Focus Jennifer Connelly
Of Sand And Fog)
Of The Heart/Music
- 2003/Via Vision/Imprint Blu-ray Box Sets)/No
B-) Sound: B- (Frances:
B) Extras: B- (Hard:
C) Films: C+ (Career:
Import Blu-rays sets are now only available from our friends at Via
Vision Entertainment in Australia, can play on all
4K and Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the links below.
Connelly, Jessica Lange and now Jennifer Lawrence, have
been respected actresses who have had their commercial successes and
more than a few awards to go with plenty of critical acclaim, but
their films sometimes tend to be forgotten, even as they continue to
work today. Two new box sets devoted to Connelly and Lange corrects
that, whether the films worked or not, while Lawrence's latest film
comes after her big risk with Aranofsky's mother
befell a strange critical and commercial it would not have in the
1970s or other more mature time for cinema.
with the two box sets, certainly, some of the got top rate promotion
at the time from their respective studios. Here are all seven films
between the two sets:
(1991) is a John Hughes-produced comedy with Frank Whaley as a
schemer who thinks he's slick, but cannot hold a job. His latest
attempt is at a retail chain (larger now than when the film was
released) where he finds a pretty young gal (Connelly) sleeping there
overnight (pre-surveillance camera era?) and starts to fall for her.
could have been a funny film with some likable actors is really a
83-minute ad for the Target chain, dating very badly and being the
gaudier side of the 1980s, even with Dermot and Kieran Mulroney
showing up. Too bad, because Whaley shows he can carry a film, even
one this way off. His career continued, but this likely hurt him
being a lead actor afterwards.
(2000) has Connelly opposite the also-underrated Billy Crudup, a man
with a political past and one that resurfaces as they get to know
each other. The recreation of the 1970s is not bad, but the film is
more interested in its melodrama than dealing with his actual
politics, which hurts the film ultimately.
they have some chemistry, but the screenplay holds them all back. It
also has Hal Holbrook and an early performance by Sandra Oh, plus
Janet McTeer, Molly Parker and Paul Hipp, but it never really gels.
Now you can see for yourself.
Of Sand And Fog
(2003) was a film many critics ranted and raved about being great,
but it was a critical and commercial disappointment and I was no fan,
re-reminded of why because so much of this is so run-on and weak that
even good acting by the likes of Ben Kingsley does not save it as an
Iranian Colonel buying her house as she is losing it for financial
course, Iran and the U.S. are political opponents (something that has
only become worse since the film's release) and the film asks many
questions that allude to that split, but also to house and home.
However, it drags it all out so much as if that makes it more
profound and I never bought it. Shohreh Aghdashloo actually steals a
few scenes as his wife and the likes of Ron Eldard, Frances Fisher
and Kim Dickens round out the cast nicely enough. An acquired taste
only, if that.
(1982) has Jessica Lange in an early role as the troubled actress
Frances Farmer, who had a tough life, controlled childhood, mental
illness issues when no one knew what that hardly was or what could
best be done about it and all while taking on the Hollywood of the
1950s as she also gets blacklisted!
relevant as ever, she is amazing and the supporting cast is really
good, the period recreated very well, but it can still be uneven at
times. Otherwise, its definitely worth seeing at least once and she
is joined by Sam Shepard, Jonathan Banks and some other actors you
may more likely recognize by their faces than names.
Of The Heart
(1986) is based on the famous hit stage play and has Lange with Sissy
Spacek and Diane Keaton as sisters in the deep south dealing with
their lives, hopes, men, dreams and each other. It is good and they
have some chemistry, but even though it was based on the real life of
author Beth Henley, I did not always buy it and some of it becomes a
parts are obvious and it can be very trying after about an hour of
this, but if it is your kind of thing, you'll want to see it,
especially so nicely restored with the bunch of extras you get. I
should add that I am not Beresford's biggest fan.
(1989) was highly touted as a big Oscar contender with the highly
reputable, political director teaming up with Lange, whose father
(Armin Mueller-Stahl) suddenly finds himself accused of being a Nazi
in hiding! His lawyer daughter (Lange) is convinced he is not and
defends him in what turns into quite the courtroom drama.
by the usually exploitative Joe Eszterhas (Basic
and more about his person life than anyone knew at the time, the film
has some good acting, but it is a simple mystery of is he guilty or
not. Lange is great here, but it runs into trouble early and even
beyond its screenplay, so it suddenly did not fare as well
commercially or critically, but it was at least somewhat ambitious.
Too bad I was disappointed then and now.
we have another highly promoted film that the studio thought could be
a big hit with Oscar buzz, Stephen Gyllenhaal's Losing
(1995) with Lange as a doctor who takes a young child of color home
when it has been apparently abandoned in a set of garbage cans.
Little does anyone know that the mother (an early, effective Halle
Berry performance) is a drug addict who was unconscious when she lost
her title child.
gets a lawyer (Samuel L. Jackson, also solid in an earlier
performance) to get her baby back and the fight ensues with the
unfortunate racial and socio-economic divisions attached to it all no
matter whether they like it or not. That is provocative and now a
time capsule about how some things have definitely changed, but
sadly, how others remain the same.
directing is actually excellent and he did not get enough credit for
what he pulled off here, but it was still too controversial for its
time in many ways, though the ending is the real culprit here
ultimately and should have been way more well thought out. Maybe had
this been made in the 1970s, it would have been and we'd be talking
about this as at least a minor classic.
Strathairn, Cuba Gooding Jr., Joie Lee and Regina Taylor are among a
cast that really puts out the energy to make this as believable as
they could. Definitely worth revisiting, flaws and all.
are extensive and listed at the links below, but most extras are
brand new and joining some Original Theatrical Trailers and archival
interviews are a set of new featurettes, mostly vintage
feature-length audio commentary tracks (though two of the Lange films
get new ones) and some other vintage clips. The Connelly
set comes with a nice booklet on her and her films.
Stupinsky's No Hard Feelings (2023) is a throwback to the
kinds of comedies we used to get all the time before political
correctness and other shallow events kicked into our censorship-crazy
current culture started ruining things. Jennifer Lawrence plays a
woman who is just not in control of her life and has not quite grown
up, about to loose her car for non-payments with a two truck operated
(coincidentally) by her ex-boyfriend who see still cannot be honest
without transportation, she starts skating around town to get things
done and find more work, which leads her to babysitting a young
19-year-old man (Andrew Barth) for a wealthy couple, the kind of
break she needs. Of course, she'll find a way to mess this one up
too, not being the best role model and worse. Too bad the film plays
set-up wishes it was a big, funny comedy (the father of the young man
is played by Matthew Broderick, but this is no match for his
breakthrough hit Ferris Bueller's Day Off by a longshot) made
worse by the fact that Lawrence has the energy, comic timing and more
(taking a few risks here, but in different ways) that get wasted on a
flat screenplay and uninspired directing. The missed opportunities
keep piling up in its 103 minutes, though this is only the R-rated
film. An unrated/uncut/NC-17 version would have to be really
different and better for this all to work, but there are at least a
few chuckles here. Too bad it makes for a disappointing film.
include Digital Copy, while the disc adds:
playback performance. All seven films are from 2K scans and while
some look good, some look surprisingly exceptional and are all here
in 1080p High Definition. Most are 1.85 X 1 being dramas for the
most part, but Music
are 2.35 X 1 in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision, while Losing
Of Sand And Fog
are 1.78 X 1. Frances,
are a little more on the weak side at times, but all tend to have
of the films come out of the era of analog Dolby System stereo, so
most of the soundtracks here are in PCM 2.0 Stereo and sound about as
good as they can, but Frances
sounds a little weaker, due to its age, dialogue-based nature and
being the oldest film here. Waking
Of Sand And Fog
both have solid DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, while
the later has PCM 2.0 Stereo that is passable, but not as good.
Unless someone wants to spend more money restoring Frances,
I do not think these films will ever sound better than they do here.
1.85 X 1 1080p High Definition image on Hard
is a little soft, the only digital HD shoot here and could have
looked better, though maybe a future 4K release will correct this,
while the DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is better with a consistent
soundfield, some good music and dialogue/jokes that are well recorded
order either of the
import Blu-ray box sets for Jennifer
go to to the following links for them and many more great