DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Notebook

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Jan 26, 2005.

Tags:
  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    7,511
    Likes Received:
    243
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    KY
    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott
    [​IMG]

    The Notebook


    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]/[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Studio: New Line
    Year: 2004
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 124 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1), P&S
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Retail Price: $27.98




    An elderly woman (Gena Rowlands) has lost most of her memory due to Alzheimer’s and is currently living in a nursing home where she is visited by another member (James Garner) who spends the afternoons reading to her. The book he reads her deals with a teenage couple (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams) from opposite sides of the tracks who fall in love one summer. She’s a rich girl and he’s a poor boy and of course this doesn’t sit well with her snobbish mother (Joan Allen) who pretty much ends the relationship. The young people are deeply in love but due to various circumstances, the two go years without seeing one another until fate steps into play.

    Being a major film buff isn’t always the easiest thing in the world because quite often you find yourself watching the same thing over and over again. There’s always an interesting debate whether current films can hold a candle to the older classics and I’m somewhat split in this conversation. On one hand there really isn’t anything new that can be done with films today. No matter what you watch, there’s a very good chance a film, of some type, has been made before it. The Notebook really isn’t anything new and it really doesn’t tell anything we haven’t seen before but it really doesn’t matter because in that tiresome debate, it really doesn’t matter when a film was made. What matters is what the filmmakers do with that story and in the case of this film director Nick Cassavetes has created a masterpiece of innocence, love and fate. As a film buff, I’ve seen countless love stories but I’m in no way hesitant to call The Notebook one of the most touching and romantic films ever made.

    I think the key success to the film is the word innocence, which runs throughout the film and it’s the one scene that anyone could connect to. We’ve all felt innocence in our life whether it be from our first love to our first sexual experience. Both of those issues are dealt with in the film and the director brings so much energy and passion to both segments that it’s never too hard to connect to the characters on screen. There’s no doubt this film is meant to be a tearjerker, a term which is overused in today’s cinema full of bad films but it’s the highest compliment here because the film is full of innocence that we can put to rest any ideas of seeing this stuff before and the viewer can simply go along with the ride, witnessing and falling in love for the first time just like the two characters.

    A lot of love stories today seem to rely on actions more than words. Quite often we get love stories that are rush jobs and by saying that I’m referring to films that go from point A to B without any motivations. Throughout the film there are several innocents lost, sex for one and losing your heart for another. Quit often these big moments come and go too quickly but the screenplay is smart enough to realize that words can speak a lot more than any actions. Half way through the first sex scene the two stop and the girls asks the guy what he’s thinking at that moment. How many films would stop a sex scene so that a honest question could be asked? How many times do we get to know how the characters are feeling or even thinking? In all honesty, the problem I have with most current films is that it appears characters are never thinking. Opening the mind with thought can do a lot of good and that rings true here because these characters thoughts are a strong part of their emotions, which is what the film is about.

    The performances are what really brings the film up to another level. The older couple is played by James Garner and Gena Rowlands, both giving superb performances, which were unfortunately overlooked at the recent Oscar announcements. Garner is a very confident actor and he always comes across as looking so natural on the screen. It appears his acting talents have been overlooked for quite some time because we see him appearing so calm and collective on screen that it appears he’s making it look too easy. Rowlands has always been given her credit by playing hard edged characters so it’s charming to see her in a more quiet role. This was my first time seeing Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams but both really caught my eye. The two of them, again, bring a certain innocence to the screen that it’s not hard to follow their story and feel for them in each and every scene.

    The one problem I did have with the film are the final ten minutes, which I felt were a bit too ugly for a film like this. I guess I’m going back on my earlier word were realistic was a good thing but I do feel some of this ugliness could have been cut back but this might have taken away from the final shot, which is one of the most beautiful and heartwarming scenes I can remember. The Notebook is your typical love story but every single moment rises to a different level, which is really what makes this film give the true meaning to a tearjerker. The poetic beauty and heartwarming fantasy is something we all look for in our own lives and to see it played out so perfectly on the screen is something very special in this day and age.


    VIDEO---The film is shown widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The new year start off with another wonderful transfer from New Line who keep getting better and better each passing year. The film opens up with a beautiful shot of the sun going down and the vivid red/orange colors really leap off the screen. The detail is stunningly gorgeous in this early scenes and the wonderful detail carries throughout the film. Most of the film takes place in a bright, summer setting and the colors really come to life. There are some darker moments in the film as well, including one in a rainstorm but these too are full of detail and the clarity level is very nice. Flesh tones look accurate throughout and the black levels are strong. The print does feature a small bit of edge enhancement, although if you’re viewing this on a screen under fifty inches then you probably won’t notice it. A P&S version is included on the flip side of the disc.

    AUDIO---We get a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track, which captures the mood of the film perfectly. For the most part this is a dialogue driven film so the center speaker is the busiest throughout the film. The dialogue is crystal clear and up front throughout the film without any sort of distortion. The Surrounds are mainly used for various sound effects and they are pretty good for what they are. The rainstorm contains some wonderful effects as do the early scene inside the carnival. The music score also packs a very nice punch and really gives a lot of life to the film. The rears are never in use but this really wasn’t a problem. Overall you won’t be using this track to show of your speaker system but the track does do the film justice.

    EXTRAS---Up first is an audio commentary with the director, which contains some wonderful information on the making of the film. The director is constantly talking throughout the track and there’s so much information here that we probably could have benefited from another track with him. The track starts off with the director talking about how he got connected with the film and we learn that it was originally Reece Witherspoon who wanted to do the film. Other big names such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise and Ashley Judd were thought for the film. The director also goes into detail about production and how all the actors were hired. Pretty much everything involving the film is covered so fans will certainly want to check the track out. The second commentary is with author Nicolas Sparks and isn’t nearly as good. The guy has a very low voice and he speaks rather softly but nothing too interesting is discussed. The only highlight is hearing him talk about the real people who influenced the book. He also mentions a few things that were changed from the book.

    Up next are three featurettes with the first being John Cassavetes: All in the Family, which runs just over eleven minutes and of course takes a look at the director. We get an interview with him as he talks about his career and we also get interviews with the cast members discussing how he works. There’s also talk about his legendary father and how his films have had an influence on the son. Nicholas Sparks: A Story Well Told runs just over six minutes and features an interview with Sparks who talks about writing the novel. He talks about having to work a full time job while writing it and this conversation goes up to the making of the film. Southern Exposure: Locating “The Notebook” runs just over eleven minutes and takes a look at the location of the film as well as capturing the 1940’s on film. All three featurettes are very entertaining and give an extra look at the making of the film, which should entertain fans of the movie.

    Another small section is found in Casting, which is broken into two sections. The first section takes a look at the casting of Ryan and Rachel and features the director talking about why they were picked. The second part of this section is the audition tape of Rachel, which is fun to watch. I really wish more studios would include these tapes because it’s always interesting to see what an actor had to do to get the part. A look at the soundtrack and a theatrical trailer closes out this section.

    Up next are ten deleted scenes and two alternate scenes:

    Allie Confronts Noah in Bathtub (1:11)
    Alternate 1st Love Scene (6:19)
    Fin Consoles a Drunken Noah (2:34)
    No Letters (0:23)
    New Couple (0:51)
    Dad Visits Noah on Roof (2:31)
    Allie’s Return to Seabrook (2:13)
    Catching & Preparing Dinner (2:09)
    Duke Gives House to Kids (1:17)
    Allie Tries to Phone Noah (0:36)
    Alternate Second Love Scene (4:36)
    Story of the Notebook (3:19)


    Each scene is shown in 2.35:1 anamorphic and features a Dolby 5.1 track as well as an optional commentary with the editor. I think this is the first time I’ve ever said this but I feel each one of these scenes were good enough to keep in the movie and from listening to the commentary track it appears most were cut due to the running time. The most interesting scenes are the two alternate love scenes, which had to be trimmed down to avoid an R-rating. Again, I think these two scenes work a lot better, especially the first one due to some more passionate touching, which wasn’t allowed in a PG-13 film.

    OVERALL---As for the film itself, I couldn’t possibly give it a stronger recommendation for men or women. This is certainly a tearjerker but it actually works very nicely. I really think most people no matter of their age or sex with fall in love with this film and I really hope more people will give it a shot. New Line delivers a remarkable DVD, which is going to get my consideration for one of the best of the year. The large amount of extras are very nice especially all of the deleted scenes, which I wouldn’t mind seeing edited back into the film one day.

    If you’re a fan of the film then you’ll be very happy with the disc. If you haven’t seen the movie and only plan on making one blind buy this year then I’d certainly recommend doing it with this film.


    Release Date: February 8th, 2004
     
  2. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2003
    Messages:
    4,285
    Likes Received:
    905
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Real Name:
    Steve
    Thanks for the great review Michael!

    My wife and I saw this in the theater and I remember sitting in the seat for several minutes after the movie ended because I was completely overwhelmed by the emotion of the movie. I don't normally go for movies like this, but this was so powerfully directed and acted that one couldn't help being enveloped by this.

    Even though this film is considered a "tearjerker", it is not (in my opinion) a depressing movie. On the whole, it was inspirational and showed the beauty of true love.

    I had hoped that Garner would garner (sorry) a Best Supporting Actor nomination for this movie. He definitely deserved it.

    Steve



    Steve
     
  3. Jeremy Stockwell

    Jeremy Stockwell Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2001
    Messages:
    608
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks Michael,

    My wife and I had considered seeing this theatrically, but never got around to it. I was thinking about renting it for a Valentine's Day movie night, but after reading your review, I'll probably just pick up a copy on the 8th and make it one of her presents.

    JKS
     
  4. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 1998
    Messages:
    8,332
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    Awesome.

    I read the book and I bought the dvd without seeing the film. Thanks for the indepth review. It seems that I just may have made a good purchase. I don't have the dvd with me here now but does the box indicate a DD 5.1 ex soundtrack?
     
  5. Joseph S

    Joseph S Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 1999
    Messages:
    2,862
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the review can't wait to see this again.
     
  6. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Messages:
    7,511
    Likes Received:
    243
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    KY
    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott
    Thanks for the kind words.

    I don't think I've ever tried to "sell" a DVD more in my life. I usually don't talk much about the stuff I review while I'm at work but I think I visited every single person today telling them to pick this up. [​IMG] It's been a day later and I don't mean to sound melodramatic but the film really touched me. I can't get the thing out of my mind. I was having a pretty bad month at work but yesterday I was all smiles due to how the movie made me feel. I'm still smiling just thinking about the film.

    STEVE---I was hesitant to call this a tearjerker because that term has been worn down over the years thanks to so many bad films in the genre. With this film, I use the word to the highest level and I hope I'm not building up too much hype but I really felt like this was one of the greatest love stories I had ever seen.



    I got a test disc so there wasn't any artwork. The press release stated EX, which seems to be becoming the norm for New Line. The last few releases from them have all been flagged with EX and from a couple other press releases I got, it seems their upcoming titles will be as well.
     
  7. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,342
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My wife absolutely loved this movie. Unfortunately I haven't seen it yet but we'll be picking it up next week and I'm looking forward to it based on everyone's comments.

    Thanks for the great review Michael.
     
  8. R. Kay

    R. Kay Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 11, 1999
    Messages:
    308
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Saw this movie on a plane. Very moving and I couldnt imagine anyone not shedding a tear at the end of the film.

    Check Ryan Gosling in 'The Believer' as well. Totally different kind of movie (to say the least), but his performance in that was INCREDIBLE!

    He's the one to watch for big things in the future.
     
  9. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 1999
    Messages:
    1,145
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Anyone who has a lost love will definitely find this movie incredible...and those who don't have a lost love, just may make one up........!

    It's not often that I will watch a movie again the following day but as soon as my 8 year old finishes his cartoons, I intend to watch Notebook again.......yeah, he has his own tv but he sometimes "takes over" my big screen.......
     
  10. Mikel_Cooperman

    Mikel_Cooperman Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2001
    Messages:
    4,183
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Mikey
    I just saw it last night and although I thought the ending was a bit much too (I mean, Puhleeze)I do reccomend it. Good performances by the leads that propeled it up a level.
     
  11. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 1999
    Messages:
    8,097
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Monroe, LA
    Real Name:
    Tim Glover
    Just saw this film the other night. Really enjoyed it and a good dvd too. [​IMG]
     
  12. Bryan Ri

    Bryan Ri Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Messages:
    1,689
    Likes Received:
    34
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Location:
    NYC Area
    Real Name:
    Bryan
    Great movie, great release, great review.
     
  13. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 1999
    Messages:
    8,097
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Monroe, LA
    Real Name:
    Tim Glover
    Watched this again last night. :b There are some sappy moments, but not many and I am growing very fond of this film. Some have had problems with the ending. I loved it, and felt it was the right way to end the film. [​IMG]
     
  14. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2000
    Messages:
    694
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My girlfriends parents died from dementia. Do you think this film will be TOO much for her?
     
  15. ace peterson

    ace peterson Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2001
    Messages:
    340
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Has anyone experienced disc errors with this movie? Some places in the movie do not read correctly and become jumbled. It seems to be in the same places each time...
     

Share This Page