20th Century Women Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup
  • Director: Mike Mills
  • Disc Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: March 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 118 minutes

        In part, 20th Century Women is a coming-of-age tale. It is also a period examination of feminism in the 1970s, a story of the relationship between mother and son, and a contemplation on the necessity and simultaneous criticism of masculinity. 20th Century Women is only able to be all of these things because of the ensemble casting and an Academy Award-nominated screenplay by filmmaker Mike Mills, which does a careful balancing act that often feels like a precarious tight-rope walk. Although expertly constructed and easy to admire from a technical perspective, I did find myself longing for the emotional simplicity of Mills’ previous work.

Arsenal Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Adrian Grenier, Johnathon Schaech, Lydia Hull
  • Director: Steven C. Miller
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1

  • Rated: R
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • Release Date: March 28, 2017
  • Run Time: 92 minutes

        Inconsistent is the best word to describe Arsenal, the latest low-budget crime thriller from director Steven C. Miller. The overly simplistic screenplay is peppered with cliché characters and bad dialogue, saved only occasionally by seasoned actors who seem to be slumming it in low budget filmmaking, either out of desperation or simple disregard for good taste. The rest of the cast is not talented enough to handle the poorly written words, leaving questions about either Miller’s ability to direct actors or the casting director’s judgment. The film is also inconsistent in visual style, spending a large amount of effort and money on a flashy climactic piece of violent action, while other areas of the film look as though they were hurriedly shot by an amateur filmmaker.

Ali and Nino DVD Review

  • Actors: Adam Bakri, María Valverde
  • Director: Asif Kapadia
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: March 21, 2017
  • Run Time: 101 minutes

    There is something very old fashioned about Ali and Nino, Asif Kapadia’s sprawling epic based on the true star-crossed romance between a Muslim Azerbaijani man and a Christian woman from Georgia during World War I. This classic style of filmmaking could have been nostalgic, but instead ends up feeling a bit stale. Though there was certainly potential for inserting modern relevance into the story, especially given the unity between Christian and Muslim characters, Kapadia’s film stays tied to the past in a way that is almost obtuse.

Sing 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton
  • Director: Garth Jennings
  • Format: 4K
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: March 21, 2017
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2018

        After the success of Zootopia, I am not surprised to see a sudden increase in animal-based animation, specifically ones in which they act just like humans. In fact, though there are many jokes about the characteristics of certain animals (Rosita the pig is a mother to a litter of 25 piglets, Johnny the gorilla comes from a family of thugs) or played against expectations (Mike the mouse is confidently arrogant despite his size), this film could easily have been done with human characters. This is where the fun of animation comes into play, imagining a world where animals act like humans just like Zootopia did with a buddy cop narrative. Where Sing differs is with the musical element, essentially playing out like an animated animal film version of “The Voice.”