HomeReviewsBlu-Ray Review Round-Up: “Man Hunt,” “Ali: Fear Eats The Soul” And More!

Blu-Ray Review Round-Up: “Man Hunt,” “Ali: Fear Eats The Soul” And More!

Blu-ray Review Round-up is a comprehensive overview of the latest releases, providing insights and critiques on each title’s audiovisual quality, special features, and overall value.

This review round-up aims to assist consumers in making informed decisions about which Blu-ray discs are worth adding to their collections.

Whether a movie enthusiast or a casual viewer, the Blu-ray Review Round-up offers valuable information to enhance your home entertainment experience.

Blu-ray Review Round-up: Man Hunt (1941)

Man Hunt is unlikely to be regarded as one of Fritz Lang’s top-tier works, even when compared only to his Hollywood films.

However, this noirish propaganda film features a couple of intense sequences, and Lang’s expressive photography maintains a tense atmosphere.

Blu-ray Review Round-up: “Man Hunt,”
Man Hunt 1941

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By visually isolating the pursued protagonist in shots emphasizing the impersonal nature of urban and non-urban settings, Lang effectively maximizes the intrigue of a plot that occasionally falls short of transcending its anti-Nazi message.

Walter Pidgeon portrays Alan Thorndike, a celebrated British hunter, on a German vacation just before the onset of World War II.

After targeting Adolf Hitler with his rifle, Thorndike is apprehended by the Gestapo and placed in the custody of Major Quive-Smith (played by George Sanders), who doubts Thorndike’s claim of having aimed at Hitler without intending to kill him and subsequently makes numerous attempts on Thorndike’s life.

As Thorndike is pursued by German forces back to his home country, he must rely on various individuals to evade detection, including a resourceful cabin boy, Vaner (portrayed by Roddy McDowall), and an infatuated young woman, Jerry (played by Joan Bennett).

Despite the potential for contrived plotting, the actors effectively convey the material.

McDowall demonstrates exceptional perceptiveness as a child actor, and Bennett taps into genuine emotion despite her exaggerated Cockney accent.

The Film’s opening sequence is intriguing, and a later cat-and-mouse game in the shadows of the Underground exhibits a brilliance reminiscent of Lang’s earlier work in “M” (1931).

Combined with the generally engaging nature of the Film, these elements contribute to a solid piece of provocative entertainment.

Twilight Time has received a high-quality 1080p, 1.33:1 transfer from Fox for this high-contrast, shadowy Film.

The presentation boasts abundant fine detail, stable contrast levels, and natural-looking visible grain, with minimal damage to the elements.

The lossless mono track is similarly commendable regarding its clarity and cleanliness.

In addition to the customary isolated score presentation, all the supplementary features from Fox’s DVD release, including a well-made making-of featurette, an audio commentary from Lang historian Patrick McGilligan, and a trailer, have been included.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Twilight Time’s Man Hunt Blu-ray rates:

The Film (out of ****): **1/2

Film Elements Sourced: ***1/2

Video Transfer: ***

Audio: ***

New Extra Features: 1/2

Extra Features Overall: **

Blu-ray Review Round-up: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Criterion has provided an equally stunning Blu-ray upgrade for Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, a surprisingly faithful remake/homage to Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows.

Blu-ray Review Round-up: Ali
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Fassbinder’s take on the unlikely romance between a 30-some Moroccan immigrant and a 60-some German widow is characterized by an aloofness, with the camera often at a distance, observing the action through narrow doorways and winding banisters.

Despite this, the melodrama subtly permeates the Film, evident in Fassbinder’s expressive use of color and empathetic shots of the actors’ faces, especially given the romantic involvement between Fassbinder and El Hedi ben Salem at the time of filming.

Criterion’s 1080p, 1.37:1 transfer, sourced from a new 4K digital restoration supervised by DP Jürgen Jürges, offers exceptional clarity and detail, while the uncompressed monaural German audio is superb quality.

The Blu-ray includes various extras from the 2003 DVD release, such as interviews, a BBC program on the New German Cinema, a scene from Fassbinder’s The American Soldier, and a short film connected to Fassbinder’s work, among others.

An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara is also included in the package.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Criterion’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul Blu-ray rates:

The Film (out of ****): ****

Film Elements Sourced: ****

Video Transfer: ****

Audio: ***1/2

New Extra Features: N/A

Extra Features Overall: ***1/2

Blu-ray Review Round-up: Sidewalk Stories (1989)

In an interview included in Carlotta Films’ Blu-ray release of Sidewalk Stories, director and star Charles Lane downplays the similarities between his Film and Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), asserting that his primary inspiration was J. Lee Thompson’s low-budget thriller Tiger Bay (1959).

Despite the narrative parallels, this departure from the Chaplin comparison could work in the Film’s favor.

Blu-ray Review Round-up: Sidewalk Stories (1989)
Sidewalk Stories (1989)

Though reasonably expressive, Lane does not possess the remarkable communicative abilities of Chaplin, Keaton, or Lloyd, and the Film often feels like a polished version of cinema verité rather than a faithful homage to silent cinema.

Nevertheless, Sidewalk Stories is charming in its portrayal of a street artist who reluctantly takes in a little girl after her father’s murder.

The Film’s silent-style comic sequences are captivating yet somewhat infrequent.

While Lane adeptly captures interesting perspectives on marginalized individuals, the documentary-style elements become repetitive, especially considering the predictable finale.

Despite its shortcomings, Carlotta Films presents the Film beautifully, with a 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer sourced from a 2K restoration.

The 2.0 DTS-HD soundtrack complements Marc Marder’s eclectic score. Extras include a new interview with Lane and Marder, a commentary track, Lane’s 1977 short A Place in Time, and a trailer.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Carlotta Films US’ Sidewalk Stories Blu-ray rates:

The Film (out of ****): **1/2

Film Elements Sourced: ***1/2

Video Transfer: ****

Audio: ***1/2

New Extra Features: ***

Extra Features Overall: ***

Blu-ray Review Round-up: Iguana (1988)

Monte Hellman once again defies genre conventions with Iguana, offering a distinct take on the monster movie akin to his subversions of the road movie and the western in Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), The Shooting (1966), and Ride in the Whirlwind (1966).

Blu-ray Review Round-up: Iguana (1988)
Iguana (1988)

In Iguana, Everett McGill portrays Oberlus, a disfigured harpooner who establishes his own domain on a remote island after enduring ridicule on a 19th-century whaling ship, exacting revenge on anyone who sets foot on his land.

Hellman’s disorienting Film challenges traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity through Oberlus’s grandiose declarations and Maru Valdivielso’s Carmen, a woman whose liberated sensuality unsettles the men around her.

The Film culminates in a tragic conclusion that emphasizes the unfolding horror throughout.

Raro Video’s Blu-ray release restores previously cut footage from the out-of-print Anchor Bay DVD. Still, disappointingly, the transfer exhibits noticeable issues such as frozen grain, overly smooth surfaces, crushed blacks, and color aberrations.

The 2.0 DTS-HD soundtrack is also unsatisfactory. Supplementary content includes a new interview with Hellman, a trailer, and a booklet featuring a brief essay and a Q&A with the director.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Raro Films’ Iguana Blu-ray rates:

The Film (out of ****): ***

Film Elements Sourced: ***

Video Transfer: *

Audio: **

New Extra Features: **

Extra Features Overall: **

Dusty Somers is a writer and editor based in Seattle. He writes reviews for Blu-ray and DVD as well as theater critiques. He is a Seattle Theater Writer and the Online Film Critics Society member.

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