Overall | Stiff (Shane Maloney) (2004) | The Brush Off (Shane Maloney) (2004) | Stiff/The Brush Off (Shane Maloney Box Set)-Extras Disc (2004)

Stiff/The Brush Off (Shane Maloney Box Set) (2004)

Stiff/The Brush Off (Shane Maloney Box Set) (2004)

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Released 31-Aug-2005

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Overall Package

    You can purchase both Stiff and The Brush Off starring David Wenham as the bumbling Murray Whelan individually, but with each film really complementing each other quite nicely, the best way to get them is as part of this three-disc box set. In addition to getting both films housed in separate Amaray cases you will get the Extras disc in a third Amaray case.

    The whole set is housed inside an attractive, though not overly sturdy, slip case with a detailed (and amusing) blurb on the back outlining the plot of both films and the extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, November 28, 2005
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Stiff (Shane Maloney) (2004) | The Brush Off (Shane Maloney) (2004) | Stiff/The Brush Off (Shane Maloney Box Set)-Extras Disc (2004)

Stiff (Shane Maloney) (2004)

Stiff (Shane Maloney) (2004)

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Released 31-Aug-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-John Clarke (Director)
Trailer-Murray Whelan Trailers
Trailer-Piracy Ad, Happy Together, Tais Toi!
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 92:52
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:40) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John Clarke
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring David Wenham
Julian O'Donnell
Deborah Kennedy
Robyn Butler
Mick Molloy
Darren Casey
Sam Neill
Denis Moore
Susie Dee
George Prataris
Alan Brough
Tamara Searle
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Cezary Skubiszewski


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Some for-sale items narrated by Murray

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

Plot Synopsis

    Stiff was the first of two telemovies that screened on Australian commercial television in 2004. Based on the writings of crime/thriller novelist Shane Maloney, Stiff (and its companion film The Brush Off) stars David Wenham as the bumbling, dishevelled Murray Whelan.

    Murray is a Labor party true believer and adviser to Angelo Agnelli (Mick Molloy looking very unlike Mick Molloy in his expensive suit and braces), the minister for ethnic affairs in the Victorian Labor government. Murray's basic job is to run the minister's electoral office, but it seems Mr Agnelli likes to get Murray to do a bit more of his dirty leg work and as such our man is seldom behind his desk, much to the dismay of his second in command Trish (Deborah Kennedy).

    As this film opens we learn that the body of a worker has been found at a local meatworks. The minister is concerned about how the workforce may react to the death and would like to avert any chance of industrial action tarnishing the government. Murray is sent to investigate the death and the company and soon uncovers much more than he was expecting.

    Wenham is excellent as the bumbling Murray Whelan. He's far from a fool - quickly coming to grips with the political and ethnic shenanigans that are occurring around him, but he's also a bumbling, semi-scruffy, disorganised single parent who has more than his fair share of rotten luck - usually because of his own doing. He lives in a wretchedly rundown house and drives a laughable looking clapped-out Renault. He can't keep a girlfriend, can't have a decent conversation with his son when he comes to visit and manages to p*** off his ex-wife despite the fact she lives in another city.

    The writing for his dialogue is top class with some classic droll lines that only director John Clarke could be responsible for. The man who wrote and starred in The Games and who is known for his biting satirical "interviews" with Brian Dawe has come up with some gems in this film. I love the line when Murray and the girl he has a crush on, Ayisha (Tamara Searle), are talking. Ayisha has just spoken on the phone to Murray's ex-wife and says that she sounds like a nice person. Murray replies with a beautiful deadpan delivery that "yes, she's been known to do impersonations."  - great stuff (and a line I think I might remember for future use - oops sorry honey!).

    Where the film stumbles slightly is in the delivery of the overall story to the audience. This is the second time I have watched this movie and I still didn't quite get the gist of the entire plot and how Murray was given free reign to investigate the death at the meatworks so readily. The characters and the dialogue are excellent, but some of the general exposition and plot development occurred a little too fast for my liking.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a pretty decent transfer, with virtually no serious issues to discuss.

    It is presented in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is also 16x9 enhanced.

    All the vision is sharp, detailed and is consistently good throughout. There isn't a trace of edge enhancement and there are absolutely no problems with shadow detail. There is some grain, but it is well controlled and is barely an issue.

    The colours are excellent, with deep saturation and even and consistent shading. Reds and blues come out especially well and the skin tones are perfect.

    There are no MPEG artefacts and video artefacts are also absent. All up, this is a very, very clean image with no problems to report.

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitles available at all on this disc. This is disappointing.

    The disc is dual layered with the layer change at 54:40.

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

Audio

    There are two audio soundtracks on the disc, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at the bitrate of 224 Kb/s that, despite the surround flag not being embedded in the bitstream, contains enough separation across the front and rear left/right channels to suggest it is surround encoded. It is quite a decent soundtrack with nice bass levels and a pretty full and consistent range.

    Dialogue is extremely important here with a lot of the plot developed by way of phone calls and one-on-one discussion. The odd word or two is a little muffled, more than likely a result of the poor surroundings in which they were recorded (this is mentioned in the commentary). I noticed no obvious audio sync issues.

    There is only minimal surround use, while the subwoofer features no discrete use.



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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Audio Commentary - John Clarke (Director and Screenwriter)

    A commentary that I was expecting so much more from based on the antics of John Clarke on the many previous shows I have seen. Alas Clarke takes a long time to get going here and for the first part merely describes what is occurring on screen. There's a few laughs, but not as many as I thought as he focuses on the many technical aspects of the shoot such as lighting and sound.

Trailer

    Trailers for The Brush Off (2:21) and Stiff (2:22)

Trailer

    Interestingly the anti-pirate ad that annoys us all when it locks the player at the beginning of many films is included here as a trailer (0:48). Also included are trailers for other Madman titles Happy Together (1:31) and Tais Toi! (2:01).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title has not been released in Region 1.

Summary

    Stiff is a made-for-television film based on the novels by writer Shane Maloney. As the main character Murray Whelan, David Wenham offers a blend of intelligent Australian larrikinism and good-hearted bumbling loser. Murray means well, but is hopelessly dishevelled and disorganised as he is charged with the task of unravelling a conspiracy at a local meatworks.

    The screenplay adaptation by John Clarke (who also directs) is a highlight with some of the droll understated lines of dialogue we have come to expect on the likes of The Games, though the plot development is a little shaky at times. It would be nice to know if the other Murray Whelan thrillers including Something Fishy, Nice Try or The Big Ask are slated for any form of film adaptation.

    The video quality is excellent, while the matrixed surround audio does the job well.

    The extras are limited on this disc, but more are available on a bonus disc if you purchase the title in the boxset with another Whelan film - The Brush Off.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, November 25, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Stiff (Shane Maloney) (2004) | The Brush Off (Shane Maloney) (2004) | Stiff/The Brush Off (Shane Maloney Box Set)-Extras Disc (2004)

The Brush Off (Shane Maloney) (2004)

The Brush Off (Shane Maloney) (2004)

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Released 31-Aug-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Sam Neill (Director)
Trailer-Murray Whelan Trailers
Trailer-Piracy Ad, Happy Together, Tais Toi!
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 90:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:03) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Sam Neill
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring David Wenham
Mick Molloy
Deborah Kennedy
Steve Bisley
Julian O'Donnell
Justine Clarke
Leah Vandenberg
Andrew S. Gilbert
Heather Mitchell
Bruce Spence
John Clarke
Robyn Butler
Alex Menglet
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Cezary Skubiszewski


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Brush Off is the follow-up film to the made-for-television Stiff, both based on the writings of crime/thriller novelist Shane Maloney, and it again stars David Wenham as the bumbling, dishevelled political adviser Murray Whelan.

    Murray and his co-workers at the suburban electoral office are in an uproar when they learn their boss, the very suave Angelo Agnelli (Mick Molloy still looking very unlike Mick Molloy in his expensive suit, braces, and now sporting a furry moustache), has been demoted from the Ethnic Affairs ministry and is now in charge of Water and The Arts. Knowing a little about water (like it comes out of a tap), but next to nothing about the Arts, Agnelli sends Murray down to the new ministry offices to dig around and find out what they are getting themselves in to.

    At the ministry Murray meets all manner of odd people including the department head, Phillip Veale (the marvellous Bruce Spence), and the beautiful but dangerous Salina Fleet (Justine Clarke), the girlfriend of a struggling artist. Somehow Murray hooks up with Salina at a cocktail party later that night and after a little too much bubbly ducks off with her to the botanic garden for a quick bit of passion. But all Murray's fun is disturbed when the intoxicated couple stumble on a body floating face down in the moat of the National Gallery. Further complicating matters is that the body is that of Salina's boyfriend and it appears Murray might be considered a suspect in the young man's death.

    For his own benefit Murray must now investigate why the man died (it appears a suicide from the note left behind - but the police are not convinced), so he can clear his name. His investigations lead to a series of suspect art deals involving a shonky businessman called Lloyd Eastlake (Steve Bisley reprising his Gordon Farkas style role from The Big Steal), Fiona Lambert (Heather Mitchell), a wealthy art dealer and the inner financial workings of both the Labor party and the State Government. If Murray and his boss didn't know much about the visual arts (including puppetry) before they took over, they will soon be up to their ears in it with dodgy investments and fake masterpieces everywhere. On the flip side Murray does get to meet a few new lovely woman and even looks likely to hold down a proper relationship when he meets the delightful picture framer Claire Sutton (Leah Vandenberg).

    The overall production and design of The Brush Off is virtually identical to Stiff, though thankfully this time around the story is a little easier to follow. Wenham again excels as Murray Whelan, with a look that only a mother could love as he bumbles and stumbles his way around the dark underbelly of Melbourne (his effort in breaking out of the old arts centre after he manages to get himself locked in is worth watching this film for alone).

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer here is virtually identical to the one that featured on the Stiff disc. All up it is an excellent transfer, with no serious issues to discuss.

    It is presented in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is also 16x9 enhanced.

    All the vision is sharp, detailed and is consistently good throughout. There isn't a trace of edge enhancement and there are absolutely no problems with shadow detail. There is some grain, but it is well controlled and is barely an issue.

    The colours are excellent, with deep saturation and even and consistent shading. Some of the paintings on display come up especially well.

    There are no MPEG artefacts and video artefacts are also absent. All up, this is a very, very clean image with no problems to report.

    Unfortunately, there are again no subtitles available at all on this disc. This is disappointing.

    The disc is dual layered with the layer change at 54:03.

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

Audio

    The exact same audio specifications feature on this disc as they did on the Stiff disc and not surprisingly the audio quality is exactly the same as that effort.
   
    There are two audio soundtracks, these being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at the bitrate of 224 Kb/s that again exhibits some surround activity despite the surround flag not being embedded in the bitstream. This is again a reasonably decent soundtrack with some nice bass, a pretty full and consistent range and clear delivery of all dialogue.

    There is only minimal surround use, while the subwoofer features no discrete use.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Audio Commentary - Sam Neill (Director)

    Not the greatest commentary I have heard, with Sam Neill a little lacklustre in his delivery. Again, much like John Clarke's commentary for Stiff, Neill resorts to a lot of describing what is occurring on the screen, plus a few of the technical aspects of the shoot.

Trailer

    The same trailers for The Brush Off (2:21) and Stiff (2:22) that appeared on the Stiff disc.

Trailer

    The same three bonus trailers that appeared on the Stiff disc. Again the anti-pirate ad that annoys us all when it locks the player at the beginning of many films is included here (0:48). Also included are trailers for other Madman titles Happy Together (1:31) and Tais Toi! (2:01)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

      This title has not been released in Region 1.

Summary

    The Brush Off is the follow-up to Stiff, the made-for-television film based on the novels by writer Shane Maloney. David Wenham returns as Murray Whelan, the dishevelled and disorganised yet good-hearted bumbling adviser to a minister in the Victorian Labor government. With his boss moved sideways to the Water and Arts portfolio, Murray stumbles on a possible art fraud involving the Labor party and the government, while falling under the charms of a couple of new women. The screenplay adaptation is again handled very well by John Clarke with the directorial duties now handled by Hollywood A-list star Sam Neill.

    The video quality is excellent, while the matrixed surround audio does the job well.

    The extras are limited on this disc, but more are available on a bonus disc if you purchase the title in the boxset with another Whelan film - Stiff.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Stiff (Shane Maloney) (2004) | The Brush Off (Shane Maloney) (2004) | Stiff/The Brush Off (Shane Maloney Box Set)-Extras Disc (2004)

Stiff/The Brush Off (Shane Maloney Box Set)-Extras Disc (2004)

Stiff/The Brush Off (Shane Maloney Box Set)-Extras Disc (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 31-Aug-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 47:42
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
Southern Star
Madman Entertainment
Starring David Wenham
Sam Neill
John Clarke
Shane Maloney
Michael Heyward
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    If you purchase both of the Murray Whelan films, Stiff and The Brush Off, as part of the box set that is available, you get a third disc given over solely to bonus material. What we have here is really one long making of featurette that has been divided into a few smaller ones and placed on a main menu (thankfully there is a play all option).

    The content on this disc runs for 47:42 and contains six sections:

    The Books (13:17)

    The author of the original Murray Whelan novels, Shane Maloney, candidly discusses the creation of the books and how his ideas have progressed from page to screen. He seems genuinely pleased with the finished films and hints that some of his other books might possibly make the transition to film. Book publisher Michael Heyward also contributes his ideas about why the books have proved popular and how special the character of Murray Whelan is.

    The Screenplays (7:33)

    Producer Jay Cassells, screenwriter John Clarke and author Shane Maloney discuss in interview and with a Melbourne University class just how challenging it is to convert something from the written page to the screen.

    Challenges of Directing (12:21)

    Directors John Clarke (Stiff) and Sam Neill (The Brush Off) discuss their experiences in the directors chair. Topics included budget constraints and the lottery that is the process of casting. Neill seems genuinely amazed that Mick Molloy has pulled off the role of the politician and minister.

    Importance of the Director (4:08)   

    An almost irreverent take on directing from the dead-pan John Clarke. In a manner that only he can, he tries to explain what his role was during the filming of Stiff. Other than making tea it seems he didn't do much.

    The Film (5:08)

    A round table discussion with the two directors of the movies (John Clarke and Sam Neill) and the lead actor David Wenham. They discuss all the usual aspects of the films, the cast and the characters.

    The Edit Suite (5:16)

    The most serious and technical of the sections, this sees John Clarke in an edit suite explaining the differences between shots and takes on a certain scene in Stiff. Good from a film making angle, but probably a little brief to be of any real use.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer here is quite good, though with some of the source material obviously being a cheaper hand-held video camera it is not going to be as good as the finished films. It is presented in a combination of aspect ratios, with some of the sections being 1.78:1 and others 1.33:1. The transfer is also 16x9 enhanced with the 1.33:1 material appearing with black borders down the left and right hand sides of the screen.

    All the vision is at least of average sharpness while the detail level is consistently good throughout. There is some minor edge enhancement on a couple of the sections (the round table discussion with the directors is where it is most notable). There are absolutely no problems with shadow detail. The image is grainer than the films but it really doesn't spoil the picture.

    The colours are excellent with even saturation and shading.

    There are no MPEG artefacts and video artefacts are also absent.

    Unfortunately, there are again no subtitles available at all on this disc.

    The disc is single layered so there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    There is just one audio soundtrack on this disc, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at the bitrate of 224 Kb/s. It is really not required to do a great deal with much of the content merely interview grabs and the like.

    Dialogue is handled well and there are no audio sync issues.

    There is no surround or subwoofer use.



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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    This is not really an extra since the whole disc is in itself one big extra.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title has not been released in Region 1.

Summary

     Purchase Stiff and The Brush Off in the box set and you'll score this third disc of extras. It contains a 47 minute featurette broken into six chapters covering many of the film-making aspects and featuring interviews with all the key players.

    The video quality is fine for what is really an extra while the audio is also more than adequate.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE