Live By Night (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 10-May-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama Audio Commentary-Ben Affleck, DP Robert Richardson, Prod Design Jess Gonchor
Featurette-The Women of Live By Night (8:54)
Featurette-The Men of Live By Night (8:30)
Featurette-Live By Night’s Prolific Author (6:53)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-In Close Up: Creating a Classic Car Chase 7:35)
Deleted Scenes-x 5 (15:56)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 128:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ben Affleck
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ben Affleck
Sienna Miller
Robert Glenister
Remo Girone
Zoe Saldana
Brendan Gleeson
Chris Messina
Chris Cooper
Elle Fanning
Miguel J Pimentel
Case ?
RPI ? Music Harry Gregson-Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital
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
French
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Dutch
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) returns to Boston from France after WW1 disillusioned with authority and the senseless carnage he had witnessed in the trenches. Criminal activity in Boston is split between the Irish gang controlled by Albert White (Robert Glenister) and the Italians run by Maso Pescotore (Remo Girone); the gangs are fighting to control the rum trade with tit for tat killings, arson and bombings. Initially Joe stays outside the two gangs, instead taking part in small scale robberies with a few friends. However Joe does become part of White’s gang when he falls in love with Emma Gould (Sienna Miller), a sassy and fearless blonde who likes the good life and who is also White’s mistress. It is a dangerous game and finally Emma betrays Joe to White; Joe is beaten and is about to be killed when the Police show up. Joe is arrested for an earlier robbery but is saved from a long sentence by his Police Chief father (Brendan Gleeson).

     Joe spends three years in prison. When he is released he learns that the Italians have won control of Boston and White has retreated to Florida. Seeking revenge on White, Joe visits Pescotore who hires Joe to go to Tampa and oversee the importation of rum from Cuba. Joe takes his old partner Dion (Chris Messina) with him to Florida and they quickly make a deal with the Cubans’ boss Esteban (Miguel J Pimentel) to secure the rum supplies. The deal is made easier when Joe falls in love with Esteban’s sister Graciela (Zoe Saldana) and they start living together. Joe also comes to an understanding with Tampa Police Chief Figgis (Chris Cooper), who is not corrupt himself but is willing to tolerate crime as long as it is kept within certain, defined boundaries.

     Joe and Dion successfully build their empire during prohibition, paying good dividends to Pescotore and forcing White out. They face challenges from the K.K.K. but their greatest opposition comes from Chief Figgis’ daughter Loretta (Elle Fanning); after recovering from drug dependency she has become a born again Christian and preaches against all types of sin, gaining a large and influential following. Due to her opposition Joe’s attempt to build a casino in Tampa collapses; Pescotore is not happy and with his men comes down from Boston to confront Joe, bringing an old enemy of Joe’s with them. Everything Joe has worked for is put on the line in one bloody afternoon.

     Live By Night is based upon the 2012 novel by Dennis Lehane. A number of Lehane novels have made successful transitions to the big screen including Mystic River (2003), Gone Baby Gone (2007) and Shutter Island (2010) but Live By Night underperformed at the box office, not recouping its $100 million budget, and was not well regarded by critics; it currently stands at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ben Affleck, who as well as staring, directed and wrote the screenplay, has been the focus of the criticism. So is the criticism justified?

     Live By Night is certainly a sprawling crime story of epic proportions and most of the budget is right up there on the screen. The film was shot by cinematographer Robert Richardson, who has been nominated for Oscars nine times, the latest for the fabulous The Hateful Eight (2015), winning three times for JFK (1992), The Aviator (2004) and Hugo (2012); everything in Live By Night looks sumptuous, including the woods, waters and sunsets of the Florida wetlands, the Boston of the 1920s, the costumes, the vehicles and the weapons. The cast is also impressive: the women, Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller and Elle Fanning, are all excellent while Brendan Gleeson, in his all too short screen time, and Chris Messina are also very good. In contrast Affleck in the main role seems detached and not overly convincing. As the film is Joe’s journey a sense of detachment does not draw us in, although that may be how the character was written. Indeed, I think the screenplay is an issue of itself. Live By Night is a sweeping story of love, revenge and retribution stretching over a decade but, as the above plot summary (and it is a summary) suggests there is just too many characters, too many episodes and too much going on, leaving an emotional vacuum that the voiceover does nothing to alleviate.

     Live By Night is by no means a disaster. It includes a number of excellent action sequences, including a great car chase 1920s style, and a chaotic and bloody shootout, and it always looks superb. And if Affleck does not convince Zoe Saldana and Sienna Miller both light up the screen in every scene they are in.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Live By Night is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is a sumptuous print. The film has a brown sepia look in the Boston scenes and in interiors elsewhere, while the Florida exteriors are glossy and bright with the vibrant greens and blues of the delta and bright red sunsets. Detail is strong, blacks and shadow detail pristine, skin tones are fine and brightness and contrast consistent.

     I did not notice any artefacts or marks.

     Subtitles provided are English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Italian for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian and Swedish.

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

Audio

     Audio choices are English Dolby Atmos and English DTS-HD MA 5.1 plus French, Italian, Spanish and English descriptive audio, all Dolby Digital 5.1. The English commentary track is Dolby Digital 2.0.

     I am not set up for Atmos so listened to the DTS-HD MA audio. This is a nice audio experience although some dialogue was a bit hard to hear either due to accents or the low recording level of some dialogue. The surrounds and rears were frequently in use for ambient sounds such as voices, engines and the score. During the gunfights the sound of the shots, including the usual Tommy guns, was loud and sharp while bodies crashed to the floor with a resounding thud. The sub-woofer added boom to the car chase, gunshots, impacts and the music.

     The orchestral score by Harry Gregson-Williams was suitably sweeping.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

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

Extras

     These short featurettes are interesting, mainly because they include a decent amount of on-set footage as well as the usual interview snippets.

Angels with Dirty Faces: The Women of Live By Night (8:54)

     Ben Affleck and author Dennis Lehane talk about Joe’s journey in the film in relation to the three very different women he meets on the way. Cast members Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning discuss their characters.

Good Guys and Bad Guys: The Men of Live By Night (8:30)

     Cast members Ben Affleck, Chris Messina, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Cooper, Remo Girone and Robert Glenister talk about their characters.

Live By Night’s Prolific Author (6:53)

     Dennis Lehane speaks about his inspirations and his themes, as well as the differences between the book and the film. Affleck Chris Messina and producers Jennifer Davisson and Jennifer Todd talk about Lehane.

In Close Up: Creating a Classic Car Chase 7:35)

     The most interesting of the features is an extensive look at the filming of the movie’s car chase; the cars, the stunts and the music. As well as Affleck and Lehane there are comments from the stunt coordinator R A Rondell, DP Robert Richardson and composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

Deleted Scenes (15:56)

     These scenes can be selected with or without the director’s commentary. There are five scenes which play after each other and cannot be selected individually. They are:

Commentary

     Affleck, DP Robert Richardson and production designer Jess Gonchor sit together and watch the film. This is a stilted commentary, with gaps and in truth it is a bit dull, with a lot of “I like this shot / set / location / etc” although they do talk about the locations, the lighting, camera set ups, digital enhancements, the alterations to the book and the sets.

R4 vs R1

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

     This release is the same as the Region A US version of Live By Night including the FBI anti-piracy warning, although there are some different audio and subtitle options.

Summary

     Live By Night is another gangster film set in the 1920s. It does not offer anything much that is new but it looks spectacular, with sumptuous period detail including the 1920s cars and weapons, and Zoe Saldana and Sienna Miller are great. Ben Affleck wrote the screenplay, directed and stars, which may have been one hat too many as one gets the feeling that with a firmer control of the script the film could have been something rather special, given the talent involved.

     The video is beautiful and the audio very good. The extras are decent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, May 18, 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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