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    Sleepless in Seattle Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Sony Pictures Twilight Time

    Jul 13 2013 03:36 PM | Richard Gallagher in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Fans of Nora Ephron's hit romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle are sure to be pleased by this excellent Blu-ray release from Twilight Time. The film features an outstanding cast headed by Tom Hank and Meg Ryan, and they are ably assisted by an impressive array of actors in supporting roles. Throw in a witty and intelligent script by Ephron, Davis S. Ward and Jeff Arch, add a musical soundtrack dominated by catchy and familiar tunes, top it off with outstanding cinematography by the great Sven Nykvist, and you have a winning concoction which only the most cynical viewer could dislike.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Sony
    • Distributed By: Twilight Time
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
    • Subtitles: English SDH
    • Rating: PG
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type:
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 07/09/2013
    • MSRP: $29.95

    The Production Rating: 4.5/5

    You don't want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.

    Fans of Nora Ephron's hit romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle are sure to be pleased by this excellent Blu-ray release from Twilight Time. The film features an outstanding cast headed by Tom Hank and Meg Ryan, and they are ably assisted by an impressive array of actors in supporting roles. Throw in a witty and intelligent script by Ephron, Davis S. Ward and Jeff Arch, add a musical soundtrack dominated by catchy and familiar tunes, top it off with outstanding cinematography by the great Sven Nykvist, and you have a winning concoction which only the most cynical viewer could dislike.

    Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) is a Chicago architect whose idyllic marriage comes to a premature end when his wife is struck down by an incurable illness. Sam is inconsolable, and after a time he decides that he and his son, Jonah (Ross Malinger) need a change of scenery because Sam cannot walk the streets of Chicago without thinking about his wife. They move to Seattle, where they take up residence in a beautiful houseboat on Lake Union. However, the change does little to improve Sam's spirits, and he spends much of his free time convinced that he will never be able to recapture what he once had.

    Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) is a journalist in Baltimore who works for her best friend Becky (Rosie O'Donell). It is Christmas Eve, and Annie is bringing her reliable but unexciting boyfriend, Walter (Bill Pullman) to meet her somewhat eccentric family. Over dinner Walter announces that he are Annie are going to be married, but later Annie senses that she is missing something after her mother confides that her first meeting with Annie's father was "magic." As they are leaving that evening, Annie asks her fiancé, "Did anyone ever call you anything other than Walter?" While shaking his head Walter replies "Nope."

    Later, while driving alone, Annie is checking out various radio stations when she accidentally tunes into Dr. Marsha Fieldstone, a psychologist with a call-in show. Just as Annie begins to listen, Dr. Fieldstone is taking a call from Sam’s son, Jonah, who explains that he is worried about his father. Jonah believes that it is time for Sam to find a new wife. Dr. Fieldstone convinces Jonah to call Sam to the extension phone, and when she asks Sam how he is sleeping Jonah blurts out "He doesn't sleep at all." Sam tells Dr. Fieldstone that he is trying his best to cope with his situation, and he concludes by saying "And then after a while I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while." Annie, listening to this while she drives, begins to cry. Sam's story becomes a sensation among female radio listeners, and Annie begins to believe that there might be a story in it. On a deeper level, however, she is intrigued and fascinated by the idea that people can feel far stronger emotions than those which she feels for Walter.

    Sleepless in Seattle is an unusual romantic comedy in that the principal characters have very little screen time together, and in fact they do not even meet until 70 minutes into the film (and then only briefly). The film nevertheless proceeds at a lively pace under Nora Ephron’s direction, as the parallel lives of Sam and Annie play out with the aid of strong performances by a cast which includes David Hyde Pierce, Rita Wilson, Rob Reiner, and Victor Garber. Rose O'Donnell is amusing as a feisty woman who has had romantic troubles of her own. Bill Pullman does a fine job as Walter, a man plagued by allergies who maintains his dignity even as he begins to realize that Annie is slipping away from him. Even the child actors (Ross Malinger, and Gaby Hoffman as Jonah's friend, Jessica) manage to avoid being annoying and cloying. Tom Hanks is extremely likeable as Sam, a role in which he could have descended into mawkishness, and Meg Ryan is equally believable and appealing as Annie. Some might argue that their romance is one which could only happen in the movies, but that is precisely the point of Sleepless in Seattle.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The outstanding 1080p 1.85:1 image is delivered via the AVC codec, and it perfectly captures Sven Nyvkist's wonderful cinematography. The film's exteriors were shot on location in Seattle, New York, Baltimore and Chicago, and people who are familiar with those cities will surely see some familiar sights (I read on the Internet that Sam's houseboat in Seattle was put on the market a few years ago for $2.5 million). A natural level of film grain has been retained, giving Sleepless in Seattle a satisfying film-like appearance. Flesh tones are natural, black levels are solid and shadow detail is very good. The image is free of damage and this Blu-ray disc accurately captures the way I remember the film in theaters twenty years ago.

    Audio Rating: 5/5

    The 5.1 DTS HD-MA audio is excellent in every respect. Each word of dialogue is clear and easily discernible, and the musical soundtrack has been opened up with a wide and pleasing soundstage. And what a soundtrack it is! In addition to a very nice original score by Marc Shaiman, the soundtrack includes songs such as "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" sung by Carly Simon; "As Time Goes By" performed by Jimmy Durante; "Bye Bye Blackbird" by Joe Cocker; "Stardust" sung by Nat King Cole; "Makin' Whopee" performed by Dr. John and Rickie Lee Jones; "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" by Louis Armstrong; "Make Someone Happy," another tune sung by Jimmy Durante; a duet of "When I Fall in Love" by Celine Dion and Clive Griffin; and of course the theme song to "An Affair to Remember."

    Special Features: 3.5/5

    Most of the extras on this Blu-ray disc have been ported over from Sony's earlier DVD release. Included is an audio commentary by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron.

    "Love in the Movies" is a 13-minute 4:3 featurette which gives an overview of the significance of films about love. Included are comments by Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Delia Ephron, Dr. Drew Pinsky, and others. They talk about such mysterious concepts as fate and coincidence.

    "When I Fall in Love" is a 4:3 music video of the song as performed by Clive Griffin and Celine Dion. "When I Fall in Love" is a standard written by Victor Young and Edward Heyman which was first introduced in the 1952 film One Minute to Zero.

    The film's original theatrical trailer is show in widescreen.

    As with all other Twilight Time releases, the isolated score track has been included. The soundtrack album to Sleepless in Seattle reportedly sold more than 4 million copies.

    Last, but certainly not least, is an informative and enjoyable eight-page illustrated booklet by Julie Kirgo. She points out how the life experiences of Nora Ephron influenced her approach to filmmaking in general and romantic comedies in particular.

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5

    Sleepless in Seattle is a thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy, and this Blu-ray release from Twilight Time is certain to please the film's many fans on the 20th anniversary of its theatrical release. As usual, this is being issued in a limited edition of 3,000 units, so those interested in purchasing it should go to the Screen Archives website and verify that it is still available.

    Equipment used for this review:

    Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
    Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specification by Gregg Loewen
    Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
    BIC Acoustech speakers
    Interconnects: Monster Cable

    Reviewed by: Richard Gallagher
    Support HTF when you buy this title:



    16 Comments

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    Jesse Skeen
    Jul 13 2013 07:38 PM

    Being that this is such an obscure movie that hardly anybody saw, with only unknown actors in the cast, it makes perfect sense that Sony licensed this out to Twilight Time as a limited edition rather than release it themselves, even though they as a company have the largest interest in the Blu-Ray format.

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    Richard Gallagher
    Jul 13 2013 08:50 PM

    Being that this is such an obscure movie that hardly anybody saw, with only unknown actors in the cast, it makes perfect sense that Sony licensed this out to Twilight Time as a limited edition rather than release it themselves, even though they as a company have the largest interest in the Blu-Ray format.

     

    I don't claim to have any inside information about the agreements which Twilight Time has with Sony and Fox, but I assume that the studios agreed to provide Twilight Time with some high profile titles to make the deals more attractive. I don't know if the business model could survive if Twilight Time only had the Blu-ray rights to obscure titles.

    Most of the very first BRDs have still not sold out. It's easy to understand why Sony and Fox prefer to lease their films for a limited period to Twilight Time.

    I am very pleased with this disc. The fidelity of the music-only track is really outstanding. When the boy is on top of the Empire State Building, and the music really swings, I felt like I was sitting right in the middle of the band.

     

    I am also very pleased with the many night-time scenes, which to my eye had a lot of course video noise on the DVD.

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    Richard Gallagher
    Jul 14 2013 10:05 AM

    Most of the very first BRDs have still not sold out. It's easy to understand why Sony and Fox prefer to lease their films for a limited period to Twilight Time.

     

    The latest Twilight Time titles to go out of print are The Egyptian and The Big Heat.

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    Clyde's Place
    Jul 14 2013 02:20 PM

    I pre-ordered this one figuring that it had to be better than the DVD release which was rather mediocre at best (as far as the film transfer is concerned).  This is one of my favorite Romantic Comedies.   As for being obscure, not sure I agree with that.  The film did gross $126 million domestically, $100 million more overseas and that's in 1993 dollars.  Then again, to much of today's jaded audiences any film released in the 20th Century can now be considered obscure.  As for myself, I'm just glad it finally got the release on Blu-ray that it deserved, that I had been waiting on, and am now ecstatic to have in my collection.

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    Richard Gallagher
    Jul 14 2013 03:25 PM

    As for being obscure, not sure I agree with that.  The film did gross $126 million domestically, $100 million more overseas and that's in 1993 dollars.  Then again, to much of today's jaded audiences any film released in the 20th Century can now be considered obscure.

     

    Jesse was being sarcastic when he called it "obscure." He is making a case that it is such a popular and well-known film that it should have been released by Sony rather than licensed to Twilight Time.

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    Clyde's Place
    Jul 14 2013 04:17 PM

    Jesse was being sarcastic when he called it "obscure." He is making a case that it is such a popular and well-known film that it should have been released by Sony rather than licensed to Twilight Time.

    Okay.  I stand corrected on that.  Sometimes you never know these days.  
     

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    Robert Crawford
    Jul 14 2013 04:19 PM

    Okay.  I stand corrected on that.  Sometimes you never know these days.  
     

    The real hint was only unknown actors in the cast.

    The latest Twilight Time titles to go out of print are The Egyptian and The Big Heat.

     

     

    Ummm..didn't "Christine" sell out more recently?

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    Johnny Angell
    Jul 15 2013 12:49 PM

    <sarcasmOn>I've already complained enough about some of my favorite "obscure" movies going to TT.  So I'm not going to do it for Sleepless.<sarcasmOff>

    I'd like to add for those weighing the cost differential between the Twilight Time disc and the region-free Sony disc from Europe, the Sony disc does not include commentary, trailer or isolated score. However it does have the documentary and the music video.  Also, I believe the Sony disc is dual-layer because my computer reports that it is 29.26 GB.

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    Richard Gallagher
    Jul 15 2013 04:43 PM

    Ummm..didn't "Christine" sell out more recently?

     

    I was referring to the date they went out of print.

     

    Christine sold out in February, before its release date. The Egyptian sold out this past April and The Big Heat sold out a few weeks ago.

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    Richard Gallagher
    Jul 15 2013 05:36 PM

      Also, I believe the Sony disc is dual-layer because my computer reports that it is 29.26 GB.

     

    That was my mistake - I clicked on the wrong place in the drop-down menu. The Twilight Time BD is 32.5 GB. I have corrected the specs in the review.

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    Mark Walker
    Aug 14 2013 07:40 PM

    Thanks for the review, Richard!

    Great review of a film I always considered a rather mediocre post 'When Harry Met Sally' romance; tepid, coy and cloying. You've Got Mail falls into this latter category too. The saving grace of Sleepless is that it reintroduced audiences to Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember - Sleepless's penultimate 'let's meet on the top of the Empire State' illustrating just how far gone down the rabbit hole movie romances  had become since 1957. In Affair we have love realized through tragedy. In Sleepless we merely have it conceived from ennui.