Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Chimes at Midnight - The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1965
Director: Orson Welles
Writer: Orson Welles
Adpated From: William Shakespeare plays “Henry IV, Part I”, “Henry IV, Part II” and “Henry V” / Raphael Holinshed book “Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande”
Narration: Ralph Richardson
Cast: Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, John Gielgud, Marina Vlady, Walter Chiari, Michael Aldridge, Fernando Rey, Ingrid Pitt

Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Approximate Running Time: 116 Minutes 24 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $39.95

"The crowning achievement of Orson Welles’s extraordinary cinematic career, Chimes at Midnight was the culmination of the filmmaker’s lifelong obsession with Shakespeare’s ultimate rapscallion, Sir John Falstaff. Usually a comic supporting figure, Falstaff—the loyal, often soused friend of King Henry IV’s wayward son Prince Hal—here becomes the focus: a robustly funny and ultimately tragic screen antihero played by Welles with looming, lumbering grace. Integrating elements from both Henry IV plays as well as Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Welles created a gritty and unorthodox Shakespeare film as a lament, he said, “for the death of Merrie England.” Poetic, philosophical, and visceral—with a kinetic centerpiece battle sequence that rivals anything in the director’s body of work—Chimes at Midnight is as monumental as the figure at its heart." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Based on the 2009 restoration supervised by Luciano Berriatua at the Filmoteca Espanola, this high definition digital transfer was created from the 35mm original camera negative and a 35mm optical soundtrack element. Additional image and sound restoration was undertaken by the Criterion Collection. Dirt, debris, scratches, splices and warps were removed using MTI Film's DRS, while Digital Vision's Phoenix was used for jitter, flicker, small dirt, grain and noise management. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD and iZotope RX 4."

Chimes at Midnight comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 46.2 GB

Feature: 32.3 GB

The source looks great considering what they had to work with, and it is easily the best that Chimes at Midnight has ever looked on home video. That said, outside a few minor contrast variances, image clarity and black levels are solid, compression is strong, and the image retains an organic look.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English, and included with this release are removable English subtitles. This film was shot without sound, and the soundtrack was created in post-production. There are no issues with background noise or distortion. Also, the dialog comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced. Range-wise, things sound as good as one could expect considering the way the soundtrack was constructed and the limitations of the mono source.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer (1 minute 50 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with Orson Welles from The Merv Griffin Show, original air date 9/21/1965 (11 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles),an interview with Beatrice Welles (14 minutes 40 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Keith Brewer (29 minutes 49 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Orson Welles biographer Simon Callow (31 minutes 41 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with film historian Joseph McBride (26 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with film scholar James Naremore and a poster; on the reverse side of this poster are cast and crew information, an essay titled Fallstaff Roars written by Michael Anderegg, and information about the transfer.

Summary:

Chimes at Midnight was adapted from as many as five Shakespeare plays, with the bulk of the narrative coming from Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2. The other three sources include Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Chimes at Midnight originally began as one of two films that Orson Welles agreed to shoot simultaneously for Spanish film producer Emiliano Piedra. The other film as part of this two-film deal would have been Treasure Island. Reportedly, Welles never intended to make Treasure Island, and he only agreed so he could use some of that film’s sets for Chimes at Midnight. Filmmaker Jesús Franco was reportedly the second unit director; he shot Chimes of Midnight’s battle sequences.

Though not as well known as Orson Welles' other films, due to Chimes at Midnight being very difficult to see for many years, it is still another artistic triumph from Orson Welles, who once again turns cinema on its head with his unique style of storytelling. That being said, Chimes at Midnight features many of the elements that have since become synonymous with the cinema of Orson Welles. There is one area where Chimes at Midnight drastically differs from the bulk of his filmography. And that is when it comes to the look of Chimes at Midnight, which is by far and away Orson Welles' most subdued film visually, as he relies on the performances to drive the narrative.

In terms of acting, the entire cast is a joy to watch in their respective roles. With the standout performance coming from Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) in the role of Falstaff, a knight who has befriended and since become a mentor to Prince Hal. His performance runs the gamut as he expresses a wide range of emotions throughout this film. Other performances of note include Margaret Rutherford (Blithe Spirit) in the role of Mistress Quickly; she is the owner of the inn where Falstaff stays throughout the film, and Jeanne Moreau (The Bride Wore Black) in the role of Doll Tearsheet, a prostitute that also lives at Mistress Quickly’s inn. Ultimately, Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight is an extraordinary cinematic experience that firmly takes its place next to his most revered films.

Chimes at Midnight gets an exceptional release from The Criterion Collection that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

The Immortal Story - The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: France, 1968
Director: Orson Welles
Writers: Orson Welles, Louise de Vilmorin
Cast: Jeanne Moreau, Orson Welles, Roger Coggio, Norman Eshley, Fernando Rey

Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Approximate Running Times: 58 Minutes (English Version), 50 Minutes 57 seconds (French Version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono English (English Version), LPCM Mono French (French Version)
Subtitles: English SDH (English Version), English (French Version)
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $39.95

"Orson Welles stars as a wealthy merchant in nineteenth-century Macao, who becomes obsessed with bringing to life an oft-related anecdote about a rich man who gives a poor sailor a small sum of money to impregnate his wife." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "New, restored 4K digital transfer of the English-language version of the film.

This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution from the 35 mm original camera negative and a 35 mm interpositive. Restoration was undertaken in 2K resolution at Eclair | Groupe Ymagis by Gaumont, with the support of the CNC."

The Immortal Story comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.9 GB

Feature: 16 GB (English Version), 14.1 GB (French Version)

The sources used for these transfers are in excellent shape. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look healthy, image clarity is solid, black levels and compression are strong, and grain remains intact.

Audio: 4/5 (LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono French)

The English version comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English with removable English SDH subtitles. The French version comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in French with removable English subtitles. Both audio tracks sound clear and balanced. It should be noted that this film was shot without sound, and the soundtrack was created in post-production. And because of this, things tend to sound rather limited.

Extras:

Extras for this release include an archival French documentary from 1968 titled Portrait of Orson Welles (42 minutes 53 seconds, Dolby Digital mono French and English with removable English subtitles), interview with actor Norman Eshley (14 minutes 17 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with director of photography Willy Kurant (15 minutes, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and interview with Orson Welles scholar François Thomas (25 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with film scholar Adrian Martin, and a ten-page leaflet with cast & crew information, an essay about the film titled Divas and Dandies written by Johnathan Rosenbaum and information about the transfer.

Summary:

The Immortal Story was co-written and directed by Orson Welles, a filmmaker who quickly rose to prominence with his first feature film, Citizen Kane, and just as quickly was sent into exile as a director after his second film, The Magnificent Ambersons. With the exception of a few films, he spent the majority of his directing career working outside of Hollywood. 

The Immortal Story takes place during the 19th century in the Portuguese colony of Macao. Of course, the production design is impeccable, as Orson Welles was always someone who paid great attention to detail. Also, the meticulously constructed narrative keeps things moving along at a brisk pace. And when it comes to the characters, they are well-defined personas that further bolster the story at hand.

The pitch-perfect performances from The Immortal Story's cast are without a doubt its most enduring asset. The most memorable performance came from Norman Eshley (See No Evil) in the role of the sailor. After all, it is his character that is given the least to work with. Another performance of note is Jeanne Moreau (The Bride Wore Black) in the role of Virginie Ducrot. It is her character that has been hired to portray the wife in the story that the wealthy man is trying to recreate and bring to life.

Besides delivering another stoic performance, Orson Welles' direction creates an utterly tangible world that is filled with a tremendous amount of atmosphere. And though there are several moments throughout this film that remind us just how extraordinary a filmmaker Orson Welles was, the moment that stands out most visually is the scene where the wife character and the sailor make love in a bed with curtains partially obscuring them from the outside world. This scene is easily among the best moments Orson Welles has ever shot. He frames every inch of Jeanne Moreau's naked flesh with extreme precision and care.

For a film that originally began its life as a television project, The Immortal Story is yet another classic example from Orson Welles where the sum of the parts far exceeds the limited resources that he had to work with.

The Immortal Story gets a first-rate release from The Criterion Collection that comes with a solid audio/video presentation, two versions of the film, and a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Monday, January 30, 2023

Macbeth – Olive Signature Series (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1948, 1950
Director: Orson Welles
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Orson Welles, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O’Herlihy, Roddy McDowall, Edgar Barrier, Alan Napier, Erskine Sanford, John Dierkes, Keene Curtis, Peggy Webber

Release Date: November 15th, 2016
Approximate Running Times: 107 Minutes 36 seconds (1948 Version), 85 Minutes 17 seconds (1950 Version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: NR (Both Versions)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (Both Versions)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Versions)
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $39.95

"Something wicked this way comes in Orson Welles' cinematic retelling of William Shakespeare's MacBeth. Welles stars as the titular MacBeth-a doomed Scottish lord tragically undone by his own ambition. Welles' noir-tinged interpretation bubbles over with supernatural prophecy and murderous intrigue, effectively mixing the use of shadow and oblique camera angles to achieve an ominous sense of a land in peril." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "New high-definition digital restorations."

Macbeth 1948 version comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 30.8 GB

Feature: 30.6 GB

Macbeth 1950 version comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 38.7 GB

Feature: 23.1 GB

The sources used for these two versions are in excellent shape. Image clarity is solid, contrast and black levels are strong, compression is very good, and they both retain an organic appearance.

Audio: 4.5/5 (DTS-HD Mono English - Both Versions)

Both versions come with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English, and both versions come with removable English SDH subtitles. Both versions' audio tracks sound clean, clear, and balanced. Range-wise, things sound very good.

Extras:

Extras on disc one (1948 version) include an audio commentary with Orson Welles biographer Joseph McBride.

Extras on disc two (1950 Version) include an interview titled Welles and Shakespeare with Welles expert professor Michael Anderegg (11 minutes 56 seconds, DTS-HD stereo English, no subtitles), an interview titled That was Orson Welles filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich (9 minutes 49 seconds, DTS-HD stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Adapting Shakespeare on Film (8 minutes 19 seconds, DTS-HD stereo English, no subtitles), an from We Work Again, a 1937 WPA documentary containing scenes from Welles’ Federal Theatre Project production of Macbeth (7 minutes 14 seconds, DTS-HD stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Restoring Macbeth (8 minutes 22 seconds, DTS-HD stereo English, no subtitles) and featurette titled Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures (6 minutes 35 seconds, DTS-HD stereo English, no subtitles).

Other extras include an eight-page booklet with an essay titled Orson Welles's Macbeths, written by Jonathan Rosenbam. This extra can also be accessed on the Blu-ray disc two in the "extras" section.

Summary:

Macbeth was directed by Orson Welles, who rose to prominence with his Hollywood debut film, Citizen Kane, widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. Orson Welles would not only direct Citizen Kane; he would also write, produce, and, not to be overlooked, act in the role of its main character. Unfortunately for Orson Welles, his success would fade as quickly as it rose, and by the time his second film, The Magnificent Ambersons, was released, albeit in a heavily edited version of Orson Welles' final cut, he had faded as quickly as he had risen. His career as an actor continued to flourish, though his desire to direct would be put on the back burner until he was given the opportunity to direct The Stranger. Followed by The Lady from Shanghai (another film that befell a heavily edited version), and shortly thereafter he would get his chance to finally direct Shakespeare with Macbeth.

A lifelong fan of Shakespeare, Orson Welles would adapt his writings for the theater and stage throughout his career as a filmmaker. And though there had been other Shakespeare film adaptations before Orson Welles' Macbeth, it is safe to say that they looked, sounded, and felt like Orson Welles' interpretation. Limited resources never stifled Orson Welles' creativity; in fact, one could argue that some of his best work as a filmmaker was done on projects for which he had the least amount of resources to work with. That being said, Orson Welles, for Macbeth, would repurpose existing sound stages for his purposes. He would also have the cast record all of their dialog ahead of time and play it back while filming their scenes.

At first glance, Orson Welles' Macbeth appears to be a stage play due to the artificial nature of its production. And yet there are also many moments that are undeniably cinematic in their execution. Fortunately, these two rival ways of presenting a story come off without a hitch, and this is due to Orson Welles' unique way of seeing the world through the lens of his eyes. Needless to say, this film far exceeds expectations when it comes to its atmospheric visuals, which do a superb job setting the mood.

There are two versions of Orson Welles' Macbeth due to studio interference once again. Besides removing twenty minutes of footage, the studio re-edit released in 1950 also features a different audio track. This is due to Orson Welles's film featuring a thick Scottish accent, which they felt audiences would have difficulty understanding. And, while having this alternate version is useful for historical purposes, there is no denying that Welles' director’s cut for the film is the vastly superior version.

Orson Welles’ Macbeth gets an excellent release from Olive Films that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.









 Written by Michael Den Boer

Too Much Johnson – Mr. Bongo (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, October 9th, 2013 (Silent Film Festival in Pordenone)
Director: Orson Welles
Writer: Orson Welles
Cast: Joseph Cotten, Virginia Nicolson, Edgar Barrier, Arlene Francis, Ruth Ford, Mary Wickes , Eustace Wyatt, Guy Kingsley Poynter, George Duthie, Orson Welles, John Berry, Marc Blitzstein, Herbert Drake, John Houseman, Erskine Sanford, Howard Smith, Augusta Weissberger, Richard Wilson, Judy Holliday

Release Date: June 29th, 2015
Approximate Running Time: 67 Minutes 17 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: U (UK)
Sound: LPCM Stereo
Subtitles: N/A
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £4.99 (UK)

"Too Much Johnson is an elaborate 1890's farce of mistaken identity. Cuckolded husband Dathis is on the tail of a man named Billings, who has been having an affair with Dathis’s wife. Billings flees to Cuba, where now also hiding from his own wife and mother-in-law, he adopts the identity of a plantation owner named Johnson, who is expecting a mail-order bride." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5

Too Much Johnson comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 15.5 GB

Feature: 15.5 GB

Too much Johnson was thought to have been lost forever. With the last known print of Too Much Johnson residing in the home that Orson Welles lived in before it was destroyed by fire, this brings us to the print that was used for this release. It was discovered in a warehouse in Pordenone, Italy, in 2008.

This is a well-authored disc from a source that has undergone extensive restoration and was mastered in 2K resolution. The end result looks very good, considering the age. Sure, there are some instances of print debris and some instances of contrast fluctuation. These things are to be expected, and the fact that this film is even available to watch is the most important thing.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option, an LPCM mix in stereo. This is a silent film, and there is no dialog. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout. also suitable for those who do not wish to view the film with Philip Carli's score. There is an option to watch all the footage without any sound.

Extras:

This release comes with no extra content. There are three options on the main menu: play feature, chapter selection, and setup (audio).

Summary:

Too Much Johnson was originally shot in 1938 by Orson Welles, who planned to use the footage as part of Mercury Theater’s latest production of William Gillette’s 1894 comedy Too Much Johnson. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the footage would not be used due to the lack of projection equipment at the theater. And though the play would go on without said footage, this would ultimately lead to confusion with the audience. Also, if everything had gone as planned, the film would have lasted about forty minutes, with a twenty-minute prologue for the play and two ten-minute introductions, one for the second act and the other for the third act.

The first thing that immediately grabs you while watching Too Much Johnson is its tongue-in-cheek approach to the story at hand. Also, in regards to humor, it leans heavily towards slapstick comedy. Another strength of this film is that everyone is not always who they seem. At the start of the film, Joseph Cotton's character, Augustus Billings, pretends to be a wealthy plantation owner who is having the affair that sets the plot in motion.

Structurally, the narrative is broken up into three sections. The first act is mostly about a husband chasing his wife's love for the plantation owner through the streets and across rooftops. From there, the middle act goes to Cuba, and once there, Billings discovers that this friend, a plantation owner, is dead. And of course, the jealous husband rears his head once again. For the final act, the film sets up a final showdown between the jealous husband, Billings, and the new plantation owner.

Though the cast for Too Much Johnson, like Orson Welles' next two films, Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, was predominantly made up of actors who worked with Welles as part of The Mercury Theater, Too Much Johnson is significant for being the film that introduced Welles to Joseph Cotten, an actor who would go on to appear in numerous films directed by Orson Welles. Joseph Cotten hands down steals the show with Too Much Johnson in terms of performance. His ability to deliver psychical comedy is astonishing, and it is a shame that he strayed away from the comedy genre. Too Much Johnson is also a rare comedy showcase for Orson Welles, who would never again direct another comedy.

Trying to evaluate something when only half of the equation is known is what we're up against in Orson Welles' Too Much Johnson. After all, said footage was shot as a companion piece to a stage play, and even when said footage is assembled, there is not a complete and cohesive film to be found in this footage. With that being said, this film’s main merit is how it shows that even at this early stage of his career, Orson Welles' mindset was in regard to how he shot his visuals.

Too Much Johnson gets a strong audio/video presentation from Mr. Bongo.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Spider – Sony Pictures (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2022
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: Patrick McGrath
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne, Lynn Redgrave, John Neville, Bradley Hall

Release Date: December 13th, 2022
Approximate Running Time: 98 Minutes 52 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $26.99

"Spider (Ralph Fiennes) is in a constant struggle to overcome a traumatic event early in his life. He has been allowed a second chance at life after a long stay in a mental institution and returns to the streets where he grew up; sent to a halfway house under the stern but unsupervised watch of Mrs.Wilkenson (Lynn Redgrave). The sights, sounds and smells of revisiting the familiar streets of his old neighborhood send Spider further down a shadowy path that reawakens memories of his where his mother (Miranda Richardson) and his father (Gabriel Byrne) raised him. He soon begins to uncover the real truth shifting seamlessly back and forth between the tragic events that polarized a boy's adolescence to the shell of a man enduring the surreal plausible reality of today." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Spider comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 27.1 GB

Feature: 21.8 GB

The source used for this transfer is in great shape, and any source-related debris is very minor. Colors and flesh tones look correct; image clarity, black levels, and compression are solid; and the image retains an organic look.

Audio: 4.5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 English track with removable English SDH subtitles. This audio track does a superb job maximizing the sound spectrum. Dialog always comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced. Also, ambient sounds and the score are well-represented.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer (2 minutes 13 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival featurette titled Caught in Spider's Web: The Cast (12 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival featurette titled an archival featurette titled Weaving the Web: The Making of Spider (9 minutes 10 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival featurette titled an archival featurette titled In the Beginning: How Spider Came to Be (8 minutes 10 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), and an archival audio commentary with director David Cronenberg.

Summary:

David Cronenberg is a filmmaker who always surprises me. Going into a David Cronenberg film cold is an exhilarating experience. That said, he is also one of the few filmmakers whose films never lose any of their potency, no matter how many times you watch them.

Though David Cronenberg is best known for his work in "Body Horror" cinema, identity is a key theme that runs throughout most of his films. And at the heart of Spider is a tale about a schizophrenic man who tries to make sense of his current state of mind by reliving moments from his past.

From the moment of the protagonist's arrival onscreen, the stage is perfectly set for the events that follow. Also, Spider does a superb job creating an unnerving atmosphere that puts you in the protagonist's state of mind. And nowhere is this more evident than in a few scenes that blur the line between what happened and what the protagonist remembers happening.

Spider features a phenomenal cast who are all amazing in their roles, especially Ralph Fiennes (Schindler's List) in the role of Dennis "Spider" Cleg. He becomes fully engrossed in character and delivers a remarkable performance that stands out as one of his best. Another performance of note is Miranda Richardson's (The Crying Game) in the roles of Mrs. Cleg, Spider's mother, and Yvonne, Spider's father's mistress.

There is no area in which Spider does not excel in terms of production. The premise is well-executed, and the narrative does a great job building to an unforgettable finale that brings everything that preceded into focus. Other strengths include another remarkable score from Howard Shore (Videodrome), which heightens the mood by perfectly fusing with the visuals. Ultimately, Spider is an unflinching look at mental illness as we see the protagonist deteriorate in real time as he remembers moments from his past that only further his descent into madness.

Spider gets a strong release from Sony Pictures that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and informative extras, recommended.









 Written by Michael Den Boer

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Long Dark Trail – Cleopatra Entertainment (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2022
Directors: Kevin Ignatius, Nick Psinakis
Writers: Kevin Ignatius, Nick Psinakis
Cast: Trina Campbell, Brady O'Donnell, Carter O'Donnell, Nick Psinakis, Michael Thyer

Release Date: February 21st, 2023
Approximate Running Time: 78 Minutes 30 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $19.95

"Two impoverished teenage brothers who flee home after finally fighting back against their physically abusive father. Hoping to find and reunite with their estranged mother, they embark on a dangerous journey to a cursed forest in Northwestern Pennsylvania, not aware that she has become a disciple of a violent and sadistic cult that dwells there." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.75/5

The Long Dark Trail comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 17.4 GB

Feature: 14 GB

The source used for this transfer looks clean and is in good shape. Colors and flesh tones look correct, and the image generally looks crisp. Black levels are not convincing, and there are some mild compression-related issues.

Audio: 4/5 (Dolby Digital 5.1 English), 3.5/5 (LPCM Stereo English)

This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English and a LPCM stereo mix in English. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds very good. Dialog comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced. Though the LPCM stereo track sounds clear and balanced, the dialog has a weird echo effect to it that is not present on the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Included are removable English SDH subtitles.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a slideshow with music from the film playing in the background, a trailer for The Long Dark Trail (2 minutes 3 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), behind the scenes bloopers (3 minutes 47 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Artist R.L. Black (1 minute 39 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), and six unrelated trailers for films also released by Cleopatra Entertainment.

Summary:

Though there are horror elements in The Long Dark Trail, it is best described as a melodrama about a dysfunctional family. The narrative revolves around two brothers who live in poverty with their abusive father. Wanting to reunite with their estranged mother, the two brothers flee their abusive father and go on a journey looking for their mother.

After a strong opening that sets the tone, in this opening setup, the two brothers subdue their abusive father so they can get away from him. The narrative is slow-burning until the boys reunite with their mother. Unfortunately for the two boys, they flee one hell only to end up in another. Also, this section where the two boys reunite with their mother is the closest that The Long Dark Trail comes to being a horror film.

From a production standpoint, The Long Dark Trail is a film that does a great job maximizing its limited resources. It is a film that relies heavily on atmosphere, and it does a good job creating a foreboding mood. Another strength is the use of remote wilderness locations. That said, if there is one area where The Long Dark Trail does not come out ahead, it would be the performances, which are best described as serviceable. Though there are some interesting ideas at play in The Long Dark Trail, the result is a film where the sum of the parts doesn’t add up.

Cleopatra Entertainment gives The Long Dark Trail a strong audio/video presentation.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Ennio – Music Box Selects (Blu-ray) Theatrical Release Date: Italy/Belgium/Netherlands/Japan, 2021 Director: Giuseppe Tornatore Cast: Ennio...