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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Before Sunset (Recommended).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Nov 9, 2004.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Before Sunset


    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2004
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 80 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 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:
    Before Sunset is the second Warner Independent release to arrive here for review in as many weeks. Late last year, Warner Bros. Entertainment announced the crea
    tion of Warner Independent Pictures, an autonomous film label to be headed by Mark Gill as its President who spent numerous years at Miramax and Columbia/Tri Star. The intent of the new independent label is to distribute and market all genres of films, with varying budgets to all audiences and not be limited by traditional, mainstream releases.

    The initial strategy is for Warner Independent to produce or acquire up to 10 films per year with production budgets up to $20 million for worldwide release, drawing from new directors and established filmmakers, as well as from international filmmakers who are already a part of Warner Bros. Pictures International's film production and distribution program. Warner Independent will also acquire films that are better suited for a boutique-like release slate.

    Before Sunset is one of those reasons why I’m thankful to do reviews. It is an opportunity to view films that I would have otherwise ignored. Not only was I unfamiliar with it, but I had never even heard of the original film for which this sequel was based upon, Before Sunrise (1995). In fact I read so many good things about the original film, I decided to go and pick it up so I would have some idea as to what the sequel was about, and am I glad I did.

    Nine years ago, Jesse (played by Ethan Hawke) and Celine (played by Julie Delpy) are traveling separately on a train in Europe. After meeting aboard the train, the two connect and they decide to exit the train and to share some time with each other in Vienna. After spending just a short time with other they realize they are soulmates, who share very similar interests and ideas on life. There’s only one problem, Jesse has to catch a plane in the morning, and their time together must end before sunset. They vow to meet up with each other in six months at the same train platform, but as fate would have it, they never re-connect.

    Fast forward nine years and Jesse, who has just written a book, is in Paris to do a press interview and a book signing at a local bookstore. As the interview winds down, Jesse looks up to see Celine standing there, the first time he has seen her since their initial encounter nine years ago. Ironically, the book Jesse has written is about their lone night they shared some nine years earlier. It would seem as though Celine was familiar with Jesse’s book and was aware of his impending book tour. And while the meeting was not coincidental, both Jesse and Celine are only too happy to spend their afternoon walking and talking in the streets of Paris.

    Initially, their discussion covers nothing more than small-talk and generally topics that are rather commonplace (a long time has passed and their lives have changed drastically). After they start to feel more comfortable again with each other, they open up and spend the remainder of their time talking about their successes and failures in their lives. Perhaps both are now a little smarter and a little wiser. The flame they shared many years ago quickly rekindles but Jesse’s return flight to the U.S. is in just a few hours and whatever decision he makes, he must do so before sunset.

    Both films take place in real time and the characters simply spend their time together talking about an assortment of issues throughout the course of long – extremely long single takes that are executed brilliantly by the film’s director, Richard Linklater. Both films seem very natural with wonderful and believable dialogue with the original movie having an early 20’s feel to it, displaying youth and innocence while the sequel seems slightly more mature with the ordinary complications that have accumulated over time. Both films have an extremely genuine feel to them and never are you left feeling they are reading from a script, as their conversations are free and never seemingly rehearsed. Their personal interactions and chemistry is as believable and as strong as any you’ll see in a romantic film.

    It’s funny, during one scene, Celine asks Jesse, “do you think we look any different?” It was interesting to see the pair after almost a decade. While time has been pretty friendly to Julie, I’m afraid it hasn’t been so kind to Ethan who surprisingly seems to have aged considerably.

    The single disc itself is housed in a keepcase and comes with an insert which is basically a $5.00 rebate coupon for the purchase of both films. Upon insertion of the disc, we get several forced trailers for upcoming WB Independents starting with Criminal, A Home At The End Of The World, and We Don’t Live Here Anymore – all of which are easily skip-able. Hey, anyone notice that several of the recent WB releases include a new FBI warning…?

    The Feature: 4/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    I don’t want to spend much time focusing on the original film, Before Sunrise, but suffice it to say this sequel, Before Sunset looks far and away, much better. And in all fairness Before Sunrise was an early entry film to disc and we have seen drastic changes in the quality of transfers even in the past year or two.

    Colors were vibrant and perhaps slightly on the warmer side. The level of saturation seemed good, however, skin tones looked slightly reddish. Black levels were acceptable, while whites were usually stark and clean.

    Image detail was satisfactory. There were many great examples of very defined images – both with close-ups and with wider and longer shots, but I felt the image was slightly softer than what we’re used to with newer releases. Remember, I didn’t see this theatrically, so it may very well be a perfect representation of the film?!

    There were only slight amounts of fine film grain present but disappointingly, the film lacked any real depth or dimensionality. I was also somewhat disappointed in the contrast and levels of shadow detail. The film has a very contrasty look about it which, at times, looks bright – very bright. Definition is at times lost amidst the frequent brightness.

    The print was virtually immaculate and free of any dust or dirt as well as scratches or blemishes, as we would expect for a new film. The overall image was solid and I was able to detect little, if any, edge enhancement or other digital artifacts.

    I can’t say for sure since I didn’t see this film theatrically, but it falls short – slightly short of what we’ve come to expect from newer releases.

    Video: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Audio:
    Even though this is a DD 5.1 track, there is very little to speak of in terms of its performance.

    As you might expect, this film is entirely dialogue driven, all of which is pretty much anchored to the center channel. Dialogue is always exceptionally bold and clear.

    I found myself making very few notes during this film in terms of music, effects, surrounds etc., basically there aren’t any. Even accompanying music is virtually non-existent. And really, considering the content and style of the film, it’s better for it.

    Audio: 3/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Special Features:
    Not really much to speak of in terms of special features, but WB has included the following:
    [*] On the Set of Before Sunset features a number of contributions from director Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and producer, Anne Walker-Mcbay. Discussed are the ideas and the origins of the project and how it went from concept to film, which Julie Delpy seemed to be the driving force. They also discuss the rehearsals and the length of the shoot. It would appear as though the actors brought quite a bit of their own reality to this film which may account for the honesty of their performances. Brief, but interesting. Duration: 9:49 minutes.
    [*] The only other special feature is the Theatrical Trailer which is in great shape. Duration: 2:17 minutes.

    Special Features: 2/5
    [​IMG][​IMG]

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



    Final Thoughts:
    Before Sunrise is a film which garnered a considerable amount of critical acclaim with the honest and natural performances from Hawke and Delpy. While I am always apprehensive about sequels, Before Sunset delivers equally. Sure, perhaps Before Sunset lacks some of the freshness and the magic of the original project, but the sequel is every bit as engaging and will have you transfixed for 80 minutes as these charming characters do nothing but talk for the duration of the film. The performances of Hawke and Delpy are every bit as energetic and touching than those in their first appearance nine years earlier.

    The presentation of this film is almost on par with the quality of the content. The A/V is solid but not flashy, however, the supplemental material is a little lacking. Fans of the film or those who might be intrigued after their experience with the original film should have no concerns regarding to the presentation of Before Sunset, however, it’s not likely to leave a lasting impression.

    If there is indeed a third installment, I’m not sure what they’d call it but I feel pretty comfortable in stating that it would be a welcomed thought.

    Overall Rating: 4/5 (not an average)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Recommended…!





    Release Date: November 9th, 2004
     
  2. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    Can't wait to get my hands on this disc, I loved this film and it still stands as the finest i've seen this year. Before Sunrise is probably the best romantic film i've ever seen and I was surprised when this was announced. It is great to see a sequel that was made for artistic reasons rather than another shameless cash-in which seem to flood the theatres these days.

    While it isn't totally necessary to see the first one before viewing Sunset, you definitely won't get as much out of the experience.
     
  3. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    My thoughts exactly. Sunrise is also one of my favorite romantic films as well. I got to see Sunset at an advance screening. It doesnt have the magic of the first but doesnt disappoint either. I will happily pick this dic up to accompany Sunrise on my DVD shelves.
     
  4. Sean Patrick

    Sean Patrick Supporting Actor

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    *at first* i was going to say that it was 100% essential for you to see Before Sunrise first if you really wanted to "get it"...

    then i started thinking.... part of the magic of the sequel was the fact that so much time had passed for THE VIEWER (not necessarily the characters) since the original...so seeing them for the FIRST TIME back to back isn't necessarily ideal either.

    maybe if you haven't seen the first one, perhaps watching the sequel FIRST then immediately watching Before Sunrise might be an interesting way to experience it?????

    i think that would work nicely. in fact i think it would be awesome.
     
  5. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    i couldn't stand the first film.
    i bought it, fully expecting to love it and 3/4 of the way in i was digging my nails into the arm rests.
    my problem wasn't with the 'concept', it was in the execution.
    i just didn't find their conversations...or their chemistry believable.
    it seemed too enforced to me.

    that's why i avoided this, even though it was getting probably the best reviews of any of the summer movies.

    but since i got a movie pass at BB, i figured i might as well give it a shot, and i have to say this is a much, MUCH more interesting experience than the first film.
    the conversation and the progression of the conversation feels far more natural- the characters history from the first film gives them a more solid footing- in that they don't just seem to be hooking up because they are both young and photogenic and the romantic conciet of the film demands it-

    anyways, this was a fine film, and yeah even though i personally hated it, i would recommend slogging thru the first one before seeing this.
     
  6. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I also think the second is the best of the two, but I still love the first one!

    And while it's not necessary to see the original, I think the optimum way of viewing these films is to have seen the original one in the theater, nine years ago, being touched by it and wondering thereafter about the characters and their lives for about a decade... and then seeing the second one!

    Slightly different circumstances, and it was an American girl, but I spent a few days wandering around Vienna back in the summer of 1992, the Ringstrasse and the old city, and nothing recalls those memories quite like "Before Sunrise". I also went to high school and college in Texas, high school a few years after the characters in "Dazed and Confused" and college during the same period that "Slacker" was filmed and released, and so it's turned out that many of Linklater's movies are very personal to me in the way that I think alot of people relate to Kevin Smith's movies (though I don't think Smith is even one ounce the filmmaker that Linklater is). So, on other words, YMMV given the degree to which you can relate to the characters, times and places of these films.
     
  7. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

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    I just saw this for the first time yesterday.

    Wow.

    Wasn't the section where they are riding in his car an emotional rollercoaster? I sat on the couch with my mouth agape when she (a)almost reached out an touched him when he wasn't looking and (b)tried to get out of the car.

    Amazing movie (with a brilliant ending, too).

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Yeah, that's the part that got me the first time, and nearly devastated me the second. And it's not just the gesture but the timing, coming as it does right as Jesse is revealing the far depths of his disillusionment with life, his marriage, etc. And just a bit earlier there was a passing allusion to just such a caress, or the desire to reach out in that way, or perhaps the futility of doing so... something like that, or at least I think so.

    I almost don't want there to be a third installment, if only because the ending to the second is about as perfect as any I've ever seen. Of course, ten years from now, if there is a third installment, I'll be the first one in line! [​IMG]
     
  9. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    I'm having a problem with the behind-the-scenes video. When Ethan Hawke talks for the first time, I get a big noticeable jump. It's the same with different players and my disc is intact. Do you get the same?
     
  10. David Ruiz

    David Ruiz Second Unit

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    Me too! Both on my regular Sony DVD player, and on my computer DVD-Rom drive. I thought that the disc might be defective, but when I read your post, I realized that this must be a bigger problem than just my copy.
     
  11. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    Something in the back of my mind is telling me that both of these films will eventually be released as special editions. Such highly regarded films and the extras are almost non-existant for this one. Something is very wrong here.....I think I'll wait for an SE for both films. For now, it's worth a rent.
     
  12. Ocean Phoenix

    Ocean Phoenix Supporting Actor

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    I feel the same way. I'm a big fan of both and expected a special edition of Before Sunrise when Before Sunset came out. Instead, someone decided to just lazily package the existing Before Sunrise DVD with Before Sunset in a two pack. I was thinking of buying Before Sunset as soon as it came out on DVD, but it's not worth it when the only "special feature" is a featurette that's just under 10 minutes. I take this almost "bare bones" release as a sign that there will be a sequel, and that the two movies will get a "proper" DVD treatment when they can be released as part of a "trilogy boxset".
     
  13. Iain Quinn

    Iain Quinn Agent

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    Anyone know if the Before Sunrise DVD in the double pack has been repackaged in an amaray case?
     
  14. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    I picked this up at Best Buy tonight and just finished watching it. [​IMG] I didn't see Before Sunrise beforehand, and wanted to pick that up at BB as well, but they were out of copies. Nevertheless, I didn't feel like I really needed to see Before Sunrise Before Sunset. [​IMG]
     
  15. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Producer

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    Yeah, I anticipated Rich's advice on this one -- in fact it worked very well, because having seen the first one nine years ago -- my memory was just as faded as that of the characters.

    I did like Before Sunset much better (I thought it the best American film of 2004), but I'm planning to rewatch Before Sunrise tonight -- we'll see how the intervening nine years and the perspective of having seen Before Sunset alters my experience.

    Ted
     
  16. Alan Kurland

    Alan Kurland Stunt Coordinator

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    My wife loved the movie, but was disappointed with the ending. ...She wanted just a kiss or something to let her know the relationship would be going further. As for me, I knew they wouldn't let it end again...
     
  17. Brian-W

    Brian-W Screenwriter

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    (on knees, praying for it to be shown in HD on either InHD, HBO, or Showtime)
     
  18. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

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    I watched it for a second time tonight, and I love it.

    I adored the ending...

    Jesse keeps dragging out their parting...

    "Baby, you are going to miss your plane..."
    "I know."
     
  19. Sean Patrick

    Sean Patrick Supporting Actor

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    Nate -

    i think at the end, Celine has also decided to drag it out. notice how slowly she tells him the story of the Nina Simone concert...and that last "you're gonna miss your plane" is almost sarcastic.
     

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