Cemetery Junction comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray with a solid if unexceptional 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.4:1. Detail is generally very good, although this definitely has an indie feel about it which means that there is some softness, there is some edge enhancement and haloing, and there’s even a smattering of grain. Still, even with its UK setting, they picked some sunny days to film this on, and it looks pretty bright and colourful, all things considered. Obviously the 70s setting leads to plenty of browns and period sets, but greens are still quite vibrant and black levels are undeniably solid. Overall, given the budget and the fairly low-key feel to the whole thing, this is a perfectly acceptable, at times quite special, video presentation. Of course it can’t compete with the latest big budget productions, but it’s not trying to – this is fine and will suffice.
On the aural front we get a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which has just about become the standard track for most recent Blu-ray releases. Here, as with some other low-key dramas, the track is certainly not utilised to its full potential, but that does not mean that we don’t get pretty good presentation considering the material. After all, this isn’t a bombastic blockbuster we’re dealing with, and so there is little room to blow you away. The dialogue – arguably one of the two most important facets of the track – comes across clearly and coherently throughout, having good presence across the frontal array. The effects are purely ambient: the cracking of fists on jaws, the whistle of trains pulling away, the howl of police sirens, and whilst it gives the surrounds a little to do, the rear coverage feels quite reserved. That said, the second most important aspect of the track – the songs – really brings your sound system to life: both the live music that is played and the background tracks, both adding to that 70s aura as well as enhancing the playfulness of the material. It will never be regarded as a benchmark-setting offering, but the mix on this disc does all that is required for this particular release, and does it reasonably well.
First up we get a full-length Audio Commentary with the writer/directors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who are on fairly good form – pretty-much joking throughout. They send themselves up quite a lot, and light-heartedly discuss their experiences directing this movie, also relating their own experiences over the last few decades – and the way in which they tried to bring the iconic 70s to life in the film. There are lots of fantastic little anecdotes, and a fair amount of technical detail in there – just always presented colourfully and entertainingly. This offering is well worth listening to for fans of either Gervais or of the movie.
The second Commentary is with the cast, and includes contributions from the three lead actors: Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes and Jack Doolan, who are also on good form, but are perhaps a little less informative, and nowhere near as funny. Still, the trio have a good time – and clearly had a good time making the movie – and that certainly comes across here.
There are several Behind the Scenes Featurettes, some of which are exclusive to Blu-ray. The Directors: A Conversation with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and The Lads Look Back: The Stars Discuss Cemetery Junction both cover much the same ground as the two Audio Commentaries, and certainly do not make up for the fact that they could have provided Video Commentaries instead, but it’s nice to check them out – particularly if you don’t want to sit through the whole movie again. Seventies Style: Production and Costume Design speaks for itself, and we also get a selection of Production Featurettes: The Start of Filming, Week 1, Meet the Boys, The Directors On Set which adopt a slightly more video-diary approach to charting the film’s creation. All offering up the same style of combo-package: interview snippets interspliced with behind the scenes footage and final film clips, there is a nice fresh feel to some of them mainly through Gervais’s more relaxed, jovial outlook.
There are 10 Deleted Scenes, some of which are alternate editions, some extended, and some completely fresh, new material. Most of it was either wisely removed – or won’t go missed as an adequate alternative, but there are a few nice lines in amidst the footage. A drunk Gervais seems a little out of place, the extra bits with the Kendricks are fairly mundane, and the cemetery montage was unnecessary, but the seemingly adlibbed extended dinner-table conversation with the ‘Gervais’ family is quite amusing.
We also get a Blooper Reel which offers up the best part of 14 minutes’ worth of burping on cue, goofed lines, swearing, and Gervais generally messing up with ensuing silliness. It’s actually quite good (Gervais trying to burp is hilarious, and the Ralph Fiennes moment is great) and a far cry from blooper reels of late, which have generally been poorly compiled repetitive outtakes.
Finally we get some Previews (on disc startup but also available from the menu): Salt, Grown Ups, The Back-Up Plan, Death at a Funeral, The Karate Kid remake and The Other Guys. Salt looks quite engaging, The Karate Kid offers up the ever-watchable Jackie Chan and The Other Guys looks absolutely hilarious.
Cemetery Junction is a nice little, quintessentially British affair, a 70s period-set romantically-infused, comedically-incidental drama which offers up Ricky Gervais’s own personal take on life within the (then small) town of Reading. Bursting with fresh Brit talent and brought to life by their convincing performances, it works well both as a nod to times gone and a reflective medium for the modern age. It’s neither weighty nor overtly substantial, and will likely leave you pleasantly entertained for the duration, rather than pondering or excited for long after, but it is definitely one of Gervais’s best projects, and is worth a watch.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray it comes with adequate and unglamorous video and audio – which is perfectly suitable for the material – as well as a plethora of quality extras that fans of the film will definitely want to check out. If you’ve seen it and like it, then this is purchase a no-brainer must-buy, but newcomers who are drawn by either the Ricky Gervais label, or the more comedic angle of this offering, should realise that this is definitely more of a coming-of-age drama, than a romantic – or comedic – film. But that does not make it any less enjoyable. Worth a rent if you’re interested.
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