(1942/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Euphoria:
Complete Seasons 1 + 2
(2019 - 2022/HBO/DVD Set/both Warner)/Panther
Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B/C/B- Sound: B-/C+/B-
Extras: B/C/C- Main Programs: B+/B-/B-
for three dramas covering serious subject matter, including a
classic, a possible classic and another ambitious film...
(1942) is another all-time classic getting an upgrade into Ultra HD
and it is another good one, great one. We have covered the film
twice before, including in this Blu-ray set that includes the same
disc that is with the 4K disc in this set at this link:
links to more on the film. Watching it now, it has sadly become as
relevant as ever as new storm clouds of fascism are returning to
Europe in a whole new way, but even in the U.S. in its own, bizarre
way. The Brothers Warner were the only studio heads at the time to
want to openly stand up in their own way to Hitler and his Axis
partners when the rest fo Hollywood wanted to not have to deal with
it until they had to if ever. Soon after, WWII started with the U.S.
entry into the war explicitly and like the advent of movie sound,
Warner Bros. was ahead of all the other studios and this film become
one of the most timely in all of cinema history.
there is the film, enduring as ever, the chemistry with Humphrey
Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as palpable as ever and seeing her here in
4K, it brings a new realization of how beautiful she was and just how
much the camera really loved her, with or without the use of
diffusion lenses. She remains one of the greatest movie actresses
and movie stars of all time and she sometimes steals this movie in
ways I had not considered before. That is why the new 4K version is
something to be very happy about.
set includes all the extras from previous editions, including the
animated short Carrotblanca,
from 1995, and not 1955.
Complete Seasons 1 + 2
(2019 - 2022) is another smart, new HBO hit TV show, this time with
the terrific Zendaya as a young lady dealing with trying to find her
place in the world, one that has now become more wild, savage,
hopeless and ugly than any previous generation in a first-world
country like the U.S. could have ever had been expected to have to
live in. From its graphic opening of her birth happening around the
controversial time of the events of 9/11, she and her generation have
never known the earlier, relatively safer U.S. and the two season
here show just how ugly that can get.
the expected raw language, the violence, overboard-but-common drug
use and raw sexuality and sex that would give this a hard R or
near-NC-17 rating were we watching a feature film never lets up, but
that's the point. The title is ironic in the characters trying to
find happiness and only finding it in the most limited, sad, joyless
and artificial ways, but so goes the culture and the phony attempts
to supplant that with quick fixes (bad politics and religion) are
the show's credit, it somehow does not manage to wallow in the
depressing situations, in part because it breezes along as it does,
but this is not for children and others who are mature enough to view
it still might find it too repetitive and obvious, especially as we
have seen so much of this before. Yet, that's also the point. The
bad and unfortunate things have become worse and that course does
not look likely to reverse itself anytime soon. We'll see where the
show goes next.
behind the scenes clips used to promote the show are the only extras.
but not least, Mario Van Peebles' Panther
(1995) is one of the writer/directors more ambitious films, telling a
story from inside the controversial Black Panthers political
organization from a book by someone who knew them all very
personally: his filmmaking father, the late Melvin Van Peebles.
Mario was moving along well as an actor with appeal that was bucking
1980s mall movies trends by becoming a movie star (et al) after the
rollback 1980s mall movies that wiped out all kinds of filmmaking
progress created by artists like his groundbreaking dad and his
B. Vance is uncanny as Bobby Seale, one of the founders of the
organization, fed up with the poverty, harassment and bullying his
friends and neighbors in his African American neighborhood keep
experiencing. But it is the 1960s and Civil Rights are on the
upswing, especially after the still-unexplained Kennedy
Assassination. With nowhere to turn, they turn to each other and
decide to organize, including helping feed their community.
the people who killed Kennedy are mostly still in the shadows, the
Cold War is also still raging and when they start to talk of
communism and sell books with philosophy by Chairman Mao, that puts
them on the federal government's radar, including the FBI's racist
found J. Edgar Hoover (a really good performance by Richard Dysart
here) and the attacks on their organization soon begin.
first, they are not aware and someone in the organization is spying
on them, but the early efforts do not always go as plan or work, to
the frustration of Hoover and company, so things slowly get ramped up
and result in some ugly fights and deadly consequences.
Peebles (father and son) got this film made at the time at all is
remarkable, but the Black New Wave led by Spike Lee and John
Singleton helped and though it was a mixed success in its time, it
holds up better than you might expect and that includes against
competition and the recent retelling from another angle with Judas
& The Black Messiah
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) in a key real life story that there
is much more to say about.
also like how the film effortlessly goes form raw, rough footage to
smooth 35mm that always manages to match each other, not an easy
thing to do. Mario Van Peebles would challenge genre ideas in some
other films, but here, he makes his most honest picture to date and
now that we have a huge hit superhero franchise that shares the name
with the organization of the film, having this out on Blu-ray is more
important than ever.
making this film holdup so well is a truly remarkable cast that also
include Kadeem Hardison, Joe Don Baker, Angela Bassett (playing Dr.
Betty Shabazz, as she would in Spike Lee's Malcom X, just released in
4K by Criterion,) Bokeem Woodbine, Marcus Chong, singer Bobby Brown
in one o his only non-music works, Anthony Griffith, Nefertiti, Chris
Rock, James Russo, Michael Wincott, Wesley Johnathan, M. Emmet Walsh
and the ever-underrated Jenifer Lewis. Definitely see this if you
have not either ever before or for a long time.
only extras are trailers for other MVD/MGM Blu-ray releases,
including this one.
for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.33 X 1 black &
white, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition
image on Casablanca
has some great shots that are better than I have ever seen the film
before, but the lack of Dolby Vision and tendency for some shots to
be a bit darker than I would have liked hold the transfer back a bit.
Otherwise, it outdoes the already decent 1080p 1.33 X 1 black &
white digital High Definition image transfer on the regular Blu-ray
disc included here, rarely showing the age of the materials used.
The two make for interesting comparisons, but the film has received
special care for decades (Ted Turner was celebrated when he stuck new
black and white prints in what was hoped to be a reversal of his
silly colorization period) and it remains one of the all-time
Hollywood and Warner gems.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Panther
can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a
transfer to all previous releases of the film despite being from what
looks like an older HD master. Being shot totally on film, it has a
realism and density that is a plus for it and increases its
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Euphoria
episodes are consistent and well-styled, but a little too soft on
this older DVD format, so that disappoints a bit and makes the good
visual work harder to enjoy. Otherwise, its still one fo the most
distinct-looking TV shows on cable or otherwise.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Casablanca
is the same on both disc versions included, sounding as well as a
monophonic film from the period can, with enough clarity and
articulation to be able to enjoy it. This is as good as this film
will likely ever sound.
PCM 2.0 Stereo on Panther
is from the Dolby SR (Spectral Recording, their more advanced analog
noise reduction system) tracks with Pro Logic surrounds, but they can
sound about a generation down. The film is often only listed as an
SR film, but the end credits and from its original release, it was
also a Dolby Digital film, so a 5.1 mix exists. Considering the
extensive use of music and some additionally interesting sound
editing and sound design, if they get around to doing a 4K edition,
they should see if Peebles wants to do a sonic upgrade to DTS: X
and/or Dolby Atmos. The sound is there. Otherwise, this sounds
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 plays better than the image on the Euphoria
episodes, but is still held back by the compression of the older
codec, though you can tell much work has been done to record, mix and
edit each show. Maybe we'll get a lossless versions later.