PicturePresented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Garden State is a beautifully presented film. Everything about the transfer screams class, and brings the beauty and elegance of the film perfectly to DVD. Colour is superb throughout, with great detail taken in preserving Braff's brilliant eye for imagery, and perfectly renders the towns and streets of New Jersey, full of greens and browns, without ever showing any signs of bleeding, alterations or disfigurement. That also goes for the rest of the palette on show and all of the colours seen on screen are bold and clear. The quality of the picture itself too excels, with near perfect clarity and precision, without ever showing signs of edge enhancements, or manipulation. There is the occasional blemish in the picture and throughout the daytime scenes the picture does look slightly hazy, but it doesn't hamper the overall quality of the transfer.
SoundAs with the video transfer, the audio transfer that accompanies the film is exceptional, and well worthy of its Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation here. The front channels perfectly present the dialogue of the film, with everything from Portman's flamboyant yet silky tones to Braff's more modest, softer voice perfectly realised here, and all of which give the snappy, quirky dialogue a big boost. The back channels get a stern workout here also, with the sounds of the New Jersey town, everything from the shattering sound of a thunderous storm to the subtle, faint sounds of a leaf filled garden in the springtime are beautifully recreated. In addition to this, the superb soundtrack, hand picked by Braff, is also fed through the back channels, with brilliant music from Coldplay, Simon and Garfunkel, Frou Frou and The Shins all rolled together to add another dimension to the film. If you get the chance, go and buy the soundtrack, you won't be disappointed.
ExtrasThe main and best feature on the disc is the commentary between Zach Braff and Natalie Portman. Never have I enjoyed a commentary as much as I did this one, which has to be one of the best ever on the format. The two of them not only brilliantly converse about the film, their stories and share a few anecdotes from it, but both are immensely funny and likeable and never once did I find myself anything less than entertained.
In addition to the Portman/ Braff offering, there is a second commentary from Braff, Director of Photography Lawrence Sher, editor Myron Kerstein and production designer Judy Becker. This commentary is the more "professional" of the two if you like, the one that will interest the filmmaker rather than the film lover. Still, it has a few good moments, mostly from the brilliant Braff, and should keep you mildly entertained.
There is a hatful of deleted scenes on offer here, around 20 in total, all of which have optional commentary from Braff. A mixed bag on the whole: on the one hand, some are particularly amusing and memorable (the audition deleted scene is particularly funny), and do enhance some of the plot points of the main feature. However, the remaining scenes are not as good as one may have hoped, and can be filed under the "I know why they cut that" category. Having said that though, the commentaries do address these deleted scenes, and when the film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival last year, almost 20 minutes of the deleted scenes where part of the final film, only to be cut out when the film received its distribution.
The Making of Garden State documentary is unlike most studio documentaries seen on DVD's nowadays. You know, the ones that haphazardly through together a few minutes of an interview with the principal people, brief glimpses of behind-the-scenes action, and main "action" clips from the film. Now I'm not saying that this documentary is any different, far from it, as it does have the same basic "plot" as the ones described, but someone has obviously taken the time and care to put a documentary together with class and flair, and in doing so creates a great 30-or-so minute documentary that is both fun and enjoyable.
Also on offer are some outtakes/ bloopers, which on the whole are quite funny, if a little uninteresting and a soundtrack promo.
VerdictWell, Mr. Braff, for a first time writing/directing debut, yours is up there with the best of them. Before I begin to gush about the film, firstly the DVD itself. Well done to Buena Vista for creating a marvellous DVD, both in terms of its technical and aesthetic quality and the excellent set of special features on offer, which alone begs for a purchase. But, it wouldn't be complete without the film, which, if you haven't already guessed, I absolutely love. Filled with quirky characters, unforgettable imagery and a perfect balance of comedy, tragedy and romance, Garden State surely is one of the best films of last year, only beaten to the top spot in my eyes by Eternal Sunshine..., and deserves to be seen by everyone who loves movies. If all that wasn't enough, add three sublime performances from Braff, Peter Sarsgaard and Natalie Portman in her own “coming of age” performance. Warm, heartfelt, funny and utterly unforgettable, Garden State is as perfect a film as you could wish to see.
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