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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Permanent Record

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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

Scott Kimball


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  • Join Date: May 08 2000

Posted February 25 2004 - 02:30 AM

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Permanent Record

Studio: Paramount

Year: 1988

Rated: PG-13

Length: 91 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English Dolby Digital Ultra-Stereo Surround

English Subtitles, Closed Captioned

Special Features: None

SRP: $14.99US
Release Date: February 17, 2004

Shortly before his starring role as “Ted” Theodore Logan in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Keanu Reeves starred as Chris Townsend in Permanent Record, a film which focuses on the aftermath of teen suicide. Reeves turns in a credible performance against type in an overlooked film on an important subject.

Chris is just getting by in high school, but is more focused on playing in a band after hours. His best friend David Sinclair (Alan Boyce) seems to have it all - smart, good looking, loving family and ambitions beyond high school. Nobody seems to notice, however, that David is having trouble coping with life. Not his family. Not his best friend.

David disappears over a cliff at a party one night, and everyone thinks it’s an accident. Only over time do they see the clues that they missed before - those clues that lead to the conclusion that David took his own life. This film is about the struggle to accept that signs were missed - to accept that a friend, a son, took his own life rather than face life... to accept the fact that there was nothing anyone could have done.

This is a moving film that provides no answers, no explanations - there are none. It’s about the difficulty of accepting... and moving on.

How does it look?
I have no idea what the original elements looked like - I’ve never seen the film before. My comments are based solely on my impressions of the video quality on DVD. In short, the picture quality is disappointing.

The picture is anamorphically enhanced. Grain is moderate to heavy, and it can change with different shots in the same scene. While there is some contrast in the picture with deep blacks and white whites, shadow detail is poor at best. The midtones seem to be shifted toward the dark end of the scale, leaving an overall impression of an underexposed picture. A few scenes seem to feature near silhouettes of people, when I really don’t think that was the intent. Some of the indoor scenes have a slight green cast to them. Color seems oversaturated in darker scenes, while it looks better in lighter scenes.

This film has all appearances of a low budget affair, and I suspect some of the issues are due to poor lighting design in the original production.

The Sound
There is one choice of soundtracks: Dolby Digital English Ultra-Stereo Surround. Given that this isn’t a 5.1 track, there is a surprising amount of directionality. Dialog is always clear and full. Music sounds good and fills the front soundstage. There are ambient effects in the rear, and a good amount of bass for not having a dedicated LFE track.

Parting Thoughts
This is a poignant film with a good, early performance by Keanu Reeves. If only the video quality were better...

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