In Fear Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech
  • Director: Jeremy Lovering
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: ANCHOR BAY
  • Release Date: March 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 85 minutes


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            Horror films are about clever ideas and solid execution. Even with bad acting or little else to praise, a small horror movie can be effective if it manages to touch upon a universal fear. In Fear has a simple set-up that is relatable and extremely effective, despite very little feeling original about it by the time the credits have rolled. It is essentially Funny Games set in a car, relying on an atmosphere of dread rather than blood and gore.

     

    Commitment Blu-ray Review

     

         Actors: Choi Seung-hyun, Han Ye-ri, Jo Sung-ha
  • Director: Park Hong-soo
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Dolby, THX
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: March 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 113 minutes


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            As far as social or political issues are concerned, Commitment really has nothing of significance to say about the constant struggle between North and South Korea, but it does provide some undeniably impressive action sequences with Korean rap/pop superstar Choi Seung-Hyun (aka T.O.P.) heading up the cast. In other words, this is a blockbuster with plenty of entertainment and very little concern for realism or social relevance. Fans of South Korean action films, particularly the popular sub-genre of professional killer crime films recently released, will find this a worthwhile endeavor. 

     

    George Washington Blu-ray Review

         Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Release Date: March 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes





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            David Gordon Green’s debut feature set the tone for his entire body of work, proving immediately that he was a voice of significance in the world of American independent cinema. Green’s latest film has received praise and attention already, particularly due to the early death of one of its performers. Using non-actors within his cast to give nuanced performances began with George Washington, and it is a technique he still utilizes with great effect.

     

    Lost in Thailand Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Wang Baoqiang, Fan Bingbing, Huang Bo, Xu Zheng, Tao Hong
  • Director: Xu Zheng
  • Format: Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: February 25, 2014
  • Run Time: 105 minutes



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            Lost in Thailand is currently the highest-grossing film in China’s history, though this should not necessarily be a badge of quality. Take into consideration the films which are often the biggest box office winners in Hollywood, and how few of those are simultaneously critically praised or award-winners. 12 Years a Slave just won Best Picture at the 2014 Academy Awards, despite having very little impact on ticket sales in comparison to many other films in 2013. Lost in Thailand is a very safe film, filled with irreverent comedy and mayhem comparable to an inoffensive Chinese take on The Hangover type humor.

     

    You Will Be My Son Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Niels Arestrup, Lorànt Deutsch, Patrick Chesnais
  • Director: Gilles Legrand
  • Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Cohen Media Group
  • Release Date: February 25, 2014
  • Run Time: 102 minutes



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             I was captivated by You Will Be My Son, from the opening scene to the last. Unfortunately, once I reached that last scene it was with a certain amount of disappointment. The film builds spectacularly upon its characters and the spectacular performances, which make every plot twist and every conversation compelling, though this does not save the ending from feeling somewhat bleak and pointless. As competent as the drama within the film’s narrative may be, it ultimately leads the audience to an almost pointless conclusion which feels somewhat unresolved.

     

    The Artist and the Model Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Jean Rochefort, Claudia Cardinale
  • Director: Fernando Trueba
  • Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Cohen Media Group
  • Release Date: February 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 105 minutes



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            There are some great sequences within this meditation on art and life set during Nazi occupation of France in the summer of 1943, combined with beautifully fitting black-and-white photography by Daniel Vilar. Scene to scene, The Artist and the Model is a thoughtful and elegant film, but the overall product left me feeling somewhat under-whelmed. Rather than dig into the emotional and personal connections in the material, the narrative ends up feeling far more philosophical and theoretical instead. Even with the inclusion of dramatic story elements involving the struggle against the Nazis and hidden Spanish resistance fighters, The Artist and the Model stays too emotionally detached from its characters for any real suspense to form.

     

    See This Film: Inside Llewyn Davis DVD Review

         Actors: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 104 minutes



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            The worst films to review are the ones that have nothing spectacular about them, surviving merely on adequacy in order to make enough money in ticket sales to justify calling it a success. These films are nearly impossible to review, mostly because they are so boringly stuck in familiar formulas and predictable character arcs. Reviewing Inside Lllewyn Davis is proving to be just as difficult to review, but not for its lack of spectacular elements. The problem with this film is finding a place to begin, with every scene of the filming exuding confidence in filmmaking from every possible aspect. This may very well be the most understated film of the year, though every bit as good as every other film nominated for Best Picture this past Academy Awards.

    The 300 Spartans Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Richard Egan, Ralph Richardson, Diane Baker, Barry Coe, David Farrar
  • Director: Rudolph Maté
  • Writers: George St. George, Gian Paolo Callegari, Giovanni d'Eramo, Remigio Del Grosso, Ugo Liberatore
  • Producers: Rudolph Maté, George St. George
  • Format: Blu-ray, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Mono), Spanish (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: February 25, 2014
  • Run Time: 114 minutes


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            This week being released in theaters is 300: Rise of an Empire, following up Zack Snyder’s successful theatrical adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300, which was inspired by this 1962 classic film epic. Though this original classic that went on to inspire future mediums and franchises lacks the visual flair of Miller’s comics and Snyder’s film, the narrative is almost exactly the same. Rather than bulging muscles and rippling abs in slow-motion mayhem, The 300 Spartans utilizes the clever battle techniques of the outnumbered Spartan soldiers, making for a less exciting but equally intelligent narrative of loyalty in war.

     

    The Agony and the Ecstasy Blu-ray Review

         Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English, French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: March 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 138 minutes


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            Recently I have had quite a few conversations about the use of nudity in art, particularly with the controversy of French art house darling, Blue is the Warmest Color. Of course, I would never claim to make many more connections between the artwork displayed in Vatican City and the seven-minute lesbian love scene in a modern film, but it is worth noting that nudity in art was something up for debate even in the times of Michelangelo and his Sistine Chapel. The famed artist’s choice to show man as he is described in the Bible rather than saints clothed in excess was a controversy in his time, which makes you wonder what will be considered of great controversial art in the future.