Welcome to Collinwood (2002)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||82:39 (Case: 86)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (73:40)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Magna Home Entertainment
William H. Macy
John Buck Jr.
Brett C. Leonard
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"Idiots make lousy criminals"
Do you suffer from a similar affliction to me and often get your sibling directors mixed up, not remembering if a film was directed by the Coen brothers or the Farrelly Brothers? Well, if you do, the level of confusion might just be about to get a little more complicated. If Welcome To Collinwood is anything to go by, we may be hearing the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joe, mentioned more often in the same breath as their more famous filmmaking duos. This is a fun, stylish film that is quite different to anything you may have seen come from the Hollywood system in a while. But it is also a remake of the 1958 Italian film, Big Deal On Madonna Street (Soliti ignoti, I), so while unique for Hollywood it isn't completely original.
Produced by Steven Soderberg and George Clooney, this is essentially a heist film. But make no mistake, this is no Ocean's Eleven. Whereas that slick and highly polished film featured a swag of ultra smooth crooks with every conceivable gadget and plan available to them, Welcome To Collinwood is the complete antithesis of that Las Vegas based crime caper. Crooks with no luck, no brains, and generally no idea about how to pull off a heist of a pawnshop safe are bound to cause some mayhem.
Collinwood is a seedy suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Set in particularly difficult economic times (interestingly just when we really don't know - the fashions and production design suggests some time in the last 40 years - a fairly wide range indeed and a real quirk of the production). It is not a very affluent suburb, with most of the locals barely scraping by with enough money to even eat. When the rumour of a safe containing a cool $300,000 just ripe for the picking is spread around, a group of petty crims with barely an average IQ between them decide to get in on the action and plan the perfect crime.
The ensemble group of would-be thieves consists of Pero (Sam Rockwell), a pretty ordinary boxer who is sort of the ring leader of the group, Toto (Michael Jeter), a grubby street urchin who is afraid of heights, single dad Riley (William H. Macy) whose wife is in the slammer and he's left with carrying the baby (literally - he lugs it round for nearly the whole film). Leon (Isaiah Washington) and Basil (Andrew Davoli) round out the group. Making a brief cameo appearance is producer George Clooney, who plays the role of Jerzy, a wheelchair bound ex-safecracker, who agrees to teach the lads the finer points of safecracking.
Of course things don't go to plan. The last third of the film develops into complete slapstick, culminating in a very funny scene as the boys think they have finally cracked the safe. The real strength of this film lies in the performances from the incredibly strong cast. They create characters that while being disgusting and about as low down the socio-economic ladder as you can get, you can't help but feel empathy for. They are all doing this job to get somewhere in their lives, and more often than not are actually doing it for someone else. This is fun-filled, quirky and at times a little off-beat, but go into it with an open mind and I'm sure you will find something to laugh about.
Overall, this is a pretty decent video transfer that while not being eye catching and brilliantly sharp is quite serviceable and without major fault. It is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is also 16x9 enhanced.
You get the impression from the story that the grubby, grimy, and generally lacklustre look of the film is intentional. These are characters that are basically at wits end and are as desperate for a dollar as one can get. The source print as a result is not all that sharp and detailed - giving the impression it has been recycled a few times - much like the clothing all the characters wear. There are a few minor traces of edge enhancement present, but they are not overly obtrusive. There are no problems with shadow detail, for which I am thankful as there are plenty of dimly lit scenes where problems could have arisen. There is no low level noise.
As mentioned, the colour palette is somewhat subdued, with browns and greys dominating. Skin tones are consistent and blacks are solid.
There are no apparent MPEG artefacts, and thankfully the transfer is free from any aliasing or other film-to-video artefacts. I noticed a handful of small spots in the form of film artefacts, but these are barely worth worrying about.
Unfortunately as is the case for many of the smaller distributor's releases, this DVD has no subtitles.
This is a dual layered disc that is formatted RSDL. The layer change occurs quite late in the film at 73:40. The placement is excellent with no disruption to the film.
There is a choice of two soundtracks. The first is a Dolby Digital 5.1 effort encoded at the superior bitrate of 448 Kb/s, and the second is a plain vanilla style Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack. I only sampled the latter track and listened to the full movie with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I found it a solid, dynamic, and clean soundtrack that while not offering a great deal of surround activity has enough movement across the front soundstage to keep things interesting.
The dialogue is perfectly balanced, clear, and easily understood. It is very prominent in the overall soundtrack, and there are no problems with audio sync.
The score is credited to Mark Mothersbaugh and is probably the highlight of the film. It is whimsical, quaint, and generally one of the most catchy scores I have listened to for some time. It captures the down-on-their-luck aspect of the characters perfectly while also portraying the lighter and more caring side of all concerned.
There is minimal surround channel use and likewise the subwoofer sees little real dominant action.
|Surround Channel Use|
A 1:40 trailer that provides a few laughs without spoiling the story. Just like all good trailers should.
Now this is a true behind-the-scenes featurette. Running for 13:55 it comes without annoying voice-over or any other narration or guidance of any sort. What we have here is a series of shots taken while filming continued in a variety of scenes. We get to see the reaction of the directors and other crew as the actors go about their business. Rare and unhurried and a nice change.
There are nine interviews in total, all able to be selected individually or via the play-all option. Total running time is a healthy 30:19. Cast members such as William H. Macy, Luis Guzman, Sam Rockwell, and Isaiah Washington, and crew including producer Steven Soderbergh and writers/directors Anthony and Joe Russo discuss various aspects such as script, each other, the story, and their characters.
The Region 4 disc misses out on:
The Region 1 disc misses out on:
Behind the scenes featurette
Cast and Crew Interviews
This is a pretty tough call. Both discs appear to offer similar video and audio presentations, but the extras are completely different. The Region 4 extras are fairly comprehensive, especially the interviews. As a result of that I am going to declare the Region 4 disc the winner.
Welcome to Collinwood is one of those rare films that will either entertain you or drive you crazy - it just depends on your approach to the whole thing. I found it a little grating at times, but deep down it's a film with a heart and some excellent performances from a truly ensemble cast.
The video is unusual. It is gritty and flat, but in no way is this a transfer problem - it's supposed to look like this.
The audio is pretty much front and centre dominated.
The extras are interesting.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|