Little Man Tate (1991)

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Released 12-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 95:08
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:05) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jodie Foster
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Jodie Foster
Adam Hann-Byrd
Dianne Wiest
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Mark Isham


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish 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 English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Little Man Tate was the first major feature directorial effort by Jodie Foster. She also stars in the film. Produced at what was the peak of her career, in 1991, it tells the story of eight year old Fred Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd) and his mum Dede (Foster). Fred is what is referred to as a gifted child. No - in fact he's an outright genius. He plays piano like a master, he paints exquisite portraits, recites complex poetry and can crunch incredibly large numbers in seconds. A prodigy some might say. Fred's mum, Dede, is a single working class barmaid/dancer who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that her son is about a hundred times smarter than her. She loves him more than anything in her life, but is reluctant to let anyone further Fred's talent. She feels that people may take advantage of him if she lets him go. Fred attracts that attention of Jane Grierson (Dianne Wiest), a renowned academic who also runs one of the most respected 'gifted children' schools in the country. Jane wants to bring Fred to her school, to further his education and possibly study him for her own research. Dede is of course reluctant at first, but after some coaxing agrees that Fred attend the school. At the school he competes against other geniuses in a special 'brainy Olympics' and even attends a university class. It is at college that he meets up with Eddie (an early role for Harry Connick, Jr.) who takes Fred under his wing. Fred meanwhile, is struggling to come to terms with his genius and his lack of ability to make any normal friends. Haunted by nightmares and the need to belong, he begins to rebel against Jane, the other students, and finally his mother. A troubled genius if ever there was one.

    I hadn't seen this film for several years - I think I rented it on video just after it's original release - and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it has aged. Sure, it's a little sugary at times, but its intentions are good and it is well crafted..

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Transfer Quality

Video

    MGM DVDs of films from this era seem to have a certain look to them. Much as was the case in my recent review of Benny and Joon, Little Man Tate offers quite a fine transfer that is finely detailed, rich in colour and with few problems other some excessive grain.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The disc is encoded with automatic pan & scan information for those that require it.

     Quite a detailed transfer is on offer here, with only a couple of minor instances of edge enhancement (see Fred Tate's back at 16:18 for the most obvious example). Shadow detail hovers on the boundary of becoming a problem, but never quite crosses the line. There is no low level noise.

    The colour palette on offer shows deep solid blacks, and a whole swag of other bright colours. There are no apparent problems with oversaturation or colour bleeding.

    I noticed no MPEG artefacts, but film-to-video artefacts were more numerous. There are reasonable amounts of aliasing throughout, though to be fair it never really breaks above a slightly distracting shimmer. Examples can be seen at 70:43 on some shutters, at 81:15 and 81:44 on the same shutters, though faring slightly  worse, and at 84:43 on some steps. There was also a slight moire effect at 32:34. Film artefacts were also evident, though not to the extent I expected given that this film is now over ten years old.

    Several subtitle tracks are present. I sampled the English for the Hearing Impaired variety and found them to be quite accurate most of the time with only a few sentences abridged.

    This is a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change occurs at 50:05 and is quite noticeable as Jodie Foster is shown in extreme close-up at the time and freezes noticeably.

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

Audio

    There are a total of five audio tracks available on this disc. These are a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English, and German, French, Italian, and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. I listened to the English track in its entirety.

    Dialogue is quite clear and dominant in the sound mix, which given the nature of the film and its dependence on dialogue is important. Some of Adam Hann-Byrd's lines are quite difficult to pick at times, as he speaks in a very child-like whisper. There are no apparent audio sync issues.

    The music is quite jazzy, so much so that I originally thought it might have been credited to Harry Connick, Jr. Other than one number he actually plays during the film, he doesn't actually feature in the track listing. The score is credited to Mark Isham and as mentioned is quite jazzy.

    Despite being a 5.1 soundtrack, there is very little use of the rear channels. They are not missed.

   The subwoofer is likewise quite subdued in its use and rarely awoke from its slumber except during the thumpier musical moments.

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

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

    The original theatrical trailer is the only extra that we are blessed with. Running for 1:43 minutes, this trailer is one of those awful pan & scan efforts that is particularly grainy and full of film artefacts. A quite harsh audio track is provided in Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 disc misses out on

    The Region 1 disc misses out on

    Unless you have a need for either the German or Italian soundtracks, I'd have to lean in favour of the Region 1 disc here. A commentary of any sort from someone as media-shy as Jodie Foster is worth double what a normal commentary track is. Definitely a win to the Region 1 disc.

Summary

    A decent transfer has been afforded this title, with sharp and consistent video, marred only by some trivial aliasing and grain.

    The audio is average, performing its job in what is essentially a dialogue-based film.

    The extras are limited to only a trailer, which given the inclusion of a commentary track from Jodie Foster on the Region 1 title is disappointing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, March 06, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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Comments (Add)
good movie - Geoff (read my bio)