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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Teens > Germany > Soap Opera > Cable TV > Caste System > Capitalist Elite > Comedy > Cocoon (2020/Film Movement DVD)/The Gilded Age: The Complete First Season (2022/HBO/Warner DVD Set)/The Lost City 4K (2022/Paramount 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/The Making Of A Lady (2021/Via Vision PAL Impo

Cocoon (2020/Film Movement DVD)/The Gilded Age: The Complete First Season (2022/HBO/Warner DVD Set)/The Lost City 4K (2022/Paramount 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)/The Making Of A Lady (2021/Via Vision PAL Import DVD)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: C/C+/X/C Sound: C+/C+/B+/C+ Extras: C/C+/C/D Main Programs: C/C+/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Making Of A Lady Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Via Vision Entertainment in Australia, can only play on all 4K, Blu-ray and DVD players that can handle the PAL format and can be ordered from the link below.

Up next are four very different tales of people going out into the world...

Not to be confused with the Ron Howard hit, Leonie Krippendorff's Cocoon (2020) is yet another coming-of-age import about 14-year-old Nora (Lena Urzendowsky) in modern internet times trying to find herself, early parts of her sexuality and general identity and much more in this German-language release that is at its best when it shows us life in Germany today and how some things have changed, but is not always able to find new territory we have not seen before, or often in the case of foreign films in general that have made such films their own cycle.

The actors are good and I do not know how long they have been acting, but they are convincing enough, while this is well-shot and has some nudity we would never see in most U.S. productions. It is never sleazy and there is no exploitive 'thought police lesbianism' that you might get in some such films. Its a little more believable than not, but I would only recommend it for the most interested, mature viewer.

The bonus short film Summer Of Bees is the only extra and not bad.

The Gilded Age: The Complete First Season (2022) is the new show from the creator of Downton Abbey and this time, takes place in the New York of the last turn of the last century (i.e., 19th to 20th), yet has the same pro-caste system politics of the previous hit and makes for an odd show as a result. No doubt the locations, set design and amazing costumes are top rate and this HBO series was co-produced by them with parent company Warner and Universal. It looks good and lavish, even in the DVD version we are covering, though a Blu-ray version is also being issued.

If anything, this might have the biggest costume budget since the original Dynasty or Game Of Thrones, but it looks good. The cast is solid, including Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski, though they are part of a much larger cast. The tale of old big money being succeeded by big new money is interesting, if not always new, but more interesting than anything we might see in our modern times. I do not see it as a companion to Downton Abbey, yet its nonchalant about caste systems is not good and especially odd for a TV show set in the United States.

Running nine episodes and already renewed for the next elaborate season as this set was issued, the problem even if we subtracted its politics is that it is not very well written, I thought the subplot of a smart young woman of color being part of 'white society' stretched credibility by ignoring the racism angle just a bit too much and therefore, ringing anywhere from awkward to false. Then when all was said and done, it plays like a bad, formulaic soap opera that hopes its lush production can cover up its formulaic teleplay writing. Mind you, some moments and scenes do work, especially when the makers are not trying so hard, but it also shows that Downton Abbey might have been a fluke of success, which itself has already played itself out.

Yes, the capturing of locations in New York and Newport, Rhode Island are a plus and are amazing in that they are still standing, but the people in those areas in real life love, respect and often take care of their past, not throwing out like so many other cities across the U.S. in unfortunate ways and yes, the places featured were built to last. But when you are talking about these things more than the actors, characters and storyline, you know the show still disappoints. I'll be curious what they do with the next season, though it will take a while to make because they just started it up.

Extras include behind the scenes clips like All That Glitters: Creating The Gilded Age

  • Old Money vs New: The Heart of the Matter

  • Who's Who featurettes

  • Invitation To Set

  • Carrie Coon BTS

  • Writing Peggy

  • and Inside the Episodes.

One of the things I hear often is because of endless digital visual effects, other tricks and franchises, people do not go to see feature films for the stars and/or actors in them. That the star system is dead and obsolete. I hear that more now than when that nonsense was first said in the 1980s. If anything, because it is not the strongest film with the strongest screenplay in recent years, Adam Nee & Aron Nee's The Lost City 4K (2022) proves all those going around saying anything like that wrong.

In part because she can pick and choose what she wants to do and in part because she keeps having hits, even during the COVID fiasco, Sandra Bullock showed once again what star power is and hers in particular by making this silly comedy. She plays a writer of romantic adventures and is very commercially successful, though in real life, she has never gone far to encounter anything close to her book narrative success.

In a high concept script, an mad billionaire (a strangely cast Daniel Radcliffe) has her kidnapped and to find a real life 'lost city' that could be worth billions of dollars without apparently understanding she might not be able to do so, she lands up with a guy who is also not totally ready for this (Channing Tatum, who also happens to be making a comeback of his choosing after taking time off that coincided with COVID) and then, another man who might know actual such adventures better (Brad Pitt) also turns up to help.

In all that, the humor is as obvious as the target audience and it turns into a leave your brain at the door comedy that became another huge hit for its three stars (Bullock even returns the favor with a cameo in Pitt's hit Bullet Train, both playing different characters but the off-screen friendship is the same) totally precalculated for maximum box office impact and it worked. Seeing the three on the big screen delivered and it quits while it is almost ahead at 111 minutes.

It may be for fans only, but at least those fans will be happy in most cases, we expect.

Extras (per the press release) include:

  • Deleted Scenes: More fun you didn't see in theatres!

  • Bloopers: Laugh along with the cast at their hilarious on-set bloopers

  • Dynamic Duo: Behind-the-scenes fun with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum to see how their comedy chemistry perfectly aligns for this odd-couple comedy adventure

  • Location Profile: Take a trip to the exotic Dominican Republic movie location and find out how the crew dealt with heavy rain and mosquitos!

  • Jungle Rescue: See how the movie's incredible action set pieces and crazy stunts were filmed

  • The Jumpsuit: Discover what went into designing Loretta's eye-catching purple sequin jumpsuit

  • Charcuterie: A hilarious breakdown of Loretta's big kidnapping scene and what it's like to come under attack from a giant charcuterie board!

  • The Villains of The Lost City: Meet the bad guys: Abigail Fairfax and his henchmen

  • and Building The Lost City: A look at building the film's incredible island world.

Last, we have Richard Curson Smith's The Making Of A Lady (2021) from a book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, best known for writing the fantasy classic The Secret Garden. Much more adult and realistic, Emily (Lydia Wilson) is educated and able-bodied, but has no money, so she needs to find employment at the last turn of the century. This happens because the well-off Lady Maria (Joanna Lumley, who is not on screen enough for my tastes) hires her and that will likely help her out long term. However, her nephew (Linus Roache) is a widow and takes a liking to Emily.

Despite not caring for him too much, he proposes marriage and she accepts, for the wrong reasons, but war kicks in and she is left with other relatives (including James D'Arcy) who are more interested in destroying her individuality than helping her. She does not realize this at first, but can her husband come back in time to save her or live to help her at all?

Nice production design, costumes and a decent cast, this runs only 96 minutes and is a mixed bag with many obvious moments and a few good ones. Don't know how it compares to the book or how well it follows it, but not enough of this stuck with me. However, if you like the actors or the plot is of interest, you should give it a look for yourself to see what you think. Maybe it was not long enough, they took out too much of the book? Either way, it has aged well.

There are no extras.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Lost City 4K is easily going to look the best here with its budget supporting a high quality digital shoot, though not totally or actually fully 4K as you would see if you looked at some of the motion blur at times or the CGI effects. Still, it will all do for such a film and color is actually not bad.

The lossless Dolby Atmos 12-track mix (Dolby TrueHD mixdown for older systems) is also decent, yet is not a sonic masterwork by any means, but dialogue is clear enough and the mix is at least competent and professional, just only expect so much.

All three DVD releases are anamorphically enhanced, with Cocoon in the older 1.33 X 1 aspect ratio and the rest in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 framing, but all are softer than I would have liked or expected, including even Gilded Age, but some of its softness is from style. However, the limits of the old DVD format are as much of an issue and you might want to get the Blu-ray edition instead.

Gilded Age offers its sound in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, Lady in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Cocoon in both. The result is that they have about equal sonics in this increasingly older, dating audio codec, so both would improve with lossless presentations and Age has such a mix on its Blu-ray edition.

To order the Via Vision PAL import DVD Making Of A Lady, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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