3 Nights in the Desert (2014)

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Released 9-Nov-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-x 4 for other Eagle Entertainment releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 79:35
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gabriel Cowan

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Wes Bentley
Amber Tamblyn
Vincent Piazza
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Tim Ziesmer

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     When they were twenty years old and in college Anna (Amber Tamblyn), Travis (Wes Bentley) and Barry (Vincent Piazza), with birthdays in the same week, were the three members of a band that was on the cusp of achieving success until artistic differences and sexual tensions split them apart. Anna went on with her singing career achieving a measure of success in Europe and Asia, Barry quit music to get married and become a tax attorney while Travis, holding onto his dreams, retreated to an isolated cabin in the Californian desert. Now turning thirty, the three get together in Travis’ cabin for their birthdays where, over the course of three days and nights, they attempt to lay the past to rest and to resolve unfinished business.

     3 Nights in the Desert is a low budget independent film by director Gabriel Cowan that has a speaking cast of only three (not counting an interviewer voiceover) and essentially one location. The DVD blurb indicates that the film is a “hysterically funny and poignant look at lost loves, forgotten dreams and missed opportunities” which misrepresents the film; it may be amusing in places but it is certainly never “hysterically funny”!

     Instead 3 Nights in the Desert is about life choices, regrets, dreams and moving on although nothing really happens in the film and little is resolved, the three days providing as many questions as answers. Because of this some critics have found the film frustrating and a non-event but the themes are interesting, the dialogue honest and the three actors excellent, bringing out all the repressed feelings of their characters. The best known of the cast is Wes Bentley, who made an impact in American Beauty (1999) and who alternates high budget blockbusters such as Interstellar (2014) with independent films like 3 Nights in the Desert. His Travis is the most damaged and complex character, the one who has not left the past behind and who has a plan for the future, while Vincent Piazza as the fastidious Barry with repressed longings is also very good. Amber Tamblyn’s Anna has a less obvious character arc, but she manages to express a whole lot with her eyes. Other things which help the film remain interesting are the desert landscapes, beautifully shot by Jonathan Bruno, and the sometimes haunting country rock score.

     3 Nights in the Desert is indeed slow moving but it will reward those who are prepared to give the film time.

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Transfer Quality


     3 Nights in the Desert is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

     Shot using the Red Epic cameras, 3 Nights in the Desert shows the desert locations and sunsets in their full glory. Exterior colours are natural, detail strong, blacks inky, shadow detail great, contrast and brightness consistent except where the light was behind the actor. Some interiors look a bit yellowy / brown but skin tones are fine. I noticed no marks or artefacts.

    There are no subtitles available.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     3 Nights in the Desert is a film where dialogue is important so it is great that it is always clear and understandable. There is no action as such and so the rears are mostly silent, with even the songs delivered through the front speakers. Indeed, I only noticed a bit of wind, and some music towards the end, in the surrounds. The subwoofer added bass to some of the music.

     As noted in the review, the music, mostly county rock, was a highlight of the film. The original score is credited to Tim Ziesmer, who also wrote some of the songs featured on the soundtrack. Other original music is credited to Nora Kirkpatrick and Mark Noseworthy while other songs were written and performed by Twin Sister.

     Lip synchronisation seemed fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     Trailers for No Stranger Than Love (1:45), Bravetown (2:29), Christmas Eve (2:09) and Rio I Love You (2:13) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

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

     Amazon.com only lists a Region 2 UK release of 3 Nights in the Desert. As far as I can see that does not have any extras either. Buy local.


     3 Nights in the Desert is a low budget independent film where not a lot happens, at least on the surface, and little is resolved. The film could have been a low budget disaster but it does not look or feel shoddy and I enjoyed the performances of Amber Tamblyn, Wes Bentley and Vincent Piazza, the honest dialogue, the beautiful scenery and the often haunting score. The 80 minute running time also means that the film will not outstay its welcome.

     The video is very good, the audio does what is required. Trailers for other films are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, January 05, 2017
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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