DVD Review HTF REVIEW: City of Joy

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Apr 6, 2004.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    CITY OF JOY





    Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
    Film Year: 1992

    U.S. Rating: PG-13
    Canadian Rating: 14A

    Film Length: 135 minutes
    Genre: Drama

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
    Audio: English & French Dolby 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: None
    Closed Captioned: Yes






    Release Date: April 06, 2004



    Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    City of Joy tells the story of an American Doctor named Max Lowe (Patrick Swayze) who decides to quit his practice in the ER after the loss of a young patient. Needing time to get a grip of himself, he flees from the USA to the busy city of Calcutta, India where his fortunes turn out to be no better. On his first night’s stay, he is tricked by a local call girl and is led to be beaten and purged of his valuables by the surrounding local thugs. To the rescue comes an illiterate Indian farmer (Om Puri) who traveled to the city with his family to find work. Hasari’s land in the country is threatened to be taken away by the money-lenders so he must provide for his family of five and begin his daughter’s dowry.

    Beaten and bruised, Max is taken to the City of Joy, a little ghetto in Calcutta with a little clinic for the sick and sore. It is headed by British woman Joan Bethel (Pauline Collins), she finds that Max is disassociating himself from his previous career and asks him to help out during his stay. But why would he want to go through that trouble? He’s on vacation as an escape and things haven’t been peachy on the first day. In anger, he leaves the City of Joy to go back to his hotel only to find that banking problems prevent him from coughing up money to stay much longer. The City of Joy now seems like an option for him to amuse himself for a while and make a few friends too.

    Even this city is not without its troubles. The local “godfather” runs the ghetto and wants to raise the taxes the people cannot afford. They are also up against his son Gangooly (Shyamal Sehgupta), a man much more brutal and unforgiving. Max tries to teach these people they can stand up to them when they are in unity, but the people are also hesitant because they also see the godfather as their protector on the land. It takes time to find out these people are being used and abused and it’s a matter of time before more people and mutilated and found dead. With the help of his British and Indian friends (or for them, with the help of Max), they are prepared to face the godfather and his reign of terror.

    Regarded as one of his best performances in his career, Swayze delivers an almost solid performance of a disillusioned character. Witty and full of sarcasm, there are some pretty good ‘lines’ in this film. The supporting cast does a good job as well, and there are some that aren’t so good mostly because their characters aren’t developed enough so they remain just bodies on the screen. The resolution with Gangooly was a little bit of a let-down as I was hoping for something a little more climatic. The film has some pretty good ideas and tried to convey some messages, but I think they aren’t translated well all of the time. The film gets a little lost in its length rather than with the impact of what the writers were trying to say. On the other hand, this could also be a good thing because I would hate this movie to become a political tool regarding the living conditions of people elsewhere in the world. There are enough infomercials on topic. Directed by Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields and The Mission), this film is dedicated to many charitable and cause-related poverty organizations, City of Joy is a heads-up story without preaching for the cause.


    VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Calcutta’s days are brought out with the look of the warm Indian brown. I feel like I’m in that city as all of the sweat on the people can be seen, I can almost smell the mustiness of fifty sweaty underarms in my theater room. The detail is pretty good for this older film, while it does have some soft looking photography and a few quick shots of what looks like unfinished looking workprint material, the image is very good. There is some film grain at the beginning, but it’s reduced to dirt specks on the remainder of the film. Compression artifacts are low and there is no edge enhancement to distract us on this pleasing 1.85:1 image. Remastered in High Definition.


    AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The audio is Dolby Surround 2.0 and provides a satisfying sound experience. I decided to engage my Pro-Logic II decoding for this feature to see how much better the experience would be. I was impressed with how directional the soundtrack could be. It still doesn’t match the sound quality of the better recordings but what do you expect from 2.0 surround? As for the recording quality, there are some instances of bad dubbing of voices. There are times when lips don’t match the words well. Since this is present mostly with the Indian characters, I can imagine their lines were re-recorded because their dialogue was probably completely unclear because of their heavy accents. There are many lines in the film I have no clue what they are saying, and unfortunately there are no subtitles to help me clarify them.

    The music recording is only satisfactory. There are a few styles present like folk, choir, and traditional Indian sounds that take a place in the film when seen fit. There is also a synth soundtrack that isn’t integrated well at all. The sound is recorded lower than I’d expect because it gets lost in the rest of the noise diminishing its effectiveness.


    SPECIAL FEATURES ZERO / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    None here, not even an insert listing chapter stops. I think every release should have one of those.


    THOUGHTS…

    City of Joy is a good film if you ever thought of seeing it. Honestly, I’ve always had the impression it was going to be a corny film that I’d never be interested in. I was wrong. Despite the few criticisms I have on the film’s layout, I had a few laughs with it and it is an eye-opener to the living conditions of other people around the world. It also shows the results that the leprosy disease can have on the body. Yikes, there isn’t any CGI added here. It’s about as real as it gets. So check out Swayze’s best performance in this entertaining piece of work. I do recommend getting around to it one day if you get the chance.

    Michael Osadciw
    04.04.06
     
  2. Chris S

    Chris S Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the review! Ebert gave this movie exceptionally high marks last year and is definitely one that I'll be checking out.

    Chris S.
     
  3. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    "last year"? Are you thinking of City of God instead?

    City of Joy is from 1992, and Ebert gave it a positive, but not ecstatic, review, if I remember correctly.

    That said, I've always loved this one, and can't wait to own it [​IMG]
     
  4. Chris S

    Chris S Cinematographer

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    :b Ooops.... [​IMG]

    Chris S.
     

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