Jockey represents something special for Clifton Collins, Jr. The 51-year-old actor debuted with many years of small roles, including many “numbered” characters early on. He paid his dues, enjoyed some kind of escape in 1997 one eight seventhen for a number of additional years after that, he became a staple supporting actor in brilliant, well-made studio fare (Price of Glory, tigerland, Traffic, The last castle). 2005 Hoodin which Collins portrays killer Perry Smith alongside true crime chronicler Philip Seymour Hoffman, further raised his profile, and in 2006 he landed an Emmy Award nomination for his work in the miniseries. Thief.
Character study drama Jockey, however, finds Collins at the top of the call sheet, and it represents the unique and powerful beauty that small-scale cinema can still achieve when matching an actor that an audience has been lucky enough to see. grow before their eyes with a well-designed lead role that gives them the opportunity to stretch and try something new. In director Clint Bentley’s film, co-written with Greg Kwedar, Collins stars as Jackson Silva, an aging pro rider whose best professional years may be behind him. However, when trainer Ruth Wilkes (Molly Parker) pairs him with a special horse, there seems to be a chance for one last ride of glory. Around the same time, a young man named Gabriel (Moisés Arias) shows up, claiming to be Jackson’s son. As he grapples with hurt and regret, Jackson must figure out what he wants the rest of his life to be like.
There is an elegiac, somewhat hypnotic beauty to Jockey, beautifully filmed by cinematographer Adolpho Veloso. And at the center of it all is Collins, who delivers grounded, superlative work that beautifully showcases all he has absorbed and learned over the decades of his career. At its core, it’s a fairly simple story, but it’s told in an engaging way with restrained confidence that doesn’t sonically shorten or inflate its heart-rending elements. Jockey comes on Blu-ray presented in a pretty solid 1080p transfer with excellent resolution and consistent colors, in 2.39:1 widescreen, with DTS-HD 5.1 and Dolby digital 5.1 English main audio tracks, plus subtitles optional in English, English SDH, Spanish, and French. The disc’s bonus features consist of a trio of deleted scenes, lasting a total of six minutes, as well as the trailer for the film.
Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain burst onto the scene, for many American moviegoers, with 2016 Jackiestarring Natalie Portman – never mind the fact that he made films with great success in his native country for an entire decade. Emma, its 2019 follow-up, centers on a pair of artistic free spirits in an experimental dance troupe, company director Gastón (Gael Garcia Bernal) and titular dancer (Mariana Di Girolamo) who is also his ex-wife. . The couple’s life is turned upside down when their adopted son Polo (Cristian Felipe Suarez) is involved in a shocking incident. As their relationship further implodes following their decision to abandon her, Ema embarks on a journey of liberation and self-discovery.
Played forcefully and told in the same somewhat elliptical poetic strokes as most of Larrain’s recent work, Emma represents the middle chapter of her informal trilogy of women trying to navigate their way through a thicket of trauma and pain, like the book the aforementioned Jackie and of course last year spencer, starring Kristen Stewart. Cinematographer Sergio Armstrong, composer Nicolás Jaar and editor Sebastián Sepúlveda are all superb same-page collaborators, executing Larrain’s vaporous vision here. The Blu-ray presentation of the film from Music Box Films consists of a 1080p high definition transfer and a 7.1 DTS-HD main audio track in Spanish, presented in 2.39:1 widescreen. Along with a photo gallery and green and red trailers for the film, you’ll find a stage audio commentary track selected by choreographer José Vidal, as well as a collector’s booklet containing an interview with Larrain and a thoughtful essay on the film.
The second feature from acclaimed music video director Rich Ragsdale, The long night serves up a wholesome buffet of genre tropes for an undemanding audience who may appreciate style over substance. The story centers on the transplant of New York Grace (Scott Taylor-Compton), an orphan who heads south in search of relatives she never knew, with her well-to-do boyfriend Jack (Nolan Gerard Funky). The area triggers traces of memories from its past, but the couple’s getaway takes a bizarre and terrifying turn when a dead cat shows up on their front porch, then members of an outback demonic cult begin to terrorize them. More disturbing? It turns out it’s not just accidental stalking, as the group’s twisted doomsday prophecy hinges on dark secrets tied to Grace’s past.
Relying heavily, predictably, on atmosphere and mood, The long night slips the noose of judgment a bit like a business card for the below-the-line artisans involved in the film. But while its screenplay, by Mark Young and Robert Sheppe, has some structural tricks up its sleeve, it has a much harder time crafting compelling characters and dialogue. The spooky stuff also wears away, ultimately leaving the film’s title feeling like an accurate description of watching it. Well Go USA Entertainment’s Blu-ray presentation of the film is at least quite nice, though: the hearty bonus features consist of a feature-length audio commentary track from Ragsdale in which he balances production trivia with some decent DIY tips. for those who would like to be filmmakers; three separate behind-the-scenes featurettes; and the award-winning Ragsdale short The loop.
Another horror effort with (in its own head, at least) a bit more on its mind comes in the form of Stoker Hills, which takes a conceit ripped from the headlines (the human transplant of a pig’s heart) and grafts it onto a low-budget slasher film in a somewhat sloppy way, with a sprinkling of mishandled self-awareness. Director Benjamin Louis isn’t helped much by a cast that negotiates quite a few reported emotions, but he doesn’t acquit himself particularly well technically either.
Written by Jonah Kuehner, the film centers on a group of film school students, which is the first of a few gritty red flags for Stoker Hills. As the group sits and listens to their teacher’s (Tony Todd) pontificates, they push and shove and film each other, but there’s so much cheating in this portable footage, it’s terrible. Once the movie moves away from that movie-within-a-movie conceit and ostensibly shows us footage of what the cops found (more on that in a moment), it becomes more tolerable – at least on a purely cinematographic. If cinematographer John Orphan struggles with action and framing, he at least offers well-lit frames that use a blue/yellow color scheme – somewhat unusual for a horror movie.
These characters, however? The future director of Smarmy Jacob (Vince Hill-Bedford) and his friend Ryan (David Gridley) have an idea for prostitutesa A pretty woman-meets-The Walking Dead talk about zombie prostitutes taking over a small town, and they bring in actress Erica (Steffani Brass). When she gets snatched from the streets at night, the pair scramble to try to save her, leading them to the lair of a masked serial killer. Meanwhile, two cops, Detectives Adams (Eric Etebari) and Stafford (William Lee Scott), attempt to track down all of the aforementioned teenagers and figure out exactly what’s going on in their town. After the cops search for a lead on missing medical equipment, the appearance of Dr. Jonathan Brooks (John Beasley) hints at something a little more labyrinthine and squirrel-like, so it’s a bummer when you realize that he’s only there to basically give background information about a pig heart transplant and an air quote set up the killer’s messy motives.
Dialogue and investigative reflection in Stoker Hills is laughable at times (“Well, he must be mad at God or something,” one sleuth opines), but one can appreciate, in a way, the meanders and noodles offered to some of its secondary characters. This writing seems ultimately designed to do little more than introduce red herrings, but those characters and sequences end up being the most memorable thing about Stoker Hills – much more engaging than those stupid kids. The film’s ending, meanwhile, manages to both avoid subtlety (hello, shotgun blasts) and also serve up a “twist” that, in trying to cleverly reframe the entire film, actually appears as sigh-inducing and self-negative. Stoker Hills arrives on Blu-ray presented in full-frame 16×9, with 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo audio tracks, plus optional English SDH, housed below an animated main menu screen. Apart from the compulsory selections of 12 chapters, there are no additional features.
For those who grew up with pulpy detective stories, Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookstore scratches some itch. Starring Nathalie Cox and Kelsey Grammer, this family film centers on the title character, a college professor, orphaned at a young age, with an insatiable appetite for investigation. When she is invited by old family friends to investigate hauntings in their antique bookstore, she begins to wonder if someone is playing a trick on the weary owner. Films like this live and die on their plot, and while the film’s direction leaves a bit to be desired, screenwriters Kate Wood, Chad Law and Josh Ridgway deftly play enough cards to keep things decently engaging – encouraged in large measure by fine chemistry from Cox and Grammer. Miss Willoughby comes on DVD with a complimentary cardboard slipcase, in 1.85:1 widescreen with a Dolby 5.1 English audio track and optional Spanish, English SDH and French subtitles. Bonus features include chapter stops, the film’s trailer, and a brief behind-the-scenes featurette that includes cast and crew interviews.