Four Rooms

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Via Vision;
Comedy;
Australian Import;
AUD$34.95 (≈$22.37 U.S.);
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive strong language, sexuality and some drug use.
Stars Tim Roth, Antonio Banderas, Valeria Golino, Madonna, Ione Skye, Lili Taylor, Alicia Witt, Sammi Davis, Amanda De Cadenet, Jennifer Beals, David Proval, Lana McKissack, Danny Verduzco, Tamlyn Tomita, Paul Calderon, Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Willis, Marisa Tomei Kathy Griffin, Marc Lawrence.

After encountering each other on the 1992 festival circuit, four up-and-coming indie filmmakers hit upon an idea for a collaboration. Each would write and direct a segment of an anthology film tied together by the framing device of a hotel bellhop dealing with eccentric guests on a wild New Year’s Eve.

Those directors were Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging), Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup), Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi) and Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), and resulting film was 1995’s Four Rooms.

While each could have conceivably written anything for their vignette, they all tried their hands at comedy, which alleviated any potential tonal problems. Tim Roth was cast as Ted the bellhop to serve as the one constant running through each sketch. Ultimately, however, the clash in filmmaking styles did not make for a smooth cinematic experience, resulting in Roth’s oddball performance being somewhat off-putting, and the film was not generally well received by critics or audiences at the time.

The first segment, by Anders, focuses on a coven of witches (Valeria Golino, Madonna, Ione Skye, Lili Taylor, Alicia Witt, Sammi Davis) trying to resurrect their idol, leading one of them to seduce Ted to gain the final ingredient needed to complete their spell.

The second, by Rockwell, finds Ted stumbling into the room of a crazy man (David Proval) with a gun who accuses Ted of being the man with whom his wife (Jennifer Beals) is having an affair.

In the third, by Rodriguez, a couple (Antonio Banderas and Tamlyn Tomita) head out for a New Year’s party, leaving their young children in Ted’s care to disastrous results.

The fourth, by Tarantino, finds Ted roped into a bet between a Hollywood director (played by Tarantino himself) and one of his pals (Paul Calderon). This is essentially an adaptation of the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode Man From the South, which itself is based on the Roald Dahl short story of the same name. With its grounding in a hyper-specific pop culture reference and its free-flowing dialogue, this is raw, unfiltered Tarantino.

In addition to various interstitials that find Ted called to each room, there’s also what is essentially a fifth segment (taking place between rooms three and four) in which Ted tries calling his boss (Kathy Griffin) to complain about the guests, only to have a strange conversation with her roommate (Marisa Tomei).

Unsurprisingly, the effectiveness of the segments more or less corresponds with the career trajectory of whomever made it.

Anders devoting her segment to a supernatural theme doesn’t get the film started off on the strongest note. Ironically enough, it’s the lone female director of the group who resorts to gratuitous nudity, with several of the witches performing the spell topless. That at least gives it an edge over Rockwell’s segment, which is the least memorable.

The film is probably best known for the contributions by Rodriguez and Tarantino, who have gone on to have much more visible careers in the 28 years since. And since Roth was pretty much Tarantino’s go-to guy at the time (having featured roles in both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction), the film is generally more associated with them than the other two. The pair would even collaborate again the next year on From Dusk till Dawn and in 2007 on Grindhouse (apart from various other cameos in each other’s films).

In contrast, Anders would go on to become mostly a television director, while Rockwell (Beals’ husband at the time) made a few more obscure indie films before going into teaching at NYU’s film school.

Among some other tidbits: The film’s producer, Lawrence Bender, appears as a partygoer in between the first and second segments; Bruce Willis, who appears in Tarantino’s segment as a favor to the director, went uncredited due to allegedly violating SAG rules by taking no payment for the role; and the bikini-clad dancer seen from the neck down on the TV in Rodriguez’s segment is none other than Salma Hayek, who would basically perform a similar role (but with her face visible) in From Dusk till Dawn.

The film’s home video history as far as the U.S. is concerned has been mostly confined to VHS and a handful of DVD releases over the years, making it Tarantino’s only film not yet on Blu-ray aside from a handful of region-locked European releases (even the “CSI” episode he directed is on Blu-ray). This region-free edition from Australian distributor Via Vision should allow many a Tarantino and Rodriguez collector to fill in that HD content hole.

The transfer looks great, pretty much exactly what one would expect a 1990s film from four different indie directors using different cinematographers and editors to look like. The main title animated sequence looks a bit soft but that likely owes more to compositing techniques at the time than any fault of the transfer.

The Blu-ray includes the film’s trailer, which contains snippets of footage that was apparently cut from the final version. There are also two vintage featurettes: a six-minute making-of, and a 21-minute deeper dive into the individual directors.

Dance Classic ‘Flashdance’ Due on 4K Ultra HD April 11 for Its 40th Anniversary

Director Adrian Lyne’s 1983 dance classic Flashdance will be released on 4K Ultra HD April 11 for its 40th anniversary from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Newly remastered and approved by Lyne, the film is available on 4K Ultra HD for the first time, and the release also includes the remastered film on Blu-ray, as well as access to a digital copy of the film and legacy bonus content. 

Originally released on April 15, 1983, Flashdance was the third-highest-grossing film of that year in the United States — as well as a pop culture sensation. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, and Irene Cara won for her iconic song “Flashdance … What a Feeling.”

Flashdance stars Jennifer Beals as Alex — a fiercely determined 18-year-old with one all-consuming dream to study at the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance. Working during the day as a welder and at night as an exotic dancer, she bravely pursues her dream and undertakes an unforgettable journey that reveals the power of her convictions.

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Bonus content includes “Filmmaker Focus: Director Adrian Lyne discusses Flashdance“; “The Look of Flashdance“; “Releasing the Flashdance Phenomenon”; and the theatrical trailer.

The Book of Boba Fett

STREAMING REVIEW:  

Disney+;
Sci-Fi;
Not Rated.
Stars Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, Pedro Pascal, Matt Berry, David Pasquesi, Jennifer Beals.

Answering some questions while raising others, “The Book of Boba Fett” is an oddly structured mini-series centered on what was once one of the more mysterious characters in “Star Wars” lore.

First appearing more than 40 years ago as little more than a bounty hunter with a cool costume, Boba Fett didn’t get much of a backstory until the 2002 prequel Attack of the Clones, which established that he himself was a clone of another bounty hunter, Jango Fett, played by Temuera Morrison. Boba had seemingly been killed off in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, eaten by the Sarlacc Pit while working for Jabba the Hutt, though it was widely assumed he survived, popping up again in countless comic books and novels. The first live-action confirmation of his survival came in 2020 when he showed up on “The Mandalorian,” played by Morrison, and ended up assisting the title character there in exchange for recovering his armor.

“Book of Boba Fett” picks up following Fett’s actions in the post-credit scene of “Mandalorian” season two, in which he takes over Jabba’s criminal empire.

In his own show, he must learn to navigate the tricky political dunes of Tatooine in order to maintain his power, a task he comes to discover he may be ill-suited for, despite the help of master assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen).

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The seven-episode season plays heavily on the tropes of Westerns, while also touching upon gangster movies, as Fett must make deals with local power brokers and learn whom he can trust.

Early episodes use a flashback structure to divide the storyline between Fett’s present, which takes place about five to six years after Return of the Jedi, and what happened to him after escaping the Sarlacc.

After finally depicting Boba’s escape from the Sarlacc, the show reveals that his armor was stolen by Jawas, and Fett himself was captured by Tusken Raiders (the tribal “sand people” of the original 1977 film). He eventually comes to learn their ways, assisting them in a skirmish with an offworld syndicate that is running illicit substances through their territory.

The show mostly plays as an excuse to pile on fan-friendly references to other aspects of “Star Wars” up to and including two episodes (five and six) that barely feature Boba at all and mostly continue the storyline of The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal).

The end result is a show that offers a number of great “Star Wars” moments, but may otherwise leave viewers wishing for something edgier and more substantive.

Warner Releasing ‘Swamp Thing’ DC Universe Series Digitally Dec. 2, on Disc Feb. 11

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Swamp Thing: The Complete Series for digital download Dec. 2, and on Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 11.

The short-lived series ran for 10 episodes on the DC Universe streaming service in the middle of 2019.

Based on the DC Comics characters created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, “Swamp Thing” follows Dr. Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) as she investigates a deadly swamp-born virus in Louisiana and encounters Swamp Thing (Derek Mears), an elemental supernatural force who seeks to return balance to the natural world.

The cast also includes Virginia Madsen, Andy Bean, Henderson Wade, Maria Sten, Jeryl Prescott, Jennifer Beals and Will Patton.

The Blu-ray edition will include a digital copy.

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Romance ‘After’ Coming to Digital June 25, Disc July 9 From Universal

The steamy romance After will arrive on digital (including Movies Anywhere) June 25 and Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, and on demand July 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film made $12 million in theaters.

Based on a best-seller from author Anna Todd with more than 1 billion reads on social storytelling site Wattpad and 23 million copies sold in more than 40 countries, the film stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) and Josephine Langford (Wish Upon), supported by Selma Blair (SkyscraperCruel Intentions), Inanna Sarkis (Boo 2! A Madea Halloween), Pia Mia (“East Los High”), Jennifer Beals (“The L Word”) and Peter Gallagher (American Beauty, “New Girl”).

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The film follows Tessa (Langford), a dedicated student, dutiful daughter and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart, as she enters her first semester in college. Her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysterious Hardin Scott (Tiffin).

The soundtrack includes “Out of Love” by Alessia Cara and “Bitter Love” by Mia. Sarkis, who plays Molly in the film, performs the track “Best You’ll Ever Have.”

Bonus features on Blu-ray, DVD and digital include deleted scenes.