Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    May 7, 2001
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    Around The Bend

    Studio: Warner Independent Pictures
    Year: 2004
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 83 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $27.95
    Package: Single disc/Keepcase

    The Feature:
    Around The Bend is the next installment of Warner Independent Pictures. Since the inception of the line, the studio has released a number of very well produced films starring an assortment of heavy hitters. This film is no exception and features an all star cast headed up by Christopher Walken, Michael Caine and Josh Logan. The film was written and directed by Jordan Roberts after a ten year uphill battle trying to get his project off the ground.

    The picture is a tale of four generations of men, who for many reasons, have been separated and an attempt by the great grandfather to reunite them. The great grandfather, Henry (played by Michael Caine) is getting on in years and resides with his grandson, Jason (played by Josh Logan) and his great grandson, Zach (played by Jonah Bobo). The missing link is Henry's son (Jason's father) Turner (played by Christopher Walken), who has spent the majority of his life in prison.

    To everyone's surprise and dismay, Turner suddenly shows up on the scene however it would appear as though he doesn't plan on staying long - he's on the run, so to speak. Jason isn't the least bit happy to see his long lost father after being abandoned by him early in life. Even young Zach is surprised to see him after having been told that his grandfather was no longer alive. Henry's desire is to reunite the family before it's too late but he is dying and knows he hasn't much time.

    Henry takes young Zach to the local Kentucky Fried Chicken joint and there, plots the instructions and crafts an elaborate plan for his final wish. He scribbles a number of various instructions and directions on table menus and Post-it notes and carefully places each of these within a bag to be opened in a particular order. He no sooner completes the task and suddenly dies inside the restaurant. The revealing of Henry's final wishes are to be treated like the formal reading of a last will and testament. Henry has planned a journey that will take the remaining three generations on a road trip spanning from Los Angeles to New Mexico with the intent of scattering Henry's (and his dog's) ashes along the way. The trio sets out in an old orange VW van with "DIG" etched on the side and plenty of 8-track tapes to keep them entertained. Oddly enough, there's only one stipulation; Jason and Turner must be in a KFC restaurant eating chicken as each of the clues are revealed.

    The desert journey proves revealing on a number of fronts, but most importantly, it provides an opportunity for a father and son to learn about each other after having spent the majority of their lives separated. Along the way, dreams are fulfilled, promises are kept and questions are answered.

    The Feature: 4.5/5

    Shot in beautiful 2.35:1, this enhanced for widescreen transfer is not only gorgeous to look at but the sweeping cinematography of the American southwest is visually beautiful as well.

    For the filming of the road trip, yellow filters were obviously used to accentuate the hues of the desert scenery. Colors were always vibrant and the hues and levels of saturation look perfect. Equally pleasing were the accurate looking flesh tones. Blacks were bold and whites were stable and stark. The levels of contrast and shadow detail were also fine.

    The level of image detail looked mostly great with the transfer exhibiting outstanding sharpness. Only occasionally did the image fall on the slightly soft side. The image had a slightly gritty look to it with a slight amount of grain and as a result, produced a very nice film-like image with a great amount of depth and dimension.

    The print was immaculate and free of any dirt or dust nor were there any blemishes to speak of. The image was rock solid and absolutely free of any shimmer or jitter. While compression was handled fine, there was a slight amount of edge enhancement evident. Not a big deal really.

    Great job Warner.

    Video: 4.5/5

    The soundtrack is a DD 5.1 encoded and is for the most part, more than capable. There is a ton of music throughout the film and the soundstage is quite full and satisfactorily wide. The track is perfectly clean and free of any hiss or other noisy distractions.

    Dialogue was always bold and intelligible and never lost throughout the 60's and 70's period music that was chosen to accompany the film. There's also a rather whimsical accordion ditty that is used to score the film that adds to the peculiarity of the film. There was a decent amount of range demonstrated throughout from the typewriter keys (remember those?) to the clanging of the metal urns.

    Not much to speak of in terms of surrounds - mostly filler, but this isn't a film that begs for rear information. The music filler was subdued and enveloping. Your sub won't work up much of a sweat.

    Nice little soundtrack that accomplishes what it needs to do and then some.

    Audio: 3.5/5

    Special Features:
    Surprisingly, there is quite a healthy array of supplemental feature that complement this disc starting with:
    [*] Commentary By Writer/Director Jordan Roberts was recorded for the film in September of 2004. Mr. Roberts starts by discussing his script and its ten year hurdle as well as the reason why KFC was the restaurant of choice. The emphasis of this commentary comes from a writer's standpoint. While Mr. Roberts keeps things on a screen specific track, most of what he imparts relates to how the film evolved and was eventually shot from and compared to his written material. There is a little dead time here and there but on the whole this is an interesting feature, especially if your interest is screenplay focused. It's clear the project was a labor of love for Mr. Roberts.
    [*] It's A Good Day: The Making Of Around The Bend. If you like behind-the-scenes footage, you'll appreciate this. It starts with an introduction by Jordan Roberts and features Josh Lucas, Michael Caine and Jonah Bobo. This is a terrific feature which chronicles a number of snap decisions being made at the time during the shoot. Those filming, were able to capture the cast & crew members focusing on their work in a natural fashion. The feature centers around 18 different scenes and deals with a number of components relating to the production. A terrific inclusion. Duration: 50:43 minutes.
    [*] Deleted Scenes (Commentary on/off) is a compendium of footage that was left on the cutting room floor. While watching these with the commentary, it would appear that Mr. Roberts was reluctant to cut much from this film. He spends a great deal of time discussing the scene’s flow and their lack of advancement in the film as his rationale. There are a total of 15 deleted scenes. Duration: 14:56 minutes.
    [*] The Soundtrack Spot is nothing more than a short advertisement for the Rhino soundtrack CD for the film. As I mentioned in the audio portion of the review, the film makes terrific use of period and music scoring and the CD would be terrific. Duration: 00:47 minutes.
    [*] The final inclusion is the Theatrical Trailer which is in perfect condition. Duration: 2.23 minutes.

    There are a good many so called "Special Editions" being released nowadays that don't possess the quality of features that have been included here. Very nice.

    Special Features: 4/5

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**

    Final Thoughts:
    Around The Bend is a touching and revealing film about family and discoveries. Michael Caine turns in another wonderful performance, albeit a brief one, as the aging family patriarch whose ideas are initially scoffed at but eventually respected. Christopher Walken offers up a natural performance as the father who seemed incapable of showing any type of affection. This is a terrific little film, one which is not only touching but one that's responsible for a few laughs along the way, provided you have a tolerance for Kentucky Fried Chicken...

    The presentation of Around The Bend is fantastic and the special features outweigh many of the modern day "Special Editions". The movie plays on the side of quirk, but if you fancy films that stray somewhat off the beaten path, check this one out.

    Overall Rating: 4/5 (not an average)


    Release Date: February 22nd, 2005
  2. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Dec 1, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Disney World and Universal Florida
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
    sounds interesting.
    i had a chance to watch this last week, but i never heard of it so passed until i heard of it.

    i think i'll give it a rental.

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