Blu-Ray Roundup: July 1st 2014

Blu-Ray Roundup: July 1st 2014

 

Good morning readers! I’m excited to bring you the 3rd installment of the Blu-Ray Roundup column on We Live Film. For those of you that didn’t watch me during my YouTube days, I hosted a weekly series called the Blu-Ray Roundup where I reviewed the latest High Definition (and some DVD) titles in brief. I continue that tradition here on We Live Film with this weekly column discussing the latest releases. So without further ado, here are my mini-reviews/thoughts on the latest home video releases.

WintersTale

Winter’s Tale

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Street Date: June 24th 2014

 

  • Adapted from the “unfilmable” 1983 novel that Martin Scorsese turned down, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman makes his directorial debut with Winter’s Tale, a film so confusing and downright ridiculous onscreen that I’m still not quite sure how to wrap my head around it. With that being said, you have to respect the ambition involved here from Goldsman as writer/director. He obviously truly cared about this project of his, and it’s rather unfortunate that it bombed so badly at the box office and with subsequent critical reviews. There is a good movie somewhere here, it’s just not this one. Unable to enter New York Harbor in the late 1800’s due to tuberculosis, baby Peter’s parents literally set him sailing to the land of opportunity. Several years later, Peter is all grown up but not likely following the dreams his parents had for him on that fateful day, as his regular employment involves thieving and burglary under the guidance of Gangster Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), a demon in disguise. After he is saved by a guardian angel horse (!) and falls in love with a young dying woman, Peter and his new love embark on a journey to escape from the clutches of Pearly and his evil minions. That’s about all I can sensibly grasp from the film, as presented, which scatters in so many different directions, with a screenplay that never adequately explains the mythology or fairy tale elements at play. The love story is downright cringe worthy, and the performances are universally over-the-top. The good news here is that the Blu-Ray edition from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment looks incredible, with supreme fine object detail, and a grand blue-grey color scheme that looks remarkable in High Definition. The audio track is fine as well, providing a dynamic home theater experience. Special Features include Winter’s Tale: A Timeless Love featurette, the Characters of Good and Evil featurette, and more. This might be worth a rental, only to behold what will surely become some kind of corny cult classic twenty years down the road. 

Joe

Joe

Distributor: Lionsgate

Street Date: June 17th 2014

 

  • David Gordon Green’s Joe is the standout title in this week’s roundup, with award-worthy performances that you will not soon forget. In the titular role, Nicolas Cage plays an ex-convict with a troubled past, trying to live his life on the straight and narrow. Tye Sheridan is Gary, a 15-year old boy with a sadistic drunkard of a Father, seemingly hell bent on making his son’s life miserable. As Joe and Gary form a friendship unlike any other, Joe’s paternal side begins to take over when it comes to Gary’s increasingly worrisome troubles with his Father. After such a tough life and new beginning, does Joe dare risk his freedom to aid this troubled boy? There is no doubt that he’s stuck in a difficult predicament, and the story that unfolds here is utterly riveting and feels more authentic than most dramas of it’s kind. You have to admire Nicolas Cage here in a performance that is a welcome change from his cheesy filmography of late, and a reminder of the incredible talent that he possesses as an actor. The Blu-Ray edition from Lionsgate looks outstanding, with a golden hued gritty color scheme that features outstanding fine object detail and definition. Special Features include deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, The Long Gravel Drive featurette, and a commentary from select cast and crew. Joe comes Highly recommended.

HomeBeforeMidnight

Home Before Midnight

Distributor: Kino Lorber/Redemption Films

Street Date: June 17th 2014

  • Pete Walker put a very unique stamp on the exploitation film industry, and though his films remain an acquired taste, there is no doubt that he made a difference in the genre. With Home Before Midnight, Walker made a movie unlike anything he had filmed before. The blood and gore are absent here, as Walker focuses on a story about sexuality, morality, and the legal system that ultimately decides one’s fate. Songwriter Mike Beresford (James Aubrey) rescues stranded hitchhiker Ginny one night, and their romance begins soon after. The problem is that she is only fourteen, which Mike didn’t know, but Ginny’s parents fully intend to use against him in the trial that follows. This is a bizarre little film, shining a light on something that most people would rather turn away from. Once we fully understand the circumstances, we also expect these characters to make rational decisions that simply never come. It’s absolutely something different for Pete Walker fans, but bare in mind, it’s a strange and dated film by all means. The Blu-Ray edition from Kino Redemption looks outstanding considering the age and film stock, with only a few hiccups here and there. Special Features include an interview with Pete Walker and Elijah Drenner, the theatrical trailer for the film, and additional trailers for other Pete Walker titles.

 RobTheMob

Rob the Mob

Distributor: Millennium Home Entertainment

Street Date: June 24th 2014

 

  • This true story about a young couple who decide to hold-up mafia card games and social clubs, and the subsequent press and investigations, is pretty wild and fun. It never quite finds a solid rhythm, but there are some incredibly funny moments in this film, and watching it will make you want to research the true story behind it. Andy Garcia hasn’t been this good and watchable in over a decade, and completely nails his tough-as-nails role. I’ve enjoyed Michael Pitt’s work for some time now, from The Dreamers to Boardwalk Empire, he’s an outstanding arrival on the acting scene. The supporting cast all does a great job as well. Though the “re-watch” factor isn’t high here, I did enjoy this little caper comedy. The Blu-Ray from Millennium Entertainment features a fine Blu-Ray presentation with solid black levels and the “boosted” color scheme from the theatrical presentation. Special Features include deleted scenes (which were better left on the cutting room floor) and a director’s commentary from Raymond De Felitta.

BloodTies

Blood Ties

Distributor: Lionsgate

Street Date: June 24th 2014

 

  • Blood Ties is one of those films that you really want to love, but you walk away feeling that it could have been so much more. It’s Brooklyn, New York in 1970, and convicted felon Chris (Clive Owen) has been released from prison after years spent away from his family and friends. His younger brother Frank (Billy Crudup) is a cop, and tries his best to keep Chris out of trouble and assist him in paving a successful future after his past mistakes. Unable to stay away from the heist life for too long, and without much going for his future, Chris is soon back to his old tricks, which puts his cop brother in a bad predicament. The thing about Blood Ties is that it just never quite finds it’s footing. The performances are outstanding, dare I say, Oscar worthy at moments, but the story itself is slow and borrowed. The cinematography is fantastic, and I especially admired the utter dedication to the time period, from the music to the costume design and architecture, this film looks impeccable. I do still recommend seeing Blood Ties, because even though it has flaws, there is much to admire here. I may have to revisit this one down the road to possibly appreciate it more. The Blu-Ray from Lionsgate looks outstanding, nailing the color scheme from the theatrical experience. The somewhat washed out and gritty look remains authentic in High Definition. Special Features include a behind-the-scenes featurette.

UnknownKnown

The Unknown Known

Distributor: Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Street Date: July 1st 2014

 

  • However you feel about Donald Rumsfeld, love him or hate him, I think you’ll find this documentary from the great Errol Morris fascinating. From his days in the Reagan administration (and not being chosen as his Vice President), to his critical role under George W Bush’s administration as secretary of defense, this revealing documentary examines the man in a way that no interview or article ever has before. I’m not one that usually enjoys political documentaries of this nature, but this was absolutely riveting in every way. The Blu-Ray edition from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment looks beautiful in High Definition, mixing brand new interview footage with archival newsreels and catalog programs. Special Features include a commentary from Errol Morris, a conversation with Errol Morris, the 1989 third annual report of the secretaries of defense (in full), and the four-part op-ed The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld. This one comes highly recommended folks, a definite surprise for me.

Ragamuffin

Ragamuffin

Distributor: Millennium Entertainment

Street Date: July 8th 2014

  • This is the true story of Rich Mullins, a musical genius from Indiana who became famous on the Christian music circuit, but struggled with issues that haunted him in his past, present, and future. He struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, a wicked Father, and other demons that tried to drag him down. Though his story is an interesting one, I felt that Ragamuffin was a bit too heavy handed for it’s own good. The movie’s execution feels scattered, leaving events and struggles in Rich’s life confusing for the viewer. The performances here are all fine, but this wasn’t for me personally. Those that enjoy the Christian rock scene and are more familiar with his story will likely take away more from it than I did. On a positive note, the Blu-Ray from Millennium Entertainment looks outstanding, and there is some beautiful scenery to behold in High Definition. The audio track is another standout aspect, rich in balance and very dynamic on my home system. Special Features include a making of documentary, deleted scenes, an audio commentary, and a message from Dave Mullins.

ZeroCharisma

Zero Charisma

Distributor: Cinedigm

Street Date: April 8th 2014

  • I got an absolute kick out of Zero Charisma, flaws and all. This is about a man-child named Scott who serves as Game Master for a tabletop RPG game with his nerdy friends. They’re an awkward but loveable little crew, and take the fantasy world very seriously. When their weekly meet-up requires a new member, the charismatic and edgy Miles joins, winning over the group of friends and slowly driving Scott insane with jealousy. This is an oddball film indeed, but there are so many loveable moments and rather ingenious exchanges between these characters from an original screenplay by Andrew Matthews. This is definitely one of my favorite titles in this week’s roundup, so pick it up if you get a chance and you’re in the mood for something different. The DVD edition features a handful of deleted scenes.

EasyMoney

Easy Money: Life Deluxe

Distributor: Cinedigm

Street Date: May 13th 2014

  • I believe this is the third Easy Money film I have reviewed, or I should say, been tasked to sit through. As an admirer of Joel Kinnaman’s work on The Killing, I’ve always tried to give them a chance, and while these are nowhere near awful films, they serve more as a déjà vu experience, borrowing elements from other, better crime films. In the latest installment, JW remains in exile after the events of the previous film, and resumes his search for his missing sister. When all clues lead to the syndicate in Stockholm, the situation grows more desperate and dangerous with every turn. Kinnaman is in fine form here, but again, the series has become repetitive and tedious by now. The DVD release from Cinedigm features impressive picture and audio quality for the format, and includes deleted scenes and featurettes for special features.

MirageMen

Mirage Men

Distributor: Cinedigm

Street Date: June 3rd 2014

  • This “documentary” is a load of garbage and disinformation, making for a theoretical Rubik’s cube of finger pointing, counter-intelligence reversal, and flat out lies. The basic idea presented as “fact” in this documentary is that the United States Air Force, US Intelligence agencies, and counter intelligence programs have been working for years (even prior to the Roswell incident) to spread UFO propaganda and supposed extraterrestrial visits in order to mask the true nature of what they were doing behind the scenes with advanced aerospace testing. This isn’t the forum for my personal beliefs on aliens and UFO’s, but I will say that I’m a believer in extraterrestrial life and fully accept that people have seen things that are not of this world. This documentary tries to play it straight, but the individuals involved have already received serious debunking and credibility claims. The DVD looks fine enough, as it mostly consist of new interview footage from an HD source along with archival photographs and documents that have been cleaned up for home video release. There are no special features included.

SecretLivesDorks

The Secret Lives of Dorks

Distributor: Cinedigm

Street Date: June 10th 2014

  • The one bright ray of sunshine in this cliché ridden high school comedy is Vanessa Marano, who plays the “dorkette” setup with our main dork here, Payton, everything else is nearly cringe-inducing to endure. The plot centers around the High School Cheerleader Carrie setting up Payton with Samantha (dorkette) in order to get him to stop obsessing over her. Just outlining the basic plotline for you there likely already has you recalling a variety of other, better, teen comedy films. The reason is this: it’s been done before. The jokes fall flat, the acting is insanely over-the-top, and there’s hardly a single believable character in this mess. No extras are included on the DVD release, but the video quality looks fine for the format.

WhatRichardDid

What Richard Did

Distributor: Cinedigm

Street Date: June 24th 2014

  • This little Irish drama is well done, even if it’s a bit “stuffy” and overplayed. Jack Reynor stars as Richard Karlsen, a young Irish lad who makes the tragic mistake of beating a fellow teen to death over a romantic triangle. The film handles the tragedy (based on an actual incident) intelligently, focusing more on how Richard’s decision has affected his entire life in an instant. The performances are good, and the lessons are real. The DVD edition looks nice for the format, with the muted grey-blue color scheme in full effect. The sole special features here are interviews with the Director and Star of the film.

ShurikenSchool

Shuriken School: The Ninja’s Secret

Distributor: Cinedigm

Street Date: April 15th 2014

  • If Anime is your thing, you’ll probably enjoy this a lot more than I did. Several youngsters create a Ninja School to train to fight against the villainous organization that has kidnapped one of their fathers. The animation is cute, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with the story, but this just isn’t my bag. The DVD release from Cinedigm features some bold colors and decent audio quality, but there are no special features to speak of on this release.

Wolverine

Wolverine: Weapon X- Tomorrow Dies Today

Distributor: Shout! Factory

Street Date: May 13th 2014

  • I have to admit, these motion comic releases from Shout! Factory are not for me, even as a big comic book fan. Though the adapted source material is well written and entertaining, the actual execution of the story as a “moving comic book” just looks silly to me. Random appendages move on characters, such as eyes growing bigger or fists shaking, and the camera is always shaky and unstable as it glides along with the story. I would much rather see a fully animated adaptation of the comic series than this, but that’s just me. This particular release is adapted from the Jason Aaron/Ron Garney book, and deals with Wolverine reluctantly befriending a waitress who thinks she knows him from a past or future event. Cybernetic robots from the future are coming for him, and she’s the only one who can help him. The battle between Wolvie and Demolisher is exciting, but not much else. The DVD from Shout! Factory has an overall nice color balance to it, and comes with a retrospective featurette looking back at the making of the comic source material.

ValentineRoad

Valentine Road

Distributor: Cinedigm

Street Date: June 3rd 2014

  • This is yet another well-made documentary from HBO documenting the aftermath of a school shooting in Oxnard, California in 2008. From interviews with family members, psychologists, and other experts in the field, we come to realize but not fully understand the many factors that played into this horrible tragedy. The documentary itself can be quite emotionally exhausting, but is worth the tears and heartache, as it remains an important film to be seen. The DVD release from Cinedigm features extended and deleted scenes of interview footage.

7DaysSeptember

7 Days in September

Distributor: Cinedigm

Street Date: April 15th 2014

  • This documentary is a truly powerful experience to behold. Along with In Memoriam, it has to be one of the most engaging films on the first-hand devastation that was September 11th 2001. The documentary pieces together various New York Citizens and the footage they filmed on that tragic day, as well as the documented reactions and heartbreak that followed. From the perspectives of a college professor, a postal worker, a Muslim-American woman, and a middle school student, we experience various accounts of the feelings that surged through American citizens’ hearts on that day. This documentary is very well edited together, and is well worth seeing. The DVD comes with a stand-alone bonus feature on the Making of the Memorial Museum photo gallery.

 

Well folks, that’s going to do it for this week’s Blu-Ray/DVD Roundup column. Stay tuned to We Live Film in the coming week for the next installment with reviews for the latest Blu-Ray and DVD releases.

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