This Review Roundup are releases that came out this month, but I didn’t get until after their release. First up is Straight Shooting. This new Blu-ray is a restored version of Director John Ford’s first feature film. This 1917 Western was pretty ground breaking at the time and starred early film staples Harry Carey and Molly Malone. Carey played Cheyenne Harry, a role that he would continue for decades, who was a hired gunslinger. He’s hired by a rancher to scare off other farmers. But as he gets to know the family of farmers he turns the tables. Films like this are lost on today’s generation. There’s no dialogue, no CGI, etc., but if you take into consideration what these movies mean historically, they are brilliant. First of all, it’s John Ford’s first feature. That alone makes it important. Second, without these early films, camera movement, storytelling and overall filmmaking wouldn’t be what it is. If you have a soft spot for early film and film history, this restored version is a must own. It has some great bonus features for film buffs too. At a little over 60 minutes it’s an easy watch plus as a film nerd, I get so much more out of it than just “watching a movie”.
Second we have Zombie For Sale. I had a ton of fun with this one. South Korea has put out some great horror the past few years (Train to Busan being the king) and this is the latest zombie/horror flick I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. A pharmaceutical company was testing on humans and one of their experiments escapes, a young zombie. He makes his way to a gas station run by a family. He’s bit the father who responds opposite of zombie bites, he feels better and younger. To save their gas station, they start charging locals to get bit by the zombie as a fountain of youth. Of course it goes sideways and the film is a mix of comedy, love and zombies. It’s equal parts Shaun of the Dead, Warm Bodies and Dawn of the Dead and if you are a fan of Korean horror, you’ll dig it. I can totally see myself watching it again and recommending it to friends. The bonus features are pretty fun too with making of, get to know the cast, commentary and more.
Next we have Bloodstone. This late 1980s flick sees a honeymooning couple caught up in a jewel heist when the thief meets them on a train and drops the “Bloodstone” in one of their bags so he doesn’t get caught. Indian authorities want the thief and the ruby and when the wife gets kidnapped, the husband teams up with a local cabby (Indian acting legend Rajinikanth) to get back his wife from the bad guys. When movies like Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone became popular, adventure movies became the big genre to rip off and this clearly wants to be those films. It’s not. It’s kinda fun and the cabby is the best part of the film, but it’s also super dated at this point. The local cop is a walking stereotype calling everything outrageous. I found it entertaining enough for one watch, but if you are a fan, this new release is pretty solid.
Fourth we have Black Rainbow, starring Rosanna Arquette as a religious psychic medium and Jason Robards as her father/manager that go from town to town having her speak to the dead at churches. At first she is known for communicating with those who have passed on, but then she starts getting visions of upcoming events which scares the townfolk. I was not familiar with the movie at all, but I can see it being a cult classic to a lot of fans. Arquette and Robards are two pretty big names so I’m not sure why I don’t know it. I thought it was pretty good for one time, but fans will definitely eat up this release which looks good on Blu-ray and comes with multiple commentaries and featurettes among the bonus features.
Fifth we have Life Is A Long Quiet River. This was a weird one. The film starts out with a doctor and his nurse having an affair. She wants to be with him once and for all and when his wife dies, she thinks it’s her time. But it’s not so she tells a secret, she switched two children at birth. A bourgeois family got a baby girl from a lower class family with their son being raised by that family. Once the secret is out the son goes to live with the rich family and the daughter stays as well. The families eventually start interacting together and it’s a comedy about class and elitism, but it didn’t really do anything for me. It’s from the late 1980s and was one of France’s biggest comedies. Maybe you have to be French to get the satire or at least the specifics of the satire. Sure I can understand class satire but the poor family is full of stereotypes that probably got big laughs in 1988 France. But if you are a fan, this new release will definitely be good for you.
Last we have Hiroshima, a 1953 film that uses first hand accounts of the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. It’s shot documentary style so it looks real, but it is a film based on actual experiences. It’s been out of print pretty much since the 1950s and this is the complete version, restoring the footage from the international edit that was released in the United States in 1955. It’s another film I wasn’t familiar with since I was born well after its release. The bonus features include a 73-minute documentary featuring interviews with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings now residing in the United States, With history being torn down in today’s world, a film like this should be eye opening to people and hopefully some will learn we must not repeat history.