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English Teacher, The (Blu-ray) (2012)
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Details At A Glance
Theatrical Trailer-Riddick : Rule the Dark (2:25) 2.40:1 / 1080p.
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
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Roadshow Home Entertainment
Norbert Leo Butz
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
The English Teacher is a film which comes from three very young creators. The screenplay is the first produced from young husband and wife team Dan and Stacy Charlton, and the director is Craig Zink, helming his first feature. Produced in 2012 and released in the US in 2013, in a total of only seven ciemas, the film was a dismal box-office failure, and met with a poor critical reception. Roadshow released the title locally in December, both DVD and Blu-ray, and you can currently find it at a reduced price around the stores. It's commercial failure is a pity, because The English Teacher strives to be something more than a superficial romantic comedy. It isn't a total success, but it does provide more entertainment, as well as more than a little food for thought, in its fast paced ninety minutes than most of today's "rom-coms".
The film's opening, with witty narration from Fiona Shaw (The Tree of Life and TV's True Blood) introduces us to Linda Sinclair, a sheltered, introspective bookreader as a child who has grown to be an attractive, spinster high school teacher in her mid-40's (Julianne Moore). Her life is organized and neat, from her quaint residence in attractive Kingston, Pennsylvania, to her tidy TV dinner tray as she watches British literary drama, specifically A Room With a View. Back home to Kingston comes Jason Sherwood (Michael Angorano), a past favourite student of Miss Sinclair's who had gone to New York to become a successful playwright. Jason's New York dreams have crumbled and he has returned to study law, much to the wishes and approval of his father, Dr Tom Sherwood (Greg Kinnear). Jason, though, has an unproduced play, The Chrysalis, which Linda urges him to allow the school to produce, under the directorial guidance of the drama teacher Carl Kapinos (Nathan Lane). There are objections from Dr Tom, as well as from the school's principal (Jessica Hecht) and vice-principal (Leo Norbert Butz), the school's objections being primarily to the downbeat ending with mass deaths and suicide. Ultimately the play is cast, with young drama hopeful Halle Anderson (Lily Collins) in the lead and rehearsals commence with Linda acting as producer. The intensity of rehearsals throws these characters into unexpected emotional interactions, and we find developments heading the central character towards what could very well be a disastrous outcome. Our light and effervescent comedy has taken a distinct turn towards the dark and the two do not mix well. It is true that in the classics comedy and tragedy are the opposite sides of the same coin, but to tread the fine line between these two sides takes exceptional talent. While the writers make a valiant attempt, with their thesis that, if our lives are headed towards a bleak abyss, we all have the ability to alter our fate. Ms Sinclair initially lectures to her students that there is beauty and art in Sydney Carton's death at the conclusion of A Tale of Two Cities, but late in the film she has "learnt". In a writing exercise she now encourages her students to rewrite Dickens' ending, making all end "happily". Similarly Jason Sherwood has had forced upon him a happy resolution to his fledgling play, this new ending winning a standing ovation at the opening performance. To complete this philosophical trifecta, Linda Sinclair defies the movie's darkly pessimistic voiceover narration and makes a happy ending for herself from the fractured pieces of her life. Given the characters and the situation, Linda's happy emergence simply does not ring true. Nevertheless, there is food for thought in this mostly frothy concoction, and that is something rare in a "romantic comedy".
Performances are generally fine, with the focus on the star turn from the glorious Julianne Moore. She never deteriorates into a Miss Jean Brodie caricature, making Linda Sinclair a real, sometimes maddening often delightful, character. The actress manages the balancing act between comedy and tragedy admirably, even when the script does not. Solid support comes from Michael Angorano (Red State), Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) and Lily Collins (The Blind Side). The three refugees from Broadway - Lane, Butz and Hecht - are very enjoyable, but just a little too obviously comic for the rest of the film. The entire movie looks lovely, with New York's picturesque Tarrytown standing in for Kingston, Pennsylvania, while the colour scheme appears to have been designed to enhance the colouring of its star. Technically the film cannot be faulted and the young director keeps things moving briskly.
This was a box-office non-event, but if you enjoy froth mixed with substance, or if you are an admirer of the formidable Julianne Moore, this is ninety minutes well spent.
Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.
Gorgeous Blu-ray transfers are becoming the very welcome norm, and here we have yet another. Razor sharp images flow across the screen, with no allowances made for the leading lady's age - and she looks fantastic, freckles and all. The colour palette is subdued and autumnal, enhancing the picturesque upper New York state locations, as well as Miss Moore's colouring. The widescreen images, from cinematographer Vanja Cernjul ( the memorable City Island) are very nicely composed, whether we have streetscapes, classrooms, the rehearsal stage or a table for two in a diner.
The film is presented at the ratio of 2.40:1, the original theatrical ratio. Clarity and detail cannot be faulted. Skin tones are a little burnished, but given the palette used for the film this is easily accepted.
Subtitles use multi-colours to differentiate between speakers and effects. A sampling found them to be very accurate.
Video Ratings Summary
There are two audio streams : English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Encoded at 48 kHz.
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded at 48 kHz with the option of Descriptive Narration for the Vision Impaired.
As far as audio is concerned, this is what you would expect from a well produced comedy. Dialogue is front and centred, with every syllable crystal clear and no sign of any sync problems.The surrounds are evident basically when environmental sounds are needed - in streets, classrooms, audience applauding and such. There are some sounds of nature - rustling leaves and rain - but little else. The music - original from Rob Simonsen (The Way Way Back) which often has a chamber music quality, as well as popular songs such as from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - makes use of the entire sound field. I was not
aware of any participation from the sub-woofer.
The Descriptive Narration for the Vision Impaired is delivered in the customary manner by the same young man.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
Menu The menu screen combines artwork of Julianne Moore with small head shots of the four main supporting players, plus an insert screen with a montage of scenes.
The options offered are :
Chapter Select : Selection gives an insert of individual thumbnails, with progression to a total of eighteen chapters.
Setup : Options are : DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Captions : English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired
Audio Description : Descriptive Narration for the Vision Impaired
The only addition to the feature is a single trailer at startup.
Startup Trailer :
Riddick : Rule the Dark (2:25) 2.40:1.
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 :
Interviews with the Cast and Crew
Here is a comedy - I find it difficult to call it a romantic comedy - that also has something serious to say about life. The mix of comedy and potential tragedy does not quite work, but it is an intelligent attempt. The cast is interesting and the leading performance from Julianne Moore is well up to her usual high standard. The disc looks very fine indeed, with lovely upper state New York locales. This modern comedy of human errors is funny as well as painfully accurate - too accurate - in its more serious moments. Well worth your ninety minutes, especially if you like the luminous star. There are no extras.
© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Friday, June 27, 2014
|DVD||SONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 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 Decoder||Built in to DVD player.
Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|