I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2000) (NTSC)

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Released 14-Apr-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Booklet
Audio Commentary-Sam Jones (Director) & Wilco
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Extra Footage
Bonus Track-Jeff Tweedy Uncut Solo Performances (2)
Featurette-Making Of-I Am Trying To Make A Film
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 92:16
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:59)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Sam Jones
Studio
Distributor
Cowboy Pictures
Stomp Visual
Starring Jeff Tweedy
Jay Bennett
John Stirratt
Leroy Bach
Glenn Kotche
Greg Kot
Tony Margherita
Case 4-Way Cross-Dual
RPI ? Music Wilco


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    sop·o·rif·ic adj. 1.Inducing or tending to induce sleep. 2.Drowsy.

    This DVD comprises two discs detailing the slightly traumatic journey of the American band Wilco as they worked together to create their fourth album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

     The first disc is the main feature - a documentary by Sam Jones on the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Running for 92:16 it goes behind the scenes to reveal the struggle of the band to create the music, finish the album and ultimately get it released. Jones, a stills photographer, does a reasonable job with his first feature, pulling together the history in a logical flow and condensing almost two years worth of filming into a neat 92 minute snapshot. Unfortunately it just isn't terribly interesting to watch.

    The film mixes fly-on-the wall footage of collaboration, rehearsals and recording with interview sections featuring the band and their management plus various executives from the record label. There is a little drama involved here, as one of the founding members, Jay Bennett, is suddenly dropped from the band with little explanation. Jones has certainly been provided full access to the band, and even manages to capture Tweedy vomiting after a row with Bennett - ostensibly due to a migraine. Further drama crops up as the band finish the album and proudly present it to the record label, who have advanced all of the money to fund the creative process. Much to Wilco's surprise, the record label, without giving too much explanation, decline to release the album believing it to have limited commercial viability.

    Wilco began life as an "alternative country music" band, but rapidly evolved through their first three albums, until Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was created - this album has little, if anything, in common with any country music I have ever heard. The distance between this work and their earlier releases may have been a major part of the reason for their record label, Reprise Records, declining to release the album once it was completed. Apparently there was a changing of the guard at Reprise during the recording of the album, and the new A&R management did not find Yankee Hotel Foxtrot worthy of release without changes first being made. Wilco refused to make any changes and Reprise decided to "allow" the band to leave, taking the complete recording with them, onto the open market. Ironically, the disc was picked up (as were the band themselves) by a sister label, Nonesuch Records, owned by the same company - Time Warner. As the documentary states, the company actually paid for the same album twice.

    I suppose the documentary shows how the artistic integrity of Wilco wins out over the narrow-minded views of some music industry executives. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was widely hailed as one of the best albums of the year in the USA and sold in considerable numbers. There is no doubt that this two disc set contains plenty of material, but unless you are a fan of the band it is all fairly boring to watch. Personally, I didn't much care for the feature and Wilco, whilst seemingly very talented musicians, simply do not float my boat.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Please note: the video on this disc is in NTSC format. If your system cannot handle NTSC then give this disc a miss.

    Hurrah! Thanks to the marvel of modern technology we can now have music documentaries filmed with a "high definition digital transfer". Now, after all these years we can have full-blooded pretentious arthouse digitally processed grain throughout our monochrome music documentaries. Gone are the days when we used to have to wait for a dodgy process or the ravages of time to completely trash a video - it's here, it's fake and it's happening before my very eyes!

    The overall video transfer of this disc is, umm, arty. The entire "high definition" transfer probably looks great underneath the huge amounts of artistic grain. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Shadow detail is very good and blacks are deep, dark and solid with no low-level noise evident. There is no colour, but grey scale appears satisfactory with a range of subtle shades clearly rendered.

    The transfer has no major MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts are essentially absent. The transfer is very clean with no significant scratches or other film artefacts cropping up.

    There is a sole set of English subtitles present. These seem to have enhancement for the Hearing Impaired, with cues for sound effects and song lyrics appearing. The subtitles are very close to the dialogue, are well timed and very easy to read.

    The main disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change noticeable at 59:59, but reasonably well placed at a scene change.

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

Audio

    Functional. Umm...that's about it.

    The sole audio track is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 224 kbps. The surround flag is not enabled.

    The sound is generally clear and I did not notice any significant audio defects. Audio sync was fine throughout.

    The soundstage is far more "documentary" than "rock concert" and this leaves the musical footage sounding rather hollow and somewhat flat. Think of this as a disc about the music industry, not about music.

    The surrounds are unused, unless you have Pro Logic enabled, in which case you will get some surround effect, but no directionality or localised sounds, just a few more speakers being used. Other than for bass redirection, the subwoofer also remains silent throughout the performance as there is no discrete .1 channel encoding.

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

Extras

    This two disc set contains bountiful extras, although unless you are a fan of the group they are of debatable value.

Menu

    The menu on disc one is silent with a still photograph of Chicago allowing the selection of playing the movie, choosing one of thirty-one chapter stops, viewing the trailer or activating the director's commentary or subtitles.

Commentary Track

    The first disc has the option of a commentary track by Sam Jones and members of the band. It provides a further small insight into the filmmaking process and the emotions of the band at the time of filming. It is no more interesting than the main feature. Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 kbps.

Trailer

    This runs for 2:08 and makes the feature look rather more dramatic than it turns out to be. Presented letterboxed at 1.82:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

Disc Two

Menu

    The menu on disc two is silent with a still photograph of (presumably) Lake Michigan. It allows the selection of the following extras:

Extra Footage

    Basically deleted scenes from the documentary, there are certainly plenty to choose from. The clips can be watched in one solid run of 56:43, or selected via twenty-four chapter stops. Unlike the main feature they are not 16x9 enhanced and are instead presented letterboxed with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps. Featuring some more live performances and discussion with the band, along with some home-video type shots of Tweedy with his child, much of this footage has poorer shadow detail, suffers from aliasing and the focus is often a bit off, so it's probably better that it was included as an extra, rather than as part of the main feature. The sequence where Tweedy is trying to play an acoustic number for Jones, but is thwarted by a bleeping toy robot, a mobile phone and then his home telephone brings a smile to everyone's face. Some of the stage footage of Jeff Tweedy chatting to the crowd is very funny and he certainly comes across as a charming and cheeky individual, rather than the overly intense "artiste" as seen in the main feature.

Jeff Tweedy Uncut Solo Performances

    Two tracks are presented in their entirety, filmed in San Francisco in March 2001. Both are letterboxed with dimensions which I could not accurately measure (approximately 1.82:1) with the same Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps. They are Not For The Season (2:24) and Sunken Treasure (5:46).

I Am Trying To Make A Film

    This featurette runs for 7:04 and follows Sam Jones' journey from being a still photographer to a documentary director. He explains that he wanted to show the entire process of making an album, from go to whoa. It features colour footage interspersed with scenes from the main feature and is presented letterboxed 1.66:1 with (surprise, surprise) a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps. It is mildly interesting.

Booklet

    An extremely thorough 40-page booklet covering the diary of Sam Jones along with photographs of the band. A nice addition.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is coded for Regions 1 to 6 so I would surmise that all Regions get an identical release.

Summary

    I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is a fairly boring documentary filmed in black and white with excessive grain added for effect. The tale holds no real surprises, and doesn't tell you anything you wouldn't already be able to guess about the music industry. One for fans of Wilco only.

    The video quality is worse than it needs to be due to the pretentious over-use of grain in an attempt to make the documentary look more artistic than it really is.

    The audio is a perfunctory stereo soundtrack.

    The extra features are extensive and the overall package presents good value to dedicated fans.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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