Sidewalks of New York (2001)

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Released 6-Mar-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Audio Commentary
Featurette-Anatomy Of A Scene
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 103:17 (Case: 108)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Edward Burns
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Edward Burns
Rosario Dawson
Heather Graham
Brittany Murphy
Dennis Farina
Stanley Tucci
Krumoltz David
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I remember just after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, that among the many questions posed was what would happen to all the films that were in production or had just wrapped and used the city, and in particular the twin towers of The World Trade Centre as a backdrop? Many filmmakers and studios decided to go back and either re-shoot sequences or digitally remove the towers from the scenes in post production. If I remember correctly, Sidewalks of New York was just about to be released when that fateful day occurred. Paramount Studios subsequently decided to delay its release for some months as a result. It was probably more to do with the New York in the title, rather than the couple of fleeting glimpses of the towers themselves. Nothing in this film was changed as a result of the attacks, and the title has remained the same. Director Edward Burns mentions in his commentary that he was not inclined to remove the images of the towers, as they were a part of what New York was about. He uses the analogy of someone in your family dying. You'd hardly go back to your photo albums and erase your loved ones from the photos, and this is no different. I quite like that sentiment.

    Sidewalks of New York lives up to its title, being pretty much about the people found on the streets of the Big Apple. The story is a revolving one, the type where we meet several characters throughout the story, and they are all connected by the interactions they share with each other (much like in real life I guess). Edward Burns is not only the director, he also plays one of the six main characters, Tommy. When he is tossed out of the apartment he shares with his current girlfriend he moves in with his buddy Carpo (a cameo from Dennis Farina). When he pops down to the local video store to rent a movie to keep himself occupied, he bumps into Maria (Rosario Dawson). Maria is divorced and single once again, and after a brief chat agrees to a date with Tommy. Her ex-husband, Ben (David Krumoltz) visits her occasionally, and appears to be having trouble getting over his marriage break-up. He is also trying to chat up the lovely waitress at his local diner. Ashley (Brittany Murphy) is a lovely nineteen year old NYU student and waitress who initially fends off Ben's advances, since she is having an affair with a thirty-nine year old married man. Griffin (Stanley Tucci) is a dentist by day and by night husband to uptight real estate agent Annie (Heather Graham). Griffin is having an affair with Ashley, and although expressing his love for her, will not leave Annie since he has already been divorced once before. Annie suspects Griffin of surreptitious night-time activities, but is too busy working to fully confront him with it. Her main client at present is a young executive who is searching for a new apartment after just getting tossed out of his old one by his girlfriend! Yep, it's Tommy and we're back to where we started.

    A character dialogue drama rather than a romantic comedy, this is the style of film that Woody Allen might make, about ordinary people doing ordinary things. It has been shot and edited in quasi-documentary style, in a further attempt to make it appear real. Rather than using multi-camera set-ups to film different angles on a scene and then editing them together, a single camera has been used. These single camera shots have then been edited together using jump-cuts, which while seeming a little unusual to start with soon allows a certain realistic flow to the story. Furthering the documentary style are the use of person-on-the-street style interviews. These straight-to-camera pieces by the actors, in response to a certain question, allow a significant amount of exposition to be extracted and provide the device for the characters to seem like real people simply going about their lives in New York.

    You should pretty much ignore the packaging completely with this title. It is rather misleading to say the least. Firstly, it states that the soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 when it isn't, and then it states that there are English subtitles available, when there aren't. It also lists a trailer being present, when one was never made for it, and lastly it markets the film as a comedy, which really it isn't. It is certainly more of a character drama.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Despite being low budget, apart from one minor colour problem, this is a really nice looking transfer. It was filmed on 35mm film stock. In fact, Edward Burns mentions his distaste for digital video in the commentary, and how he always prefers traditional film stock, even for low-budget films. It was mostly captured with hand-held cameras.

    The video transfer is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    While there is a reasonable level of sharpness and detail evident, there is also substantial edge enhancement present whenever the characters move inside. As a result of using some variable lighting, it is worse on some scenes than others. Grain is mostly absent, as is low level noise.

    A fairly simple, dare I say, ordinary colour palette is present here. When I say ordinary I mean no disrespect - it is probably about as natural looking as you can get. Don't expect any of the artificially highly saturated and rich colourings of some films shot in New York (When Harry Met Sally springs to mind). It is all about normal people doing normal things, and that means they should look normal as well. There is one minor problem with the colour. It occurs at 28:54 in the scene where Annie and Griffin are talking in their bathroom. There is a noticeable change in the colour tone when the scene moves from one shot to another via a jump-cut. A slightly browner tinge appears suddenly and it is really quite obvious.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. Aliasing was absent, which is always a blessing. There were also virtually no film artefacts, which is even more pleasing.

    Somewhat strangely, there are no subtitles available.

    Despite the packaging claiming this to be a dual layered disc, this is a single layered disc only, so there isn't a layer change pause to worry about.

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

Audio

    As mentioned above, ignore the packaging which states that this disc features a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. What we actually get is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with no surround flag in the bitstream. It's no big deal that we miss the full surround track, as this is certainly a film that is pretty heavy on character dialogue interaction so surround activity would be somewhat out of place anyway.

    There are two audio tracks in total on this disc. Both are Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks. One is for the film and is in English. The other is a commentary track from director Ed Burns, and is also naturally enough in English.

    Dialogue is pretty much what this film is all about, and even though the soundtrack is limited to two channels, the dialogue does not suffer and does not get lost in amongst the background sounds. There are no audio sync problems with the main soundtrack, though there are with the commentary track. See the extras section for details of this problem.

    There isn't actually a score, rather a few songs, some of which were written originally for the film. They all suit the themes quite well.

    There is no surround or subwoofer use. They are not missed.

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

Extras

    A couple of extras have been included on this disc, and while short on quantity, they make up for it in quality terms. There is no theatrical trailer, for the simple reason that there never was one in the first place (a consequence of the low budget I would assume).

Audio Commentary  - Director Edward Burns

    This is a screen-specific full length commentary track from actor and director Edward Burns. He focuses predominantly on the low budget nature of the film, and while this does become a little repetitive after a while, it is interesting and insightful as to how he overcame the lack of money and got the film made. Budding filmmakers could do worse than to listen to this to get a feel for the methods employed by Burns and his crew to overcome monetary limitations. Also interesting is his distaste for the digital video revolution and his love of 35mm. There are problems with the audio sync for the background actors' dialogue on this track in the early stages which makes it a little difficult to watch, but if all you are doing is listening to the director, then this shouldn't be a problem. This out-of-sync problem appears to right itself after a few minutes.

Featurette - Anatomy Of A Scene

    The packaging lists this as a making-of featurette. It's not. It is actually The Anatomy Of A Scene documentary that appears on the Sundance Channel and that are often included on Paramount Classics discs. These documentaries are a breakdown of a particular scene in quite a bit of detail. It is a 'making-of' of sorts, but only for that scene. This one focuses on the interaction between Tommy (Ed Burns) and Maria (Rosario Dawson) in their local video store. Interviews with the director, the actors, and other crew associated with this scene only are included. As such, don't expect to see interviews with Heather Graham or Brittany Murphy. Total running time is 22:28. Heaps of detail is included here, and a real feel for the low budget nature of the film comes through.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 disc is exactly the same as the Region 4. Grab either where you can get it cheapest, but I'll make mine PAL please.

Summary

    The packaging and marketing angle presented for this disc are somewhat disappointing. The packaging contains no less than five significant errors. The film has also been promoted as a comedy, and while containing some comedic moments, it is really a dialogue character drama at its heart.

    The video quality, despite being low budget, is really quite nice.

    The audio, contrary to the packing which claims it as a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, is actually a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It performs the job required of it well.

    The extras are not plentiful, but are of high quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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