The Yards (Blu-ray)
This is warning, not a review. The Yards is a standard-issue tale of crime and corruption in Brooklyn that’s elevated by a first-rate cast including James Caan, Ellen Burstyn, Charlize Theron, Joaquin Phoenix, Faye Dunaway and Mark Wahlberg. Released in 1999, the film was written and directed by James Gray, who would later make We Own the Night. In addition to the cast, the film is strengthened by dark, brooding cinematography by ace DP Harris Savides (Zodiac, Milk, Somewhere) – the kind of tricky material that needs Blu-ray’s resolution to give it its due.
Unfortunately, The Yards is one of the titles that the newly reconstituted Miramax licensed to Echo Bridge, whose May 3, 2011 Blu-ray release isn’t fit for landfill. Echo Bridge has taken this 2.35:1 film, shot in anamorphic Panavision, and cropped it to 1.78:1, the HD version of pan and scan. They’ve also released the film with only a 2.0 sound track, and while the track may be mastered in DTS lossless, as far I’m concerned, it’s a step backward in sonic quality from the lossy 5.1 soundtrack used on all previous DVDs. And, of course, none of the many previously released extras has been included.
Pan and scan discs don’t deserve a detailed review. Proceed at your own risk.