Movies · Reviews

‘The Beast’ Roars and Rolls to Life on Blu-ray from Imprint Films

Plus worldwide Blu-ray debuts of ‘Nobody’s Fool,’ ‘The Music of Chance,’ and Ken Russell’s ‘Whore.’
The Beast Bluray
By  · Published on September 21st, 2022

Australian label Imprint Films continues to great work bringing films home, often as worldwide Blu-ray debuts, and their July 2022 slate is once more filled with winners. Keep reading for a look at Imprint’s releases of The Beast, Nobody’s Fool, The Music of Chance, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, and Whore.

The Beast (1988)

The BeastWhile British and Roman invaders were once all the rage, more recent years (and decades) have seen that role occupied mostly by the United States and Russia. The latter is currently getting their asses handed to them by soldiers in Ukraine, but forty or so years ago their battlefield was Afghanistan. The Beast (aka The Beast of War) refers to a metallic, motorized “beast” — a Russian tank, occupied by a crew tired of battle in a desert far removed from home. They take part in in their army’s atrocities, but the tides turn when their tank is separated from the rest of the armored column and targeted by Afghan rebels.

Kevin Reynolds’ unlikely follow-up to his acclaimed debut (the warm, friendship-focused Fandango) is a tense and at times thrilling adventure. The Russian crew — an equally unlikely cast featuring Hollywood actors as the ostensible villains of the film — shift from aggressors to panicked soldiers on the run, and Reynolds punctuates their dramas with intense battle scenes and suspenseful set-pieces. The wide expanse of the Afghan landscape contrasts against the cramped, claustrophobic tank quarters making for a tense and beautiful journey.

Jason Patric stars as the one soldier who shows an appreciation for both the Afghan’s humanity and spirit, and it’s an empathetic, invigorating performance. His counterpoint is a stellar George Dzundza as the cruelly determined ranking officer, and they’re joined by Stephen Baldwin, Don Harvey, and others. All do great work in a film that remains a fantastic ride with its echoes of the American experience in Vietnam.

Imprint Films’ new release of The Beast is only the film’s second time on Blu-ray after a French release earlier this year. As with all of the label’s releases, there’s no restoration here, but the print still shines in high definition. The disc includes an extensive making-of documentary with interviews with the principals and plenty of insight into its production.

Nobody’s Fool (1994)

Nobodys FoolPlot is an important element in a narrative feature, but sometimes it’s the characters who craft an engaging story out of their own interactions. Sully (an expectedly fantastic Paul Newman) has lived a life on his own terms, much to the chagrin of nearly everyone around him. Friends, family, and strangers alike endure him more than enjoy him, but as his later years wind down he comes to realize that maybe that’s not how he wants to go out. He makes small attempts to reach out towards some even as he snaps back at plenty of others.

Director Robert Benton and star Newman would rejoin four years later for an odd neo-noir (Twilight), but it’s this first collaboration that results in a home run. The legendary actor is simply the definition of charismatic despite his cranky attitude resulting in laughs both boisterous and heartwarming. It’s never too late grow up, and as Sully finds himself fighting against his own bad habits he’s guided by those interactions shaping his days, his choices, and his future.

Newman headlines and is in most scenes of Nobody’s Fool, but Benton has given him an incredible supporting cast including Melanie Griffith, Bruce Willis, Jessica Tandy, Dylan Walsh, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco, character actor Margo Martindale, and more. The entire film feels like spending time with friends and neighbors, for better and worse, and it’s ultimately just a light joy.

Nobody’s Fool comes to disc as a worldwide Blu-ray debut from Imprint Films with a fine-looking transfer and the following extras.

The Music of Chance (1993)

The Music Of ChanceIt’s not unusual to come across a film from a few decades past that you’ve never heard of. It’s a bit more rare, though, when that movie stars some big names. The Music of Chance is one of those rarities. Jim (Mandy Patinkin) has money to burn, and he finds the match in a stranger named Jack (James Spader). Jack is a gambler, one who needs cash for a sure thing poker game, and soon the pair are heading to a remote estate that’s home to Bill (Charles Durning) and Willy (Joel Grey). And this game is anything but a sure thing.

The setup of Philip Haas’s underseen feature, based on a novel by Paul Auster, is one that could go in any number of directions. From broad comedy to drama about addiction to a horror/thriller in the vein of Ready or Not. The actual film is both all of those things… and none of those things? There are some funny beats here alongside moments revealing Jack’s inability to walk away from a growing loss. That mixed tone remains throughout the film even as things seem to lean in more ominous directions.

The entire cast, which also includes the legendary M. Emmet Walsh, does good work. Spader delights with a squirrely turn and a character who finds empathy despite himself. It’s Patinkin’s show, though, and his journey through it all is one of joy, loss, pathos, and the simplicity of accepting life on terms outside your control. This is an odd film, but it’s a memorable one.

Imprint Films’ new disc is a worldwide Blu-ray debut, and it includes the following extras.

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

Things To Do In DenverThe 90s saw a wave of crime movies riffing on the success of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, but while Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead is often lumped in with them the films were actually in production at the same time. The comparison stands, though, in regard to the topics at hand, but it can’t compete quality wise. Dialogue meant to sound cool and part of its world-building instead grow tiring and repetitive through over use. Boat drinks? Boat drinks. Boat drinks!

Jimmy “The Saint” (Andy Garcia) is a legitimate businessman these days, but once upon a time he was a member of Denver’s organized crime syndicate. His past returns (in the form of a sickly and sleazy Christopher Walken) and tasks him with a job, but when the crew he assembles screws up royally they’re all marked for death. At the hands of Steve Buscemi.

There’s no arguing with the cast which also includes Christopher Lloyd, Treat Williams, Bill Nunn, William Forsythe, Jack Warden, Fairuza Balk, Glenn Plummer, and Gabrielle Anwar. The issue is a script that sets them up with the absolute dumbest clusterfuck, one that anyone will see coming a mile away, and then lets them get picked off with the same general idiocy. Williams’ final scene is the exception there for some very quotable reasons, but it’s not enough to make up for the missteps. Still, the cast and the attempt at creating this world earn it enough enjoyment for one watch at least.

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead hasn’t gotten a U.S. disc release yet although it has landed elsewhere. Imprint Films’ new disc is the best thanks in part to its numerous extras.

Whore (1991)

WhoreThe apocryphal “oldest profession” has been at the heart of numerous films over the years from the sadistic (Angel) to the sweet (Pretty Woman), but a crassly explicit, fourth wall-breaking comedy? Ken Russell fills that gap with this provocatively titled attention grabber, one that was nailed by the MPAA with an NC-17 and generated lots of press — but that was ultimately seen by very few people.

Theresa Russell, no relation, stars as Liz, a prostitute who’s been around the block more than a few times, and as she tells the viewer via direct looks to the camera, it’s rarely a pretty ride. We follow her as she does tricks, evades a violent pimp, and goes off on the world. The variety of johns and time spent with friends are minor plusses, but Liz knows the dark side of it carries a heavier weight.

While the pieces of Russell’s film seem engaging and interesting, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The film feels like a comedy, from its dialogue and performances to the fourth wall shtick, but attempts at more dramatic beats fall flat as the wobbly tone can’t commit. Worse, the explicitly comedic bits aren’t really all that funny. Theresa Russell seems a bit lost with it all too turning in a performance that seems equally unsure of the content, but her new interview on the disc is amazing.

Imprint Films’ disc is a worldwide Blu-ray debut and includes the following extras.

Visit the official Imprint Films page for these titles and more.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.