HTF REVIEW: "The Good Girl" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED RENTAL) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 3, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    The Good Girl




    Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
    Year: 2002
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 94 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    and Full Screen (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: English and Spanish



    It's her last best chance... is
    she going to take it?

    I'm going to cut right to the chase and say that
    The Good Girl is perhaps one of the best
    movies I have seen this year -- unfortunately, it
    suffers as being one of Fox's worst transfers when
    you consider their flawless track record on current
    releases. All of this to be explained in a moment....
    [​IMG]
    Justine (Jennifer Aniston) is a convenient store
    clerk at the local Retail Rodeo. She spends her
    days hating her job and the people who work with
    her. The nights she spends hating her loser,
    pot-smoking husband, Phil (John C. Reilly) who
    usually mopes on the couch getting high with his
    friend, Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson). It's a life that
    seems to be an endless road to nowhere.
    [​IMG]
    One day Justine notices a new young man working
    at the convenience store. She notices he hates the
    world just as much as she does. Calling himself
    Holden Worther (Jake Gyllenhaal), he starts a
    friendship with Justine and the two very quickly
    become lovers and begin an obsessive affair. It's
    only a matter of time, however, before someone
    discovers Justine's infidelity.
    [​IMG]
    This is one of the most incredible films I have
    had the opportunity to watch this year. It's an
    honest portrait of human misery. Watching this
    film you can't help but be mesmerized by Jennifer
    Aniston, an actress who has basically been known
    as Rachel from Friends, an association that
    has made it difficult for the actress to branch out
    into anything else. The Good Girl changes
    every perception you have of Aniston and her ability
    to act. As her eyes constantly gaze into a daydream
    world we know she's someone who has seen the world
    but finds the world doesn't see her.
    How is the transfer?
    I don't know how it happened, but this is one of
    the worst transfers of a recent film that I have
    seen come from Fox. I don't know how this film
    looked theatrically, but here on DVD, picture looks
    very dull, soft, and often hazy. Nothing is overly
    detailed or sharp. Dark scenes are a little too
    dark, and often come with a considerable amount of
    added noise to them. I can accept all of this as
    the film probably looked this way theatrically.
    [​IMG]
    What is most disturbing here is what can best be
    described as black patches that dominate dark areas
    of the picture. You see it mostly in the actors
    hair. I'm sure there is a technical term as to what
    is happening here, but it's certainly a first for me.
    To best describe what I saw, I have included a
    screenshot above. The screenshot is too small to
    properly show this problem, but look at the very
    left side of John Reilly's curly hair. You'll see
    the darkened patch I speak of. The black levels
    are so distorted throughout the film that a German
    Shepherd who appears in one scene ends up looking
    like an X-RAY or film negative.
    [​IMG]
    The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is pleasant to listen
    to for the fact that it effectively recreates the
    empty, eerie environment of the film. The sound
    of wind blows briskly through the rear channels
    as does the Retail Rodeo's PA system. The film
    benefits greatly from Stephen Thomas Cavit's
    original score that is evenly distributed across
    all the channels. I didn't notice any prominent
    LFE activity here.
    Special Features
    [​IMG]&nbsp[​IMG]
    It's sort of odd how this entire DVD is organized.
    First off, there's the single layer double sided
    disc that sports a widescreen and full frame version.
    I would rather have seen both versions reside on
    a multi-layer disc -- especially for the fact that
    the supplements are divided between both sides.
    There are two commentaries that accompany
    this film. First is the full-length audio commentary
    by director Miguel Artera and writer Mike White.
    Listening to many parts of this commentary was not
    a very inspirational experience. While I greatly
    admire the writing and direction of this film, I
    can't say the same thing about listening to both of
    these guys talk. Sounding like comedian Steven
    Wright's twin brothers, these guys mumble through
    much of the film giving us only tidbits of interesting
    information. Sure, it was great to hear how Jennifer
    Aniston was to work with or how Jake Gyllenhaal
    destroyed furniture during his audition, but the
    manner in which these guys get this information
    across to you is so low-key that you sort of lose
    interest fast. It's obvious that these gentlemen
    knew their characters well, often describing how
    they chose to emphasize a particular feeling or
    moment. The film's sex scene, for example is best
    described as an "affair of the mind" as much as it
    is physical. We also learn that there was a lot
    of pressure put on the actors as the film was shot
    out of sequence. The first day of shooting was for
    one of the film's most intensfied scenes and it really
    put Aniston and Gyllenhaal under the gun. If this
    commentary had been better prepared and delivered it
    would have been more satisfying a listen.
    Do take a listen to the screen specific commentary
    by Jennifer Aniston. Scattered across this disc are
    9 different segments of commentary that the actress
    gives touching upon her falling in love with the script
    after only reading five pages, to being able to work
    a director that gave her a lot of freedom to act, to
    doing her very first love scene ever. The comments
    are a bit brief, but Jennifer delivers them with much
    enthusiasm and energy.
    Well worth watching are nine deleted scenes
    that include some additional interaction between
    Justine and Holden, emphasizing his drunken
    desperation. One particular scene I enjoyed watching
    happens at a restaurant where we not only learn a
    little more about Bubba's girlfriend, Floberta, but
    the fact that Holden has now become a stalker. All
    of the clips are relatively short, playing a total
    of just over 8 minutes.
    A 30-second alternate ending montage consists
    of narrative by Jennifer Aniston and doesn't seem to
    play as well as the film's chosen ending.
    The rest of the supplements reside on Side B...
    [​IMG]
    Was it really necessary to turn the disc over just
    for the sake of watching the 2-minute gag reel?
    Was there a purpose for including this sole supplement
    feature by itself? By the time you waste your time,
    you won't find the montage of goofed lines worth
    the effort.
    Final Thoughts
    [​IMG]
    The Good Girl is a funny and well enacted
    black comedy. It's a film about ordinary people
    living in suburban hell trying to cope within the
    quiet desparation of their lives. The characters
    are remarkable to watch and there's not one single
    performance here that doesn't work.
    I am really at odds at how to promote this DVD.
    By far, this is one film that I really want to
    recommend as it truly is an extraodinary film that
    no-one should miss. On the other hand, I can't
    place this as a Highly Recommended purchase
    for the mere fact that there are problems in the
    transfer.
    The ending compromise was to label this DVD as
    a Highly Recommended Rental. Do not miss
    the chance to watch this DVD. If you love it as
    much as I did, you'll probably purchase it despite
    its flawed transfer.
    Release Date: January 7, 2003
     
  2. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    Nice review, Ron. I certainly agree with your assessment of the film and especially of Jennifer Aniston's performance.

    I saw the film theatrically and it definitely had a low-budget look. It is a soft, dark picture. The problems with black areas do sound like transfer issues, however.
     
  3. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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  4. Bob McLaughlin

    Bob McLaughlin Screenwriter

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    Nice to see the guy who played Donnie Darko is getting some well-deserved work! Shame about the transfer though. I just had to click on the "Highly Recommended RENTAL"...that made me very curious.
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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  6. Adam Gregorich

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    The Highly Recommended RENTAL threw me for a loop as well. I'll have to check it out. I really liked her work in Office Space, I am usually reluctant to watch movies that the friends cast is in, but am occasionally surprised (Whole 9 Yards).
     
  7. Jedrek

    Jedrek Stunt Coordinator

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    Office Space is the funniest movie I've ever seen - man I laughed my a$$ off! [​IMG]
    This movie looks pretty good, I'll probably rent it.
     
  8. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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    Due to the increase in loud/rude audiences, I usually head out to theaters for only the "must-see blockbusters" anymore so I'll be seeing this for the first time on DVD. I've heard such excellent reviews of Jennifer Aniston's role in this film that I'll probably buy this one "sight unseen". Do you think her work substantiates talk of an Oscar nomination?

    Pity about the transfer. Is it possible that...
    a) you received a bad copy?
    b) it was actually filmed that way on purpose to give a depressing "aura" to it?
    c) someone at Fox screwed up?
     
  9. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  10. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    By the way, the film itself comes highly recommended. It is a very good film with some solid performances.

    ~Edwin
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    The film is awesome!

    It should be bought sight unseen if you know
    in advance that there are some issues with the
    transfer.

    Did I get a bad copy? To me, a bad copy usually
    means a disc that will not play. The black patches
    that appear in darkened areas look like a transfer
    issue.

    But you know what? I always look for a second
    opinion. You should never take mine alone. I look
    forward to seeing one of the DVDFILE guys review
    this disc.
     
  12. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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    I never saw this in theaters, but I did see a clip on broadcast tv when it was playing in norway, and from that clip alone the movie looked kinda dark and murky.
     
  13. Ruth_F

    Ruth_F Stunt Coordinator

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    I guess I'll be the lone voice of dispute on the film. I'd rather be beat over the head with a bat than forced to watch jake g's forced performance and listen to Jennifer's forced accent. her performance was ok, i also enjoyed o'reily --- who is shaping up to be an interesting character actor.

    for me by the time i got to the end of the story i just didn't care anymore.
     
  14. Martin Fontaine

    Martin Fontaine Supporting Actor

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    I actually was tempted to go see that in theaters but never got around to it. To me this sounds a bit like the same kind of movie as Kissing Jessica Stein (Which is so far and most likely going to stay that way, My #1 favorite movie of 2002)

    Maybe a Blind Purchase if that week is not too crowded DVD-Wise... Or at worst a rental.

    Transfer-wise, it can't be worst than Mortal Kombat can it?
     
  15. Ron Kaye

    Ron Kaye Agent

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    Aniston is, plain and simple, a sitcom actress.

    Any competent actress could have done more with the material than what she did in this film.

    Decent flick, but Aniston's no movie star.
     
  16. Robert Monzo

    Robert Monzo Agent

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    Sorry Paulie but I couldn't disagree with you more. I thought she was wonderful in this film. Also, of the six Friends' actors, I think Jennifer has risen above the other five. I think she can and will make it as a big screen actress. This film was a step in the right direction.

    Robert
     
  17. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i just watched this and i also saw exactly what ron was talking about with all the black patches. blacks almost seemed to glow or appear blue.
    yes my tv was properly calibrated by one of the pros that soemtimes comes in to this forum so it wasnt my tv.

    the movie itself was a movie that should be seen by anyone that is a movie fan.
    it was like watching a small indy film that very few people will have herard of and you will be surpreised how much you like at after it was over.

    i think aniston was very subdued in her role but that was the way the part was supposed to be.

    much like bruce willis in UNBREAKABLE.

    it's not "a feel good movie" or an overly depressing story but it was interesting to follow these characters through the days that went by.
     
  18. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I meant to write the reviewer over at DVDFILE
    who reviewed this film.

    Nowhere in that review did he mention the black
    patches all over this film.

    How could that have been missed? I am glad
    someone else here confirmed it.
     
  19. Michael Lee

    Michael Lee Supporting Actor

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    There is no doubt that there is something wrong with this DVD's video. I saw the "blue patches" in many dark scenes..especially in people's hair. I found parts of the film to be unusually soft at times also.

    I also agree that Jennifer Aniston displayed her acting chops quite nicely here. I found the rest of the film lacking a bit though. Reilly was humorous as the perpetually stoned painter, but the character development didn't seem to ever gel. There were definitely some funny moments throughout the film..and Ron described it perfectly as a black comedy.

    I think most casual movie-watchers will be quite surprised when they pick up this title expecting to see some light romantic-comedy fluff.
     
  20. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i would like to have seen more of the other girl who worked at the store. you know the one who cursed at one of the customers and made the very funny announcements.

    she was avery interesting character.
     

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