Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Davis Guggenheim (Dir) & James Marsden (Actor)
Featurette-Travis' Gossip Interviews
Music Video-Our Lips Are Sealed-Poe
Music Video-Mean To Me-Tonic
Featurette-Gossip Montage Shot Test
Featurette-Gossip Montage Extended Version
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (49:46)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Davis Guggenheim|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Edward James Olmos
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
However, the execution of the premise together with the "surprise" ending is somewhat flawed and problematic. I do like the pace of the film - it is well-directed and in the general the acting is uniformly strong.
Cathy Jones (Lena Headey), Derrick Webb (James Marsden) and Travis (Norman Reedus) are three roommates that seem to have little in common with each other but are close friends nevertheless. Cathy is bright, studious and has a secret crush on independently rich, handsome and natural born liar Derrick. Travis is a poor art student who likes creating photo montages (I wonder how he can afford that fancy digital film scanning and editing equipment and those industrial grade design printers!). They share lodgings in Derrick's ultra chic apartment loft and occasionally attend communication lectures given by the supercilious Professor Goodwin (Eric Bogosian) — when they are not drinking or hanging out in nightclubs.
One day, they decide to start a rumour that rich b**** Naomi Preston (Kate Hudson) slept with Beau Edson (Joshua Jackson) in a bedroom atop a nightclub (How many nightclubs do you know that have upstairs bedrooms? With three projectors displaying pictures on the walls?). As Naomi has a reputation for being chaste, the rumour spreads like wildfire. Problem is: Naomi had passed out at the time and when the rumour reaches her ears, she thinks she must have been raped and decides to press charges.
Cathy feels really guilty and wants to confess - but once a rumour has started it's not that easy to quash. Then we discover that at least one of the main characters has a dark past and is not quite the nice but harmlessly mischievous person that we are initially led to believe ... As I've mentioned before, the film features a "twist" ending that may surprise you, unless of course you have a warped mind like mine and you saw it coming ages ago.
Personally, I found the ending unsatisfying and inconsistent with the rest of the film - even though it did occur to me about halfway through the film. It doesn't sit well with the psychological profile and motivation of some of the characters, and significantly dilutes the original premise that malicious gossip can be really harmful. However, make up your own mind when you watch it.
Trivia: Fans of Blade Runner will be pleased to know Edward James Olmos ('Gaff') reprises his role as a noirish detective (Detective Curtis).
Sharpness, detail and colour saturation are basically reference quality, and the contrast for the most part (apart from 12:59-13:01) is extremely good. Indeed, this transfer features extremely deep, satisfying black levels (owners of LCD video projectors will know that these projectors tend to display black as dark grey so getting good black levels is an unusual treat). The downside of the good black levels is mediocre shadow detail. This transfer tends to exaggerate contrast causing a lot of shadow detail to be blended into black.
The film source is extremely clean, as you would expect from a recent release. There is virtually no evidence of grain, apart from a brief scene at 73:40-73:49 where some grain is visible. This may be due to digital sharpening, as the commentary reveals that the director decided to choose a take where the camera focus was not perfect because James Marsden's performance was so good. This disc has very little in the way of film-to-video artefacts, apart from some moiré effects in the brickwork at 44:05-44:07 and also in the lamp shade at 49:39.
This disc comes with one subtitle track, English for the Hearing Impaired. I turned it on for a substantial part of the film. It is not 100% accurate, but is reasonably close enough to be acceptable.
This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). Congratulations to Roadshow Home Entertainment - they have managed to achieve a near-miracle in DVD authoring - a mid-scene layer change that is unnoticeable - almost. The first 2-3 times that I watched the film I simply could not spot where the layer change had occurred. For those of you dying to know, the layer change occurs during Chapter 16 at 49:46 just after Derrick has spoken - the screen freezes for a split second on Travis.
The English audio track is more than satisfactory. The dialogue is clear (apart from a couple of minor instances where the actors have mumbled lines) and there are no obvious audio missyncs (even during the party scene where Derrick's girlfriend's voice was over-dubbed).
When I read on the DVD packaging that the film features "... a hip, alternative soundtrack featuring Propellerheads, Hednoize, Curve and Tonic" I was almost afraid the music would be mixed in at too high a level and completely overwhelm the dialogue, but thankfully this did not happen. In fact, if anything the music in the soundtrack sounds quite restrained and very much mixed into the background.
This is a very dialogue-focussed film, and so the surround speakers are mainly used for music and ambience - and the subwoofer is rarely used (mainly to support the low end). Despite that, I was happy with the soundtrack - the use of the surround speakers was well integrated into the overall mix.
|Surround Channel Use|
The pair is reasonably talkative and chatty, and reveal interesting tidbits such as the film being shot in Toronto but made up to look like "New York" city, the voice of the girl that Derrick was kissing was replaced by that of the director's wife to make her sound more "sexy", and even a goof or two towards the end.
The director even comments on the "over-the-top" nature of the beginning of the film - he wanted it to deliberately look more like a fantasized hyped-up image of college life to contrast it with the much darker tone of the second half of the film.
We start off with three deleted scenes removed to tighten the pace of the film. I agree that they are pretty optional in terms of the storyline:
Finally, we get another deleted scene in which Derrick calls his parents and tries to ask them for help but they cruelly deny him. This scene was cut because the director didn't want the audience to have sympathy for Derrick (too bad, because the commentary reveals how the director asked actor James Marsden to milk maximum sympathy from the audience).
Trivia: Originally director Davis Guggenheim's parents Marion and director Charles Guggenheim did the voices for Derrick's parents but unfortunately their voices can't be heard in the scene.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-626D, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (203cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front left/right: B&W DM603; centre: B&W CC6S2, rear left/right: B&W DM601|