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HTF REVIEW: "One Hour Photo" (with screenshots)

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31 replies to this topic

#1 of 32 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 21 2003 - 11:55 AM

Posted Image

One Hour Photo

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year: 2002
Rated: R
Film Length: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish

There's nothing more dangerous than
a familiar face.

Posted Image

Ever wonder what happens after you drop your
film off at the local photo processing shop?
Well here's a sad thought. Meet Sy Parrish, a
shy, introverted clerk at photo development center.
Sy has absolutely no life. He works, eats fast
food, and at the end of the day goes home to his
pet gerbil in a cage.

Posted Image

Sy's loneliness has turned into an obsession with
a local family, the Yorkins, who have become his
very best customers, dropping off their rolls of
film just about every week. On film, Parrish has
watched this family very closely. Through pictures,
he has known Will (Michael Vartan) and Nina (Connie
Nielson) and their son Jake (Dylan Smith) before he
was born all the way to his 9th birthday party. After
all these years he feels part of the family, saving
copies of their pictures for himself. While Sy often
dreams of becoming part of the family, the Yorkins
only think of him as "Sy, the photo guy."

Sy's grip on reality begins to collapse when a
customer brings in a roll of film that suggests that
Will has been unfaithful to Nina. Just the idea
that this model family's relationship may be falling
apart is enough to send Sy into a breakdown that
makes him go farther into his madness.

Posted Image

One Hour Photo is anything but a typical
Hollywood film, and Robin Williams is at the top
of his form playing the most untypical of characters.
His performance is utterly believable, and
surprisingly, his is practically nonexistent
throughout the film, quietly exposing his character
as the tension slowly builds around him. Much
credit has to be given to director Mark Romanek
whose camera angles are nicely used, giving off
dark overtones while Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth
acts an artist using brilliant color schemes and
contrast in his environments to show how different
and alienated from society Sy is.

The only major problem with One Hour Photo
is that I fear that most audiences will be disappointed
by a film that remains unnerving but never overly
scary. The film continually builds tension from
start to end, but its payoff may not be satisfying
for most. Still, you can't help but marvel this
film's character study and Robin William's chilling

How is the transfer?

Just picture perfect! Images are very sharp and
detailed. This is a film that relies heavily on
both color and audio, and Fox has done a first-rate
job with a transfer that brings out the best in both.
Color is the most important element in this film,
as Sy's emotions are depicted through pure whites
and evil red depictions. The mostly white sequences
of the movie (the film Lab & SavMart store), is
represented brilliantly here looking pure and clean.
Then there's the multitude of colors of product
that line the SavMart aisles, vividly standing out
atop the rows of white shelving. All of these images
add up to a transfer that is top-rate.

Posted Image

This film greatly depends on this sensational 5.1
Dolby Digital mix to deliver some real creepy chills,
thanks to Johnny Klimak's haunting piano and harp
chorus that is often sad and quietly emotional,
yet equally chilling at other times. Overall sound
direction is excellent. William's narration in
the center channel is so clear that you would think
he was in the room with you. The film's score wraps
itself around the entire listening area in a very
spookish manner, with abnormally deep LFE bass that
pounds away to the undertones of the soundtrack,
adding real depth to the screen action.

Special Features

Posted ImagePosted Image

I gotta stop and praise the person(s) that put
together the MAIN MENU of this DVD. Designed like
a ticket off of a photo envelope, you place an "X"
in the corresponding box next to your menu choice.
Even though it's the simplest of menus, it's one
of the most clever I have seen.

A full-length commentary with Robin Williams
and Mark Romanek is quite good, and surprisingly,
low-key. Williams' seems more sedated than lively,
but adds some humorous bits here and there. We learn
from the get go that the film's opening police
interrogation scene was never placed at the beginning
of the film. However, after a screening at Sundance,
it was suggested that a slight restructuring might
be in order. Williams is very pleased that he was
able to play Sy Parrish, a character that was vastly
different from his own, and receive such critical
acclaim in the process. You can tell how proud Robin
is of this film. Of course, Romanek gives us all the
lowdown on the lighting techniques and color schemes
used in the film, as well as foley work that was
done to get the squeak from Williams' shoes just
right. There's even a lot of subtle tributes to
photographers scattered throughout the film (such
as names that get called out over the store's PA
system). Robin and Mark really dive into some of
the oddities of the character, dissecting many of
the character's behavioral patterns. We learn that
Sy is quite good with objects (such as machinery and
objects) but not very good with people, treating
them as snapshots. One of the most interesting
portions of this commentary is where Robin talks
about doing the film's hotel scene with nude actors
who must have felt very vulnerable. It was a very
uncomfortable situation for everyone. This commentary
is quite an enjoyable and informative listen.

The Making of featurette is an original
Cinemax cable-tv production that doesn't manage
to rise up above the normal promotional fare.
Writer/Director Mark Romanek's idea to do this
film wsa based on his strange and utter fascination
with the large WalMart type convenience stores.
He felt the most interesting presence in these stores
was the photo shop guy. Don't let Robin William's
calm misdemeanor fool yuh -- he was an absolute
animal between takes, and the only real highlight
of watching this promotional piece is watching the
actor improvise between takes.
(length: approx. 13 minutes)

Posted Image

The Charlie Rose Interview with Robin Williams
and Mark Romanek is very free spirited, thanks to
the comic actor who manages to go off the deep end
a few times -- especially with his impersonations
of Ted Kaczynski. Romanek talks about the things
that helped shape his craft as a movie director, as
Williams staunchly says "no" to ever wanting to sit
in a director's chair. There's a lot of discussion
about the many images in this film and how it has
affected audiences. It was great of the studio to
include this segment in its entirety, as it truly
serves as a wonderfully intimate interview piece.
(length: approx. 35 minutes)

Anatomy of a Scene is another promotional
vehicle courtesy of The Sundance Channel.
It's actually more interesting to watch than the
former featurette for the fact that it gives a
more in-depth look at the film's creative process.
There's more contribution here from the people
involved like Producer Stan Wlodokoswki, Production
Designer Tom Foden and Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth
who really give us an overview of the film's elaborate
production design, color schemes and camera angles.
Nice to see a featurette here worth watching!
(length: approx. 28 minutes)

In addition to the film's original theatrical
and 3 TV Spots, there is a trailer
for the upcoming film, The Dancer Upstairs

May I take this opportunity to warn people that
there are two different versions of this (FULLFRAME
and WIDESCREEN) being released. Be certain you
pick up the WIDESCREEN version. The box is not
distinctly marked across the front and you'll
only see the proper markings if you flip the cover
over on its backside.

Final Thoughts

Posted Image

One Hour Photo is a brilliant, almost
picture-perfect psychological thriller about
crimes from a person you'd least expect. I feel
that this film deserves a rental at the very
least for the fact that I am afraid those who
see it may find it a bit too quiet. On the
other hand, I am betting that there will be
many of you who will be in complete awe of
Williams' chilling performance -- the very best
of his long movie career.

Release Date: February 18, 2003

All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 32 OFFLINE   Joshua_Y



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Posted January 21 2003 - 12:06 PM

Sounds like a great disc for a brilliant film. Cant wait!

#3 of 32 OFFLINE   PaulP



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Posted January 21 2003 - 12:11 PM

Simply cannot wait for this. I'd have taken it barebones, but a commentary and some extras are just too sweet. But why are they bothering with a pan-and-scan version? Seems awfully weird. For the casual Williams fan?

#4 of 32 OFFLINE   TomWoodward


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Posted January 21 2003 - 12:23 PM

Hmmm, I think this must be a love or hate movie because I absolutely hated it! I didn't think the film really knew what to do with itself, what it was trying to say, and what type of film it wanted to be. Didn't think there was much tension involved either because the beginning of the movie makes it clear where he ends up which immediately kills loads of possibilities. I also thought Robin Williams overacted loads in it, he's much better in Insomnia. Also, was the soundtrack really wobbly and distorted or was it just the cack cinema I went to? Anyone agree or am I all on my own here? Posted Image
Tom Woodward

#5 of 32 OFFLINE   Nick Graham

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Posted January 21 2003 - 12:26 PM

I will picking this up as soon as it hits the shelves...it was one of the best films I saw this past year.
Why no deleted scenes? I knew there were at least a couple of scenes trimmed that people who had seen early cuts claimed should have been left in. Oh well, the features look great aside from that. What's with the cover lacking any distinctive marking to indicate whether it is hack n'slash or widescreen? Even one of those retarded "NO BLACK BARS" stickers would make me happy. C'mon Fox, you are better than that! It's a majot pet peeve of mine and can only do harm to OAR vs P&S sales statistics.

#6 of 32 OFFLINE   TonyD


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Posted January 21 2003 - 12:52 PM

After Hours is a brilliant, almost picture-

ron i tried to send an pm but i couldnt find a link.

after hours??

#7 of 32 OFFLINE   JonBoriss


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Posted January 21 2003 - 02:12 PM

I thought this movie was fantastic, definite purchase.

#8 of 32 OFFLINE   Aryn Leroux

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Posted January 21 2003 - 02:34 PM

I also loved this and had it ranked #5 on my top 10 list of 2002. Can't Wait thanks for the review!

#9 of 32 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted January 21 2003 - 03:02 PM

I wish they would release AFTER HOURS.
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#10 of 32 OFFLINE   Dean Kousoulas

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Posted January 21 2003 - 04:58 PM

I don't know about you guys, but I felt Robin Williams gave one of the best performances of 2002 as "Sly The Photo Guy"

"Earnest Hemingway once wrote 'The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for.' I agree with the 2nd part." - Morgan Freeman, Se7en

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#11 of 32 OFFLINE   Jenna


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Posted January 21 2003 - 05:30 PM

Not having seen this film yet, I was on this fence about renting this one, but thanks to yet-another excellent & thorough review, I can't wait to buy this one!!!
I agree with you, Ron...that menu is terrific!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've found it MUCH more pleasureable to skip the theatrical run and watch a movie "first-run" in the comfort of my own home theater. I can escape rude audience behavior, sink into a really comfortable recliner, enjoy hot & fresh popcorn with an affordable beverage of choice, AND kick my shoes off without fear of gum on my socks. Ironically, I've found it much cheaper to buy the DVD than to pay for a movie/popcorn/drinks at a theater.

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#12 of 32 OFFLINE   Dominik Droscher

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Posted January 21 2003 - 07:32 PM

I wish they would release AFTER HOURS.

Only if they get Tobey Maguire to play Matthew Chmiel and Ryan Phillipe for Rain. I am still not sure who should play Steve Christou. I doubt there are actors who have so much body hair. Should be an interesting task for the guys who made the furry hobbit feet on LOTR.

#13 of 32 OFFLINE   Tom_Bechet


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Posted January 21 2003 - 09:04 PM

Brilliant film and I'm happy to see that the DVD is up to it.
maybe there could have been a few more extras but, hey the film is so great that it won't matter that much.
Strange isn't it I wanted to pick up "the good girl" but after Fox's more the desirable transfer I'll wait for the UKR2.
so how come they excelled themselves again here?

February 17 is the release date right??

Maybe this world is another planet's hell
Aldous Huxley

#14 of 32 OFFLINE   TomWoodward


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Posted January 22 2003 - 12:35 AM

Hmmm, I guess I really am on my own then! Does noone dislike it at all?! Sounds like a good disc though, I'd be interested to hear what Williams has to say...maybe I'll rent it.
Tom Woodward

#15 of 32 OFFLINE   Aryn Leroux

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Posted January 22 2003 - 02:28 AM

Tom_Bechet: close enough it comes out on the 18th and you probably meant to type that anyway but just incase i thought id let ya know. Posted Image

#16 of 32 OFFLINE   Robert_eb


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Posted January 22 2003 - 03:50 AM

I missed this when it hit theaters but i'm looking forward to picking this up unseen.

#17 of 32 OFFLINE   Tom_Bechet


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Posted January 22 2003 - 05:50 AM

Tom_Bechet: close enough it comes out on the 18th and you probably meant to type that anyway but just incase i thought id let ya know

cheers Aryn, 17th a monday. I'm too used on the UK release datesPosted Image

BTW it will be out b4 then anyway. etailers usually post early.

Maybe this world is another planet's hell
Aldous Huxley

#18 of 32 OFFLINE   rhett


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Posted January 22 2003 - 10:55 AM

I loved One Hour Photo. It is criminal that Williams is not getting more recognition for his performance.
"The Night HE Came Home"

#19 of 32 OFFLINE   Kolja V

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Posted January 24 2003 - 09:23 PM

After all these great comments I think I should go and see the movie after all.
I was afraid Williams wouldnt be as strong as he usually is due to the fact its a role unlike any he ever played before.

#20 of 32 OFFLINE   LennyP


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Posted January 24 2003 - 09:41 PM

The movie was over hyped but I still enjoyed it, despite a somewhat disappointing ending. Love that menu design, thanks for the screenshots!
Will have to get this DVD as well.
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