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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
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Sleepless in Seattle Blu-ray ReviewBlu-ray Sony Pictures Twilight Time
Jul 13 2013 03:36 PM | Richard Gallagher in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
- 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: 4.5/5You 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: 5/5The 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: 3.5/5Most 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.