Category Archives: DVD Review

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DVD Review – A Cure for Wellness

Category : DVD Review

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth

Year: 2016

For a film from the director who brought us The Weather Man and Rango, his newest feature, A Cure for Wellness, is both satisfyingly sinister and comfortably classic.  To be fair, Verbinski also directed The Ring, one of the scariest films I have ever seen, and The Curse of the Black Pearl, an absolute and near-perfect gem, so perhaps he is simply the most versatile filmmaker in the industry and we ought to stop imagining that we can predict what he might do next or how well it might turn out.  This film is a pleasant (or unpleasant) surprise, depending on how you look at it, delivering an old-school feel while presenting us with something uniquely spooky.  Hats off to Verbinski for crafting something so strange and yet so familiar, a movie that will scare, of course, but one that is also dangerously delightful.

The Movie

Young, up-and-coming executive Lockhart is in a bit of a pickle. His nefarious and not-so-clever methods have been noticed by the board of his company right before their big merger, something that ought to land him in jail, do not pass go. But there are bigger fish to fry, and Lockhart has no choice but to be the angler. A board member, Pembroke, has gone away to a spa in the Alps and has yet to come back, something that needs to happen if the merger is to be carried out. Lockhart’s job is to travel into the mountains, convince Pembroke to return, and all shall be forgiven. But, as they say with a smile at the sanitarium, why would anyone want to leave? After all, the upper-echelon clientele are very sick, Dr. Volmer seems to be making them well again with his treatments, even if Lockhart begins to suspect that evil might be lurking deep inside the healing waters of the idyllic Alpine retreat.

Lockhart meets the staff and the guests of the sanitarium, and is at a loss for what to do next.  The staff all smile as they lead you to your next treatment, they are all young and attractive, but their goodwill comes with a definite creepiness that says they’re not telling you all they know.  The guests seem to love their home away from home, not wanting the subject of leaving to even be brought up, but some of them are getting sicker, not better, without even seeming to recognize their danger.  And when Lockhart meets the captivating Hannah, who has been at the spa as long as she can remember and who is labelled as a special case, he knows that something must be done to convince the outside world that Volmer and his crew are up to no good, some unknown wickedness that only our hero can expose, but only if he resists the treatment long enough to make it past the gates.

With a horror throwback feel that almost reminded me of Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing, Verbinski’s A Cure For Wellness breathes classic creep while shouting modern imagery.  It’s extremely difficult for a film to walk the fine line between paying homage to the classics while also bringing something new to the theatre, but this movie was able to keep that precarious balance.  There was an odd comfort in the atmosphere of the plot, even while audiences were forced to look away from what they did not want to see, a pleasant mood like spending time with an old friend, all while demanding that the hero not open that door.  Verbinski created a fledgling world in which to set his story, pulled an evil plot out of thin air, but somehow also made us feel like we’d seen this all before, in a good way though, as if we too were enjoying the sinister setting too much to leave.

There’s an extremely unnerving tune played at the beginning of the film, and then brought back throughout, that sets the tone for the whole show, that sets you on edge and makes you wonder what you got yourself into.  This music, some stellar cinematography, and a patience to let events unfold as they will without forcing them to life are all to Verbinski’s credit, helping to elevate the movie above simple genre horror.  There was an insanity to the characters, an unexplained madness, that made the whole thing wonderfully unpredictable as well.  Jason Isaacs was the devil of this particular hell, and I couldn’t help relating his character from The OA, another megalomaniac with a secret.  And Dane DeHaan was great, a bit everyman, a bit cocky, a nice combination of both that made him relatable.  A Cure for Wellness is a strange, drawn out, psychotic, disgusting adventure tale, not a film for the meek, but something that will please your darker side if you so desire.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (Widescreen), and shot using an Arri Alexa XT M camera with Leica Summilux-C, Zeiss Master Prime, and Ultra Prime lenses, an Arri Alexa XT Studio camera with Leica Summilux-C, Zeiss Master Prime, and Ultra Prime lenses, and an Arri Alexa XT camera with Leica Summilux-C, Zeiss Master Prime, and Ultra Prime lenses, the video quality of the Blu-ray is one of the best I have ever seen.  Combined with out-of-this-world cinematography and an unmatched eye for imagery, the picture quality of this film is one if its greatest highlights.

Audio – The Blu-ray disc was done in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, with options of English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1.  Also, subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.  The sound/music of the film perhaps made it work, was the extra feature that brought it up to the level of greatness.  The film’s soundtrack is phenomenal, with a common theme woven throughout that will give you nightmares as it lulls you to sleep.

Extras –  There are a ton of special features on the Blu-ray, enough to delight those looking for more from this insane world.  A deleted sequence called “It’s Wonderful Here” is available to watch, it’s 5 minutes long, and it delivers more information about Lockhart’s stay at the spa, including many iconic images from the film that don’t actually appear in the theatrical version.  There are three, 3-minute meditation segments, where audiences can relax to the oddity that is this universe: Water is the Cure, Air is the Cure, Earth is the Cure.  The Score is a 4-minute look at creating the music.  And there are six trailers in all: theatrical, red band, international, The Belko Experiment, Morgan, Shut In.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  There are many words that could be used to describe A Cure for Wellness: throwback, pulp, gonzo (whatever that means, exactly).  But the one that keeps coming to mind is ‘sinister’; this film is about as sinister as you can get.  It isn’t the most frightening, it isn’t the cleverest plot, it isn’t exactly a b-movie.  It’s a sinister tale told almost flippantly, as if the details really don’t matter.  You’ll find yourself giving up eventually, when you realize that the point isn’t to explain every creepy plot twist, it’s to frighten you with just how bizarre the world can be, at least this wacky one in which people have lost their damn minds.  Then there’s the music, which connects the film from start to finish over the course of two and a half hours, and the cinematography, which can only be described as beautiful.  The video quality is amazing, the audio superb, and there are enough extras to delight fans, so the technical aspects of the film hold up beside what is also a strong, stand-alone feature.  Watch this movie more than once; I have, and it’s worth it.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Mortuary

Category : DVD Review

Director: Howard Avedis

Starring: Mary Beth McDonough, David Wysocki, Bill Paxton

Year: 1983

Director Howard Avedis dappled in sexploitation cinema in the 70s, although really, who didn’t.  He carried the style over into the 80s, adding murder and crime and thrills, but keeping the older women with large breasts.  It it’s not broke don’t fix it I guess; there will always be a market for b-movies with nudity and fake blood because, for some strange reason, we will always love them.  Mortuary is just another in a long history of intentionally bad films, but with a few key elements that deserve pointing out.  One is that at least two stars are on display here, making it a little more interesting than some of the others in its genre.  And another is that someone forgot to add in the humor, which we all know is the secret ingredient to any campy horror flick, something that this movie desperately needed.

The Movie

When Christie’s father died, her world came crashing down.  Her mother and the townspeople claimed it was an accidental drowning, but Christie knew better, and at night she could hear her father calling to her to solve his murder.  She didn’t know where to start though, and with her mother always trying to convince Christie that she was crazy, the mission to crack the case always seemed hopeless.  Her boyfriend, Greg, whom she attended junior college with, was very supportive, but his working class family needed him to drive their flower van, while Christie’s mansion remained almost empty, an example of the two very different worlds these young lovers inhabited.

One day, while snooping around a warehouse, Greg and his friend Josh stumbled upon something strange.  Josh used to work for the town hotshot Mr. Andrews, the local mortician, but was fired without pay.  To reimburse himself, Josh decided to rob the mortuary warehouse, and he needed Greg van’s to do it.  While there, the pair overhear a seance led by Mr. Andrews and accompanied by a group of lovely women, all marching around and chanting.  Coffins scattered throughout the warehouse made things even more creepy, and when Josh disappeared, Greg suspected foul play.  What is Mr. Andrews up to, what happened to Christie’s father, and will our heroic couple make it out of this mystery alive?

The plot of this film is ridiculous, which shouldn’t come as a big shock.  1983 was an amusing time, looking back on it, and I often wish that I had lived it, instead of only then being born.  The hair was feathered, the clothes were tight, the cars were rad, the lingo was cool, and the 70s were still clinging onto the timeline for dear life, fighting against being left behind.  There’s definitely an element of sexploitation still here, but with a hint of an attempt to move in a more serious direction.  Problem is, there wasn’t enough talent available in this film to complete the transition.  The boobs are still here, the gross out murders, the buxom women, the silly killers, but it’s all a bit too serious, which isn’t to its credit.  We could have used a little comedy since no one here was winning an acting or directing award, and the lack of levity made the whole project that much more desperate.

You might recognize Mary Beth McDonough as Erin from The Waltons, a show that is a major leap from Mortuary, which may have been why she chose a role like this.  She doesn’t bare all, but her body double does, which at the time may have been risque, I’m note sure, I was zero.  Either way, she was making a change from wholesome child to serious adult, the result of which was a lot of TV roles but not much else.  The other name to appreciate here is Bill Paxton, in one of his earliest film roles.  He’s actually the best part of the movie, no surprise, making it a must see for those missing the late actor and hoping to discover him in something new.  Other than that, this silly slasher isn’t worth many people’s time and won’t find a place in the canon of b-greats.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen), the video quality is as bad as you might imagine.  It’s a low-budget 80s movie after all, no one is expecting the “brand new 16×9 mastering in HD” to be anything great.  It’s watchable, it isn’t distorted and gross, so count your blessings and enjoy.

Audio – The disc is done in English Mono with no other language or sound options.  Other than a creepy backing track, there isn’t much to mention in the audio department, as it transfers fine as well but doesn’t make an impact.

Extras – The film can be watched with a Katarina’s Nightmare Theater introduction or simply as a feature film.  An interview with the film’s composer, John Cacavas, is available.  And there are ten trailers: Mortuary, DeathShip, The Return, Don’t Answer the Phone, Savage Streets, The Hearse, Terror, Satan’s Slave, Double Exposure, The Survivor.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  Watching Bill Paxton as a troubled youth who works in his father’s mortuary was a real treat; not much else about this film was, except perhaps for the flowing locks of the lead characters.  What we have here is an attempt to move in a serious direction, but at the same time a desire to give audiences the cheap thrills they expect from the genre.  The result is a mess, but a likable one perhaps, though not anything to write home about.  The video, audio, and extras won’t excite comment, and the film won’t be considered a special effects showcase.  It is a good representation of the times, there are a couple stars to watch, so it isn’t all bad, but rather a movie that I would only recommend to aficionados of the style.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Breastmilk

Category : DVD Review

Director: Dana Ben-Ari

Year: 2014

For a natural experience that is older than modern, upright homo sapiens and is shared among countless species of mammal across the globe, breastfeeding carries a stigma around inside the borders of our society that is as nonsensical as it is undeniable.  Whether it occurs at the hospital after birth, at work in a dark room, at a restaurant table, or at home lying comfortably on a bed, breastfeeding is constantly under judgement and scrutiny.  Women are told how to feel about it, men are taught to look away from it, strangers become entitled to share their opinions on it, and the entire activity becomes a complicated social issue when at its core nothing could be more simple.  Breastmilk is a documentary that explores what it is like to be an American mother weighing the options surrounding breastfeeding, and how our culture has shaped our perception 0f this most basic practice.

The Movie

Each mother who prepares for the birth of her child, and each partner who prepares to become a parent, is faced with a barrage of choices: which stroller is best, how much time will I take off work, who will watch the baby when I am busy, do I want a natural childbirth, which toys are safe, what should I name the baby?  And in our modern world, breastfeeding has become just another in a long line of worries.  Mothers must decide whether to exclusively nurse their child, whether to nurse and supplement with formula, or whether to choose formula feeding entirely.  Occasionally these decisions are made for them by medical/health situations, but often the choice is their own.  Some mothers will be at work, some fathers will be uncomfortable, and so the natural process of breastfeeding becomes a debatable issue, one that hinges on personal preference and ability.

Over the course of this simple documentary, we meet both average parents and experienced specialists who all view breastfeeding from their own points of view.  A new mom produces so much milk that she stores it in the freezer, donating it to a couple who wants to feed it to their adopted baby.  A biologist couple want to exclusively breastfeed, but her milk supply is low and the baby’s tongue is attached to its mouth in a way that hinders feeding.  A lesbian couple breastfeed in turn, and don’t accept the negative viewpoint of those who may think their lifestyle is strange.  A librarian pumps at work in a private office, but doesn’t understand why even a school for children has such an outdated stance of motherhood.  These are just some of the stories we hear over the course of 90 minutes, just a sample of the myriad of parents who deal with the complications of breastfeeding every day.

One specialist sums it up best when she talks about the pressure put on women when it comes to their breast milk; every drop is scared, it’s liquid gold, pump every ounce you can, make sure you have enough to satisfy your child, take whatever dietary supplements you need.  While she agrees that breastfeeding is natural and wonderful, she questions the amount of importance we place on it, in an evolutionary sense.  If one woman in a village didn’t have enough milk, another would feed her child, milk isn’t a rare commodity, it’s as basic a human function as you can imagine.  This is just one viewpoint shared in the documentary, but it captures the general feel of the film; that our society has put so many boundaries on breastfeeding that it has lost its simplicity.  A mother nursing her child isn’t newsworthy, at its most basic, and yet we form battle lines around the issue as if it were a problem to be solved.

The movie is made simply, without the intrusion of a narrator or even an interviewer; the stories tell themselves.  We sit and watch a variety of women feed their children and talk about their personal experiences; what they feared, how they see their role, in what ways societal pressure has influenced them as mothers.  More an in-class perspective piece and less a theatrical film, Breastmilk nevertheless has a powerful message to convey; that women from a multitude of backgrounds all face the same adversity in balancing modern living with the evolutionary urge to give of themselves to their children, that our own predispositions to the subject affect how we face it.  At its core, this film is frank talk about a subject that is increasing in relevance in response to the neofeminist movement; women want equality but they also want to be feminine, putting breastfeeding at the center of the conversation and making documentaries like this ultra-important.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (16×9), the video quality of this film will not impress anyone.  But that’s not the point, it’s obviously not important to the filmmaker if we are stunned by visuals, the interviews are the main attraction and they speak for themselves.

Audio – Done in English 2.0 Stereo, the audio isn’t much better, but again, it doesn’t need to be.  There are no other language or sound options, so look elsewhere for technical marvels.

Extras – The only special feature on the disc is a trailer for the film.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  There’s no need to go into the details of my own story, but I am a stay-at-home father whose children were breast fed.  Where once I was a young man who was made uncomfortable by the very idea of breastfeeding, that feeling swiftly fled as my wife, a couple classes, and my own babies taught me the value of nursing, and how normal it can feel.  This topic is an important one only in the sense that we have made it much bigger than it needs to be, have built it up as an arguable stance, when breastfeeding is older than humanity and should be something we take for granted, like breathing or chewing or scratching an itch.  This film brings up the problems that breastfeeding faces in the modern world, and for that should be something shown in parenting classes and school rooms across the country; I think it could absolutely do some good.  The technical side of the movie will not impress, but I don’t really view it as a film to be judged against other films.  I see it as a conversation being started because sometimes conversations are hard to start, and this is one we shouldn’t ignore.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Rock Dog

Category : DVD Review

Director: Ash Brannon

Starring: Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, Sam Elliott

Year: 2016

I’m not sure why every animation studio is producing a movie about a young guy with a magical guitar who has to save his village, but I dig it.  The Book of Life, Kubo and the Two Strings, soon to be Coco, and of course Rock Dog; it’s similar to how two film companies both produce an asteroid-hitting-the-Earth story at the exact same time and pretend not to notice each other.  I guess these things come in waves, trends happen, and there are many ideas out there that must be much worse than a cool kid with an axe, so maybe we should count our blessings.  Anyway, here’s another in the current stream, a unique production if not an original concept, and a film that’s actually, surprisingly, pleasantly good.

The Movie

On Snow Mountain, the sheep fear the wolves and the wolves fear the mastiffs.  Khampa, the big dog in town, protects the woolly citizens of the village with his magic fire powers, sending the wolves running when they come to make a meal out of the the sheep.  But he knows that they’ll be back, and so begins to plan.  He bans music from the town, since the sheep paid no attention to anything else.  He trains an army dressed up in dog costumes in order to trick the ever-watching wolves.  And he commits to making his only son, Bodi, the most vigilant watchdog ever to walk the mountain.  The only problem is, Bodi can’t harness the fire, doesn’t think the wolves are coming back, and just wants to follow his own dreams.

One day, when a passing plane loses some of its cargo, a radio falls near Bodi and he begins to listen to Angus Scattergood, the rock legend from the big city.  Bodi falls in love with rock, with the guitar, with expressing yourself through music, and he knows that this is what he was meant to do.  So, with his father’s temporary blessing, Bodi travels to the city in search of a band to join and a career to make.  Meanwhile, the wolves plan to kidnap the doggie unawares, making a ransom of him to the great Khampa, getting the sheep in return.  Bodi is oblivious, and just wants to meet the famous Mr. Scattergood, who is having troubles of his own, mainly coming up with more hit tunes, something that Bodi might just have a gift for.

It’s a predictable plot, and like I said, it’s been done a handful of times in recent years, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting from Rock Dog if you’ve seen any of the other films that basically follow the same path.  What’s different here is that the film was made to be released in China and the United States in staggered order, Chine first, then the U.S.  Signs in the movie are in Chines and in English, the setting is Tibet or a modern city, and you can imagine how easy it would have been to dub the film in either language.  In the States, a surprising number of stars and b-listers signed on; I doubt there was much of a time commitment involved.  Wilson, Izzard, Elliott, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia, Matt Dillon; not the worst compilation of recognizable voices for an animated kid’s flick.

And, you know, the visuals were pretty cool, the animation not Pixar level but much better than some of the cheap knock-offs you see thrown around by the smaller studios.  This movie was done by Reel FX, which did Free Birds and The Book of Life, so it’s legit, if not high level.  When I looked up images to add to this review, there were a plethora of attractive ones to choose from, reminding me that the artistic quality of the film was actually really strong, something I didn’t appreciate until I stepped away, probably because I’ve grown used to top-notch animation and am less impressed by it now than I used to be.  The story itself was pretty funny, fairly clever, and as straight forward as you could ask for; basic entertainment perhaps, but in a good way.  My kids came away loving it, my son claiming it as his favorite movie, so take that for what it’s worth, and add in my opinion that Rock Dog is actually worth your time.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (16×9, 1080p HD), this Blu-ray disc is surprisingly sharp and the animation is shockingly good.  I didn’t expect much coming in from an off-brand animation company and a movie that wasn’t marketed to be a big hit, but I was pleasantly impressed.  The animation is great, the color is superb, and the Blu-ray quality is as good as you can expect from other, more expensive films.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with an option of Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Subtitles are available in Spanish and English SDH.  The audio quality, like the video quality, is better than you might imagine.  The music of the film is catchy and fun; not quite Disney soundtrack caliber, but not too far off and absolutely good enough to enjoy.

Extras – There are actually a ton of special features on the Blu-ray, if you’re thirsty for more.  Finding the Fire: The Making of Rock Dog – 6 mins, graphic novel adaptation and interviews.  Mic Check: Casting the Voices – 6 mins, introducing the American vocal cast.  A Rockin’ New World: Animating Rock Dog – 6 mins, the development from drawings to characters.  Rock Dog and Roll: Exploring the Music – 6 mins, a sit down with songwriter Adam Friedman.  ‘Glorious’ Music Video – 3 minute song with clips from the film.  Also from Lionsgate: Middle School, Leap!, Norm of the North, Shaun the Sheep Movie.  And lastly, Bookmarks.

Final Thoughts

RecommendedRock Dog is better than it appears.  I sat down to watch it with my kids, not expecting much at all, but I was entertained throughout and impressed by the attention to detail apparent from the very beginning.  In a way, it was like a Studio Ghibli film; an emphasis on positive story and cool animation with the knowledge that it is being made for both Asian and American audiences.  That opened the movie up a bit, allowed for some nice voice overs, and didn’t constrain it to the standard, Hollywood, goofy, juvenile, animated comedy.  Perhaps that’s sacrilege, and this definitely isn’t Ghibli, but I have to give credit to something that was made with much more heart than I had imagined it would be.  The video is solid, the audio very nice, and the extras plentiful, so you can enjoy the technical side of this project as well.  Get you family together, check out Rock Dog with an open mind, and enjoy.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Lake Eerie

Category : DVD Review

Director: Chris Majors

Starring: Meredith Majors, Betsy Baker, Anne Leigh Cooper

Year: 2016

You may think you’ve seen painful acting before, but you have yet to meet Lake Eerie, a film that is as bizarre, awful, and unimaginative as its title.  I’m not sure if my words can prepare you for such a film failure, an amateur attempt at something, I don’t know what, that could not possibility have resulted in what the filmmakers were aiming for.  Because, if this is the movie that they were trying to make, someone needs to take away their cameras and put them under lock and key.  I can only imagine that “haunted house story with Egyptian magic thrown in for good measure” sounded like a great idea, a script was written, and a film shot, all before anyone had the chance to think about the disastrous consequences.  I don’t want to picture a world in which this movie was intentional.

The Movie

Kate has just moved from Iowa to Michigan, buying a house right on the shore of Lake Erie.  Most of the inhabitants of the little town head south for the winter, the weather is so bad, but Kate has come seeking solitude, and that’s exactly what she’ll find.  The house she moves into is a big old, dusty thing, having been unoccupied for decades.  The man who lived there was an eccentric archeologist named Harrison, and the house was sold completely furnished, including his many treasures and unusual decorations.  Kate finds the house to be lonely and a little frightening, as she struggles to move past a personal tragedy and to get on with the life she still has ahead of her.

But the house isn’t just creepy, it’s downright haunted, but not in the ordinary ghost-in-the-attic manner.  It turns out, Harrison was obsessed with Egyptian legends, including the rituals surrounding the afterlife, a topic that he took much too seriously.  He was looking for an amulet, which was said to have the power to send the wearer over to the in-between world, a place that acts as a prison for souls that are not allowed a quiet rest.  Kate begins to encounter strange shapes and to experience odd dreams, all connected to Harrison and his attempts to reach that other world.  Now she will have to try to save him, with the help of a fiery student named Autumn, before he is trapped there for good.

If you noticed that the pictures I chose to showcase the movie aren’t that interesting or helpful, that’s because there aren’t very many images of the film available.  Well, unless you want pictures of the one time a naked woman walks out of the water with her butt and breasts on display, which you very likely might and I wouldn’t blame you for; it was the only remotely positive piece of what is otherwise an embarrassingly bad film.  The naked woman is part of a greater and more confusing storyline in which the main character’s dead husband asks her to have sex with this buxom lady because he “likes to watch”, which has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the movie, comes completely out of left field, and really encapsulates the entire project, a 100-minute WTF moment that you swear someone could not actually have thought would work.

And it didn’t, not in any way, crashing and burning in record fashion.  I’ve seen the Sharknado movies so I know where the bottom is, but Lake Eerie gave those ghastly gems a run for their money.  At least they are stupid on purpose, talentless by design, over-the-top because someone wanted them that way, enjoyable exactly because they are so terrible.  This film can’t even be called a b-movie, it’s more like an f-movie, a student project done by adults that should have been scrapped the moment the first hideous scene was seen through a camera lens.  I assume Chris and Meredith Majors are married, he directing while she wrote, they both appear in the story, they’re both stunt people, and neither of them should ever attempt to make a movie ever again.  Even Lance Henriksen couldn’t save the day, and you know that means trouble.  The plot was insane, the acting god-awful, I could feel my brain withering from the very start, and I wish I could go back in time to unsee what I just watched.

The DVD

Video – Information on the aspect ratio and other video details for this film are unavailable, which is absolutely fine, given that the picture was as poor as you’d expect from one of the worst indie horror flicks you will ever see.

Audio – Not much in the way of audio choices either: your options are English 5.1 Surround or English 2.0 Stereo, with available English subtitles.  Even the music of this movie is poor, not much in the way of sound other than the standard creepy background track.

Extras – There are no special features on this disc.

Final Thoughts

Skip It. On the surface, Lake Eerie seems like your typical, fun, dumb, scary, haunted house, hidden secrets, sexy ghost, more-than-meets-the-eye horror flick, when in actuality all of that is just a tease, just a concept that the filmmakers didn’t have the talent to put into motion.  The result is a movie that wanted to be all those things but could never be, crawling along like a zombie instead, trying without success to reach an unattainable goal.  I’ve seen bad before, bad doesn’t make me cringe, I can take some b-quality as long as it’s laced with some self-awareness.  But therein lies the problem; this film wasn’t even ridiculous enough to be entertaining.  Instead, it was insultingly poor and a complete waste of time, which will launch it straight toward the bottom of my List.  The video, audio, and extras follow suit, so don’t count on the technical to save you, and just move on while you still have the chance, before you regret what you just made your eyes do.

☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – The Migrants

Category : DVD Review

Director: Tom Gries

Starring: Ron Howard, Cloris Leachman, Sissy Spacek

Year: 1974

The Migrants is a film that has almost completed its slide away from our memories, becoming something of the past that very few remember and even the internet can’t firmly hold captive in time.  Made for television in 1974, this movie is an adaptation of a Tennessee Williams story, living in that on-stage feeling that Williams perfected, but also bringing a Steinbeck air to the screen with its focus on the traveling worker and his family’s plight.  Not much remains of The Migrants except a barely-seen IMDb page, perhaps one or two images on an internet search, and apparently a DVD release more than 40 years after its production.  Still, it’s nice to stumble across both a random 70s flick that almost no one has seen and also a tale of the working family living through unthinkable conditions as they try to hold on to their personal sliver of the American Dream.

The Movie

The life of a migrant farm worker is one of toil and precious little else.  Following a caravan of cars across the country as the seasons change, they move from field to field, picking whatever is in bloom, handed pennies for their labor, and watching their children grow up to join the bow-backed throng.  A manager takes the fee from the farmer, dolling out each family’s share based on what they picked that day, buying them supplies from in town and keeping a book on what is owed.  More indentured servitude than manual labor, the family has few options, no permanent address, no money for healthcare, and doesn’t dare strike out on their own.  They know how others view them, as destitute gypsies traversing a dusty landscape with only the clothes on their backs to call their own.

The Barlow family leads a life of misery and travel that is hard to watch.  Mr. Barlow works the rows and tries his best to take care of his family, even while bringing each member into the field with him as soon as they are old enough to pick.  Mrs. Barlow has birthed many children, just to watch each one resign themselves to a life on the road.  Wanda and the little girls work right alongside the men, Wanda taking only a few days off to have a child of her own.  But Lyle, the son on the verge of becoming a man, wants more for himself, demands to be treated as a dedicated worker, and can’t wait for his chance to escape the bleak existence of the migrant worker, one whose only promise is to be short.

It’s rough knowing while watching this film that this life is not just a thing of the past to be pitied, but also one of modern times as well, a practice that has adapted to the future but hasn’t disappeared or become a lighter burden.  These families with their entire households packed onto a truck, moving from shack to shack, working with blistered hands each day, never resting until the day they die; it’s quite the tale to be reminded of and to face, even in a fictional nature such as this.  Give Williams and Gries credit for presenting us with a look at something we’d rather ignore when we buy our strawberries from the grocery store, at a piece of American history that hasn’t quite dissipated.

As far as the movie is concerned, there’s a reason it was made-for-TV and has since been almost completely forgotten, though that’s not to say there aren’t a few positives to latch on to.  It’s definitely quite theatrical, with an on-stage feel that would probably be more appreciated in that venue than in this media.  The dialogue is pretty stilted and silly, but again, it comes across as a play rather than a film, which allows you to forgive a little.  The acting didn’t need forgiving, it was rather solid, Howard, Leachman, and Spacek delivering quality 70s performances.  Still, this isn’t something you need to go out of your way to watch, it’s just a reminder of dated experimental cinema and of a darker part of Americana that we ought not forget.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, you know what to expect from a DVD version of a 70s television special, so you won’t be surprised that the visuals are not amazing.  There was at least some care given to how the film was presented, some effort put into staging and delivery, just don’t count on high quality video.

Audio – The disc was done in Dolby Audio, but no other sound/language/subtitle/production information is available.

Extras – The only special features are three trailers: Inherit the Wind, Lilies in the Field, I Want to Live.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  I would be curious to know how many Baby Boomers out there remember and watched this film, because looking at it right now there doesn’t seem to be much memory of it left all these years later.  I would also wonder how it was received back then, was in an indie/art house picture, did it strike a cord with audiences who felt sorry for those destined for this life.  Whether during the Great Depression, the 70s, or right now, the story of the migrant worker is an important one, and I’m glad a film like this still exists to tell it.  It isn’t an amazing movie on its own, but it can still be appreciated for its message.  The video is poor, as is the audio, and there aren’t extras to speak of, so look elsewhere for technical marvels.  But enjoy this slice of history on its own merit and its flaws should be forgivable.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – We Don’t Belong Here

Category : DVD Review

Director: Peer Pedersen

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Catherine Keener, Annie Starke

Year: 2017

Anton Yelchin’s final role comes in We Don’t Belong Here, a film that doesn’t feature him enough.  Obviously I don’t mean they should have known that this would be the end of an exciting career and so given him more screen time; his death was an unimaginable tragedy that caught every film fan with a sucker punch.  He should simply have been given more to do in this movie, as he was by far the best thing about it.  Director Peer Pedersen also wrote the script, and has no experience in either department, that amateur status becoming all too clear all too soon.  He was unable to create a film that audiences would want to watch, he underutilized his best player, and the resulting final product suffered because of it.

The Movie

The Green family takes dysfunction to the next level.  The patriarch is gone, leaving a mansion behind.  The matriarch is unstable and unhappy, making it difficult for her children to have a healthy relationship with her.  Madeline, the only one with her shit together, has moved away.  Elisa has become a famous pop star, but carries a very dark weight around.  Maxwell is in and out of psychiatric hospitals, even attempting to kill himself.  And the youngest, Lily, is stuck at home, becoming a woman in the shadow of all this chaos.  Most of the Greens have been or could be diagnosed with mental disorders, none of them know what to do next, and all of them are on their way home to what will probably prove to be disaster.

We learn about the family through Lily’s perspective, as she attempts to deal with her own bipolar disorder, fights against taking her medication, and dreads her thrice weekly visits to her kooky therapist.  Lily notices the small details in her life, but fears that her mind isn’t her friend, that it will ultimately lead to her demise.  She tries to lead a normal teenager life; running track and chasing boys.  But she also has her sister Elisa’s secret journal, in which dark secrets are divulged, forcing her to face the ugly truth of the world instead of enjoying this time in her youth.  When the family throws a party and all the children make their way home, events will spiral out of control even more than usual, and no one will ever be the same.

The film ends with “For Anton”, as his final projects have begun to do, and every time I read those words I’m sad all over again.  It’s perhaps meaningless to mourn a star you didn’t know, but I can’t help feeling that I watched him grow as an actor, that I rooted for him along the way, and that the world has been cheated out of a spectacular talent.  It’s good to see him one more time, and I wish the director had used him even more, although he had no idea this would be anyone’s last chance to do so.  Anton was special, he was one of the best young actors in the business, and he stole the show here in this film, a movie that otherwise had very few positives.

Riley Keough was perhaps the only other, and I’ve begun to appreciate her whenever she pops up; she’s got that It Factor that you so rarely see.  I don’t think the same can be said for anyone else in this film: Dever, Keener, Starke.  And the side actor choices were baffling to me, comedic reliefs that didn’t work in Maya Rudolph and Molly Shannon.  Even Cary Elwes showed up, and everyone knows that’s not a good sign.  The entire movie began to take on a very confusing aspect, as you watched hesitantly and questioned frequently.  The story was strange, the layout even more so, the casting choices were weird, and in the end I was more curious as to how anyone could think what they were watching was any good than I was anxious to know what would happen next with this family.  I think it is clear that Pedersen didn’t know exactly what he was doing, or that perhaps his vision failed to translate onto the screen.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen), the video quality of the DVD is nothing to get excited about.  There is very little attention shown to the quality of the picture, or ever the cinematography of each scene.  There is some attempt at style, but mostly this is an emotional, character-driven drama that relies very little on its technical aspects.

Audio – The disc is done in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, with an option of French 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Subtitles can be selected in a number languages, including English, English SDH, Chinese Simplified, Chines Traditional, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.  The audio quality is fine, nothing to write home about, although there is a nice backing soundtrack that fits the mood of the film.

Extras – The only special features are four trailers: Baby Baby Baby, Spin Out, Cross Wars, The Driftless Area.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  The highlight of the film is seeing Anton Yelchin one last time; other than that, there isn’t much.  Yelchin is reason enough to watch most anything that his name appears next to, even a movie that doesn’t quite have the ability to gather together its intentions, to form them into something either audiences or critics can enjoy.  Director Peer Pedersen might have been in over his head after conjuring up an interesting story that potentially could have made for an interesting movie.  It just didn’t translate into a solid picture this time, so perhaps we can give him another shot the next time he takes on a project.  The video of the DVD is only OK, the audio is also merely fine, and there are only a couple extras, so look elsewhere for technical flashes.  Also look elsewhere for a stirring drama, unless you’d just like to watch Anton again.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – The Daughter

Category : DVD Review

Director: Simon Stone

Starring: Paul Schneider, Ewen Leslie, Odessa Young

Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Miranda Otto, Anna Torv

Year: 2015

Simon Stone’s first attempt at either writing or directing a feature film was a complete success.  Well, in directing more than writing perhaps, but taken as whole, The Daughter is a movie that works, and the first wave of credit should go to its director.  Stone is an Aussie actor and stage director who tries his hand at cinema for the first time here, and someone we ought to be seeing more from in the near future.  He’s got the touch, and what’s even more important, he seems to know when to let his actors do the work for him, something that I’m sure is invaluable in the world of theatre.  What ultimately makes this film a success is that, when the director gave the reins to his cast, they handled them with admirable expertise, resulting in 90 minutes of high-quality dramatics.

The Movie

In a small, backwoods town in Australia, life revolves around the timber mill run by Henry, the local land baron.  When the mill loses its last contract, Henry announces its closure, which means the end of employment (and probably life) in the area for a large portion of working-class men.  Henry might feel badly, the company has been in his family for decades, but there’s nothing much to do, and he’ll have to accept the ire of the local people.  His own plans march on though, as he has a wedding coming up, a marriage to his much-younger housekeeper Anna, a beautiful woman who wants a powerful man.  Flying in for the ceremony is Christian, Henry’s estranged son, and a catalyst for what will happen next.

Christian reunites with his high school and college buddy Oliver, a regular townie who will be looking for a new job as well, with the mill closing.  He lives with his wife Charlotte, his aging father Walter, and his brilliant daughter Hedvig, a simple yet happy family.  Christian can’t boast the same, with a difficult childhood and frequent moves defining his growing up, with a marriage on the rocks haunting his current life.  But for the moment, the two friends enjoy their reunion, and prepare for a few days spent together.  This peace will be broken by a long-held secret that can’t stay hidden any more, a skeleton in the closet that will effect the lives of every member of both families.

Stone’s direction is pretty impressive for an amateur, although his stage experience should be taken into account and absolutely aided him in making this film.  He was able to commit to a style in a very specific way and in a manner that was impressive for a beginner.  At first, I wondered at the gimmick, but when he refused to sway from it or apologize for using it throughout the film, I began to appreciate that he had chosen a way for which his characters to interact, a sort of delayed conversation and partial voice over that just felt smart.  It was almost as if he didn’t care whether you liked it or not, or perhaps more accurately, he felt confident that you eventually would.

Like I said, a director can only take a project so far, an intelligent director eventually hands the story off to his cast, and luckily for Simon, this cast was more than up to the task.  Schneider may have been the lead, and he’s a recognizable face for American audiences, but Leslie was just as important to the plot, and delivered just as strong a performance.  The vets of the movie, Rush and Neill, were perfection, playing their respective pater familias parts just the way you imagine they would.  The revelation here is the title actress, Odessa Young, who made her big screen debut with The Daughter, but who we’ll be seeing a whole lot more from very soon.  She’s special in that Joey King sort of way, something that can’t be ignored, and something that can literally make a movie.  She didn’t have to though, the cast and crew all held their own, joining together to make a surprisingly wonderful and pleasantly shocking film.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (1920x1080p), the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is very nice but rather unnecessary.  This is an emotional drama, and never needs the clarity of the Blu-ray medium or the ceiling to be stretched at all.  The visuals are strong, the cinematography excellent, but the potential of the picture is never realized since the director focused on content rather than technicalities.

Audio – With a choice between DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0, the audio quality is solid.  Without frills perhaps, like the video, but solid nonetheless.  Subtitles can be engaged in English SDH; no other language options are available.  The best part about the sound is the neverending supply of background music, an overarcing theme that helped sweep us into the story.

Extras – The only bonus feature is a trailer for the film.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  There are powerful emotions at play in this film, taking us to places that not every audience member will want to go.  But if you’re willing to travel there, the rewards might be worth it.  Stone weaves a complicated plot more deftly than I would have thought likely, and his cast takes up any slack, delivering a moving drama about family and pain that I won’t quickly forget.  The daughter at the center of the story is a shockingly pivotal figure, forcing us as parents to take a look at ourselves, whether what we see in the mirror pleases us or not.  And the acting throughout the film, minus a bit of overreaching at the end, forces the plot home.  As far as the disc goes, the video is adequate, the audio strong, but you won’t be impressed by the extras, so perhaps look elsewhere for stunning technical feats.  Watch this film for a refreshing look at a new director and new actress, as well as an excitingly intriguing story that won’t leave you alone.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Rogue One

Category : DVD Review

Director: Gareth Edwards

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn

Year: 2016

With the creation of The Force Awakens, the Star Wars universe was brought back into our lives with a vengeance.  You can’t quite call the enormity of the success of that film unexpected, since the franchise has always been a homerun-hitter, even with relative duds like Episodes 1 and 2.  But I’m not sure that the intense love of so many, of audiences across the board, could have been predicted, and the success the film had in marketing and merchandise was incredible as well.  Trust Hollywood to seize any opportunity to make money, and so multiple more films in the series are in the works, including offshoots like Rogue One.  I think this counts as a win-win though, as the studio will make millions, the saga will continue through another generation, and we get to see more Star Wars, which can’t be counted as a bad thing.

The Movie

Where The Force Awakens leaped forward in time, Rogue One jumps back, filling in a major blank and allowing audiences to understand the events leading up to the Rebellion’s first major victory in its war against the Empire.  This is the story of the rebel group that stole the plans to the Death Star, allowing Luke Skywalker to fire his fateful shot.  They were led by the valiant Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso, the mind behind the ultimate weapon.  But although he was forced to create a killing machine, he built within in a small flaw that would go undetected and could also spell the end of the dreaded Star were it only known.  Getting a message through to the daughter he left behind years ago, Galen shared the secret with Jyn, the hero who would lead a team of freedom fighters in a suicide mission to steal the plans from the Empire, transmit them to the Rebellion, expose the secret of the tiny, exploitable flaw, and, in so doing, attempt to save the galaxy.

Her band is made up of a motley crew of unlikely heroes.  Jyn herself, the daughter of an Imperial engineer, raised by rebels and taught to trust no one.  Cassian Andor, a pilot with the Rebellion who has done unspeakable things in the name of freedom.  His robot, K-2SO, who a memory wipe has left unsettlingly sarcastic.  Bodhi, a defector from the Empire, the delivery of the message from Galen.  Chirrut, a guardian of the Jedi temple, and his guardian, Baze.  Along with a pack of Rebels with nothing to lose, this team will have to do the unthinkable against insurmountable odds, with the fate of the galaxy in their very hands.  They say that rebellions are built on hope, and hope is all that’s left for the few who refuse to bow to the ever-growing evil that threatens to take control of the universe.

One small step back from The Force Awakens but still a solid addition to a story on a grand scale that we will never completely tire of, Rogue One is a piece of the puzzle that we are lucky to be able to see on screen, instead of simply hearing about in passing from Mon Mothma as the rebels prepare their fateful attack in Episode 4.  For the first time, we are able to watch the Rebellion in play, the scattered members coming together to defeat an unbeatable foe.  We can watch the mission that changed history and those brave few who attempted the impossible.  If you’re a fan of the franchise, and let’s just assume you are, since being otherwise would be madness, then you’ll appreciate the bonus coverage, as it were, the extra bit of drama brought to the screen and created to establish even more of a back story to the films we’ve all loved for decades.  And beyond that, and perhaps the best part of the film, we get to experience Darth Vader in his prime, his most feared, even watching the monster in battle and experiencing the reason for the terror of the galaxy.

Establishing Darth Vader’s reputation, watching the Rebellion before Luke joins, viewing the exact moments that lead up to the beginning of Episode 4 and Vader’s boarding of Leia’s ship; these are the highlights of the film.  These story elements are fantastic, flesh out the plot of the other films, and act as delicious dinner to any casual fans or lifelong followers.  Dessert comes in the form of the cinematography, the reemergence of Walkers, the gory battles, the sounds of TIE fighters, the uniforms of the Rebellion; basically, all the tiny elements of this universe that we love.  This delivery of exactly what we want does gloss over a few flaws in the film, but well enough that we don’t really end up caring.  Felicity Jones is an odd choice for Jyn and never actually changes her facial expressions or tone of voice throughout the film.  The sequence of events is a little bumpy and doesn’t become smooth until the very end.  But whenever there s a negative, there are positives to cover them over; the incredible Alan Tudyk as the wise-cracking robot, the passionate Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, the amazing Ben Mendelsohn as the evil Krennic. Playing more as a war movie than a Star Wars film, Rogue One is still a must-see part of this ever-expanding story arc, something to enjoy on many different levels and to watch more than once.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 (1080p HD Widescreen) and shot using an Arri Alexa 65 camera with Panavision APO Panatar and Hawk65 lenses, the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is all you could want and more.  From the opening sequence, the visuals will stun audiences, or perhaps would have had we not been given a taste of what we hungered for in Force Awakens.  Still, we won’t tire of X-Wing battles and foreign planets, especially not when they are delivered with such high clarity and precision.

Audio – The Blu-ray disc was done in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with Dolby Digital language tracks available in English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1, and French 5.1, with subtitles available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.  The audio quality is top-notch, with stunning sound from the spacecraft, weapons, explosions, etc.  The music is excellent as well, with an original score that feels very Star Wars but can exist on its own quite nicely.

Extras – There are quite a few special features on the separate Blu-ray bonus features disc (with subtitle options in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese), though mainly of the same vein.  The Stories is a collection of 10 behind-the-scenes-with-cast-and-crew featurettes that shed more light on the characters and Star Wars universe: A Rogue Idea, Jyn: The Rebel, Cassian: The Spy, K-2SO: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions Of Hope: The Look Of Rogue One, The Princess & The Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues.  Also, Rogue Connections is a 4-minute segment showcasing easter eggs and similarities between this film and those set in the universe.  And lastly, Info, a simple disclaimer.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  This marks the third time I’ve seen Rogue One, and it holds up.  I could pick apart Felicity Jones’ acting or Forest Whitaker’s character choices, and there’s a case to be made that the film is far from perfect.  But after multiple views, I come back to the fact that I appreciated much more than I critiqued.  This movie does the universe justice and gives curious fans more to the larger story, two greatly appreciated aspects.  It may be more war drama and less sci-fi, but those who enjoy both will find a multitude to enjoy here as well.  The video is awesome, the music great, and the extras are cool; can’t ask for much more from the technical side.  I would simply recommend not picking through the dialogue with a fine-toothed comb; it won’t stand up and doing so will lessen the entertainment value of what is absolutely a high-quality watch.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Baby, Baby, Baby

Category : DVD Review

Director: Brian Klugman

Starring: Brian Klugman, Adrianne Palicki

Year: 2015

Perhaps his family is owed a few favors, because that’s the only way I can understand how Brian Klugman gets so many celebrities to pop up in his indie films.  He is the nephew of the late Jack Klugman (Odd Couple, Quincy), but the guy himself has absolutely nothing under his belt.  In 2012 he writes and directors The Words, his first attempt at anything, and it bombs, but wow does it have star power: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Olivia Wilde, Michael McKean, J.K. Simmons.  How he got all those actors in his debut film is beyond me.  And then he turns around, writes/directs/leads a new feature called Baby Baby Baby (terrible title), dumps a ton of celebrities into it, and creates a crappy movie yet again.  Eventually, people will catch on, despite however he’s been getting names to sign up for his pictures.

The Movie

Sydney and Sunny, two Pennsylvania natives who find themselves in L.A. pursuing dead end art careers, begin a relationship based on the premise that two damaged adults can make love work if they are only willing to air out their dirty laundry, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.  Sydney is an actor, mainly crappy commercials, but he also enjoys writing, often penning clever short stories about love and the oddity of imagined pairings.  He is also a hopeless self-doubter, requiring constant attention and reassurance from his partner, as each small slight seems to turn him into an anxious, raging, sputtering asshole.  He’s a year removed from a hurtful breakup, but when he meets Sunny, he desperately wants to give happiness another chance.

She is a painter, although she mostly tends bar.  Her dream is to show in art galleries some day, but until then she’s got to make ends meet and live in her crack den bungalow.  Sunny’s major flaw is falling for the wrong guy, or perhaps always wanting what she can’t have.  She’s extremely beautiful, loves movies quotes, and seems a great catch, but she still brings her fair share of baggage to the party.  Our heroes date, fall in love, begin a life together, all the while trying to understand each other’s faults and insecurities whenever they rear their ugly heads.  But being a couple is tough, sometimes you learn things you’d rather you hadn’t, and often you begin to drive each other crazy, relying on the love you once knew to carry you through the darkest times.

Cloris Leachman, William Shatner, Dennis Haysbert (the Allstate guy), Jonathan Silverman, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Alba, Jared Harris (that British guy), Kelsey Grammer; how Klugman got all these actors to be in his film is beyond me.  Did he pay them, did they do it for fun, do they all know each other, what the heck is going on?!  Needless to say, the moments the actual stars were in the film were the best moments, the only pieces that felt real.  Which is ironic, because they only came in for these mini-stories that emerged from Syndey’s imagination, popping up to make a point and to be funny, but having no impact on the plot.  Those were the best scenes in the film, and really the only enjoyable pieces of the entire wacky puzzle.

Klugman is not a very good actor, and his writing is extremely predictable.  I knew before the movie started that it would be one of those films that opens with a moaning sex scene played for comedic effect, and sure enough that’s exactly what happened.  This film is simply a rom/com masquerading as something else, as some indie project that we should take a lesson from, which seems laughable after having watched the movie.  It didn’t help that Palicki wasn’t very good either; gorgeous of course, but not very talented, and the pair of them together had about as much chemistry as a turtle and a yard sign.  Not much went right, there were a couple laughs, but in general Baby Baby Baby felt extremely amateur and like a giant waste of time.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and shot using an Arri Alexa camera, the video quality of the film is fine without being anything to write home about.  The California sunshine aids in the enjoyment of the scenery, and the camerawork is adequate, but the visuals will not wow you.

Audio – The disc was done in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, with subtitle options of English, English SDH, Chinese Traditional, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai.  The audio quality of the film was forgettable, lacking even a strong soundtrack to keep your attention.

Extras – The only special features are four trailers: We Don’t Belong Here, Lost and Found, Cross Wars, Spin Out.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  I don’t see this young writer/director/actor as having a real chance to make it big, despite the names he can apparently draw into his poor projects at will.  Klugman isn’t funny enough to craft a comedy nor talented enough to take a film onto his shoulders, leaving his movies in a mess.  He chose a beautiful woman to star alongside him in this one, which seems a selfish decision, since she wasn’t great, they didn’t have chemistry, and it always came across as an awkward pairing.  The video of the film isn’t great, neither is the audio, and there aren’t many special features, so the technical aspects won’t win you over either.  It’s probably best to stay away from Baby Baby Baby, unless you’re in a really forgiving mood.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 

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