‘Ragtime’ Coming to Paramount Presents Blu-ray Line Nov. 16

Director Milos Forman’s epic Ragtime arrives for its 40th anniversary in a limited-edition two-disc Blu-ray as part of the Paramount Presents line on Nov. 16 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s best-selling novel, Ragtime tells the story of disparate characters in New York City in the early 1900s. From the emerging New York suburb of New Rochelle to the flashy spectacle of Atlantic City, a family faces racial tensions, scandals and violence that will test everything they believe in. With music by Randy Newman, the film stars James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn, Elizabeth McGovern, Kenneth McMillan, Pat O’Brien, Donald O’Connor, James Olson, Mandy Patinkin, Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Mary Steenburgen, Debbie Allen, Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, Samuel L. Jackson, Norman Mailer and John Ratzenberger.

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The film has been remastered from a 4K film transfer and is presented in collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments. The two-disc Blu-ray includes a newly discovered director’s cut workprint version of the film (along with the theatrical version), deleted and extended scenes, a look back at Ragtime with Larry Karaszewski and screenwriter Michael Weller, access to a digital copy of the theatrical version, and commentary by Forman and executive producer Michael Hausman.

‘The Chaperone’ Premiering on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel Aug. 10

PBS Distribution will begin streaming The Chaperone on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel Aug. 10.

Based on Laura Moriarty’s bestselling novel, the film reunites the writer (Julian Fellowes), director (Michael Engler) and star (Elizabeth McGovern) of “Downton Abbey” for an immersive and emotional period piece.

The movie tells the story of the teenage Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson), the 1920s silver screen sensation who as a 15-year-old student in Kansas earns an opportunity to study with a dance troupe in New York, and is accompanied by a local society matron (McGovern) who quickly has her hands full dealing with the rebellious teen.

The movie also stars Campbell Scott, Géza Röhrig, Miranda Otto, Robert Fairchild and Blythe Danner.

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The subscription rate for PBS Masterpiece is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription. The Chaperone will also be streaming in PBS Passport, a digital member benefit available through local stations.

The Commuter

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 4/17/18;
Lionsgate;
Action Thriller;
Box Office $36.34 million;
$29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some intense action/violence, and language.
Stars Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neill.

The success of Taken paved the way for something of a cottage industry: The Liam Neeson action movie. The formula typically involves Neeson being an unassuming badass as he works his way out of a series of tense situations, often while being taunted over the phone by the bad guys.

From that it seems has sprung a distinct sub-genre: the Jaume Collet-Serra /Liam Neeson action thriller. The Commuter is the fourth film pairing Neeson with the director, following Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night.

That Neeson compares Collet-Serra to Steven Spielberg is but one of several hyperboles thrown around in the bonus materials, but does provide some insights as to why they enjoy working together so often. For his troubles, Neeson is likened by a producer to being a modern John Wayne-type hero, so I guess it all evens out.

In addition to those boasts, in the same one of the Blu-ray’s two short making-of featurettes, which run about 14 minutes in total, the film’s screenwriters have no trouble describing their effort as “Hitchcockian,” so it’s pretty clear no one involved is lacking in confidence or phased by higher expectations.

Commuter seems to takes a lot of its cues from Non-Stop, in that both films deal with a group of people confined on a mode of transportation, and evildoers threatening to destroy the vehicle and kill everyone on it unless Neeson does what they want.

In this case, Neeson plays an insurance salesman and former cop who takes a commuter train in New York everyday. He’s approached by a woman (Vera Farmiga) who proposes a hypothetical situation to him — asking if he would point out a random passenger for $100,000 and then move on with his life without knowing what happened to that person, but with the reasonable assumption they’d be hurt or killed. It quickly turns out her little game is all too real when he discovers the cash stashed in the bathroom.

He also finds he can’t simply walk away, as the bad guys are threatening his family and the rest of the train unless he points out a passenger who seemingly doesn’t belong. Neeson plays along, following the clues to the whereabouts of the mysterious passenger as he tries to work out how to protect that person while also thwarting the plans of a conspiracy that seems to be prepared for each of his counter-moves (one would think a conspiracy as well organized as this one wouldn’t need his help identifying the passenger, but then there wouldn’t be a movie).

He also turns to help from an old cop buddy played by Patrick Wilson, whose character is named Alex Murphy. Viewers can decide for themselves if his sharing a name with the guy who became Robocop constitutes an homage or is simply a distraction.

Anyway, fans of the Neeson formula shouldn’t be too disappointed as it marks off all the boxes on his checklist to produce a quaint, entertaining little thriller.