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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Press > Publishing > Crime > Murder > Film Noir > Anti-Semitism > Melodrama > Western > Labor > Austra > Absence Of Malice (1981/Sony*)/Crossfire (1947/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Kid Detective (2020/Sony DVD)/News Of The World 4K (2020/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Sunday Too Far Away (1975/*

Absence Of Malice (1981/Sony*)/Crossfire (1947/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Kid Detective (2020/Sony DVD)/News Of The World 4K (2020/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Sunday Too Far Away (1975/*both Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-rays)/Waterboys (2016/Corinth DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Absence Of Malice and Sunday Too Far Away Import Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia and can play on all 4K and Blu-ray players, while Crossfire is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's another set of dramas for awards season...

When Sydney Pollack's Absence Of Malice (1981) first arrived, it was absolutely a celebration and tale of hard journalism when the public expected the facts and the truth more than ever (especially after Vietnam and Watergate) with a press that had not been made a mockery by corporations and a time when tabloid press was clearly separate from legitimate media. This tale of a man (Paul Newman) who may or may not be up to no good and an ambitious reporter (Sally Field, proving (again?) she could totally handle drama and was not just The Flying Nun)

However, something more sinister than either know is going on and they'll have to figure it out before some other odd and even bad things happen. The supporting cast is good, acting fine, but the film tries to make a big statement and somewhat succeeds, trying to pick up where other films left off. Now, this is an ironic time capsule, though its points are as valuable as ever.

They have no less that the Director of Photography from The French Connection and Network, Owen Roizman, A.S.C., who shoots the old analog-era printing presses with staccato rhythm and seriousness several times to emphasize the power of the press, but only at the time. This is before those presses went digital, before the Internet, before hundreds of TV channels and just before 24-hour news channels became standard.

Fortunately, it is not a relic by any means, but a time capsule with some points as relevant as ever.

Extras include a Deleted Scene, vintage Making Of featurette and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire (1947) is a true Film Noir about a Jewish man being brutally killed and the investigation that follows. A rare Noir that got A-level recognition and treatment, bringing Robert Young in as the detective, Robert Mitchum as his G.I. Assistant and Robert Ryan as the hatemonger in a film that was shocking then and still powerful and (sadly) as timely now.

Exceptionally well shot and edited, Dmytryk keeps the film going from the first scene to the last with great pacing and this holds up very well as the film approaches three-quarters-of-a-century as a special kind of classic, though it is sometimes forgotten a bit in the shadow of Gentleman's Agreement, which was issued the same year with the same theme of Anti-Semitism. Yet, this is a different film for certain and with a supporting cast that includes Noir legend Gloria Grahame and Sam Levine, another key Noir film and key RKO film is saved!

A gem of the RKO Pictures library, all part of the Warner Bros. catalog, Warner Archive has issued this on Blu-ray in a fine restoration the film deserves. This is the way to see it, which you should!

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by film scholars Alain Silver and James Ursini with vintage audio excerpts by Dmytryk and a vintage Behind The Scenes featurette entitled Hate Is like A Gun.

The Kid Detective (2020) is a modern day film noir starring Adam Brody (The OC, Ready or Not) as a burnt out adult detective who was once a celebrated kid detective. Gifted with Sherlock Holmes-style abilities, he ends up solving a complicated case that reawakens his spirit when a woman hires him to investigate the murder of her boyfriend.

The film also stars Sophie Nelisse, Sarah Sutherland, Amalia Williamson, Tzi Ma, Isaac Kragten, and Wendy Crewson.

This was released during the pandemic and didn't get a lot of buzz, but certainly isn't a terrible film. Adam Brody gives a fine performance as lead and it's always interesting to see a well constructed mystery.

No Extras.

I was surprised to see that Paul Greengrass' News Of The World 4K (2020) was being made at all, then promoted as some kind of epic Western. The Western has been dead for years and a recent cycle has been more akin to phony political propaganda (with so many of the people being way too clean to actually be living in the actual West) and to do one now, you have to recreate the entire genre in one film, which is very, very difficult. What we actually get is a melodrama that is often overdone (too many unlikely bad things happen in its long nearly two-hours length) and that kills its credibility.

This melodrama not totally convincingly disguised as a Western, has Hanks in a novel role of a man who reads newspapers to crowds who pay a dime a piece to hear what he has to say. His character is actually a pretty good storyteller with a knack for humor. Not bad, set just after the end of The Civil War, but the script does not totally know what to do with him, so it throws in everything but the kitchen sink, and probably as they were just being invented.

Things get rougher when he has to help a 10-year-old girl (Helena Zengel) who is alone, traumatized and also turns out to be half-Native American. This is early on,m but when the film insists on focusing on her too much, Greengrass shows he is no Spielberg and certainly no Truffaut. She is good here, but I did not buy a few moments. The rest of the cast is not bad and the film is not necessarily always playing it safe, but it also seems restrained at the wrong times and is not totally successful. I did like enough of the moments to say it is not a dud, but you have to sit through many flat moments to get to the good ones.

Extras include ( as the press release explains) DELETED SCENES (which did not make much of a difference), PARTNERS: TOM HANKS & HELENA ZENGEL - Witness the successful (and very fun) working relationship of movie veteran Tom Hanks and newcomer Helena Zengel. WESTERN ACTION - Explore the creation of NEWS OF THE WORLD's most exciting and challenging scenes, PAUL GREENGRASS MAKES NEWS OF THE WORLD - A look at how director Paul Greengrass assembled the very best filmmaking team to realize a lifelong ambition of making a western, THE KIOWA - Filmmakers explain why the authentic representation of the Kiowa was so important to them and a FEATURE COMMENTARY WITH CO-WRITER/DIRECTOR PAUL GREENGRASS.

Ken Hannam's Sunday Too Far Away (1975) is one of Australian mega-movie star Jack Thompson's best films, taking place in 1956 (so it is not modern Oz-Ploitation or a turn-of-the-last-century melodrama) as he has a reputation for being very productive in shearing sheep. Wool is a big business at the time Down Under and he expects to get paid well. He also parties well and loves to get into fist-fights, apparently.

Gritty like many of its U.S. and U.K. counterparts, et al, the story turns even more serious (based on a true story) when the group that does this work is being ripped off by the factory owners, so they have to eventually go on strike to get what is theirs. That is not the crux of the film, either, but a character study and portrait of the time that is honest, brutal and realistic. It makes it all one of the more important pieces of Australian Cinema from that period and though it has a few off moments, has aged well and very much deserves the top rate restoration it gets here.

The locales, recreation of the times and supporting cast more than hold their own. It is definitely worth a good look and is recommended for those curious who want something more challenging.

Extras include a piece on the 1975 premiere of the film, 1975 TV documentary The Making Of Sunday, a post-screening of the restoration interview with star Thompson, vintage Thompson conversation on the film on TV with David Wenham, a Stills Gallery and Original Theatrical Trailer.

And lastly, we have Robert Jan Westdijk's Waterboys (2016) is an odd drama/comedy with an older crime novelist writer (Leopold Witte) and his son (Tim Linde) who have a good relationship and turn to each other when they loose the women in their lives when both walk out on them. It has a few good moments, but spends much of its 93 minutes trying to be amusing and not only have the characters in various contacts with water (showers, baths, ships) but has the band called The Waterboys show up and play a few songs.

Not a music video or having enough of them to make this a semi-concert film, the band is not bad, but it disrupts an already lacking narrative that is not enough of a character study for us to care. This may be a curio for some, but I was perplexed as to what they thought the7y were doing overall here. Oh well.

There are no extras.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10+; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on News Of The World is narrowly the best-looking disc on the list, though it is not in 12-bit Dolby Vision and has CG visual effects that are mixed. Some of this is stylized, of course, but that can be cliched. However, you can see some nice shots from the 4K shoot here and the regular 1080p Blu-ray cannot offer those shots or the slightly better color range, depth or detail of the 4K edition. Both discs offer lossless Dolby Atmos 12-track sound and that is more consistent and easily the sonically best release here.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Malice and Sunday, plus 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Crossfire can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the films with Sunday and Crossfire being fine restorations that make the films look the best they have in decades. Those two even have some shots the 4K World could not deliver, so expect some demo shots there. Malice is a slightly older HD master, but still looks pretty good and grain is thick as I remembered the film. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on all three films cannot help but show their age or the fact that they were all theatrical mono releases, but Sunday somehow manages to sound the best of the three, just luck in the original source and remastering, we guess. Save maybe Malice, these will never sound better.

The Kid Detective is presented here in standard definition on DVD with an anamorphically enhanced, widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix, both of which are standard for the aging format. The film is nicely shot and comedic, but compression issues are evident.

Finally, the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Waterboys has some slight motion blur, but it is not bad overall, while the sound is lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 German Stereo with some good surrounds, but why not 5.1?

To order either of the Umbrella import Blu-rays, Absence Of Malice and Sunday Too Far Away, go to this link:


and to order the Warner Archive Crossfire Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Kid)



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