Words, The (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 6-Feb-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Interviews-Cast & Crew-(19:02) 7 stars, 2 directors, 2 producers 1080p.
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 102:31
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Brian Klugman
Lee Sternthal
Studio
Distributor
Becker Films
Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Dennis Quaid
Bradley Cooper
Jeremy Irons
Ben Barnes
Zoe Saldana
Olivia Wilde
Nora Arnezeder
Michael McKean
John Hannah
J.K. Simmons
Ron Rifkin
Zeliko Ivaneki
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Marcelo Zarvos


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Credits at end of film.

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

Plot Synopsis

     I have always been fascinated by a book or a movie that takes as its theme the actual creation of that art. I have also always enjoyed the story-within-a-story conceit, and these two elements are combined in The Words, a 2012 drama that stars Bradley Cooper. This film was made before Silver Linings Playbook and the current recognition of Bradley Cooper as a talented actor and not just a pretty face. In this film there is further proof of his ability as he works within an excellent ensemble of actors telling a moving and multi-layered story that is involved and stimulating without ever being obscure or losing its focus.

     This is a film about writing on one level, and on another about the choices we make in real life, just as the author makes choices for the characters created in a work of fiction. As the film wisely states, the problem is not in making the choices, but in living with the consequences of those choices.

     This is the story of three writers. The first, in real life, is Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid), a successful modern day novelist who, at the film's opening, is getting dressed to go to a fund-raising reading of his new novel, The Words, to be delivered to a trendy gallery gathering of well-heeled sophisticates. His novel is about a struggling writer Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) who cannot find a publisher for his admired, but rejected, first novel. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his lover Dora (Zoe Saldana) and the pair marry and go off to Paris for their honeymoon. In an antique shop Dora finds and buys an old valise for Rory, which he takes back to the US unopened. Back home he explores the valise and finds an old manuscript, which he reads. The manuscript is called The Window Tears, and concerns a young American soldier (Ben Barnes) who falls in love with a French girl (Nora Arnezeder) right at the end of the war. After the war ends he returns to Paris, marries the girl, and they soon have a daughter. Without spoiling too much, the young man and the French girl break up and the distraught young man writes the story of his heartbreak. It is his manuscript which fifty years later, in Clay's novel, is found by Rory in the valise. Rory passes the old manuscript off as his own work, and he becomes a literary sensation. Clay's novel, which we saw him begin to read at the beginning of the film, had opened with the description of an old man (Jeremy Irons) standing in the rain watching Rory and Dora get into a cab, and it is this old man that ties the stories, the novels and the characters together. If this all sounds too involved, that's my fault. On screen the unravelling of the puzzle of the film makes for one of the most enthralling movie experiences I have had in a long time. The times changes between the three strands are never confusing, the plot is always simple to follow and the final resolution is satisfying, disturbing and thought provoking.

     The performances cannot be faulted - but for Jeremy Irons' American accent. That aside, he gives one of his most understated performances for a long time. Bradley Cooper is excellent, sensitively portraying a flawed man trying to come to terms with his inherent limitations. Dennis Quaid is seen in a return to the excellent actor he was all those years ago in Breaking Away and Ben Barnes (Easy Virtue) continues to grow as a screen presence. The girls are also fine, with Zoe Saldana (Avatar) much more than fine, looking magnificent and delivering her best performance to date. Nora Arnezeder (Safe House) combines with Ben Barnes to make a very touching pair of young lovers. Also good is Olivia Wilde (In Time) as a young, groupie admirer of Clay's. There are other known faces and names who add depth and subtlety to the drama, including John Hannah, Michael McKean, Ron Rifkin, J.K.Simmons and Zeliko Ivanek. This first directorial effort, from the young writers (Tron Legacy), Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, is accomplished, and sure. The camerawork from Antonio Calvache (Little Children) is simple and uncluttered, with, and this is very rare for me, excellent minimal use of a hand-held camera. Technically I could not fault this beautiful film. The visual and emotional statements made by the apartments of the three writers; the struggling young couple in 1940s Paris, the growing success of Rory and Dora in New York, and the pristine, sterile chic of Clay's apartment in Manhattan. The different time periods, locations and socio-economic distinctions are beautifully handled, with subtle changes in colour and excellent costumes and decor. (Very cleverly, Canadian locations were used throughout the film - although sharper eyes have spotted Canadian postal trucks in the background.) The finishing touch is provided by the broodingly beautiful music of Marcelo Zarvos (The Beaver) melodically supporting the emotions on screen.

     There is much, much more to this film than this review suggests. This is an unusual, richly rewarding film that you have to personally experience. And it has to be listened to. As I write I have the film replaying, and I keep hearing lines that make me stop, hearing subtleties that escaped me the first time. The scene between the sophisticated groupie and Clay, in his apartment, crates still unpacked, is brilliant. The Words is ultimately about the distinction between life and fiction, and this summation might make it sound like a cold, intellectual exercise. It is far from that. The emotion and tension in the final scene is heart pounding. Plus that wonderful music.

     This is a film I will revisit, like a favourite book. I loved it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     This fine film is given an excellent Blu-ray transfer.

     The aspect ratio is 1.85:1, the original aspect ratio.

     This beautiful, thoughtful and pensive film has striking images from the first shots of Dennis Quaid reflected in the glass top of his desk as he dresses for his reading. Mirrors and all reflecting surfaces are a sustained symbol in the film, just as a writer reflects his view of life. The images are sharp and clear, with excellent detail throughout, in both bright and darker scenes. The first shot of Quaid's audience is very striking in its detail. The many close-ups are very detailed with generally fine skin tones, although there is the occasional scene in which the browns and oranges dominate. Colours are basically subdued, with dramatic use of primary colours in some scenes. In one of the first scenes note Zoe Saldana's red shawl in the otherwise colourless interior of the cab.

     The transfer is artefact free.

     There are English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired which were sampled and found to be excellent.

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

Audio

     This is a dialogue film so don't expect a dynamic sound experience.

     Dialogue is centred front, with no discernible movement. Every syllable is crystal clear, with no sync problems. The surrounds are utilised when the opportunity arises, primarily for ambience, as in the gallery scenes, restaurants, parks and other outdoor scenes. The music does, however, get beautiful reproduction, through all channels. The original music by Marcelo Zarvos (The Beaver) has a distinctly classical feel, string heavy, and ranges from chamber like interludes to surging moments of symphonic passion. This is the most beautifully soundtrack I have heard for quite a while. The bass is a standout, frequently driving the emotion in the music supporting the drama on the screen.

     The Descriptive Narration for the Vision Impaired is delivered by a young female voice with an English accent.

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

Extras

     The only extras here are nineteen minutes of interviews.

Menu

     The menu is presented over a montage of scenes from the film combined with pages of the original manuscript of the book in the film. The main theme from the film provides the audio.

Cast Interviews

     Here we get nineteen talking head interviews, with most of the questions presented as text before the response. The questions are more intelligent than the norm, reflecting the nature of the film itself. It's a pity there wasn't more, particularly about the trials of taking eleven years for the project to come to fruition. Nevertheless, it is better to have this than nothing at all. Presented 1080p, the close-ups of the contributors all look very fine indeed. Those interviewed are: Bradley Cooper (3:13); Jeremy Irons (2:17); Zoe Saldana (3:00); Denis Quaid (1:20); Olivia Wilde (2:28); Ben Barnes (2:16); Nora Arnezeder (0:21); Brian Klugman (2:27); Lee Sternthal (0:55); Tatiana Kelly and Jim Young (0:45), two of the producers.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

     I have had difficulty getting precise information as to what is on the U.S. release. The back of their slick says the disc contains:

     If there are substantial making-of documentaries on the U.S. release I would certainly be inclined to go for that version.

Summary

     One of the best of the year. A provocative, moving film, made with art and intelligence. Technically expert, with an outstanding score and an excellent cast. A very nice high-definition transfer, with about twenty minutes of interviews. A must see - if you like to think.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, March 06, 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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