HTF REVIEW: "Moonlight Mile" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 5, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    Moonlight Mile





    Studio: Touchstone
    Year: 2002
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 117 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: English and Spanish




    In life and love, expect the unexpected.


    Amongst all the dozens upon dozens of films that
    were released last year, it's a shame that a movie
    like Moonlight Mile got lost in the shuffle.
    It's a superb drama with a first-rate cast that
    explores the grief and subsequent healing process
    that must come with suddenly losing a loved one.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    As the film begins, we find Joe Nast (Jake
    Gyllenhaal) attending a funeral, following the
    senseless murder of his beautiful fiancee Cheryl
    (Aleksia Landeau) in a shooting at a diner. This
    is a moment that has brought him to a crossroad
    in his life. He feels compelled to offer support
    to Cheryl's parents, Ben (Dustin Hoffman) and JoJo
    (Susan Sarandon), but at the same time he realizes
    that he must attempt to go on with his own life.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Before the murder, Ben and Joe had planned to be
    partner's in Ben’s already established real estate
    firm, but now Joe is not so sure that this is a career
    path he wants. Visiting the post office one day, he
    happens to meet the office's window clerk Bertie
    (Ellen Pompeo), who also happens to work at the local
    bar that Ben is trying to sell to a planned shopping
    center. Joe and Bertie strike up a relationship,
    leading the young man to decide where his future
    lies, and whether he is brave enough to face the
    consequences.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The film boasts flawless performances from its cast
    and a script that plays as if life was unfolding
    right before our very eyes. Each family member deals
    with tragedy in a distinctively different manner,
    just as many of us would do the same. The film
    manages to effectively capture the essence of its
    mid-'70s setting, providing us with an era-appropriate
    soundtrack of songs from The Rolling Stones, Van
    Morrison, Elton John, Dave Edmunds, Bob Dylan and
    Sly & The Family Stone.

    It would be completely rude of me not to mention
    Holly Hunter, who handles her small part with
    admirably, creating a lawyer character that is
    totally believable.


    How is the transfer?


    I wish I had seen this film theatrically because
    I was sort of bothered with the way it looked (or
    perhaps the way it was meant to look). Picture looks
    rather soft and muddy throughout, causing a loss of
    image detail. Flesh tones run too red, and nothing
    seems to stand out. The film is rather dark, which
    results in many of the interior scenes losing a lot
    of detail within its blackness. This could very
    well be the look the filmmakers were after given the
    era the movie represents and the sentimental tone
    of this film.

    The 5.1 Dolby surround mix is quite good and
    effective. The film has a strong front sound stage
    that provides detailed dialogue and terrific dynamics
    for the rock selections that aid extraordinarily
    within the storytelling. The rears provide some
    interesting ambient effects from time to time --
    mostly the sounds of other people or crowds within
    a room or weather elements such as thunder and rain.
    This isn't an overly aggressive surround track, and
    I wouldn't expect such in a film like this.


    Special Features

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    There are two separate commentaries available
    here. The first is with Director Brad Silbering. The
    second is with Silberling, Dustin Hoffman and Jake
    Gyllenhaal. I chose to listen to the latter, and
    I gotta tell you, it was quite a treat! You know how
    well the director has thought out his story process
    when Hoffman asks about the meaning of the film's
    opening, and the director doesn't hesitate with a
    thorough explanation to back it up. All three of
    these men seem to be having a grand time together,
    as Silberling really dives into the technical merits
    of the film. I think this may be Hoffman's very first
    commentary, but you wouldn't know it as he is
    constantly interjecting his humor and opinions of
    what is happening on screen while sharing a few
    memories of his experiences with films such as The
    Graduate
    and Midnight Cowboy. As director
    and writer of this film, Silberling was free of the
    usual politics of filmmaking, able to be as creative
    as he wanted to be. Dustin Hoffman was a huge
    contributor to shaping many of the scenes that take
    place, including his very own character. This is a
    top-notch commentary for a first-rate film.

    [​IMG]

    Moonlight Mile: A Journey to screen is a
    vehicle that doesn't hesitate to promote itself by
    throwing scrolling critic reviews across the screen
    within its starting moments. Fortunately, this
    22-minute featurette is quite interesting as it
    explores director Brad Silberling's dream and how
    he managed to bring Hoffman and Sarandon aboard --
    especially since Hoffman initially turned down the
    script. Included here are interviews with all the
    principal actors (Sarandon, Goffman, Hunter, Nast
    and Pompeo). The featurette also looks at the
    production design of the film and Silberling's effort
    to create a film that best projects a transitional
    70s era. We also learn about how a chamber orchestra
    was brought together with traditional rock and roll
    music to create a memorable soundtrack.

    There are 10 deleted scenes that begin with
    a very appropriate audio introduction from director
    Brad Silberling who talks a little about the editing
    process. Most of these scenes are very quick
    extensions of existing scenes, but I did like the
    fact that Bertie's relationship with the bartender
    was further explored, as well as a very quick moment
    where Ben (Hoffman) visits his competition. All of
    this ends with a nice little montage that the
    director put together with additional deleted material.

    Sorely missed here is the film's original theatrical
    trailer. For shame!

    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    With powerful performances by Jake Gyllenhall as well
    as veteran actors Susan Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman,
    Moonlight Mile is an honest film that takes a
    rather uneasy route, though a very rewarding one. It's
    very easy to take a look at these lives unfolding
    before us and see our own in the process.

    This is a must-see film, and I am proudly placing
    it to my list of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED titles.



    Release Date: March 11, 2003


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. Kevin Presley

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    I really liked the preview and thought this might be something I would like, and now your review has convinced me to get it.

    Thanks again Ron for a such a thorough and well worded review.

    P.S. What a shame that the Trailer is not on the disc. I LOVE THAT TRAILER!!!
     
  3. Chad A Wright

    Chad A Wright Supporting Actor

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    I will be picking it up too. I loved the trailer for this film, but my busy viewing schedule always kept me from seeing it.
     
  4. Aaron Cohen

    Aaron Cohen Second Unit

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    Ron, can we create some sort of petition to get studios to put the damn trailers on the discs? It's just getting to the point of pissing people off now. I know I'm annoyed. I'll be picking up the disc though, I loved the movie, but I"m sour about no trailer.
     
  5. Andy Kim

    Andy Kim Second Unit

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    With the songs they used in the trailer I could imagine why its not on the disc. It would've probably taken a monster effort to clear the rights and cost a penny of two.
     
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Aaron,

    There are so many damn petitions floating around
    these days that I'd rather not start another one.

    Thanks.
     
  7. Kevin Presley

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    Wouldn't they already have aquired the rights to use the song in the trailer? Why would they have to pay again?
     
  8. Andy Kim

    Andy Kim Second Unit

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    Kevin,
    That's what I would think too. But according to DVD producers (see the different transcripts on this site as the trailer question is asked often), they have to clear it again for use on DVD.
     
  9. Aaron Cohen

    Aaron Cohen Second Unit

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    No problem Ron. I definitely understand. Just now I also read the thread where it mentions that the studios need to get the rights for the songs used in the trailer before putting it on the dvd. I was under the impression that they could have had the trailer on there without having to do anything extra at all. Still, it's a bit annoying and one of the things that really got me into dvd back in 1998 (I remember telling people "Look, I can even watch the original trailer with DVD!!!") but with studios putting out better and better transfers on the main thing I am looking for when a buy a DVD, the movie, I can overlook the lack of a trailer.

    I'm glad some dvd's still come with it!
     
  10. JohnDMoore

    JohnDMoore Stunt Coordinator

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    I loved this movies in theaters and am glad to hear the extras are sufficient (though frustratingly lacking the trailer). Just a week away now... Thanks as usual Ron!
     
  11. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the heads-up Ron! I had nothing on my plate for next week's releases, but reading your review has motivated me to give this movie a chance. Urgh, and I thought the ol' wallet was going to get a break for a while...
     
  12. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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    Due to the subject matter and it's emotional nature, I'm not sure that this is a movie that belongs in my collection as I doubt I'd want to watch it over-and-over. I learned that lesson after purchasing "In The Bedroom" -- which was also an emotional, must-see film.

    I will, however, definitely rent it next Tuesday.
     
  13. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Sounds good - I'll put this one on the rental slate next week. [​IMG]
     
  14. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    When I first saw In The Bedroom I thought, "what an excellent movie. I don't think I'll ever want to see it again." I did buy it, though, and I have watched it a few times.

    I've been looking forward to finally seeing Moonlight Mile. I don't know how Jake Gyllenhaal gets all these great roles in great movies. Every single movie he has been in is a home run to me. Yes, I actually like Bubble boy.
     
  15. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

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    I haven't seen Moonlight Mile yet, but I just want to say kudos to Touchstone for releasing this disc widescreen only, and not caving in to consumer pressure by releasing seperate widescreen and pan&scan discs. Good job!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  16. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

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  17. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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    Does anyone know if the Canadian version is identical to the US version (disc & packaging)? I'd like to order it from a Canadian store, but I don't want to get stuck with a bilingual cover.
     
  18. Jodee

    Jodee Screenwriter

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    As I understand, there is a big difference between broadcast rights and commercial distribution rights. Meaning, you can purchase the rights to air a song in a trailer or a commercial for one price, but it costs much more money to get the rights to include it on a product you are physically selling to sonsumers.

    That is the reason why you see music in TV shows or movies on TV without any problems, but when it comes to a DVD release it is much more costly.
     
  19. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    just got done watching this.

    i must say it is the best movie i have seen released to dvd this year.

    i can't add too much to what ron already said.

    it's just a well acted and written movie all the way around.

    watch this movie. it's a must see.

    it's got quality and substance.
     
  20. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I finally made a blind purchase of Moonlight Mile. It is conventional enough that I would hope it had gotten more commercial success. The cast was excellent.


    I stumbled across a very strange glitch with the DVD. After watching it once, I thought I might listen to the cast commentary, but a few minutes into the film, decided to just watch it again normally before listening to a commentary. Since there is no menu anywhere to select the normal soundtrack and the DVD seems to lock out changing soundtracks directly, the only way I could get back to the normal soundtrack was by ejecting the DVD and putting it back in again. This can't be common.
     

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