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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Western > Revenge > Fascism > Nazis > Murder > Italy > Gay > Romance > Mexico > Relationships > Sex > Myst > Catch The Bullet (2020/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/The Damned (Visconti*)/I Carry You With Me (2020/Sony Blu-ray)/La Piscine (The Swimming Pool/*both 1969/Criterion Blu-ray)/Mare Of Easttown (2021/HBO/Warner D

Catch The Bullet (2020/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/The Damned (Visconti*)/I Carry You With Me (2020/Sony Blu-ray)/La Piscine (The Swimming Pool/*both 1969/Criterion Blu-ray)/Mare Of Easttown (2021/HBO/Warner DVD Set)/Mr. Jealousy (1997/MVD Blu-ray)/Naked Spur (1953/MGM**)/Santa Fe Trail (1940/**both Warner Archive Blu-rays)

Picture: B+/B/B/B/C/B+/B/B Sound: C+/B-/B/B-/C+/B+/B-/B- Extras: D/B-/C-/C+/C/C+/C/C- Main Programs: A-/B-/C+/C+/B-/C+/B-/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Naked Spur and Santa Fe Trail Blu-rays now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Now for a wide variety of dramas, including where drama takes president over genre...

Marshal Britt MacMasters (Jay Picket) returns home to find his father shot and his son kidnapped. Britt gathers a posse (including a Native American) to hunt and track down those responsible, knowing what the outlaw Jed really wants is him, and revenge for putting him away years ago. However, both the Marshall and the outlaws venture into Indian territory and the Indians are hunting them all in Michael Feifer's Catch The Bullet (2020).

MacMasters is also one of the fastest guns in West and over the years he's killed more outlaws than he has locked away, but when one of the outlaws escapes jail, he vows revenge on MacMasters at no matter the cost. Seeking to lure him into a trap, Outlaw Jed not only uses MacMasters' son as bait and hostage, both sides enter the Sioux territory ...and the Sioux kills all white men regardless of who they are. As the outlaws try to stay ahead and the Marshall's posse begins to catch up, both sides have to fight/dodge the Sioux Indians. One by one, each side loses men until it's only Jed and MacMasters is left in a one-on-one showdown.

This was your typical gritty Western movie, a lawman catching the outlaws and plenty of gunfights, showdowns and a trail of dead bodies. The cast, setting and costuming were all well done and it felt like the old west. The main character seems like the unstoppable lawman with a mission, but when his son's life is on the line, it's personal. As usual, the good guys follow a code, while the bad guys try to take advantage of others and gain the upper hand. Mason McNulty, Gattlin Griffith, Peter Facinelli and Tom Skerritt also star.

Extras includes trailer.

Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969) is a long and sometimes flawed, but still often remarkable indictment of fascism and the German Nazis as its shows the slow collapse of a rich and powerful steel industrialists' family as Hitler very slowly, but surely and insidiously takes control of the entire country and beyond. The head of the family and its business (Albrecht Schoenhaus) believes he has secured the future of the company, his family and friends, even as Hitler starts to take power, but several unexpected turns and betrayals undermine that and they are not pretty.

The result is one of the most honest of all such films on the subject, though some of the actors are clearly NOT German and you might think this is about Italian Totalitarianists getting together with Nazis. Otherwise, it pulls no punches and its amazing cast includes Dirk Bogarde, Ingrid Thulin, Helmut Berger, Helmut Griem, Umberto Orsini, Renaud Verley, Rene Koldehoff and Florinda Bolkan.

Along with Bertolucci's The Conformist, Pasolini's Salo and De Sica's The Garden Of The Fizsi-Continis, The Damned is one of the great indictments of Fascism, European Fascism in particular, warnings of how this could happen again (very timely) and why we should never forget the history and the truth in the most graphic terms. Anything less is failure!

Extras include a paper poster foldout on the film with tech info and an essay by scholar D. A. Miller, while the disc adds an interview from 1970 with director Luchino Visconti about the film, Archival interviews with actors Helmut Berger, Ingrid Thulin, and Charlotte Rampling, Visconti: Man of Two Worlds, a 1969 behind-the-scenes documentary and a new interview with scholar Stefano Albertini about the sexual politics of the film.

Heidi Ewing's I Carry You With Me (2020) is a gay romance drama about a cook (Armando Espitia) and his teacher (Christian Vasquez) falling in love with each other as the former tires to realize his dream and both try to find happiness in a suddenly more unfriendly U.S., but we get plenty of time in Mexico and some character study. The film tries to handle their relationship with honesty, sensuality and classiness, but we also get too much predictability and a few cliches, though none are demeaning or derogatory.

Running 111 minutes, it could have tried a few different hings, but is maybe too laid back for its own good despite some good choices here and there. Worth a look for those interested, Michele Rodriguez also stars.

A trailer is the only extra.

Jacques Deray's La Piscine (The Swimming Pool/1969) wants to be a sexual thriller with a slower pace and a difference, the great Romy Schneider and then huge star Alain Delon reunite as a couple enjoying the good life as a married couple with much to be happy about when she decides to invite her former boyfriend (Maurice Ronet) to visit, but he brings his daughter (the iconic Jane Birkin, a sex symbol of the time, ambiguously too) with him and slowly but surely, this will turn out to be a very bad idea.

Running 122 minutes, there is slow and then there is really, really slow and the latter might potentially mean more realism (unless you go Warhol and film someone sleeping nonstop for 8 hours!) or a sense of warm or honesty than the leisurely pace can produce. Unfortunately, the approach here drags on and on more than anything and though the actors are not bad, the script and pace wallow too much in their world and 'beauty' resulting in a time capsule that just does not work as a murder mystery, psychological thriller or erotic exercise of any kind.

It is still worth a look for the actors and locales (Maurice Jarre's score is a plus, including an interesting attempt to have a hit vocal record) but I was disappointed and this is simply not for everyone. See it if you are REALLY interested.

Extras include a paper pullout with tech info, illustrations and essay by Jessica Kiang, while the disc adds The Swimming Pool: 'First Love Never Dies': the English-language version of the film, Fifty Years Later, a 2019 documentary by Agnes Vincent-Deray featuring actors Alain Delon and Jane Birkin, screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, and novelist Jean-Emmanuel Conil, New interview with scholar Nick Rees-Roberts on the film's cinematic and aesthetic legacy, Archival footage featuring Alain Delon, Jane Birkin, actors Romy Schneider and Maurice Ronet, and director Jacques Deray, an Alternate Ending and Trailers.

Mare Of Easttown (2021) is the mini-series with some serious buzz and just received some key Emmy Awards as we cover this. Kate Winslet proves once again to be one of the best actors (and actresses) around as the title character, a police detective with her own private issues, a longtime resident of the title locale and a year in trying to find a missing young lady when a new set of crimes star up echoing the missing gal.

This only increases the pressure on her to solve the older mystery while finding out about the new one when politics force an out-of-town detective (the amazing Evan Peters) who just notched an impressive case solve to help her. That annoys her, but might not be enough as the situation gets worse as more crimes take place, more questions turn up, more bad judgment happens and more toxic relationships are revealed in the small Pennsylvania town.

Running seven episodes, it holds itself together for the most part, but does run into a few small problems at the end, but Winslet carries things amazingly well and with a great supporting cast that includes Jean Smart, Julianne Nicholson, Izzy King, Guy Pearce, Cameron Mann, John Douglas Thompson and Ruby Cruz. Among the glut of so many shows, this is one of the true standout series of the last few years and one of the only ones anyone will likely remember decades from now. Put it on your must-see list.

Extras include four behind-the-scenes clips used to promote the mini-series.

Eric Stoltz stars in Mr. Jealousy (1997), which is a film by Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, Marriage Story (see our Criterion Blu-ray review elsewhere on this site)), and is ultimately a study on trust in relationships. Stoltz plays Lester, whose an aspiring writer who is still traumatized by a romantic incident in his teens and takes his fear into his adult relationships. When he meets Ramona (Annabella Sciorra), he ends up falling in love with her, but finds out that her ex is a successful novelist. He soon starts attending the same group therapy sessions as her ex in an effort to understand her better, but it ends up doing more harm than good.

The film also stars Chris Eigeman, Carlos Jacott, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and Brian Kerwin.

Special Features:

Revisiting Mr. Jealousy - Brand new feature including new interviews with cast members Brian Kerwin, Peter Bogdanovich, producer Joel Castelberg along with vintage interviews with writer and director Noah Baumbach.

and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Most of Baumbach's films that I have seen are pretty depressing if you ask me, but I see the artistic appeal to them and why people enjoy them. The writing here is interesting, if not a little dated at times, but Eric Stoltz delivers a fine performance and the film brings up some interesting thoughts on human behavior.

Anthony Mann's The Naked Spur (1953) is considered one of the great Westerns of its time, one of five with James Stewart as a bounty hunter looking for revenge in ways he might not have first expected, falling for a married Janet Leigh while looking for an evasive Robert Ryan. It is a fan favorite and there are bad Hollywood-style 'Indians' for them to fight too. It has moments that work and was likely more impressive when it was released, but now is not quite as impressive as it once likely was.

Still, the acting is better than many films in the genre then and especially now, Ralph Meeker leads the supporting cast and is in rare form here, making it worth a good look just to see him in a different way. The locales look good and MGM did put some money into it, so it is a welcome restoration with actors and stars I happen to particularly like. Now you can judge for yourself.

Extras include vintage live-action Pete Smith Specialty comedy short Things We Can Do Without (done in a semi-documentary style), the classic Tex Avery MGM Technicolor animated short Little Johnny Jet and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Finally, we have Michael Curtiz's The Santa Fe Trail (1940), a Civil War drama made during WWII meant to pump up morale, but at 109 minutes, goes on and on and on and on feeling much longer than the nearly 160 minutes of Visconti's The Damned (above) including maybe the most numerous title cards and descriptions in a sound era film.

Errol Flynn is Jeb Stuart and Ronald Reagan is George Armstrong Custer, going to Kansas to fight abolitionists (lead by Raymond Massey) and falling for the same woman, played well by a scene-stealing Olivia de Havilland. The Civil War is not far behind, but this is not always about that war and gets melodramatic more than expected (the case calls it a 'horse opera' and if the horses started singing, that would have been a much more interesting film!) while Alan Hale and Van Heflin lead a solid supporting cast. Not my kind of film and I do not think it always works, but it is restored well here and if you like it or have never seen it, this is now the way to see it outside of a mint film print.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Now for playback performance. The Damned is presented in 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image that looks good for the most part, but it turns out the 35mm negative was in bad shape for some reason (like Ridley Scott's Legend, which we'll review the Blu-ray of next) and the result is the best the film has looked on home video save a green leaning. I usually do not have much trouble with a transfer that has such a side to it, but the color here is affecting the Video White and Film White, so that holds it back a bit. This is a new 2K scan and is fine otherwise.

The film was originally shot in Eastman Color 35mm negative film stocks, but despite the credits only noting 'Eastmancolor' in the beginning, the write-up on the back of the case is literally correct about Technicolor because those are the kind of prints, 35mm dye-transfer copies, Warner originally issued the film in theatrically. Who knows if they had any such copies left, but they are very valuable now.

The PCM 2.0 Mono lossless sound in Italian and an odd English dub that includes British accents, though I wish it had a German alternative. The Italian is dubbed as expected, but it sounds best and the most authentic of the two here.

Bullet is also presented in a 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image and looks as good as it can in the format, making this another 4K candidate for Lionsgate, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is simpler and to pedestrian for its own good.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Carry has some softness, but there is some style here too, with the camera not shaking much. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is a bit better than expected with a better soundfield than expected, well recorded and balanced nicely.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image on Piscine has some fine color and a few signs of the film's age, but this new restoration with its 4K scan is very clear, color rich and the lossless PCM 2.0 Mono soundtrack has been nicely restored from the original magnetic mono soundmaster.

Mr. Jealousy is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer on Blu-ray disc, an MPEG-4 AVC codec with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossless English LPCM 2.0 Stereo mix. The film has been restored nicely to Blu-ray disc and there aren't any visible flaws in the presentation. It has aged well and looks and sounds fine here. Seeing that the film isn't anything fantastical, this standard stereo mix is appropriate.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Spur can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and was made in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor, which can look pretty good, if not spectacular throughout. It is not a musical, so the color cannot be too wide-ranging. I would expect this comes pretty close to a 35mm print just the same.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Trail can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to al the previous video editions of this film I have seen, though it has more optical work involved. I cannot imagine it looking much better.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes on both Spur and Trail sound better than expected from their original optical mono soundmasters and will likely never sound better than they do here.

And finally, the anamorphically enhanced 2.00 X 1 image on Mare looks fair for the format though it is softer more often than I would have liked or the HD footage I have sen of it, so a Blu-ray (issued by Warner Archive only) version and if this set is any indication, that would look even better. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is just fine for a dialogue-based film with some good music and sound design, but it likely sounds better lossless.

To order either of the Warner Archive Blu-rays, The Naked Spur and Santa Fe Trail,go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Bullet) and James Lockhart (Jealousy)



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