Stickmen (2000)

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Released 19-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Unknown Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Audio Commentary-Hamish Rothwell (Director) & Nick Ward (Writer)
Theatrical Trailer-2
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Easter Egg-Pool Tips (8)
Gallery-Photo
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Easter Egg-Isolated Special Features
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 93:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hamish Rothwell
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Robbie Magasiva
Scott Wills
Paolo Rotondo
Simone Kessell
Anne Nordhaus
John Leigh
Enrico Mammarella
Kirk Torrance
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music House Of Downtown


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 None Smoking Yes, Losers smoke, winners don't (director's statement)
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Stickmen isn't your usual run-of-the-mill type movie and it looked obvious to me that director Hamish Rothwell's first foray into feature-length movie-making pays homage to many other films as well as having an unique style all its own. There are touches of humour, from sarcastic to satirical, plus some moments of pure black comedy, which litter both the dialogue and the action. Jack (Robbie Magasiva) is a water filter salesman who's an ace with the pool cue and the women. He's got the looks and all the right moves, but charm isn't his speciality. Thomas (Paolo Rotondo), on the other hand, isn't good at pool or women, but he has his moments and runs hot and cold with both and he's just out of work having lost his job as a car park attendant. Then there's Wayne (Scott Wills) who is on the dole permanently, loves his drink and his pool but seems to have no chance with the women. They all drink at Dave's (John Leigh), who also tends the bar and has a rather nasty problem. Dave is heavily in debt to a local gangster named Daddy (Enrico Mammarella) whose heavy, Holden (Kirk Tolerance), is ordered to 'lean' on Dave for the money he owes. The problem for Dave is that he's poured all his cash into the bar and times are lean, so after Holden drops a hint, Dave manoeuvrers the boys into a local underground pool tournament where they can win $20,000 if they defeat all the other teams and Dave can save his bar. Into this picture comes Sara (Anne Nordhaus), a worker at a sidewalk cafe who has taken a shine to Thomas. Thomas can't handle personal conflicts too well, and discovers he's emotionally messed up when it becomes apparent that he and Sara have a mutual attraction. In the meantime, Jack has hooked up with Karen (Simone Kessell) and Wayne has found himself a cash job driving prostitutes to their rendezvous. All the while, Daddy is making moves on the side to cover his investments and Holden keeps popping in to keep an eye on everyone and everything. I really don't want to give anything of the plot away if possible, since this is the sort of movie that if you watch it fresh it is so much more enjoyable. The cast of characters is a real treat with some wonderful cameos. Many of these bit actors wouldn't have looked out of place in a Mervyn Peake novel. There was Caller, a pool shark extraordinaire (played by Neville Stevenson the production designer who looks absolutely amazing), LuLu (Lu-Anne Gordon) one of the prostitutes who Wayne is driving around, and watch out for the man in the pink shirt who crops up a couple of times. For those of you who like movies with a difference (eg: Fight Club, Snatch) this is definitely one to take a look at.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer has very few problems and has some interesting visual effects. The opening animation sequence is good, and is used during the movie to demarcate what amount to chapters. Each one follows the other and sets up the next like a series of pool shots.

    The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The overall sharpness of this movie is very good, but is spoiled (as usual) by the use of edge enhancement. I sometimes felt someone was using a Texta on the outlines (5:18 on Thomas's profile and again at 40:12, a white light has a heavy black line around it). The shadow detail, where it isn't affected by the processing, is good without being exceptional. There are a lot of scenes where there is simply no depth on offer, again a deliberate decision and not a transfer problem. The backgrounds for the rest of the movie are clearly defined and there is good detail on show. Fine detail does suffer the same fate as the shadow detail due to the processing. Grain is fairly nominal throughout and doesn't infect any scene to a noticeable degree. Noise is not present as you'd expect in a movie of this recent vintage. Blacks are totally noiseless at all times.

    The colour in this movie is affected greatly by the use of a bleaching effect which desaturates many of the scenes leaving blooming whites, bright greens and pallid flesh tones. The rest of the movie has good saturation of browns, sepias and reds making for an interesting contrast. It's a strange mix, but works well within the confines of the storyline and certainly adds contrast.

    There aren't many artefacts present during the movie and most were only minor. There was some slight aliasing at 38:09 on a cue and case on a pool table and again at 40:49 behind Karen who is talking. There were some other slight moments of shimmering but they were very minor and were hardly noticeable. There were quite a few black marks on offer during the movie. Most of them were fairly invisible in frame which was good, and the only really noticeable one was one white fleck at 38:13 on Dave's arm. MPEG artefacts didn't appear to be an issue.

    There are no subtitles offered on this disc

    The RSDL layer change occurs between Chapters 22 and 23 at 60:20 and is perfectly located during a blacked-out scene. Only a slight pause gave it away.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks available on this disc. The one you'll probably opt for is the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at the healthy rate of 448 kilobits per second. For those of you without the benefit of a surround system (for shame), then the other option is the Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 224 kilobits per second. I personally stuck exclusively with the 5.1 track, as it just simply sounded so much better. This is a great soundtrack with great spaciousness from the fronts and excellent envelopment from the rears and a .1 channel that doesn't quit.

    There were no problems with the dialogue in this movie, or the sync, which was spot on, although I always find New Zealand accents occasionally hard to understand.

    The music is by House of Downtown (Christian Ercoland and Emerson Todd) who I admit never having heard before, but I have no doubt they'll crop up again at some stage. Their soundtrack for this movie is just right, a driving techno beat that's so spot-on it's hard not to be impressed. The music on this disc deserves to be played loud and it's a great pity there wasn't an isolated music track on offer. There are a fair smattering of additional songs tossed in, a few old classics including remixes and some originals, for some variety and the whole thing works like a treat.

    The surrounds really add an edge to the proceedings. Good solid sound from the rears really gives this the envelope it deserves. There isn't much else for them to do since there is a dearth of any special effects, but the techno sounds really utilise them well.

    A driving techno beat will always include a lot of bass and this soundtrack is no exception. The LFE channel is constantly in use, mostly at low levels, but every now and then you can vibrate the walls if you have it up loud enough. This is definitely a movie that deserves to be played loud.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    A static picture background taken from the movie poster, with rotating cue balls for menu options which is nicely done. The menu options are:    The music is a loop taken from the soundtrack (nb: it is about 5dB higher than the movie, so remember to lower the volume a tad) and has a driving beat. It is surprisingly offered in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Menu Audio

    Each menu has similar themes to the main menu with a different audio track overlay. Again, each is cut in DD5.1 and has a real quality to it.

Featurette-Making Of

    With a running time of 21:52, this is presented in 1.33:1 and Full Frame with inserts from the movie in 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced. The cast and crew share some on-camera thoughts about the movie. The actors explain some of their motivations, how they are playing the characters and the crew offer insight into the making of the movie. This is pretty standard stuff for the most part, but there is a feeling that everyone was having fun on the set and there was some clowning around for the camera. Some interesting information can be gleaned from this, but this is nothing ground-breaking for a featurette.

Audio Commentary

    Director Hamish Rothwell and Writer Nick Ward are obviously good friends, or at least very comfortable with each other as this commentary illustrates. They offer up a lot of anecdotal information on both locations, actors, scripting, walk on roles for the crew and wives and girlfriends, etc. They also talk about the shooting of the movie in what is a brisk and entertaining manner that is actually as interesting as the dialogue in the movie. The opening couple of minutes were a bit stilted, but after that they really launch into things. A solid 8 out of 10 for this audio effort.

Theatrical Trailer

There are actually 2 trailers offered up here, by selecting either the 1 or the 2 ball.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

    Great setup this. Each chapter is isolated in its own frame and highlighting that frame activates a snippet from the movie. The layout is simplistic and easy to navigate.

Easter Egg

    Spotted throughout the menus are various 8-Balls. These balls are sort-of Easter Eggs containing information about playing pool, presented in an overtly sexual manner. They do pertain to pool, but every one has a sultry voiced female that exaggerates the sexual nature of the advice. Each 8-ball reveals another numbered ball beneath.

Gallery-Photo

    Two selections and a Pool Tip on offer here:

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    Biographies on Robbie Magasiva (Jack), Scott Wills (Wayne), Paolo Rotondo (Thomas), Simone Kessel (Karen), Anne Nordhaus (Sara), John Leigh (Dave), Enrico Mamarella (Daddy), Kirk Tolerance (Holden), Hamish Rothwell (Director), Michelle Turner (Producer) and Nick Ward (Writer). The menu selection is good, with a still photo of each actor on offer when you select their name (which helps enormously when trying to remember who's who in the movie). The bios are pretty standard although many of this cast might not have been in anything we've seen before in Oz.

Audio Menu

You can select from:    This menu has another overlaid audio track from the movie with a thumping beat repeating every 30 seconds or so.

Isolated Special Features

    By a bit of a fluke, I discovered special features that weren't accessible via a menu option during some playing around with my remote. The simplest method to access these features is from the Main Menu. Select the 8 Ball, 'skip' to the 3 Ball and press Menu on your remote control. Once you are at this menu you will notice it's also entitled Special Features with a different music track overlay and different options.     Although I can't be sure, I think these options have been mistakenly labelled as Audio Commentary from the Special Features and isolated in error. An Audio Commentary option already exists on the Audio Options sub-menu.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I can determine, Stickmen hasn't been released in any other region, but given the nature and quality of the movie I doubt it'll be too long before some studio picks it up for release. Consequently, you'll have to stick to the Region 4 for the moment.

Summary

    With a movie like Stickmen, you can't really go too far wrong. Director Hamish Rothwell's first movie-length feature is a delightfully cheeky and irreverent romp with just enough hard edge to it to satisfy the most discerning tastes. It's all about relationships, mates, drinking and pool all wrapped up with some stunning visuals and a thumping audio soundtrack.

    An excellent video transfer for the most part with some minor problems.

    The audio is as good as the video if not better with a solid bass beat and some rocking tunes.

    The extras are noteworthy for their profusion. The audio commentary alone is good enough to make this better than 90% of DVDs on the market. An isolated music track would have made this legendary but there is more than enough for a first time effort to make this very decent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Tuesday, October 16, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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