15 Minutes (2001)

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Released 2-Jan-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Train
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Alternate Subtitles-Fact Track
Featurette-True Tabloid Stars
Featurette-Does Crime Pay?
Audio Commentary-John Herzfeld (Director)
Deleted Scenes-6
Featurette-Oleg's Videos (2)
Music Video
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Rehearsal Scenes
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 115:54
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (24:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Herzfeld
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robert De Niro
Edward Burns
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 English
English Information
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Pure coincidence has lead me to review two movies in a row that are both satires, although they are very different in their approaches. Interestingly, both use hand held consumer digital video cameras for some portion of their filming. The last review was of Bamboozled, by Spike Lee. This review is of 15 Minutes.

    15 Minutes is a combined action/adventure/satire. Writer/Director John Herzfeld takes a very hard look at media involvement in crime and the effects this has on society, the police and the criminals. Through the eyes of two new arrivals in America we see the tabloid shows, the paper reports and celebrity criminals - criminals that are paid very large sums of money for their stories. It would not be hard in today's society to have seen an example of the type of journalism that is being held up in this film - the O.J. Simpson arrest and trial comes straight to mind. The title of course comes from the old saying about everyone having their 15 minutes of fame, even if it comes at the expense of others.

    John Herzfeld has a very interesting style, and he has brought together some very interesting actors from Czechoslovakia and Russia. There are also actors and advisors in this film that used to hold the jobs that they are now portraying, such as the police negotiator who really was a negotiator before becoming an actor. John is very much interested in portraying the story in as real a fashion as possible.

    Robert De Niro plays a celebrity cop: Eddie Fleming, a man who knows how to play the media. He uses this little bit of fame to help him in his job as a police officer, and people open up and talk to him as if they have always known him. Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns I) is an arson investigator who crosses paths with Eddie at a crime scene. He does not understand Eddie's attitude to the press but wants to learn more about investigation from him. This forms our good guy pair with a clear mentor role for Eddie. The antagonists in our story are Emil Slovak (Karel Roden) and Oleg Razgul (Oleg Taktarov). Emil is the brains of the pair, as well a a total psychopath, and Oleg is the brawn. While Oleg is the brawn he also has a fascination with movies and early in the film he steals a small digital video camera. He then proceeds to film everything that the pair do, including their crimes. This becomes the basis of the film as well as the film itself as the footage from the hand held camera is intercut with the film footage throughout the rest of the movie.

    Oleg and Emil arrive in America after some time in jail in Russia. They are looking for their accomplice in the crime that saw them put away. Their accomplice was not caught, and Oleg and Emil now want their share of the loot. Unfortunately for the accomplice and his girlfriend, the money has already been spent. This leads to a grisly murder. Emil tries to cover up the murder by setting the entire apartment on fire. This is how our good guys meet. Unfortunately for Emil and Oleg, there is a witness to the murder and the hunt is now on. While trying to track down this witness, Emil and Oleg are in a hotel room watching TV. On the TV is a tabloid midday talk show where people do not take responsibility for their actions, as well as an interview with someone that got away with murder by claiming to be insane. This person is then offered money for their story. This gives Emil the idea of murdering someone famous and videotaping the murder, claiming to be insane and then selling the story. Emil chooses the very person that is trying to find them, Eddie Fleming, as the celebrity that they will murder. Our story reaches a violent climax and the satire reaches new heights with a reporter willing to pay a million dollars for the ensuing story.

    The reality of this story is quite disturbing and the content related to the media involvement is a sad commentary on the state of the industry. The use of the hand held digital video works extremely well and the quality of the footage is surprisingly good. This is a riveting drama as well that will draw you into the story and take you for an interesting, if somewhat violent, ride.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    In a word, wow! This is a reference quality transfer. While the digital video sections are obviously not of the same quality as the film portions, this is completely intentional and does not detract from the transfer.

    We are presented with a 2.35:1 transfer that is 16x9 enhanced. Information to hand indicates that the original format was 2.39:1.

    You could shave with this transfer, it is that razor sharp throughout. There are a couple of scenes that are a little less sharp but I think this is as a result of focus in the source material and not a transfer problem. They only stand out because of the sharpness of the rest of the transfer. The shadow detail is perfect. There are some quite dark scenes and the detail in the shadows has to be seen to be believed. There is no low level noise.

    The colours are rich, vibrant and fully saturated. The skin tones are perfect and there is absolutely no noise present at all.

    There are no MPEG artefacts at all. The entire transfer has a wonderful film-like feel about it. There is no edge enhancement. This transfer proves the rule that you don't need edge enhancement for a sharp transfer. If I had to pick one tiny fault, it would be a very small amount of aliasing. This is only visible if you blow up the picture to front projector size and go looking with the pause button. To top off the transfer, the film master was near-perfect with just about no marks, hairs or scratches.

    There are three sets of subtitles. The first track is used for the scenes where someone is speaking in a language other than English. The second are the normal English subtitles. These were easy to read and pretty accurate. They did not keep up with some of the faster arguments that are in the film, but overall they are not bad. The third set offers up interesting tidbits of information throughout the film. For example, when drugs are mentioned, the number of drug addicts in the US pops up. Sometimes useful information is presented, sometimes not.

     This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 24:44. It is done very well during a cut between scenes. While watching the film for the first time, I missed it completely. It was not until I was watching the Director's Commentary where it interrupts the audio that I caught it.

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

Audio

    Whilst not a reference quality audio track, this is still a very good audio transfer.

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English DTS 5.1 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary track. I listened to the DTS track and the commentary track all the way through and also listened to a large portion of the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. If there is a difference between the Dolby and the DTS tracks, it does not resolve on my system. They are basically identical except for the volume level.

    There are no problems with the dialogue throughout the film, which is clear and easy to follow.

    I did not notice any problems with audio sync.

    The music works quite well, adding to the emotions felt and building drama at the appropriate times - nothing to write home about, but a good solid effort.

    The surrounds were pretty active, both expanding the soundstage of the music and for ambient effects. There were also some quite good split effects.

    The subwoofer supported the soundtrack as well as being used for some explosions and gunfire. Not house-rocking stuff but it would definitely have been missed if it was not there.

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

Extras

    Along with a great transfer we are treated to quite a good selection of extras.

Menu

    The menus are presented in 1.85:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has a short video insert that runs for 36 seconds long and loops. The submenus have animated transitions and are then static. The audio underneath all the menus is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Fact Track

    This Subtitles track comes up with information such as:

Documentary: True Tabloid Stars

    Presented in 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement, this runs for 15:08 and is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This is a series of interviews with real tabloid reporters trying to defend their actions. Some are against, some are for. It is an interesting look at the Tabloid industry. The quality of the video is somewhat soft.

Documentary: Does crime pay

    This is presented in 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. This is a talk show format featurette with lawyers, reporters and writers talking through the film and how it relates to real life, again quite interesting. Again the quality of the video is not very good, and quite soft.

Deleted Scenes

    There are 6 deleted scenes with optional Director's Commentary. They are of similar quality to the main feature and are accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. In my opinion, having a Director's Commentary for deleted scenes is essential as this gives an insight as to why they were deleted.

Oleg's Video

    The hand camera was used throughout the film. This is two of the scenes that were recorded in full. In the movie, this footage is inter-cut with film footage. Here we see the unedited footage. It also gives an insight into the director's keenness for long, uninterrupted takes. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and are 16x9 enhanced (i.e. they are mail-slotted). The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Music Video - Fame - "God Lives Underwater"

    Presented in 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer

    This is presented in 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced and has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. As with most trailers, it would not be a good idea to watch this before the film.

Rehearsal

    This is some of the rehearsals for the film captured on Digital Video. The footage is presented in 1.33:1 and again is 16x9 enhanced. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. Where the rehearsal matched the eventual footage shot, they insert the film footage into a 2.35:1 window. This is fascinating to watch and gives an idea of how scenes evolve from rehearsal to final product. This runs for 10:28.

Biographies

    The usual text pages with biographies of the actors and director, presented on a static background that includes the actor's picture inserted into a small video camera's viewfinder.

Director's Commentary

    This is very good. We get an insight into the director, the actors he chose and the story he was telling. Sometimes he gets overenthusiastic in telling the same story as is on-screen but most of the time it is an enjoyable commentary.

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:

You will have to balance the DVD ROM features which include a script-to-film feature against the DTS soundtrack. The transfers are reportedly very similar. Bearing in mind the extra resolution of the PAL transfer, I would lean towards the Region 4 version.

Summary

    15 Minutes is a very interesting look at the tabloid influence on crime. It is scary to consider that many say that what America does, we soon follow.

    The video transfer is of reference quality.

    The audio is very good .

    To top it all of, we have a real chocolate box selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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