Monsieur Verdoux Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Charlie Chaplin
  • Director: Charlie Chaplin
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Release Date: March 26, 2013
  • Run Time: 124 minutes

  • Entertainment Value: 8/10

    Historical Significance: 9/10
    Disc Features: 10/10
                I have always loved cinema. As a young child I was exposed to the usual joys of visiting the local theater, and growing up in the 1980s meant the additional pleasure of video rentals. We would see how many times we could watch the film before having to return it. This was all your run-of-the-mill appreciation, however, and it wasn’t until I was around 10 that this developed into a life-long love affair. The moment I realized that I was different than most kids came when I was the only one my age able to answer a trivia question about a silent film character known as “The Tramp.” Charles Chaplin opened my eyes and imagination to a world which was timeless, and that love has never waned. Monsieur Verdoux, however, was one of the few Chaplin films which I had difficulty with as a child.
                This is no longer “The Tramp,” as the world had changed in such a way that made him somewhat irrelevant. As it was, Chaplin was able to keep the beloved film character around and remaining silent long after the “talkies” had taken over. The Tramp was a character that gave hope and joy to Americans in times of difficulty. He allowed the masses a distraction from their own misery, while also seeing the ability that the downtrodden screen persona had with making the same troubles humorous. But as World War II came, Chaplin was forced to shift the focus. First there was The Great Dictator, and Monsieur Verdoux is a post-war film with understandable themes of survival that carry more cynicism than Chaplin’s pre-war films, much like the arrival of the film noir.
                As well as playing a speaking role, Chaplin deters from the usual path with his role as the title character, which was based on the case of an infamous real-life criminal. Orson Welles originally approached Chaplin with the idea, but since the silent screen star always directed his own films, he bought the idea instead. The result is a thoughtful comparison piece to the persona Chaplin had built up onscreen to this point. Famed critic AndrĂ© Bazin has an essay included in the booklet insert which goes into detail examining the polar differences in this role. The booklet also includes an essay by critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and a reprinted piece by Chaplin, mostly in regards to the accusations of his communist involvement. This is also thought to be the main reason behind Monsieur Verdoux’s minimal success upon original release.
                The Blu-ray release has a 2K digital restoration of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack. The special features include a 2003 documentary on the film’s production and release, as well as an all new documentary, “Charlie Chaplin and the American Press.” Also included is an audio interview with actor Marilyn Nash and a marketing gallery of advertisements and trailers.

    Stitches Blu-ray review


  • Actors: Ross Noble, Tommy Knight
  • Director: Conor McMahon
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Dark Sky Films
  • Release Date: April 2, 2013
  • Run Time: 87 minutes

  •                                Entertainment Value: 8.5/10

    Historical Significance: 3/10

    Disc Features: 7/10
                There is enough off-beat humor and grotesquely creative deaths in Stitches to satisfy the entertainment quota for most horror fans, though it may go overboard at times. This kind of over-the-top vulgarity is reminiscent of early Peter Jackson films, which is fine for cult status but unacceptable to the mass audiences. From a dream sequence with extreme genital mutilation to the slaughtering of a household pet for a joke, Stitches goes beyond bad taste in order to shock a specific desensitized audience group. This is advanced horror, not for the casual blockbuster Hollywood horror audience members.
                Comedian Ross Noble makes his cinematic debut as Stitches the Clown, a poor excuse for a party clown who meets a gruesome end when a group of children pull a prank during his act. The bloody accident occurs at young Tommy’s birthday party, so that parties are no longer an annual event, even when he is a grown teenager years later (played by “Doctor Who” actor Tommy Knight). When Tommy finally breaks down and decides to throw a massive party the year his parents go out of town, Stitches takes the opportunity to come back and seek revenge.
    I was able to attend the Los Angeles premiere of this UK horror film this past week, at which director Conor McMahon expressed his desire to make a film like the horror films of the 1980s. In many ways, he was successful in this endeavor. The creative kills done with humor and practical effects over the computer generated ones match up with the mood of many Hollywood horror franchises of the 1980s, with Freddy Kreuger being the first to come to mind. Add that to the extreme gore of Jackson’s 1980s horror comedies like Bad Taste and Stitches fits right in. This does not make for cutting edge horror, but rather a sense of nostalgia entertainment for those who have a deep love of the sub-depths of the genre.
                The Blu-ray release of this engaging little horror film includes an audio commentary with director McMahon and star Noble. There is also a making-of featurette, trailer and a blooper reel.  

    Parental Guidance Blu-ray review

  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English, French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: March 26, 2013
  • Run Time: 105 minutes

  • Entertainment Value: 3.5/10

    Historical Significance: 4/10
    Disc Features: 8/10
                From bad bathroom humor to predictable storylines, this could have been a perfect film for younger audiences. Add a few actors who will only be appreciated by the parents and suddenly the focus shifts. Parental Guidance suffers from too much meddling. What may have originally been a clever premise (albeit one more likely to consume twenty minutes of air time in any number of family sitcoms) becomes a muddled mess of forced jokes that never land.
                Billy Crystal and Bette Midler head up the cast as the shunned grandparents, Artie and Diane. When there are no other options, their over-protective daughter (Marisa Tomei) is forced to ask her parents to watch her kids when she goes out of town with her husband (Tom Everett Scott). Artie and Diane are the unpopular grandparents, evidence shown by the lack of their presence on the family mantle full of photos. Seeing the babysitting as their opportunity to get back into the good graces of their daughter, Artie and Diane struggle to make a connection with the kids.
                Each of the three children are unique in their own way, mostly because of the coddling nature of their parents. Artie and Diane have a more direct approach to parenting, though they are forced to adjust their methods in order to help. In the end, they both bend some and there is an inevitable family reunion. The children are positively affected and the grandparents win the love of their family again. All of this is fine and well on paper, but on film it is unlikely to entertain adults or children. The veteran actors over-act a bit too much for sake of the family humor, but this is not enough to make it move at the pace younger audience members have become accustomed to.
                The Blu-ray comes with an additional DVD and digital copy of the film. The special features on the Blu-ray are highlighted by a commentary track with director Andy Fickman and Billy Crystal. There are also deleted scenes with an optional commentary by Fickman, and a gag reel. The last of the special features is a promotional featurette with interviews from the stars about their roles.

    Tormented Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Takeru Shibuya, Hikari Mitsushima, Tamaki Ogawa, Teruyuki Kagawa
  • Director: Takashi Shimizu
  • Format: Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, 3D, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: April 2, 2013
  • Run Time: 83 minutes

  • Entertainment Value: 3/10

    Historical Significance: 2/10

    Disc Features: 2/10
                Japanese director Takashi Shimizu is best known for Ju-On, and the subsequent Hollywood remake, The Grudge. Shimizu still makes horror films, and they often still involve ghosts. Recently, however, the utilization of 3D seems to have softened the filmmaker to a place of strange cinema. Previously releasing Shock Labyrinth 3D, an atrociously bad film about a group of friends in a haunted hospital, Shimizu has returned with a tamer and equally inexplicable horror film in 3D.
                Tormented is not exactly a sequel to Shock Labyrinth, but it has many similarities. The largest and hardest to ignore is the fact that the director’s last 3D film is featured within Tormented. In this sequence we are forced to watch a 3D scene of people watching a 3D movie, emphasizing the rabbit from Shimizu’s previous film. This rabbit is the most important connection, because Daigo is terrorized by a comically large stuffed bunny rabbit. Daigo is a young boy who puts a dying rabbit out of its misery in the opening sequence, alongside his sister Kiriko.
                Kiriko wants to protect Daigo, but this becomes more difficult as he begins to sleepwalk and see the rabbit everywhere. This may be frightening for Daigo, but as an audience member it was just strange. This seems to be a horror film which was meant to be for the whole family, a novelty to show off the 3D effects more than anything else. In 2D it is nearly too nonsensical and dull to endure, though the technical aspects are technical adequate.  

    Luv DVD review


  • Actors: Dennis Haysbert, Common, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Michael Jr. Rainey
  • Director: Sheldon Candis
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Indomina
  • DVD Release Date: April 2, 2013
  • Run Time: 94 minutes

  • Entertainment Value: 6/10
    Historical Significance: 6/10
    Disc Features: 7/10


                Luv is not exactly the film that I was expecting to see. Instead of being a Pursuit of Happyness type of film, instead it ends up playing like an urban Road to Perdition. It is a dark film in which an innocent young boy is forced to grow up in ways that seem detrimental and unhealthy. This movie is perhaps the most difficult to watch when considering what the future holds for our young protagonist after being exposed to a day of ill-guided role modeling.


                Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) longs for his mother to return home from an unexplained absence. In the meantime, he lives with his grandmother (Lonette McKee) and his recently paroled Uncle Vincent (Common). On one particular morning when Vincent is dropping Woody off a school, he suddenly decides to take the boy along with him for the day. At first this seems ordinary and a way for Woody to be provided with a male role model. Throughout the day he will learn how to crack a crab on his own, he will sip his first beer, and many other supposed rites of passage.


    The film gets complicated due to the fact that these are rites of passage being provided by an ex-convict. Along with the healthier lessons come some which seem inappropriate for a boy of any age, such as the lesson for hiding drugs or a gun where they aren’t likely to be found when searched. It is difficult to be completely certain if Vincent’s motives are honorable or selfish, because Woody seems to play a direct role in some of the dangerous plans laid out before them through the day. At the same time, Vincent seems to be teaching Woody things that he sees as important, however misguided these lessons often are.


    The DVD includes the making-of featurette, as well as deleted scenes and a commentary track with filmmaker Sheldon Candis. There is also an additional brief featurette with Common and Michael Rainey Jr. talking about the film.