each other. The script is all over the place, not much here is memorable, the actors are wasted and the film is so off, you are not certain the times it is being funny unintentionally, unintentionally or at all. Kim Wayans is here ion a serious role, but she still comes across as comical in the mode of her work on TV's In Living Color, though I always liked her.

Samantha Mathis, Keith David and Jennifer Tilly are also here, all of whom I also like, yet do not get to do anything memorable either. The film has little to say about its characters or situations. If this was about old age, it does not address that well either. It is just an unfortunate disappointment that runs 100 minutes and only see it if you are REALLY interested.

Trailers for each film are the only extras.

Francis Lee's Ammonite (2020) is one of the years more mature, smart films, telling the tale of loneliness, oppression, sex and relationships in 1800s England. Kate Winslet (downplaying her beauty) is a fossil hunter who survives by finding what she can and selling it in a shop with her mother. She was once very famous in doing this, but that eventually tapered off. One day, a young man (James McArdle) who is a lawyer arrives with his wife (Saoirse Ronan) who is not well.

He wants to hire the expert to show him how to find fossils himself and will pay her well. She wants no part of it, but then accepts and the situation becomes tense, followed by some twists and turns. I want to say more, but that would ruin the film, It is not perfect, but ambitious and cinematic, more so than most releases of late. The locales and acting (also including Gemma Jones and Fiona Shaw) are impressive and I definitely recommend it!

A Making Of featurette is the only extra.

Cinema Paradiso 4K (1989) offers only the shorter theatrical cut of the film in 4K, but it is still a revelation that shows the film looking at its best since I saw it in 35mm when it was originally released. The longer version of the film is still here on regular Blu-ray, though I think that version works a little better still. This also has all the same extras as the previous Arrow version we reviewed recently at this link:


For your further reference, the other times we reviewed the film:

Older U.S. Blu-ray


Older Import Australian Blu-rayDVD


That leaves the tech coverage below, but after the pandemic, the film's value in expressing the priceless ness of cinema and the shared experience thereof only makes it more relevant than ever. The timing of this release is profound and this is now the edition to won!

A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (2020) is an intense and interesting picture with great performances all around, but mainly in its lead star Sarah Bolger. The Ireland made film follows a recently widowed mother of two (Bolger) whose life gets twisted when a man hides drugs in her home as part of an elaborate scheme to rip off some bad guys. However, this ignites a rage inside the woman who is destined to find out what really happened in her husband's murder and the great lengths she will go to in order to protect her children.

The film also stars Andrew Simpson, Edward Hogg, and Jane Brennan with direction by Abner Pastoll.

There is a surprising number of special features, which is nice and includes:

Audio Commentary by director Abner Pastoll

Deleted Scenes

Alternate Opening


Making of Featurette

and Behind the Scenes Footage

A film by Bernard Rose (Candyman, Paper House), Ivans XTC (2000) stars Danny Huston and explores the intense drug fused life of a Hollywood producer. The film co-stars Peter Weller and Lisa Enos and uses the 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich as a source of inspiration. A heavy and dark film, it may not be completely original, but is most certainly a cautionary tale and one ripe for rediscovery.

Special Features:

Theatrical Cut presented in two versions; the preferred director's version and the producer's version, with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Extended Producer's Cut with Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio, presented for the first time

Brand new commentary for the Extended Cut with co-writer/producer/actor Lisa Enos and

filmmaker Richard Wolstencroft

Charlotte's Story - a brand new documentary on the making of the film from Lisa Enos

Q&A with Lisa Enos, director Bernard Rose, actors Danny Huston, Peter Weller and Adam Krentzman from a 2018 screening at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles

Archival interview with Lisa Enos and Bernard Rose from the 2001 Santa Barbara Film Festival

Extended Party Sequence Outtakes

Original Theatrical Trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Peter Strain

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Robert J.E. Simpson.

Nola (Sabrina Carpenter) is a young girl who has been brought up by her father and they have been on the road still she was born. They live from place to place in their RV, working odd jobs and living by their own rules, but when her father suddenly passes away, she is truly on her own. All the life she's ever known she begins to question, how does she keep going on alone, should she settle down and find roots?

In Ani Simon-Kennedy's A Short History Of The Long Road (2019), Nola and her father are vagabonds, living on the road and by their wits. She has been taught life is better without home or responsibilities and everything they own fits in a RV (but she not so sure). When her father suddenly passes away and her RV breaks down on the road. She lives by squatting from place to place, more often broken than she likes and she goes in search of her long-lost mother. But the truth is never what she expected and on the road she meets rough but kind old man (Danny Trejo), an auto body shop owner who takes her in and helps her when she loses everything.

This was a coming-of-age story, quite different life than normal people but it gives perspective what living on the road is like and why some people distrust the system and prefer to live off the gird. The main character eventually learns the truth of what happened to her mother, gets new insight on what she has been taught and makes a choice, to continue living as a vagabond or it's better to settle down and have roots.

Extras include photo gallery, blooper reel and trailer.

Jack Conway's A Tale Of Two Cities (1935) is back and now restored for Blu-ray by Warner Bros. from Warner Archive, upgrading the David O. Selznick production to more of its original glory than ever. A great lead role for the great Ronald Colman, playing lead Sidney Carton as well as just about anyone you could think of.

The solid supporting cast includes Basil Rathbone in another role that shows what a great actor he was (though forever stereotyped as Sherlock Holmes), Reginald Owen and the always fun Edna May Oliver that makes this one of the better and more lively versions of the all-time classic book. Yes, even with 126 minutes, parts of the book we shrunk and the like, but this is a fine Dickens film and one to be rediscovered. Especially when it has been so well restored!

Extras include the Original Theatrical Trailer, a radio drama version of the film with Colman in lossless DTS-MA sound, the animated MGM shorts Hey, Hey Fever and Honeyland and the Oscar-nominated live-action MGM short Audioscopiks, a 3D black and white film that will actually work with red/blue glasses.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.66 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Paradiso is only for the shorter version, but it is the best-looking of all the releases here, even by a slim margin, with more warmth and some grain, but a consistent style you can only get from photochemical film. It also has an edge in detail and color range than the still-impressive Blu-ray edition, the long version of the film of which is still here in that format. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix is the same as the Blu-ray and that's fine, but I found that the DTS Mono version was a little better in some ways. The film was well-recorded at the time, but with limits.

A Good Woman is Hard to Find is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition on DVD with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and lossy English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix and 2.0 Stereo mix. The film looks pretty good on DVD despite the obvious compression issues that are evident in the format and none too surprising. I'm sure an HD enhanced presentation would improve upon the film's presentation on disc. This isn't horrible though by any means.

Ivans XTC is presented in 1080p high definition with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and audio mixes in lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo. The presentation on disc is nice and strong as per the usual with Arrow.

A Short History Of The Long Road is here in 1080p 1.85 X 1 image looks really good, a nice, clear, clean, consistent HD shoot that has some style, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix delivers all the dialogue and music with a proper soundfield.

Both AfterGlow and Ray Meets Helen are presented in 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition from what look like slightly older HD masters, with AfterGlow shot nicely on film and offers some styling of its own at times that is not going for fidelity, while Ray is an HD shoot that can look harsh and show its age, especially when it tries some visual effects. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes on both films can be dialogue-based as expected, but are just about well-recorded enough and not bad for the type of sound they offer, though hardly state of the art for their time.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can on Ammonite is not bad, is soft and sometimes on purpose, but very watchable otherwise, though I bet a 4K version would look better. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is nicely recorded, clear and has nice atmosphere in its soundfield, so that's pretty good all around.

Finally, the 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Cities can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film including the DVD we reviewed years ago. This can look incredibly clean, clear and detailed in shots and obvious hard work went into this new edition, so that's a big plus. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is also better than the old, lossy Dolby Digital on the DVD and older editions, but it still cannot help its age, so expect some sonic limits. Otherwise, I doubt this will ever sound better.

To order the A Tale Of Two Cities Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Road) and James Lockhart (Light, Ivans, Woman)



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