Most Violent Year, A (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 25-Jun-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama Audio Commentary
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-x short featurettes 4
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 124:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By J.C. Chandor
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Oscar Isaac
Jessica Chastain
David Oyelowo
Albert Brooks
Elyes Gabel



Case ?
RPI ? Music Alex Ebert


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

†††† New York 1981: Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) with his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) owns and runs a small, but expanding, heating oil business. Helped by his lawyer and advisor Andrew Walsh (Albert Brooks), Abel is in the process of entering into a contract to buy a derelict riverside oil terminal, a major step for expanding his business even further. Abel is an ethical and honest businessman, but competitors are not so law-abiding; Abelís trucks are being hijacked, his drivers and salesmen beaten and his home and family threatened. As well, New York DA Lawrence (David Oyelowo) is investigating the heating oil industry, including Abelís company, and is about to lay charges. Is Abelís company as clean as he maintains, and can he defeat, without resorting to violence or dishonest practices, those who are seeking to bring him down?

†††† 1981 was the most violent year for crime in New Yorkís history but A Most Violent Year is not a violent action film; there are only half a dozen gunshots, one chase and only two people die during the course of the film. Instead A Most Violent Year is a drama about one immigrantís search for the American dream, an immigrant who believes in maintaining honesty, ethics and integrity in a corrupt industry in a violent and corrupt city, even when the actions of his drivers, such as fellow immigrant Julian (Elyes Gabel), his wife and his business advisor call into question his principles and his beliefs.

†††† A Most Violent Year is Oscar Isaacís film; his character is both the focus and the heart of the film. Isaac is good, if a bit self-righteous and one note, and it is interesting that the first choice for the role of Abel was Javier Bardem, who withdrew due to creative differences. Bardem would have been interesting in the role, perhaps bringing a darkness and ambiguity that Isaac lacks, but it is hard to see anyone doing better than Jessica Chastain who is wonderful as Anna; sexy, understated and morally ambivalent, she is simply superb and lights up the screen. And understated Albert Brooks is also very good.

†††† Writer director J.C. Chandor has only three feature films to his credit: Margin Call (2011), for which he received a best original screen play Oscar nomination, All is Lost (2013) with Robert Redford and A Most Violent Year. He is obviously a director to watch, and while A Most Violent Year certainly takes its time, perhaps too much time, to unfold, this is a complex film about integrity, honesty, manipulation, the American dream and the ethics of violence. In tone, think The Godfather but with a higher moral and ethical base.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† A Most Violent Year is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, close to the original 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† This is an unusual looking print. It has deliberately drab colours, reflecting one of the worst winters in New Yorkís history, but the Alexa cameras and digital manipulation results in a film with a yellowish, sepia look perhaps intending to suggest a period film. Much of the film looks as if it was shot through a gauze or filter, so is quite soft and murky with indistinct shadow detail. This is not the Blu-ray: some scenes, such as the night time New York cityscape is unmanipulated and crystal clear. Blacks here are solid, in other scenes less so, skin tones often have a yellowish tinge and contrast and brightness can vary within a scene Ė see around 46:28 for one example.

†††† I saw some evidence of noise reduction but otherwise I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

†††† English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. Smallish white subtitles came on automatically to translate sections of Spanish dialogue.

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

Audio

†††† The feature audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus there is an English audio description track using a male voice and an English audio commentary (both Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps).

†††† Dialogue was generally easy to understand. For a dialogue driven film the audio is reasonably enveloping with music, train and aircraft sounds in the surrounds. Mostly the audio is subdued but loud, sudden effects, such as gunshots, a collision with a deer and engines, occur with good impact. The score by Alex Ebert is used effectively to support the visuals. The subwoofer was used sparingly to support the music, gunshots and engines.

††††Lip synchronisation was fine. I am aware of one place where the sum of money was changed in post from $500,000 to $1.5 M, but it is really not very noticeable.

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

Extras

Start-Up Trailers (6:37)

†††† Trailers for Foxcatcher, Inherent Vice and American Heist play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

Directorís Commentary

†††† Writer / director J.C. Chandor and producers Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb are clearly comfortable together. They tend to watch what is on the screen, laugh a bit and say how wonderful or beautiful everything was, but still manage to discuss plot points, cast members, locations, VFX, trivia and realistic violence. Engaging and worth a listen.

Deleted Scenes (7:41)

†††† Five deleted scenes play after each other without explanatory text or comments.

Interview with J.C. Chandor & Gary Slutkin (3:08)

†††† The filmís writer / director talks with the founder and executive director of Cure Violence about violence being contagious and a different approach to reducing violence in cities.

Cure Violence (1:31)

†††† A PBC ad for Cure Violence.

Featurettes

†††† Three short featurettes; Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac sit together and chat interspersed with film clips and some on-set footage. The three sections are:

Behind the Violence (43:48)

†††† Lots of film clips and stills plus comments from writer / director J.C. Chandor, two producers, the production designer, cinematographer, costume designer and cast members Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac, David Oyelowo, Alessandro Nivola, Elyes Gabel and Albert Brooks. Topics include why the film was set in 1981, the director, casting, production design and costumes, the look of the film and filming in winter in New York. Reasonably interesting, except that everything and everyone, except the weather, was wonderful and amazing.

R4 vs R1

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

†††† The US Region A Blu-ray release of A Most Violent Year has the same extras, although arranged differently, and adds a Spanish dub, the film trailer and a teaser trailer.

Summary

†††† A Most Violent Year is a complex film about the American dream, corruption, ethics and violence and includes a superb performance by Jessica Chastain. Almost, but not quite, a gangster film, and the more interesting for not being too predictable.

†††† The video is murky, the audio is fine. The extras are very good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, July 03, 2015
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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