Overall | Tail of a Tiger (1984) | Incident at Raven's Gate (1988) | Dingo (1991) | Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993) | The Quiet Room (1996) | Epsilon (1995)

Rolf de Heer Collection (1984)

Rolf de Heer Collection (1984)

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Released 27-Nov-2009

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Overall Package

    Rolf de Heer is one of Australia's most innovative and courageous filmmakers. His eclectic body of work defies categorisation in both style and content. From the sedate family adventure, Tale of a Tiger to the high controversy of Bad Boy Bubby, Rolf de Heer has made each of his films with great proficiency, originality and imagination. While his films have not always appealed to a wide audience, they have nearly always generated healthy debate.

    From humble beginnings, working as a storeman at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Rolf de Heer has become one of our most respected filmmakers.

    Umbrella's Rolf de Heer Collection showcases Rolf's first six films in a six-disc set. This set makes an essential companion to Madman's Rolf de Heer Collection (Six Films by Rolf de Heer), which contains the next six films, proceeding those in this collection.

    In chronological order the films in this set are Tail of a Tiger (1984), Incident at Raven's Gate (1988), Dingo (1991), Bad Boy Bubby (1993), The Quiet Room (1996) and Epsilon (1997). At the time of writing this review, all films except Dingo and Bad Boy Bubby are only available as part of this collection and are not offered for separate purchase.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Monday, February 08, 2010
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Tail of a Tiger (1984) | Incident at Raven's Gate (1988) | Dingo (1991) | Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993) | The Quiet Room (1996) | Epsilon (1995)

Tail of a Tiger (1984)

Tail of a Tiger (1984)

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Released 27-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 78:37
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Grant Navin
Gordon Poole
Caz Lederman
Peter Feeley
Gayle Kennedy
Walter Sullivan
Basil Clarke
Norm Gobert
Dylan Lyle
Louise Darcy
Adrian Cirrillo
Peter Fogarty
Kristian Verega
Case Custom Packaging
RPI Box Music Graham Tardif


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    Australian filmmaker, Rolf de Heer's first feature was originally conceived as a documentary about the restoration of a De Havilland Tiger Moth. However, Rolf saw more potential in developing it as a family adventure, involving a young boy and his dream of flying. Based on these universal childhood themes, he began to expand the initial idea into a screenplay. This story would eventually become Rolf de Heer's first feature film - Tail of a Tiger.

    The film was produced on a small budget, with a crew made up largely of Rolf's fellow graduates from the Australian Film and Television School. The sizable cast of child actors was selected from about 300 auditions, with most having no prior acting experience.

    The story centers on the aptly named twelve-year-old, Orville Ryan (Grant Navin). Orville is obsessed with aviation and dreams all day of flying. He lives in an inner suburb of Sydney with his mother, older sister and younger brother.

    Orville's studious and nerdy nature tends to place him in the path of the local bullies and he is constantly harassed by the ringleader, Spike (Peter Feeley) and his spiteful gang.

    One day after one such altercation, Orville accidentally discovers a run down old Tiger Moth in a derelict warehouse. The plane belongs to a cantankerous old man named, Harry (Gordon Poole), who now lives a sad and reclusive lifestyle. Harry spends his days reflecting on the past and has no drive or ambition for the present.

    At first, Harry dismisses Orville's persistent requests to restore the plane and return it to the sky. But eventually his grumpy nature softens and Harry and Orville set about bringing the plane back to life. Naturally though, when Spike learns of their project, he isn't impressed and calls in the gang.

    Like many family adventure films, Tail of a Tiger takes plenty of liberty with sensibilities in the plot. Most of the child performances are also wooden and awkward. Adult audiences may also find some of the dialogue incredibly corny, but for the average eight-year old viewer - they probably won't care a bit.

    At the time of writing this review, Tail of a Tiger is only available as part of Umbrella's, Rolf de Heer Collection. It is currently not available for separate purchase.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Tail of a Tiger is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

    Like many recent Australian films on DVD, this film comes courtesy of the National Film & Sound Archive. However, with that in mind, don't except a pristine transfer. I've never seen this film theatrically, so I can't comment in regards to the standard of the original film material. While the DVD is certainly watchable, the image exhibits poor definition and is very soft throughout. Blacks were generally clean, but shadow detail was only average.

    By and large, colours were also quite poor. Vibrant colours (especially strong reds) glowed on screen.

    MPEG artefacts were not an issue. Film grain was present, but not problematic - this is likely to be inherent in the source material. Reel change markings were evident at approximate twenty-minute intervals, starting at 16:54. Minor film artefacts were also evident throughout, consisting mainly of small marks and scratches.

    There are no subtitles on the DVD.

    This is a DVD 5, single layer disc, 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 only one audio track available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (192Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality was fine. There were a few minor audio pops, which occurred at the reel changes.

    I noticed a few slight lapses in audio sync, but these appeared to be ADR issues rather than transfer related.

    The original music score is credited to Graham Tardif. It is an instrumental score, with a distinctive "eighties" sound.

    The surrounds channels and subwoofer were used mostly during passages of music.

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

Extras

    Like two other films in Umbrella's Rolf de Heer Collection, this edition of Tail of a Tiger is completely void of anything but the film - even menus.

    There is no main menu or scene selection menu. After the Umbrella logo has played and the National Film & Sound Archive notice has appeared on screen, the disc goes straight into the film. At the conclusion of the film, the screen stays black until you press the enter or play button on your remote - this will simply restart the film.

    I can't imagine why Tail of a Tiger has been presented in this manner, but it's very disappointing.

R4 vs R1

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

    Tail of a Tiger is also known as Tale of a Tiger and the US title of, The Young Flyers.

    At the time of this review there is no R1 edition of the film under any of these titles.

Summary

    Tail of a Tiger is a run of the mill family adventure. The only real significance of this film is that it happens to be the debut feature of one of Australia's most respected filmmakers, Rolf de Heer.

    The video transfer is average.

    The audio transfer is fine.

    There is absolutely nothing but the film on this edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Thursday, January 14, 2010
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Tail of a Tiger (1984) | Incident at Raven's Gate (1988) | Dingo (1991) | Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993) | The Quiet Room (1996) | Epsilon (1995)

Incident at Raven's Gate (1988)

Incident at Raven's Gate (1988)

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Released 12-Jan-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 89:11
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor
Hemdale Film Corp
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Steven Vidler
Celine Griffin
Ritchie Singer
Vincent Gil
Saturday Rosenberg
Terry Camilleri
Max Cullen
Peter Douglas
Ernie Ellison
Brian O'Connor
Ruth Goble
Paul Philpot
Case Custom Packaging
RPI ? Music Roman Kronen
Graham Tardif


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.20:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 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

    Australian filmmaker, Rolf de Heer's second feature is a stark departure from his sedate family adventure, Tail of a Tiger. Incident at Raven's Gate (Encounter at Raven's Gate - US title) is a bizarre, yet mostly effective sci-fi horror story set in the remote Australian outback.

    The screenplay was written by Rolf de Heer and Marc Rosenberg, based on an original story by James Michael Vernon. Richard Michalak's superb use of the cinemascope ratio intensifies the sense of isolation and foreboding. Performances are all fine, especially Vincent Gil in the role of the creepy cop, Felix Skinner.

    At a remote farmhouse a lone policeman arrives to investigate the theft of a football trophy. Instead he witnesses the aftermath of a strange cosmic event. Sgt. Taylor (Max Cullen) finds the entire area deserted and heavily scorched. He is soon surprised by the arrival of a sinister looking man. Dr Hemmings (Terry Camilleri) is a government agent with the mission of covering up the situation.

    Five days earlier...

    The farm is owned by Richard and Rachel Cleary (Ritchie Singer and Celine Griffin). Richard's younger brother, Eddie (Steven Vidler) has recently come out of jail and is spending time on the farm to re-evaluate his life.

    Eddie is having a casual affair with local barmaid, Annie (Saturday Rosenberg), which puts him at odds with the local policeman, Felix Skinner. Felix has a creepy obsession with Annie and the Verdi opera, La Traviata. Although Annie is not interested in his advances, Felix is determined to win her over with an expensive new dress and tickets to the opera in the city.

    Meanwhile, strange things are happening on the farm. Cattle are dying, water storage is evaporating overnight and essential equipment is failing. When Eddie drives down to check on the old folks at Raven's Gate, he discovers a terrible tragedy. This incident is only the beginning of the malevolence - alien forces are at work distorting psychological behaviour with deadly resolve.

    For the most part, Incident at Raven's Gate sustains an eerie presence and is tantalisingly mysterious. Despite falling away slightly in the final act, the film is redeemed with a suitably ironic conclusion.

    I first saw Incident at Raven's Gate at AFI screenings in 1988 and until reviewing this DVD, I hadn't seen it since. I must admit, I didn't particularly like the film much after that first screening. However, viewing the film in retrospect has changed my opinion. I have a whole new appreciation for the film and hope others with similar thoughts might give it another viewing.

    At the time of writing this review, Incident at Raven's Gate is only available as part of Umbrella's, Rolf de Heer Collection. It is currently not available for separate purchase.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Incident at Raven's Gate is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.23:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. The films correct aspect ratio is 2.35:1.

    This film is screaming out for restoration, but I doubt it will happen in the foreseeable future. Although the print comes courtesy of the National Film & Sound Archive, it is not in great shape. The sharpness of the image varies, but was generally satisfactory. Blacks were generally clean and shadow detail was acceptable. This film has many dark scenes, so this aspect was important.

    Colours quality also varied, but overall there were no significant issues. Outdoor scenes in particular, looked fine.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident. Film-to-video artefacts were not a significant problem. Reel change markings were evident at approximate twenty-minute intervals - beginning at 17:36. Film artefacts were very prominent a few times during the film. Just before each reel change there was a shower of fine emulsion scratches, which lasted for a few seconds on each occasion. Apart from these instances, these artefacts weren't overly problematic.

    There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a DVD 5, single layer disc, 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 only one audio track available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s), which is surround encoded.

    There were no obvious problems with dialogue quality and audio sync. The occasional minor audio pop or click was heard at reel changes.

    The original music score is credited to Graham Tardif and Roman Kronen. Music from other sources has also been used in the film. These pieces include passages from La Traviata, Six Months in a Leaky Boat by Split Enz and Friday on my Mind by The Easybeats.

    With no direct sound separation, the surrounds carried music and ambient sound.

    The subwoofer was quite active, enhancing bass elements in the music and sound design.

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

Extras

    Like two other films in Umbrella's Rolf de Heer Collection, this edition of Incident at Raven's Gate is completely void of anything but the film - even menus.

    There is no main menu or scene selection menu. After the Umbrella logo has played and the National Film & Sound Archive notice has appeared on screen, the disc goes straight into the film. At the conclusion of the film, the screen stays black until you press the enter or play button on your remote - this will simply restart the film.

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 this review there is no R1edition of Incident at Raven's Gate available.

Summary

    Despite the restrictions of a small budget, Incident at Raven's Gate is quite an effective sci-fi horror film. It sustains an eerie presence and an air of mystery throughout, which encourages repeated viewings.

    The video and audio transfers are acceptable.

    There is absolutely nothing but the film on this edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Tail of a Tiger (1984) | Incident at Raven's Gate (1988) | Dingo (1991) | Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993) | The Quiet Room (1996) | Epsilon (1995)

Dingo (1991)

Dingo (1991)

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Released 26-Jul-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-The Big Steal, Star Struck, Malcolm, Travelling North
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 109:52 (Case: 119)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor
Gevest Australia
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Colin Friels
Miles Davis
Helen Buday
Joe Petruzzi
Brigitte Catillon
Bernard Fresson
Bernadette Lafont
Steven Shaw
Helen Doig
Daniel Scott
Chelsea Gibson
Ben Mortley
Elissa McAuliffe
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Miles Davis
Michel Legrand


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 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

    Miles Davis is the greatest jazz trumpet player ever, and even compared across the broader spectrum of jazz he has few (if any) peers. During his long and illustrious musical career he was greatly admired around the world for his wonderful playing and compositional skills. His movie career as an actor is much less well known. It consists of only one film, this one, made shortly before his death in 1991 by Dutch-born Australian director Rolf De Heer. De Heer has an interesting and eclectic body of work which includes Bad Boy Bubby and a film I reviewed recently, The Old Man Who Read Love Stories. 

    This film tells the story of an Australian trumpet player from the Western Australian outback, John 'Dingo' Anderson (Colin Friels), who is inspired by witnessing an impromptu concert by touring jazz trumpeter Billy Cross (Miles Davis) as a young boy. For many years he continues to live in his small town, scratching out a living as a dingo tracker and hunter and odd-job man. He has married his childhood sweetheart and they have two daughters. On the side he plays trumpet with a local band who play for local dances and other functions. He yearns, however, to play jazz and to visit Paris to see his idol, Billy Cross. The return of his childhood friend, Peter, to town prompts him to consider his future and his dreams.

    The strength of this film is in its wonderful score by Michael Legrand and Miles Davis and the outback locations. Unfortunately, the plot is not overly interesting and it plays out in a fairly predictable way. Friels does a good job as Dingo and was nominated for an AFI award for his performance. The film actually won two AFI awards for the score and sound and was nominated for four other awards including Best Film.

    As a big fan of Jazz music, I was very glad to get the opportunity to see this film, however I think its appeal would be limited to fans of Miles Davis or the director.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good but not without faults including an incorrect aspect ratio.

    The feature is presented in a 1.75:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is NOT the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. As per the site's policy I will remove one star from the overall video score.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout, however was affected by grain, especially in darker sequences. It was my impression that the picture had been lightened up which resulted in this artefact. As the bit rate was quite high I do not believe the grain was MPEG encoding related. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow Detail was OK, probably due to the lightening of the picture, however some scenes were still a little murky.

    The colour was good, however a little dark, with skin tones appearing a little unnatural in some scenes.

    Other than the grain mentioned above there were no other notable artefacts.

    The only subtitles were burned in for some French dialogue.

    The layer change occurs at 64:54 and was quite bad, causing a significant pause.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good and highlights the wonderful score.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s. My comments refer to the 5.1 track.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync. Miles Davis was quite croaky and a little difficult to make out sometimes.

    The score of this film by Michael Legrand and Miles Davis is fantastic, haunting, evocative and jazz of the highest quality. Great stuff!  

    The surround speakers were not overly active, however, were well used for the music.

    The subwoofer added bass to the music and some LFE to a plane early in the film.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu was simple allowing for scene and audio selection (strangely the audio selection was on the extras menu).

Image Gallery

    Approximately 20 stills from the film, production and promotional materials.

Trailers

    Trailers are included for 4 other Umbrella titles.

R4 vs R1

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

    This movie was released in Region 1 a few years ago, with no extras and a pan and scan transfer. This all regions release is the best version available globally.

Summary

    A decent film with a spectacularly good soundtrack, notable for being Miles Davis' only  movie acting appearance.

    The video quality is good but not in the correct aspect ratio.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has only a small picture gallery as an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, September 26, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Tail of a Tiger (1984) | Incident at Raven's Gate (1988) | Dingo (1991) | Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993) | The Quiet Room (1996) | Epsilon (1995)

Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993)

Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993)

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Released 23-Mar-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Rolf de Heer (Director) and Nicholas Hope (Actor)
Alternate Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 109:20 (Case: 112)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:04) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Nicholas Hope
Claire Benito
Ralph Cotterill
Carmel Johnson
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


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 5.1 (224Kb/s)
English Alternate 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 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

    An Aussie cult classic and film festival darling, Bad Boy Bubby has arrived on DVD in a single disc edition. Bad Boy Bubby manages to touch on just about every taboo in society, from incest to anal rape, and also manages to explore wider issues in our society, such as parenting, sex, religion, and death. While many have described the film as vulgar and offensive, Bad Boy Bubby is arguably one of the most intelligent, confronting, challenging, and thought provoking Australian films ever made.

   Written and Directed by Rolf de Heer, Bad Boy Bubby is definitely one of those 'love it or hate it' films. Loved by most critics, (Bad Boy Bubby won Best Film at the Venice Film Festival), the film polarised the viewing audiences who flocked to see it at the art house cinemas. I personally loved it when I originally saw it theatrically, but I'm not sure if it's a film one enjoys watching. Part black comedy, and part social observation, Bad Boy Bubby is an intelligent, confronting, challenging, and thought provoking film. It certainly is an experience. On the other hand, when I had finished reviewing it, I offered to lend my review copy to a friend to watch. Their reply: "Oh my God, I couldn't sit through that again!"

    As for the story, Bubby (Nicholas Hope) has spent the first 35 years of his life imprisoned in a squalid, claustrophobic basement by his sexually and violently abusive, controlling mother (Claire Benito). Here, the audience is first tested, when exposed to almost graphic sexual encounters between Bubby, and his obese, wrinkled mother.

    Having been taught since childhood that the outside air is poisonous and that leaving home is sinful, Bubby remains cut off from the outside world. Bubby only discovers the truth when his long-absent father, Pop (Ralph Cotterill) returns to disrupt the very unhealthy and twisted bond between mother and son.

    Following a violent confrontation, Bubby is forced out into the real world. With no understanding of life or society, and obviously suffering mentally from his life of abuse, Bubby wanders about the city, stumbling into various people's lives. His conversation is limited to largely repeating overheard phrases, but as time passes, he begins to make more sense.

    However, this is no simple 'fish out of water' plot. Through Bubby's journey to self-awareness and healing, Rolf de Heer provides us with a mirror to modern society. What makes that possible, is actor Nicholas Hope's engrossing and thoroughly convincing performance as Bubby. Hope manages to breathe life into a character that is both sympathetic, yet at other times, very frightening.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall, the transfer is pretty good. The quality does vary at times, but this is largely due to the source material. Interestingly, Director Rolf de Heer opted to use a different DOP and camera crew for each of the sections of the film (to highlight Bubby's changing perception of his world). There seem to be a number of different film stocks used, with varying results.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the image is reasonable throughout, and the black level is good. Some strange lighting effects have been employed, and the shadow detail is often limited, such as at 69:30.

    The colour is good throughout, and the skin tones are natural.

    While the picture often appears grainy, there are no problems with MPEG or Film-To-Video Artefacts. Film artefacts appear throughout, but they are mostly small and not disruptive.

    No subtitles are present on the DVD.

    The feature is on a Dual Layered disc, with the layer change placed at 52:04. The feature is divided into 19 chapters.

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

Audio

    Originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo, the disc features a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The sound design on this film is very peculiar, as it was designed to be the world's first "headphone film". Instead of recording the sound with boom microphones, Director, Rolf de Heer used body microphones and other aural devices, so that the audience would hear everything from Bubby's perspective.

    The following audio options are on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s), English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s), and English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. As mentioned above, instead of recording the sound with boom microphones, Nicholas Hope as Bubby, had a microphone taped over each ear, to let the audience hear exactly as he would. This does affect the recording of the dialogue, but I understood everything said.

    The musical score is credited to Graham Tardif, and the film's score features a variety of styles, including bagpipes, choral, organ, as well as a few alternative rock tunes.

    Considering the film's Dolby Stereo origins, the surround presence and activity is quite good. While the surround sound mix is quite front-heavy,  the rear speakers are used effectively to help provide ambience, such as the general hub in the pub at 102:46. This  maintains a nice soundfield while keeping the viewer firmly focussed on the screen. In keeping with Director Rolf de Heer's original vision, with the new surround mix, occasionally voices and sounds appear out of the rears and envelop us, which is very effective and unsettling.

    Understandably, this is not an LFE-heavy film, and the subwoofer snoozed throughout.

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

Extras

    The two-disc set had plenty of decent and genuine extras, but this version retains most of the interesting extras.

Menus

    Animated with audio.

Audio Commentary

    Rolf de Heer (Director) and Nicholas Hope (Actor), provide an interesting commentary, which focuses on the budgetary constraints and the subsequent problems with the production. The commentary is screen specific, and they also discuss some of the issues raised in the film, and the use of imagery and Port Adelaide locations. There are also a few funny anecdotes, some relating to the film's many sex and nude scenes.

Alternate Audio

    Described as "Binaural Audio Recording For Headphones", if you have a decent set of headphones, and you're watching this film by yourself, this option is highly recommended.

Theatrical Trailer (1:51)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

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

    Bad Boy Bubby has also been released on DVD in R1 as a single-disc edition.

    The second disc of the two-disc R4 edition included the following extras:

Summary

    Like Brazil or Eraserhead, this is no mindless Friday night pick-me-up. Indeed, Bad Boy Bubby is a challenging and sometimes intense film, and it is certainly not for the squeamish!

    The video quality is good overall.

    The audio quality is also good.

    The extras are genuine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, August 27, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSamsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)
SpeakersSamsung

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Tail of a Tiger (1984) | Incident at Raven's Gate (1988) | Dingo (1991) | Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993) | The Quiet Room (1996) | Epsilon (1995)

The Quiet Room (1996)

The Quiet Room (1996)

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Released 27-Nov-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 92:27 (Case: 102)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Celine O'Leary
Paul Blackwell
Chloe Ferguson
Phoebe Ferguson
Kate Greetham
Todd Telford
Peter Ferris
Peter Green
Case Custom Packaging
RPI Box Music Graham Tardif


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Mitre 10 - not really annoying, but obvious
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     After the controversy of Bad Boy Bubby, Rolf de Heer's next film was another bold departure - this time into the mind of a seven-year-old girl. When writing the screenplay, Rolf de Heer tried to immerse himself in the mind of a child. Through a child's eye he imagined watching a marriage breakdown from the perspective of a couple's young daughter. His story deals with the hurt and betrayal experienced by the child, as her parents blindly fight and argue their relationship away.

    The Quiet Room is a brave film in many ways. Most of the narrative is told through the inner voice of the young protagonist and the vast majority of the action never leaves the confines of the family home.

    Naturally, the casting of The Quiet Room was very important to the credibility of the film. Seven-year-old, Chloe Ferguson plays the young girl and her real-life sister, Phoebe plays the same character at the age of three. Chloe is in nearly every scene of the film and her performance gives the film real authenticity. The parents are played with equal proficiency by Paul Blackwell and Celine O'Leary.

    The Quiet Room centres around the household of an unknown family. For years the parents of a seven-year-old girl have fought verbal battles, some of which, have become physical.

    Things aren't all bad though and for the most part, these parents are devoted to their only child. She is very well cared for - to the point of being spoilt and she doesn't want for much. But there is one issue that is a constant source of frustration for her parents.

   Some time ago the girl decided to punish her parents for their corrosive behaviour. She vowed to stop speaking from that day forward. She holds true to the vow for many years, but when her parents relationship reaches a crisis point, the girl must find a way to break her silence and contribute to a true reconciliation.

    The Quiet Room was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1996. It remains one of Rolf de Heer's lesser known films, but is no less important in his overall body of work.

    This film certainly won't appeal to everyone. But for those with patience and an appreciation for something outside of the mainstream, you might be enlightened.

At the time of writing this review, The Quiet Room is only available as part of Umbrella's, Rolf de Heer Collection. It is not currently available for separate purchase.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The Quiet Room is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Despite some softness to the image, the transfer generally looks fine.

    There is a reasonable level of sharpness and clarity throughout. Blacks were clean and shadow detail was quite good.

    Rolf de Heer uses colour to reflect mood in the film. Warm colours reflect good times, while cool colours reflect conflict. In general, colours were nicely balanced on the disc.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident on the disc. Film-to-video artefacts were minor and included some aliasing on timber blinds. Film artefacts were barely noticed.

    There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a DVD 5 disc, 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 only one audio track available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), which is surround encoded.

    There were no adverse problems with the dialogue quality or audio sync.

    The original music score is again credited to Graham Tardif. His score for The Quiet Room is intelligent and compliments the film really well. Elements of his score are reminiscent of Michael Nyman's musical style.

    The surrounds and subwoofer were active mainly during music passages.

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

Extras

     Like two other films in Umbrella's Rolf de Heer Collection, this edition of The Quiet Room is completely void of anything but the film - even menus.

    There is no main menu or scene selection menu. After the Umbrella logo has played and the National Film & Sound Archive notice has appeared on screen, the disc goes straight into the film. At the conclusion of the film, the screen stays black until you press the enter or play button on your remote - this will simply restart the film.

R4 vs R1

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

    There is a US edition of The Quiet Room available, but I'm not sure if it is R1 or region-free. The US edition was released by Image in 2008 and apart from the NTSC transfer, it seems exactly the same as this Umbrella release.

Summary

    After the controversy of Bad Boy Bubby, Rolf de Heer's next film was the beautifully written and acted, The Quiet Room. Although, it's not a film for everyone, this will reward those with patience and a desire for something outside of the mainstream.

    The transfers are fine.

    There is absolutely nothing but the film on this edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Saturday, January 23, 2010
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Tail of a Tiger (1984) | Incident at Raven's Gate (1988) | Dingo (1991) | Bad Boy Bubby (1 disc edition) (1993) | The Quiet Room (1996) | Epsilon (1995)

Epsilon (1995)

Epsilon (1995)

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Released 10-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Audio
Alternative Version-The US - Miramax Version (87:45)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 97:46 (Case: 88)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Ullie Birve
Syd Brisbane
Alethea McGrath
Chloe Ferguson
Phoebe Ferguson
Case Custom Packaging
RPI ? Music Graham Tardif


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
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

    Even critics of Australian filmmaker, Rolf de Heer would have to acknowledge the courage and diversity in his filmmaking. His films constantly defy convention in style and subject matter - Epsilon is another example of this diversity.

    The idea and concept for Epsilon came to Rolf de Heer during the post-production of Bad Boy Bubby. After seeing some fine examples of motion control and time-lapse photography, he became interested in using the technique in a feature film. Rolf started work on a screenplay, which would deliver the narrative and characters to achieve this ambition.

    In the remote outback of Australia a light falls in the night sky. A naked woman materialises on a rock and looks around inquisitively. The woman (Ulli Birve) is from the planet, Epsilon and she is unaware that she has arrived on Earth. In the darkness, she finds a lone man (Syd Brisbane) sitting by his campfire. Much to his surprise, the form of a naked woman emerges slowly out of the shadows.

    When the woman realises that she has been sent to Earth, she is enraged. She tells the man that Earth and its inhabitants are a source of ridicule within the universe. The Earth is slowly being destroyed by a race of very low intelligence - the human race.

    With the ability to slow time and morph between locations, the alien woman shows the man the error of human ways. But despite all the contempt she displays toward the planet Earth, there is one element that emerges, which is truly universal.

    The US distributor, Miramax purchased Epsilon for the US market (released under the title of Alien Visitor) and requested changes to the structure of the film. Rolf de Heer later wrote and filmed additional scenes, which added more clarity to the narrative in the opening and closing scenes. This US version is ten-minutes shorter than the original cut and also removes some of the full-frontal nudity in the early scenes.

    This is the first time the original 1995 cut of Epsilon has been released on DVD. As a comparison, Umbrella has also included the 1997 US - Miramax version on this edition. The original cut is the preferred version, as it retains ambiguity and some mystery in the narrative. The US version neatly closes the film with all the relevant explanations. It's worth a look in comparison, but it's really quite lame.

    Epsilon features some stunning locations and amazing cinematography by Tony Clark - it is worth seeing for this reason alone. While it is an interesting film, in my opinion, it never really achieves the goals it strives for. What begins as a fascinating and beautiful sci-fi film soon descends into a preachy soap opera. The films premise is full of anticipation, but unfortunately, the end result is not one of Rolf de Heer's better films.

    Epsilon is presented as part of Umbrella's Rolf de Heer Collection. At the time of writing this review, this DVD isn't available for separate purchase.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The two alternate versions of Epsilon are presented on this DVD and both are presented in different aspect ratios. The original (previously unreleased) version is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. The US (Miramax) version is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.24:1, which is also 16x9 enhanced. The correct ratio for the film is 2.35:1. Directly comparing the versions on screen, there is minimal difference across the screen, but vertically the original version is considerably more open.

    Both versions exhibit a good degree of sharpness, although there is some minor film grain evident in some darker scenes. Blacks were generally clean and shadow detail was also good. Colours are full and vibrant on both versions.

    The changing colours of the Australian outback are well balanced and look stunning in some scenes. However, the balance of colour appears to be cleaner in the US version - a good example is to compare the sky in the city smog scene.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noticed. Film-to-video artefacts were negligible and film artefacts were mostly of a minor nature.

    There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs during the original version at 92:01.

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

Audio

    Each version has one audio track - both tracks are surround encoded, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality seemed fine and there were no apparent issues with audio sync.

    The original score by Graham Tardif is very effective. The score is mystical and intense, with traditional aboriginal ambience.

    The surrounds were noticed more during the early scenes of the film - especially in the original version. The rear channels predominantly carried music and ambient sound.

    The subwoofer enhanced bass elements in the score.

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

Extras

The menu is static, 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of music from the film.

Apart from the fact that both versions of the film are included on the DVD, there are no other extras.

R4 vs R1

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

    There is a R1 edition of Epsilon released under the US title of Alien Visitor. This edition was released by Disney Home Video in September 2000. Naturally, it only features the US, Miramax version of the film and has no extras.

Summary

     Epsilon is an interesting, but not entirely successful film from Rolf de Heer. Ironically, the environmental themes in the story are probably more relevant today than when the film was made over ten years ago.

    The transfers are fine.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Thursday, January 28, 2010
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE