X (2011)

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Released 23-May-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Audio Commentary-Jon Hewitt, Belinda McClory and Lizzette Atkins
Featurette-Making Of
Isolated Musical Score
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 86:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jon Hewitt
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Viva Bianca
Hanna Mangan Lawrence
Peter Docker
Stephen Phillips
Eamon Farren
Belinda McClory
Darren Moss
Freya Tingley
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music David Franzke
Byron Joel Scullin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"a jaded callgirl …
a fledgling hooker …
their longest night."

     Holly (Viva Bianca) is a high class call-girl in Kings Cross, Sydney; it is her 30th birthday and she is about to retire and move to Paris to start a new life. On her birthday she has dinner and sex with her friend / customer Michael Ligurian (Peter Docker), a corrupt cop with a family in the suburbs who wants to change his life and disappear with Holly. Shay (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) is a 17 year old run-away from Queensland who arrives broke in the Cross.

     As her last assignment Holly has been hired by Willie (Hazem Shammas) for a threesome in a hotel. However, Holly’s usual female threesome partner is injured and Holly cannot find a replacement. Desperate, she encounters Shay on the street and Shay, needing the money, agrees to participate. But things go badly wrong when Willie is murdered by psychopathic crooked cop Bennett (Stephen Phillips) in a drug deal. Pursued by Bennett through the Cross during a single night of terror, the two women must decide how they can escape death and just who can they turn to for help. A bad choice can be fatal.

     X is a taut, tense thriller by writer / director Jon Hewitt (Acolytes (2008), Redball(1999)). Filmed on the neon lit streets, clubs and brothels of Kings Cross it has a rawness that feels authentic, the violence when it occurs is intense, quick and quite brutal and there is also a good deal of full frontal male and female nudity in the film. X is also well served by its two main female leads, Viva Bianca and Hanna Mangan Lawrence, the latter being especially good as the young, vulnerable runaway out of her depth in the seedy world of the Cross. If the males do not come off as well, it is because, as written, the characters played by Peter Docker and Stephen Phillips are one dimensional and predictable. Made on a miniscule budget, X says nothing new, and the plotting is predictable as well, but at just over 80 minutes the film manages the escalating tension and terror very well. It is well worth seeking out.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     X is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     Filmed on the run and on location in Kings Cross on a low budget, this was never going to be a sharp, glossy film, but the neon flares, street lights and softness give the film a look of reality that works well. Colours are generally muted, except in a club sequence, blacks and shadow detail acceptable. Brightness and contrast, as well as skin tones, do vary, but this I think was the intention and again adds to the feeling of authenticity. Other than a touch of occasional ghosting on blinds during movement (see 35:19, 37:34) and shimmer in the closing titles, the print was clean and artefact free.

     English captions are available for the hard of hearing. They are in a yellow font and seem to follow the words well, adding occasional extra information.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps, plus a commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

     This is a front oriented track with only some ambient sound and music in the surrounds. Dialogue is clean, centred and easy to understand. The sub-woofer is used sparingly for the occasional thump and adding bass to the music.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

     The score by David Franzke and Byron Joel Scullin was quite unusual, using sounds and instruments to disorient the viewer which perfectly suits the realistic look and feel of the visuals.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary: director Jon Hewitt, writer/actress Belinda McClory and producer Lizzette Atkins

     Hewitt, McClory and Atkins are recorded together and provide an excellent commentary, non-stop, informative and interesting. They cover both technical details and the shoot on the streets of Kings Cross, including locations, guerrilla low budget filmmaking, the cast, and a range of other things. The only issue is that they have troubles with their microphones – the voice sound levels fluctuate and sometimes the mike is too close leading to distortions. A good commentary and never unlistenable.

The Making of X (36:06)

     A good look at making a low budget Australian film. Items discussed include the intentions of the filmmakers, casting, editing, the women in main roles, stunts and shooting on location in Kings Cross. Includes some film and behind the scenes footage, but mostly interviews with cast and crew that are informative and interesting. Featured in interviews are cast Viva Bianca, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Peter Docker, Billie Rose Pritchard, Rowan Witt and Joshua Payne and crew Jon Hewitt (director), Belinda McCory (writer), Cindy Clarkson (editor), Lizzette Atkins (producer), Grant Page (stunt co-ordinator) and Michelle Sotheren (production designer).

Original Soundtrack with Portrait Gallery (52:06)

     The electronic soundtrack and parts of the sound design (done by the same two people, David Franzke and Byron Joel Scullin) plays over automatically advancing still images from the film. They are in film order so this is a way to watch the film in 50 minutes!

Teaser Trailer (1:57)

Theatrical Trailer (1:32)

Madman Propaganda

     Trailers for other films from Madman: Acolytes (1:33), Redball (2:02), Here I Am (1:16) and Snowtown (2:09).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There are Region 1 US NTSC and Region 2 UK releases (in the UK the film is titled X: Night of Vengeance but it is difficult to get details of specifications and extras. I doubt that they could be any better than our version. Buy local.

Summary

     Filmed on the streets and locations of Kings Cross, X says nothing new. But with a terrific performance from Hanna Mangan Lawrence, at just over 80 minutes this is a tense, taut low budget Australian thriller that is well worth seeking out.

     The video and audio are not anything special but are perfectly fine for the film. The extras are genuine and interesting, giving a good insight into low budget Australian filmmaking.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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