Two Jacks (2012)

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Released 4-Dec-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Trailer-30 + Accent Entertainment releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 87:49 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bernard Rose
Studio
Distributor
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Danny Huston
Dave Pressler
Sienna Miller
Richard Portnow
Jacqueline Bisset
Rosie Fellner
Jack Huston
Scarlett Kapella
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Iryna Orlova
Anatoliy Mamalyga
Billy Morrison


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 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Some decades ago legendary film director, gambler and seducer Jack Hussar (Danny Huston) arrives broke in LA. Waiting alone at the airport, Jack is recognised by would be producer Brad (Dave Pressler). Brad idolises Jack, and Jack takes advantage of him, permitting Brad to pick up his bills and allowing Brad to believe that he could produce Jack’s next film. At a Hollywood party to meet financiers, Jack sees Brad’s beautiful sister Diana (Sienna Miller), and they are soon in bed together. Leaving her, and “borrowing” her car, Jack and Brad visit producer and financier Lorenzo (Richard Portnow). Lorenzo and Jack have made films before, although none had made any money, and in a game of poker Jack wins and Lorenzo agrees to finance Jack’s next “African” picture. Jack departs for Africa, leaving Brad and Diana behind.

     Approximately twenty five years later, Jack has died. Brad now lives with Diana (played in maturity by Jacqueline Bisset) and her daughter Lilly (Rosie Fellner). When they learn that Jack’s son Jack Hussar Jr (Jack Huston) is coming to LA to direct his first feature film for Lorenzo, Lily contrives to meet him and to invite him home, which revives Diana’s memories of his father. Jack is interested in Lily and promises her the leading role in his film but when he meets with Lorenzo the producer is keen on casting his current girlfriend Laura (Scarlett Kapella) in the part. Being his father’s son, Jack is soon having sex with the willing Laura, but a brush with the police and the resultant media notoriety undoes everyone’s plans.

     Two Jacks is directed / screen written / photographed / edited by Bernard Rose. It is based on the short story Two Hussars by Leo Tolstoy although the events have been moved from 19th century Russia to 20th century Hollywood. Rose, whose credits include Candyman (1992) and Immortal Beloved (1994) is no stranger to Tolstoy fiction, having directed the Sophie Marceau starring Anna Karenina in 1997. His Two Jacks is really about a son trying to live up to the deeds of his legendary maverick film director father in a Hollywood that had changed. This is shown clearly in the parallel scenes where each Jack, drunk and driving without a licence, is picked up by a policemen. In the Hollywood of Jack Sr, he is sent on his way, but Jack Jr is arrested and his arrest noticed by the media.

     Two Jacks is divided into two distinct halves. The first half of the film about Jack Sr has had most of the colour removed; it is not black and white as much as a light sepia, although some colours do intrude. In contrast, the second half with Jack Jr has rich, vibrant colours and a more electric sound track. As a conceit this contrasting colour palate works reasonably well but in other ways the film does not feel professional. For a start the dialogue is all improvised, and feels it with a number of trite exchanges – real life may be like that but the dialogue feels decidedly chunky. As well, the camera moves about a fair bit almost in an improvised manner with some jerky edits and frames out of focus. This is not always the case; for example when Jack Sr talks to Diana on the lawn at the party the sequence is beautifully framed and shot.

     Overall however Two Jacks is a comedy / drama that is not particularly funny or amusing and not very dramatic. It does however have an underlying sadness for the lost lives and failed dreams of practically everyone in the film which works well, plus an excellent performance from Danny Huston who makes his Jack Sr a man worn down by the world, charming, somewhat despicable, yet sympathetic, pretty much at the same time. It is no stretch to say that his portrayal of a Hollywood maverick director is partially based upon his famous father John Huston.

     Two Jacks has its moments, including a good performance by Danny Huston, but it never really takes off and the improvised dialogue is distracting.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Two Jacks is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     As noted, Two Jacks has been manipulated in the first half of the film to remove most of the colour. This tends to enhance the sharpness in these sequences and the detail on the clothes, such as Diana’s spangled dress, is wonderful. In the second half of the film the colours are bright and natural. Skin tones, brightness and contrast varies due to the manipulation, but this is deliberate. Blacks and shadow detail were fine.

     The print shows occasional motion blur and some light grain. There are no marks or other obvious artefacts.

     There are no subtitles.

     A print that looks as the filmmakers intended.

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 track at 448 Kbps.

     The film’s improvised dialogue is sometimes quite soft or delivered indistinctly so it can be difficult to hear; subtitles would have been a help. The sound stage is also very front oriented with very little in the rears except a little music, occasional weather effects such as rain and the occasional passing car. However, this is not a film that has a need for anything else, as it is primarily a dialogue driven film. The sub-woofer gave some support to the music and thunder but was otherwise not used, nor needed.

     The original music by Iryna Orlova, Anatoliy Mamalyga, supported by additional music by Billy Morrison, was in two distinct sections. The Jack Sr section sounded Russian gypsy, while the Jack Jr section was predominately electronic. Both were fine and appropriate.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The audio track did what was required.

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

Extras

Trailers

     On start-up there were trailers for The List, At Preston Castle, In the Shadow, The Conspiracy and Static that collectively run 10:38. A total of 30 trailers of Accent Film Entertainment releases can be selected from the menu - some, but not all, of the start-up trailers are repeated- and we do get a trailer for Two Jacks included. There is a “play all” option.

Behind the Scenes (11:34)

     Pretty much an EPK, with Bernard Rose, Julia Verdin (producer) and the principal actors talking about adapting Tolstoy to the Hollywood setting, the story, intentions and Rose’s working methods, including improvised dialogue.

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region 1 US release, listed as 2 Jacks will not be available until February 2014. There is no Region 2 UK version listed at present. Region 4 gets in first!

Summary

     Two Jacks is director / screenwriter / cinematographer / editor Bernard Rose’s take on a Leo Tolstoy short story. It has its moments but the improvised dialogue is distracting and the story probably made more sense in the setting of 19th century Russia.

     The video and audio are fine. The extras are a raft of trailers and a lightweight making of, but at least there is one extra relevant to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, January 04, 2014
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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