New to Blu-ray/DVD: Disney Short Film Collection, Day For Night, & Vendetta


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Editor’s Notes: Disney Short Film Collection, Day For Night, and Vendetta are out on their respective formats August 18th.

Short Films Collection
Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 11.49.18 AMShort Films Collection (Disney) contains twelve animated shorts made between 2000 and 2015. These films were shown theatrically in connection with Disney animated features. Several have been included as extras on previous releases, but this is the first time they have been assembled in a single release. A standout is Paperman (2012), a wordless romance between two strangers in mid-20th century New York City. In black and white with a few  dramatic touches of red, it combines computer and hand-drawn animation, allowing artists to draw directly over computer-generated sequences.

For those who love vintage Disney animation, there’s Get a Horse (2013), a Mickey Mouse cartoon with funny dialogue, a fast pace, and a great soundtrack. Mickey squares off with Pete, who’s up to naughty hijinks. Minnie is on hand to lend support, and “extras” Clarabelle and Horace also appear.

Frozen Fever (2015) re-teams the cast of the hit feature Frozen. Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven and Kristoff are all present, with Idina Menzel once again providing the voice of Queen Elsa. It’s Anna’s birthday and Elsa is determined to make it a perfect day in order to make up for all the birthdays she’s missed in the past.

Feast (2014) is the tale of one man’s love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog Winston and revealed gradually through the meals they share. When Winston’s master, James, falls in love with a waitress named Kirby, the dog finds his gourmet meals reduced to dog food and vegetables. The ups and downs of James’ relationship with Kirby impact significantly on Winston, who eventually puts the happiness of James before his taste for fine cuisine.

The Little Match Girl (2006) is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about a poor young girl who longs for comfort and happiness in her life. Desperate to keep warm, she lights the matches she sells, and envisions a very different life for herself as the flames fill with images of loving relatives, abundant food, and a home of her own. This is a lovely, if sad, film that is fairly true to Andersen.

Other shorts in the collection include The Ballad of Nessie, Tangled Ever After, How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, Lorenzo, and more. Each cartoon runs between 6 and 7 minutes. An informative bonus extra is a featurette that takes an inside look at the process of developing and producing a short.

Day For Night

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Day For Night (The Criterion Collection) is one of the best films about movie making, ranking with Singin’ in the Rain, The Bad and the Beautiful, and Lost in La Mancha. A loving, partly farcical tribute to the art of cinema, it  focuses on film director Ferrand (Francois Truffaut) as he goes through the process of making a picture called “I Want You to Meet Pamela.” The film’s international cast consists of Julie (Jacqueline Bisset), a Hollywood actress recovering from a nervous breakdown, her co-star Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Aumont) — a veteran actor whose screen persona is the continental lover but who could be a closeted homosexual — and Severine (Valentina Cortese), a boisterous alcoholic Italian actress who was once a great screen lover but now has difficulty remembering her dialogue.

The viewer has a front row seat to the filming, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes as one problem surfaces every few minutes and requires immediate resolution in order to move forward. Director and crew are fully aware of the vast expense of filming and are all under stress to keep pace with the rigid production schedule. The film is a veritable valentine to the art of movie making with its artificiality, team effort, star egos, and pure joy of creating a story, one scene at a time. The basic plot shows Ferrand rushing around, solving crises, keeping peace among his cast, and managing a large crew. But that is precisely the film’s charm. For those who think movie making is glamorous and are unfamiliar with the rigors of film making, Day For Night will be a revelation. For those who love film, it is a “must see.”

Blu-ray extras include a new visual essay; new interview with cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn; 2003 documentary on the film; archival interviews with director Francois Truffaut and actors Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jacqueline Bisset, Nathalie Baye and  Bernard Menez; TV footage of Truffaut on the film’s set in 1972; and a critical essay. The film is in French, with English subtitles.


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Vendetta (Lionsgate) stars Dean Cain as Mason Danvers, a detective seeking vengeance on Victor Abbott (Paul “The Big Show” Wight), the violent felon who brutally murdered Mason’s wife. To reach Abbott in jail, Mason deliberately commits a crime, but once inside the prison’s walls, he discovers that getting to Abbott is not that easy and his own well being is threatened.. This low budget film displays its economic limitations in dull production design.  Nondescript locations don’t exactly stir the imagination, and often, the film has the look and feel of college filmmakers emulating Hollywood action flicks.

The acting is perfunctory at best, with the two leads stock types we’ve seen many times over. There’s little new or imaginative in the story’s treatment. The movie does score points for its action sequences, which are staged well.  Abbott is a mean-spiited, sadistic villain whose hulking presence is both intimidating and scary (Wight is a WWE superstar). Cain, who’s not had the brightest movie career in recent years and is a lightweight when it comes to acting, turns in an effective performance, though he fails to convey adequately Mason’s obsession for revenge. The prison setting creates tension since anything can happen quickly and decisively, including murder. Attempting to avenge one death by methodically planning the death of another can make for riveting drama, but when plot line, characters, and scenes are so familiar, the R-rated film fails to fully engage.

The Vendetta Blu-ray contains three behind-the-scenes making-of featurettes. A digital HD copy is also included.


About Author

For over 25 years, I was the Film and Home Entertainment Reviewer for "The Villadom TIMES," a New Jersey weekly newspaper, and have written for several other publications. I developed and taught a Film Studies program for two New York City high schools that included Film History, Horror/Fantasy, and Film Making.