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|Category||Comedy||Theatrical Trailer - 1.33:1, not
16x9, Dolby Digital 5.0 (1:03)
Interviews - Cast and Crew
Deleted Scenes (9)
|Running Time||109:02 minutes|
Warner Home Video
Natasha Gregson Wagner
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
So what exactly is the film about? Well that really is not an easy question to answer as there are a couple of layers to the film, and it is entirely possible to enjoy the film on any one of those layers. Mostly, this is about relationships.
Rob Gordon (John Cusack) is a former DJ and owner of Championship Vinyl, a record store in Chicago, which is also inhabited by his two employees - the elitist-snobbish and band wannabe Barry (Jack Black) and the introverted Dick (Todd Louiso) . This is not an overly successful business which actually mirrors another part of Rob's life - his relationships. Starting from the seventh grade, Rob has not been overly successful with women and thus when his latest with Laura (Iben Hjejle) breaks up, it is all too much and he needs to know the reason why he cannot seem to form a lasting relationship. And so we are taken on a voyage through his All Time Top 5 Break Ups. Starting with the aforementioned effort in seventh grade that lasted the sum total of six hours under the football bleachers, we follow the highlights of Rob's lowlights including number 3, the gorgeous Charlie (Catherine Zeta Jones) and number 4, the then recently spurned Sarah (Lili Taylor). Woven around this highlight reel is the story of his current bust up with Laura (number 5 on the list) which seems to be affecting him quite deeply, albeit not enough for a fling with budding recording artist Marie de Salle (Lisa Bonet). Slowly but surely, with some humorous interludes along the way, Rob comes to work out what the problem is that prevents him from maintaining a lasting relationship.
This is as much as you should know about the film as so much of this is so real that you have in all probability met some of these people and have suffered the same experiences. This is perhaps the distinguishing point about this film: this is much closer to the real of British films than the perfection of Hollywood. The screenplay was written in part by John Cusack and so it seems rather natural that he stars in the lead role. Whilst it might seem the easiest way of getting to star in films, in this case it is an apt choice, for he carries off the role of Rob both as a character and as the narrator of sorts very well indeed. There is a lot of quirkiness in the characters around him, and the roles have been filled very well indeed. The relatively unknown (at least in Hollywood) Danish actress Iben Hjejle does a good job as Laura and comes across in a really believable way. Jack Black and Todd Louiso have nailed to a tee their characters as the music aficionados: they are so like some people that I have known over the years who work in record stores it is not funny. Beyond the main characters, we get what amounts to a whole bunch of cameos. The most memorable would have to be Catherine Zeta-Jones for fairly obvious reasons. Well directed by Stephen Frears, this ends up being a thoroughly engaging film.
I did not quite know what to expect when going into this review but ended up enjoying the film enormously. It is easy to see why this drew some critical acclaim and this has in many ways the sort of hallmarks of a cult classic in the making: relatively low budget, engaging presentation style, quirky and believable characters, great soundtrack. If you saw this on its theatrical release and enjoyed it then you will certainly want to add this to the collection. If, like me, you missed it at the cinema, then do yourself the proverbial favour and at least cop a rental of this DVD - you may well be pleasantly surprised.
I know when I am going to have very little to say about a transfer when the only note made during the whole film was very short and sweet. Basically this is a flawless transfer. Nicely sharp, without being overly sharp, there is plenty of definition in the transfer such that certain scenes really stand out. Shadow detail is just about spot on throughout, even during those extended night-time rain scenes - usually a killer for any transfer. Clarity is exceptionally good throughout and there is no real indication of any grain at all during the film. There is no evidence of low level noise in the transfer. Damn good stuff indeed, a quality that frankly we do not see often enough in non-animated transfers from this source.
Whilst much of the film is shot during the night or in locations that do not exactly exude bright colours, this really is quite a vibrant looking transfer. Colours are very nicely rendered with a wonderfully natural look to them, and when you get the occasional bright colour it really does show how good the transfer is. The blacks could perhaps have been just a tad deeper in tone, but the overall feel of the transfer really is quite evocative of Chicago - at least as I remember it from my one visit to the city. Apart from the slight problem in the red opening credits of the film (why do people insist on red opening credits? They are a pain to get right and really easy to stuff up) there is no issue with oversaturation here at all. Colour bleed is similarly not an issue in the transfer.
There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts in the transfer were basically confined to some rather minor wobble at around 16:16, and that is about it in broad terms. The usual few film artefacts were present in the transfer but these really were quite inconsequential indeed.
This is an RSDL
formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 74:28.
This is right at a scene change and is barely noticeable and not in the
slightest bit disruptive to the flow of the film.
The dialogue, and more importantly the music, comes up very well in the transfer and there is no trouble understanding what is being said. There is no problem with audio sync in the transfer.
The original music comes from Howard Shore but to be honest it may as well have come from a crappy $1 bootleg CD from Asia for all the difference it made to the film. The music side of things is dominated by the popular music and there is plenty of stuff here to be of interest. The soundtrack album for this film must be a beauty.
Since this is a very heavily dialogue-driven film,
there is obviously not much in the way of stunning sound effects here.
Indeed about the only thing of note in the soundtrack is that the bass
channel has on occasions been mixed rather unnaturally into the overall
sound mix and is far too resonant. Thankfully this issue only raises its
ugly head a couple of times, and in the nightclub scenes I am willing to
accept it anyway. Apart from that issue, there is not much else wrong here.
There is nothing much happening out of the rear channels but the front
surrounds do a reasonable job of giving good presence to the dialogue.
Quite free from any distortions or drop outs, the soundtrack does the job
asked of it pretty well.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
14th May, 2001.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|