Via Vision Entertainment is a home video label out of Australia, and last year they launched a premium Blu-ray line under the name Imprint. The releases come slipcased with numbered spines, and the films include new supplements, and while the chosen titles range across all genres and release years some have never before been released to Blu-ray. Let’s dig into their recent 2021 releases!
Jeff and Amy are a happily married couple moving cross country and enjoying the drive that comes with it. That all changes when a mechanical problem leaves the car dead on the side of a desert road, and while a kind stranger offers rescue it’s anything but. Amy’s abducted, and now Jeff is racing to find her before it’s too late.
Jonathan Mostow’s late 90s thriller remains an all-timer for numerous reasons, and they start with a tight script and sharp direction. The action is captured via practical effects and stunts making for some harrowing sequences delivering real thrills. And the casting is equally on point with one of Kurt Russell’s finest performances as a man seemingly out of his depth and at the end of his rope. He’s terrific, and he’s given the perfect foil in a villain brought to gloriously malicious life by JT Walsh. Their verbal sparring is electric, and the action only ramps up from there. It’s insane that this film is more loved, so do yourself a favor and pick up this Blu-ray immediately.
Imprint’s new region-free Blu-ray is the film’s long-overdue debut on the format, and it’s a winner. A barebones release would still be worth it, but happily ViaVision has loaded their release with new special features exploring the film’s production.
- *NEW* Commentary by film critic Peter Tonguette
- *NEW* It’s Gonna Cost You: Making Breakdown [23:49] – Writer/director Jonathan Mostow talks about the film’s origins — as a new adaptation of Stephen King’s “Trucks” with Dino De Laurentiis! — as well as the casting, his approach to capturing suspense, the film’s practical stunts, and more.
- *NEW* The Trap is Set: Inside the Stunts [9:55] – Stunt coordinator M. James Arnett recalls his career that started with Foul Play (1978) — still not on Blu-ray but would make a great addition to Imprint’s lineup — before jumping into details about this film’s numerous stunts.
- *NEW* Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Remembering Basil Poledouris [13:05] – Musician Eric Colvin remembers working with the film’s composer.
- *NEW* They Think I’m a Dummy [11:07] – Actor Jack Noseworthy recalls his audition for the film and how he played the character’s dual personas.
- *NEW* Life is Jeep: Breakdown and the Psychology of the Road [15:23] – A visual essay by Ian Mantgini that explores the open road found in suspense films through history.
- *NEW* Interview with film critic Tim Robey [17:41] – A critic explores the film’s themes, characters, and effect.
- Theatrical trailer
The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)
The Korean War rages on, and for one aircraft carrier the mission before them is as specific and dangerous as they come — the pilots are tasked with destroying a series of bridges used by the enemy and essential to their troop movements. Success means a quicker path to victory, but failure means only death for the pilots risking their lives.
William Holden headlines this dramatic, affecting, and surprisingly bleak tale of Navy pilots facing off against a foreign enemy in one of America’s many wars. He’s terrific as a man who’s grown tired of battle and only wants to return home to the life he left behind when his country came calling. Grace Kelly is his wife, Mickey Rooney is a lucky rescue pilot, and Fredric March is the commander torn between wanting his best men on the mission and understanding their desire to go home. The miniature work is memorable (and Oscar winning), and it finds its way to a grim finale. That’s good and rare for a 50s war film.
Via Vision’s region-free disc brings the film to a solid, if unspectacular, Blu-ray release.
- *NEW* Commentary by film historian Alan K. Rode
- *NEW* Grace Kelly: The Princess, the Actress, the Great What If? [30:57] – A visual essay by critic Kat Ellinger about the short but memorable career of Grace Kelly.
The Bad News Bears (1976)
A once respected baseball player who now settles for any job he can find begrudgingly takes a gig as coach to an upstart Little League team filled with rejects. Their odds of amounting to anything are slim, and he’s certainly not about to inspire them, but that all starts to change as everyone discovers a hidden desire to actually succeed.
This remains a classic comedy, and while it will set modern day hearts a flutter with its foul language and bad attitudes, mostly involving children, its rawness doesn’t prevent it from delivering real heart. It’s an underdog tale, and a great one, and its cast is aces from top to bottom. Walter Matthau is just the bee’s knees as the curmudgeonly coach, Vic Morrow is pitch perfect as the competition, and the kids are endlessly memorable. Tatum O’Neal, Jackie Earle Haley, and the rest bring epic spunk and sass, but they’re never short on charm.
Via Vision’s region-free disc is the film’s worldwide Blu-ray debut — which is nuts — and while it won’t set the place on fire its HD presentation is as good as it currently gets.
- *NEW* Commentary by film historian Scott Harrison
The Apostle (1997)
A preacher living high on god’s love sees his anger challenged when he discovers his wife is cheating on the side. A quick act of violence later and he’s on the run, eventually settling down in a small community where he starts a church under a new name. He reaches hearts and helps those in need, but his past is quickly approaching.
Robert Duvall stars in, writes, and directs this affecting drama about faith and worth, and it succeeds as an experience pulling viewers into the man’s world. He’s a believer, but the film never feels as if its pushing viewers to join in that affliction and instead allows it to simply be. It also avoids demonizing a person’s faith, and the result is a drama about choices made and consequences dealt. Duvall is tremendous here, and he’s joined by great turns from Walton Goggins, Miranda Richardson, and Billy Bob Thornton. Does it need to be 134 minutes long? Probably not, but the time spent never feels wasted even if some of it doesn’t feel necessary.
Via Vision’s region-free disc brings this critical favorite from the 90s to Blu-ray in its worldwide debut, and fans will not be disappointed.
- Commentary by director/writer/star Robert Duvall
- *NEW* Mystery of Faith: The Flawed Hero of The Apostle [11:42] – A visual essay by Ian Mantgini exploring the morality and character of the film’s title character.
- *NEW* What You See Is What We Got: Inside The Apostle [11:48] – Actor John Beasley talks about beginning his acting career at age forty-five, some of his early breaks, and the film’s production.
- *NEW* I’ll Fly Away: Composing The Apostle [11:44] – Composer David Mansfield recalls being brought in to replace the original composer and how Robert Duvall wanted an “anti-score.”
- The Journey of The Apostle [27:14] – A vintage making-of featurette.
- MCA Records Soundtrack Presentation [8:49] – A vintage featurette featuring interviews with Robert Duvall and musician Steven Curtis Chapman, as well as a music video for “I Will Not Go Quietly.”
A nuclear war has devastated humanity and leveled much of the world’s societal achievements. A small group of survivors slowly comes together, but the human condition being what it is even their low numbers can’t hide the distrust, anger, jealousy, and worse that’s brewing between them. Can humanity survive?
Post-apocalyptic tales come in more than a few varieties, and writer/director Arch Oboler’s tale leans towards the dramatic. It’s as much a character piece as it is a post-apocalyptic tale of survival, and he uses his small cast to highlight the issues afflicting populations numbering in the billions. It’s not the remarkable film you’d hope for, but its presence as the first real feature to tackle a post-apocalyptic reality can’t be ignored. Don’t go in expecting big effects or set-pieces, and its drama might just pull you in.
Via Vision’s region-free disc is sourced from a clean-looking master with only minor blemishes, and as a restoration is unlikely expect this to be the best the film will look on home video.
- *NEW* Commentary by film historians Glenn Erickson and Matthew Rovner
- *NEW* Kim Newman on Arch Oboler [24:36] – An interview with film historian Kim Newman discussing the film’s status as one of the first post-apocalyptic dramas and the career of filmmaker Arch Oboler.
Black Sunday (1977)
A terrorist group has targeted the United States, but their plan remains a mystery. Agents from both the US and Israel are hot on the trail of the terror cell and discover nearly too late that the Super Bowl — the most American of institutions — is going to be hit with a deadly bomb attack. The race is on, the Goodyear Blimp is overhead, and the lives of thousands is on the line.
Author Thomas Harris has seen several of his books adapted for the screen, but this, his debut, remains the only one not associated with Hannibal Lecter. Instead, this is a tale of political differences, occupation, rebellion, and terror that moves from the Middle East to the heart of America, and it’s right in director John Frankenheimer’s wheelhouse. It can’t touch his run of politically minded thrillers from the 60s, but it’s a solid enough tale. Bruce Dern is engaging as the American soldier whose time in captivity has turned his allegiances, but it’s Robert Shaw who captures your attention as the Mossad agent hoping to prevent catastrophe. We get drama and suspense in equal measure spread across a too-long running time, but fans of the talents involved will enjoy the end result.
Via Vision’s new region-free disc looks good while still revealing the limitations of the source print. It’s as good as you’ll find for now.
- *NEW* Commentary by film historian Stephen Prince
- *NEW* Fourth Down: Composing Black Sunday [10:31] – Film music historian Daniel Schweiger talks about composer John Williams and his first collaboration with John Frankenheimer.
- *NEW* It Could Be Tomorrow: Directing Black Sunday [12:18] – Film historian Stephen Armstrong explores director John Frankenheimer’s career from early collaborations with Burt Lancaster, his missteps with Seconds (1966) and Grand Prix (1966), and his glorious return with Ronin (1998).