Prince Avalanche (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 15-Jan-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Audio Commentary-Director plus two minor production members.
Interviews-Cast-Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch (6:48)
Interviews-Crew-Director David Gordon Green (5:03)
Deleted Scenes-Emile Hirsch dances with broom (0:31)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Paul and Emile (6:56)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-From the Ashes (9:29)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Lance LeGault (4:41)
Theatrical Trailer-Feature (2:13)
Theatrical Trailer-Bernie : 1.78:1, 1080 p. (2:09)
Theatrical Trailer-Vehicle 19 : 1.78:1, 1080 p. (2:13)
Theatrical Trailer-Upside Down : 2.40:1, 1080 p. (2:17)
Theatrical Trailer-Save Your Legs : 2.40:1, 1080 p. (2:12)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 93:16
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Gordon Green
Studio
Distributor
The Match Factory
Madman Entertainment
Starring Paul Rudd
Emile Hirsch
Lance LeGault
Joyce Payne
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Title only at 5:29

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Plot Synopsis

  
   Congratulations to Madman for yet another excellent local release of a film which is out of the mainstream.
   David Gordon Green has found considerable success as a director, beginning with a handful of dramas (George Washington, All the Real Girls, Snowangels), which found him compared to Terrence Malick. In 2008 after the  thriller (Undertow) Green made an about face into the world of comedy with Pineapple Express and Your Highness. Big studio interference on his last three films influenced Green to embark on a low budget project in 2012, a project which was undertaken and filmed "in secret" to avoid any outside interference with this project. The film which resulted, Prince Avalanche, sees the re-establishment of Green as a director of artistic sensibilities, and is now made available to us via Madman., yet another independent feature released by this adventurous outlet.
    The idea for the film was proposed to Green by members of the band Explosions in the Sky, who had previously supplied the soundtrack for 2004's Friday Night Lights. The band was touring in Texas in 2011 in the wake of  the Bastrop County Complex fires, the most destructive wildfire in Texas history. Breaking out on September 4th 2011, the devastating outbreak struck areas of Bastrop County in Texas and burnt for fifty-five days before being extinguished on October 29th. The band was struck by the impact of the fire  and the devastated environment left in its wake, suggesting to Green that this would make a great setting for a film. Green had meanwhile had a dream, waking with the name "Prince Avalanche" in his head, which he thought would make a great title for a feature. So the director had a setting and a title and very little else.The theme of the plot Green took from a 2011 Icelandic movie, Either Way, a comedy of dislocation and isolation set in a landscape of ice and snow. Green's ravaged Texas landscape replaced the ice and snow, and, with approximately two-thirds of a script completed, shooting began in Banthrop State Park. With a minimal crew, principal photography was completed in an astonishing sixteen days.
    This film has the simplest of plots. Two men paint yellow lines down the middle of an isolated road. They toil, fight, bond and become friends against the backdrop of a demolished world on the verge of rebuilding. The film opens with a  prologue that establishes the fires as taking place in 1988, a decision made by Green for the sake of atmosphere - a lack of mobile phones for one thing - and costuming. In the wake of the fires two city dwellers have taken up summer jobs remarking the traffic lines on a country highway, the original markings having been wiped out by the fires. The older of the pair is Alvin (Paul Rudd), bespectacled and stolidly stoic. Alvin has pretensions about his appreciation of life. Thoreau influenced, he values solitude and self-sufficiency. His co-worker is his girlfriends' brother, the somewhat younger Lance (Emile Hirsch). Lance is shallow and hormonal, not too bright and only just tolerated by the more anxious Alvin. We follow the pair as they labour through the day, camp in the wild, and encounter the occasional individual in the desolate landscape. There is a truck driver (Lance Le Gault) and a woman sifting through the ashes for memories of what once was her home (Joyce Payne). By the end of the movie we have learnt much about Alvin and Lance, and, between the two linemarkers,  what began as antagonism has developed into a friendship with a growing affection at its core.
    This is a funny, simple, and delightfully real movie. The characters and the performances are everything, and the two leads are superb. Paul Rudd (The Object of My Affection / Anchorman : The Legend of Ron Burgundy), once again shows that there is more to him than the brilliant clown who so frequently brightens otherwise pedestrian comedies. Rudd's customary charming persona is nowhere to be seen in this short, pudgy, overalls wearing intellectual wannabe. It is a joy to see Rudd, so often zany,  here playing straight man to the usually dramatic and sensitive Hirsch. Do not be concerned, Rudd's comedy is always rooted in reality, and here he is still very, very funny. However, Rudd is a consummate performer, and it is a truth that the best actors are the best reactors. In this film, Rudd's best moments come in the painfully sensitive reactions to the homeless woman. As Lance, Emile Hirsch (The Mudge Boy / Into the Wild) adds another performance to his roster of memorable characters. Slightly overweight, and physically looking alarmingly like Jack Black,  Hirsch is hilarious. The interplay between these two fine actors is pure joy. In their very minor roles, the two supporting actors could not be more real, or come from more different backgrounds. Lance LeGault began his career as a stuntman in Elvis Presley's Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), and is here seen in his final film performance, having died in 2012. The lone woman sifting through the ashes was actually encountered by the director one day while shooting, and she was written into the film. Joyce Payne is that woman.
    I guess this has to be called a "little" film, but it is big in its theme, its heart and its execution. If you like Paul Rudd, or Emile Hirsch - or just like darned good movies - Prince Avalanche is an absolute must see - especially when the disc looks this good.
 

 

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Transfer Quality

Video

   Once again Magnolia, via Madman, have given an excellent transfer of a small, independent film.

   The film is presented at the aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original theatrical ratio having been 2.39:1.

    Blessed with the work of talented cameraman Tim Orr (Raising Victor Vargas), Prince Avalanche has stunning visuals. The charred environment is magnificently captured, with stunning compositions filling the widescreen frame. The image is crisp and sharp, with tremendous detail, while colours are subtle, with the charred earthtones broken by the emerging vegetation. There are splashes of primary colours, mainly the yellow line-markings, blue and red, seen in the markers the two workers sledgehammer into the ground, as well as in their clothing. Black levels are also excellent, with fine detail even in low light, as in the campfire scenes. Skin tones are a little on the orange side, but this seems to fit with the general palette chosen for the film. Visually this is a beautifully composed film and the high definition transfer delivers a totally immersive and attractive experience.

    There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

    There are two audio streams : English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Encoded at 48 kHz.
                                                  English with Commentary Option, PCM 2.0 Encoded at 48 kHz.
    This is a dialogue driven film, and that is delivered without any flaws. Basically front centred, every word is crystal clear and there are no sync problems. There is minor ambience from the surrounds, with the occasional effect, such as when a rare vehicle moves off screen or a bird is heard. Otherwise the surrounds are employed by the excellent score which really shines through in the film's quieter moments. The music from the band Explosions in the Sky, in collaboration with David Wingo (Mud), is like the film, low-key, sensitive and attractive. The sub-woofer added bass, subtle like the rest of the film.

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

Extras

   

Menu

    The simple menu screen begins with a lengthy close-up of the line marking, which develops into a montage of scenes from the film, with instrumental from the film as the soundtrack.
    The options offered are :

    Play
    Scenes : 
Selection gives a single strip overlay of twelve thumbnailed chapters.
    Extras :
  Interview with Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch (6:48)
                   Interview with Director David Gordon Green (5:03)
                   Deleted Scene (0:31)
                   Interview : Paul and Emile (6:56)
                   Behind the Scenes : From the Ashes (9:29)
                                                  Lance LeGault (4:41)
                   Theatrical Trailer (2:13)
                   Madman Propaganda (9:26) : Four theatrical trailers.
     Setup :   English DTS-HD 5.1
                   English Commentary : PCM 2.0
  

Extras :
Apart from the promotional trailers of other Madman releases,  the extras we get are comprised of a set of interviews, presented in high definition comparable to the quality of the film, but with the colour a little subdued. The interview and behind-the-scenes footage is 1.78:1, while the clips from the feature are at the ratio of 2.40:1.


Commentary :
In what is quite a departure, two lowly members of the production team join the director for this feature length commentary. Talent driver Paul Logan and production assistant Hugo Garza, give some very minor insights into the production. For the most part this is mildly interesting, though it does falter after the first hour before picking up for the final section. Quite enjoyable for those who enjoy the movie.

Interview with Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch (6:48) :
Seated in a hallway near a rather noisy elevator, the two actors are very relaxed and jovial, particularly Paul Rudd. This is very looose and relaxed, though it covers ground from the other interviews on the disc.

Interview with the Director, David Gordon Green (5:03) :
The director tells us about the genesis of the production.

Deleted Scene : Do the Dance (0:31) :
Barely a scene, we have thirty seconds of Emile Hirsch doing a jig on the highway, partnered by a broom. This is presented 2.40:1.

Behind the Scenes : Paul and Emile (6:56) :
Both actors are interviewed at what looks like the premiere, with on-set footage as well.

Behind the Scenes : From the Ashes (9:29) :
This featurette follows the production from initial inspiration, to finding the material, casting and production. Contributions from the director, the two stars and producers.

Behind the Scenes : Lance LeGault (4:41) :
The film is dedicated to the actor, sadly now deceased. This gives a little insight into a lengthy and interesting career.

Theatrical Trailer (2:13) :
A very good trailer presented in quality comparable to that of the feature.

Madman Propaganda : Theatrical Trailers (9:26) :
Copyright Warning
(0:35)
Bernie
:
1080p and 1.78:1 (2:09)
Vehicle 19 : 1080p and 1.78:1 (2:13)
Upside Down : 1080p and 2.40:1 (2:17)
Save Your Legs! : 1080p and 2.49:1 (2:12).




 

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.

     The local release misses out on :
            * English and Spanish Subtitles
            * Featurette : AXS TV (3:32) : This is really just another promotional feature edited together from the trailer and the inteviews which we already have.
     Buy the excellent local release and support Madman. in their releases of exceptional alternative fare.

Summary

   For me, movie heaven. My favourite actor, Paul Rudd, plus the talented Emile Hirsch in what is basically a two-hander. The situation and characters are real, the dialogue sharp and witty and the direction invisible. The photography of a devastated Texas landscape, returning to life after devastating fires, is perfection. This is probably the simplest film you will see all year, but you might also think it is one of the best. A beautiful transfer, with a set of light weight but amiable interviews. Loved it.

   

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Saturday, March 15, 2014
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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