The Square: Special Edition (2008)

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Released 5-Mar-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Trailer
TV Spots
Deleted Scenes-with commentary
Featurette-Pre-visualisation
Featurette-Effects
Music Video
Short Film-Spider
Featurette-Popcorn Taxi Q&A
Gallery-Poster
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 101:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:14)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nash Edgerton
Studio
Distributor
Pathe Films
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring David Roberts
Claire van der Boom
Joel Edgerton
Anthony Hayes
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI ? Music Frank Tetaz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio 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 English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Construction manager Ray (David Roberts) finds himself in a difficult situation when his mistress, Carla (Claire van der Boom) brings him a big bag full of money in the hope that they might run away together. This sets off a series of unfortunate steps that sees the crooks who previously owned the bag of money, crooked cops and an inept arsonist (Joel Edgerton) get caught up in a web of murder and deceit that surrounds the lovers.

    Sombre mood? Check. Noir story? Check. Haunting score and visuals? Check. Generally appreciable, morally ambiguous everyman characters? Check. Bag of money that leads to an ever growing snowball misfortune? Check. Frances McDormand? Well, no...

    The Square borrows heavily from the Coen Brothers thriller playbook without managing to seem overly derivative. Weaving an intricate tapestry of double-crossing, lust, murder and betrayal with an occasional hint of black humour, first time director (and go-to Aussie stunt man) Nash Edgerton has created an intricate neo-noir. Better still, it doesn't seem at all inferior to the Coen's usual output. Perhaps that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it is impressive that this comparatively micro-budget affair is able to genuinely compete with the masters.

    The film is well cast and features solid performances from the entire ensemble, which is an important ingredient in what makes it such a success. Though writer/executive producer Joel Edgerton is undoubtedly the biggest name in the cast, he has had the good sense to reserve one of the lesser characters for himself (though does seem the most fun for an actor) and allow lesser-known but better-fitting leads. Relative newcomer Claire Van der Boom is guaranteed to have every male viewer's attention every moment with her girl-next-door turned she-devil take on Carla. David Roberts gives a particularly solid take on Ray, whose fortunes get worse with every questionable decision he makes.

    The Square bombed badly upon theatrical release, thanks in large part to an incredibly poorly targeted marketing campaign that went looking for the wrong audience (the arthouse/Australian audience) and failed to communicate what the movie was about. The key-art for the DVD marketing makes it look as though they have worked out who to sell the movie to (pretty much everyone except the arthouse/Australian crowd), but still manage to tell potential viewers absolutely nothing about the plot in their blurb. Hopefully potential viewers are willing to take the plunge into a movie they know next to nothing about because this really is a movie that deserves to be seen.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video looks very good. The image is sharp. There is excellent shadow detail, which is particularly important given the many dark scenes in the film. Mild film grain is present in the image, which adds nicely to the noir mood of the movie. The colour in the video is deliberately murky and consistent throughout.

    There are no noticeable compression artefacts in the video or film artefacts.

    English subtitles are present for the feature. Based on the portion sampled, they appear to be accurate and well timed.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs mid-scene at 73:14 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

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

Audio

    An English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) and an English descriptive audio for the visually impaired Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) audio track is present for the film.

    The audio is clean and crisp. The dialogue is easy to understand and appears to be in good sync to the video.

    The film features a moody, piano heavy, score by Francois Tetaz, which is well represented in the mix.

    The surround channels and subwoofer all get a decent workout form the mix, particularly during stormy scenes.

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

Extras

    An excellent package of extras, particularly given the box office performance of the movie, is spread across two discs.

Disc One

    The first disc opens with the anti-piracy clip that we have all come to loathe, unskippable in this instance, followed by trailers for Pride and Glory, The Wrestler, and Gran Torino, which can be fast forwarded but not skipped. Yet they wonder why people copy discs?

Making Of Featurette (29:41)

    A worthwhile "Making Of" featurette that covers the planning, rehearsals, photography, post production and premiere of the film. The video is occasionally a little pixelated, but that's a small quibble about an otherwise very good featurette.

Audio Commentary

    A laid back commentary that has plenty to say, but a few too many mouths to pay attention to. The commentary covers pretty much everything you can think of at one point or another without getting too technical. The many voices competing here are: Nash Edgerton (director and probably stuntman), Joel Edgerton (writer/star), Louise Smith (producer), Matthew Dabner (producer), and Luke Doolan (Editor).

Trailers

    3 trailers, trailer-length promo featurette and a TV spot are presented. None are terribly compelling advertising and only the DVD trailer provides much of a real hint towards the plot.

Disc Two

    This second disc contains some excellent featurettes that really demonstrate how the film was made. A veritable trainspotter's film-school-on-a-disc.

Deleted Scenes (25:03)

    14 deleted scenes. Each is presented in context to where they would have belonged in the film, with a few seconds lead-in and lead-out, and with optional commentary. Some change the dynamic of the film, others were trimmed for time. There are a number of interesting clips here and the commentary makes them all the more worthwhile. This lot certainly make you appreciate the effort that went in to making the finished film as tight as it is.

Pre-Visualisation Featurette (5:10)

    A featurette that demonstrates how several of the filmmakers got together beforehand with a camera to plan how each scene would look. Many of the se visualisations are played side-by-side with the final shots form the film for comparison. A very interesting featurette.

Effects Featurette

    Three short (around 2 minute each) features demonstrating how digital effects were applied to certain scenes to enhance (or in one case entirely construct) the scenes. Fascinating stuff, particularly for anyone interested in visual effects.

Sand Music Video (3:57)

    A music video for Sand by Ben Lee and Jessica Chapnik that features footage from the film. Good if you still like Ben Lee (sure you aren't stuck in 1998?).

Spider Short Film (9:25)

    An earlier short film form Nash Edgerton. A shaggy-dog-story kind of black comedy.

Popcorn Taxi Q&A (13:41)

    A selection of questions and answers from a panel Q&A featuring Nash Edgerton, Joel Edgerton, Louise Smith (producer), and Luke Doolan (editor). Interesting, though possibly a little over-edited.

Production Stills Gallery

    A dull slideshow of what is mostly stills from the movie. Why bother?

Posters Gallery

    Half a dozen posters for the film. Save for the moderately decent DVD release poster, here is a good example of why the film flopped.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Square is not yet available in Region 1.

Summary

    Smart, gritty film noir. This is one of the rare Australian films that is of a genuine world standard and good without a qualifying "for an Australian movie". Odds are that you missed its brief cinema release - make sure not to miss it the second time around.

    The extras package is magnificent. The video and audio are both excellent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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