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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Changing Lanes" (with screenshots)



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#1 of 28 Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 29 2002 - 08:38 PM

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Changing Lanes






Studio: Paramount
Year: 2002
Rated: R
Film Length: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)



"Sometimes, God likes to put two guys in a
paper bag and just let 'em rip"



When you sit back and ponder upon the theatrical
success of Changing Lanes, it doesn't take
you long to realize this is a film that succeeds
because it looks at the lives of two men with such
honesty and authenticity. It's as if the filmmakers
were given an essay on What makes a man?, and
then left to their own accord to come up with a
story of how two men try to salvage what is left
of their humanity and decency.

Posted ImagePosted Image

The story concerns Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck), a young
New York City lawyer who is married to his boss'
daughter (Amanda Peet) and is about to present
important evidence to a probate court. Doyle Gibson
(Samuel L. Jackson) is a recovering alcoholic who
is looking to buy a property so his estranged wife
and two sons don't have to move out west.

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One one rainy morning as both men rush to get
themselves to separate court appointments, Gavin
changes lanes on the FDR highway and their two cars
collide. In the confusing aftermath, Gibson comes
into possession of important papers that Gavin
needs for court. Gibson, who is devastated because
he is late for his own court hearing, lays the blame
on Gavin.

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The rest of the movie plays as a big cat and mouse
game. One thing leads to another as they attempt
to sabotage each other's lives in order to get what
they want/need. Gavin has an expert "hack" the
system making Doyle bankrupt. Because of the
bankruptcy, Doyle cannot pay for the house that
he is persuading his ex-wife to move into. Things
further escalate to dangerous proportions as Gibson
seeks revenge for having his life ruined.


How is the transfer?


The entire film takes place mostly in the course
of a single rainy, dismal day. The look of the
film reflects the mood. Nothing is overly bright
nor vivid here. New York City comes alive throughout
this film with Salvatore Totino's shaky, unsaturated
photography. Picture takes on a much darker tone
giving the transfer a very natural and warm feel.
Through this warmness, colors do an excellent
job of making themselves known, particularly the
blues of Gavin's shirt and tie, the reds of the
New York City buildings and the purple shirt that
Gavin's secretary wears. Black levels are also
very deep giving this film some nice texture.
Flesh tones are dead-on accurate and there is not
a hint of grain nor noise to be seen anywhere.
All of this results in a very fine and detailed
transfer that ranks up with Paramount's finest.

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The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is quite good. What
stands out here the most is David Arnold's hypnotic
synthesized score that eerily crosses the five
channels, supplemented by vibrating LFE channel
bass that I could feel running up my spine. The
rear channels immerse you in the sounds of New
York City, particularly in the midst of traffic
that seem to be dodging your listening area. Sound
is vibrant, crisp, and full of healthy bass.


Special Features


A full-length commentary by Director
Roger Michell, who with his defined accent, talks
about filming the movie during the cold months of
December and January. Look closely in the opening
credits as Michell points out two instances where
the World Trade Center appears. Michell removed
these shots from the theatrical version, but opted
to place them back in for the DVD release. Michell's
voice provides a sort of warming effect for his
commentary that provides insight into the photography
of the film, the scoring of the film and how
the Director intelligently pieced his scenes together.
The Director loves the sounds and sights of New
York City, and thus, opted to use a few interesting
camera tricks and angles which he reveals in this
commentary. Michell tells an interesting story
about his concerns of hiring world-famous Director
Sidney Pollack to be a part of the film. He hopes
to get a small part in some other Director's film.
The Director talks deeply about his characters and
their relationships with each other (particularly
Gavin as his wife). Michell also talks about how he
took two worlds of his characters and made them
collide together. He also often ponders how the
story would have changed if he slightly changed his
characters and their situations. A very interesting
and intelligent commentary.

Posted Image

In The Making of Changing Lanes Ben Affleck
and Samuel L. Jackson reveal that they were attracted
to this film because of its honesty and the fact that
it was character driven. The two actors go on to
describe the story and their own individual characters
against the many film clips that are shown. Director
Roger Michell talks fondly about Affleck's acting
abilities as does Sidney Pollack, the well-known
Director who plays his boss. While there a few short
sequences that take us behind-the-camera, this
featurette is sort of blah, showing more film clips
than anything else.
(length: approx. 15 minutes)

Posted ImagePosted Image


Here's something we just don't see enough of --
especially since credit must always be given to The
writer's perspective
. In this featurette, we
meet screenwriters Michael Tolkin and Chap Taylor
who give us an in-depth examination of the morals
of the characters they created. Citing that there
are no good guys nor bad guys in this film, the
screenwriters suggest what might have happened to
their characters should this accident have never
happened. Both writers hope that people come away
with this film with a new perspective not only of
the human being next to them, but the changing world
around them. Very nice featurette.
(length: approx. 6 minutes)

There are two deleted scenes for you to
enjoy. First up is Gavin interviewing a young
hopeful named Gordon Pinnella who is interested
in copyright law (pirates on the internet beware!).
This scene takes place at the beginning of the film
as it is apparent that Gavin has his important red
folder in hand. Next is a scene with Doyle being
summoned to his boss's office where he receives a
stern warning about his job performance. Both of
these scenes run about 2.5 minutes total.

There is an extended scene that adds to
the confessional scene towards the end of the
film. Though the priest offers Gavin some sound
advice about God, Gavin dismisses the presence of
God in his life as one big joke.
(length: approx. 4.3 minutes)

The film's original theatrical trailer is
also included here.


Final Thoughts


Posted Image

It's nice to see a good story and a very well
made film that doesn't rely on special effects or
hardcore action to make its point. We live in a
society where all of make a deal to live together
under a set of rules, designed to maintain the
orderly flow of civilization. This film so
realistically looks at what happens when someone
seemingly has broken that deal, and what happens
when two people are at odds, and each person thinks
they are on the side of right.

With its wonderful story and wonderful transfer from
the folks at Paramount, this is a DVD worth purchasing.


Release Date: September 10, 2002

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 28 Robert Crawford

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Posted August 29 2002 - 09:19 PM

I've seen this very fine film during it's theatrical release and I should get my dvd copy tomorrow and will revisit the film again this weekend. Very good performances by all actors including those in supporting roles.



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#3 of 28 Jenna

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Posted August 29 2002 - 09:27 PM

Quote:
Michell removed these shots {of the World Trade Center} from the theatrical version, but opted
to place them back in for the DVD release

Glad to hear this. You just can't "erase" history by digitally removing a monument such as this, nor do you take photos of departed loved ones out of your photo album when they die. I hope other filmmakers follow suit.

As for the film, I regretably missed it during it's theatrical release. Sounds like it definitely warrants a rental.

Would purchase it, but since I just hit the "500" DVD mark, I REALLY have to slow down on my purchasing.
Well, we'll see. Posted Image

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#4 of 28 Tino

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Posted August 29 2002 - 10:35 PM

Thanks for the review Ron. Currently Changing Lanes is my favorite film of 2002 so far.

It was so good on so many levels and is deeper than is apparent. IMO, Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson give the best performances of their careers in this film.

I hope it is remembered come Oscar time.Posted Image
It's gonna be a hell of a ride. I'm ready. .

#5 of 28 Michael Silla

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Posted August 30 2002 - 01:13 AM

Tino,

I too hope it is remembered at Oscar time. What a great film. I liked the story with it's elements of redemption. You feel for Samuel L. Jackson's character (despite him being a bit emotional about things) - even at one point I felt sorry for Ben Affleck's character too.

This is a must have DVD for me.

Michael.

#6 of 28 Michael*K

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Posted August 30 2002 - 01:35 AM

This was one damn good film. Looking forward to hearing Michell's commentary.

#7 of 28 jacob w k

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Posted August 30 2002 - 01:45 AM

I can't wait to get this one, it's right up there with Blade 2 on my must buy list.
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#8 of 28 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 30 2002 - 01:55 AM

Ron, does Michell say anything about reshooting the ending? I know for a fact that it was reshot not too long before the theatrical release, because one of the film's technical advisors works at my wife's firm and the filmmakers came back to him with questions relating to the reshoot. I'm not sure exactly what was changed, though.

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#9 of 28 Jeff Bamberger

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Posted August 30 2002 - 02:12 AM

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That's my cousin....My Mom's, Uncle's, son-in-law!

#10 of 28 Veli-Matti Reitti

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Posted August 30 2002 - 02:56 AM

Ron,
thanks again for a great review as usual.

This is a definitive sight unseen purchase for me.

#11 of 28 NickFoley

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Posted August 30 2002 - 03:00 AM

Good review. I cant wait to pick it up.

#12 of 28 Jason Borchers

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Posted August 30 2002 - 05:38 AM

.

#13 of 28 Jason Whyte

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Posted August 30 2002 - 05:57 AM

Canadian Customers,

Beware Canadian bilingual packaging:

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Buy National Treasure on DVD today..."The best movie I saw on Saturday night from 7pm to 9:30. The DTS track is freakin' awesome!" --Multiplex Drone

#14 of 28 Kenneth Cummings

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Posted August 30 2002 - 06:09 AM

Very good review Ron. Do you consider putting a "Higly Recommanded" on this, as it sound you have no problems with this DVD, aside from the one documentary.
I need a new signature.

#15 of 28 Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 30 2002 - 08:37 AM

Quote:
That's odd. I saw this one in the theater, and clearly remember seeing these shots during the opening credits.

I did not see this film theatrically, but the
commentary does say they were removed.

As far as reshooting the ending? I don't remember
hearing this in the commentary, but then again, I
probably listened to only about 60% of it.

Generally, when I review commentaries, I skip
around to key sequences in the film and listen to
the commentary in full.

It's impossible, with the amount of films that
have to be reviewed, to watch a film in its
entirety twice just to hear the entire commentary.

Thanks

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#16 of 28 Tim RH

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Posted August 30 2002 - 08:37 AM

Quote:
That's odd. I saw this one in the theater, and clearly remember seeing these shots during the opening credits.
Me too. I definately saw those brief shots in the theatre. Maybe some film prints had them and some didn't?

#17 of 28 Mike Graham

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Posted August 30 2002 - 08:39 AM

To Jason Whyte:

Quote:
Beware Canadian bilingual packaging


As long as the DVD isn't delayed, and the bilingual packaging isn't drastically changed, which it isn't here, then everything's fine Posted Image

However, don't get me started on Pulp Fiction....

#18 of 28 Alex Spindler

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Posted August 30 2002 - 09:09 AM

Good work Ron, and I really enjoyed your comments about the commentary. Please keep this feature of your reviews, as I find it very helpful.

Changing Lanes is still resting high on my list of best of 2002, and takes the crown as the most understimated movie I've seen in several years. Marketed as a revenge thriller, it is one of the best character studies I've ever seen.

Also, IMDb includes a summary of the delete scene as well as a specific point that the alternate ending will appear on the DVD. Sounds like someone missed the memo that it was cut.

#19 of 28 Colin Jacobson

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Posted August 30 2002 - 05:49 PM

Quote:
I did not see this film theatrically, but the
commentary does say they were removed.

Ron, I think you misunderstood the director. I believe he meant that he removed them from the film PRIOR to release but reinstated them before the movie hit screens. He noted that he planned to deleted them right after 9/11 but put them back months later - still before the theatrical release...
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#20 of 28 rhett

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Posted September 03 2002 - 04:18 AM

Please Paramount, stop the bilingual packaging!

Nice review though Ron, Changing Lanes is a great film, and so far it is my favorite of the year.
"The Night HE Came Home"