War (1988/both MGM/MVD
(1956/Sony/Columbia/*all Imprint/Via Vision Import Blu-ray)
B/B/B/B-/B/B Sound: B-/B-/B/B-/B/C+ Extras: B/B/B/B-/B-/D
Import Blu-rays now only available from our friends at ViaVision
Entertainment in Australia, can play on all 4K & Blu-ray players
and can be ordered from the links below.
is a solid group of dramas you should know about....
start with the crime drama based on a true story, James Foley's At
(1986,) now back on Blu-ray after a Twilight Time Limited Edition
version went out of print a few years ago. This is the link to our
coverage of that film with slight updates...
many titles licensed by the company, this one actually retains its
Isolated Music Score track, but of course, loses its booklet with
illustrations and essay, in this case by the amazing Julie Kirgo.
The lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo for the film and the music score
are replicated here in PCM 2.0 Stereo and its just fine, the same as
the sound on the last disc along with the same exact 1080p transfer.
The only poor thing is that the sound can we warped and/or distorted
in parts, including for Madonna's hit end theme ''Live
it has the rest of the same extras, but MVD have added a mini-poster
where the booklet was and a reversible cover. If you missed the film
before, here's a new chance to get it.
(1988) has previously been issued on MGM DVD with the same full
length Keith Gordon audio commentary, vintage Gordon interview and
Original Theatrical Trailer, but MVD adds a mini-poster. Based on
the highly censored book by Robert Cormier (one of several,
apparently, but this one the most of all) about a young Jerry (Iian
Michael-Smith of the ever-goofy Weird
starts going to a Catholic school and meeting all who are there.
When a charity sale of boxed chocolates to support the school is
launched, he is not certain he wants to participate. This sets of a
backlash from Brother Leon (John Glover, often playing such roles,
including in the Bill Murray Scrooged)
and most of the students.
resulting bullying, physical assaults, psychological terrorism and
more that ensue was shocking at the time from the book and this
movie, which also apparently was targeted and censored just a few
years before the many successful lawsuits against the Church and its
many school for high organized child molestation and worse were
finally discovered in massive amounts in court cases still going on
as you read this. Now we know how much of the truth both were
telling about the Church and other such unquestioned institutions.
So how does the film hold up in the face of all that revealed?
well, especially because there are always people still being
targeted, attacked and more with no help or assistance from anyone,
so it tells the story of one individual against corruption that is
clearly illegal, but about how those in power who think they can get
away with it go do such things, even sometimes after they are
exposed. The screenplay, even with some changes from the book, is
very strong and only focuses on those already there destroying Jerry
(a case in Johnstown was so bad, the actual police department was
helping the local church target molestation victims and the federal
government had to use the federal RICO Act used for organized crime
to charge the guilty there, but this film is not that story) and asks
so many questions as relevant now as it ever was.
acting is impressive, the mood palpable, the look dense and the
truths the film speaks makes it at least a minor classic overdue for
rediscovery. This is likely Gordon's best film and the supporting
cast is a plus, including Adam Baldwin (My
Wallace Langham (Ford
Doug Hutchinson (The
Jerry Wright (St.
and Bud Cort (Harold
Coming at the very end of a great cycle of films about being a
most early Matt Dillon films, Coppola's adaptations of teen fiction
and some B-movies of the 1970s included) deserves to be seen and know
as well as any of them, making this a must-see for any serious film
is a solid actor who became a director (see De Palma's Dressed
now out in 4K to go with its Criterion version) and has been very
successful that way since, plus is also a successful producer on
shows like The Walking Dead. With all that said, this is some of his
very best work.
the music is solid and licensed songs by the likes of Kate Bush,
Peter Gabriel, Joan Armatrading, and Yaz (aka Yazoo) with the Bush
song being used recently on the brilliant TV series Stranger
in a way that happens to eerily connect with this film in its own
way, but we don't do spoilers here, so we'll leave it at that. The
film was remade in Canada in 2012 as The
(1975) is one of the director's few full color films and the only one
in a large-frame format, 65mm color negative, albeit the infamous
Svema USSR/Soviet color negative film known for its flaws (as was the
case on Sergei Bondarchuk's War
(1967) now on Criterion Blu-ray, reviewed elsewhere on this site) but
still can deliver solid detail and definition while usually having
good color. The result was a critical and commercial comeback for
one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, who had not had a hit for
a few years, saw several projects fall through and was suffering
personal pain (his brother self-destructed and he considered doing
the same,) but here was this project he had been working on for years
and it happened and from Mosfilm of all studios.
no Japanese studio or production company wanted to make it despite
his huge international status, his biggest fans in the industry had
yet to get into a position where they could produce films with him
(that soon changed, led by Francis Ford Coppola) and
Munzuk is the title character, a local Mongolian hunter in Siberia
who makes friends with a Russian Solider named Arsenev (Yuriy
Solomin) who is there as part of a Russian Army expedition to the
area. At first, Arsensev and company thinks the man is amusing and
gets him to be their guide in the area, but when things start to get
rough, they realize they have severely underestimated him and it
becomes a mutual learning experience none of them will ever forget.
like the look of the film, the feel of the film that is like
Kurosawa's work, yet has a different feel because he is using the
largest canvas of his career and there are plenty of profound, even
existential moments and the film has more than a few moments of no
dialogue as the visuals and situations more than speak for
themselves. That this has not always been available to see is tragic
and when originally issued by U.S. distributor New World Pictures, it
was only issued in 35mm reduction prints with monophonic sound.
Flaws notwithstanding (they were on all those prints too,) this is as
good a presentation as any in the states and likely more than a few
other countries. It is the kind of film to watch and just sit back
and let it happen to you, The result is very rewarding and ironic,
when Russian Soldiers were not considered an unfortunate force in the
world since the Ukraine Invasion. It is also a must-see for serious
film fans, so be prepared to be impressed!
extras are many and include (per the press release) NEW New Audio
Commentary by film historian Stuart Galbraith IV, aided by biologist
Jonathan C. Slaght, Russian/USSR historian Sergey Glebov, and Roger
Corman-New World Pictures attorney Barbara Boyle
Mapping Kurosawa: A History of Dersu Uzala with
film writer and historian Michael Brooke
Sound of the Taiga: video essay by music historian David
Schecter on the score
Yuri Solomin on writer Vladimir Arseniev
Yuri Solomin on director Akira Kurosawa
Yuri Solomin discusses the film
the Film: short documentary
footage of the real Vladimir Arseniev
Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with unique
(1985) is a mixed film where Nastassja Kinski plays a woman from the
business world of Wall street who lands up in the title arrangement
under the auspices of an Arabian Prince (Ben Kingsley) when
she gets kidnapped. That sounded a bit preposterous to some when the
film came out, especially since Miss Kinski was taking many such
roles that took risks and had many questioning if she was being
exploited or letting herself be so, but that was always an
oversimplification in the long run.
the film has other issues like an uneven script, some borderline
stereotypes that been twisted and turned by world events in the 37+
years since the films release, some dullness and more than a little
predictability along with lack of suspense. There are only so many
outcomes here and to some extent, it plays like a cheap 'stuck in a'
movie where the main character(s) are trapped in a place they cannot
escape from or have to be at for a while. The actors try to make
this work, but I was never convinced then or now.
doubt Kinski looks great as usual, but it was almost like she was
running out of such films to do and too this to see what would
happen. It might be trying to make a statement about being stuck in
rapid fire and over-technologized Western society (and maybe
capitalism?) but to go from one 'trap' to another is no breakthrough.
This might also have an issue or two that are controversial,
problematic and not convincing, but that would lead to spoilers, so
I'll skip those and let you see it if you are curious enough. At
least it is now available in a quality copy.
are better than expected and include (per the press release) a NEW
Audio commentary by author Scott Harrison
(1997 remake) is a big budget remake of the ever-censored Vladimir
Nabokov book and Stanley Kubrick film about an older man named
Humbert Humbert (now played by Jeremy Irons) who goes looking for an
apartment to rent and lands up being instantly sexually attracted to
underaged daughter (Dominique Swain) of the title. Having Irons
playing it more serious and straight forward than James Mason and
Melanie Griffith taking over the naive mother role held by Shelley
Winters is Lyne essentially saying Kubrick was either too comical or
alternative is that it is quieter and the female casting is two
actresses who would be considered 'sexier' (though Winters looked
that good earlier in the long career) playing into 'looksism'
stereotypes. It also runs what Kubrick cleverly avoided; making any
of Hubert's pedophilic desires acceptable and/or palatable. Swain is
or seems a few years older than sue Lyon in the original film, yet I
did not think she worked in the role as well. Lyne and the other
makers (including big budget movie producer Mario Kassar; this film
somehow had a $40 Million budget in 1997 money, so adjust that if you
wish) can say that the book was not as shocking over three decades
since Kubrick's hit version, so maybe they thought this approach
result is a film that drags on for me too often during its long 138
minutes and wears out its welcome, even if I had never seen the
Kubrick version. The result was a film that lost money (again, where
did they spend that budget?) and may have some fans (the reasons have
been somewhat reasonable, but won't change my mind) and likely will
not be the last adaption of the book. It is just that Lyne finally
was doing Kubrick his way explicitly as he had been taking from him
in smaller ways in all his previous films, much like Spielberg
directly dealing with the kinds of characters he was only hinting at
or intertextually referencing before he made Hook.
With more work or a different approach, this could have even been a
better film and the Kubrick film is not my favorite of his films or
one of his best, but it deals more honestly with the material, which
is the same as saying maybe Lyne was not being as honest with himself
as he could have been here.
you can see it for yourself. Frank Langella also stars and is a plus
for the film that needed more.
are many and include (per the press release) a NEW Feature-Length
Audio Commentary by film critic Josh Nelson
commentary by director Adrian Lyne
An Exhausting Film: interview with cinematographer Howard Atherton
The Seduction of Humbert Humbert: Adrian Lyne's American Beauty
Lolita - video essay by author/critic Kat Ellinger
Session with actor Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain
the Set vintage featurette
Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with unique
least, Daniel Taradash's Storm
(1956) is the successful writers' only directorial effort, but it s a
really good one with no less than Bette Davis as a longtime, hometown
librarian who is a major asset to the community and all around her,
including the children who have intellectual curiosity. That in
itself makes the film a tribute to all the great unsung heroes of
education in the analog era and beyond that can be proud to be
librarians, plus all of us who believe you should read books instead
of burning them.
also wants to get a children's branch built next to the building she
works in to serve more children, but the people running the town have
been apathetic to the idea for way too long. That is until they want
something and it is not good. They want a book called 'The Communist
Dream' removed from the shelves since some strange new political
groups are targeting it to be removed. Should she agree? She
actually bought the book for the library despite not being a
communist or agreeing with it so people could see what they are about
and realize it is a system that will not really work.
if she did think it would work, why censor this book? At first, she
thinks nothing of it, but then reconsiders, re-shelves it and the
nightmare for her and the community begins as she gets fired and the
ripple effect is something else. Though the film shows its age in
being a little melodramatic and having an emphasis on children in the
script comes from a time when child acting was a mixed bag affects
the film a bit. However, Taradash, who did writing on the
screenplays for hit classics like Golden
On Any Door, From
Here To Eternity, Knock
On Any Door and Picnic
among others knew what he wanted to say and express and the ideas he
strives to express most are successfully revealed in a film that
turns out to be a little more ahead of its time than many might have
considered at the time. It is the kind of thing that intelligent
people say could not happen today until it does happen and you
realize how immature even grown adults can be and unfortunately,
always were and will be.
it was not a big hit in its time and Davis thought it was a failure,
but time has been kinder to the film than anyone could have expected
at the time and it is more relevant than ever and more than the
makers could have ever imagined at the time. The time is now for its
are sadly no extras.
for the playback performance of the new Blu-rays, as At Close
Range is the same transfer we already covered a few years ago and
it is an HD master that holds up and most of these titles look really
good here. Because it was shot on 65mm color negative in the
Sovscope 70 format, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image
transfer on Dersu Uzala should the the runaway visual champ and it
has enough great shots to just surpass the rest fo the releases here,
but this is likely a reduction 35mm print and it has the many flaws
USSR/Soviet Svema-brand color film had at the time. That company
later folded sadly, but I am happy to report they eventually mastered
color film and it was really impressive in the end. Too bad it was
not as good when this film was made and then the company was gone!
and his three Directors of Photography create a dense visual
experience that is hard to stop watching. Part of the image issue is
color bleeding into other color or flaws in the film stock you would
not get with Kodak, Agfa or Fuji, with some of the flaws permanently
there. Still, if they could get more money and a new round of
serious restoration, at least some of the errors could be corrected.
Otherwise, it has more flaws than War and Peace (1967,) but
even that cannot get much in the way of Kurosawa's vision and it is
long overdue for this one to be discovered.
film was originally issued in 6-track magnetic stereo in the original
70mm print run and that means most of the tracks were behind the
screen, so you get traveling dialogue and sound effects with the
Russian DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix.
That plays well here, as does
the fine music score by Isaak Shvarts (aka Issac Schwarts) only
enhances the complements both the visuals and the narrative.
1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Chocolate
rarely shows the age of the materials used, but this is far superior
a transfer to all previous releases of the film including the
decent-for-the-time MGM DVD. I like how this film uses darkness in
subtle ways and the DVD could not delver that. Add the
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix or even the PCM 2.0 Mono
mix and its mood intents are far more complete, brilliant New Wave
music and all.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Harem was shot
in real anamorphic 35mm Panavision and is from a recent 2K scan, but
it can look a little older than the rest fo the releases here and the
35mm materials have some slight flaws at times. Otherwise, it looks
good and the way I have always seen it in stills and other released
images. The PCM 2.0 Stereo is also fine for its age and was issued
in Dolby's older A-type analog noise reduction system with monophonic
surrounds, so this soundtrack has Pro Logic surrounds and if you have
a home theater system, you can try several modes until you get the
sound you like the most. Just know fidelity is a little dated.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Lolita
does not show much age to it and there are more than a few stylized
scenes, with soft focus, but the film could afford great visuals and
Lyne was always enamored with them. The sound also holds up well as
presented here in both DTS-HD MA
(Master Audio) 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes. Both are good,
but I liked the 5.1 a bit more.
the 1080p 1.78 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on Storm Center looks very good for being the oldest
film here with a 2K scan, offering thick-enough Video Black and a PCM
2.0 Mono mix that is the oldest sound here and sounds like it, but
this is a dialogue-based production and is just fine as a result.
any of the four Imprint Blu-ray titles at these links: