Thursday 28 April 2011

Hereafter Blu Ray / DVD combo review

Hereafter is without doubt a solid piece of filmmaking. That said, I’d probably have to describe Eastwood’s latest release as an ‘unusual’ entry when compared to his recent directorial projects. Hereafter starts off with a devastatingly realistic (in light of the recent news footage from Japan) and superbly produced tsunami sequence. However, the film is a soft and very gently paced piece of work.
Matt Damon (Invictus) gives an excellent and perfectly measured performance as a recently retired psychic, forced to quit his practice due to the stress of living with his ‘curse.’ Damon plays this difficult ‘tortured soul’ character very well.
C├ęcile De France plays Marie, the French journalist, author and initial non believer. Marie survives a near death experience when caught in the middle of the tsunami. For Marie, it is an experience that propels her to investigate further in a hunt for the truth. De France gives a wonderful performance throughout.

In London, twin brothers (played by Frankie and George McLaren) are separated when one is suddenly killed in a road accident. Left alone with his mother, the twin wonders where his brother has really gone and makes various attempts to make contact with him.
Hereafter is a deliberately slow paced drama which focuses on the aftermath of death and its emotional effect on the three people who struggle to find some form of closure. Eastwood examines closely the inner pain of the three principal characters and like the narrative; the story’s conclusion has a reserved and tender quality.
Hereafter will probably never be described as Eastwood’s greatest work. It is a dramatic and highly original character piece, with an engrossing subject at the heart of its well presented story. It’s a film that should be thoroughly enjoyed, so long as you are prepared to look beyond its opening (and very impressive) tsunami sequence.

Hereafter’s Sound and picture are stunning, see full spec below.

As bonus material on the blu ray disc only, Step Into the Hereafter Focus Points (HD, 42 minutes): View Hereafter's nine engaging Focus Point featurettes individually from the special features menu or as part of an unobtrusive, fairly seamless In-Movie Experience (of the "press enter to view" variety). Segments include "Tsunami! Recreating a Disaster," "Is There Life After Death," "Clint on Casting," "Delving into the Hereafter," "Twin Bonding," "French Speaking French," "Why the White Light?" "Hereafter's Locations: Casting the Silent Characters" and "The Eastwood Experience." Thankfully, Eastwood appears in each short via interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, giving the filmmaker ample opportunity to discuss and dissect the film.
Also included on the blu ray disc only, The Eastwood Factor: Extended Version (First time available in Full HD): An exceedingly extensive look at the life and career of Clint Eastwood written and directed by film critic and biographer Richard Schickel, built around Eastwood's own words, and narrated by actor and Unforgiven co-star Morgan Freeman. Classy, candid and oh-so-captivating, be sure to set aside two hours for this comprehensive documentary.

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC, Video resolution: 1080p, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
50GB Blu-ray Disc, Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD), Digital copy (on disc), DVD copy
Playback Region free
I would again like to thank Warner Brothers in the United States for sending this latest Blu Ray combo release. Your recognition and continued support of The Clint Eastwood Archive is always very much appreciated.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Firefox writer Craig Thomas dies after cancer battle

CARDIFF-BORN thriller writer Craig Thomas has died from pneumonia, aged 68, it has been announced. The author was regarded by many as the man who invented the techno-thriller with the publication of his international bestseller Firefox, which was made into a Hollywood film starring Clint Eastwood. Mr Thomas had a successful career spanning 30 years, which featured novels such as Snow Falcon, Sea Leopard, Jade Tiger and Firefox Down. Born in the city, the former English teacher attended Cardiff High School and then went on to study at the University College Cardiff. When once asked why he was drawn in to the thriller world, he said: “Because of its evident sense of tension and danger, the deliberate structure of the plots, and perhaps the emphatic moral framework – just as many writers of detective fiction are drawn to the sense of justice their books demonstrate towards good and evil.
Below: Writer Craig Thomas died on April 4th
“There is an attraction in the thriller or adventure story, for both the writer and reader, in knowing which side one is supposed to be on. And thrillers are optimistic. “Their problems are soluble, and they are resolved by individuals. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘the good end happily, the bad unhappily – that is the meaning of fiction’.” He had recently finished a two-volume commentary on the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He and his wife, Jill, who was also his editor, lived for many years in Staffordshire, but had recently moved to Somerset. Jill said: “Craig meant everything to me, we were soulmates and we had a fantastic life together. He was a very loving person and a very honest person. He would say what he thought and he hated political correctness. His passion for his writing remained up until the end. Even when he was in hospital under going chemotherapy he was still scribbling away until it just got too much for him.” Mr Thomas died from pneumonia on April 4, following a short but intensive battle with acute myeloid leukaemia.
Thanks to Dave Turner for bringing this story to my attention. Our thoughts are with his family.