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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Teens > Drama > Melodrama > Politics > Biopic > No Hard Feelings (2023/Sony Blu-ray)

Film Focus Jennifer Connelly (Career Opportunities/Waking The Dead/House Of Sand And Fog) + Jessica Lange (Frances/Crimes Of The Heart/Music Box/Losing Isaiah/1982 - 2003/Via Vision/Imprint Blu-ray Box Sets)/No Hard Feelings (2023/Sony Blu-ray)

Picture: B (Frances, Losing, Box, Hard: B-) Sound: B- (Frances: C+, House, Waking, Hard: B) Extras: B- (Hard: C) Films: C+ (Career: C, Frances: B-)

PLEASE NOTE: The Jennifer Connelly and Jessica Lange 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.

Jennifer 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.

Starting 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:

Bryan Gordon' Career Opportunities (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.

What 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.

Keith Gordon's Waking The Dead (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.

Sadly, 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.

Vadim Perelman's House 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 reasons.

Of 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.

Graeme Clifford's Frances (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!

As 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.

Bruce Beresford's Crimes 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 bit much.

Other 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.

Costa-Gavras's Music Box (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.

Written by the usually exploitative Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Showgirls) 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.

Finally we have another highly promoted film that the studio thought could be a big hit with Oscar buzz, Stephen Gyllenhaal's Losing Isaiah (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.

She 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.

Gyllenhaal's 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.

David 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.

Extras 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.

Gene 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 with.

Stuck 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 it safe.

The 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.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the disc adds:

  • Outtakes & Bloopers

  • A Motley Crew: Meet the Characters

  • A Little Wrong: Making No Hard Feelings.

Now for 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 Box and Career Opportunities are 2.35 X 1 in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision, while Losing Isaiah and House Of Sand And Fog are 1.78 X 1. Frances, Box and Isaiah are a little more on the weak side at times, but all tend to have solid color.

Most 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 The Dead and House 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.

The 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 and mixed.

To order either of the import Blu-ray box sets for Jennifer Connelly and/or Jessica Lange, go to to the following links for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:

Jennifer Connelly


Jessica Lange


- Nicholas Sheffo


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