Mississippi Grind (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 13-Apr-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Groove Behind Mississippi Grind
Featurette-The Cast
Featurette-Ben Mendelsohn: The Gambler
Featurette-Ryan Reynolds: The Drifter
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 108:32
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Anna Boden
Ryan Fleck
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Ben Mendelsohn
Ryan Reynolds
Analeigh Tipton
Sienna Miller
Jayson Warner Smith
Robin Weigert
P.J. Marshall
Stephanie Honorť
Alfre Woodard
Anthony Howard
Yvonne Landry
Kerry Cahill
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Scott Bomar


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

††† The latest feature to be written and directed by the filmmaking team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson), 2015ís Mississippi Grind is old-fashioned all the way through to its core, evoking motion pictures from the í60s and í70s with its unhurried pacing and beautifully filmic cinematography. Taking notable inspiration from the likes of Five Easy Pieces and 1974ís The Gambler, this is a motion picture about gambling, but itís not concerned with the usual glamour associated with Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Instead, Mississippi Grind is more dramatic, providing an unusually solemn, incisive examination of a potentially destructive hobby. The filmís appeal is not derived from casino action, but rather from the interplay of the two fascinating central characters.

††† In Iowa, self-destructive gambling addict Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is stuck in a serious rut. Due to his addiction, Gerry has lost his wife and child, while a loan shark also threatens violence if he doesnít pay his debts. By chance, he meets fast-talking drifter Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) during a game of poker, and the two strangers find themselves drawn together by their shared hunger for gambling in all its forms. Becoming fast friends, Gerry and Curtis look to score big, deciding on an impromptu trip down to New Orleans for a high-stakes poker tournament. Hitting the road, the pair bond as they gamble at every turn, but Curtis gradually begins to understand the depths of Gerryís personal problems.

††† Mississippi Grind delves into the serious ramifications of a gambling addiction, serving as an effective character study of Gerry, who continually yearns for the thrill of watching a dog race or rolling a dice, counting down the seconds until he gets to leave his menial job and return to a casino. In the very first scene of the movie, Gerry is seen listening to a CD about observations on human behaviour, educating himself on how to tell if a person is bluffing at the poker table. Mississippi Grind is episodic in its road trip structure, but thereís a proper narrative through-line and all the vignettes come together in a cohesive fashion. If thereís an issue from a storytelling perspective, itís that the ending doesnít quite mesh with the rest of the movie, as the script begins to veer more into wish-fulfilment territory, clashing with the otherwise realistic tone.

††† The decision to shoot on 35mm film stock enhances both the sense of atmosphere and the old-fashioned vibe, and it makes the movie look more expensive than a digital production. The non-flashy cinematography (by Andrij Parekh) is effectively vťritť at times, too, especially when Gerry and Curtis hit the liquor, and the visuals are supplemented by a pleasant soundtrack of rhythm and blues tunes. But itís the strong performances and astute characterisations that keep Mississippi Grind compulsively watchable from start to end. Accomplished character actor Mendelsohn is note-perfect as Gerry, masking his natural Australian accent to espouse a wholly convincing American drawl that feels entirely lived-in. Alongside him, Reynolds (in a role meant for Jake Gyllenhaal) is enormously charismatic and energetic, displaying his strong dramatic chops that we rarely get to see. Heís nicely subdued as well, never coming across as showy, and even though this isnít a comedy, there are some moments of tender humour which make Curtis seem more innately human. Mendelsohn and Reynolds are so great together, registering plenty of bromantic chemistry. Appealing support is also provided by Sienna Miller as Simone, a caring prostitute who touches Curtisí heart, while Analeigh Tipton shares a few sweet moments opposite Mendelsohn as Simoneís friend Vanessa. There are a lot of really nice scenes peppered throughout the movie, especially when the two boys find themselves in the company of their female companions.

††† Mississippi Grind doesnít snowball into anything revolutionary and itís hard to walk away truly loving it, but itís nevertheless a competent motion picture bolstered by strong performances and focused filmmaking, and thatís good enough to warrant a recommendation. The pacing is leisurely, and it does require patience, but there are plenty of pleasures to extract from this involving drama if you choose to give it a shot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Despite its modest origins, Mississippi Grind was shot on 35mm Kodak film stock using Arricam equipment, and Madman presents the movie here on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded in MPEG-4 AVC. On the whole, this is a pleasing presentation that leaves very little room for improvement considering the source. Luckily, there is no evidence of digital noise reduction, making for a pleasingly organic presentation of an unconventionally beautiful motion picture.

††† As to be expected from a 35mm production, Mississippi Grind exhibits a light but noticeable grain structure, and thankfully the transfer retains this distinct filmic texture, and looks refined rather than blocky. Itís not razor-sharp due to the original photography, but object delineation is very good nevertheless, and the image consistently exhibits a fine amount of detail on faces and clothing. In close-ups, itís easy to discern every hair on Reynoldsí scruffy face. The video does not look as impressive in darker environments, with a bit of murkiness, but this traceable to the shooting style. My only real issue with the transfer is the occasional bit of smeariness, though I think this comes down to the limitations of 1080p.

††† This is a fine encode, with no traces of crush, aliasing, or any other anomalies. Colours are strong, with the filmmakers pushing for a subdued colour palette reminiscent of the í70s films that served as their inspiration. Mississippi Grind was never going to be demo material, but this Blu-ray provides an extremely good presentation thatís cinematic and natural, recreating what the movie looked like during its minor theatrical run. So-called ďgrain hatersĒ will probably have a few complaints, but the rest of us can enjoy this fine presentation which demonstrates the real benefits of Blu-ray.

††† Unfortunately, no subtitles are available.


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

Audio

††† Madman provides two audio options on this disc: a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, and an uncompressed Linear PCM 2.0 mix. Mississippi Grind is a low-key picture full of dialogue, underscored by an effective southern-style soundtrack and subtle ambience, yet the movie sounds terrific on Blu-ray. The 5.1 mix is a front-centric audio presentation, and for the most part the chatter comes through with clarity and precision. The surround channels are only really used in select moments, such as a scene at a racing track, and scenes in pubs and clubs when gentle music fills the rear channels for an immersive watch.

††† Much like the video, Mississippi Grindís soundtrack is not demo material, but itís a competent aural presentation of an engaging little drama.

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

Extras

††† A very disappointing selection of extra material.

The Making of Mississippi Grind (HD; 4:45)

††† Rather than something substantive, this is a fluffy, YouTube-grade EPK featurette which mixes film clips, B-roll footage and cast and crew interviews. It never settles down from its promotional vibe, which is disappointing.

The Groove Behind Mississippi Grind (HD; 3:17)

††† Speaking of YouTube-grade featurettes, hereís one thatís actually available to view on the streaming service. It glosses over a few topics, including having two directors and shooting on film, but doesnít delve into things with much substance.

The Cast (HD; 3:05)

††† Hereís another featurette thatís available to view on YouTube, which discusses the main actors in broad strokes. There is even overlap here, with some interview snippets being repeated here, which is disappointing.

Ben Mendelsohn: The Gambler (HD; 2:42)

††† Another clip from YouTube, which again repeats interview sound-bites from prior featurettes.

Ryan Reynolds: The Drifter (HD; 2:42)

††† Yep, this oneís from YouTube as well. Very fluffy, lots of repetition.

Theatrical Trailer (HD; 2:24)

††† I always appreciate when trailers are included on discs. Hereís the movieís theatrical trailer, for those interested.

Madman Propaganda (HD; 9:43)

††† The obligatory reel of Madman previews - here we have an anti-piracy ad, and trailers for 99 Homes, Sleeping with Other People, Ruben Guthrie, and Big Game.

R4 vs R1

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

† † The Region A release from Lionsgate contains a 17-minute "making of" featurette, and has English subtitles. Since the majority of the extras on this release can be viewed on YouTube, I'm giving Region A the win, especially with subtitles.

Summary

††† Mississippi Grind is a fine little drama that deserves to find a second life on home video. Madman's Blu-ray is adequate, featuring great video and audio, but not much in the way of extras. Still, this release comes recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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