Modern Love (2006)

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Released 4-Apr-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Short Film-Doctor By Day
Short Film-The Longing
Short Film-Zoyd
Short Film-The Art Of Tabloid
Teaser Trailer-Accent Entertainment Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 94:57 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alex Frayne
Studio
Distributor
Sputnik Films
Accent Film Entertainment
Starring Mark Constable
Victoria Hill
Will Traeger
Don Barker
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $29.95 Music Tom Heuzenroeder


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 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

The rather sweet and innocent title of "Modern Love" tends to conjure an impression of a whimsical romantic-comedy. However the title here is one of irony. This film takes us on a journey into a dark world of madness, encapsulated by a man's desperate longing for redemption.

Modern Love is the brave debut feature of South Australian producer/director, Alex Frayne. It also marks the feature screenplay debut of talented cinematographer, Nick Matthews, who combined both roles for the film. The result is an intensely brooding psychological thriller with a heavy European influence.

The early scenes of Modern Love contain minimal dialogue. Instead, the film relies on enticing visuals to establish ambiguity and mystery in the narrative. In time, this ambiguity is unravelled and the facts are patiently revealed to the audience.

It's not really surprising that this film has faired much better internationally than here in Australia. Modern Love was rejected by the Melbourne and Sydney Film Festivals, but received many invitations to compete at international film festivals, including Moscow.

Modern Love opens with the apparent suicide of an old loner, Tom (Don Barker). Tom's nephew, John (Mark Constable) soon receives a phone call informing him of the tragedy. With the company of his wife Emily (Victoria Hill) and young son Edward (William Traeger), John makes the long journey back to the quite seaside town that he left behind many years before.

Tom's small and secluded property holds many memories from John's childhood. Tom was like a father to John, raising him for a good part of his life. John still has guilt issues relating to his decision to leave Tom for a life in the city. Many in the town also remember and it's soon apparent that his return hasn't pleased everyone.

John is sure that the explanation of Tom's suicide is not true. The fact that his body was not found only reinforces this belief. He believes that Tom is alive and well, living somewhere close by the water.

John's behaviour begins to take on uncharacteristic traits and his demeanour becomes quite unsettling - even frightening. With John continually extending their stay at the property, Emily finally has enough and decides to take their son and leave. Meanwhile, John's obsessive search for truth and redemption continues to lead him further into the realms of madness.

Modern Love is a slow burning film that maintains a cautious aura of anticipation throughout. I wouldn't suggest for a minute that this is a film for everyone, but it might just reward those with patience and a desire for something outside of the mainstream.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Modern Love is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.77:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. Unfortunately, there is some cropping top and bottom of screen. This is quite obvious from early on in the film when Alex Frayne's name is almost illegible in the opening credits (half of his name is cut off the screen). This framing issue is also evident during the film with the tops of heads often not appearing in the frame. The closing credits also have one title dissected. To some extent, this tends to let down the wonderful cinematography of Nick Matthews.

Modern Love was shot on Super16mm and was then transferred to HD for the edit. This provides the film with an atmospheric, gritty look. As such, there is varying degrees of film grain throughout, which only enhances the mood of the film. Naturally, because of the film's slightly soft look, the sharpness levels vary. Bright highlights are heavily emphasised. Blacks were generally clean and shadow detail was very good.

The colour palette used in Modern Love is suitably drab and passive. The only real use of fresh and vibrant colour occurs very early in the film. All colours appear strong and are nicely balanced on the DVD.

There were no MPEG artefacts noticed in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were kept under control and film artefacts were almost non-existent.

There are no subtitles available on the DVD.

This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change was quite obvious and occurs during a scene at 79.55.

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

Audio

The only audio track on the disc is English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (448Kb/s), which is of excellent quality.

The dialogue quality is strong throughout and there were no apparent problems with audio sync.

The original music score for Modern Love is credited to Tom Heuzenroeder. The score adds significantly to the ominous tone of the film.

There was no surround activity.

The subwoofer was used very subtly and was only noticed on a few occasions.

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

Extras

An audio commentary with Alex Frayne and Nick Matthews would have been a real asset to the DVD presentation. However, the welcome inclusion of Alex Frayne's four short films gives us the chance to see his filmmaking origins. Unfortunately though, there is an error with the fourth short film on the DVD. Although it has an original running time of around thirteen minutes, The Art Of Tabloid stops abruptly at 3:32. This is because the rest of the film is simply missing from the disc. It seems likely that this is the result of an error occurring during the authoring of the DVD.

Certain crew members from Modern Love also pop up in the credits of these short films. Probably the most notable of these is Nick Matthews, who shot three of the four short films and Tom Heuzenroeder, who has involvement in all four films.

Menu

The main menu is animated, 16x9 enhanced and features a looped sample of dialogue from the film. Strangely, there is no scene selection menu on the disc, so all fourteen chapters will have to be accessed directly through your remote control.

Short Film - Doctor By Day (15:37) 1998

Kirsty is blind and also suffers from Hypoglycemia. Late one night while alone in her house she has a hypoglycemic fit and collapses to the floor. Her neighbour, (who also happens to be her eye doctor), hears her scream and rushes across the road, only to discover her unconscious body lying on the floor. Naturally, he quickly calls an ambulance and administers first aid...or does he?

Aspect ratio 1.80:1 (4:3 transfer) with Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s).

Short Film - The Longing (18:52) 2003

A tribute to the challenges of living on the land. This film also backs the old theory that you can take the boy out of the bush, but you can't take the bush out of the boy. (Take particular note of a familiar painting hanging on the wall).

Aspect ratio 1.77:1 (4:3 transfer) with Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s).

Short Film - Zoyd (17:39) 1995

In a futuristic world dominated by power and corruption, could Zoyd Wheeler's life become any more complicated? His estranged wife is leader of a powerful political party and she is making his life a living hell.

Aspect ratio 1.33:1 (4:3 transfer) with Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s).

Short Film - The Art Of Tabloid (3:32) 1997

After the suicide of a famous artist, a journalist is sent to cover the posthumous exhibition for a newspaper.

Aspect ratio 1.68:1 (4:3 transfer) with Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s).

Accent Trailers

R4 vs R1

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

At the time of writing this review, there is no R1 edition of Modern Love available.

Summary

Alex Frayne's, menacing debut may not have wide appeal to a mainstream audience, but it does seem destined to achieve high cult status. Either way, it's a commendable first feature.

Despite the poor framing, the video transfer is quite good.

The audio transfer is basic, but very good.

An audio commentary would have been fascinating. However, the inclusion of Alex's short films is a bonus, even though one is effectively missing.

Footnote: We have been informed that the next batch of Modern Love DVD's will have the aforementioned framing and short film issues corrected. This will apply to all copies produced from 1st July 2008.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 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 DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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Comments (Add)
Re-issue( How??) - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED