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Moonrise Criterion Blu-ray Review

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“Moonrise” is an involving crime-drama and character study.

Growing up, Danny was bullied constantly because his father was hung for murder. As an adult, we (the audience) discover that Danny is still being bullied. More than that, however, Danny has become a damaged, broken, cold, rude, and angry young man. However, there’s clearly a level of kindness and love within him. One night while fighting his tormentor (Jerry), Danny accidentally kills him. Haunted by the murder, Danny tries to move on with his life. In a strange and creepy twist of fate, Danny begins to fall for Jerry’s fiancé Gilly (a teacher). Alas, Danny’s good luck seems to be dwindling as a Detective is looking into Jerry’s disappearance. What will become of Danny? That would be spoiling the film.

Directed by Frank Borzage, “Moonrise” is a film with a lot going on. It’s part small town crime-drama with a real sense of place, part morality story about bullying, hate, humanity, and love and part character study of a man plagued by demons, guilt, and paranoia who is hoping to turn his life around. For the most part, this rather obscure classic really grabs your attention…until the ending. Without giving anything away, the ending is questionable. Not only is it a rather Hollywood ending, but it’s morally hazy. Danny is certainly sympathetic to a point, but the problem is that much of his behavior isn’t easily forgivable. He’s frequently portrayed as very unlikable which is a mistake. Had the character been more of a kinder soul who has reached a breaking point, the ending might have worked. As is, it feels unearned given what we have seen him do throughout the entire film.

One thing that can’t be denied, however, is the acting work by Dane Clark who plays Danny. He gives a really layered performance and dives had first into this complex character. He really does carry the film.

I couldn’t end this review without giving credit to cinematographer John L. Russell. Between the opening montage and the use of shadows, this movie is a visual treat.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital transfer does wonders here. Yes, there’s some print damage, but the picture quality is super crisp overall.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? Expect a surprisingly lively Mono track.

Extras: * A booklet/fold out poster with an essay by film critic Philip Kemp * “Herve Dumont And Peter Cowie”- 17 minutes of interviews with the author and film historian about Frank Borzage, “Moonrise,” and more. The interviews are accompanied by stills.

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May 13, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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