Hope Springs (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 21-Dec-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio-Live action montage
Featurette-Making Of-(7:22) An Expert's Guide to Everlasting Passion
Featurette-Making Of-(11:39) An Intimate look at the Making of ...
Featurette-(6:38) The Passionate Performer
Featurette-(3:52) Inside the Perfect Marriage
Featurette-(3:58) The Doctor Is In
Outtakes-(17:37) Alternate Takes
Outtakes-(5:05) Gag Reel
Audio Commentary-Feature length by director David Frankel
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 99:51
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Frankel
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Meryl Streep
Tommy Lee Jones
Steve Carell
Jean Smart
Elisabeth Shue
Mimi Rogers
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $49.95 Music Theodore Shapiro


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Credits begin two and a half mins in.

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

Plot Synopsis

†††† There was a day when a movie that was a conceptual disaster rarely occurred. Maybe the old studio system prevented that. Wise and experienced producers and studio heads kept control of what each studio churned out. Maybe that now dead system killed much innovative creativity, but that studio factory system also produced movies that were insightful, provocative and, importantly, entertaining. I guess today we have to be grateful that a movie like Hope Springs is made at all, a movie that stars two senior age actors and looks at a disintegrated marriage and the couple's attempts to once again make contact with one another. It's just a pity that the filmmakers saw a need to mix scenes of poignant honesty and humour with pretty standard and obvious sex jokes and situations.

†††† A senior couple, financially comfortable, have been married for thirty-one years. They have adult children, a lovely home, but their marriage has become an empty daily routine. Sex has died and the wife, Kay (Meryl Streep) is dissatisfied. The husband, Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones), seems prepared to accept the state of their marriage, with TV and his favourite golf programs filling his evenings at home. Kay enrols the pair in a five day sex seminar to be held in Maine. Arnold initially refuses to go, but at the last minute boards the plane and seats himself beside his smugly smirking wife. The seminar, conducted in a picturesque post-card pretty town - Great Hope Springs - is conducted by another smirker, Dr Feld (Steve Carrell). The pair follow the at times startling program set out by the therapist and the end of the movie is what you would expect. The film swings from pathos, to broad farce - the wife with a banana on a toilet - and is pretty awful. The stars seem to be in two different movies, with Meryl Streep playing mainly poignant comedy, while Tommy Lee Jones looks like he's in a dark tragedy. It is surely indicative that the film's trailer dwells on all the "funny bits", ignoring the more serious aspects of the film. In fact, it is difficult to become concerned over the state of the marriage between Kay and Arnold, and this is because not for one moment do we ever believe that this pair on screen is an actual couple. Jones is flatly miscast, and Meryl Streep is at her worst - harking back to the bad old days when she earned great praise - including an Oscar for Sophie's Choice in which she delivered an outright impersonation of consecutive best-actress Oscar winner Louise Rainer. Meryl Streep has greatly improved as an actress in her mature years, freeing herself of mannerisms and superficial artifice, though I have not yet brought myself to see the Margaret Thatcher movie - but in Hope Springs she kept reminding me of Shirley Booth and Giulietta Masina. It's OK to be influenced by those who have gone before, but when I am sitting watching Miss Streepís performance and find myself thinking : "Shirley Booth would have been great in this", something's wrong. I once heard Streep in an interview voluntarily admit that she copied people. My opinion of her soared after hearing her speak so honestly of her craft, but that did not help me while watching her in this unconvincing performance. "Ordinary" is something that Meryl Streep does not do well. Everywoman she ain't.

†††† The worst scenes in the film are the actual therapy sessions, with Steve Carell, so wrongly cast, staring into the camera and breaking into naughty smirks far too often. There is also a supporting cast that looks impressive in the credits, but they are scarcely seen. Elisabeth Shue, Jean Smart and Mimi Rogers only have fleeting appearances. In fact, if you've seen the trailer, that is all you get of Mimi Rogers.

†††† There are so few truly adult films coming from the United States these days that a person feels churlish for adversely criticising a film such as this. For once the writing is not at fault, for Vanessa Taylor ( Game of Thrones), in her first screenplay, has written dialogue that is intelligent and incisive, though some of her situations - the banana, the bookshop, the trip to the cinema - are unconvincing and contrived purely for humorous effect. It seems that the director did not have a vision of the subject matter that could simultaneously embrace the comedic and the potentially tragic. As a result his stars flounder and the film loses any emotional connection with its audience, and that's a pity. Nevertheless it all looks very fine indeed, and I'm sure there are many who will find the banana hysterical.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† The film is blessed with a gorgeous unblemished transfer.

†††† Presented at the ratio of 2.40:1, the 1080p image is a continuous flow of sparkling images. There is a soft glow to it all, but that does not mean that there is a loss of any detail. Interiors, clothing, locations all look magnificent, with incredible detail in every frame, and that widescreen frame is used most attractively. The scenes of the couple walking the picturesque streets of the small town are picture perfect. In close-ups every crease and furrow on the aging actors' faces is sharp and clear, and skin tones are excellent. Colours are vibrant, but are never garish, and detail in darker scenes is exemplary. This is a beautiful looking film, without a trace of any artefacts.

†††† There are subtitles available in English for the Hearing Impaired, utilising white only and centred at the foot of the screen.

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

Audio

†††† This disc contains three audio streams: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 2.0 with the commentary option and the Narration for the Vision Impaired option.

†††† The dialogue is front and centred, and presented perfectly. There are no sync problems.

†††† There is little that is dynamic within the film, but when the opportunity arises there is ample surround and ambient activity.

†††† My only complaint regarding the audio has more to do with the choice of popular music presented throughout the action, and presented very loudly. The sound is excellent, and utilises the surrounds exceptionally well, but the music is far too prominent, and at times at odds with what is happening on screen. The original score by Theodore Shapiro is unexceptional and completely overwhelmed by the catalogue music.

†††† The Descriptive Narration for the Vision Impaired is delivered by the customary male voice.

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

Extras

†††† The extras are quite substantial and are nicely presented, all in HD.

Menu

†††† The menu is presented over a screen combining two portraits of Streep and Jones, framing a montage of scenes from the film, accompanied by music from the soundtrack.

Commentary: Director David Frankel

†††† The most interesting thing about this commentary is that director David Frankel recorded it in his hotel room in the wee small hours, immediately after the film's premiere. The content is actually quite interesting with discussion of changes that occurred in the journey from script to screen, the change in title - originally Great Hope Springs, the name of the town - the story and its themes, the process of filming, his stars, the locale and the integration of music in the film. Low keyed, but if you enjoyed the film it is a pleasant listen.

Featurette: An Expert's Guide to Everlasting Passion (7:22)

†††† In this we are given a talking head psychotherapist / author giving learned views on the state of a marriage as depicted in the movie.

Featurette: An Intimate Look at the Making of Hope Springs (11:39)

†††† This behind-the-scenes 1080p look at the film is comprised of interview footage, at 1.78:1, and clips from the film at 2.40:1.Those interviewed include the screenwriter, the director, the producer, Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell. As you would expect everyone has the highest opinion of the film and speaks of the lead actress in total awe. It was interesting to note that Steve Carell worked only ten days to make the film, and that Meryl Streep barely got to know her leading man. Yet everyone seems to agree that there is 'brilliant electricity" between the two. The featurette concludes with a look at the town used for the location - and reveals why the trip to the movies depicted in the film comes off as totally unconvincing.

Featurette: The Passionate Performer (6:38)

†††† Again presented at 1080p this is a hymn to Meryl Streep by the various talking heads associated with the movie, plus a very young film critic who calls Miss Streep "probably the greatest film actress who has ever lived". I guess we non-believers have to be grateful for "probably".

Featurette: Inside the Perfect Movie Marriage : Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones (3:52)

†††† The two leads discuss their on screen relationship. Presented 1080p, and a mixture of ratios between talking heads and film clips.

Featurette: The Doctor Is In : Steve Carell on Doctor Feld (3:58)

†††† Steve Carell discusses his scenes in the film (1.78:1) and illustrates with clips from the film (2.40:1), all in 1080p.

Exploring the |Scene: Alternate Takes (17:37)

†††† Director David Frankel gives a brief introduction explaining that we are going to see complete scenes, as in the final film, with alternate takes inserted where they occur - heralded by clapper board identification.

†††† Scenes included are - all in HD :

Gag Reel (5:05)

†††† As you would expect.

Start-up Trailers

†††† LOL (2:17), presented 2.40:1 and 1080p, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2:15), presented 2.40:1 and 1080p.

R4 vs R1

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

††† The local release misses out on French and Spanish subtitles, and French Audio HD 5.1

Summary

†††† This is such a disappointing movie, which gets by as reasonable entertainment, helped greatly by the fact that it is given such a beautiful transfer. The mature Meryl Streep is a great actress, but a great actress does not of herself make a great film, or even a good one. In this case the director does not seem to know what kind of movie he is making, and some of the ensuing choices are pretty deplorable. Still, Meryl is usually good to watch, while Tommy Lee looks very uncomfortable about it all. It all ends up as being rather mindlessly enjoyable, but lovely to look at, with a good batch of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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