It seems like ever year, audiences everywhere are seeing an increase in the number of classic TV shows and movies that were once popular everywhere they go. It really is a sad state of affairs. Of course that is not the only avenue in which older content is getting renewed so to speak. The originals also get new life every now and then on DVD and Blu-ray through various distributors, sometimes in better form than others and vice versa. This year saw a handful of classic TV shows and movies get some laudable re-issues and some less so.
What is most interesting about this year’s field of top new DVD and BD re-issues is the wide range of companies that released said titles. It shows that along with the likes of Shout! Factory – which has made quite the name for itself over the years in the home entertainment field – other familiar and up-and-coming names are really working to make their names known in that field, too, such as Arrow Video and Corinth Films, making for so much more variety.
From Shout! Factory’s re-issue of Explorers, to Arrow Video’s re-issue of the original Dune, to even Mill Creek Entertainment’s re-issue of the classic, short-lived animated series, The Critic, this year’s re-issues and the companies that released them offered audiences plenty of alternatives to the never-ending ocean of prequels, sequels, and reboots that filled theaters and streaming services this year. As with every list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the Top 10 titles in the given category with five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15. This year’s list was not easy to compile but is complete.
Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD RE-ISSUES
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Series
The Final Countdown
The Belles of St. Trinian’s
Ken Burns’ Baseball
The Rolling Stones: A Bigger Bang – Live at Copacabana Beach
Motorhead: No Sleep Till Hammersmith
The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch
The Transformers: The Movie
Superman: The Animated Series
The Critic: The Complete Series
Star Trek: The Original Series
Emergency: The Complete Series
It should be stressed here that in the case of Emergency and Star Trek, those two series sets are intentionally set at the bottom of this year’s list as, their positives are few. They are the least of the year’s best new re-issues. Audiences would do well to largely avoid these sets. There is a reason they are at the bottom of even the honorable mention titles. Keeping that in mind, this year’s list of top new DVD and BD re-issues is officially wrapped. There are still plenty of other lists coming, such as the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups, families, and even family DVDs/BDs. Stay tuned!
Director Robert Mugge has made quite the name for himself over the years heading documentaries that tell the history of America’s music. More specifically, they present the roots of music, such as zydeco and the blues. The most recent of those docs came in 2018 the form of Ship to Shore: Launching the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Review, which focused on the famed cross country music tour. Now Tuesday, one of his even older docs — 1991’s Deep Blues — will get renewed attention when it is re-issued through Dave Stewart Entertainment/Film Movement Classics/Bay Street Records. The documentary will appeal to a wide range of audiences in part through its main feature, which will be discussed shortly. The bonus content that accompanies the doc adds even more to the record’s appeal. That all taken into account, it makes the re-issue’s pricing important in its own right. That item will also be examined later. Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of the re-issue’s presentation. All things considered, they make this doc a welcome addition to the library of any blues aficionado who might not already own it or any of Mugge’s music docs.
The forthcoming Blu-ray re-issue of the Robert Mugge-helmed 1991 documentary, Deep Blues is a presentation that any blues aficionado will find entertaining. Set for release Tuesday through Dave Stewart Entertainment/Film Movement Classics/Bay Street Records, the 91-minute documentary (which is actually adapted from journalist Robert Palmer’s book, Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta) focuses on the music of the Mississippi Delta and deep south. It follows the same format of so many of Mugge’s documentaries in its main feature, which audiences will especially appreciate. For those maybe less familiar with Mugge’s work, he does not present his docs as some slow, extended lecture about the music’s history, but rather, he immerses audiences in that history with first hand interviews and performances with and by the figures who helped make said music great. Here, audiences hear from the likes of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Big Jack Johnson along with so many other greats. The humility and genuine personality that each figure presents both just talking and performing is so enthralling. The simple, humble venues where the performances take place adds to that sense of humility. It and the almost guerilla style cinematography and editing (again for which Mugge is known) further immerses audiences in the history, really making for even more engagement and entertainment. The overall feature here is a great half and half of history and entertainment that, again, follows a familiar format from Robert Mugge. That familiarity will appeal just as much to those who are familiar with his documentaries and those who are new to his works. It makes this presentation just as much a history lesson about the blues as it is a love letter to the genre. To that end, it is reason enough in itself for audiences to take in the documentary. It is only one part of what makes the documentary so engaging and entertaining in its new re-issue, too. The bonus content that accompanies the documentary adds even more to that noted appeal.
The bonus content that accompanies the documentary is not necessarily expansive per se. It consists mainly of a feature-length audio commentary provided by Mugge, as well as some bonus performances that did not make the final cut for the main feature. Additionally, the essay penned by Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis serves as its own bonus content through the background that it provides, too. Mugge offers quite a bit of insight throughout the course of the documentary’s 91-minute run time. Right from the feature’s outset, he reveals that Eurythmics star Dave Stewart did not want to appear in the documentary, but that he [Mugge] convinced Stewart to appear as a means to broaden the documentary’s audience. He points out in his commentary here that Stewart’s appearances in the film would help pull in more than just the typical blues devotees. That was a wise move on Mugge’s part. Another interesting revelation made by Mugge during his commentary is that when now legend R.L. Burnside was originally interviewed and featured in this documentary, he was not the star that he would go on to be. He points out that a documentary that Mugge did about famed blues label Fat Possum Records actually played into Burnside’s rise to fame. It is an unintended pat on the back, but really helps audiences to understand why Burnside was living in such a humble setting at the time that his performance and interview was filmed. This is, again, something that longtime blues fans will especially appreciate in their understanding, and yet more proof of the importance of Mugge’s commentary. In yet another interesting note, Palmer (who serves as a semi-host of sorts throughout the documentary) sits in a hotel room at one point, singing a note in the hotel about why the water there was brown. What he has to say afterward versus what Mugge reveals is somewhat troubling to be honest. Mugee reveals the real reason that the water in the hotel (and town in which the hotel sat) was dark brown. The revelation is enough to make anyone second guess drinking it despite Palmer’s light hearted joke. Between these discussions that Mugge brings up, and his multitude of discussions on the filming for the performances, audiences get so much insight throughout the documentary that was not available in the doc’s original presentation. That in-depth background offered by Mugge builds on the appeal established through the main feature to make the presentation that much more engaging and entertaining.
The bonus performances noted here build even more on that engagement and entertainment. The sound is expertly produced (just as with the performances that made the final cut). That they are so intimate adds even more to their appeal. It leaves one wondering why they were not added to the final cut. Regardless, that they were included here completes the original presentation and in turn makes the presentation truly complete.
DeCurtis’ notes add their own appeal to the whole by building even more on everything discussed by Palmer and Mugge in the main feature and audio commentary. At one point in his essay, for instance, DeCurtis points out the roots of the blues really go back to the days of slavery. He additionally sets the stage for the experience that audiences will have as they watch, painting such a rich picture through his written tapestry. What’s more, DeCurtis also points out that the majority of the figures featured in this documentary all went on to some level of stardom as the years went on, not just R.L. Burnside, adding that at the time though, none of the featured performers were stars. This is interesting to note because audiences never get a sense of ego from any of them. It is all pure humility; Humility that would continue on through their respective careers. It really serves to strength Palmer’s statement at one point that at the time of the documentary’s debut, blues was still not a major genre, but that it was beginning to see a rebirth of sorts in that popularity. One can only imagine then, that the documentary served to help bring more attention to each figure and to the blues and its importance as a major form of American music. Considering everything noted here and so much more, it should be clear at this point that the bonus content featured with Deep Blues is just as important to its presentation in its re-issue as the documentary itself. Keeping in mind the overall impact of the documentary’s main and secondary content, it makes the Blu-ray’s pricing positive in its own right.
The average price point of Deep Blues – using prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy – is $29.12. It was not listed through Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million. However, Barnes & Noble Booksellers did list the documentary on DVD along with Walmart and Best Buy at an average price of $26.63. Again, considering the breadth and depth of the content discussed here, those averages are not that bad, especially being that this is an independent release. In the case of the re-issue’s DVD listings, Best Buy lives up to its name, giving audiences the best buy with a listing of $22.99. Barnes & Noble Booksellers has the most expensive of the DVD’s listings at $29.99 while Walmart’s listing of $26.92 is the middle ground here.
In the case of the documentary’s Blu-ray platform, Target offers the least expensive listing, at $26.59. Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy each list the documentary’s Blu-ray presentation at $29.99, so it is more expensive overall than the doc’s DVD presentation. At the same time though, that noted listing through Target is still less than $30, and that really brings this discussion to its crux. The point of all of this is that while the averages are a bit high, the separate listings do have some relatively affordable price points that will not break anyone’s budget. Adding that realization to the amount of content featured in the re-issue and that content’s impact, the whole makes this overall presentation such a positive new take of one of Robert Mugge’s many music documentaries.
Dave Stewart Entertainment/Film Movement Classics/Bay Street Records’ upcoming re-issue of Deep Blues is a wonderful new take of the 1991 documentary from director Robert Mugge. It will resonate with audiences in part through its main feature. That is because just like with all of Mugge’s other music docs, it immerses audiences in the music and its history, rather than just presenting it as some long-winded lecture. This is the kind of presentation that is certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained. The breadth of the content in the main feature builds on that appeal and ensures even more, viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment. The secondary (bonus) content that accompanies the documentary this time builds on the appeal ensured through the main feature. That is because of the added background and other information that it provides through each bonus feature and item. Keeping in mind the noted overall content and its impact, it makes the documentary’s pricing its own understandable positive, even looking at the slightly higher averages. The separate listings are, by comparison, mostly affordable and will not break any viewer’s budget. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the documentary’s new re-issue. All things considered, they make this re-issue a work that will appeal to audiences across the musical universe.
Deep Blues is scheduled for re-issue Tuesday through Dave Stewart Entertainment/Film Movement Classics/Bay Street Records. More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available at:
Movies that are based on actual events are a dime a dozen here in the United States. Hollywood’s “Big Six” studios have made a habit of making them into their own genre ever since the golden age of cinema. The problem is that the movies that have and continue to fill out that genre are largely forgettable since they are more spectacle than actual history. This has made the genre and its movies anything but credible. Thankfully in 2016, the foreign historical drama The Interrogation came along and shook things up in that genre. Directed by Israeli director Erez Pery and released in Israel through a partnership between various Israeli firms, the 85-minute presentation was re-issued this summer on DVD through Corinth Films. Its release this year marked the fourth time it has been released to DVD since its theatrical release, having most recently been released on DVD in 2017 through Film Movement. The movie, in its presentation here, succeeds in large part because nothing was added or removed in terms of bonus content. So keeping that in mind, the most important of the movie’s aspects is its story and how it is presented. This element will be discussed shortly. The work of the movie’s two lead actors also plays into the presentation and will be discussed a little later. The cinematography puts the finishing touch to the whole, showing once more how much this simple story has to offer audiences. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of The Interrogation. All things considered, they make this movie a near perfect example of how to properly make a movie that is based on actual events.
Corinth Films’ recent DVD re-issue of the Israeli independent movie The Interrogation is among the most unique of this year’s field of new DVD/BD re-issues. While its release this summer marks at least the fourth time that it has been re-issued since its theatrical debut in 2016, there are still plenty of audiences who have yet to see the movie. To that end, the re-issue proves just as welcome as its predecessors. The movie proves worth seeing in large part through its story. The story in question follows the interrogation of Nazi SS officer and Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoss by Polish investigation judge Albert. Hiss is played here by Romanus Fuhrmann while Albert (no last name is given to Albert) is portrayed by Maciej Marczewski. The interrogation takes place in an interview room at the prison where Hoss was taken following his arrest in 1946 by British troops in Germany. Hoss recounts through the story, how he came to join the Nazi military regime and eventually become the longest serving Commandant at the infamous Auschwitz death camp. Throughout each interview that Albert holds with Hoss, Hoss remains so cold, so straight forward even as he attempts to paint himself as a victim, someone afraid to stand up to his own Nazi superiors. It is difficult to believe that Hoss was really a victim in any of what he oversaw despite his straight forward responses, and Albert does not buy into Hoss’ lamentations, either, as he shows more than once. This will be addressed later in the discussion on the acting. What is really interesting here is that Pery and co-writer Sari Azoulay Turgeman could have easily gone the typical historical drama route during these sessions and used flashbacks within the story, presenting re-enactments of the atrocities over which Hoss saw. Thankfully they did not go that route. Nor did they incorporate any grand soliloquies or over the top dialogue between Albert and Hoss. It actually enhances the story because it is that straight forward and simple. What’s more, there is no soundtrack at any point. Audiences only hear the sound of the two men talking and the whir of the tape recorder as it captures Hoss’ confession. There are also natural sounds as Hoss recalls his life before becoming part of the Nazi death machine, such as horses and birds as footage of calm, quiet countryside is shown. It all really makes everything seem so cold, almost as if to reflect the cold, callous nature of Hoss and what he did during his time at Auschwitz. It all makes the story itself so powerful and that much more engaging and entertaining. To that end, the story and its presentation is something from which so many American studio executives and filmmakers should and could learn. The story and its presentation are just part of what makes The Interrogation so gripping. The workd put in by Marczewski and Fuhrmann is also of note here.
As already pointed out, Marczewski and Fuhrmann are the main actors in The Interrogation. Yes, there are a few extras in the form of a few Russian guards at the prison where Hoss is held, and a woman (It is unknown if the woman is Albert’s wife or another woman), and two other men held at the prison. Their roles are secondary, but add their own importance as to how Albert handles the emotional and mental strain of dealing with Hoss. Marczewski, in his declarations that he does not belief Hoss’ attempts to make himself a victim, is so professional. He easily could have chewed the scenery so to speak, but instead the control that he gives Albert as Albert goes toe to toe with Hoss is so powerful in itself. In the same vein, seeing how Albert handles the strain of it all, even reaching a shocking breaking point in the story’s end, is just as powerful. It makes him even more relatable for audiences. That is because of the subtle way in which Hoss’ confessions impact him. We are all impacted mentally and emotionally by various situations, and we let those impacts build until they reach a boiling point. That is exactly what happens with Albert here.
Focusing on Fuhrmann, his cold, straight forward demeanor is just as powerful in its own way. The way in which Fuhrmann emotes throughout evokes so much power, especially as he tells Albert about his past. There seems to be no sense of remorse in any of Hoss’ discussion on that point. Albert even makes note of it, as already discussed. It leaves one really not believing that Hoss was that unwilling of a participant in what happened at Auschwitz. That makes the performance all the richer on the part of Fuhrmann. When Fuhrmann and Marczewski’s performances are considered together, their collective makes for even more reason for audiences to watch this movie. When their work is considered along with the very story featured in this movie, that reason to watch increases even more. Keeping all of that in mind, it is only a part of what makes the movie worth viewing. The movie’s cinematography rounds out the movie’s most important elements.
The cinematography presented in The Interrogation is important in that it is just as simple as everything else. The various angles and lighting used in the prison sets (Hoss’ cell and the interview room) are prime examples of the cinematography’s impact. The cold white-painted cindeblock of the interview room is its own echo of the coldness from Hoss. One can even argue that the industrial sense that it enhances the sense of hopelessness that perhaps Hoss has in knowing what lies ahead. The way that the lighting was used here gives the noted scenes such a grim feeling that viewers will fully experience.
The lighting that is used as Hoss sits in his cell, writing his memoir is an important part of the cinematography because it serves to help translate Hoss’ own darkness as he awaits his fate, knowing he has no chance of escaping what is coming. That lighting, as he looks outside his cell does much the same. By contrast, those rich meadow scenes that are presented as Hoss recalls his youth and civilian adult life make for even more power against the cold, industrial feeling established by the prison walls and lighting. It leaves one wondering for just a moment, if in fact Hoss’ might have actually regretted taking part in the Holocaust, but that wonder lasts only a second. It is just one more example of the importance of the cinematography to this presentation. When the overall work behind the lens is considered along with the movie’s story and the work of Fuhrmann and Marczewski, the whole comes together to make The Interrogation a historical drama that is done right. Maybe just maybe one day American movie makers and studio heads will take a movie such as this as a guiding point when they make their next historical drama(s).
Corinth films’ recent re-issue of the independent Israeli historical drama, The Interrogation is a welcome addition to this year’s field of DVD and BD re-issues. That is because it is such a stark contrast to all of the movies based on actual events that are churned out by American studios every year. It is a welcome cinematic breath of fresh air in that genre. The story is simple. It follows the interrogation of one of the most notorious members of the Nazi party, ironically, by a Polish interrogation judge. For those who don’t know, Poland is one of the nations that was ravaged by the Nazis, so that very aspect makes for its own interest. There are no overblown flashback scenes, no unnecessary dialogue and soliloquies, or anything else that is so common from American studios in the genre’s movies. The acting is also simple, making it that much more engaging, again so counter to that of so much American cinematic drama. The cinematography puts the finishing touch to the presentation, as it plays into the movie’s overall mood in its own unique way. It brings everything together, completing the presentation. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of this movie’s presentation. All things considered, they make The Interrogation one of this year’s top new DVD and BD re-issues.
The Interrogation is available now. More information on this and other titles from Corinth Films is available at:
American audiences, for some reason, cannot get enough drama in their lives nowadays. A quick run through the broadcast and cable ranks, and even the streaming options out there serves well to support that statement. The same applies in looking at all the dramas that fill the cinematic realm, too. To that end, Film Movement did its part this past July to give American audiences their drama fix when it brought the independent drama Rose Plays Julie to DVD. Originally released in 2019 in Ireland and the United Kingdom through Desperate Optimists and Samson Films, the movie is an interesting though imperfect presentation that ultimately would be a good fit for Lifetime Movie Network’s lineup. That is due in large part to its story, which will be discussed shortly. While the story is interesting, its pacing proves extremely problematic. This will be discussed a little later. The background information provided by Film Movement and the movie’s co-directors in the DVD’s packaging works with the movie’s story to give it at least a little more interest. It will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation. All things considered, they make Rose Plays Julie worth watching at least once.
Desperate Optimists/Samson Films’ 2019 drama Rose Plays Julie is a good option for American audiences who just cannot seem to get enough drama in their lives. It is an especially good selection for audiences who are loyal to Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network. That is proven in large part through the movie’s story. The story in question centers on young Rose (Ann Skelly – The Nevers, Red Rock, Kissing Candice) as she goes down the proverbial rabbit hole in search of her birth parents. The story opens with Rose knowing the identity of her birth mother, but not that of her birth father, nor the circumstances under which she was conceived. When her birth mother, Ellen (Orla Brady – Star Trek Picard, Fringe, Into The Badlands) reveals those circumstances, it sends Rose over the edge so to speak. She learns the identity of her birth father – Peter (Aiden Gillen – The Dark Knight Rises, Game of Thrones, Maze Runner: The Death Cure) – and takes on a heavy plan. As Rose and Peter get to know one another, Peter proves to be every bit the despicable figure that Rose imagined as he tries to rape her, not knowing she is his daughter. He does not know because of the act that she takes on to find him. One should digress here, Rose is so disgusted by Peter prior to his attempted rape of her that she had decided she was going to do something drastic (what she plans to do it pretty unsurprising, but at the same time, she cannot be blamed for wanting to do him in). When she ends up not killing Peter, someone else does. It does not take a genius to know who does. To that end, how it happens will be left for audiences to learn for themselves. Given, Peter deserved what he got. At the same time though, it is all so formulaic. It is, again, everything that audiences expect from a typical Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network presentation. That is not to say that it is not worth watching. Thanks to the actually believable work of the movie’s cast, audiences will actually find themselves remaining engaged and entertained, even though they know what is coming. To that end, the story does make this movie worth watching at least once.
While the story featured in Rose Plays Julie makes the movie at least somewhat appealing, the story’s pacing detracts greatly from that appeal. The movie’s run time is listed at one hour, 40 minutes. The thing is that because of the pacing, which drags almost consistently throughout the movie, that run time feels so much longer. What it is that makes the pacing move so slowly is difficult to pinpoint. Maybe it is the general lack of any musical backing to help establish much emotional connection from scene to scene. Maybe it is all of the exposition from scene to scene. Maybe it is both of those items or something else altogether. Regardless of what ultimately causes the pacing to drag so consistently, that problem ultimately makes watching the movie extremely difficult. If not for the ability of the story and the cast to keep audiences engaged, that issue would be the proverbial last straw for the presentation. Luckily, there is still one more aspect in this movie’s domestic presentation that keeps it from being a complete failure. That aspect is the background provided about the movie in the DVD’s packaging.
Co-Directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor point out in their comments in the movie’s notes, that the movie was originally made with the intent to examine the impact of rape on victims beyond just the emotional and psychological. Understanding this, it makes the story timely, especially what with the matter of abortion being in the headlines so much lately. The duo adds that it just so happened that the MeToo movement just started to take hold in the U.K. as the movie’s production neared its end. So in other words, this movie was not part of that movement. That actually makes suspension of disbelief easier. That ability of audiences to not feel preached at in turn leads to more insurance of viewers’ engagement and entertainment.
The added note by Film Movement that the company chose to bring the movie to American audiences because of its psychological nature will resonate with audiences, too. Again that avoidance of any promotion of preachy-ness even in these notes means that the attention was placed on the movie’s intrinsic value. Once more, that audiences do not received any of that sense of being preached at means even more that they are likely to remain engaged and entertained. Keeping that in mind along with the interest generated through the Co-Directors’ comments and through the story itself, the movie ultimately proves to be worth seeing at least once. That is even with the issue of the movie’s pacing taken into account.
Film Movement’s domestic presentation of Desperate Optimisits/Samson Films’ Rose Plays Julie is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new domestically-released independent movies. Its intrigue comes in part through its story. The story follows a young woman who is driven to the brink of committing a heinous act as she learns the circumstances surrounding her conception and birth. The serious matter that is approached here is what makes it so engaging. The work of the movie’s cast is even more so to credit to keeping viewers’ attention. Without their work, the sad reality is that the movie is otherwise just another movie that would fit so well on Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network’s daily lineup. The movie’s pacing hurts its presentation even more. That is because it drags throughout the movie, not just at points. Luckily its negative impact is not enough to make the movie a complete failure. The background information shared in the DVD’s packaging helps establish at least some more appreciation for the movie. Together with the serious nature of the movie’s story and the cast’s work, that information gives audiences just enough to make the movie worth seeing at least once.
Rose Plays Julie is available now on DVD through Film Movement. More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available at:
The independent movie community has, over the course of recent years, done a lot to offer audiences worthwhile alternatives to the nonstop barrage of prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on actual events being constantly churned out by Hollywood’s major studios. The recent release of the period dramedy Scenes From an Empty Church proof of that. Much the same can be said of Corinth Films’ British import, The Carer and Film Movement’s German import, Bye, Bye Germany. These movies, and indie flicks, such as Butter, Shanghai Calling, and The Decoy Bride are even more proof of how much the indie film community has offered audiences in the way of real, and real entertaining options. Of course even in the indie community, not every movie can be a success. Corinth Films’ Ghanaian import, Nakom is one of those lesser movies. Now that is not to say that the movie is a total failure. It does have at least some positive, that being its story. The story will be discussed shortly. While the story is reason enough to watch, the pacing thereof is problematic, taking away from the presentation to a point. This will be discussed a little later. Luckily it is not enough to completely doom the presentation. The cinematography also plays into the movie’s appeal, too, and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation. All things considered, Nakom ultimately proves itself to be a presentation that is worth watching at least once.
Corinth Films’ recent Ghanaian import, Nakom — released to Western audiences Aug. 17 on DVD – is an imperfect presentation, though is still worth watching at least once. The movie’s appeal comes in large part through its story. The story in question centers on its lead character, Iddrisu. Iddrisu is a young, soon-to-be doctor who is doing quite well in his medical studies. Out of the blue, one day, he receives a call from his sister informing him that his father has been killed in a motorcycle wreck in Iddrisu’s home village of Nakom. At first Iddrisu reluctantly stays, though he aims to return to his studies. He ends up staying much longer than he originally planned. That is partially of his own doing and partially due to pressure from his family and those in the village. Eventually the pressure from self and from others becomes too much and Iddrisu reaches a breaking point. How it all ends will be left for audiences to discover for themselves. The thing is that this is a story that will connect easily with audiences because it is that believable. It is not some over-the-top tale. Many if not all people have been in the position of being torn between a sense of self and a sense of duty, whether in the sense of this story or another. That in itself and the way in which the story is executed ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment from beginning to end of the 90-minute movie.
On a related note, Jacob Ayanaba (who plays Iddrisu) does so well in his performance. He comes across as such an “everyman” in his subtle performance throughout. It makes suspension of disbelief in the story that much easier. Whether trying to comfort his cousin at the area hospital after learning of her pregnancy or handling the mental and emotional stress of taking on his father’s financial debt, or even trying to encourage another young, female member of his family to go to school, his performance is so genuine. It makes it so easy for audiences to relate to him. Taking that into account along with the story, the bigger picture here is solid proof of why the story featured here works so well.
For all that the movie’s featured story does to appeal to audiences, it is not perfect. The story’s one sole flaw comes in its pacing. The runs approximately 90 minutes, which is really not that long. Even in that time, there are some moments throughout in which the story tends to drag. Those moments are multiple, too. Some of those moments come as Iddrisu is studying and finds himself distracted by something. They also come at times as Iddrisu is eating meals with his family and little else is going on except for some dialogue. Those and a handful of other moments will tend to leave the movie feeling far longer than its run time. In turn, it will leave audiences feeling the desire to fast forward through the movie more than once. Even with that in mind, the story is still not a total failure, but also not a total success.
Keeping in mind everything noted here, Nakom proves to be an imperfect presentation, though still worth watching at least once. Making the movie more worth the watch is its cinematography. Audiences will be pleased to know that the entire presentation was filmed on-site in Ghana. So all of the stunning sunrise and sunset footage was really captured in the nation’s countryside. The footage of Iddrisu selling onions in the area markets is actually that of markets in the nation. The rural roads which he travels are also real. It might not seem like much on the surface, but the reality is that it actually adds to viewers’ ability to suspend their disbelief. The colors are so rich both in the daytime and even at night. What’s more, knowing that the scenes are in fact real instead of CG will encourage audiences to remain engaged even more. Again, it is an aesthetic element, but it plays so much into the presentation. Keeping that in mind along with the impact of the story and the acting (and even the pacing thereof), the whole makes the movie that much more worth watching, if only once.
Corinth Films’ recently released DVD presentation of Nakom is a presentation that while imperfect, is still worth watching at least once. That is proven in part through the movie’s story. The story is relatable in its focus. The situation in which Iddrisu finds himself and how he handles it will connect with most if not all viewers. The work put in by lead actor Jacob Ayanaba interpreting the script adds to the appeal. The subtle way in which he takes on the role throughout makes the story that much more worth watching. While the story and the acting are both of positive note, the story’s pacing proves somewhat problematic. That is because it tends to drag at multiple points throughout the movie’s 90-minute run time. Luckily, that issue is not enough to completely derail the movie. The movie’s cinematography adds its own appeal to the whole, offering even more reason for audiences to watch. Knowing that the movie was shot entirely on site in Ghana adds a certain sense of realism to the movie, in turn encouraging audiences to watch even more. Keeping this and everything else noted in mind, the movie proves to be a presentation that while imperfect, is still worth watching at least once.
Nakom is available now. More information on this and other titles from Corinth Films is available at:
When Couple 3 Films’ independent movie Lapsis made its way across the indie movie festival circuit last year, it earned a number of honors at those events. It brought home the Jury’s Choice Award at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea. It was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at last year’s SXSW Festival. It was even named an official selection of the Cleveland International Film Festival in Cleveland, OH and the Nantucket Film Festival in Nantucket, MA. It was even nominated for the Best First Screenplay Award at the Indie Spirit Awards. For all of the accolades that the movie received, the reality is that it is in fact not a movie that will connect with every viewer. That is due largely to the fashion in which the movie’s creative heads presented the movie’s apparent commentary-laden story. This will be discussed later. Luckily for audiences, the bonus content that accompanies the movie in its recent DVD release (it was released May 11 through independent distributor Film Movement), serves to clear things up at least slightly. This will be discussed shortly. The cinematography featured in the movie rounds out its most important elements. It works with the bonus content to make the movie at least slightly more engaging. Keeping all of this in mind, Lapsis proves worth watching at least once, but sadly no more than that.
Couple 3 Films’ statement flick Lapsis is an intriguing but problematic presentation from the independent movie studio. Apparently, the movie is meant to be a commentary on the division between the haves and have nots in the business realm. More simply put, it is apparently meant to be a commentary about the division between the suits who make millions annually on the backs of workers who make far less, and those workers in question. The thing is that this would not even be fully clear if not for the bonus content that accompanies the movie in its recent DVD release. The movie’s creative heads make a passing comment early on in the feature-length audio commentary about that division being at the heart of the movie while the “Making of” featurette also makes mention of the role of the machines in the movie and in today’s largely automated business world. Other than those passing statements, little other commentary is really offered as to this matter. Audiences are otherwise forced to watch through the plodding, nearly two-hour movie to get any sense of that statement. Go figure, those two very brief mentions are just enough to make the movie worth watching even once.
Those viewers who do watch the movie will find that understand why the noted commentary is so difficult to grasp without the noted brief statements in the bonus commentary. The whole thing starts off with Ray (Dean Imperial) trying to find a way to pay for care for his little brother, Jamie (Babe Howard – yes that is really his name). This leads him to agree to take on a job as a “cabler,” laying cable for the growing information technology industry. As Ray makes his way through his routes, going from cube to cube, he realizes more and more that something is not right. The “medallion” (which is basically an online identity) that he uses to get paid (or so he thinks) is that of someone that the other cable layers apparently did not and do not like. Yet, the other cable layers will not initially tell Ray what is going on. A sense of tension is built throughout the story, leading viewers to expect things to reach a real head, but sadly that never really happens. There is a climax of sorts when Ray, Jamie and the other cable layers manage to disable all of the robots that lay cable, though one robot does get away. That is perhaps meant as a statement that even though the “little guy” might think he has won, the battle will never end because big business will always be there, looming. The story ends very abruptly, leaving viewers ultimately feeling unfulfilled. As another critic noted, it is as if the writers ran out of ideas (and money) and just decided to let the story be how it was. Ultimately, the story comes up short because of the overall manner in which it was delivered. It is as if the writers could not decide if they wanted the story to be a drama, a thriller, or a little of both. To that end, the story only gains any real interest after audiences have taken in the noted, brief commentary in the movie’s bonus content. Keeping all of this in mind, the movie proves only slightly more worth watching at the most.
While the bonus content helps at least slightly to make Lapsis worth watching, that encouragement is minimal at best. The movie’s cinematography adds slightly more motivation to watch. Considering that the bulk of the movie takes place in forested settings, the cinematography had to be taken especially into account because of the color balances, and that of light and dark. Additionally, there had to be emphasis on specific angles within given scenes to help heighten the emotions of all involved. The distortion of the backgrounds (which honestly is slightly overused) does help to heighten the tension as Ray makes his way through his routes and tries to figure out what is going on. The use of the panavision lenses (as noted in the audio commentary) definitely helps with this aspect overall. Simply put, the work of those behind the lenses is to be applauded because it helps to set the mood in each scene. When this is considered along with the slight positive of the movie’s bonus content, the two elements combine to make Lapsis worth watching at least once, but sadly no more than that.
Couple 3 Films’ statement movie Lapsis is a problematic presentation from the independent studio. Its bonus content serves as its main positive. Without the bonus content, viewers would be left guessing as to the story’s plot and message. Speaking of that, the story itself is, again, ambiguous because of the manner in which the story is presented. Audiences are led to believe the story one kind of tale, but ultimately find out it is something else. Making things even more difficult is the story’s abrupt ending. Overall, the whole thing comes across as some kind of odd sci-fi noir flick that attempts to deliver a message but ultimately fails in that effort. Luckily, the movie’s cinematography works with the bonus content to give viewers at least a little more reason to give the movie a chance. That is thanks to the color balances, the angles and other aspects. All things considered here, Lapsis proves to be one of the lesser of this year’s crop of new independent movies. Lapsis is available now.
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Parents should never pressure their children to take part in activities in which they really have no interest. Sadly, far too many parents out there heed that warning. Pressuring children to do things in which they are not interested serves only to harm them mentally and emotionally. Such is the essential premise for independent movie studio Film Republic’s 2019 drama God of the Piano. It is a premise that is certain to resonate with plenty of audiences, even being presented in a foreign independent import that was brought to domestic audiences this past February on DVD. The story to which that premise is connected makes this movie worth watching at least once if no more than that. For all of the engagement established through this movie’s premise and story, the story is not without at least one fault. That fault comes through some writing issues within the story. This will be discussed a little later. While the story featured in God of the Piano presents both pros and cons, the bonus short film presented with the movie’s domestic DVD release this year makes up for that mixed presentation, rounding out the DVD’s most important elements. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation. All things considered, they make the DVD worth watching at least once if no more.
Film Movement’s new domestic DVD presentation of Film Republic’s 2019 movie, God of the Piano is one that is an interesting option for audiences who are perhaps looking for an alternative to the endless river of prequels, sequels, reboots, and movies based on actual events flowing from mainstream American studios. Its interest comes primarily from its story. The story in question follows Anat (Naama Preis — The Grave, Tel Aviv, Azimuth) a one time piano prodigy who is so obsessed with being in her piano virtuoso father’s shadow that she ends up living vicariously through her “son,” who also turns out to be quite talented on the piano. The term “son” is used in quotes because there is a catch. Aidan, her “son” is not really her son. Anat is so mentally and emotionally scarred by everything that her father did as she herself was growing up that when she gives birth to a deaf son, she switches her biological son with another couple’s son. That act in itself makes it easy to dislike Anat more than connect with her. Her desperation does not stop there. Not to give away too much, but in her attempt to live up to her father’s expectations, she cheats on her husband and sleeps with another man just so that he would make a composition for Aidan to use in an audition for an elite school. It just so happens that her father is on the board that decides which students get into the school. Between this extreme act of desperation and the very fact that she would basically abandon her own biological son at birth and take someone else’s child goes a long way toward exhibiting the long-term emotional and mental impacts of parents pressuring their children and placing undue expectations on them. It may seem unbelievable but any viewer will agree they have seen parents in real life living vicariously through their children. They just don’t see the full impacts of those parents’ actions. To that end, the story is actually believable. While the story is gripping and very clearly heavy, it is not without some faults.
The faults in God of the Piano’s story begin with the very premise presented about the story. According to information provided about the movie by Film Republic and Film Movement, Anat’s very desperate actions are the result of her relationship with her father. The information states that Anat lived in her father’s shadow for years, and by result was negatively impacted by this aspect. Even with this noted as the deeper premise for the story, this part of the story is never actually addressed within the story. It is insinuated to a point, but never actually addressed within the story that viewers follow within the movie. All audiences have to go by is that premise for her extreme behavior. Yes, it would have made the movie longer, but at the same time, would have also made the movie more entertaining.
On a related note, the information provided on the movie’s box alleges that Anat eventually confronts her father about his role in and impact on her throughout her life. This was supposed to have come as a result of everything that she does and that happens with Aidan. That is deceiving because (again not to give away too much) in reality there is no real confrontation. The only real confrontation comes as she questions her father as to why Aidan was not accepted into the elite school for which he auditioned. It again is anything but what audiences expected considering the premise presented on the movie’s case.
On yet another note, audiences know that Anat switched her biological son (who is never even named) with another couple’s son. Yet throughout everything, this part of the story is not re-visited until the movie’s final act. How it is re-visited will not be revealed here. Regardless, that her biological son is completely ignored and that she does not even begin to think about him until such point makes it that much more difficult to sympathize with Anat. Rather, it makes it that much easier to see her as a villain just as much as a victim. That is because it makes it look like she does not have even the slightest regret over what she has done to that child, to Aidan, and even to his biological parents. These plot holes of sorts really should have been addressed before this movie even went into production. That they exist noticeably detracts from the viewing experience. Luckily they are not enough to make the movie a complete failure. They just combine to counter the more believable side of the story.
Keeping everything noted about God of the Piano’s story in mind, the story is interesting, but also imperfect. Thankfully, the story featured in the bonus short film that comes with the movie’s DVD release makes up the failings of the main feature. The bonus short film, The Audition, is a simple story about a cellist named Sarah who by chance ends up performing at the wedding of what is believed to be her ex-husband. The story never fully states that Sarah and the man were married, but it is known that the pair was romantically connected at one point. The 22-minute presentation seamlessly transitions between Sarah’s performance along her fellow musicians and what led up to the pair’s split seamlessly as the story progresses. The outcome will not be revealed here, but makes for its own interest. The short story ultimately outshines it counterpart what with its believable and accessible story, and the noted seamless transitions. When the short is considered along with God of the Piano, in all of its pros and cons, the two stories together make the overall presentation worth watching at least once.
Film Movement’s domestic DVD presentation of Film Republic’s God of the Piano is an interesting but imperfect presentation. It is not a failure, but is also not a complete success. That is proven in part through the story in the main feature. The story is an examination of sorts of the impact of parents’ pressuring their children to do things in which they might not be interested. The story in itself is interesting because it is believable to a point. It is also an emotionally heavy story. That in itself makes for reason enough to give the movie a chance. While the movie’s general premise makes for reason to watch, the script ignores some key matters, detracting from its presentation to a point. That is not enough to make the movie a failure. The bonus short film that accompanies God of the Piano makes up for that story’s shortcomings. That is even considering the fact that the short runs only 22 minutes. Each item noted here plays its own important part to the overall DVD presentation of God of the Piano. All things considered, they make the movie’s domestic DVD presentation worth watching at least once, but sadly not much more than that.
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Independent film studio Film Movement will resurrect a classic big screen British comedy on Blu-ray this month.
The company is scheduled to re-issue The Belles of St. Trinians Feb. 23 in partnership with Studiocanal. Starring Alastair Sim (A Christmas Carol, School for Scoundrels, — which itself was the inspiration behind the comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — An Inspector Calls), the movie follows Sim as Clarence Fritton. Fritton becomes Millicent Fritton, headmistress of the movie’s title school for girls as he tries to evade police searching for the bookie.
Fritton is trying to evade them as he tries to keep track of a horse named Arab Boy, which is scheduled to appear in an upcoming race in the Gold Cup. The horse just happens to be owned by one of the school’s students, Princess Fatima of Makyad (Lorna Henderson — The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Kipps, The Vise), who is herself the target of a kidnapping plot thought up by Fritton’s daughter Arabella (Vivienne Martin — Two Way Stretch, As Time Goes By, Pride and Prejudice). Making things even more interesting is that police, in their search for the elder Fritton, have placed one of their own P.W. Sgt. Ruby Gates (Joyce Grenfell — Stage Fright, The Happiest Days of Your Life, The Americanization of Emily) to track down Fritton.
Adding to the enjoyment for audiences will be bonus interviews with various figures, such as Sim’s daughter Merlith McKendrick, film historian Geoff Brown, and Dr. Melanie Williams, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, UEA. The full list of interviewees is noted below.
“The Girls of St. Trinian’s featurette
Interview with film historian Geoff Brown
Interview with Dr. Melanie Williams, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, UEA
Interview with Alastair Sim’s daughter, Merlith McKendrick
Interview with Steve Chibnall, Professor of British Cinema, De Montfort University
The Belles of St.Trinian’s runs 91 minute. The movie was co-written by Frank Launder Sidney Gilliat, and Val Valentine, and directed by Launder. A trailer for the movie is streaming here
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Film Movement is bringing the Israeli drama God of the Piano to American audiences.
Originally released in 2019, the movie is scheduled for domestic release Feb. 16 through Film Movement on DVD. The family drama centers on the relationship between a mother and her deaf son, and how her relationship with her own father played into her relationship with her son.
Anat (Naama Preis — The Grave, Tel Aviv, Azimuth) is a woman whose life is music. It is all that she has. She has tried to live up to her father’s own musical legacy, but has never reached his level. As a result, when Anat has her own child, she pushes the boy to become a musical prodigy, essentially trying to force him to be what she wants him to be. This leads her to confront her own dysfunctional relationship with her own musician parent.
The trailer for God of the Piano is streaming here.
As an added bonus, the movie features the short film The Audition as extra content. Directed by Guy Lichtenstein, the story centers on a young woman named Sarah. Sarah has an unexpected run-in with someone from her past while performing at a wedding. the short runs approximately 22 minutes.
God of the Piano was nominated for the Big Screen Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and for the “Best Israeli Feature” at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Preis received the award for “Best Actress” for her role in the film at the festival.
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Independent film studio Film Movement resurrected the vintage documentary I Am A Dancer this year. Re-issued on Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 22, the 92 minute (on hour, 32-minute) documentary is an interesting but imperfect presentation. Its profile of legendary ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev serves as an appealing introduction to the fame figure. At the same time, the approach to the profile in question is such that audiences will find it problematic. This will be addressed a little later. The documentary’s average price point makes for its own appeal. When it is considered with the documentary’s primary presentation, the two elements join to make the presentation such that ballet aficionados will find the vintage documentary worth watching at least occasionally.
I Am A Dancer is a work that will appeal primarily to the most devoted ballet aficionados. That is because the vintage documentary, re-issued in September by Film Movement, give those audiences a glimpse into the man who is among the most elite figures in the ballet world. It offers this glimpse through footage of Nureyev at work in the dance studio. Audiences get to see Nureyev’s dedication to his art and his versatility, working on classical and modern dance styles. Along the way, audiences are also treated to some insight from those who were close to Nureyev as to who he was. One dancer noted in her audio commentary, that Nureyev allegedly was known for having mood swings, but even with that, was still a respected figure because he was still mostly happy. Audiences also learn from the narration about the circumstances of Nureyev’s birth and his familiarity with traveling and working. There are also insights into the featured performance segments in the narration, which will help keep the noted audiences engaged and entertained. Audiences even get to see Nureyev in the dressing room as he prepares to perform. It continues to show the man at work in all of his focus. Between everything noted here and more, it becomes clear that the primary presentation of I Am A Dancer is certain to engage and entertain the noted audiences.
For all that the primary presentation does to help this vintage documentary’s presentation, the execution thereof is something that the noted audiences will agree is somewhat problematic. That is because what audiences get here is, as noted, more a glimpse than a full profile of the legendary dancer. Yes, audiences are treated to some in-depth clips of Nureyev at work on stage and screen, and in the rehearsal room, but the problem is that it is mostly that. Yes, the insight about his birth is there, but even the bonus content that is featured with this re-issue does not necessarily add much to the whole. So again, what audiences get is just something brief, in the bigger picture. It’s not a full profile outlining the roots of Nureyev’s career. At the most, viewers get fleeting mentions of those roots. Whether one is a ballet aficionado or just an observer, one cannot deny that this detracts from the presentation. Without that extra content, this whole really just come across as a simple look at the legend at work more than a full profile of a legend.
Keeping in mind the primary content featured in this vintage documentary and the presentation thereof, the documentary’s average price point makes it at least somewhat more appealing for viewers. Using listings featured at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers – it was not listed through Target and Books-A-Million at the time of this review’s posting – the presentation’s average price point comes to $23.97 on Blu-ray and $17.30 on DVD. In other words, the prior comes in at less than $25 while the latter totals less than $20. Amazon provided the least expensive listing for each platform at $14.00 (Blu-ray) and $14.95 (DVD) while Walmart claims the most expensive listing for each platform at $29.95 (BD) and $19.95 (DVD). Simply put, at its least expensive, the set barely touches the $15 mark and at its most expensive comes in at $30. That the noted audiences can get the documentary at that noted low price makes for its own appeal, especially considering everything else addressed here. All things considered, I Am A Dancer proves to be a work that is worth watching at least once at the lowest price.
Film Movement’s recently re-issued presentation of the vintage documentary I Am A Dancer is an intriguing presentation. It gives a good glimpse into the man who was the legendary dancer Rudolph Nureyev. While it serves as a good starting point on a look into his legacy, the way in which it was presented proves somewhat problematic. It detracts, to a point, from the overall presentation. Keeping all of that in mind, the documentary’s average price point makes for at least some more appeal. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this documentary’s re-issue. All things considered, it proves itself worth at least the occasional watch.
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