Little Ashes (2008)

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Released 4-May-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 107:26
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (65:34) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paul Morrison
Studio
Distributor
Kojo Pictures
Gryphon Entertainment
Starring Javier Beltrán
Robert Pattinson
Matthew McNulty
Marina Gatell
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Miguel Mera


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 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

    I have never understood the appeal of Robert Pattinson. He's a kind of ordinary, verging on the edge of funny looking, bloke who seems to have had heart-throb status unreasonably plonked on him merely for his involvement with the Twilight franchise. No doubt that most teen girls are in love with Edward Cullen rather than Robert Pattinson, the relatively mediocre performance of his non-Twilight films (and non Harry Potter if you really want to be picky) certainly suggests as much, but the media saturation certainly seems to be marketing the actor rather than his character. It is a shame as Pattinson certainly manages to prove himself a capable actor in Little Ashes, but his teen-heartthrob persona has likely cost this worthy film the more mature audience it deserved to find.

    The film tells the story of the relationship between surrealist artist Salvador Dali (Pattinson) and revolutionary poet Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltrán), to the disapproval of filmmaker Luis Buñuel (Matthew McNulty), starting during their student days and following through to Lorca's demise. The three being arguably Spain's most influential artists in their respective fields at their peak. Friendship leads to love. Love leads to self discovery, emotional betrayal and ultimately damages all manner of relationships the pair have with friends and family.

    Though the film is very much a case of choosing the legend and rumour over likely facts, the film is quite sincere in its intent and paints a truly moving tale of secret love in a period where homosexuality was frowned upon with prejudice, violence and lengthy gaol terms. The film is lovingly told and beautifully directed. The film strikes a fine balance between the awkward nature through which the relationship in the film was formed and the passion of the relationship. There is far more warmth to the story, and ultimately plausibility, to it than the gay flick of the decade, Brokeback Mountain. The final act of the film is a little overdrawn, which follows Lorca's life after Dali leaves Spain (and the better part of his senses), but not so much as to substantially lessen the effect of the excellent first two acts.

    The acting on show is particularly good all around. Beltrán and Pattinson are excellent in their respective roles. Marina Gatell is excellent as a well-to-do suitor to Lorca, who loses out as he discovers his sexuality.

    The subject matter and sexuality in the film will no doubt put a lot of viewers off, which is unfortunate as Little Ashes is an absorbing and surprisingly accessible film. Finally, Robert Pattinson has a reason to stop hiding in the dark.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, close to the film's theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. The image does not look noticeably cropped.

    The film looks good without being particularly spectacular. The image is fairly sharp and quite clear. The film looks to have been shot largely in natural light, and the film is quite dark as a result. Thankfully there is an excellent level of shadow detail in the image. The colours look reasonably well balanced, though are a tad subdued thanks to the lighting. Only mild grain is present in the image.

    There are no noticeable compression artefacts in the image. I counted two dust-sized film artefacts throughout the runtime of the feature.

    There are no subtitles available for the feature, which may bother the hard of hearing as the Spanish accents employed by most characters are quite thick.

    This is an RSDL disc, with a layer break occurring seamlessly at 65:34.

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

Audio

    The film features an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) audio track, which sounds quite flat and lifeless.

    The characters all speak with quite thick Spanish accents. The accents take a little time to adjust to, but once you decipher the rhythm the dialogue is reasonably clear and and it is well placed in the mix at all times. The audio is reasonably well synchronised to the video, although occasional ADR is evident.

    The film features a delicate orchestral score that blooms into full life as the passion in the film ignites. Very fitting, but lacking in fidelity in the lacklustre audio track within which it is presented.

    The surrounds and subwoofer remained silent for the duration of the film.

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

Extras

    The disc opens with an anti-piracy clip that cannot be skipped, and several trailers that can be skipped, before reaching fairly bland menu.

Theatrical Trailer

    A moderately interesting trailer that seems unsure as to how heavily to push the gay angle. Pass.

Photo Gallery (5:44)

    A slow slideshow of promotional stills and on set images. Skip it.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 edition includes a series of interviews with cast and crew that are not included on the Region 4 release and includes 5.1 sound. The Region 1 edition miss out on the stills slideshow, although this is a small price for improved sound and better extras.

Summary

    A passionate and engaging tale of a formative relationship that influenced the lives of some of 20th Century Spain's greatest artists. Told with a true passion that puts Brokeback Mountain to shame.

    The video looks good. The audio is plain stereo and rather disappointing; functional and no more. The extras are not worth mentioning.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
DisplayOptoma HD20 Projector. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
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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