Singles (1992) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 25-Jun-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Outtakes-2
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 99:08 (Case: 95)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,4 Directed By Cameron Crowe
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Bridget Fonda
Campbell Scott
Kyra Sedgwick
Sheila Kelley
Jim True
Bill Pullman
Matt Dillon
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Paul Westerberg


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This film is a prime example of what Cameron Crowe does best- Singles is a breakdown of dating in the 90s and relationships in general. Crowe takes an ensemble cast and has little trouble in executing a fantastic film about the love lives of a group of people in Seattle in the early 90s.

    Starring Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick and Matt Dillon with a supporting cast of Sheila Kelley, Jim True, Bill Pullman, Ally Walker, Jeremy Piven, Tom Skerritt and Eric Stoltz, Crowe manages to give each deserving character enough substance to make them feel real and legitimate.

    The characters of Steve and Linda (Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick) are the main thrust of the film- their relationship is amazingly realistic as they go through many different changes in their time together; both good and bad. The best thing about the telling of this story and the film as a whole is that it really steers away from any really sentimental and corny stuff. Even in scenes that probably called for some soppy dialogue or people crying with big ol' puppy dog eyes, Crowe keeps his distance as much as he can, which gives the film something that a lot of romantic films lack- credibility.

    The relationship of Janet and Cliff (Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillon) gets slightly less screen time than the abovementioned storyline. Janet is a love-struck neighbour of Cliff - the self indulgent lead singer of 'Citizen Dick'- a band from Seattle made up of Cliff along with Pearl Jam members Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard (Great move!). Cliff thinks that he is the complete master of the 'Seattle Sound' and he is a rock and roll god who is well on the way to making it big. Janet agrees with him but refuses to believe that his attention is sometimes given to other women. Bridget Fonda's portrayal of Janet is fantastic- as is the script she is given. Matt Dillon is superb as Cliff - someone you hate but like at the same time because his pumped-up view of himself is so funny - my favourite scene of the film involves this aspect of his character and can be found in the sequence where Citizen Dick are reading the latest review of their show. Obviously this character is based on a hybrid of many musicians Cameron Crowe met while writing for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s- he is so well drawn and is an indication as to how clued-in Crowe is to pop culture and the attitude that the pioneers of it espouse.

    This film has to be one of the pioneers of 'life analysis' entertainment, made famous by TV shows like 'Seinfeld' and films like 'Swingers' or to a lesser extent 'High Fidelity'. It addresses some of the same issues that these other shows have, like the male over-analysis of courtship - 'Will I seem too desperate if I call her immediately after the first date?' as a prime example. Or 'OK, if I make this basket, then that is fate telling me to call him.' - Fantastic Stuff.

    'Singles' is very well paced and free flowing due to its use of characters talking to camera and with the film divided into four or five distinct sections, each introduced by an on-screen graphic indicating the start of the next 'chapter'. The dialogue is fantastic and Crowe's depiction of Seattle early on in the birth of the 'Seattle sound' era is spot on. On top of this, the film involves cameos from plenty of Seattle rockers from the era. As well as the guys from Pearl Jam, there are appearances from Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Jerry Cantrell and Alice In Chains plus others. A truly enjoyable film.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Generally the video presentation of this film is a letdown, with plenty of artefacts to be found. Let's get started...
 
    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. There is also a Pan & Scan version of the film available on the opposite side of the disc. I watched the version presented in its correct aspect ratio- how it was intended to be seen. This Region 4 transfer is presented in NTSC, so you should make sure that your display device can play back NTSC video. 

    Sharpness is quite a big problem with this transfer with many scenes not appearing as crisp and clear as they could. Grain is probably the biggest problem with plenty of scenes appearing very dirty and unclear because of it. Good examples can be found at 11:47, 12:07, 22:41, 27:41, 42:15, 45:19 and 56:33. Shadow detail is not too bad in this film due to the fact that Seattle is portrayed as a very overcast and grey city. A lot of scenes are presented in natural light which will mean that shadows are usually very dark. Some examples of scenes that lack shadow detail can be found at 16:01 and 27:41 - if you compare these scenes to a section with good shadow detail you will see the difference - see 69:41. There was no noticeable low level noise.

    As mentioned above, the city of Seattle is portrayed as a very grey and dull city colour-wise. As the film is set in the throes of the grunge revolution, most of the clothes that the characters wear are very drab and dark with no colours that are capable of jumping off the screen. Occasionally there are places where the colours are bright and vibrant. These can be found at 25:15 and 51:22. All flesh tones are consistent throughout which indicates a very good transfer colour-wise.
 
    There was only one MPEG artefact that I could find and it was very minor- some very slight macro blocking or pixelization at 56:02 on Bridget Fonda's right cheek. Aliasing was not a significant problem with only a couple of instances worth noting at 51:05 and 73:46 - a very good result from what is not a great transfer. Usually, aliasing is found everywhere on a transfer that is not up to scratch. There is some significant telecine wobble to be found during the opening titles, specifically at 00:22 and 00:31. Later on in the film there are other titles that appear, and it seems as if the problem was rectified because these titles are solid as a rock.

    Another film to video artefact that can be found on this disc is one that rarely gets a mention here at Michael D's. Because this is an NTSC transfer, we are open to seeing one of the most objectionable DVD artefacts you can find - the NTSC '3:2 pulldown' or 'judder'. There are a few instances of judder in this transfer with some horrible examples to be found at 29:17 and 29:26, plus another good example at 11:22. This artefact is hardcore, folks - it is worth having a look at just so you can comprehend how superior your PAL DVDs are!

    There are a lot of film artefacts throughout this film with chunks of dirt and grime present throughout, especially during the opening titles and at 45:26. There are also plenty of pieces of hair and negative flashes to be found at 43:37, 45:26, 59:43 and 72:36.

    I watched about 15 minutes of the English subtitles on this disc and found them to be very accurate, with only the occasional superfluous word being left out for pacing reasons. This is a tribute to how well Cameron Crowe's screenplay is written.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer of Singles is presented in 192 kb/s 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround, and considering this format, it is pretty good. Obviously a 5.1 Dolby Digital transfer would be better, but there is not much wrong with the 2.0 Surround version. There are two audio tracks recorded on this disc with the other being a French 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track running at 192 kb/s.

    The dialogue quality is good with no specific problems in terms of audio sync or inability to hear what is said. For such a heavily dialogue-based film, this is great - as there are so many characters and such great dialogue, it would be a real shame if the audio transfer was not up to scratch.
    
    Music is a main drawcard in this film. The soundtrack was one of the biggest selling soundtracks of 1992 and features such artists as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Chris Cornell, Smashing Pumpkins, Mudhoney, R.E.M and The Cult. Often, scenes are structured around the music, and it fits nicely.

    The surrounds are used surprisingly well despite this disc's 2.0 treatment. They are mainly used as an exclamation point for musical cues and some light effects.
 
    The subwoofer does not get used very much at all.
 

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

Extras

 

    There are a minimal number of extras on this disc, but with some pretty good deleted scenes.

Menu

    This menu is a static shot of Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillon sitting on a park bench.

Outtakes

    Outtake 1- Advice to Lovelorn Steve    (3:20)

    This deleted scene shows Steve after he has been to his meeting with the mayor, depressed and lonely, as he walks past a newsstand and magazines speak to him and give advice on his current situation. This is a good scene and one that could have stayed in the film but was probably cut for pacing reasons. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced with a 192kb/s 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtrack. It suffers from TERRIBLE film artefacts- some of the worst I have seen.

   Outtake 2- Bailey's French Club Fantasy    (3:09)

    Playing mainly in French with subtitles burned into the film, this scene offers a fantasy of (Steve's friend) Bailey's love life set in a mysterious French club with a girl called Collette. It plays pretty well, but would have seemed out of place in the main feature. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced with a 192kb/s 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtrack. Again, it suffers from horrible film artefacts.

Theatrical Trailer    (2:09)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, this trailer plays well and is a good depiction of the film in general. If anything, it maybe gives away a couple of the film's killer jokes. It also suffers from a lot of film artefacts, but is nothing compared to the deleted scenes.

Cast & Crew Filmographies

    Filmographies for Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, Bill Pullman and Cameron Crowe. These are next to useless as they only are current up to 1997 and are selected filmographies. A waste of time.

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 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Both these discs are essentially identical, even down to the video format!  The inherent saving probably makes the local release the version of choice.

Summary

    Singles is one of the most enjoyable films I have seen in a while. It has a great script, a great cast and is set in an interesting time in an interesting place. It is very well made and a joy to watch.

    The video transfer is average.

    The audio transfer is good despite not being transferred in 5.1.

    The extras are minimal.

    The film is a ripper.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Hugh Fotheringham (what the hell is going on in bio??)
Friday, June 21, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersJamo X550 Left and Right, Jamo X5CEN Centre, Jamo X510 Surround

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)

Comments (Add)
R1 Picture Quality - Rod W (Suss out my biography if you dare)