Little White Lies A Powerful, Emotionally Charged Drama

Courtesy:  EuropaCorp Distribution/mpi Pictures/Films Caneo/M6/W9/Canal+/Cine Cinema

Courtesy: EuropaCorp Distribution/mpi Pictures/Films Caneo/M6/W9/Canal+/Cine Cinema

Little White Lies is a very emotionally powerful and moving story.  As powerful as it is, it is not a movie for anyone.  The reason for this is that it is a direct reflection of life.  Just because it is a French film doesn’t mean that the characters only reflect the French.  Rather, it reflects humans in general.  Whereas the BBC’s Keeping Up Appearances does this in a full on comical nature, this roughly two and a half-hour long allegory about the lies that we tell ourselves and others every day takes a far more dramatic turn on this subject.

Little White Lies was marketed as a dramedy of sorts.  And while there are some humorous moments, the humor of those moments is slight at best.  So it would be safer to consider this movie as leaning more in the direction of a drama than a dramedy.  The movie’s drama rises from the central theme that the group of friends have to put their annual vacation plans on hold when Ludo (Jean DuJardin—The Artist) is hit by a box truck while leaving a bar one day.  The drama starts right from the moment the group of friends leaves Ludo’s room at the hospital, their actions speak volumes.  They all agree to cut their annual vacation short by two weeks so as to be able to see Ludo, thinking that he will be okay.  The way that they act is almost that of people who feel inconvenienced by Ludo being in the hospital.  It is so subtle.  But it is there.  So it’s evident from early on just how much this story reflects real life.

The reflection of life doesn’t end with the moment the friends leave the hospital.  Throughout the time that the friends are together on their vacation, the lives that they live and that they use to impress one another are revealed.  From an unhappy couple to a gay man that is in the closet to lies about their own situation in life, each member of the group mirrors people in everyday life.  This ugly truth is eventually revealed in the story’s bittersweet ending.  The story’s end is its most powerful moment, too.  It leaves viewers to question what is really important in life.  Is it one’s own reputation or one’s own family and friends that are the most important?  Given, it is a foreign film.  But the message is one that will resonate among all audiences.  And because of that, it is worth at least one watch as emotionally charged as it is.

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3rd Rock Reclaims Its Spot In TV’s Upper Realms With Complete Set

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment/carsey werner Distribution

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment/carsey werner Distribution

Mill Creek Entertainment will release tomorrow, the full collection of what is one of the greatest sitcoms of the 1990s.  That sitcom is the one and only 3rd Rock From The Sun.  The one of a kind show ran on NBC from January of 1996 to October of 2000.  Since the show’s original run, few shows—if any—have managed to live up to the level of 3rd Rock.  The show’s writers and the now all-star cast proved throughout its six-season run that comedy could (and can) be fun without being too blue.  Thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment, the show’s original fans and a whole new generation of audiences can see exactly that even over a decade after it ended its original run on NBC.

A big part of the success behind 3rd Rock From The Sun is the show’s writing.  In some bizarre way, the show’s writers were able to take what would have otherwise been mere observational humor and made it into a format that is as funny today as it was in its original run.  It would be safe to say that a big reason for the show’s writing being so timeless is its balance of being edgy, but not too edgy.  Simply put, there were comic elements that only older audiences would get, and then there were elements that some younger viewers would get.  The more adult comic elements weren’t so overt as to make parents want to usher their kids out of the room.  And the show’s tamer elements were still edgy enough to be proper for younger audiences, but still just as entertaining for the parents of said audiences.  Take a pick from any episode of this show’s six seasons on air.  Any of them exhibit that.  One good example of this comes from the show’s fifth season.  “Dial M For Dick” sees the Solomons going to a Murder Mystery playhouse, not knowing that everything that happens was an act.  Needless to say, plenty of laughs ensure, including plenty from the show’s final minutes.  Audiences will have to see for themselves what that means when they pick up this complete collection of the show’s six seasons.

The writing behind 3rd Rock From The Sun is a big part of the success behind the show’s continued success even more than ten years after it ended.  It wasn’t the only part of the show’s success, though.  The acting of the show’s cast also played a big part in its success.  There was an obvious chemistry between the cast—veteran John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and French Stewart—throughout every episode.  The cast’s ability to interpret the comic elements of each script was expert.  And it makes for nonstop laughs from one episode to the next in every season.  If the chemistry between the cast isn’t enough for audiences, then the physical comedy from every member of the cast will push the show over the top.  This too is an element that today’s sitcoms have lost.  The physical comedy in this show harkened back to television’s golden age.  It just heightened each episode’s writing that much more, and made it that much more enjoyable for both adults and some younger viewers.

As one can already tell by this point, 3rd Rock From The Sun had so much to offer audiences.  It still offers every bit of that same comedy and heart to this day.  There is one more factor in this new complete set that audiences will appreciate.  That factor is the inclusion of the same bonus features from the original single season sets released over the past couple of years.  Now audiences who perhaps were unable to pick up previous seasons have the chance to have the complete series exactly as it appeared from Mill Creek’s previous releases.  Mill Creek Entertainment is to be applauded for this inclusion.  Considering everything that this show still offers today, one can only wonder if Mill Creek, or perhaps even another company, will one day give it the re-mastering it deserves and re-issue it to blu-ray.  Until then, audiences now have the entire series in one complete box set that they can enjoy over and over again.  It will be available in stores and online tomorrow, Tuesday, May 14th

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Lincoln A Solid Biopic From Start To Finish

Courtesy:  Dreamworks Studios/20th Century Fox

Courtesy: Dreamworks Studios/20th Century Fox

Much has been written of Abraham Lincoln.  Books upon books upon books have been published that center on the man and the myths surrounding his life.  Just as much has been crafted for televised documentaries.  And even more has been penned about the era in which our nation’s sixteenth President led his country.  Now courtesy of author Doris Kearns Goodwin, director Steven Spielberg and screen writer Tony Kushner, audiences have been presented with what is one of the most gripping portrayals of President Lincoln and his time in office in the simply titled, Lincoln.

Lincoln was largely met with applause from critics and audiences alike.  Though there were those that had their qualms with the near three hour long semi-biopic.  Many of the arguments against the story were centered on the fact that the movie in fact focuses on Lincoln and the battles in the halls of the nation’s government.  In the story’s defense, audiences should remind themselves that this movie is not about the war on the battlefield.  It is about the battles in Congress over the abolition of slavery and bringing a final end to the Civil War.  It is a beautifully shot and well acted story.  However, those who have mentioned its sometimes long winded nature can be agreed upon.  Sometimes, it does get rather wordy.  And the story’s slower pacing might turn off some viewers considering that the movie comes in at nearly three hours long.  But those that are true history buffs and/or civil war buffs will easily be able to overlook these issues and enjoy it for its positives, which outweigh the negatives.

For the negatives that weigh down Lincoln, its positives outweigh those negatives.  The first of the positives in Lincoln is that it doesn’t get lost in itself throughout the course of its run time.  The story is meant to focus on President Lincoln and what was the most pivotal moment in his time in office; his waning days in office before his assassination.  The new four-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack home release of the movie includes the bonus feature, “The Journey to Lincoln” on both formats.  This feature is a welcome addition as Spielberg, author Doris Kearns Goodwin—whose book was the inspiration behind this movie—and screen writer Tony Kushner all point out in this feature that the aim was meant to be on what went on in Congress during the final days of the Civil War, rather than on the frontlines.  Having this hammered home so gently by all three individuals makes the story more watchable in comparison to the likes of Public Enemies which was also based on a historical non-fiction.  That movie was a mere shadow of the far better book.  It really was a movie that never should have happened.   This movie at least attempts to stay closer to the book on which it is based.  It presents less the mythical Lincoln and more the actual man, and what he faced in what would be his final days in office.

The story and its primary associated bonus feature make up just one of the positives to the new home release of Lincoln.  The acting on the part of the star-studded cast is another positive to Lincoln.  Even though there are some portions of the movie that are more drawn out than they perhaps should have been, veterans Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Tommy Lee Jones (Men In Black 1-3), and Sally Field (Mrs. Doubtfire, Smoky and the Bandit), all contribute expertly, making their parts fully believable.  Making their performances even more believable are costumes that are spot on.  While the movie may not have taken the Oscar for this category, there is no denying how impressive the end result of that work was.  Speaking of which, audiences that pick up the new four-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of Lincoln get another bonus in the addition of a feature titled, “Crafting The Past” in the set’s bonus Blu-ray disc.  This feature examines not just the costumes, but also the production work and other more fine details of the movie.

The costumes and production of Lincoln are just as important as any other part of the movie that makes it successful.  There is at least one more factor to the movie that makes this the impressive work that it is.  That factor is the movie’s cinematography.  The shooting style us especially powerful in the movie’s closing scenes as the President surveys the result of a battle.  And the movie’s final scene (which will not be revealed here for the sake of those who have yet to see the movie), is a prime example of expert cinematography.  The transition into that scene and the final pullout are such powerful statements in themselves, and will leave any true history and civil war buff feeling completely satisfied after having made it through the rest of the movie’s emotional journey.  After having made that journey and having viewed the extensive bonus features included in the new four-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, those same individuals will agree that Lincoln is in fact one of the best biopics crafted in recent history, albeit only a semi-biopic.  It is available now in stores and online.

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