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Category:    Home > Reviews > Biopic > Drama > Comedy > Satire > Politics > Melodrama > Golf > British > Relationships > Cable TV > Abe Lincoln In Illinois (1940/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Canadian Bacon (1995/Orion/MGM/MVD Blu-ray)/Daddy Longlegs (2009/Criterion Blu-ray)/Phantom Of The Open (2021/Sony DVD)/The White Lotus: The C

Abe Lincoln In Illinois (1940/RKO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Canadian Bacon (1995/Orion/MGM/MVD Blu-ray)/Daddy Longlegs (2009/Criterion Blu-ray)/Phantom Of The Open (2021/Sony DVD)/The White Lotus: The Complete First Season (2021/HBO/Warner DVD Set)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Abe Lincoln In Illinois Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

The following dramas have at least a bit of comedy in all of them...

John Cromwell's Abe Lincoln In Illinois (1940) is the epitome of a Classical Hollywood biopic, where its subject is treated as a good person (to a point of unrealism) and has a script that keeps pumping them up as a great example of humanity at its best to the point it becomes a bit much. This is even true if the real life person (say Gandhi) was an amazing person. Abraham Lincoln was amazing too and some of this film has good moments, but even with a solid Raymond Massey performance, it has its limits.

Based on a play that won a Pulitzer Prize by Robert E. Sherwood, it has its moments and some of it is fine and even believable, but add the music and melodrama and it eventually falls into the same biopic formula that eventually fell out of favor in the 1950s and 1960s. Still. I liked the supporting work of Gene Lockhart, a young Ruth Gordon, Mary Howard, Harvey Stephens, Alan Baxter and others, but so corny at times that you would only find Tom Hanks making such films today. It is worth a look just to see how it goes, but its approach shows its age and not just because it comes from a stage play. Ironically, it often avoids a stage-like feel.

The only extra is a 4/22/40 Lux Radio Theater radio drama version of the film used to promote the film.

Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon (1995) is the famous documentary filmmaker's attempt to do a fictional, narrative film, a political comedy derived from Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964, reviewed elsewhere on this site) to some extent, about if war broke out between the U.S. and neighboring Canada, with some casting choices solid ones. Having the late, great John Candy in the lead is one of the films best moves. Too bad the rest is not as good.

Alan Alda is a desperate President of the United States who cooks up the idea of having a was with Canada to boost his bad poll ratings (sadly more seemingly possible than when the film was first released) and madness ensues, too many people in 'the states' fall for this. Candy is a U.s Sheriff and Rhea Perlman is his unhinged Deputy. Meant as a satire, some of the jokes only work if you understand Canadian humor, some of this has dated beyond what time and Moore's budget could handle and the story gets thrown out when the film gets outright wacky.

To their credit, the makers and actors do give it their all and that makes it all the more unfortunate that Moore could have come up with a companion to all the great Canadian/U.S., SNL/SCTV comedies from the 1970s into the early 1980s that people still love. But the film gets sidetracked and once it loses any momentum, its self-cooked.

The rest of the supporting cast is still a plus including Bill Nunn, Kevin Pollack and Rip Torn. Though it did not work for me, anyone interested should see it once just to see what they think as too many great talents are involved.

Extras include reversible artwork and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

The Safdie Brothers' Daddy Longlegs (2009) is a semi-autobiographical film about their real life father, semi-fictional and told through the New York school of Filmmaking via John Cassavetes in particular and the casting of Ronald Bronstein as the sometimes abusive and rather irresponsible father who mirrors so many of the anti-heroes and men who could not grow up in Hollywood and independent U.S. cinema from the late 1960s to 1980s (before abusive men became outright glorified, but that's another essay) and now, more people than ever would say he should lose some or all custody fo his kids.

Of course, he loves them, or says so even if he does not always act that way. He happens to be a professional projectionist in a movie theater, though the directors never say he is influenced by showing such irresponsible men in the movies he shows. Instead, the film just goes on with all the wacky, unbelievable ways he conducts his life as if he does not have kids yet. Like those older films, no one corrects him and no one seems to have enough of a moral corer to say enough or do something about it.

The young boys who play the brothers, Frey and Sage Ranaldo, are very good by just being themselves and fit in just fine, acting surprised that their 'dad' could be so irresponsible and at one point, it becomes a very dire part of the story to the point that the father almost does permanent damage to one of his sons. The film almost glorifies this very bad behavior, much like its predecessors, so you'll have to see for yourself if you can take this. I could, just shocked that anyone would want to recreate such damaged masculinity and total irresponsibility, but here it is and you can now see it for yourself.

Extras include a 2009 print interview with the Safdies as part of a booklet made to look like a set of loose-leaf pages stapled together in the corner, but it also includes technical information on the film, while the disc (per the press release) adds new interviews with actors Sage and Frey Ranaldo and their parents, photographer Leah Singer and musician Lee Ranaldo

Documentary from 2017 about the Safdies

Footage of Sage and Frey Ranaldo's first meeting with actor Ronald Bronstein Making-of program

There's Nothing You Can Do (2008), a short film by the Safdies featuring members of the Daddy Longlegs cast and crew

Deleted scenes

Promotional films and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Craig Roberts' Phantom Of The Open (2021) is another low-budget, slow-moving British comedy about some absurd subject, often based on a true story like this one, with a man who could not play golf well becoming an icon in the sport. Mark Rylance is the title man, Maurice Flitcroft, who managed to get into the 1976 British Open 'somehow' and shoots what remains the worst round in its long, distinguished history. Does this stop him form trying again? No.

Most of the somewhat long 106 minutes of this film has his many reattempts and how they go. That makes it a one-joke film in a style we have seen way too much in recent decades, a commercially safe approach many such low budget U.K. have tried for. Even with a solid cast that also includes Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans, its just too much of a run-on narrative for me and you might agree. If you are really, really interested, then give it a look.

The Finding Flitcroft featurette is the only extra.

Finally, we have writer/director Mike White's latest project, The White Lotus: The Complete First Season (2021) and he is very good at setting up characters, their quirks, motives and does this with dialogue most people could not pull off. This tale of people vacationing at the title hotel in Hawaii could have been the original Fantasy Island with out the fantasy or The Love Boat in a hotel, but it is instead a look at semi-toxic and other persons interacting with each other when in a more pleasant place.

Made of a mere six episodes, much happens and the show has its moments, but it also becomes more predictable sooner than it should and if that is from slowly setting up jokes long-term, it is not a good idea. They have a great cast to pull this off including Steve Zahn, Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge and Jon Gries joining a cast of formidable actors you may be less familiar with, but the teleplays do not support them enough and there are a few other minor issues here too. However, I cannot get into them without hitting spoiler or separate essay territory.

The best thing I can say is give it a good look if interested.

Extras include the clips Invitation To The Set and Cast Snap Judgments.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image on Lincoln is the oldest production here by a few decades, but the transfer looks incredibly fine and rarely shows the age of the materials used, os be prepared to be shocked at the high quality.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Canadian is an older HD master and/or from a slightly dated source, so it has limits throughout. Otherwise, it looks good.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Longlegs has some fine color and solid detail, from a 35mm digital intermediate negative, imitating the look of John Cassavetes films well enough. Its authentic throughout and convincing enough.

All the films only have two track sound, Lincoln's aged sound represented here in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix, Canadian in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes and Longlegs in PCM 2.0 Stereo. The latter two are the best sounding releases here.

As for the DVDs, the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Open (apparently shot on 35mm full color negative film) looks as good as it can in the format, while the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Lotus is a little softer than I would have liked and made me wish I was watching a Blu-ray often enough. Color is not quiet correct either. Both only offer one soundtrack in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 presentations and sound as good as they can in the older format, but we bet a lossless version would play better, as they are well recorded and mixed enough.

To order either of the Abe Lincoln In Illinois Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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