HTF REVIEW: "One Hour Photo" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jan 21, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    One Hour Photo

    Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
    Year: 2002
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 96 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English and Spanish

    There's nothing more dangerous than
    a familiar face.


    Ever wonder what happens after you drop your
    film off at the local photo processing shop?
    Well here's a sad thought. Meet Sy Parrish, a
    shy, introverted clerk at photo development center.
    Sy has absolutely no life. He works, eats fast
    food, and at the end of the day goes home to his
    pet gerbil in a cage.


    Sy's loneliness has turned into an obsession with
    a local family, the Yorkins, who have become his
    very best customers, dropping off their rolls of
    film just about every week. On film, Parrish has
    watched this family very closely. Through pictures,
    he has known Will (Michael Vartan) and Nina (Connie
    Nielson) and their son Jake (Dylan Smith) before he
    was born all the way to his 9th birthday party. After
    all these years he feels part of the family, saving
    copies of their pictures for himself. While Sy often
    dreams of becoming part of the family, the Yorkins
    only think of him as "Sy, the photo guy."

    Sy's grip on reality begins to collapse when a
    customer brings in a roll of film that suggests that
    Will has been unfaithful to Nina. Just the idea
    that this model family's relationship may be falling
    apart is enough to send Sy into a breakdown that
    makes him go farther into his madness.


    One Hour Photo is anything but a typical
    Hollywood film, and Robin Williams is at the top
    of his form playing the most untypical of characters.
    His performance is utterly believable, and
    surprisingly, his is practically nonexistent
    throughout the film, quietly exposing his character
    as the tension slowly builds around him. Much
    credit has to be given to director Mark Romanek
    whose camera angles are nicely used, giving off
    dark overtones while Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth
    acts an artist using brilliant color schemes and
    contrast in his environments to show how different
    and alienated from society Sy is.

    The only major problem with One Hour Photo
    is that I fear that most audiences will be disappointed
    by a film that remains unnerving but never overly
    scary. The film continually builds tension from
    start to end, but its payoff may not be satisfying
    for most. Still, you can't help but marvel this
    film's character study and Robin William's chilling

    How is the transfer?

    Just picture perfect! Images are very sharp and
    detailed. This is a film that relies heavily on
    both color and audio, and Fox has done a first-rate
    job with a transfer that brings out the best in both.
    Color is the most important element in this film,
    as Sy's emotions are depicted through pure whites
    and evil red depictions. The mostly white sequences
    of the movie (the film Lab & SavMart store), is
    represented brilliantly here looking pure and clean.
    Then there's the multitude of colors of product
    that line the SavMart aisles, vividly standing out
    atop the rows of white shelving. All of these images
    add up to a transfer that is top-rate.


    This film greatly depends on this sensational 5.1
    Dolby Digital mix to deliver some real creepy chills,
    thanks to Johnny Klimak's haunting piano and harp
    chorus that is often sad and quietly emotional,
    yet equally chilling at other times. Overall sound
    direction is excellent. William's narration in
    the center channel is so clear that you would think
    he was in the room with you. The film's score wraps
    itself around the entire listening area in a very
    spookish manner, with abnormally deep LFE bass that
    pounds away to the undertones of the soundtrack,
    adding real depth to the screen action.

    Special Features


    I gotta stop and praise the person(s) that put
    together the MAIN MENU of this DVD. Designed like
    a ticket off of a photo envelope, you place an "X"
    in the corresponding box next to your menu choice.
    Even though it's the simplest of menus, it's one
    of the most clever I have seen.

    A full-length commentary with Robin Williams
    and Mark Romanek is quite good, and surprisingly,
    low-key. Williams' seems more sedated than lively,
    but adds some humorous bits here and there. We learn
    from the get go that the film's opening police
    interrogation scene was never placed at the beginning
    of the film. However, after a screening at Sundance,
    it was suggested that a slight restructuring might
    be in order. Williams is very pleased that he was
    able to play Sy Parrish, a character that was vastly
    different from his own, and receive such critical
    acclaim in the process. You can tell how proud Robin
    is of this film. Of course, Romanek gives us all the
    lowdown on the lighting techniques and color schemes
    used in the film, as well as foley work that was
    done to get the squeak from Williams' shoes just
    right. There's even a lot of subtle tributes to
    photographers scattered throughout the film (such
    as names that get called out over the store's PA
    system). Robin and Mark really dive into some of
    the oddities of the character, dissecting many of
    the character's behavioral patterns. We learn that
    Sy is quite good with objects (such as machinery and
    objects) but not very good with people, treating
    them as snapshots. One of the most interesting
    portions of this commentary is where Robin talks
    about doing the film's hotel scene with nude actors
    who must have felt very vulnerable. It was a very
    uncomfortable situation for everyone. This commentary
    is quite an enjoyable and informative listen.

    The Making of featurette is an original
    Cinemax cable-tv production that doesn't manage
    to rise up above the normal promotional fare.
    Writer/Director Mark Romanek's idea to do this
    film wsa based on his strange and utter fascination
    with the large WalMart type convenience stores.
    He felt the most interesting presence in these stores
    was the photo shop guy. Don't let Robin William's
    calm misdemeanor fool yuh -- he was an absolute
    animal between takes, and the only real highlight
    of watching this promotional piece is watching the
    actor improvise between takes.
    (length: approx. 13 minutes)


    The Charlie Rose Interview with Robin Williams
    and Mark Romanek is very free spirited, thanks to
    the comic actor who manages to go off the deep end
    a few times -- especially with his impersonations
    of Ted Kaczynski. Romanek talks about the things
    that helped shape his craft as a movie director, as
    Williams staunchly says "no" to ever wanting to sit
    in a director's chair. There's a lot of discussion
    about the many images in this film and how it has
    affected audiences. It was great of the studio to
    include this segment in its entirety, as it truly
    serves as a wonderfully intimate interview piece.
    (length: approx. 35 minutes)

    Anatomy of a Scene is another promotional
    vehicle courtesy of The Sundance Channel.
    It's actually more interesting to watch than the
    former featurette for the fact that it gives a
    more in-depth look at the film's creative process.
    There's more contribution here from the people
    involved like Producer Stan Wlodokoswki, Production
    Designer Tom Foden and Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth
    who really give us an overview of the film's elaborate
    production design, color schemes and camera angles.
    Nice to see a featurette here worth watching!
    (length: approx. 28 minutes)

    In addition to the film's original theatrical
    and 3 TV Spots, there is a trailer
    for the upcoming film, The Dancer Upstairs

    May I take this opportunity to warn people that
    there are two different versions of this (FULLFRAME
    and WIDESCREEN) being released. Be certain you
    pick up the WIDESCREEN version. The box is not
    distinctly marked across the front and you'll
    only see the proper markings if you flip the cover
    over on its backside.

    Final Thoughts


    One Hour Photo is a brilliant, almost
    picture-perfect psychological thriller about
    crimes from a person you'd least expect. I feel
    that this film deserves a rental at the very
    least for the fact that I am afraid those who
    see it may find it a bit too quiet. On the
    other hand, I am betting that there will be
    many of you who will be in complete awe of
    Williams' chilling performance -- the very best
    of his long movie career.

    Release Date: February 18, 2003

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

    Joshua_Y Screenwriter

    Dec 19, 2002
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    Sounds like a great disc for a brilliant film. Cant wait!
  3. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

    Oct 22, 2001
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    Simply cannot wait for this. I'd have taken it barebones, but a commentary and some extras are just too sweet. But why are they bothering with a pan-and-scan version? Seems awfully weird. For the casual Williams fan?
  4. TomWoodward

    TomWoodward Second Unit

    Aug 10, 2002
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    Hmmm, I think this must be a love or hate movie because I absolutely hated it! I didn't think the film really knew what to do with itself, what it was trying to say, and what type of film it wanted to be. Didn't think there was much tension involved either because the beginning of the movie makes it clear where he ends up which immediately kills loads of possibilities. I also thought Robin Williams overacted loads in it, he's much better in Insomnia. Also, was the soundtrack really wobbly and distorted or was it just the cack cinema I went to? Anyone agree or am I all on my own here? [​IMG]
  5. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

    Oct 16, 2001
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    I will picking this up as soon as it hits the was one of the best films I saw this past year.
    Why no deleted scenes? I knew there were at least a couple of scenes trimmed that people who had seen early cuts claimed should have been left in. Oh well, the features look great aside from that. What's with the cover lacking any distinctive marking to indicate whether it is hack n'slash or widescreen? Even one of those retarded "NO BLACK BARS" stickers would make me happy. C'mon Fox, you are better than that! It's a majot pet peeve of mine and can only do harm to OAR vs P&S sales statistics.
  6. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Dec 1, 1999
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    Disney World and Universal Florida
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
  7. JonBoriss

    JonBoriss Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 10, 2002
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    I thought this movie was fantastic, definite purchase.
  8. Aryn Leroux

    Aryn Leroux Screenwriter

    Aug 19, 2001
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    I also loved this and had it ranked #5 on my top 10 list of 2002. Can't Wait thanks for the review!
  9. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

    Apr 8, 1999
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    Real Name:
    David Scarpa
    I wish they would release AFTER HOURS.
  10. Dean Kousoulas

    Dean Kousoulas Second Unit

    Jul 15, 2002
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    I don't know about you guys, but I felt Robin Williams gave one of the best performances of 2002 as "Sly The Photo Guy"

  11. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

    Feb 12, 2002
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    Not having seen this film yet, I was on this fence about renting this one, but thanks to yet-another excellent & thorough review, I can't wait to buy this one!!!
    I agree with you, Ron...that menu is terrific!

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I've found it MUCH more pleasureable to skip the theatrical run and watch a movie "first-run" in the comfort of my own home theater. I can escape rude audience behavior, sink into a really comfortable recliner, enjoy hot & fresh popcorn with an affordable beverage of choice, AND kick my shoes off without fear of gum on my socks. Ironically, I've found it much cheaper to buy the DVD than to pay for a movie/popcorn/drinks at a theater.
  12. Dominik Droscher

    Dominik Droscher Supporting Actor

    Sep 11, 2000
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  13. Tom_Bechet

    Tom_Bechet Second Unit

    May 20, 2002
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    Brilliant film and I'm happy to see that the DVD is up to it.
    maybe there could have been a few more extras but, hey the film is so great that it won't matter that much.
    Strange isn't it I wanted to pick up "the good girl" but after Fox's more the desirable transfer I'll wait for the UKR2.
    so how come they excelled themselves again here?

    February 17 is the release date right??
  14. TomWoodward

    TomWoodward Second Unit

    Aug 10, 2002
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    Hmmm, I guess I really am on my own then! Does noone dislike it at all?! Sounds like a good disc though, I'd be interested to hear what Williams has to say...maybe I'll rent it.
  15. Aryn Leroux

    Aryn Leroux Screenwriter

    Aug 19, 2001
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    Tom_Bechet: close enough it comes out on the 18th and you probably meant to type that anyway but just incase i thought id let ya know. [​IMG]
  16. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

    Sep 14, 2001
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    I missed this when it hit theaters but i'm looking forward to picking this up unseen.
  17. Tom_Bechet

    Tom_Bechet Second Unit

    May 20, 2002
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  18. rhett

    rhett Supporting Actor

    May 11, 2001
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    I loved One Hour Photo. It is criminal that Williams is not getting more recognition for his performance.
  19. Kolja V

    Kolja V Auditioning

    Jan 22, 2003
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    After all these great comments I think I should go and see the movie after all.
    I was afraid Williams wouldnt be as strong as he usually is due to the fact its a role unlike any he ever played before.
  20. LennyP

    LennyP Supporting Actor

    Jun 20, 2002
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    The movie was over hyped but I still enjoyed it, despite a somewhat disappointing ending. Love that menu design, thanks for the screenshots!
    Will have to get this DVD as well.

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