Thursday, September 23, 2021

13 Washington Square (1928) Kino Classic Blu Ray Review

13 Washington Square (1928) Kino Classics 9/28/2021

Directed By: Melville W. Brown 

Starring: Jean Hersholt, Alice Joyce 




Disclaimer: Kino Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


     Though not a household name, director Melville Brown was considered a pioneer in silent cinema. 13 Washington Square (1928) comes at the tail end of the silent film era when talkies came and became the mainstay. Based on the play of the same name, the movie follows a headstrong snobbish mother named Mrs. De Peyster (Alice Joyce) who will stop at nothing to keep her son from marrying a "common woman". To this end she cooks up a scheme to keep this from happening. 

        I have to say that this was a pretty fun little movie. The comedy is very board here but everything was in the silent era. Things were played big because thats what people were use to for plays. There is also a faux-haunted house vibe that also makes for some fun gags. I'm also down for some in a creaky old haunted house hijinks which this movie provides plenty 

     It also has something to say about elitist's and class-divide, something that would be more relevant the following year with the Great Depression hitting America. It's also interesting to see this is a proto-Universal horror (though its pure comedy) as it makes a meal out of its spooky setting and is chocked full of atmosphere. As for the plot, its very fast moving and at only 70 minutes the movie wastes no time in getting into the thick of things. 

Though with a lot of movies from this era you have to suspend a lot of disbelief in order to embrace the narrative. And, you know what? I'm okay with that. 13 Washington Square is a lean little movie with some nice twists and turns. Certainly worth checking out. 


Picture: Sporting a brand-new 4k transfer 13 Washington Square is another marvelous restoration from Universal pictures. The nearly one-hundred year old movie is staggering in just how sharp and crisp it looks. Though some slight noise and artifacts are to be expected even in the best of clean up for the most part this is a nearly pristine looking film. Grain is present but smoothed and you can tell that  alot of care went into the original film elements. You can also see a lot of details in locales, sets and costumes. 

Sound: Includes a score by Tom Howe. 

Extras: Extras for 13 Washington Square includes a commentary by film historian Nora Fiore. Fiore provides a insightful and highly engaging track which I quite enjoyed. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Warner Bros DC R-Rated Injustice: Gods Among Us Trailer is Here!

Warner Bros DC R-Rated Injustice: Gods Among Us Trailer is Here! 


 Inspired by Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios’ popular video game, and the best-selling DC graphic novel based on the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor, the animated film Injustice stars Justin Hartley (This is Us, Smallville) and Anson Mount (Star Trek Discovery, Hell on Wheels) as Superman and Batman, respectively. 



Please note: this trailer is R-rated and meant for a mature audience. 

Link HERE

About the Movie: 

Justin Hartley (This is Us, Smallville) and Anson Mount (Star Trek Discovery, Hell on Wheels) lead the Injustice all-star cast as Superman and Batman, respectively. The massive cast also includes Janet Varney (The Legend of Korra, You’re The Worst) as Wonder Woman, Brandon Micheal Hall (God Friended Me) as Cyborg, Kevin Pollak (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) as Joker & Jonathan Kent, Anika Noni Rose (The Princess and the Frog, The Good Wife, Dreamgirls) as Catwoman, Reid Scott (Veep, Venom) as Green Arrow & Victor Zsasz, Edwin Hodge (The Tomorrow War, Mayans M.C.) as Mr. Terrific & Killer Croc, Gillian Jacobs (Community, Invincible) as Harley Quinn, Oliver Hudson (Rules of Engagement, Nashville) as Plastic Man, Laura Bailey (Critical Role, Avengers Assemble) as Lois Lane & Rama Kushna, Faran Tahir (Iron Man, Star Trek) as Ra’s al Ghul, Derek Phillips (Friday Night Lights, 42) as Nightwing & Aquaman, Yuri Lowenthal (Ben 10 franchise, Young Justice, RWBY) as Mirror Master, Flash & Shazam, Zach Callison (Steven Universe, The Goldbergs) as Damian & Jimmy Olsen, Brian T. Delaney (Fortnite, Batman Unlimited) as Green Lantern, Fred Tatasciore (Family Guy, American Dad!) as Captain Atom, and Andrew Morgado (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) as Mirror Master Soldier.


Matt Peters (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War) directs Injustice from a screenplay by Ernie Altbacker (Batman: Hush). Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) is Producer and Alyessa Ornelas (Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge) is Associate Producer. Producer is Rick Morales (Mortal Kombat Legends franchise). Sam Register is Executive Producer.

The Injustice 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc featuring the film in hi-definition, and a digital version of the movie. The Blu-ray features a Blu-ray disc with the film in hi-definition and a digital version of the movie.


Catch a sneak peek at Injustice when DC FanDome, the ultimate global fan experience, returns on Saturday, October 16 at 10 a.m. PDT, with an all-new, epic streaming event. The free virtual event will once again welcome fans from around the world to immerse themselves in the DC Multiverse at DCFanDome.com and celebrate the stars and creators of their favorite feature films, live-action and animated television series, games, comics, home entertainment releases and more. DC FanDome 2021 will also be available on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, giving fans more ways to watch the events unfolding in DC FanDome’s Hall of Heroes. 



InjusticeSpecial Features

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital

  

Adventures in Storytelling – Injustice: Crisis and Conflict (New Featurette) – The storytellers behind the new Injustice animated film discuss how all the intense drama and unabashed action was brought to life.


  • DC Universe Movies Flashback

  • The Death of Superman

  • Reign of the Supermen


  • From the DC Vault

    • Justice League – Injustice For All, Part I

    • Justice League – Injustice For All, Part II


Looking for a refresher course on animated Super Hero entertainment before seeing Injustice? HBO Max has a rich catalog of DC Universe Movies and DC-centric films and series.


Injustice will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.


Basil Dearden's Masquerade (1965) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Masquerade (1965) Kino Studio Classics 9/28/2021

Directed By: Basil Dearden  

Starring: Cliff Robertson, Jack Hawkins, Marisa Mell, Charles Gray



Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


      Basil Dearden is by no means a household name, especially in the US but has some pretty interesting films to his credit including a segment for the amazing Brit. horror anthology Dead of Night (1945) and the incredibly daring film Victim (1961) which was an early movie to deal with LGBTQ subject matter in a positive light. The British government sends an American war hero to kidnap and hid a child Prince in this farce. Masquerade is very much a swinging '60s Bond proof decades before Austin Power's came onto the pop-culture scene. 

    Dearden and some incredibly top notch screenwriters Michael Relph (The Man Who Haunted Himself) and two time Oscar winning writer William Goldman (The Princess Bride, All the Presidents Men) pen a comedy that is properly dry and sardonic. I love how this movie is a spoof is more nuanced and subtle in its parody. Indeed, it has a very tight plot filled with twists and turns that feel like they could perfectly live in a real Bond film from the era. But, of course Dearden provides plenty of cheeky humor at the expensive of both the British and American government. It also VERY '60s and fans of kitsch and the movie does camp it up at times. I also loved the moments of surrealism thrown in for good measure. Visually, the film is also really interesting and DP Otto Heller (who shot many excellent movies including 1960's Peeping Tom and The Lady Killers 1955) gives this film a further polish. 

The cast is also great with Cliff Roberston, Jack Hawkins and Marisa Mell all giving great performances. Also includes a fantastic supporting cast including cult icon Charles Gray (Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Devil Rides Out), Michel Piccoli (Contempt, Belle de Jour) giving this their all.  

A fast paced, dry humored send up of spy-thrillers that delivers on plot and performance not to mention visually interesting. A under loved movie that deserves to be re-discovered. 


Picture: Masquerade is sporting a new 2k scan and wow, this movie looks fantastic! Colors truly pop and are incredibly well balanced. There is an overall sharpness and retains a lot of detail in costumes, sets, locales. Artifacts have been cleaned up leaving a nearly pristine looking picture. Skin tones have a nice nature look. Really impressive and if you are a fan of this film (or a newcomer) I dont think this has ever looked this good on a home video format. This is great because, as I said in my review this movie is well shot, being handled by one of the best British cinematographers. 

Sound: Masquerade has a DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, score and sound design comes through quite nicely without any unwanted drop out issues or unwanted background noise. 

Extras: Extras include a commentary by Howard S. Berger and Chris Poggiali and a trailer for this film and others from Kino. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Paramount Presents #26 Breakdown (1997) Starring Kurt Russell Blu Ray Review

Breakdown (1997) Paramount Pictures 9/21/2021 

Directed By: Jonathan Mostow 

Starring: Kurt Russell, J.T Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan, M.C Gainey

Disclaimer: Paramount Pictures has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 



Other Previous Paramount Presents Reviews HERE:

Nashville HERE
Mommie Dearest HERE
48 Hrs.  HERE
Another 48 Hrs. HERE
Last Train from Gun Hill HERE

      Breakdown (1997) is a movie that seems to be a fan favorite from the mid-to-late '90s but one I had never seen until now. I also can't help but love Kurt Russell and bonus points for a movie with some nice wordplay. Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) and his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan) 'breakdown' on the side of the road. When Amy goes off to find help, and Jeff stays with the truck she never returns. What ensues is a twists and turns thriller as Jeff searches for his missing wife. 

     When researching for this review it seems that director Jonathan Mostow only notable pop-culture contribution to cinema was helm the dreadful Terminator 3 (2003) and, after that his work has been nothing that noteworthy. He seems to be a gun-for-hire working in different genres. But after seeing Breakdown it makes me bummed he didn't do more thrillers. Breakdown is a lean, mean little suspense outing that reminded me of Road Games (1981) meets The Lady Vanishes (1938). Indeed, it has a lot of Hitchcock in its themes and style. The overall film is incredibly paced with almost no filler, and everything is working to thrust the plot forward. DP Douglas Milsome (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves) gives Breakdown a polished look with interesting camera angles and further give this movie presence. 

    And, damned if you don't love a movie with Kurt Russell being a total badass. Russell has a charm that seems so perfect for the screen it almost feels lab-grown. His roguishly good looks and star power makes him a lot of fun to watch, especially when given material like this. J.T Walsh is a pretty chilling bad guy without ever over playing things. I also like how his character is showed having a wife and child, highlighting how seemingly "family men" can blend in. Character actors M.C Gainey and Jack Noseworthy are excellent as always. Kathleen Quinlan is good with what's a pretty thankless role. 

Breakdown is a '90s thriller that seems to have earned a cult status especially with a re-release from Imprint and now Paramount. If you, like me have slept on this movie, don't. It's not perfect but its a well oiled little thriller that delivers the goods. 

Picture: Paramount has been really crushing it with their back catalogue releases. Breakdown is presented in a stunning 4k transfer which was approved by director Jonathan Mostow. For fans of this film I cant imagine this ever looking this good. The movie has an overall clean, crisp look, especially with outdoor locales. Colors are also incredibly well balanced are has an good contrast. Paramount transfers also never look overly processed and, I can see why the director was pleased with this presentation. Grain is present but looks well managed as well. Darker lit scenes also highlight just how refreshed this new transfer is.  

Sound: Paramount also springs for a nice Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. This is a action thriller so your going to want a big bombastic sound presentation and this re-release does deliver the goods. The spacing for sound I thought was well done and it overall had a robust presence highlighted the more intense scenes, especially the films pulse pounding finale. 

Extras: Breakdown has a ton of new extras!

Filmmaker Focus: A New Interview with Director Jonathan Mostow 

Commentary by Jonathan Mostow and Kurt Russell

Victory is Hers: Kathleen Quinlan on Breakdown

A Brilliant Partnership - Martha De Laurentiis on Breakdown

Alternate Opening

Alternate Opening With Commentary By Director Jonathan Mostow

 Isolated Score

Trailer 


The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) Review

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

Directed By: Michael Showalter 

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Vincent D'Onfrio, 


Plot Summary: THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE is an intimate look at the extraordinary rise, fall and redemption of televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. In the 1970s and 80s, Tammy Faye and her husband, Jim Bakker, rose from humble beginnings to create the world’s largest religious broadcasting network and theme park, and were revered for their message of love, acceptance and prosperity. Tammy Faye was legendary for her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. However, it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled their carefully constructed empire.

 

      Looking back, Tammy Faye was probably one of the stranger icons of the ‘80s and’90s. Director Michael Showalter is tasked with peeling back the layers of makeup and the press driven caricature to showcase an in-depth character study. But did he succeed in telling a richly drawn bio-pic? For the most part, yes.  Interestingly, Showalter follows a music-bio-pic framework (though Faye was a singer with albums, so maybe that’s not a huge stretch). It starts in the present (which is 1994), before going before the public, then it flashes back to her childhood in the fifties which sets up her troubled history with her mother. Then we move forward to her meeting Jim Bakker, their break in television, etc. This framework is frankly kind of tiring, but it’s an easy and firmly established way to tell a person’s life story. The highs and lows are, again, probably pretty predictable: drug abuse, traumatic family issues, the intoxicating raise and utterly heartbreaking fall. Though I will say that it has some above-avenge writing to help keep it from becoming a snore-fest. 

      I actually felt like the more interesting aspect is how the film paints Jim Bakker. I assumed he was going to be the movies defacto-bad guy, a shady con man that believed in money over everything else. Rather, it paints Jim as a complicated man that was ultimately a good person who just made some very bad choices. Jerry Falwell Sr on the other hand (played with a nice subtly by Vincent D’Onofrio) is the real villain who is petty, jealous and ultimately vengeful of the Bakkers. Caught in the center is Tammy who is shown as an innocent girl from very humble roots that is literally thrust into the public and given it all just to have it taken away seemingly just as quickly. Even the unsupportive mother seems to have somewhat of a redemptive arc. Again, even if it never strays far from its biopic format, I couldn’t help but feel it told an engaging story that was paced well. Tammy Faye herself is such a fascinating and engaging figure that you cannot help but be transfixed for the 120 minutes of runtime. In fact, I thought we could have used a better epilogue to her story post-Bakker breakup. I also love how the movie doesn’t shy away from Tammy Faye and her activism and icon status within the LGBTQ+ community. In a very moving scene, we see her interview an AIDS patient (which has a payoff that will make you emotional if you have any kind of feelings). Its also heavily implied that Jim himself was a deeply closeted man. I’m glad that they realized that the LGBTQ+ community was and remains an important part of Tammy’s story and lasting legacy in pop culture.

      The glue or rather Aqua Net that holds this movie together is of course the cast. Holy crap! Jessica Chastain gives what is easily an Oscar worthy performance. These days, it is considered the norm for an actor to completely disappear into a role when playing a famous or historical person. Some work, but in a lot of cases, it just doesn’t. However, I totally lost the actor Chastain and I believed that Tammy was right up there on the silver screen in all her vivacious glory. It is at times damned uncanny to the point its almost eerie. I also respect the fact that the Chastain found a perfectly comfortable spot in terms of how big to take her. The end result is a nuanced performance that is filled with range, and thankfully is never a cheap SNL parody. The same can be said for Andrew Garfield. Whilst I feel like Garfield’s aged up makeup is, shall we say less convincing at times, his fantastic performance shines through. Though obviously not as splashy as Chastain’s role Garfield takes moments and makes them his own. The film also has a fantastic supporting cast including Cherry Jones, Vincent DOnofrio and Gabriel Olds.

     The Eyes of Tammy Faye is frankly a pretty standard bio-pic in terms of structure and plot beats. But it’s writing is solid enough to make for an engaging two-hour film rollercoaster of emotions. Not to mention being utterly spellbound by its lead performers. It might just lead to some mascara running by its finale.

My Original Review Posted HERE for Geek Vibes Nation 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Four NEW Horrifying Night of the Animated Dead Images! Comes to Home Video from Warner Bros. Oct 5th

 Four newly released images give greater insight into the mounting tension within Night of the Animated Dead, an animated remake of George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic coming to Digital tomorrow – Tuesday, September 21 – and to Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on October 5. 





 



The four new images spotlight nearly all of the key characters in the film: Ben (voiced by Dulé Hill), Barbara (Katharine Isabelle), Harry (Josh Duhamel), Helen (Nancy Travis), Tom (James Roday Rodriguez), Johnny (Jimmi Simpson) and Sheriff McClelland (Will Sasso).

VIOLATION on Blu Ray Sept 21st!

                                                    RLJE FILMS PRESENTS

 

VIOLATION

 

Available on Digital HD and Blu-ray on September 21, 2021




 

LOS ANGELES, (Aug. 23, 2021) – RLJE Films, a business unit of AMC Networks, has picked up select rights to the horror film, VIOLATION from Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural. RLJE Films will release VIOLATION on Digital HD and Blu-ray on September 21, 2021.


The feature screenwriting and directorial debut of Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty MancinelliVIOLATION stars Sims-Fewer along with Anna Maguire (Ever After: A Cinderella Story), Jesse LaVercombe (“Murdoch Mysteries”), and Obi Abili (21 Bridges, “Billions”). VIOLATION had its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival, International Premiere at Sundance Film Festival and screened at SXSW. Sims-Fewer received a TIFF Rising Star award for her performance. RLJE Films will release VIOLATION on Blu-ray for an SRP of $28.96.

 

In VIOLATION, with her marriage about to implode, Miriam (Sims-Fewer) returns to her hometown to seek solace in the comfort of her younger sister and brother-in-law. But one evening, a tiny slip in judgement leads to a catastrophic betrayal, leaving Miriam shocked, reeling, and furious. Believing her only recourse is to exact revenge, Miriam takes extreme action, but the price of retribution is high, and she is not prepared for the toll it takes as she begins to emotionally and psychologically unravel. 

 

Check out the trailer: https://youtu.be/Dx9Ok16g6aM

 

Bonus features on the DVD include:

      Meet the Filmmakers

      Toronto International Film Festival Introduction

 

Publicity Materials: 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/exey2jgncvyndhr/AAB2XquXsUEpBZqE-Wkbu-Qna?dl=0

 

We DO NOT have copies of VIOLATION available for review. We would appreciate inclusion of the title in your Digital HD and Blu-ray listings for September 21, 2021.

 

ABOUT RLJE FILMS

RLJE Films’ recent features include Color Out of Space starring Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson and written and directed by Richard Stanley; the critically acclaimed horror film The Dark And The Wicked from director Bryan Bertino; Steve Byrne’s The Opening Act from producers Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley; David Ayer’s The Tax Collector and Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Archenemy. Upcoming films include Sion Sono’s 2021 Sundance Film Festival premiere Prisoners of the Ghostland starring Nicolas Cage and Sofia Boutella; and David Oyelowo’s directorial debut The Water Man starring Oyelowo, Rosario Dawson and Lonnie Chavis.  us.rljentertainment.com.

 

ABOUT SHUDDER

AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. To experience Shudder commitment-free for 7 days, visit www.shudder.com

 

ABOUT AMC NETWORKS

AMC Networks is a global entertainment company known for its popular and critically-acclaimed content. Its portfolio of brands includes AMC, BBC AMERICA (operated through a joint venture with BBC Studios), IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, IFC Films, and a number of fast-growing streaming services, including the AMC+ premium streaming bundle, Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now and ALLBLK. AMC Studios, the Company’s in-house studio, production and distribution operation, is behind award-winning owned series and franchises, including The Walking Dead, the highest-rated series in cable history. The Company also operates AMC Networks International, its international programming business, and 25/7 Media, its production services business.



Rejoice! Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971) Warner Bros. UHD is Finally Here!

A Clockwork Orange (1971) Warner Bros. Entertainment 9/21/2021

Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Malcom McDowell, Patrick Magee, Warren Clarke, Adrienne Corri, Aubrey Morris 



Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Entertainment has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


     Stanley Kubrick's 1971 A Clockwork Orange was a movie that was and is a powerful, and for some a very disturbing watch. But, it has firmly cemented itself as an iconic '70s era film from what is considered a master craftsmen of cinema. The movie follows Alex (Malcom McDowell) and his droogs through their wild lifestyle. When a break-in goes horribly bad his droogs betray him, and leave him for the police. Thus begins a strange journey of experiments and philosophical exportation in this trippy, brutal experience. 

   I mean, what can be said about this movie that hasn't already? Its extremely well made with Kubrick at his peak of creativity and boldness. The movie is mean, and even nihilistic but it is nicely balanced with some very probing questions of choice, free will and what it means to be human. From a technical standpoint this film has Kubrick's standard incredibly visual style, amazing tracking shots and breathtaking set pieces along with a booming score. Considered too old for the role Malcom McDowell is utterly spellbinding as Alex. Prior and after McDowell has done a lot of awesome film and tv but he will always be remembered for this role. On a personal note I discovered this movie in high school and even read the book of which its based. 

    If I were forced to rank my all time favorite movies, I would have to have place Clockwork Orange in my top ten out of literally thousands upon thousands of movies I've viddy'd in my life. Its deep, its unflinching and was made by what I considered one of the greatest directors of the 20th century. This movie isn't going to be for everybody but I will just say there is a reason why its so iconic and still so powerful over forty years later. A writer for Blu-Ray.com called this "an ugly movie" which is to totally miss the point of both the book and the movie. Yes- this movie has ugly acts but it doesn't do it without having a point. 


Picture: First I want to say: This restoration has been in the works for literally years. It was also supervised by Kubrick's right hand man Leon Vitali.  In fact, Vitali mentions the restoration undertaking at the end of the 2017 documentary Filmworker. I always like to stress this fact because Warner Bros. doesn't do half measures with their UHD's especially their older titles. Having finally gotten to see the fruits of this years long labor-WOW it was worth the wait. Colors which plays such a vital role in the films subtext and text are, extremely well balanced. Thankfully things arent overly bright and processed nor are the muted. A very nice middle ground is employed. The scenes in the milk bar are for some reason especially vivid and beautiful looking. Images overall look crisp and clean with grain being present but smooth and not chunky or distracting. Small details in costumes, props, sets and locales are are striking and-this is coming from someone who has seen this movie many many times before. 

Sound: Much has been made of Clockworks audio. Those with a surround sound system may find this track to be lacking in the kind of complex depth that could be rendered by maybe a Atmos track. I think thats a fair criticism-however, I dont think its a deal breaker per se. I still this is a strong clear track that does suffer from a poor balance in audio levels. A mono track is included for an alternative. 

Extras: An array of extras has been ported over from the previous edition and includes: 

Audio Commentary by Malcom McDowell, Nick Redman, Still Ticking: The Return of A Clockwork Orange  (44mins), Great Bolshy Yarblockos! Making A Clockwork Orange (28 minutes), Turning Like Clockwork (26 minutes), Malcolm McDowell Looks Back (11 minutes) and a Theatrical Trailer 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Hunchback of Norte Dame (1923) Kino Classics Blu Ray Review

The Hunchback of Norte Dame (1923) Kino Classics 9/28/2021

Directed By: Wallace Worsley 

Starring: Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Kate Lester


     When it comes to stars of the silent era few transformed themselves figuratively and literally like Lon Chaney Sr. He played a wide range of now iconic characters including the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and the tragic Quasimodo. Charles Laughton would later play the character and while his take is different and has its own quality, it's hard to compare to Chaney who brought something incredible to the role. At the time the movie was one of the most expensive, costing over one-million dollars (a lot in the early '20s) but brought in over three-million at the box office. Based on 1831 novel by Victor Hugo, Hunchback tells of a misunderstood person named Quasimodo (Lon Chaney) who is an outcast in Paris and the performer named Esmerelda (Patsy Ruth) helps not only save by redeem the poor man. 

     Huge in scope and scale, Hunchback of Norte Dame is on every level a marvel to behold. From the rich costumes, the highly detailed sets that breath life into the world. And of course you have Lon Chaney transforming and pushing his body to the very limit to embody the titular character. As always, Chaney delivers a heartbreaking, and wholly complex. Equally great is Patsy Ruth. Ruth like Chaney finds the core of the character and the two play off one another really well. 

     The movie is also paced really well which is sometimes not the case with silent films of the era. Wallace doesn't provide filler and basically everything in the film is in service to develop characters but also move the plot forward. Also, for a early film the photography is rich and composition and blocking is rather complex and interesting to look at. 

    The Hunchback of Norte Dame is a stagger achievement in cinema and its scary to think that without a surviving 16mm version this movie would be lost forever.  

Picture: In 2023 The Hunchback of Norte Dame will turn one-hundred years old. Seeing how well over half of silent films are sadly thought to be totally destroyed or lost to time, its a small miracle that this movie survives let alone is able to get a new transfer. Kino Classics presents a 4k transfer provided by Universal Studios. I am here to say that I don't think Hunchback has ever looked this great on home video. The film of course has scratches and noise but this should not be judged harshly when you consider how old this film is not to mention what condition the original film elements were in. You can tell though how the image has a cleaner, sharper look with small details in sets, costumes and locales.  Unless an actual 35mm print can be found (thought to be lost or destroyed) I think this is the best this is ever going to look. Kino has once again outdone themselves in terms of providing a nice crisp and exciting visual presentation.  

Sound: Hunchback provides a fantastic score by Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum &Laura Karpman. Though silent the score does incorporate sound design. 

Extras: Hunchback has a nice array of extras including: A feature length commentary track with film critic Farran Smith Nehme

Life in Hollywood newsreel (8mins), Rare 16mm home footage of Lon Chaney from the film and video archive collection at UC Berkley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (13mins), Production Still slideshow, Publicity material slideshow. Also includes a booklet with essay by Michael F. Blake. 


Friday, September 17, 2021

Citizen Kane: Ben Mankiewicz on the Iconic Movie and 2019's Mank.

Citizen Kane: Ben Mankiewicz Talks about His thoughts on Mank, RKO 281 and More

TCM and Fathom Events kindly invited me on a roundtable with other journalists to talk to TCM Host and Ben Mankiewicz about the iconic classic Citizen Kane

And, for those interested in seeing this movie on the big screen Click HERE for Fathom Events Info. 

Hey. Hi, Ben. Thanks so much for having me. So now, I'm curious what you thought of movies like Mank and RKO 281?

 Ben M:

You know, it’s funny, I haven’t seen RKO 281 in ten-twelve years and, I actually re-watched it a few nights ago, I think it was Friday night. I love some of the changes made in that that had you know, Welles never met Hearst in real life, but they're in RKO to anyone they have Welles that you know, at the castle and interacting with Hearst.  You know, there was a time in my life I would have been like I that didn’t happen! And, you know, now I think that's interesting. Yeah, it doesn't matter. It's fine. Your allowed, its fine time settle down. So, I like RKP 281 very much. My memory is that, yeah I liked it because it made it seem like Herman wrote the screenplay. But yeah, it was great. And I love Liev Schreiber and John Malkovich . So you know, not a lot of people saw but I thought was great. I love almost any good inside Hollywood story. I totally forgotten Melanie Griffith played Mary. Right, you know, it has such a great cast, So I liked it. And then you know, Mank.  Look, man, I started sobbing at the title card for crying out loud. I mean, it's, it's called Mank. And they say Mank 100 times 112 times in the movie. And everybody in my families called Mank.  So, I thought magic was really great. I just thought it was a wonderful, wonderful movie. I mean, I get that it doesn’t connect with everybody. Itsreally just a slice of slice of life in this struggling writer.  It was like, my father talked to Fincher, which he didn't, you know, my dad died in 2014. And so I just kept thinking, man, my dad would love this, you know, that Herman? Smart? Funny? Yeah, but also drunk, gambler, reckless, filled with self-loathing, all those things, that was true. But he was never mean, you know, my dad regretted that he'd come home and fall asleep, pass out. So, you miss time with him. But you know, he loved his father. And I think, you know, but recognized that torture, and that's why my dad didn't want to make movies. My dad would have been a brilliant screenwriter. But he, he saw that you  know it drove his father to an early death. It's silly but I want I want to go back in time and tell my grandfather, you know, stop wallowing moron. Like what you're doing is valuable. This is great. What you're doing this is art. But you know, he didn't. He did not see it that way. 



So,yeah I love Mank and I think RKO 281 is terrific, too. My wife hasn't seen it. So I'm gonna we're gonna start it over and watch it together. I did get to meet John Malkovich. This was 15 years ago. And I was like Hey, I’m Ben Mankiewicz, you never knew my grandfather, but you played him. And he was like, Oh, my God!  I guess that meant more to me than him. He was very nice. But you forget that it's not like, he was really mad. He played a lot of people. So anyway, I think they're both, you know, I think they're both really great movies.

Big thank you to Mr. Mankiewicz  for his time. 

TCM Website HERE

Fathom Events Info HERE

Nick Davis's Book: Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz Link HERE

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Power (2021) RLJE DVD Review

The Power (2021) RLJ Entertainment 9/21/2021

Directed By: Corinna Faith 

Starring: Rose Williams Mark Smith, Marley Chesham

Disclaimer: RLJ Entertainment has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

The second feature film from Corinna Faith, The Power (2020) tells the story of 1974 Britain during a power crisis. It sees a young nurse named Val (Rose Williams) working at a hospital over night. The power will be completely out and, things of course go bump in the night as things go from weird to terrifying. 

    The Power starts out promising with a nice amount of atmosphere and a building sense of dread. In fact the first act really hammers home just how creepy and dread-filled this hospital could be when its plunged into total darkness. It also plays with this idea that nobody believes Val when she is attacked which comes back into play in a profound way. This helps add a very interesting layer and metatext to the narrative. Not to mention the '70s British setting further injects a level of realism that juxtaposes nicely with the later more fantastical elements. The production design is also top notch and Francesca Massario (Mogul Mowgli, Blade remake) does a lot with what is probably a modest budget.  

       Sadly, the movie feels like it wastes whatever good will it crafts into the second act. The movie devolves into horror clichés and embarrassing jump scares. The finale is sloppily written with a baffling conclusion and a twist that feels totally out of left field (because it wasn't properly set up). It's really a shame because the movie is far from bad and indeed, there are even some pretty interesting ideas. I just think if you had a better polished screenplay to weave these ideas into the narrative in a more compelling way this could easily be a modern classic. 


Picture/Sound: The Power is a visually interesting film and its kind of a shame not to see this in 1080p. Having said that I think the film looks actually still pretty good even on DVD's 720p. Blacks are deep and the mostly darkly lit scenes have enough definition to be satisfying. RLJE offers up a nice robust DTS 5.1 track that offers a nice 3D sound which is good for a horror film.  

Extras: Extras include a commentary with director Corinna Faith and lead actor Rose Williams, also includes Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

New images released from "Night of the Animated Dead"

 Four key characters – Ben (voiced by Dulé Hill), Barbara (Katharine Isabelle), Judy (Katee Sackhoff) and Tom (James Roday Rodriguez) – get the spotlight in new images released today from Night of the Animated Dead. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will distribute the animated remake of George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic on Digital starting next Tuesday, September 21, and on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on October 5. 






Down a Dark Stairwell (2020) Kino Lorber DVD Review

Down a Dark Stairwell (2020) Kino Lorber 9/21/2021

Directed By: Ursula Liang 





Disclaimer: Kino Lorber has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 



     Down a Dark Stairwell (2020) tells the tragic story of a innocent man named Akai Gurley who, on a fall night in 2014 was shot and killed in a stairwell. Peter Liang, a Chinese American Officer claimed it was a accidental misfire. The documentary unfolds into what happened and the outcry it had on the residents of New York. 

     Director Ursula Liang's second feature documentary is a heartbreaking, harrowing exploration of racism and  police conduct through the lens of both the African American community as well as the Chinese American community. The film presents both sides: Peter Liang made a tragic mistake as well as:  the cop was a reckless rookie. At the end of the day, no matter where you land on the issue, Liang makes it clear not to lose focus on the fact that an innocent person senselessly lost their lives that night in 2014. Ursula does a good job at taking time a paint a complete picture of the victim as well as who Peter Liang was as well as both sides of community uproar. Things got really interesting when both sides of the protest literally meet face to face. 

Stairwell never languishes in gory details or what feels like cheap exploitation.  Rather its a well informed, well rounded dive into some very serious issues in America. A eye opening and sobering look at racism and our legal system.  



Picture/Sound: Down the Dark Stairwell looks pretty solid on 720p. As I've often said, Kino Lorber documentaries are typically shot on higher-res cameras, therefore it looks just fine transferred onto DVD. Sound wise we can a nice DTS 5.1 track with dialogue and sound design coming through nicely. 

Extras: Extras include: Behind the scenes footage, deleted scenes and trailer. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Snake & The Silver Haired Witch (1968) Arrow Blu Ray Review

The Snake & The Silver Haired Witch (1968) 9/21/2021

Directed By: Noriaki Yuasa 

Starring: Yuko Hamada, Sachiko Meguro, Yachie Matsui 




Disclaimer: Arrow Video has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


     1968 was a pretty amazing year for horror. We got classics like Night of the Living Dead, Rosemary's Baby, Hour of the Wolf just to name a few. It was also the year that The Snake & The Silver Haired Witch came out. The film has had a small cult following but, thanks to Arrow Video has slithered its way into a much wider audience. In fact, this is the very first time this movie has been available on home video outside of Japan. 

     From its delightfully  spooky score and cold open, The Snake & The Silver Haired Witch really sets its tone. Moody and dark but with a playful kitsch side. The movie hooks you from the very first moments and has an increasingly strange plot that keeps you guessing. This mystery helped keep me engaged throughout its brisk 80 minute runtime. Not to mention just how completely bonkers this entire movie is. It really like a wild LSD trip at times. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Hausu (1977) both in its fairytale like quality with its bizarre set-pieces. 

    The movies plot requires you to suspend a lot of disbelief but I think of this more as a mood-piece that works more on dream logic. And, as I mentioned above there is a sort of fairytale like quality that further reinforces this. The effects can be at times pretty hokey but again, I think this only works with the films kitsch camp value. However, there are some moments that are legit creepy. 

If you are looking for a great October watch but with an international flare, The Snake & The Silver Haired Witch is a must-watch! 

Picture: Snake is yet another home run for Arrow in terms of a stunning transfer. The movie which is over fifty-years old at this point has been lovingly restored. The black-and-white photography is well balanced in terms of contrast and and, for the most part the movie has been cleaned of artifacts, dirt and noise. There is some of this but honestly, for its age and obscurity thats par for the course. 

Sound: Snake has a DTS 2.0 track. The dialogue, score and sound design come through incredibly well with no unwanted background noise or audio drop out issues. 

Extras: As always Arrow provides a nice array of extras that add a historical/cultural context to the main feature. Included is a commentary track by David Kalat

This Charming Woman with Zach Davisson (27mins) Scholar Zach Davisson discusses the film and the manga it was based on. A really enjoyable and informative featurette. 

and Trailer, Image Galley 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Batman: Year One Commemorative Edition UHD/Blu Ray Combo 11/9/21

                      BATMAN: YEAR ONE

COMMEMORATIVE EDITION


THE DARK KNIGHT ORIGIN STORY REMASTERED FOR 

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY COMBO PACK & DIGITAL ON 11/9/21







BURBANK, CA, (September 13, 2021) – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) celebrates the 10th anniversary of the DC Universe Movies release Batman: Year One with a fully-remastered version of the film and a newly-created bonus feature, Reinventing Gordon. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the PG-13 rated film arrives on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (USA $33.99 SRP; Canada $39.99 SRP) and Digital starting November 9, 2021.


Originally released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2011, Batman: Year One is based on the landmark 1987 DC titles from 12-time Eisner Award winner and Eisner Award Hall of Fame member Frank Miller and illustrator David Mazzucchelli. The film depicts young Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City in his first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed Super Hero. The playboy billionaire chooses the guise of a giant bat to combat crime, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon (who is already battling corruption from inside the police department), inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a crooked political system that infests Gotham City.


Six-time Emmy® Award winner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Trumbo, Your Honor) and Gotham star Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.) lead a star-studded cast as Lieutenant James Gordon and Bruce Wayne/Batman, respectively. Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) provides the voice of Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Katee Sackhoff (The Mandalorian, Battlestar Galactica) gives voice to Detective Sarah Essen, and the late Alex Rocco (The Godfather) is the voice of crime lord Carmine Falcone. Additional voices/characters include the late Jon Polito as Commissioner Loeb, Jeff Bennett as Alfred, Grey Griffin as Barbara Gordon & Vicki Vale, Robin Atkin Downes as Harvey Dent, Keith Ferguson as Jefferson Skeevers, Fred Tatasciore as Detective Flass, Stephen Root as Brendon, Liliana Mumy as Holly and Nick Jameson as Merkel.


Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Voltron: Legendary Defender) and Sam Liu (Batman: Soul of the Dragon, Superman: Red Son) co-directed Batman: Year One from a script penned by Academy Award® nominee Tab Murphy (Gorillas in the Mist, Disney’s Tarzan). Animation legend Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) is executive producer of Batman: Year One. Executive producers are Sam Register, Michael Uslan and the late Benjamin Melniker.


The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc featuring the film in hi-definition, and a digital version of the movie



Get a sneak peek at the new special feature Reinventing Gordon at DC FanDome. The ultimate global fan experience returns on Saturday, October 16 at 10 a.m. PDT with an all-new, epic streaming event. The free virtual event will once again welcome fans from around the world to immerse themselves in the DC Multiverse at DCFanDome.com and celebrate the stars and creators of their favorite feature films, live-action and animated television series, games, comics, home entertainment releases and more. DC FanDome 2021 will also be available on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, giving fans more ways to watch the events unfolding in DC FanDome’s Hall of Heroes. 


Batman: Year OneSpecial Features

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital

  

  • Featurette – Reinventing Gordon (New) – An examination of the history of James Gordon through comics, animation, and feature films.


  • FeaturetteConversations with DC ComicsThe Batman creative team at DC discusses the personal influence of Batman: Year One on their careers. Batman producer Michael Uslan leads the chat amongst well-known writers, editors, and artists of Batman lore, focusing on the darker, realistic interpretation of Batman’s origins by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.


  • Audio Commentary – Featuring co-producer Alan Burnett, co-director Sam Liu, DC creative director Mike Carlin and casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano.


  • FeaturetteHeart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots “The Dark Knight Returns” provided the denouement of Batman's life. Frank Miller's next seminal work would provide his near-mythic origin in “Batman: Year One.” This documentary spotlights the contemporary genius of Miller and the audience that was poised to appreciate the depths of his work.


  • DC Showcase – Catwoman (2011 Animated Short) – The felonious feline’s adventure takes her through the seedy streets of Gotham City. Eliza Dushku reprises her Batman: Year One role as the voice of Catwoman. The short is directed by Lauren Montgomery (Batman: Year One) from a script by Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series).


  • DC Universe Movies Flashbacks

  • Batman: Soul of the Dragon

  • Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One

  • Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two