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Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams


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Posted May 22 2007 - 07:32 AM


Studio: Sony
Year: 2004
Rated: R
Film Length: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 High Definition 1080p
Disc Type: BD-50 Dual Layer
Codec: AVC Mpeg-4
Audio: Uncompressed 5.1 PCM: English, Italian, Russian Dolby Digital: English, French, Italian & English DES
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Icelandic, Hindi, Swedish, Greek, Romanian, Danish Hungarian, Norwegian, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, Finnish, Dutch, Czech, Portuguese, Croatian, French, Bulgarian, Turkish, Korean, Slovenian, Italian, Polish & Spanish

Release Date: May 22, 2007

The Movie:
(****/*****) 4/5

Throughout his storied career as a filmmaker, Mike Nichols has always courted his fair share of controversy. From The Graduate to later fare like The Birdcage, his better films seem to find a nice niche as being accessibly subversive. More recently, however, Mr. Nichols had become increasingly well know for being Diane Sawyer’s husband, rather than the groundbreaking filmmaker of yesteryear. So, as though spurred on with a vengeance to return to his roots, Mr. Nichols returned to fine controversial form with 2004’s Closer.

Closer follows the lives of four London residents as they fall in and out of love and obsession with one another. Anna (Julia Roberts) and Larry (Clive Owen) and Dan (Jude Law) and Alice (Natalie Portman) all seem to be, at various times, overwhelmingly obsessed with protecting themselves and clinging to whatever hope love might offer them. What follows is a truly shocking and disturbing portrait of modern love and jealousy.

First things first, the enjoyable thing about Closer, is the fantastic performances. The subject matter is decidedly depressing at its best. These characters show their absolute worst throughout the film and very rarely exhibit any redeeming qualities. That’s not to say that these characters aren’t at times likable. Indeed, they all have qualities that are interesting and very addictive to watch - - especially in their desperation and most dramatic moments. The film seems to serve as a sort of indictment as to the absolute worst that relationships can bring out in ordinary people. Love is a battlefield, it seems. Clive Owen is the real breakthrough in Closer. He had been sitting on the brink of major stardom before this film. His scene-stealing performance is the kind of thing most actors wait a career to achieve. To watch Clive Owen in Closer, is to watch an amazing actor at the absolute peak of his abilities.


The Video:
(*****/*****) 5/5

Closer has been given an absolutely fantastic AVC transfer from Sony. The film is shot in a very matter-of-fact style with a predominantly muted color palette. London is depicted as grey and somewhat bleak. This subtly grainy film is presented in absolute top-notch form with an emphasis on preserving the finely filmed details, grain included, as perfectly as possible. This is not a slick looking or glossy film, but a film with character that underscores the deep emotional aspect of the story. As such, the somber tone of the film is expertly rendered. Perhaps the one scene in the film that truly pops with fantastically saturated colors is the scene that takes place in the strip club. At any rate, this transfer is free from edge enhancement, banding or any distracting artifacts. Once again, Sony has provided a first class transfer that perfectly reproduces the cinematic experience.


The Audio:
(****/*****) 4/5

As a dialogue heavy film, Closer benefits immensely from the inclusion of an uncompressed PCM audio track. Often times, with Dolby Digital and even DTS tracks, many subtle nuances of speech are left a little bit muddy. With PCM, the only impediment to perfectly intelligible dialogue is dialogue that is poorly recorded. Fortunately with Closer, this is not a problem. Dialogue is crisp and clean. The wonderful musical score with songs (or should I say, SONG) from Damien Rice is also expertly presented. Again, Closer isn’t going to blow the doors off of your home theater. It does, however, deliver the perfect experience for a dialogue heavy film. As an added bonus, this 50 GB Blu-ray features a whopping three full PCM tracks. In addition to the original English recording, Italian and Russian are also available here in pristine 5.1 uncompressed PCM.


The Supplements:
(*/*****) 1/5

Here’s what’s included:
-Music Video – “The Farmer’s Daughter”

All we get here is a single music video for Damien Rice’s “The Farmer’s Daughter.” One would certainly think that a film as complex as Closer deserves a little more attention in the special features department.

Since there is so little to comment on in the supplemental department, it is worth noting that there are a ton of subtitle options included on this disc. Unless your first language is Klingon, there’s a good chance you’ll find your native tongue here.

The Final Analysis:
(****/*****) 4/5

With big name action titles like Pirates of the Caribbean debuting on Blu-ray this week, it would be easy to forget about a smaller film like Closer. A fantastic technical presentation from Sony is further reason to explore this very difficult yet rewarding film.


Equipment used for this review:
Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray Player
Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray Player
JVC DLA-RS1 Front Projector – 1080p
Carada 93” diagonal 16x9 Criterion Series/Brilliant White Screen – www.carada.com
Toshiba HD-A20 HD DVD Player
Rotel RSX-1056 Surround Receiver
Rotel RB-1080 Amplifier
B&W Speakers
M&K MX-125 Subwoofer
Interconnects: www.catcables.com

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Daniel-M


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Posted May 22 2007 - 08:06 AM

woah that's a lot of subtitles

#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams


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Posted May 22 2007 - 08:14 AM

...not to mention 3 Uncompressed PCM 5.1 tracks (English, Russian and Italian), 3 Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks (English, French and Italian) as well as a Descriptive English track for the vision impared. It's amazing what you can fit on a 50 GB disc! I'm sure some might think this is a total waste of space... of course, you wouldn't feel that way if you were Russian or Italian. Posted Image

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted May 22 2007 - 09:10 AM

No Klingon? Posted Image

You haven't experienced Closer until you've heard it in the original Klingon! No sale! Posted Image

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams


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Posted May 22 2007 - 10:46 AM

I was going to try to think of something witty to say in Klingon, but I only speak Romulan. Posted Image

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted May 22 2007 - 04:00 PM

I could not agree more about Clive Owen's work in this film. He was incredible and unforgettable. You got his pain, rage, smug sense of victory, everything. The other three are also terrific, but he's in another galaxy (since we're talking Klingon and Romulan).

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Martin Teller

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Posted May 23 2007 - 03:34 AM

With all that, I've got to wonder why there's no Russian, German, or Japanese.

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist


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Posted May 23 2007 - 03:42 AM

In Entertainment Weekly right around the Oscars nominations were about to be announced, Lisa Schwarzbaum was touting Owen's performance with this exceptional quote about his performance: "...a man driven to grab what he wants out of life and to punish those who thwart him." It couldn't have been better said.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams


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Posted May 23 2007 - 04:26 AM

Hrm... it's a mystery that only the talents of Scooby and Shaggy can solve.

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams


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Posted May 23 2007 - 08:43 AM

Matt & Pat... Gald to hear you both agree about Clive. He elevates just about everything he's in to a higher level. In Closer, though, his performance is just pure genius.

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