Moonlight Mile (2002)

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Released 19-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Moonlight Mile : A journey to screen
Deleted Scenes-10 +/- director's commentary
Audio Commentary-Brad Silberling (Director)
Audio Commentary-Brad Silberling (Dir), Dustin Hoffman & Jake Gyllenhaal
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 114:49 (Case: 112)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:55) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brad Silberling
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal
Dustin Hoffman
Susan Sarandon
Holly Hunter
Ellen Pompeo
Dabney Coleman
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Mark Isham


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
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

In life and love, expect the unexpected

Every so often a disc pops up for review featuring a film you have neither heard of nor have any idea what it may be about. Even less often these unknown films turn out to be hidden gems, worthy of many accolades and further attention. Moonlight Mile is one of these rare beasts. Directed by Brad Silberling (Casper, City Of Angels) and starring two of America's most respected actors in Susan Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman, this is one of those stories which you can instantly comprehend as being an intensely personal journey for all those involved.

Many of you will already know of the celebrity stalking and eventual murder in the late 1980s of television star Rebecca Schaeffer who starred in My Sister Sam. How is this connected to this film? Well, the director of this film, Brad Silberling was Rebecca Schaeffer's boyfriend at the time of the murder. As a result of his loss of a loved one, Silberling had wanted to tell this deeply personal story for many years, but had never quite finished the screenplay to his satisfaction or found a studio willing to take on the project. Eventually he found the studio and the cast he was after (he wrote the parts of the parents with Hoffman and Sarandon in mind). This is the result.

Set in a small New England town in 1973, Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) is Joe Nast. Joe was engaged to be married to Diana, the only daughter of JoJo and Ben Floss (Susan Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman). But before the wedding can take place, Diana is murdered in a shooting at a local diner. The film opens just as the family and Joe are attending the funeral of Diana and welcoming the various visitors into their house for the wake. Joe is still living with the Floss' even though the common link between them has now been severed. As the grief and mourning starts to take hold of the three, they find they are each dealing with it in their own unique way. Ben feels the conventional pain and suffering of any father who feels helpless after the loss of his daughter. JoJo is unable to come to terms with the seemingly insincere offerings of condolences from all of the family friends, while Joe at first seems to be barely affected at all. While everyone around him feels he should be heavy of heart and inconsolable, Joe finds himself in a bit of a trance, unable to bring himself to personally grieve despite the loss of his future wife.

When he meets the gorgeous local post office worker Bertie (Ellen Pompeo), Joe's angst is further compounded as he finds himself instantly attracted to her, despite the fact he only buried his fianc a few days before. But the attraction to Bertie cannot be ignored, and in between dealing with his grief and trying to find a way to satisfy the demands of both Ben and JoJo, Joe is swept along on a voyage of self discovery.

This is an intensely personal film that in an instant can be seen as one made by someone with a deep personal attachment to the subject matter. The cast all give wonderful, intelligent and multi-layered performances, and coupled with a bitingly real script, understated production design and a bevy of timeless 70s songs, make a film that should offer many insights into the grieving process, a process that many people handle in many different ways.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video transfer is pretty much flawless despite featuring many dark and low-light interior shots.

Presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

The transfer really is nice and sharp throughout. There is a little bit of edge enhancement in some of the interior scenes, but these instances are barely noticeable. Shadow detail has plenty of opportunities to cause problems, but thankfully doesn't and is handled very well . There is virtually no grain, and no low level noise.

Colours are quite interesting. The actors make mention during the commentary of everyone being very aware of the dominance of brown during the shoot (it is set in the early 1970s). This comes across a little on screen, but there are also many splashes of full bright colour, from such things as table lamps and the like. All up I'd say this is quite an understated palette, but it is handled in a very controlled manner. Skin tones are natural and the blacks are exceptionally solid and deep. No problems are evident with posterization or bleeding.

There are no MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts are also absent. There is not a trace of aliasing. Film artefacts are also absent.

There are two subtitle streams, both in English. I sampled them for the entire duration of the film while listening to the audio commentaries and found them pretty much spot-on.

This is a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change occurs at 64:55 and is well placed.

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

Audio

There are three audio soundtracks on this disc. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at the higher bitrate of 448 Kb/s is provided for the main film while there are also two English audio commentary tracks. Overall, this is a solid soundtrack with clear channel separation and mostly excellent dialogue levels. It really is a dialogue focused film with few crashes or bangs to liven up proceedings. Thankfully there are no audio sync problems.

The subtle score is by the well known Mark Isham and captures the mood of loss, grief and confusion well. There are also some magnificent renditions of songs played throughout. Judging from the commentary, director Brad Silberling places almost as much emphasis on the songs used in his films as someone such as Cameron Crowe does. In fact Silberling spent a staggering 14 per cent of the film's $21 million budget on the rights to use the songs he has. The likes of Bob Dylan with Meet Me in the Morning and Buckets of Rain, David Bowie with Sweet Head, Elton John's superb Razor Face, Van Morrison's I'll Be Your Lover Too and Sweet Thing, and of course the main song of the film and the source for its name, Moonlight Mile from The Rolling Stones. All of these tunes capture the spirit and essence of the early 1970s without sounding at all clichd.

This isn't the sort of film which requires excessive surround channel use, and it isn't really needed anyway. Likewise, the subwoofer sees barely any action.



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

Extras

Menu Animation & Audio

Featurette - Moonlight Mile: A Journey to Screen

This is a 22:09 minute featurette that was obviously made for commercial television (it has the title screens popping up a couple of times, presumably for the ad breaks). While I wouldn't call this a completely promotional fluff piece, it does have some elements of self-promotion and self-congratulation.

Deleted Scenes

There are a total of 10 deleted scenes, all with the ability to be played with or without director commentary. Director Brad Silberling points out at the start in a one minute audio introduction that there is no director's cut as such. He deleted these scenes and the film released to theatres is his finished product. They run for between 0:21 and 3:11 minutes each.

Audio Commentary - Brad Silberling (Writer and Director)

This one is probably among the handful of really good commentaries that I have ever heard. While it is obvious Brad Silberling is watching the film while recording this, it barely matters. It is hardly what I would call screen-specific, but this fine commentary proves that they don't need to be in order to be any good. This is an intensely personal film and here the director shares many of the personal tales about how this film came into being. Indeed, he spends the first 40 minutes just discussing casting issues and the difficult process involved in actually getting the film off the ground. Definitely worth a listen.

Audio Commentary - Brad Silberling (Writer and Director), Jake Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman (Cast)

Another commentary featuring the director, but this time he is joined by cast members Jake Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman. More amusing and less personal than the other commentary, this one is a lot more fun with several amusing tales shared between the three. It also focuses a little more on the on-screen action.

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 identical to the Region 4 version.

Summary

Moonlight Mile is a film which must have been largely ignored in this country when it was originally released. I certainly can't remember it having a theatrical run of any note, but it is a rare film in that it offers a unique view of grief, personal loss, and the struggle to move on in life after someone close to you dies. A personal film from the writer/director Brad Silberling, this is a superbly acted effort from all involved. I cannot recommend this more highly.

The video and audio quality are excellent, while the extras provide some solid background information on the unique personal nature of the project.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, January 10, 2004
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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