Oyster Farmer (Magna Pacific) (2004)
Audio Commentary-Anna Reeves - Director
Audio Commentary-Anthony Buckley - Producer & David Field - Actor
Short Film-La Vie En Rose
Short Film-The Imploding Self
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Interviews-Crew-On the set with Andrew Urban - Urban Cinefile
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Anna Reeves|
Magna Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
After making a couple of arthouse short films, Anna Reeves' brothers suggested that she make a film that might appeal to them. Oyster Farmer is that film and it also marks Anna's feature film debut as a writer/director.
Oyster Farmer is set on the beautiful Hawkesbury River in New South Wales. As the films title suggests, the story revolves around the demanding and precarious occupation of commercial oyster farming. In an ironic and heartbreaking twist, a couple of months after the release of this film, the entire oyster farming industry on the river was wiped out by the vicious QX virus. This makes the film even more poignant, as it now also stands as a nostalgic document to the generations old tradition that once thrived on the Hawkesbury.
Jack Flange (Alex O'Lachlan) takes an oyster farming job on the Hawkesbury River. He is desperate for money to help support his sister, Nikki (Claudia Harrison), who is slowly recovering from a terrible car accident. Not long after starting the job he meets and forms an awkward relationship with Pearl (Diana Glenn), a girl with a fetish for expensive shoes.
Jack's boss is Brownie (David Field). Brownie runs his farming lease with his father, Mumbles (Jim Norton), while his estranged wife, Trish (Kerry Armstrong) works close by on another farm. Trish has an uncanny flair for oyster farming, but this conflicts with Brownies desire for her to be a housewife.
Brownie, Mumbles and Jack make a regular trip to the Sydney Fish Market to off load their produce. But on this occasion, Jack has more on his mind than just off loading oysters. His desperation for quick cash has led him to desperate measures. Without the knowledge of anyone, he has meticulously planned and then stages a brazen robbery on a money van at the market. After disposing of his unique disguise, he places the moneybag into a post pack and posts the spoils back to himself on the river. This allows him to casually walk back to Brownies delivery truck as if nothing had happened.
Over the next couple of days, Jack continually checks his mailbox, but nothing arrives. On the third or fourth day the local postman walks down the jetty with a trolley full of mail. The audience is privy to seeing Jacks parcel sitting on the top of the pile. However, the postman suffers a heart attack and collapses, sending most of the mail into the river - Jacks parcel has vanished.
Jack becomes suspicious of everyone around him, as signs of sudden, incidental wealth surface. As his relationship with Pearl becomes more intimate, she also becomes his prime suspect.
A sub-plot in Oyster Farmer involves the reclusive character, Skippy, nicely played by local veteran of stage and screen, Jack Thompson. The film also used many of the local community members in smaller roles and as extras.
Oyster Farmer is not without its faults, but there is enough in the film to make it a very enjoyable viewing experience. The film picked up two AFI Award nominations in 2005 for Best Film and Best Cinematography.
The video transfer for Oyster Farmer is reasonable.
The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. The Internet Movie Database reports that the films correct aspect ratio is 2.35:1. Anna Reeves also backs this up during her commentary by mentioning the widescreen cinematography. Although it wasn't totally obvious during my first viewing, when I looked more closely, certain scenes did show indications of cropping. I later discovered that the three deleted and extended scenes in the extras on this DVD are presented in the correct ratio. The difference is clear to see when compared to those in the feature as presented. Interestingly, there does not seem to be any version of this film on DVD from anywhere in the world that has Oyster Farmer transferred in the correct aspect ratio.
The transfer exhibits moderate levels of sharpness and clarity. Blacks were clean, bold and free of low-level-noise. Shadow detail was acceptable.
Colours appeared natural and well balanced.
There were no MPEG artefacts evident in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were generally well controlled. Some minor aliasing was noticeable on the side of a shed at 46:36, but otherwise artefacts were not a significant issue. There were no adverse issues with film artefacts.
Unfortunately, there are no subtitles on this DVD.
This is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs at 63:35 and is very well placed at the end of a scene.
The audio transfer is perfectly adequate for the content of the film.
There are four audio tracks on this DVD. English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) and two separate tracks of English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).
Dialogue quality was very good throughout. I had no problems hearing and comprehending any of the dialogue. Audio sync appeared to be accurate.
The original music score by Stephen Warbeck is well suited to the atmosphere of the film and has a distinct Irish feel to it.
The surround channels are used very delicately. There isn't much in the way of direct sound placement; rather, the effects are used to nicely enhance the musical score and ambient sound. A fine example of this occurs at 22:59, with soft rain falling and the distant rumble of thunder.
The subwoofer was active during musical passages and the occasional bass effect. An example of this occurs at 54:27, with a couple of gunshots.
|Surround Channel Use|
The selection of extras on the disc is very comprehensive and relevant.
The menus are all animated; 16x9 enhanced and feature a sample of Stephen Warbeck's score.
Anna's commentary is full of anecdotes relating to most aspects of the production, including the people and places that inspired the film. Although there are plenty of lengthy pauses in her commentary, the vast majority of it is interesting and informative.
It is clear form the outset that both Anthony and David are very proud of this film. Interestingly, when they recorded their commentary, it was only the second time David had viewed the film. Naturally some of the information in this commentary doubles up from Anna's, but there is enough new insights to make this commentary track worth the listen.
La Vie En Rose - 1994 (6:52)
The Imploding Self - 1995 (13:18)
This looks like a short advertising piece for the film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There is an available R1 version of Oyster Farmer. It was released by Home Vision Entertainment / Image on 14th March 2006. This edition is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1; features closed captions and has three audio tracks, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The only extra on this edition is the theatrical trailer.
A R2, Norwegian version also exists, which appears to be the same as the R1 version. As previously mentioned, it is interesting that no edition has been transferred in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1.
Although the inclusion of a DTS track is always welcome, it is probably a case of overkill for this film. With the abundance of quality extras on the local R4 version, it is the clear winner of these three versions.
Oyster Farmer is a warm and amusing film, about hard working people living a unique and demanding lifestyle. It also now stands as a sad tribute to a generations old industry of oyster farming, that has all but vanished from the Hawkesbury River. Oyster Farmer also goes some way to proving the theory that money isn't everything.
Despite the aspect ratio issue, the transfers are reasonable.
The wonderful selection of extras will please fans of the film.
|DVD||JVC XV-N412, using Component output|
|Display||Hitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||Panasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS|
|Speakers||Fronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17|