The Yards (2000)

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Released 22-Jan-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Train
Audio Commentary-James Gray (Director)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Boiler Room; The Hurricane
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 110:33
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (83:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Gray
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mark Wahlberg
Joaquin Phoenix
James Caan
Charlize Theron
Ellen Burstyn
Faye Dunaway
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Howard Shore


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.30:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Mark Wahlberg stars as Leo Handler, a young man who has just been released from prison after spending four years locked up for car theft. The only problem is that he didn't actually do the crime, yet wouldn't rat on his mates who did. He's obviously got some principles.

    The film opens with Leo heading home to Queens in New York for the homecoming party that his long-suffering mother (Ellen Burstyn) has thrown to welcome him back to mainstream life. At the party, he catches up with long-time friend Willie (Joaquin Phoenix), his cousin Erica (Charlize Theron) and other family and friends. Leo simply wants to set his life straight, get himself a good job and assimilate back into society. Of course, we wouldn't have a story if it all happened that easily.

    Finding a job when you have just got out of prison can be difficult, so when Leo is offered the chance to meet with his uncle Frank Olchin (James Caan) , who is possibly offering him a job, he jumps at the chance. Frank owns one of the main contracting companies that manufacturers and maintains the New York subway trains. Frank doesn't actually have a job offer for Leo, but suggests that if he enrol in a machinist course for two years then Frank will have a job waiting for him. Leo of course doesn't like this idea. The thought of waiting for two years to start earning some hard cash just doesn't seem workable. It's even tougher when he sees his mate Willie parading around the city with what appears to be a ready supply of cash. Willie also works for Frank, but seems to be involved in the shadier side of the business. Willie takes Leo under his wing and shows him how the rail contracting business really works. His dealings in a world of under-the-table payments, graft, corruption, sabotage, and more open Leo's eyes to the promise of big dollars. Will Leo fall for the easy money and risk a lengthy term back in prison or will it be worse and will he find himself betraying friends and family to save himself?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is certainly an above average transfer from Roadshow that has only a few problems to report, most notably excessive edge enhancement.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is reasonably finely detailed and quite sharp overall, though excessive edge enhancement is present. At times it is quite distracting, especially in the early scenes at Leo's homecoming party (2:56-10:00) and whenever the action returns to the predominantly yellow-tinged apartment. Quite a dark film overall, the shadow detail does not suffer too greatly, although blacks don't take on a fully black appearance (which, according to the Director's commentary, is intentional). There is little evidence of grain and no low level noise.

    Colours are not overly vibrant and revolve around a set palette of preferred shades (such as the use of browns and yellows for interiors). They are well-rendered and saturated with no bleeding or other problems.

    There are no visible MPEG artefacts. There are very few problems with film-to-video artefacting, with aliasing especially well-controlled. There is some minor shimmer on the siding of a house at 71:31 that threatens to break out but does not. Film artefacts are limited to the usual minor number of small white spots and blemishes and are not overly noticeable or distracting.

    There is only one subtitle stream present, that being English for the Hearing Impaired. I sampled it for a good part of the film and found it most satisfying.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change occurring very late in the film at 83:54. It is very well placed on a fade-to-black scene change and is virtually perfect.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Commentary track. I listened to both tracks in total.

    A wide frontal soundstage is presented, with decent stereo separation of effects to both left and right speakers. The sounds of the train yards in particular are quite distinct. Dialogue is clear, concise and generally well recorded, though there is a generous amount of low volume conversation and whispering among the characters that can at times be a bit difficult to interpret. This is obviously the intention of the source material and is not a problem with the actual audio track. There are no apparent audio sync problems.

    The score is by composer Howard Shore and is suitably restrained. You will barely even realise that there is a score it is that far suppressed into the background.

    There is not a huge amount of surround channel use. The subway trains in the yards and other ambient outdoor sounds are about all that is pushed through to the rears. This is not really a major problem owing to the large amount of dialogue present in the film.

    There is some reasonable subwoofer use whenever any of the subway trains roll by, with some nice deep rumbles on offer. The subwoofer is also used during the early nightclub scenes.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Sounds like a subway train. The animation shows Mark Wahlberg's character in a pensive mood.

Dolby Digital Trailer - Train

    This is my wife's favourite Dolby trailer and quite fitting given the subject of the film.

Audio Commentary

    Director James Gray has only made two films (the first being Little Odessa), so for a relative newcomer to the trade he has managed to attract a decent cast and some positive reviews for this film. This commentary features just Gray, talking about his film while he is watching it. He discusses each scene in detail and discusses many of the technical aspects of each scene, such as lighting and what parts of the film he 'borrowed' from other films. Some of his philosophies about the film-making process and popular culture in general are put forth and provide a general insight into what he was trying to achieve with each particular scene. A worthwhile addition to the disc, though he does begin to sound like a university lecturer on occasion.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes

    Running for 11:32 minutes, this is pretty much pure fluff. How many times can you put up with quotes such as "It's a privilege to work with so and so", and "He's great, brilliant" and "He's such a visionary, blah, blah, blah". A huge pat-on-the-back session that actually shows very little in the way of behind-the-scenes action. I really wouldn't even bother watching this. Oh, and if anyone ever gets the chance to interview an actor at some stage, please don't ask them "So what attracted you to the script?" - I can only handle the same reply so many times!

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in an aspect of 1.78:1, it is 16x9 enhanced. Audio is provided by a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track. Running for 2:09 minutes, this is a trailer that tries to do it all; show every character and every part of the story in as brief a time as possible. Not a great trailer in terms of achieving its aim and basically spoils the plot.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    A very detailed and actually quite informative set of notes on the main cast and director James Gray. Presented in a nice and sharp easy-to-read white font.

Trailer

    Bonus trailers for Boiler Room and The Hurricane. The former is presented in an aspect of 1.85:1, the latter in 1.78:1. Both are 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround.

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 an art gallery of some twenty paintings that inspired the director. Not really much to give the Region 1 preference. I would certainly favour the local disc on this occasion.

Summary

    A reasonable thriller from a director that obviously is going to go on to bigger and better things. Some may find it a bit slow and find the conclusion a bit unsatisfying, but it does have a decent cast that put in some excellent performances. I really am beginning to think of Mark Wahlberg as a pretty decent actor and here he puts in a very good effort to portray a character of limited mental capacity with a suitable amount of angst.

   The video and audio are above average, although the former is let down a little by excessive edge enhancement.

   The extras are fairly limited. An above average audio commentary from the director is about the limit of the quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, December 08, 2001
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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