The Night We Called It a Day (2003)

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Released 11-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Director , Producer and Joel Edgerton (Actor)
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Deleted Scenes-2, With Optional Commentary
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 91:55
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Paul Goldman
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Dennis Hopper
Melanie Griffith
Portia de Rossi
Joel Edgerton
Rose Byrne
David Hemmings
David Field
Victoria Thaine
Stephen O'Rourke
Nicholas Hope
George Vidalis
Peter Demlakian
Tony Barry
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Rupert Gregson-Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
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 was curious about how the producers would present this story of the farcical 1974 tour of Frank Sinatra to Australia. The mid to late 70s were a volatile time on this remote island, and apparently Australia was a bit of a dangerous place for imported musicians - Freddie Mercury and his band Queen copping a bit of a serve at around that time in Queensland as well. It was an era of burgeoning feminism, of powerful industrial swipes by the Trade Union movement, and our cultural cringe had us nearly stooped in half. Into this mix, Old Blue Eyes made a foray back from waning popularity, only to misjudge the sentiments of an entire segment of the Australian population and enmesh himself in an industrial dispute that made world headlines. Questioning the professional ethics of a number of Aussie journalists in a somewhat indelicate manner, the "Chairman of the Board" found himself holed up in his hotel room with a hostile trade union movement unwilling to allow him to escape our shores without first saying "sorry" - funny - we appear to have a problem with *that* word don't we?!

     That is the background to the film, The Night We Called It A Day. The actual events have a genuinely farcical aspect that could have probably been explored reasonably accurately and still have yielded an entertaining and amusing film. Instead, the many producers, writers and other contributors ultimately saw fit to embellish the story with a number of additional characters and plotlines, which led to some irritations and possibly even a dilution of the real strengths that were inherent in the story. It leads to the entire piece feeling so apocryphal that it makes all the characters feel cartoon-like, and isolates us from any sympathy we may have felt for the participants in the story. In this, the commentaries are quite revealing, proving that there was much contention between the creative decision makers on the film. A movie made by a committee is rarely a successful entity, and the evidence of "too many chiefs" is all too obvious here.

     In essence, the story revolves around a young semi-drifter, Rod Blue (Joel Edgerton) who has made a sort of living out of promoting live acts around Sydney. It's all been rock'n'roll and bad debts and beer and board shorts for young Rod, but in a flash of ambition, he decides to try and lure Frank Sinatra to Australia in something of a comeback tour. He is joined in his efforts by his antithesis, Audrey Appleby (the genuinely wonderful Rose Byrne), a recently graduated law student who has had a crush on our young hero since she was 4 1/2 years old. Where he is a mess personified, Audrey is organised, practical and focused. And while Rod is no genius when it comes to recognising her abilities, she has the tenacity to keep on keeping on in spite of his lack of attention.

     So, after charming Old Blue Eyes out of Hollywood, they get him on a charter plane to Sydney (never let the facts get in the way of a story). At the airport, Frankie is insulted by the comments of one Hilary Hunter (played in workmanlike fashion by Portia de Rossi) and refers to her as a "Two dollar whore." His comments and those that ensue get Sinatra further and further into trouble, inciting the ire of Trades Union Chief Bob Hawke (played very flamboyantly by David Field) who inflames his brothers and sisters into a series of strikes that effectively incarcerate the singer in his hotel suite with his minders and latest squeeze, Barbara Marx (Melanie Griffith).

     Rod is now faced with reconciling the union leader, the singing icon and the Australian public, while salvaging his shattered dreams for the tour that would have cemented his bank balance and his credibility. Somewhere in the midst of this, he must also extricate himself from the clutches of Hilary Hunter to clear his way to the arms of Audrey. Phew - it's all rather exhausting isn't it!

     Overall, The Night We Called It A Day is a reasonable film, although it has problems that even the director Paul Goldman concedes. Too many compromises and contributions in the scripting have left it feeling somewhat scattered in content and lacking in genuine heart. It was interesting to note that in his commentary, he mentions the artistic tension between himself and the writers, given that he saw it as an historically accurate comedic drama, whilst they saw it more specifically as high farce. The result is that it tries to nod in both directions at once and manages to lose all sense of direction in the process. The acting of Dennis Hopper as Sinatra is pretty much faultless but the surrounding characters have frequently been rendered down to one dimensional stereotypes which provide no extra depth to the story.

     It results in a light, aimless but essentially harmless piece of entertainment.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

     The transfer is very clear and sharp. The detail revealed by this transfer is particularly good. Shadow detail is exemplary, with plenty of detail revealed in the murky lighting of this production. There is no low level noise. Grain levels are more than acceptable and it appears crisp and bright.

     Colours were well rendered and clear, with very good skin tones.

     There were no major MPEG artefacts seen. Aliasing is very rare and very mild when it does occur. Film artefacts are very rare and not distracting at all.

     There were no subtitles available on this film.

    This disc is dual layered. I could detect no layer change.

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

Audio

     The audio tracks available are 5.1 surround and Dolby Digital 2.0, with 2 available commentary tracks in Dolby Digital 2.0.

     The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. There was a very slight delay in audio sync - I've seen plenty worse, but it was evident in this transfer.

     The musical score and the underscore by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Lorne Balfe was absolutely fantastic. Tom Burlinson's renditions of Sinatra's songs are spookily accurate and literally evoke every nuance of the originals. The other incidental music used places the film firmly in its timeframe and brings to life the energy and atmosphere of the era.

     The surround channels were very busy throughout the presentation, and the subwoofer was kept awake for the whole show, although never inappropriately so.

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

Extras

      A good selection of extras are present.

Menu

     The menu design is themed around the movie and features an animated clip from the movie and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio.

Behind The Scenes: (10:06)

     This is presented at 1.33:1 and features: Dennis Hopper (Sinatra), Paul Goldman (Director), Emile Sherman (Producer), Peter Clifton (Screen Writer/Producer), Joel Edgerton (Rod Blue), the recently deceased David Hemmings (Mickey), Melanie Griffith (Barbara Marx), Portia De Rossi (Hilary Hunter), Rose Byrne (Audrey Appleby), and Nik Powell (Producer). It's not much more really than an extended promo and love fest amongst cast and crew.

Deleted Scenes:

  1. "Lance McCullum" (02:18)

  2. "President Nixon Calls" (00:47)

     Both of these scenes are available with or without commentary.

Theatrical Trailer

     This runs for 1 minute, 50 seconds and is in 1.33:1 format.

Commentary - Paul Goldman (Director), Emile Sherman (Producer) and Joel Edgerton (Actor)

     Mostly the director and producer speaking, with Edgerton appearing via phone line to add some details. This is actually an unusually revealing commentary and hints at some less than happy times on set.

Commentary - Peter Clifton (Screen Writer/Producer) and Michael Thomas (Screen Writer/ Executive Producer)

     This is a somewhat drier presentation and indulges in revelations of the style that always make me nervous. When a scriptwriter actually starts explaining the plot, I always feel that the film can't have done its job properly. Thomas' contributions are via telephone link-up.

R4 vs R1

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

     The R4 version appears to be the only one available to date.

Summary

     This film has been transferred very well. Overall, it's a pleasant enough film to watch - not great, but not bad either.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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Comments (Add)
Looking for Michael Thomas, the Australian writer -
Region 1 DVD -