Single Man, A (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 6-Jul-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Director Tom Ford
Featurette-Making Of-(16.03)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.26)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 100:37
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tom Ford
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Colin Firth
Julianne Moore
Nicholas Hoult
Matthew Goode
Jon Kortajarena
Paulette Lamori
Ryan Simpkins
Case ?
RPI ? Music Abel Korzeniowski


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (4608Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

For the first time in my life I can't see my future.
Everyday goes by in a haze,
but today I have decided will be different.

George (Colin Firth)

     A Single Man is fashion icon Tom Ford's first foray into film direction. It was also probably his first unwilling step into production, as funding for this gay themed film fell away and Ford had to put his money where his heart is to get it made.

    The DVD of A Single Man was reviewed here. This Blu-ray release is matched day and date for the DVD. In his review DanielB outlines the plot of the film and also details the career defining performance of Colin Firth as the man spending his last day pining for his lost lover. In fact the loss runs even deeper. For George (Firth) not only loses his life-partner to a pointless car accident but faces the double loss - not being able to properly grieve for him. The telephone conversation in which George is told that his lover has died but that the funeral is "family only" says as much as any film could about the plight of gay men in the 60s, in fact in just about any era. Firth’s performance of this scene is brilliant yet it is also his quiet moments of reflection and his interactions with other characters on his last night on Earth that display an actor at one with his material. He is an actor with recent experience in acting loss - his other recent film being Genova, where he had to cope with the loss of his wife as he struggled to raise a family.

     That should not diminish the performance of Julieanne Moore as his equally doomed "girl friend". Tortured by society because she has done everything right - married well, looked beautiful, raised a child she now has none of those as companions in her middle age and has turned to gin as a new best friend.

     The film has something of a mixed reputation in the gay community. Any ravishingly beautiful gay themed film is bound to have its admirers but many people felt that the liberties Tom Ford and original scriptwriter David Scearce took with the Isherwood novel were too extreme. The central suicidal narrative is not in the film and Ford’s insistence that this is not a "gay film" irked those who see the novel as a cornerstone in gay identity. Ford no doubt had his reasons - millions of his own reasons - as gay movies tend not to light up the box office.

     Judged on its own terms the film is a major success. It is beautiful to look at and as hard as it sometimes is to watch, it is equally difficult to look away. The production design by Mad Men designer Dan Bishop and costuming match Ford’s fashion aesthetic. The costuming is superb; Isherwood's George is no longer a rumpled college professor but an immaculate dresser. He lives in a John Lautner designed house filled with cutting edge style accoutrements. If this sounds like a dig at Ford for triumphing style over substance it is not - the film is simply gorgeous to look at and this style infuses the narrative and defines the man.

     Films like A Single Man will never be mainstream entertainment but anyone with a love of fine drama will relish the opportunity to own this fine film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     A Single Man is presented on Blu-ray in the 2.35:1 original aspect ratio.

     It is hard to say whether this is a film that gains greatly from a high definition transfer. DanielB was impressed by the standard definition version.Ford and his cinematographer Eduard Grau work hard to create a real aesthetic on this film that means much of the image is slightly soft with light suffusing the characters in a 1960s glow. When the film shifts to a recent memory the colours are amped creating a bloom that suits the director’s intentions. The colours are generally a little pale so as to form a contrast with those scenes from the past which were happier times. Orange is a dominant colour throughout.

     Aside from this the Blu-ray image was clear and suitably sharp particularly in mid-shots. The detail on close-ups (of which there are a lot) was pleasing.

     The Super 35mm image had a slightly inconsistent grain structure but again the level of grain seemed to suit the era and was not a distraction. I haven't marked the film down as the image quality directly reflects the intention of the filmmaker. All in all a good looking Blu-ray.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which give a good account of on-screen action. There are brief burned in subtitles for some Spanish dialogue when George meets a young Spanish man at a liquor store.

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

Audio

     The Blu-ray of A Single Man has as its centrepiece a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track. There is also a LPCM 2.0 track running at a constant 2304 Kb/s and a commentary track from director Tom Ford in English Dolby Digital 2.0 running at 192 Kb/s.

     The dialogue was easy to understand and clear throughout.

     The score by Abel Korzeniowski is a wonderful, moody accompaniment to the film. The score is added to by the Shigeru Umebayashi (2046 , In The Mood for Love). Other music comes in the form of topical songs including a key scene with Green Onions by Booker T and the MG's and Ebben? Ne andrò lontan by Catalani from La Wally ( made popular by Diva and Philadelphia)

     The actors were in audio sync and there are no technical problems with the sound.

     The surround soundscape is subtle but effective. The only slightly annoying bit was the crackling fire in Charley’s house which was a little too forward, creating an uncomfortable feeling that the room was on fire!

     A warm, strong and enveloping soundtrack. A great accompaniment to the film.

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

Extras

    Unfortunately, the extras are no different to that on the standard definition version of the film. There is an annoying but skippable trailer for Precious before the menu.

Making of A Single Man (16:03)

     As EPK's go this is not too bad. There are interviews with Tom Ford and the key cast members but the running time is filled up with film clips. Tom Ford does his level best at convincing us that this is a love story and not a gay love story.

Theatrical Trailer (1:25)

     A pretty accurate and moving trailer for the film.

Commentary – Tom Ford, Director/Producer

     The key extra is the commentary track by Tom Ford. As a first film project it was a learning curve for the filmmaker but he is a remarkably effective and confident man and it is difficult to imagine anything phases him too much. Given that he produced, directed and co-scripted it Ford is alive to all the elements of the film including the production history, the themes and the aesthetics. Essential listening for fans of the movie.

R4 vs R1

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

   This film is yet to be released in Region A Blu-ray but advance word suggest the same feature set.

Summary

     A Single Man is a beautiful, sad and sensuous experience. The Blu-ray provides a vivid and strong experience although there is a real question whether the Blu-ray is a massive increase over the DVD. The extras are the same. Still, for those with a Blu-ray player (most of us these days?) who want to relish great dramatic performance this is an essential addition to your collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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