Bagdad Cafe (1988)
Audio Commentary-Director Percy Adlon and Actor Marianne Sägebrecht
Filmographies-Cast & Crew-Jack Palance, Percy Adlon and Marianne Sägebrecht
Trailer-Malcolm; Cinema Paradiso; Death Of A Salesman
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||1988|
|Running Time||103:59 (Case: 85)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Percy Adlon|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Released in 1988 (and known as Out of Rosenheim in Germany), this film drew much attention and was also nominated for several awards including the Seattle International Film Festival where it won Best Film 1988. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song for "Calling You". All this attention aside, I find it hard to understand what all the fuss was about as I'd hardly call this any sort of masterpiece. It's not so much the performances that I find didn't inspire, rather I couldn't find much in the story and characters as written and portrayed on film. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) C.C.H. Pound's Brenda is so unpleasant during the great majority of the film that by the end I really wasn't interested in her redemption and when it did come, I didn't find it convincing. Marianne Sägebrecht who plays Jasmin is very interesting to look at and I thought her performance was quite good. She has a sort of porcelain doll quality about her that really does stand out, but the film didn't delve into her motivation and background enough for the audience to get a sense as to why she is content to settle in with the collection of misfits we are presented with during the film. We know she has a huge spat with her husband which we see at the start, but we really know nothing of her by the end of the film. Perhaps the director intended for the audience to come to the character of Jasmin the same way as the characters at the Bagdad Cafe do, but I still didn't think it worked. Rounding out the main cast is Jack Palance as the aged hippy artist. His performance is okay, but as with the Jasmin character we have too little development for us to understand his motivation.
Director Percy Adlon doesn't seem to know what to do with the characters here. It isn't enough to collect a range of quirky personalities, dump them into an unusual setting and hope that something interesting happens, because more often than not, not much really does happen. This reminds me of a film that I reviewed recently called Highway which, despite its high profile cast, failed to inspire with either too little character development or poor writing. This film did inspire a short-lived television series in 1990 which starred Whoopi Goldberg in the Brenda role and Jean Stapleton as Jasmin. It ran on the CBS network for one full season and part of a second before being cancelled.
I did look forward to this film as one of those gems that one might leave off to the side until the right time comes along and you decide to dig it out and watch it. I hadn't read any reviews of the film and was in Europe during its U.S. release, so it really passed my by. Sad to say, it should have just kept on passin' because there isn't all that much to it and it ranges from boring to irritating. Not my cup of tea at all.
This film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
We have a fairly ordinary level of sharpness here due to several factors, these being grain, MPEG artefacts and some focus issues that are visible from time to time (sometimes all the time) during the program. A prime example of lack of sharpness is visible at 53:50 with a shot that just plain looks out-of-focus and seen in context didn't appear to be intended so by the director. Shadow detail also seemed lacking during some sections such as at 9:57 and 28:50. Low level noise didn't seem to be a problem.
Colour use during the film varied from natural to non-existent to exaggerated to surreal, all depending on what the director was trying to impart during the film. The colour's commitment to this disc seems reasonable considering the many film and video artefacts that litter the screen.
Of all the things that mar this film's image, the most prevalent is MPEG artefacts. These are quite pronounced and frequent; pure visible proof of a fairly ordinary compression job. Although this film is committed to disc on a single layer (the German disc is reportedly RSDL), this is no excuse for a terrible transfer as many films with more extras and greater length have been committed to disc much better than what we have here. Instances of this annoying artefact can be seen at 0:43 in the sky, 3:59, 25:21, 65:54 and 79:13. One of the most glaring examples is at 63:57 right after a scene change where the pixelization and macroblocking linger on one of the character's face for several seconds before dissipating. This is a terrible compression job that distracts from the film. Also visible is our old mate edge enhancement which can be seen at 43:00 and 52:59. Telecine wobble is visible at 62:28 and also there is a quite noticeable film frame jump at 56:53. Grain is quite visible throughout the film with 1:31 as a prime example. There is the odd nick and fleck visible during the feature, but these were not present to any distracting level.
There are no subtitles available during this feature.
This disc is formatted single layer and therefore a layer change is not an issue.
There are 2 audio tracks available on this disc, these being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 main track and an audio commentary track in German Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the main track and sampled the audio commentary, though I was unable to understand anything as my German is quite poor.
The dialogue quality is adequate and competent enough to serve the film without being an overachiever. Despite some of the thick accents present with many of the characters, the spoken word was always understandable.
Audio sync is fairly ordinary with the dialogue drifting off from the characters' mouth movements from time to time such as at 91:55, 93:40 and 96:07. Much of the problems lies with some ordinary lip synching during the singing near the end of the film.
Music for this film is by infrequent film scorer Bob Telson, whose score for this film is fairly unmemorable with the exception of the theme song Calling You, performed by Jevetta Steele, and something of a hit in the late 80s. It was also nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Song category but lost to Let The River Run by Carly Simon for the film Working Girl. The score meets all the cues required in the appropriate style without being overly memorable.
Despite this film's main audio track being in English Dolby Digital 2.0, I was unable to coax any surround information from it. Listening to the audio in straight 2 channel didn't seem to present a very accurate soundstage with the dialogue seeming to be separated from the characters, while using the Pro Logic decoding collapsed the sound to the centre channel and did little to spread it across the fronts. Perhaps a DSP setting such as TV Theatre or even Mono Movie might extract some sort of interesting soundstage from the audio tracks of this film, but I didn't have much luck.
There isn't much to tax (or even nudge) the subwoofer with very little LFE available.
|Surround Channel Use|
Selecting the Extras presents us with the following choices:
Theatrical Trailer - Bagdad Cafe 1:42
This is the original theatrical trailer for the film which seems to capture all the quirkiness of the film and package it up as something that someone might find appealing. The image is quite ordinary as is the audio which sounds as if it was transferred from an old 78 rpm record. The image is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
Audio Commentary (in German)- Director Percy Adlon and film star Marianne Sägebrecht
As much as I might dislike a film, I always find that I can get something out of a commentary. This is one that I'm sorry to say I got nothing out of because it's completely in German and without subtitles. So unless you speak German as well as English, you won't get anything out of this.
Photo Gallery - 5:22
Rather than the usual frame by frame gallery we usually get, this is a self-running slide show with captions (in English, thankfully) and audio from the film's soundtrack in the background. I found that the images went a bit fast at times and I had to reach for the pause button to have enough time to read the captions. In lieu of the unusable commentary, this features as much information as you will find out about this film on this disc. This feature is 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.
Filmographies - Jack Palance, Percy Adlon and Marianne Sägebrecht (2 pages each)
These are abbreviated filmographies for 2 of the film's actors and its director.
This feature offers us 3 trailers for the films:
Trailer for the classic 80s Australian film about a man obsessed with trams. It's presented in 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.
Trailer for the 1989 Academy Award winning Best Foreign Film. Presented in 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.
Trailer for the film featuring Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich. The image of this trailer is quite bad and seems to have been generated from what looks like a third generation VHS master complete with a large timecode bar at the bottom of the screen.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 disc misses out on:
(Compared with the German disc):
The video is quite ordinary with far too many MPEG artefacts visible along with quite a bit of grain.
The audio is flat with not much information spread across the front soundstage and no surround activity at all.
The extras are fairly slim with some trailers available and a commentary in German which rules out it being useful to most of the viewers of this film.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD RA-61, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|