Wildflowers (1999)

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Released 6-Feb-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Trailer-Mojave Moon. Driving Miss Daisy
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 93:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Melissa Painter
Studio
Distributor
Fries Film Group
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Clea DuVall
Daryl Hannah
Tomas Arana
Eric Roberts
Richard Hillman
Eric Yetter
Robert Hass
John Doe
Sheila Tousey
Irene Bedard
James Burnett
David Graham
Alan Gelfant
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Sam Bisbee


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, not just tobacco
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Wildflowers traces a short period in the life of a seventeen year old girl/woman called Cally (Clea DuVall). Cally is on the cusp of adulthood, and still wondering about herself. She never knew her mother, being abandoned as a baby, and it has grown to a near-obsession — it is almost as though she cannot move forward until she understands her past.

     She was born in the summer of 1968 (so it is now the summer of 1985). She lives in San Francisco on a houseboat with Wade (Tomas Arama), her father, although there's some doubt as to whether he is looking after her, or she after him.

    By chance she sees a woman at a Blues Traveler concert (performed by the real band), and there's some resonance that she doesn't understand. This woman is Sabine (Daryl Hannah). Cally feels compelled to find her again, and manages it, despite suggestions that she should avoid Sabine because "she's trouble". Cally finds herself drawn to Sabine, perhaps as a kindred lost soul. More than anything else, though, Sabine seems determined to avoid ties as much as possible. There are mysteries around this woman, and she's unpredictable.

    Although Cally was raised for a time in a hippy commune, she seems to avoid drugs (other than an occasional beer), but there are plenty of drugs around in this film, mostly with the adults — at times it looks like the kids are smarter about drugs than the adults.

    This is a slow-paced drama that plays out as a mystery, but it is really about Cally looking for herself. It's more absorbing, strangely enough, the second time you watch it.

    There's a role in this film which is credited as "The Poet". It is played by Robert Hass. I hadn't heard of him (I'm more familiar with British and Australian poets), but he is a real poet (he was even Poet Laureate of the USA for 1995–1997), and the books of poetry (like Praise) and poems that appear in the film really are his work. Can't get much more authentic than that.

    If you are in the mood for a film that is more about feeling than action, then maybe this will suit you. It is not a brilliant film, but it's definitely worth the time. Recommended, but only for some kinds of viewers.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. I don't know what the original aspect ratio was, but I suspect it was wider than this. I don't think this is an open-matte presentation — I'm guessing that this is a pan-and-scan version, but it works well enough, without any obvious mis-framing.

    The image is soft throughout and lacking in definition — on some shots the line structure is quite visible. It's possible that this is actually a VHS master transferred to DVD — the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and low resolution are indicators in that direction. Film grain isn't apparent. Shadow detail is variable, but never particularly deep. There's nothing evident in the way of low-level noise.

    Colour seems well-rendered, with a few vivid colours. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are numerous small film artefacts, but none that are especially noticeable.

    There is a little bit of aliasing, but it's not objectionable, and there's no significant moiré; both of these have been reduced by the softness of the image. There are few MPEG artefacts, but one fairly obvious one is the macro-blocking that appears in a few shots. There's some shimmer, but never to a really distracting level. It does look a bit over-compressed.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single-sided and single-layered. No layer change, and you'd think that the single layer should suffice for this relatively short movie without any need for excessive compression. Unfortunately, I think the damage was done before the movie was committed to DVD.

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

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English, in Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround-encoded (possibly mono), at 448kbps. That's a high bit rate for a relatively primitive soundtrack. There's some noise in the background of the soundtrack, with some faint hiss and crackle.

    The dialogue is sometimes clear, sometimes a bit blurred, even a little distorted, and not always easy to understand. Dialogue sync is not a problem.

    The score is credited to Sam Bisbee, but it also includes music from a number of groups, such as Blues Traveler, Santana, and Jane's Addiction. The score elements are nice, using a variety of instruments, including some pleasant acoustic guitar.

    This soundtrack provides no signal for the surrounds and subwoofer. It doesn't even provide anything significant in the way of stereo separation.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, with music.

Trailers

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 version of this disc was released a while back, and I happened to pick it up based on a review I read. It is quite similar to the Region 4, but far from identical: it uses different artwork, a different (but similar) menu, and a different transfer with different chapter stops. Most importantly, the Region 1 disc is in the same aspect ratio, and although rather sharper, offers a transfer of about the same quality.

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    There's little to choose between these two. Neither is very good. If anything, the R1 transfer is slightly better, but the difference is very small.

Summary

    An interesting film about a girl/woman's search to understand herself so she can move on into adulthood. Not presented very well on DVD.

    The video quality is fairly poor.

    The audio quality is reasonable.

    The extras are irrelevant.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, April 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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