The Monkey's Mask (2000)

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Released 19-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Samantha Lang Short Film-Audacious
Interviews-Crew-Dorothy Porter Interview
Notes-The Novel
Featurette-A Reading by Dorothy Porter
Audio-Only Track-The Soundtrack (5)
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-The Bank; The Boys; Innocence; Mullet
DVD Credits
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 89:01 (Case: 93)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Samantha Lang
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Susie Porter
Kelly McGillis
Case Click
RPI $34.95 Music Single Gun Theory


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, big-time.
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Monkey's Mask, as directed by Samantha Lang, is a thriller based upon the Dorothy Porter novel of the same name, and an interesting one at that. The use of locations around Sydney made this film interesting in a sort of "hey, I've been to that place" kind of way, and the story has some interesting possibilities, but this tends to get lost in some very ordinary acting.

    Jill Fitzpatrick (Susie Porter) is a private investigator who also happens to be a lesbian, and who was also once a police officer. She is called to investigate the disappearance of a young literature student and poet-wannabe named Mickey Norris (Abbie Cornish), whose poetry is rather indigestible to say the least. After she meets with a few of Mickey's friends and her professor, Diana Maitland (Kelly McGillis), Mickey's body is discovered in the basement of the Norris home, and her parents (John Noble and Linden Wilkinson) ask Jill to find out who killed her. Jill soon embarks on an expedition into the Sydney poetry scene, and finds a few twisted secrets that are kept by some of the people on said scene.

    Of course, this would be a boring thriller if it only featured one woman investigating the death of a young poet-wannabe, so Jill also embarks upon an affair with Diana. The only problem with that is Diana's husband, Nick (Marton Csokas), who doesn't seem to mind at all that is his wife is sleeping with another woman. A few threatening messages are left on Jill's answering machine, and one witness who has something to reveal about the whole mystery dies in a suspicious car crash, but that's all there really is to this film.

    I didn't find The Monkey's Mask to be all that entertaining, but if you have a passing interest in Australian cinema, it may be up your alley.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The problems with this video transfer can be summed up in a single word: aliasing. It is noticeable through much of the film, and tends to get distracting.

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

    This transfer is very sharp and clear, giving the viewer a clear look at what's on offer in the frame. The shadow detail is good, although not particularly great, and there is no low level noise.

    The colours in this film are generally quite drab, reflecting the Sydney environment that it was shot in. The transfer renders them faithfully, with no smearing or composite artefacts.

    MPEG artefacts were not noticed in this transfer, with plenty of disc space allocated to the video. Film-to-video artefacts, namely aliasing, are a constant and often distracting feature of this transfer, with the most annoying instances coming on the side of a building at 42:44, and on a monorail track at 13:18. The latter example was especially distracting because the aliasing served to let one know when the camera was moving. Film artefacts were also intermittently present, with large black marks occasionally noticed on the picture.

    There are no subtitles at all on this disc, so hearing impaired viewers are out of luck.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 8 and 9 at 73:37. This is during Jill's walk on the beach with Nick, and sticks out like a sore thumb. It could have been placed in a much less intrusive spot during one of the titles that intermittently appear at the start of other Chapters.

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

Audio

    There is only the one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue, encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at a bitrate of 448 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, especially during the poetry readings, which is just torturous. I detected no obvious problems with audio sync.

    The music in this film can be divided into a collection of contemporary numbers and some original music by Single Gun Theory, with additional music by Anthony Partos and music supervision by Andrew Kotatko. There is nothing especially memorable about any of the music contained in this film, but at least it is better than the poetry.

    The surround channels are used to spread ambient effects across the sound field, such as the reverberating chatter in the lobby of a Sydney university at 9:01, or the microphone reverb in a hall during a poetry reading at 35:18. This is certainly not what I would call an especially creative soundtrack, and it wouldn't be used to demonstrate surround sound, that's for certain.

    The subwoofer was not especially used in this soundtrack, although there is one moment at 2:39 when it produces a horrible-sounding feedback. Apart from that, I was scarcely aware of its presence.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is heavily animated with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

Featurette - Samantha Lang Short Film - Audacious

    This twenty-five minute and thirty-six second featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Crew Interviews - Dorothy Porter Interview

   This twenty-eight minute and forty second featurette is an interview with author Dorothy Porter, presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Notes - The Novel

   A singular page containing a sales blurb for the novel that this film is based upon.

Featurette - A Reading by Dorothy Porter

   This four-minute and forty-nine second featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Audio-Only Track - The Soundtrack (5)

   This submenu features five Dolby Digital 2.0 selections from the soundtrack.

Biographies

    Biographies for director Samantha Lang, writer Dorothy Porter, Susie Porter, and Kelly McGillis are presented under this submenu.

Theatrical Trailer

    This ninety-one second trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Trailer - The Bank; The Boys; Innocence; Mullet

    The trailers for The Bank and The Boys are presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1, while Innocence is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and Mullet is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and none of them are 16x9 Enhanced. They are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and their total running time is six minutes and twenty-four seconds.

DVD Credits

    A listing of every party responsible for the encoding of this disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc does not appear to be available in Region 1. There does, however, appear to be a Region 2 German version of the disc available, which only has a 2.0 channel soundtrack for English. From what I could tell from the German Amazon site (my German is minimal) there are a few extras missing there to boot, so it looks like this disc is the best version of the film at this time.

Summary

    The Monkey's Mask is an erotic thriller that just didn't do it for me, although it did have some interesting possibilities. I can't really put my finger on why the film didn't work. In fact, the only real complaints I have about this disc are that there is too much aliasing and not enough chapters.

    The video transfer is good, but hampered by a little too much aliasing.

    The audio transfer is good, but not especially inspiring.

    The extras are numerous.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, February 14, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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