Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Hamish Rothwell (Director) & Nick Ward (Writer)
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Easter Egg-Pool Tips (8)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Easter Egg-Isolated Special Features
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (60:20)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Hamish Rothwell|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|RPI||$29.95||Music||House Of Downtown|
|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|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, Losers smoke, winners don't (director's statement)|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
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.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Rotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Rotel RB 985 MkII|
|Speakers||JBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer|