Disney’s Moana – Blu-ray Review

Disney has done it again! Moana is fun, exciting, mesmerizing, and energy-filled family fun! I truly enjoyed every moment of this tale about a young girl and her quest to save her people and the island they inhabit. The adventure is at full sail as Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) teams with demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) on a mission that takes her to new and exciting places she once only dreamed of seeing.

Disney is a master at pulling together humor, heart, music, and story into a feast for all the senses; and Moana is no exception. In fact, it’s one of their best yet! I loved the setting, the time period, the characters, and the ancient lore that drives Moana to seek out Maui’s assistance on her quest. Every aspect of the film is solid, and I laughed as much as I cried throughout the films many ups and downs.

Did I mentioned I loved this movie!?

Along with Moana, the blu-ray includes lots of special features:

Maui Mini-Movie: Gone Fishing

This was very short, but also very fun!

Short Film: Inner Workings

With a brief intro by its creators, Inner Workings is another solid short from the creative minds at Disney.

Deleted Song: “Warrior Face”

Voice of the Islands

Things You Didn’t Know About…

Find out interesting trivia about the cast.

Island Fashion

They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana

Music Video – “How Far I’ll Go” sung by Alessia Cara

Deleted Scenes

Fishing for Easter Eggs

If you enjoyed Tangled, Frozen, or any past Disney animated classic, I know you’ll LOVE Disney’s Moana! It’s grade-A entertainment!

Disney’s Moana is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download!

What’s your favorite Moana moment? Leave a comment and let us know!

Chronic – DVD Review

Tim Roth is a man who literally stares death in the face in the drama, Chronic. Roth plays David, a middle-aged widower who takes care of terminally ill patients until their untimely demise. He’s a compassionate, caring, and thoughtful man who takes great pride in providing those in his care with the utmost comfort and assistance until they pass on. As David connects with those he knows will soon be gone, he also begins the healing process of digging himself out of a dark depression. He helps the patients and in they help him in this heart-wrenching film.

While the film may be a serious and oftentimes melancholy narrative, it’s the way in which Writer/Director Michel Franco has artfully shot the piece that catches the eye. The average film in 2017 is composed of 1250 shots; many action films have 3000+. Chronic has a mere 97. Franco also utilized static shots with no camera movement for extended periods of time almost as if you are looking at and analyzing a photo as you watch the events unfold.

This minimalist approach toward such intimate subjects – depression, illness, death – makes for an even more impactful film that lingers long after you’ve finished viewing it. Franco’s unique style definitely makes him more than a director and more of an auteur with a distinct style much like Kubrick, Hitchcock, and Fellini had.

If you hadn’t figured it out from the opening of this review, Chronic is a challenging film to watch due to its subject matter and themes. While that may be the case, it’s also rather beautiful in its simplicity of story, shots, and acting. Each actor gives an A-list performance that brings a realism and depth to each scene. The film even won an award for Best Screenplay at Festival De Cannes.

The DVD includes the featurette Behind the Scenes of Chronic, which contains interviews with the director and Tim Roth. It’s a fascinating watch if you are a filmmaker or a person who is intrigued by the creative process.

I recommend Chronic, but bring the tissues and brace yourself for a very emotional journey.

Chronic is available now on DVD.

London Town – DVD Review

Coming-of-age in any decade is certain to be filled with frustrations, troubles, and stresses. No matter where you go through adolescents, there are some things that are universally shares by young men and women as they traverse the rocky slopes to adulthood. London Town shows us how sometimes being forced to grow up and take responsibility even when one is not ready can be a curse, but also somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

For young Shay (Daniel Huttlestone), his teen years have brought him and his sister an absent, free-wheeling mother and set-in-his-ways father. In many ways, he and his sister are raising themselves in the tumultuous climate of the Britain in the 1970s. At 15, Shay has yet to discover an outlet for the angst he feels inside; to find a way to express his teenage views and opinions. That is until his mother send him a cassette with songs from The Clash, which opens his eyes to a world of music he never knew.

Suddenly swept up into the anti-establishment punk culture, Shay soon finds himself at odds with his parents, but also at odds with himself as he tries to rebel while still taking on the responsibilities left behind by both his parents. His newfound love of punk helps him become a stronger, more self-assured person, while he works to save his family and life from falling apart around him.

I really enjoyed London Town. I think we all have a song, a band, or a genre of music that set us off on a new path in life. Lyrics that fit perfectly into a moment in our existence that helped us through a difficult time or helped us take a path we were afraid to go down. To me, that is what this film is all about: using music as a form of expression in order to become the person you always knew you were but were never sure how to express.

London Town also includes a fantastic performance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as The Clash’s lead singer, Joe Strummer, who strikes up a friendship with Shay. Rhys Meyers is excellent in the role, and the interview with him included on the DVD is a fascinating look at how he dedicated himself to the role to make it an homage to a punk icon.

I highly, highly recommend London Town!

London Town is available now on DVD.

What’s your favorite punk band? Leave a comment and let us know!

The Crooked Man – DVD Review

Prepare yourself for the evil that is the Crooked Man. An ancient evil whose presence arrives through the recitation of song that bears his name. Once called, all who exist in the space in which he has been revived will fall victim to his deadly ways. Can he be stopped?

When a pre-teen slumber party turns to murder, the young girl accused – Olivia – blames the one true killer: Crooked Man. The only problem is that no one believes her, and she’s quickly blamed for taking the life of her best friend. Six years later, she returns home only to discover that the past has not been forgotten, and some wounds, like resentment, continue to run deep.

Olivia soon discovers that her return has also brought Crooked Man back to life and his reign of terror begins once more. As the bodies begin to pile up, Olivia does all she can to stop this chaotic killer from sending her and her remaining friends down a pathway of death. Will she survive?

Delivering on the by-the-numbers horror movie tropes, The Crooked Man has a fun time with its kills, but I felt that the story was lacking in a lot of true suspense or even sense. I kept asking myself questions regarding the lack logic shown by all the characters, which is common in this genre but they lacked it to a higher level in this film.

I wanted more. I especially wanted more of Michael Jai White who’s only in about five minutes of the movie, which was a bit of a disappointment. I kept waiting for him to show up and you do get glimpses of him from time to time, but not enough to warrant top-billing in the film as a whole. Seeing the cover, I was excited about the prospect of seeing an African-American in a leading role in a slasher flick. Sadly, I felt misled.

While I enjoyed the film for what it was, I feel like there was a lot of potential for a stronger story involving the Crooked Man character and a chance to develop stronger characters to battle him. I mean, I get that it’s a TV movie, but I still believe that TV movies can be solid, structured stories with multi-dimensional and motivated characters.

The Crooked Man is available now on DVD.

What’s your favorite boogeyman movie? Please leave a comment and let us know!

Cohen Media Group: Come What May – Blu-ray Review

When it comes to stories about war and conflicts around the world, too often we forget about the citizens that are many times permanently affected by the violence that has come to their front door. Too often the story is about the militaries and their strategies rather than they men, women, and children whose lives are disrupted and destroyed without their consent or even knowledge.

Come What May explores humanity among the chaos as Germany invades France during the early days of World War II. Hans is a dedicated father who lives in Germany with his young son, Max. While they may be German, Hans is against the Nazi regime and the evil it stands for. Fleeing to Germany, he’s eventually arrested and thrown in jail for lying about his nationality to French officials, leaving his son under the care of the locals of the town they had fled to.

As the Nazis begin their invasion, Hans and the other prisoners are released and his mission becomes to do whatever it takes to get back to his son. Teamed up with a Scottish soldier, Hans follows clues left by his son to find him and the other villagers who have left their small town behind out of fear for their lives. As Hans dodges the threat of Nazis as he travels toward where he hopes his son and the villagers have gone, it becomes less of a quest for a reunion and more a quest of survival.

What I found most intriguing about the film was its intermixing of the German, French, and English languages throughout the narrative. As people from myriad countries merge together, you can see how it was imperative that knowing at least one other language could mean the difference between life and death, especially in the throes of war.

Come What May is a beautifully shot, expertly acted film that respects its subject and explores part of the German invasion that I haven’t seen covered that often in film form. The Blu-ray includes a variety of special features, which include:

Making of Come What May

Behind-the-Scenes with Ennio Morricone

Audio Commentary with Director Christian Carrion

Interview with Director Christian Carion and Richard Pena, former program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center

I highly recommend Come What May. It’s an impactful film that resonates with you long after it’s ended.

Come What May is available now on Blu-ray.

American Pastoral – Blu-ray Review

The United States of America has gone through its share of evolutionary changes over its history. Some good. Some not so good. And through it all we have persevered as a nation; taking each challenge and overcoming it as a united people. Even when things looked bleak, when mores and values were questioned, and when the status quo was challenged, America survived and trudged onward to witness another day.

American Pastoral embodies this conceit: a country at a crossroads between seeming idealism and rampant anarchy. The elders content to live in a state of denial about the travesties that befall their fellow man, while the younger generation is ready to rise up and tear down the structures that have oppressed minorities, women, and other for generations.

Set against the backdrop of the 1960s, American Pastoral revolves around the relationship between a father a daughter and the generational tensions that arise between them. Seymour “Swede” Levov (Ewan McGregor) is a proud husband and father living life as the manager of glove-making factory. His past is filled with successes as is his wife Dawn’s (Jennifer Connelly) past, but they are concerned about the present and future of their daughter, Merry.

As Merry goes from being a young girl to a teen (played by Dakota Fanning), it soon becomes clear -despite their denials – that something is up with their daughter. Merry has embraced the rebellious counterculture of the decade speaking out against racism, corporate America, and Vietnam. This leaves her out of step with her more traditional parents who do their best to cope with here behavior, but the task is often too much to bear.

After Seymour suggests that Merry work to bring her message to the rural town they live in, a tragic event throws the entire area into disarray. Was Merry responsible for the atrocity? With her in the wind, Seymour takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of his daughter’s disappearance and bring her home by any means necessary.

American Pastoral is a timely and still-relevant tale given the recent political upheaval and rebellion taking place in our nation today. It asks the questions, How far is too far when fighting for a cause? and What are you willing to sacrifice to have a societal impact? For better or worse, this film speaks to these questions and also explores a myriad themes that can be seen anytime you scroll through your newsfeed on your phone.

Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut was quite impressive, especially given that he had to act and direct himself on his first outing as director. Everyone in the film does a superb job.

The Blu-ray includes two excellent documentaries about the making of the film: American Pastoral: Adapting an American Classic and Making the American Dream, along with Audio Commentary by Ewan McGregor.

I highly recommend American Pastoral. It is a well-made and timely film.

American Pastoral is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download.