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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Being There



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4 replies to this topic

#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted January 31 2009 - 08:00 AM

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MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURESVideo1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1480i or 480p standard definitionAudioDolby TrueHD: English 2.0 (labeled as 1.0) / Dolby Digital: English 1.0, French 1.0, Spanish 1.0Stereo and monoSubtitlesEnglish, French, Spanish and PortugueseFrench (on select bonus material)

The Feature: 4.5/5
Chance the Gardener (Peter Sellers) is a simpleton, raised in isolation with only the TV as his window to the world. When he finds himself on the street after his keeper dies, it seems like he won't be long for a world that can't be switched off or tuned to something more pleasant. But well-dressed and genteel, he quickly finds refuge with Eve and Ben Rand (Shirley MacLaine and Melvyn Douglas), a wealthy couple who don't so much misunderstand everything he says but hear only what they want to. In fact, almost everyone he meets reacts this way, including the President of the United States (Jack Warden), and it's not long before Chance is the toast of the town. The only one to suspect him as a cipher and parrot is the Rand's personal physician (Richard Dysart), but, when all is said and done, how is Chance any different or worse than everyone else who came before him?

When I first heard about "Being There" it was in relation to "Forrest Gump," the former cited as a better film that tells the same story. I think that's a bit of a stretch. There are some surface similarities, but "Forrest Gump" (at least the film, I don't know about the novel) was more about being cute with Gump's interactions with influential people, whereas "Being There" really is trying to say something. Some of that message is political (surprisingly relevant 30 years later), some of it religious, and of course neither really easily discussed here. Suffice it to say, I found this film, with its subtle and sophisticated humor and an excellent performance from Sellers, rather thought provoking. If you're like me it may take a couple viewings to get it, but I recommend it highly.


Video Quality: 3.5/5
Though labeled as 1.85:1 the generally blemish-free image fills the entirety of my 16x9 display. Black levels are inconsistent, sometimes looking a tad muddy, which also makes contrast flat and dull. Mild edge haloing is visible throughout and wide shots have a noticeable haziness or apparent loss in detail. Overall sharpness is good however, with only a few moments of noticeable softness. Colors have a muted quality but still show good depth and flesh tones look accurate. Overall it is an acceptable transfer with a few notable problems.


Audio Quality: 3/5
The Dolby TrueHD stereo track gets the job done but nothing more. In fact dialogue at times can have a noticeable, hissy edge as if being boosted, though I never had trouble understanding what people were saying. The frequent cuts to TV programs bring with them some harsh sounding, lo-fi audio. But all these complaints could very well be the nature of the source material rather than anything to do with the audio transfer.

The 192 kbps Dolby Digital mono track is lower in apparent volume than the TrueHD and may even be preferred for being less revealing of the soundtrack's inherent flaws.


Special Features: 2.5/5

"Memories from Being There" (14m48s): Illeana Douglas, granddaughter of Melvyn Douglas, reminisces about her grandfather's life and career and visiting the "Being There" set and shares her initial impressions of the film.

Additional Scenes (1m42s): The first scene involves Eve chatting with Chance before his talk show appearance; the other is an extended scene of Chance walking past a public basketball court.

Alternate Ending (2m03s): The original ending in which Chance and Eve walk off together in the forest.

Gag Reel (6m15s): Includes the medical ward takes featured in the film's closing credits and a goof off promotional piece with Sellers and Director Hal Ashby.

Theatrical Trailer (2m44s): In 4:3 aspect ratio.


Recap

The Feature: 4.5/5
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3/5
Special Features: 2.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

It would have been nice to see this clever social comedy get better technical treatment, though it seems the audio is as good as it can be. The video quality on the Blu-Ray probably shows some improvement over the DVD, but unless the DVD transfer is a train wreck, I doubt it's a remarkable difference. If you're minding your budget (and who isn't these days) I wouldn't blame you for opting for the concurrent DVD release, which runs $5.00 cheaper.
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#2 of 5 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted February 01 2009 - 09:05 AM

Are te end credits the version with the laughing
out takes?

I hope to be able to get the blu, one of my favorite films.
Really was Sellers last movie. I know he was in that Fu Manchu thing but
I refuse to coun that.
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#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Powell&Pressburger

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Posted February 02 2009 - 02:26 AM

The cover art that features that RED sticker touting the special features PLEASE tell me that is a sticker and not BURNED into the artwork, if so that is gonna lok bad. reallllllllll bad.

Stop the Replacing of original Studio Opening / Closing logos! They are part of film history.

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#4 of 5 OFFLINE   mr. la

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Posted February 02 2009 - 03:33 AM

Did Laurent Bouzereau produce the "Memories of Being There"? I have a feeling he did, even though no other review has mentioned him.

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 02 2009 - 01:08 PM

Quote:
Are te end credits the version with the laughing out takes?
Affirmative.

Quote:
The cover art that features that RED sticker touting the special features PLEASE tell me that is a sticker and not BURNED into the artwork, if so that is gonna lok bad. reallllllllll bad.
I regret to say it is not a sticker.

Quote:
Did Laurent Bouzereau produce the "Memories of Being There"? I have a feeling he did, even though no other review has mentioned him.
Yes, he wrote, directed and produced it.
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