The Night Of (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 19-Oct-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Drama Series Menu Audio
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 525:32
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steven Zaillian
James Marsh
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Riz Ahmed
John Torturro
Michael Kenneth Williams
Bill Camp
Jeannie Berlin
Paul Sparks
Glenne Headly
Chip Zien
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Jeff Russo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish dts 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Night Of  is possibly the best American drama mini series of 2016. Basing his work on the British 2008/2009 TV series Criminal Justice, creator and writer Richard Price (Clockers) had to overcome initial setbacks. One of the original producers was actor James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), with Gandolfini playing the John Stone role in the original pilot. HBO initially rejected this pilot, and before their ultimate change of mind Gandolfini had sadly passed away. He was replaced by Robert De Niro, who, because of scheduling problems was forced to pull out. Then John Torturro was approached. Torturro had  attended both Gandolfini's wedding and his funeral, and was very reluctant to replace his friend. Fortunately for us, he relented.

    Following the stark opening credits, with the hauntingly tense music of composer Jeff Russo (Fargo / American Gothic), we are introduced to Nazir ("Naz") Khan , a Pakistani/American college student living in Queens, New York. Naz is invited to a party that evening where there seems to be a prospect of connecting with a girl who has caught his attention. Losing his transport to the party, Naz "borrows" his father's cab and heads off into his night that holds romantic promise. He neglects to, then finds that he can't, turn off the "off duty" sign on the cab. As a result Naz has to refuse an unwanted fare. Then a young lady comes out of the dark and  enters his cab. She is beautiful and Naz does not ask her to leave the cab, instead offering to take her to her destination. She asks to go to "the beach". Being in Manhattan, Naz drives the girl, Andrea Cornish, to a spot by the river where they talk and she offers him a drug. He at first refuses, but after she says that she "can't be alone tonight", Naz takes the offered pill. Naz drives Andrea to her home, which is on the Upper West Side. It is a brownstone, large and comfortable, in an area much more upmarket than Naz's family home in Queens. There are more drugs, a dangerous game with a knife which draws Andrea's blood, and hand in hand Andrea leads Naz to her bedroom. Much later Naz wakes downstairs, alone. He returns to the upstairs bedroom for his clothes and finds Andrea's  bloody body sprawled across her bed. He flees, only to find he has left behind the keys to his father's cab. He returns to the brownstone, has to make a forced entry, grabs his jacket and keys before driving off in the cab. Naz is almost immediately stopped by the police for a minor traffic offence and ....

    So begins "the night of" ... and you can complete the sentence. It is surely the night of the end of  Andrea's life and the night of the death of  Naz's innocence. But it is also the night of  the beginning of a journey of discovery. There is so much happening in this story, at so many levels. At the beginning Naz seems naive and innocent, with his "Bambi eyes", but we begin to question his innocence, and not just his innocence regarding Andrea's murder. The plot begins with the murder and closes with Naz's trial and its immediate aftermath, but the intervening episodes trace Naz's changes as he is exposed to life on Rikers Island, the New York prison complex famed for creating criminals. But are these really changes, or is Naz actually opening himself and exposing what actually, from the beginning,  lay beneath his innocent exterior. As Naz is experiencing life behind bars, we also see the lives of those working to either free him or have him convicted. There is also the effect of the murder and Naz's imprisonment on his  hard working Muslim parents, and his seldom seen brother. As well as the drama of the human individuals, The Night Of is also an exploration of New York City, in the aftermath of 9/11, as well as raising questions about crime and punishment, and a legal system where the system is paramount and justice can be an annoying irrelevance. Finally, we, the audience, are also taken on a journey of self discovery as we judge what is presented to us, only to find these judgements, quite possibly, completely overturned by what  eventuates.

    This is an astonisingly rich experience. The writing of Richard Price (Clockers) and Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List) moves the drama forward with breathtaking intensity and suspense, while also taking time to give characters depth and believability. My only doubt lies in the emphasis given to John Stone's acne plagued feet. Sure, it's symbolic for this pariah of society, but there is just a bit too much of it. The direction is flawless, with Part 4 directed by James Marsh (The Theory of Everything) and the remainder by Steven Zillian (All the King's Men). The photography is also of the highest order. Responsible for Part 1, The Beach, is Robert Elswrit, who was behind the camera for the brilliant Nightcrawler. The early scenes of Naz behind the wheel of his father's cab bring to mind the opening of Taxi Driver. Director and cinematographer unite with composer Jeff Russo to create a world of palpable dread. This sense of impending doom continues through the remainder of the series, with photography for all further episodes in the masterful hands of Igor Martinovic, behind the camera for House of Cards and the excellent documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? At every level The Night Of is first class screen drama.

    Performances are flawless. The deftly and subtly drawn characters come to life with drama and humour. This is true of Naz's parents, the police officers, the detectives, the judge, the inmates of Rikers and the young female lawyer (Amara Khan) who misguidedly assists Raz. The actor cast as Naz from the first unsuccessful pilot, was Riz Ahmed. This talented young actor was so impressive in Nightcrawler as Jake Gyllenhaal's underpaid off-sider, and his transformation here from the Bambi-eyed "innocent", to hardened crim is astonishing. As Naz's attorney, John Torturro (Barton Fink) is excellent, with riveting support coming from Sofia Black D'Elia  (Gossip Girl / Ben Hur) haunting as Andrea, Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire), Bill Camp (Black Mass),  Glenne Headly (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), and Paul Sparks - so memorable as the biographer in House of Cards. As a pathologist, a nicely comedic touch comes from Chip Zien, the original Baker on Broadway in Into the Woods. However the absolutely mind searing, unforgettable performance comes from Jeannie Berlin as district attorney Helen Weiss. Back in 1972 Berlin was nominated for a  supporting actress Oscar for her performance in The Heartbreak Kid, under the direction of her mother, the legendary acress/writer/director Elaine May. I will never forget Helen Weiss's final courtroom moments in The Night Of.

    The eight parts are spread over three discs :

Disc 1 : Part 1 : The Beach (78:39)

             Part 2 : Recap. Ep. (00:46)
                         Subtle Beast (59:57)
             Part 3 : Recap (00:46
                         A Dark Crate (59:16)

Disc 2 :  Part 4 : Recap (00:46)
                          The Art of War (59:34)
             Part 5 : Recap (00:46)
                         The Season of the Witch (59:39)
             Part 6 : Recap (00:46))
                         Samson and Delilah (57:05)

Disc 3 :  Part 7 : Recap (00:41)
                          Subtle Beast(59 :57)
              Part 8 : Recap (0:46)
                          The Call of the Wild (95:08)

    The opening episode will have you leaning forward glued to the screen as you follow the events of the fateful night moment by moment. The final instalments, as we return to those events, will leave you breathless.
    This is brilliant, obsessive adult drama. Superbly written, directed, photographed and performed.
    Definitely not to be missed.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented at 1.78:1, this local Roadshow release of HBO's superb mini series has been given a completely satisfying transfer to Blu-ray disc. The photography is of the highest standard, with beautifully framed images, often using the camera angled for effect. With many dark scenes in the narrative there is still a consistently detailed image. The many close-ups are startlingly sharp. The palette is subdued, with a dominant blueness to the prison scenes, but  where the scene and mood dictates - city neons for example - the colour pops. Skin tones are excellent. Of course there are no flaws to distract from this top rate presentation of this high quality show.
   
    There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and  Swedish. Titles are dialogue only, in white and centred at the foot of the screen.

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

Audio

    Each of the eight episodes has two audio tracks, English DTS - HD Master Audio 5.1 encoded at 48K and Spanish DTS Digital Stereo Surround 2.0 at 48K.
    The seven recaps have only one track, English.
    Like the video, the soundtrack is an immaculate experience. This is predominantly a dialogue and image driven narrative, and there is never any problem with the crystal clear dialogue - even when heavily accented. Where the opportunity arises, as in an early basketball game and scenes which allow for the city soundscape, the surrounds come alive, but mostly the extra channels provide ambience and the occasional effect. The music is superbly presented. Jeff Russo's main theme establishes mood and tension in its first moments, and many characters are given distinctive and individual scoring, often favouring a particular instrument. There is no woofer moment, but depth is provided to the ambience and, in particular, the excellent often brooding score.
    It goes without saying that technically the soundtrack is flawless.
    Brilliant audio and brilliant music.

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

Extras

    The three discs contain the eight episodes, seven recaps and menus - nothing additional at all. It's a pity there isn't something about the background to the series - James Gandolfini's involvement in the original pilot, replaced by Robert de Niro after Gandolfini's death, and John Torturro's original reluctance to replace his friend, Gandolfini. An opportunity missed.

Menu

    The menu screen utilises the black and white aerial shot of New York seen in the opening of each episode. The string heavy, tension filled theme provides the audio. Options are :

        * Parts
        * Languages

    Selection of the "Parts" option adds the choice between :

         * Play All and
         * Index

    Selecting "Index" leads to the details of the first episode on that particular disc. There is a short resume with creator, writers and director credits. From here you are able to "arrow" to the details of the other episodes on the disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 Blu-ray release via Roadshow is identical to the Region 1 release. No extras in the U.S. either.

Summary

    The Night Of  is brilliant television. Creatively inspired, technically flawless and superbly performed. On its surface it is an enthralling, suspenseful murder/trial drama. On a deeper level it questions our notions and understanding of self, family, society, the law and justice. The three Blu-ray discs look and sound nigh perfect - but there is absolutely nothing offered as an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDOPPO BDP-103AU, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 60UF850T 4K. 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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