4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011)

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Released 14-Nov-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-x 1 but not for this film
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 78:19
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Abel Ferrara
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Willem Dafoe
Shanyn Leigh
Natasha Lyonne
Paul Hipp
Dierdra McDowell
Triana Jackson
Trung Nguyen
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Because of the depletion of the ozone layer the world will end at 4:44 am the next day, New York time. Cisco (Willem Dafoe) and his current girlfriend, painter Skye (Shanyn Leigh), spend the afternoon and evening in their New York loft apartment; they make love, fight and make up, catch up with family and friends on Skype including Cisco’s daughter and his ex-wife, Skye paints, and the world ends.

     4:44 Last Day on Earth is writer / director Abel Ferrara’s take on the end of the world. For a director who made his reputation with violent cult favourites such as Driller Killer (1979) or the original Bad Lieutenant (1992) starring Harvey Keitel, 4:44 Last Day on Earth is remarkably meditative with not a lot happening. It seems, in fact, that at the end of the world people will go about their usual business, shaving, going to the gym or ordering take-away, and that the world will not end with chaos and apocalypse, but with a whimper. As such, 4:44 Last Day on Earth has received some indifferent reviews because little happens and those expecting action, explosions and violence will be solely disappointed.

     Instead 4:44 Last Day on Earth is a contemplation that covers a diverse range of ideas, much like the numerous TVs in Cisco’s apartment all tuned to different channels showing talking heads ranging from Al Gore, to Nelson Mandela and the Dali Lama, to news anchors and self-realisation guru’s. 4:44 Last Day on Earth is about a lot of things; faith, isolation and communication: mobile phones and Skype are the preferred methods, face to face interaction is limited. There is also footage interspersed through the film featuring religious iconography from the major faiths; there is footage of Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic ceremonies. All of this is essentially in the background as individuals make their peace with their God, their friends, their family and themselves. Some are resigned, some are angry at those who destroyed the planet, most just carry on as usual. For 4:44 Last Day on Earth is not about the big picture, about World Leaders, Religious Leaders or scientists, but about little people, individuals, coming to terms with Armageddon in whichever way they chose.

     4:44 Last Day on Earth is slow and I can understand why people expecting action at the end of the world would be disappointed. Willem Dafoe’s character is also not very sympathetic, so except for the Skye character there is no-one to care about. The film also feels disjointed, perhaps on purpose, just like the jumbled dialogue from many TVs, many voices; it also has a lot of ideas but they are mingled together and perhaps there are too many to come across successfully. But the film does build a good tension as the end looms, and there are no last minute reprieves! Despite its bad press I got more out of 4:44 Last Day on Earth than I had expected and I feel the film will reward those prepared to think and to give the film a chance.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     4:44 Last Day on Earth is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original theatrical ratio being 1.85:1. The film is 16x9 enhanced.

     The film was shot with RED digital cameras with what looked to me to be mostly natural light. As such, inside the apartment and when the film occasionally ventures outside in the dark, the detail was soft and the colours quite dull and muted. The exception was the canvasses being painted by Skye that evinced vibrant primary colours. Also due to the way the film was shot contrast and brightness varied, and shadow detail could be indistinct. A fair amount of the film is also diverse news footage, with the interlacing and artefacts that that brings. Otherwise, in the film proper, blacks were solid and artefacts limited to the occasional ghosting during movement.

     There are no subtitles available.

     The layer change was not noticeable on my equipment.

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

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. It was very front oriented with very little of note in the surrounds.

     Dialogue was occasionally a bit hard to understand, and the lack of subtitles didn’t help. The film also frequently had a number of audio streams happened at once; two or three TVs, telephone conversations, so that only snatches of dialogue were heard but this was obviously deliberate.

    There was very little information in the surrounds, as even most of the music came from the front. There was slight ambient sound, and occasional music, but the film could have been a 2.0 audio without any problems. Not that it really mattered; this is not a film of action, after all. The sub-woofer only added a little bass as the end of the world approached.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

     The score by Francis Kuipers was as diverse as the ideas in the film and flipped from Indian sitar, to rock and blues and included an end title song by Fats Domino.

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

Extras

     One trailer played on start-up: Beasts of the Southern Wild (1:49). It was the only extra, but cannot be selected from the menu which has only “play” and “scene selection” as options.

R4 vs R1

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

     The only review of 4.44 Last Day on Earth I can find is for the Blu-ray release in Region A US which has the theatrical trailer as the only extra. A Region 1 DVD exists, but details of extras are not available although it is unlikely to have anything more. There is no current listing for a Region 2 UK release. Buy local.

Summary

     4:44 Last Day on Earth has received some indifferent reviews because little happens, but the film will reward those prepared to think and to give the film a chance.

     The video and audio are average but get the job done. There were no extras relevant to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, November 12, 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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