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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Teens > Brazil > Sexuality > Sweden > Anti-Semetism > City Of God (2002*)/Lucas Moodysson Collection (1998 - 2013/including Show Me Love and Mammoth/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray set)/School Ties (1992/Paramount/*both ViaVision/Imprint Import Blu-ray)

City Of God (2002*)/Lucas Moodysson Collection (1998 - 2013/including Show Me Love and Mammoth/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray set)/School Ties (1992/Paramount/*both ViaVision/Imprint Import Blu-ray)

Picture: B-/B-/B Sound: C+/B-/B Extras: B-/B/B- Films: B-

PLEASE NOTE: The City Of God and School Ties Import Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at ViaVision Entertainment in Australia, can play on all 4K and Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the links below.

Now for some import dramas, some with comedy...

We start with a slightly upgraded edition of Fernando Meirelles' City Of God (2002) with its raw look at children growing up in the toughest, poorest slums in Rio de Janeiro, we written and acted by a group of unknown actors and extras that deliver a density that makes you feel like you are there at times. Aging well enough, despite some down moments, we reviewed the U.S. Blu-ray at this link:


That includes a link to our coverage of the TV sequel, City Of Men. A film that still get talked about, but maybe less so being a victim of being stuck in the Miramax catalog (in the shadow of the Harvey Weinstein scandal still in court as we post this) has been (along with titles issued by The Weinstein Company) sadly unfair to hundreds of films (including a good few hundred to thousand and or so that were shelved and never released) that had so much critical and even commercial success. Don't let that stop you from seeing this, as it is definitely worth a look, no matter your final reaction.

Extras repeat the hour-long News From A Personal War, which shows more of the real life stories that inspired the film including some amazing footage of its own, then adds an Original Theatrical Trailer and A Conversation with Fernando Meirelles featurette.

The Lucas Moodysson Collection (1998 - 2013) features all of the successful Swedish director's feature films to date, from his raw independent films to experimental films to mainstream success. Also working on TV projects (like Ingmar Bergman occasionally did,) his first three films (Show Me Love aka F#%!king Amal (1998,) Together (2000, about a commune in the 1970s) and Lilya-4-Ever (2002, which starts in Russia and lands up involving child sexual exploitation) dealt with youth sexuality and young people discovering they are gay, A Hole In My Heart (2004) and Container (2006) are more experimental films that are not as successful, then he had the mainstream hit Mammoth (2009) with Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams that was his independent breakthrough and and We Are The Best! (2013) with young gals starting a punk band in Stockholm in the 1980s.

Whether he is an auteur or not is debatable, but he is a filmmaker who has been very consistent in making non-commercial films. Though the way sexuality is portrayed where the coming of age children are concerned has some honesty to it, there are two issues I had here. The first ism, is it too much in the way of sex and in the cases where some of the child characters become gay, just because they do not show initial interest in the opposite sex does not automatically mean they are gay. Depending on the situation, could they be bored, confused or even depressed and still need some time to grow, understand and adjust? Those points would take a separate essay or two to cover, though some of the many extras do touch upon them to their credit. The films never cross any major lines in either respect, but his films are also about so much more, including gay adults as well, plus Sweden and its culture, so that is enough to give them all a good look if you are interested. This is top rate treatment for his dramatic feature film catalog to date, so Arrow delivers again.

Extras are many and thorough, including new video interviews with Lukas Moodysson and other cast and crew, moderated by film programmer Sarah Lutton

  • A 200-page hardback book featuring new writing by Peter Walsh, excerpts from the original press kits for each film, including interviews with and directors' statements from Moodysson, and essays on his films from a 2014 special issue of the Nordic culture journal Scandinavica by C. Claire Thomson, Helga H. Luthersdottir, Elina Nilsson, Scott MacKenzie & Anna Westerstahl Stenport and Kjerstin Moody

Disc One:

  • 2K restoration by the Swedish Film Institute, approved by director Lukas Moodysson and cinematographer Ulf Brantas

  • New interview with Lukas Moodysson

  • New interview with star Alexandra Dahlstrom

  • Did You Know She's A Lesbian?, an appreciation by Dr. Clara Bradbury Rance, author of Lesbian Cinema After Queer Theory

  • Talk (Bara prata lite), a short film directed by Moodysson in 1997

  • Theatrical trailer

  • Image gallery

Disc Two:

  • 4K restoration by the Swedish Film Institute from the original camera negative, approved by director Lukas Moodysson and cinematographer Ulf Brantas

  • New interview with Lukas Moodysson

  • New interview with script supervisor Malin Fornander

  • New interview with editor Michal Leszczylowski

  • Deleted scenes

  • Theatrical trailer

  • Image gallery

Disc Three:

  • New interview with Lukas Moodysson

  • New interview with costume designer Denise Ostholm

  • Guardian Interview with Lukas Moodysson, a Q&A with the director filmed at the London Film Festival in 2002

  • Theatrical trailer

  • Image gallery

Disc Four:

  • New interviews with Lukas Moodysson on both films

  • Lukas Moodysson Masterclass, an interview with the director filmed at London's National Film & Television School in 2004

  • A Hole in My Second Heart, a behind-the-scenes featurette from 2004

  • Swedish and English narration options for Container

  • Inside the Container Crypt, a 2007 featurette on the themes of Container

  • Theatrical trailers and image galleries for both films

Disc Five:

  • New interview with Lukas Moodysson

  • New interview with line producer Malte Forssell

  • Promotional interviews with Moodysson and Gael Garcia Bernal from 2009

  • Theatrical trailer

  • Image gallery

Disc Six:

  • New interview with Lukas Moodysson

  • New interview with cinematographer Ulf Brantas

  • A New Expression, a look at the background to the film by Swedish punk historian David Andersson

  • Q&A from the 2013 London Film Festival screening, featuring Moodysson and stars Liv LeMoyne and Mira Barkhammar

  • Theatrical trailer

  • and an Image Gallery.

Last but not least is Robert Mandel's School Ties (1992) with a cast of then young unknowns, many of whom later became stars. Brendan Fraser is a young man accepted and attending a major university he has managed to get into, but he does not put his religious business out in the street. He is Jewish and when this finally becomes known, he experiences anti-Semitism that was shocking in the 1950s when the film takes place, when the film was originally released and has a whole new relevance (sadly) as this new edition makes it to Blu-ray.

For its moderate budget, it manages to be highly successful in capturing its period (films cost less to make then, hard as it is to believe) and his classmates are played by Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell, Ben Affleck, Amy Locane, Cole Hauser and Anthony Rapp, with Peter Donat, Kevin Tighe, Ed La
uter and Zeljko Ivanek rounding out the remarkable cast.

To their credit, the actors have to play the students in a hateful way that is thankless, but the result is realistic enough and convincing, even if the film is not a breakthrough. Like American Graffiti and Dazed & Confused, it is one of those films where the cast featured multiple breakout actors and stars, the kind of film we are disturbingly not getting enough of now. Frazer proved up front that he could go a few rounds with anyone acting-wise, though h e ironically had insane amounts of commercial blockbusters to his name before personal issues 9and him being sexually harassed) derailed his great career before his recent comeback.

Mandell is a solid director (he launched The X-Files by helming its first pilot episode before directing this film) and this remains his best feature film work, but cheers to Sherry Lansing, a super-producer of the time who was on such a roll that shew eventually became president of Paramount Pictures for many very successful years. School Ties has aged very well and will surprise those who have never seen it or have not seen it in a long time. Glad to see it get such deluxe treatment.

Extras are many, including a NEW Audio commentary by filmmaker / film historian Jim Hemphill that was just recorded for this release,

a Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1,500 copies and from the archives:

  • an Interview with actor Matt Damon (1992)

  • Interview with actor Brendan Fraser (1992)

  • Interview with producer Sherry Lansing (1992)

  • Interview with actor Chris O'Donnell (1992)

  • and an Interview with director Robert Mandel (1992)

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on City looks like the same exact HD master used on the old Lionsgate/Miramax U.S. Blu-ray we covered a few years ago and it is passable, but a 4K version down the line would be nice, especially with its combination of 35mm and 16mm film. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix sounds a little weaker than that older U.S. Blu-ray, but we get a PCM 2.0 Stereo mix that has some detail to it the DTS seems to lack.

The 1080p image qualities on the Moodysson set are usually 1.85 X 1 and color (Container is in black & white, while Mammoth is a Super 35mm shoot at 2.35 X 1) with the films looking as good as they can in the format, though Heart and Mammoth are the most off visually due to their experimentation. All films are digital sound releases, save Show Me Love, which was originally a Dolby SR film, but all are here in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes. They show their age and budgets in this respect, plus there can be moments of silence or the films are dialogue-based, so only expect so much from the audio. Mammoth is when the films sound more to date, but we gather is is as good as they will ever sound.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on School Ties looks like a new HD master and impresses like nothing I have seen of the film since its original 35mm theatrical release. This is a nicely shot, consistent-looking film that is a little underrated for its consistency, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes sound about as good as they can for a film of this age, one of the last pre-theatrical digital sound film releases. This one was apparently older Dolby A-type analog sound, not the newer SR (Spectral Recording) analog noise reduction system.

To order either of the import Blu-rays, go to these links:

City Of God


School Ties


- Nicholas Sheffo


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