Eyes Off Me (2021*)/A Bag Of Marbles (2017*)/Chess
Story (2021*)/Return To Paradise (1998/ViaVision/Imprint
Region Free Import Blu-ray)/200 Meters (2020/*all Film
Movement DVDs)/Women Talking (2022/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)
C/C/C/B/C+/B & C+ Sound: C+/C+/C+/B-/C+/B & C Extras:
C/C-/C/B-/B-/D Films: C+/B-/C+/C+/B-/C+
Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at ViaVision
Entertainment in Australia, can play on all 4K and Blu-ray player and
can be ordered from the link below.
for some new drama releases, mostly imports, one Oscar winner and a
start with Hadas Ben Aroya's All
Eyes Off Me
a young woman (Elishelva Weil) getting pregnant by her lover Max, but
keeps missing telling him while getting involved with an older man,
as Max has another girlfriend, Avishag. The latter relationship
involves cold, rough sexual fantasies, et al, and the result is all
involved here are in pretty toxic relationships and conditions.
80 minutes, the film does not get the chance to wallow in this
melodrama much, but it also does not get much of a chance to develop
anything new with it or any kind of character study. Cheers to the
actors for daring to take on the subject matter and a few moments
ring both true and sad, but overall, the film does not really work or
deliver in ways it thinks it was. For the most interested viewer
include the short film Daddy's
by Lena Hudson and trailers.
Bag Of Marbles
(2017) is one of those films that is aimed at children and family
audiences, yet is about a serious subject. This one has a
ten-year-old young Jewish boy with his family in France when the
Nazis invade. Living in Paris, he is unaware of exactly what is
going on and when playing marbles, trades his yellow star for a
marble, which could give them all away or cause other troubles.
troubles already mounting and the beginning of a long nightmare, the
family knows they have to escape or expect the worst. Thew twist is
they send him and his brother alone to a so-called 'free zone' hoping
it will up their chances of survival. Of course, this may seem
unwise in one sense, but the situation was so sickening and awful,
maybe not as bad as it might first sound.
was on the fence with this one, not finding it very memorable in
general, but having some good moments and though it could have gone
very bad very quickly, it at least managed to take its situation
seriously and not hit any major false notes. Based on Joseph Joffo's
autobiographical novel, looks like they stuck to it. Worth a look
for those interested.
trailer is the only extra.
(2021) also involved the Nazis, this time as Dr. Joseph Bartok (a
fine performance by Oliver Masucci) in 1938 Vienna tries to flee to
the United states as the Nazis invade, he used to be a notary for the
rich elite there and they want any information he has, then is locked
up when he says no. A book on great chess matches comes into his
possession and he gets focused on that versus his potentially grim
are parts of this that worked and I liked the performances and
invoking of the period, though some of the CGI visuals were too
lacking by any standard, but I did not buy the ending and felt we've
seen a little too much of this before. It even reminded me of
Gilliam's cut of Brazil
(1984) a bit, but it is worth a look for those interested. Just
include the short film Der
by Christoph Daniel & Marc Schmidheiny and trailers.
(1998) is a very mixed film, starting with a filmmaker who was very
successful in teen-sploitation drive-in films from the 1970s into the
early 1980s, trying to become more serious and 'legitimate; as it
were in a production that was part of a strange, brief-lived studio
and was not the hit that was hoped for despite some solid talent
Vaughn and David Conrad play friends visiting Malaysa, in possession
of illegal drugs, that land up with a fellow-partier, played by
Joaquin Phoenix in an impressive performance, but it is he who gets
arrested long after the other guys have returned home to The United
States. A few years later, a reporter (the late, underrated Anne
Heche) discovers the government has arrested and imprisoned the guy
left behind and tells the guys at home they need to go back and help
free him. She'll even join them.
course, this sounds like Alan Parker's Midnight
(1978, reviewed elsewhere on this site) but is never as gritty,
palpable, believable, dark or edgy. That film was written by Oliver
Stone and this by the still-solid Wesley Strict and Bruce Robinson.
Maybe they were trying to do different things here to avoid the
similarities, as that older film takes place in Turkey, plus this was
based on a french film a few years older.
love story between Heche and Vaughn never worked and it looks much
worse now, while we get one of the many odd supporting turns at the
time by the now-infamous Jada Pinkett-Smith which seemed a bit
contrived then and seems more disposable than ever now. That is not
totally on her, but...
course, we get some great visual shots throughout no matter where it
was lensed, but now more than ever, it is a curio and especially also
being a pre-9/11 release, odder still. If you can handle all that
and are really interested, that would be the only reason to see it.
last point, this was one fo the few major releases of the short-lived
Polygram Studios, the then-independent mini-major arm of
then-independent Polygram Records, encouraged by all the hits and
success they had with Universal Pictures with their Gramercy Pictures
shingle. However, the guys running it got rude, smart and ignorant
with Robert Altman over his underrated mystery movie The
that he made for that studio form a John Grisham story that had never
did not like his cut, which was just fine, or the way test audiences
reacted. They took the film out of his hands, kept recutting it and
retesting it, getting worse results each time. They gave up and let
him have his cut, but were so spiteful, they just dumped the film.
The Hollywood talent of the time were not happy, retaliated by not
working with them and the company never really got off the ground and
even had some bombs.
final nail in the coffin was when MCA/Universal bought Polygram and
megred the two companies. The guys running the mini-studio said they
were going to keep making films no matter what. Soon after, they
were let go and the studio folded. That is why Universal owns their
small catalog now.
along the border of where Palestine and Israel meet, 200 Meters
(2020) is a drama that tells the story of a Palestinian construction
worker with a family in Israel, a mere 200 meters across the border
(a literal wall) from where he lives on the West Bank in Palestine.
Mustafa (portrayed by Ali Suliman), establishes a routine with his
wife, Salwa, and children that allows for him to work in Palestine,
spend the evenings afterwards with them, and then say goodnight
across the border in the most unconventional of ways.
arrangement seems to work, until Mustafa cannot get back across the
border due to an expired work visa; his documents are seized and he
must stay the weekend in Palestine. While frustrating and certainly
inconvenient, it's not really an issue until he receives word that
his son has been injured and, upon realizing he cannot cross the
border at the checkpoint as he normally would, sets off to find
alternate ways of transport across the border to be reunited with his
majority of the rest of film is actually set in a series of vehicles,
as Mustafa has hired a smuggler to transport him - along with several
others - across the border. Tensions rise among the various
caravanners: Anne (portrayed by Anna Unterberger), Kifah (portrayed
by Motaz Malhees), Mustafa himself, and others as they continue their
treacherous journey, never knowing what the next moment will bring.
the film has a thriller-like feel to it at times, with gripping
moments heightening both the dramatic and the more mundane moments
enough to keep the viewer engaged and invested in the characters'
successes... ultimately, viewers want Mustafa to make it across the
border. A modern-day odyssey of sorts, the plot line of 200
Meters is perhaps strongest when looked at as a contemplation
piece, because it causes the viewer to reflect. It's not overly
dramatic or thrilling, but it is a real-life artistic
expression of life under occupation, and viewers wonder... what would
it be like for me?
film is in Arabic, mostly, with sections of Hebrew and English, and
includes English subtitles. A Film Movement film, it runs for a
total of 96 minutes.
include trailers, a Feature-Length Audio Commentary track with
director Ameen Nayfeh and the bonus short film The Crossing,
also directed by Ameen Nayfeh (Palestine | Arabic with English
subtitles | 10 minutes:) Three siblings anxious to visit their ailing
grandfather on the other side of the Palestine-Israel border
encounter difficulties at the checkpoint.
(2022) surprised as few people by winning the Best Adapted Screenplay
Academy Award and I can buy that, especially because that is the
highliught of a film that is a bit off and, at least in this format,
was not happy with the visuals of at all. She also has a great cast
with the likes of Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Judith Ivey, Ben Wishlaw,
Frances McDormand and Jesse Buckley, so they work and are good here.
the aspect ratio framing has to be as wide as Khartoum
the Heston versions, is a strange choice that backfires a bit and
makes the events distracting as the ultra-wide frame is on the wasted
side. The result is a good film, but not a great one, though I need
to see a solid 4K version before I make my final judgment on it, but
the idea that these women could even talk under suppressed conditions
and that it was happening in recent years is making a statement.
for playback performance. Despite being the oldest entry here, the
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Paradise looks
the best, is the only one shot on photochemical film (35mm) and the
HD master is in decent shape from decent 35mm materials. The 1080p
2.76 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Talking is
a new HD shoot that looks a little odd here and 'almost' black &
white, but not exactly. Since this is not a 4K release, it might
look much better that way the remake of Dune did in 4K versus
the almost washed-out Blu-ray, which could not handle its advanced
films also offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but
Paradise adds a PCM 2.0 Stereo mix that is a little better,
convincing and naturalistic. The anamorphically enhanced Talking
DVD is all the more weak and its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix does not
allow us to hear the 'talking' as well.
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 images (save 1.85 X 1 on Eyes)
are a little on the soft side, possibly because it was shot on older
HD cameras whose quality did not age well or were/was not good to
begin with. Meters seems a little better, but not by much.
As for the sound on Eyes (Hebrew,) Marbles and Chess
(German,) we get both lossy
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Marbles
offers a multi-lingual track including English, German, Yiddish and
Russian. The mixes are about even and play just fine, but maybe a
lossless version would sound better in all cases and Meters is
just lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and as
good as any of the other DVDs.
order the Return
import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and many more exclusive
releases, starting at:
Nicholas Sheffo and Christen Stroh (Meters)