Shattered Glass (2003)

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Released 5-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Erin Brockovich, The China Syndrome, Absence Of Malice
Trailer-Confidence
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 90:02 (Case: 89)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Billy Ray
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Hayden Christensen
Peter Sarsgaard
ChloŽ Sevigny
Rosario Dawson
Melanie Lynskey
Hank Azaria
Steve Zahn
Mark Blum
Simone-Elise Girard
Chad Donella
Jamie Elman
Luke Kirby
Cas Anvar
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Mychael Danna


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††† Shattered Glass tells us that in 1998 Stephen Glass was a popular young journalist with The New Republic, a magazine that in spite of its comparatively small readership had significant clout. It was, and remains I believe, the in flight magazine of Air Force One - all the more remarkable if you consider that at the time the film is set, the median age of the magazine's reporters was twenty six. Whether or not one can attribute some of the blame for what happened to this fact, as both a budding writer and angst-ridden adolescent, eager not to admit that youth and inexperience share the same room, I do not care to comment. Suffice it to say that for all the staff's collective and individual skills of observation and intellectual capital, they failed, to couch an analogy seemingly anachronistic in this time of concrete rather than vegetative jungles, to see the forest in spite of supposedly close inspection of the trees. Forest? Trees? I hear you say. For those unaware (I counted myself among you until watching Billy Ray's film), what happened was this: a lowly internet journalist (Steve Zahn), suspicious of a newly published article by the Glass, detailing the exploitation of a major software company by a pubescent hacker from the suburbs, decided to do a little digging. What he discovered and subsequently questioned Glass about set in motion a chain of events that uncovered years of falsity and deceit perpetrated by one of the publication's star writers. In all, twenty seven of Stephen Glass' articles were found by The New Republic's editor (an impressive performance from Peter Saasgaard) and staff to have been either wholly or partially fictional. This revelation shook a well respected journalistic establishment to its core and forced significant revisions of codes of ethics and proof reading procedures both at the magazine in question and the wider world of news and current affairs media. Divulging this information I do not think will detract from any but the most rudimentary viewings of the film, as it is, like in the brilliant political thriller Thirteen Days, the hows and whys behind the movie and the actions of its protagonist (or perhaps antagonist) that are most interesting. That for so long he managed to avoid being found out still, I believe, beggars belief, especially considering the outlandishness of his many stories.

††† Hayden Christensen's fantastic performance does however help to explain, if not excuse, his colleagues' blindness to reality. Played with a deftly handled combination of insouciance, fawning charm and indefatigable narcissism, Christensen does his best work to date here. In some scenes he seems both elusive and painfully obvious - and we never really know which, except perhaps for a late scene where he hints at suicidal tendencies in some final desperate act of attention seeking. Take for instance a moment early in the film when Glass is recounting to fellow writer Amy (Melanie Lynskey) how a male acquaintance had stuck his tongue down his throat the previous evening. Is Stephen gay? Why would he be telling Amy this? Is he making himself untouchable and in his own mind more attractive, or searching for sympathy, or trying to pique her interest? Is he even telling the truth? We don't know and the film thankfully doesn't ever resort to spelling out his intentions too clearly. I must admit that I was reminded somewhat of Tobey Maguire's character in Wonder Boys. Both are consummate story tellers and as individuals are an unknowable combination of reality and their own concoction of it. Glass, perhaps like all of us, was neither as simple nor as complicated as people thought. Where this film really succeeds however, is not simply the development of its central character, but how it places him, and those he plays off, in an office environment which the filmmakers understand perfectly. The dialogue sounds realistic and clever, proving the two aren't mutually exclusive. As the film comes to its expected finale we aren't pummelled with the ethical proselytising a lesser film would have resorted to. Yes, the film makes clear that Glass acted unethically, but the film positions us to ask - was his fall from grace illustrative of a wider problem faced by serious media today - that of the power and allure of the great story, the entertaining story? Glass himself is quoted as saying that he wanted every story to be a home run - a shame that he kept hitting them off foul balls.

††† This is an incisive, savvy, intelligently written film - one of last year's very best.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† As one would expect for as recent a release as this, the transfer is fantastically clean, presented correctly in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and 16x9 enhanced.

††† Sharpness is uniformly good whilst not quite achieving greatness and there is scarcely anything to complain about in terms of levels of shadow detail (almost all the film takes place indoors, in well lit offices, lessening problems for the transfer).

††† The colour palette is Washington D.C. cool - lots of greys, chromes and shades of blue. Skin tones are realistic.

††† There is some occasional grain, seemingly intentional, and mild edge enhancement around people's profiles is a little disconcerting. MPEG artefacts are noticeable but not a major problem, whilst aliasing occurs where expected - blinds, striped shirts, and so on.

††† The print was relatively clean with few blemishes.

††† All-in-all, this is a well handled transfer.

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

Audio

††† Unlike the Region 1 release which apparently gets a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, all we have is a solitary Stereo 2.0 track. However, in this talky film I don't see why a 5.1 track would be necessary.

††† Dialogue is clear, audio sync excellent and there were negligible moments of less than pristine audio presentation.

††† The subwoofer and surrounds are silent.

††† In sum, this is an audio transfer perfectly suited to the film.

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

Extras

†††† There are no extras.

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 release has a few notable extras in addition to the 5.1 track. We in Region 4 land miss out on everything - there is not a single extra.

††† The featurette is apparently fairly insubstantial, so it all turns on how much you want the commentary, which I've read is pretty good. I'll call it a draw and let you decide (Ed. Many would consider the R1 the definitive version.).

Summary

††† This is a brilliant film. I cannot recommend it enough.

††† The video transfer is very good, with a few niggling problems.

††† The audio suits the nature of the film well.

††† The complete lack of extras on the Region 4 release is disappointing but dare I say not surprising.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Saturday, July 17, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Extras - Andrew500 (read my bio, at your leisure)
A Draw? - Steven Cameron (read my bio) REPLY POSTED