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Blu-ray Reviews

To Rome With Love Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 2 Richard Gallagher

Richard Gallagher

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  • Real Name:Rich Gallagher
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Posted January 16 2013 - 03:57 PM

Woody Allen continues his tour of Europe's great cities with To Rome With Love, an amusing comedy which boasts a stellar cast but is short on laugh-out-loud moments. The film follows four disparate sets of characters as they pursue their dreams and ambitions on the streets and environs of Rome. While not as imaginative and original as Midnight in Paris, Woody's previous film, To Rome With Love will please most of his fans. It also is a beautiful travelogue of one of the world's most fascinating cities.





To Rome With Love

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Year: 2012
Rated: R
Program Length: 112 minutes                  Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p
Languages: English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA; English Audio Description Track
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Hindi, Spanish

The Program

Beautiful, funny, smart, sexual, and also neurotic. It's like filling an inside straight. Monica - even her name is hot.

Woody Allen continues his tour of Europe's great cities with To Rome With Love, an amusing comedy which boasts a stellar cast but is short on laugh-out-loud moments. The film follows four disparate sets of characters as they pursue their dreams and ambitions on the streets and environs of Rome. While not as imaginative and original as Midnight in Paris, Woody's previous film, To Rome With Love will please most of his fans. It also is a beautiful travelogue of one of the world's most fascinating cities.

Hayley (Alison Pill) is an American tourist who is spending her summer in Rome. While trying to find her way around one day she asks for directions from Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti), an Italian lawyer who travels to New York frequently and speaks excellent English. Before long they are a couple and they become engaged. Hayley's parents are Jerry (Woody Allen), a retired music producer, and Phyllis (Judy Davis), a psychiatrist. When they get word of the engagement they fly to Rome to meet Michelangelo and his family. Michelangelo's father, Giancarlo (Fabio Armiliato), is a mortician who lives in an apartment above his funeral home. When Jerry and Phyllis come by for a visit, Giancarlo excuses himself because he has to clean up after a long day of working with embalming fluid. While Giancarlo showers he breaks into song, and Jerry is astonished to hear a glorious operatic singing voice. Jerry has ideas of turning Giancarlo into a star, but there is just one problem - the only place that Giancarlo can sing well is in the shower.

Jack (Jerry Eisenberg) is an American who is studying in Rome to be an architect. One day he is walking down a side street when he spots John (Alec Baldwin), a successful and well-known architect who once lived in the same Roman neighborhood as Jack. They take a walk to the house where Jack lives with his girlfriend, Sally (Greta Gerwig). There Sally announces that her friend Monica (Ellen Page) has just broken up with her boyfriend and is coming to Rome for a visit. John warns Jack that he sees trouble on the horizon: "Beautiful, funny, smart, sexual, and also neurotic. It's like filling an inside straight. Monica - even her name is hot."

Antonio (Allesandro Tiberi) and Milly (Allesandro Mastronardi), a recently married couple, arrive in Rome by train. They have come to Rome so that Antonio can pursue a job opportunity with relatives. Shortly after they arrive at their hotel Milly heads out to find a salon where she can get her hair done. While she is away (and gets lost in the process) Antonio answers a knock on the door of their room and is greeted by Anna (Penélope Cruz), a prostitute who believes that she was hired to fulfill Antonio's fantasies but who obviously was sent to the wrong room. While she is there Antonio's relatives arrive, forcing Antonio to pretend that Anna is actually Milly.

The strangest segment of To Rome With Love involves Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni), a meek, middle-class clerk who suddenly and inexplicably finds that he is an instant celebrity who is pursued by reporters, paparazzi and women. This portion of the film is an obvious satire about people who are famous for being famous and the absurd obsessions of our modern media (one morning news show does a segment which shows Leopoldo shaving in the morning). While Benigni is an able comic actor who has a few funny moments, the misadventures of Leopoldo seem out of place with the rest of the film and it gets a bit heavy-handed.

All of the actors perform admirably, with special notice to Ellen Page for her saucy portrayal of Monica and to Penélope Cruz as the hooker who implausibly tries to convince Antonio's relatives that she is a simple schoolteacher from the countryside. Woody Allen's Jerry is less neurotic than most of the characters the writer-director has played during his career, but it is good to see him in front of the camera again. Then there is Rome itself, a glorious city which everyone should visit at least once. For those who cannot get there, watching To Rome With Love will at least give you a taste of what you are missing.

The Video

The 1.78:1 1080p picture is another typically excellent Blu-ray transfer from Sony. The wonderful cinematography is by Darius Khondji, who also filmed Midnight in Paris. The 1.78:1 image appears to be properly framed. The picture is well detailed with no evidence of digital manipulation. The color palette is very warm and bright, very similar to the look we saw with Midnight in Paris. Black levels are solid and shadow detail is very good. All of the exterior scenes were shot on location in Italy, which naturally adds to the film's appeal. An appropriate level of film grain has been retained to give this Blu-ray presentation a satisfying, film-like appearance. All in all this is a first-class Blu-ray presentation.

The Audio

The lossless DTS-HD MA is excellent, considering the fact that Woody Allen never does much with the surround channels. He prefers to use music rather than sound effects for emphasis and mood, and such is the case with To Rome With Love. The evocative musical soundtrack is beautifully rendered (Woody seems to be particularly fond of "Nel blu dipinto di blu (Volare)" by Domenico Modugno, which was a major hit in the United States in 1958) and the dialogue is clear and understandable. The left-center-right channels do almost all of the work and the surround effects are decidedly discrete.

The Supplements

The extras on this Blu-ray release are relatively austere.

"Con Amore: A Passion for Rome" is a 9-minute "making of" featurette which focuses on how Woody Allen works with his actors. The general consensus is that he picks talented people and then gets out of their way.

The only other extras are the film's theatrical trailer and the trailer for Midnight in Paris.

The Packaging

The single disc is packaged in a standard Blu-ray case.

The Final Analysis

To Rome With Love is not as memorable and entertaining as Midnight in Paris, but it has its share of pleasures and an outstanding cast. Woody Allen fans will definitely want to add it to their collections.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specification by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable

Release Date: January 15, 2013




Rich Gallagher

#2 of 2 Guest_Larry-Bender_*

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Posted January 16 2013 - 04:17 PM

I really liked this film. I think its one of his best. Also a very funny picture. A must have for Allen fans.





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