|MARCH 27TH, 2018
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Before Disney handed him a “Star Wars” trilogy of his own, director Rian Johnson, who was mainly known for his high concept films “Brick” and “Looper,” delivered the latest installment in the “Star Wars” saga. Following J.J. Abrams’ mostly successful “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Johnson was tapped for the sequel, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the middle film in a trilogy. With that responsibility, he went about creating something wholly original. Does that originality work the entire time? Absolutely not. But Johnson still provides some of the most memorable “Star Wars” visuals ever to come out of the saga. The battle of Finn versus Phasma, the throne room light saber fight, the light speed crash, and the entire battle on the red salt planet Crait; this imagery not just defined the film but the year in films. Plus, it provided the first time we’ve seen more than just a glimpse of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker in 34 years. All of this makes up for the fact that the story falls a bit thin. And it definitely leaves you wondering where J.J. Abrams will take the franchise next.
Bonus features include (courtesy of Den Of Geek):
- The Director and the Jedi – Go deep behind the scenes with writer-director Rian Johnson on an intimate and personal journey through the production of the movie—and experience what it’s like to helm a global franchise and cultural phenomenon.
- Balance of the Force – Explore the mythology of the Force and why Rian Johnson chose to interpret its role in such a unique way.
- Scene Breakdowns –
- 1) Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle – Get a close-up look at the epic space battle, from the sounds that help propel the action, through the practical and visual effects, to the characters who bring it all to life.
- 2) Snoke and Mirrors – Motion capture and Star Wars collide as the filmmakers take us through the detailed process of creating the movie’s malevolent master villain.
- 3) Showdown on Crait – Break down everything that went into creating the stunning world seen in the movie’s final confrontation, including the interplay between real-word locations and visual effects, reimagining the walkers, designing the crystal foxes, and much more.
- Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) – Writer-director Rian Johnson presents two exclusive sequences from the movie featuring Andy Serkis’ riveting, raw on-set performance before his digital makeover into Snoke.
- Deleted Scenes – With an introduction and optional commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.
- Audio Commentary – View the movie with in-depth feature audio commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.
Rami Malek‘s Elliot is back, along with Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Bobby Cannavale, Grace Gummer, and B.D. Wong for Season Three of “Mr. Robot.” Once again, Elliot is trying to stop the Dark Army, this time from Stage 2 of the plan that he and fsociety initiated. Working against himself, with Slater still playing his alter-ego, as well as fighting against his sister, Darlene, who is informing to the CIA and his best friend Angela, who has been corrupted by Whiterose, Rami Malek produces some of his best performances to date, along with the absolute best episode to date in which the entire episode is portrayed in a single, one take shot.
Bonus features include:
- Deleted Scenes
- Through_The_Lens_Of_Episode 3.4
- Gag Reel
Official Synopsis: Made during the early years of the movie musical, this exuberant revue was one of the most extravagant, eclectic, and technically ambitious Hollywood productions of its day. Starring the bandleader Paul Whiteman, then widely celebrated as the King of Jazz, the film drew from Broadway variety shows to present a spectacular array of sketches, performances by such acts as the Rhythm Boys (featuring a young Bing Crosby), and orchestral numbers—all lavishly staged by veteran theater director John Murray Anderson. Presented here in the most complete form possible and restored to its original early-Technicolor glory, King of Jazz offers a fascinating snapshot of the way mainstream American popular culture viewed itself at the dawn of the 1930s.
- New 4K digital restoration by Universal Pictures, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New audio commentary featuring jazz and film critic Gary Giddins, music and cultural critic Gene Seymour, and musician and bandleader Vince Giordano
- New introduction to the film by Giddins
- New interview with musician and pianist Michael Feinstein
- Four new video essays by authors and archivists James Layton and David Pierce on the development and making of King of Jazz
- Deleted scenes and alternate opening title sequence
- All Americans, a 1929 short film featuring a version of the “Melting Pot” number that was restaged for King of Jazz
- I Know Everybody and Everybody’s Racket, a 1933 short film featuring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra
- Two Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons from 1930, featuring music and animation from King of Jazz
- PLUS: An essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme
Official Synopsis: With this film, the audacious Ken Russell vaulted onto the international stage, drawing on the psychosexual radicalism of D. H. Lawrence’s classic novel to shatter taboos in his own time. Set in an English mining community on the crest of modernity, Women in Love traces the shifting currents of desire that link the emancipated Brangwen sisters (Jennie Linden and an Oscar-winning Glenda Jackson) to a freethinking dreamer (Alan Bates) and a hard-willed industrialist (Oliver Reed)—as well as the men’s own erotically charged friendship. Coupling earthy sensuality with kaleidoscopically stylized images, Russell pursues this quartet to the heights of agony and ecstasy, crafting a breathtaking drama of human sexuality at its most liberating, dominating, and destructive extremes.
- New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Two audio commentaries from 2003, one featuring director Ken Russell and the other screenwriter and producer Larry Kramer
- Segments from a 2007 interview with Russell for the BAFTA Los Angeles Heritage Archive
- A British Picture: Portrait of an Enfant Terrible, Russell’s 1989 biopic on his own life and career
- Interview from 1976 with actor Glenda Jackson
- Interviews with Kramer and actors Alan Bates and Jennie Linden from the set
- New interviews with director of photography Billy Williams and editor Michael Bradsell
- Second Best, a 1972 short film based on a D. H. Lawrence story, produced by and starring Bates
- PLUS: An essay by scholar Linda Ruth Williams
|HIGHLIGHT RELEASES OF THE WEEK
Official Synopsis: It’s the start of a new year at a small suburban high school. Abigail (Quinn Shephard) is an outcast who seeks solace in the worlds of the characters she reads about, much to the amusement of her manipulative classmate, Melissa (Nadia Alexander). When an intriguing new drama teacher (Chris Messina) casts Abigail over Melissa in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Abigail’s confidence blooms, and soon her relationship with Jeremy begins to move beyond just fantasy. Melissa, fueled by vengeful jealousy, begins to spiral out of control and concocts a plot against Abigail. This triggers a chain of events that will come to affect everyone around them, as well as reveal some dark truths.
“Blame” was released in January 2018 and is currently at an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Official Synopsis: “Legion: Season One” follows the story of Marvel character David Haller (Dan Stevens), a troubled young man who may be more than human. Since he was a teenager, David has struggled with mental illness. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, David has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. But after a strange encounter with a fellow patient, he’s confronted with the possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees might be real. Aubrey Plaza and Jean Smart also star. Season One originally aired on FX and currently ranks at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Official Synopsis: Lauren (Thora Birch of “American Beauty”), famously known as the “Pig Slayer” by her numerous fans, is a scientist turned blogger with a strict policy in regards to men. According to her infidelity formula, boyfriends are likely to cheat after six months of dating. When her sister Gena (Claire Coffee) catches wind that she’s writing a book on her theory, she plots to have her longtime friend Calvin (Chris Klein of “American Pie”) be the man to convince Lauren to have faith in relationships and shut down her blog for good.
“The Competition” was originally released in January 2018.
Official Synopsis: Winner of the Grand Jury Documentary prize at the Sundance Film Festival and nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards, Syrian filmmaker Fayyad and Danish co-director Johannessen’s breathtaking work – a searing example of boots-on-the-ground reportage – follows the efforts of the internationally recognized White Helmets, an organization comprised of ordinary citizens who are the first to rush towards explosions in the hope of saving lives. Incorporating moments of both heart-pounding suspense and improbable beauty, the documentary draws us into the lives of three of its founders – Khaled, Subhi, and Mahmoud – as they grapple with the chaos around them and struggle with an ever-present dilemma: do they flee with their families or stay and fight for their country. A gripping portrait of extraordinary bravery, Last Men in Aleppo provides a stirring new perspective on a conflict reshaping our world.
Released in May 2017, “Last Men In Aleppo” is currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Although “Icarus” won Best Documentary Feature, my vote went to “Last Men In Aleppo.”
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