Italian for Beginners (Italiensk for Begyndere) (2000)

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Released 22-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Short Film-The Only Person In The World
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Notes-The DOGME 95 manifesto
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-The Best Man's Wedding; My Wife Is An Actress
Trailer-Read My Lips; The Last Kiss
Deleted Scenes-(Danish language only)
Outtakes-(Danish language only)
TV Spots-(Danish language only)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 94:11 (Case: 98)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Lone Sherfig
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Peter Gantzler
Anders Berthelsen
Lars Kaalund
Ann Elonora
Sara Indrio Jansen
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Danish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Dogme films tend to be a mixed affair for me - I loathed Dancer In The Dark, and had heard very little about Italian For Beginners when it arrived in my town as part of a travelling flim festival. Although I instantly recognised it as a Dogme project, I found this to be an infinitely more enjoyable film, and one that stuck with me for quite a while afterwards. The characters are believable, the performances are solid, and although the story is a little too complicated to describe, it flows quite easily.

    Andreas is a temporary pastor, assigned to fill the shoes of the grumpy Wredmann who has been placed on stress leave. Both pastors are grieving the loss of their partners, and their working relationship is strained from the beginning. New to town, Andreas soon makes friends with Jorgen, who hasn't been intimate with a woman in many years - claiming to have been impotent since suffering a groin injury. Also in the mix is a clumsy bakery assistant, a lonely hairdresser, an abusive waiter and a beautiful Italian waitress, all of whom find their paths crossing in an Italian language class operated by the local government.

    Those familiar with Dogme films know what to expect here: the sets are real, the lighting is natural (and sometimes bad), the camerawork is handheld - but you get used to it, and looks absolutely like a low budget production, which it is. The details of Dogme filmmaking are included on this DVD, and make a very interesting read - if only to try and understand the reasons behind these many restrictions.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a good transfer, with very few flaws to be concerned about.

    The film is presented in the director's intended aspect of 1.37:1, and is obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

    The video transfer is quite sharp with a moderate level of detail present. Shadow detail is well defined although much of the film is considerably well lit. There were no examples of low level noise.

    Colours appeared to be well rendered and showed no signs of bleeding. Skin tones were a little on the darker side, but that may be normal for this part of Europe.

    I didn't detect any MPEG artefacts, but some slight grain crept in now and then during the darker scenes that wasn't too distracting. There were a few instances of aliasing, such as on a balcony railing at 83:55, but these were very minor. The most distracting for me was a terribly flaring shirt at 69:22, probably a poor choice of wardrobe. There were no film artefacts present.

    English subtitles are burned into the video stream, as appears to be the norm for Fox releases of late. The text is white on a black background, and is very easy to read. I cannot speak for their accuracy, but the titles flow well with the dialogue.

    This disc is single layered, hence there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track available, the original Danish language track in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    In accordance with the Dogme 95 manifesto, virtually all of the audio is recorded on location, with no ADR or post production performed apart from the soundtrack music. Even though I don't understand a word of Danish, the tonal and emotional aspects of the dialogue delivery were always easy to discern.

    There were absolutely no issues with audio sync.

    Only very simple classical piano pieces are used as musical interludes, and these sometimes burst in at an unnecessarily high volume (82:40). This is the only point where I feel that the film strays from the strict manifesto, by using pre-recorded music that isn't present on location, and isn't directly related to the story in any way. (See point two of the Vow Of Chastity as detailed in the manifesto.)

    My surround speakers and subwoofer were given the night off, with Pro Logic enabled absolutely no signal was directed to the surround channels. Actually, I preferred the Pro Logic processing in this case as it seemed to eliminate a lot of the annoying location noise and directed the dialogue to the front centre channel.

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

Extras

    For a single layered disc there are some quality extras here, but if you don't speak Danish you'll probably be as disappointed as I was. None of the content on this disc is 16x9 enhanced.

Menu

    The main menu is static, with a simple piano piece from the feature as accompaniment.

Short Film - The Only Person In The World (13:14)

    Totally unrelated to the feature, this short film from Australian director Ben Chessell is presented in 1.78:1, without 16x9 enhancement. A young trombone player is forced to come to terms with his girlfriend's affair with an American guitarist. Imaginatively directed, with some good performances.

Cast and Crew Bios

    These cover the director Lone Sherfig and six of the principal cast members.

Trailer (1:58)

    This is basically a collage of the film's quirkiest moments, and perhaps makes it out to be funnier that it really is.

Gallery - The Dogme 95 Manifesto

    Seven pages of text, outlining the formula that makes Dogme 95 films so unique. Quite an interesting read.

Photo Gallery

    Twelve simple stills, taken from the movie.

Deleted Scenes (10:32)

    Presented in Danish language only, without any available English subtitles. I had absolutely no idea what was going on in these scenes.

Bloopers (3:15)

    Again in Danish only, simply a reel of failed takes with the cast bursting into laughter.

TV Spot (0:25)

    Very similar to the theatrical trailer, this is another extra lacking English subtitles.

Trailers

    Additional trailers for the films The Best Man's Wedding, My Wife Is An Actress, Read My Lips and The Last Kiss.

Censorship

    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.

R4 vs R1

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

    Although our Region 4 release has some good extras, we have missed out on:

    Some Region 2 sources list feature runtimes of up to 112 minutes, whereas ours is only 94:11. I suspect we have received a cut version of this film, so serious fans may prefer to purchase one of the many Region 2 options.

Summary

    Italian For Beginners is a likeable film that probably won't appeal to the masses, but is sure to be loved by anyone with a soft spot for a good drama. We have received a good presentation in Region 4, with acceptable video and audio, and a good selection of extras. I do fear that we may have received a shorter version than our Region 2 friends.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Jules F

Comments (Add)
dancer in the dark is not a dogma film... - REPLY POSTED
Wilbur wants to Kill Himself- R4 release -