Blue Caprice (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 19-Mar-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama Trailer-x 6 for other Eagle releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 93:09
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alexandre Moors
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Isaiah Washington
Tequan Richmond
Tim Blake Nelson
Joey Lauren Adams
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Sarah Neufeld
Colin Stetson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In the autumn of 2002 over the course of three weeks ten people were killed in the US states of Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC by seemingly random sniper attacks. The Blu-ray cover of Blue Caprice promises “the true story of the Washington snipers” but, more realistically, the film notes it is “inspired by actual events” because even at the end of the film we are really no closer to understanding just why these senseless, meaningless and cold blooded killings of innocent people occurred.

     Abandoned by his mother in Antigua and with no father, withdrawn sixteen year old Lee (Tequan Richmond) becomes a surrogate son to US citizen John (Isaiah Washington). John is divorced and unable to visit his own children because of a restraining order against him; he is bitter and angry, feelings he cannot release, which leads to John and Lee being asked to leave the house of John’s girlfriend. The pair are put up by white trash gun nut Ray (Tim Blake Nelson) and his wife Jamie (Joey Lauren Adams) where access to high powered weapons, and John’s resentment at the world in general, leads to their killing spree.

     Blue Caprice commences, over the opening credits, with actual footage of the scenes of the shootings, bodies on the ground, the manhunt, TV news reporting and, most chillingly, actual 911 audio of distressed and panicked callers confronted by the killings at gas stations, in supermarket car parks and beside roads. The opening credits end with the news announcement that two men had been taken into custody before the film switches to Antigua and Lee’s abandonment by his mother. From there Blue Caprice follows the development of the distorted father –son relationship between John and Lee which leads to murder, robbery and the sniper attacks. Indeed, the film is not so much about the killings as about is their relationship, showing that the spree was premeditated and that the pair modified their car to create a sniper hide. The actual shootings are not shown in any detail, and here the film is very low key and unsensational, as is the capture of the pair in their parked car.

     Blue Caprice is the feature debut of director Alexandre Moors and screenwriter R.F.I. Porto who have fashioned a film that is the antithesis of lurid or sensationalist. Neither John or Lee are psychotic or demented, and the acting from both Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond is natural and understated; there are no hysterics and while John is resentful and angry his situation, as a father denied access to his three children, is understandable. Mind you, he is not really an ideal father, as some of his treatment of Lee for misdemeanours makes clear! Blue Caprice is also shot using a hand held moving camera, with some shots out of focus or characters out of frame, giving the film the feel of almost being a home video.

     Blue Caprice is a low key, perhaps too low key, examination of the two people who terrified the citizens of three US states. The film does not condemn or preach, and indeed no-where does it mention that John Allen Muhammed was executed in 2009 for these killings while Lee Boyd Malvo is still in prison. This focus on the distorted father – son relationship between two men is interesting, helped by the home video style of the filming and some excellent acting by the two leads. But in the end this low key approach results in us never really understanding just what tipped John over from a resentful and bitter man to a calculating, cold blooded killer, exercising an almost hypnotic effect over the young, psychological vulnerable teenaged Lee. When, at the end of the film, a case worker in prison asks Lee to explain his motivation, unable to accept that the killings were senseless, meaningless and random, he has no answer. Perhaps, unfortunately, neither does the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Blue Caprice is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close to the original 2.35:1 ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Blue Caprice was filmed using Arri Alexa Plus digital cameras and, as noted in the review, it utilises a number of hand held moving camera sequences with some shots out of focus or characters out of frame. This can lead to softness in some scenes and ghosting with a moving camera against mottled backgrounds such as trees although close ups are generally sharp with decent detail. Colours are natural, with the brightness and colour of the early scenes in Antigua, especially the turquoise blue of the sea and sky, nicely contrasted with the autumn greys of Washington. Blacks are solid, but shadow detail is often lacking in the night scenes, making it difficult to see what is happening. Skin tones are natural, brightness and contrast consistent.

     As noted, there was occasional motion blur against mottled surfaces, as well as aliasing against vertical bars. I saw no other marks.

     There are no subtitles.

     The video was acceptable, but not one to show the advantages of HD.

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

Audio

     Audio is an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track although there is also a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio available.

     Similar to the naturalistic way the film was shot, dialogue was sometimes fragmented. Due to accents some lines were difficult to understand, so some subtitles would have helped. The effects, such gunshots, where sharp and had good separation, while the rears were used to add ambient sound, such as insects and rain, as well as music. The subwoofer was used slightly for engines and in truth the film required nothing more.

     The original music by Sarah Neufeld and Colin Stetson was excellent and effective. It was moody, almost religious in parts, and was augmented by music by Franz Schubert and others.

     I did not notice any lip synchronisation issues.

     The audio did what was requited.

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

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for Virginia (2:12), Delete (2:07), Dracano (0:52), Marco and the Pirates (2:13), CAT.8 (1:55) and Exploding Sun (1:45).

R4 vs R1

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

     There is a Region 1 US DVD release Blue Caprice which contains as extras an audio commentary with the director Alexandre Moors and writer R.F.I. Porto, a press conference, behind the scenes featurette and trailer. However there are no other Blu-ray versions of Blue Caprice listed in either Region A US or Region B UK at present so for Blu-ray our Australian release is the only choice.

Summary

     What led two people in the autumn of 2002 to kill ten people in random sniper attacks at gas stations, in supermarket car parks and beside roads? Blue Caprice concentrates on the relationship between the two men responsible although at the end of the film we are really no closer to understanding just why these senseless, meaningless and cold blooded killings occurred. The film is, however, intelligent and compelling viewing and is filled with excellent, natural performances.

     The video has some issues, the audio is good. There are no relevant extras, but this is the only Blu-ray release available at this time.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, June 10, 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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