Stella Street (2004)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-John Sessions And Phil Cornwell (Actors)
Featurette-Lost Movie Classics
Featurette-Jimmy Up West
Featurette-Len And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance
Featurette-Mick And Keith's Corner Store
Trailer-Still Crazy, Monty Python And The Holy Grail
Trailer-And Now For Something Completely Different, Jabberwocky
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (67:50)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Peter Richardson|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.30:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
When I lived in the UK, I quite used to enjoy the witticisms of (the occasionally self-important) John Sessions. I used to love the antics of (a now scarily gray-haired) Peter Richardson (The Comic Strip Presents...). Imagine if the two got together and produced a feature film? Imagine if the basic premise was like this...
Stella Street is a normal suburban street in Surbiton - firmly ensconced in the commuter belt of old Londinium. Surely the residents will have a Volvo - maybe a Bimmer even? They will vote Conservative and enjoy the occasional holiday in France - perhaps even a little skiing? Well, not once the Hollywood glitterati get wind of the idyllic suburban lifestyle on offer!
Michael Caine narrates the story of the denizens of Stella Street. These are not your average middle-class, stiff upper-lipped, Waitrose-shopping Poms. Once word gets around that Jack Nicholson, looking for a gaff in London, has moved in, pretty soon Al Pacino wants his own little piece of paradise - Surrey style. And then...it's on for young and old. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger take over the corner shop. David Bowie takes up residence across the road and Joe Pesci is soon renovating away like a mad man. When Caine decides to have a bit of a party, all of the locals turn up - plus a few additional guests like Madonna. Sadly, the world being the way it is, these poor helpless stars can find no safe haven - even in the Home Counties. Soon a psychotic gardener, busybody cleaner and couple of art-thieves will make their suburban English lifestyle a misery.
Of course, all of these megastars do not appear in person - no-siree! They are played by the undoubtedly talented John Sessions, Phil Cornwell and Ronni Ancona. This sounds like a knockout premise for a movie right? The opportunities for laughter seem almost boundless with such a rich vein of star material just ripe for parody, right?
Wrong! What transpires is a direly unfunny "comedy" which is rather a chore to watch. Clever ideas need clever execution to make them capable of sustaining a feature length film. Though the basic premise of this film (taken from the BBC2 TV series of the same name) is solid gold, the execution on the big screen is badly tarnished Sterling silver at best. What works as a ten-minute skit does not necessarily make for a full length cinema release. There are simply not enough puns, slapstick, wit, crazy situations or even sight-gags to sustain this bum-numbing mediocrity through its seemingly never-ending run-time. Painful stuff that cannot even be recommended for a rental for those who are not already one-eyed fans of the television skits.
The video quality of this transfer is rather good and suffers from no major flaws.
The video is presented 16x9 enhanced at a surprisingly wide (approximately) 2.30:1, which is close to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is generally sharp throughout, with no significant grain on show other than that which is deliberately added in the 1960s flashback footage.
The few dark scenes demonstrate acceptable shadow detail, and black levels tend to be perfectly satisfactory throughout. Colours are fine - solidly rendered without a hint of bleeding even on some of the stronger primaries, for example Jack Nicholson's omnipresent Hawaiian shirt. Skin tones are just fine.
There are no significant signs of MPEG compression artefacts, but there is a hint of pixelization which crops up from time to time. I was never concerned by edge enhancement and aliasing on my (progressive scan) system was a non-issue. The presence of a mild shimmer in some standard culprits (chrome, blinds and a string vest!) suggests that aliasing will be more noticeable on interlaced systems.
Film artefacts are generally not noticeable in what is a clean transfer.
Disappointingly for such a modern film, there are no subtitles on offer.
This disc is in a single sided, dual layered RSDL format with the very brief and non-disruptive layer change cropping up at 67:50.
The overall audio transfer is satisfactory from a technical perspective, but is unlikely to overload your surround system. The sole English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps.
There are no nagging problems with audio defects such as hiss or dropouts. Dialogue is always clear - albeit some of the accents may cause non-Poms some difficulty at times - and the audio sync never caused me any concern.
Original music is credited to Rod Melvin and Dominic Muldowney. The main contribution of the musical score is the witty lounge-singer theme song. Incidental music is unremarkable and limited to background muzak mostly.
The overall soundstage for the film is very frontal - perhaps unsurprisingly given that this is a low budget comedy. Dialogue is well located in the centre channel and the main speakers deliver a minor spread of sound across the front stage. The surround channels are lightly used, tending towards total silence, other than for the musical numbers and the occasional bit of surround ambience during the gambling club scene for example. A stereo track would serve just as well.
The subwoofer does get some minor use, primarily to carry bass effects from party music and the double-bass from the theme songs, but is generally unremarkable throughout.
|Surround Channel Use|
Somewhat depressingly for this reviewer, there are rather a lot of extras present.
The wonderfully animated menu system is nicely supported by a theme song in a suitably Tony Bennett/Frank Sinatra style, complete with weather changes. It allows the options of playing the movie, selecting the audio track and subtitles, choosing one of twenty-four nicely animated chapter stops or viewing the extensive extras:
John Sessions and Phil Cornwell provide a commentary which is marginally more interesting and slightly funnier than the main feature. There is rarely a quiet moment but it does tend towards the self-indulgent at times. It has a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio transfer encoded at 192 kbps.
Running for 19:56 this featurette provides a guided tour through Stella Street, courtesy of "Caine". It is presented at 1.78:1 with letterboxed inserts from the film, 16x9 enhanced with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. Mildly amusing.
A spoof television show in which "Michael Caine" reminisces about the lost film Bong In The Congo. Running for 9:59 and presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps, this is mildly amusing for about five minutes.
The omnipresent "Caine" takes a taxi trip around Soho, reminiscing about his seedy past. Running for 7:16 and presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. More of the same.
"Jimmy Hill" shows what a sad loser he is for 0:53. Presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.
The psychotic gardener Len features in several short pieces to camera, presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps:
"Mick Jagger" and "Keith Richards" music video about their shop. Presented 16x9 enhanced at 1.78:1, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps and running for 2:49.
A number of movie trailers are on offer, presented in varying aspect ratios with Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks encoded at 192 kbps:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There is little information available on the other releases of this DVD. From my research however, it appears that the Region 2 release is essentially the same as our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.
Stella Street is a perfect example of a good idea stretched so thin that it makes Ansell condoms look like roof insulation materials. Tedious in the extreme, despite some vocally talented actors, the tiresome plot seems unending (despite a running time of 79:16) with the same impressions repeated ad nauseum.
The video quality is good.
The audio transfer is fine for a comedy.
Extras are quite plentiful but tedious.
|DVD||Harmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer|