Can the crisp sound and picture of Blu-ray enhance films already blessed with a fair share of critical acclaim?  We’re about to find out as we take a gander at four early Miramax titles (back when the cutting-edge Weinstein Bros. were running things!) including "Amélie," "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," "Chocolat" and "Bridget Jones’s Diary" now out on Blu-ray from Lionsgate.




   Title: "Amélie"

   Grade: 5

   Cast: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus 

   Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

   Rating: R

   Runtime: 122 minutes

   Release Company: Lionsgate




The Flick: Sweet, superb and just downright enchanting, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s follow up to his dreadful "Alien Resurrection" is a five-star wonder about the power of falling in love featuring a star making turn by wide-eyed French actress Audrey Tautou.  Using visuals almost as a secondary whimsical character, Jeunet fills the screen with varied emotions and cinematic energy that has now all but solidified him as a filmmaking force to be reckoned with.  And with the added gloss of Blu-ray, "Amélie" becomes an equally five-star fan’s must.  (Plus check out his equally amazing "Micmacs" folks!)

Best Feature: It’s hard to choose from the bevy of insight via Jeunet with the featurette 'The Look,' two cool Q&A’s and an “intimate chat”, but hands down it’s his feature-length commentary that’s both honest (“don’t listen – I’ll ruin everything!”) and endearing that’s the winner.

Best Hidden Gem: Loved 'Fantasies of Audrey Tautou,' a collection of the glorious gal making various funny mistakes while shooting. 

Worth the Moola: Anyone who doesn’t have this amazing Blu-ray in his or her collection is simply not a movie fan – get it.




   Title: "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"

   Grade: 4

   Cast: Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend

   Director: Mark Herman

   Rating: PG-13

   Runtime: 94 minutes

   Release Company: Lionsgate




The Flick: Both depressing and inspiring, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" takes a look at the horrendous events of the holocaust through the eyes of two young boys and it’s revealing stuff.  A film that straddles the line between being both dark and hopeful, Pajamas is helped by an impressive adult cast (Vera Farmiga and David Thewlis make engaging parents!), but mostly two boys who all but steal the film with their effortless and memorable work.

Best Feature: Definitely the commentary track with both original novelist John Boyne and writer/director Mark Herman (who actually respect each other – good show!), where we get insight into both the film and novel in one sitting – a perfect pairing.

Best Hidden Gem: The featurette 'Friendship Beyond the Fence' which talks to everyone involved (even the two sweet and innocent lead boys) and dissects many facets of the flick (even the dramatic ending) – fascinating stuff.

Worth the Moola: Powerful, unforgettable and ultimately devastating, I wouldn’t blame anyone for having this one in their collection – but also if they didn’t.




   Title: "Chocolat"

   Grade: 3 1/2

   Cast: Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp

   Director: Lasse Hallstrom

   Rating: PG-13

   Runtime: 122 minutes

   Release Company: Lionsgate




The Flick: "Chocolat" is a film that wonderfully encompasses love and passion in both style (director Lasse Hallstrom is an expert at visual beauty!) and acting (the fantastic cast led by the glowing Juliette Binoche is a who’s who of talents!), but does tend to get bogged down at times with stereotypical character and story staging.  (Alfred Molina religious mayor could be the second cousin of John Lithgow’s uptight clergyman from "Footloose!")  But it’s when the tale turns to the tasty temptations of food and fun that "Chocolat" is at it’s sweetest. 

Best Feature: The audio commentary has some interesting tidbits via Director Lasse Hallstrom that’s also unfortunately bogged down by the inclusion of no less than THREE chatty and intrusive (especially Kit “we shot this” Golden who LOVES the sound of her own voice!) producers who virtually talk over his engaging words – shameful.

Best Hidden Gem: All the scenes of chocolate making are much like eating the dessert itself – rich, seductive and sinful.

Worth the Moola: For the hopeless romantic with a sweet tooth who doesn't mind the occasional cliché, dig in!




   Title: "Bridget Jones’s Diary"

   Grade: 3

   Cast: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant

   Director: Sharon Maguire

   Rating: R

   Runtime: 98 minutes

   Release Company: Lionsgate




The Flick: A film geared more towards a female audience, it’s the comedic timing and sweet/sassy nature of Renee Zellweger’s Bridget that made this one stand out for me.  As a simple gal looking for love (in uptight buffoons Colin “King Speech” Firth and Hugh “quickie on a car” Grant), Zellweger captures the essence of being a single woman and isn't afraid to display all the folly-filled foibles that go along with it – good show.

Best Feature: The featurette 'The Bridget Phenomenon,' which has almost everyone in the cast (even original writer Helen Fielding who swears Bridget is not her – yeah right!) chatting up all things Bridget Jones.  (But avoid the pause-ridden commentary by Director Sharon Maguire and 'The Young and the Mateless: An Expert’s Guide to Being Single' – but ONLY if you’re a man!)

Best Hidden Gem: The obvious (Loo=Toilet!) and goofy (Poof=Homosexual!) 'Guide to Bridget Britishisms' – good for the daft who need a laugh. (That includes me!)

Worth the Moola: For those women who believe that misery deserves company, Bridget’s your go-to-girl.