God's Pocket Film Review
Despite some strong performances, the dirty characters of God’s Pocket are suffocated by a bland, going-nowhere car-crash of a plot which interweaves myriad storylines with insufficient skill and insubstantial depth.It’s the kind of story that Irvine Welsh would have laced up with rampant black humour and made into a surreal, frenetic affair, or that Mike Leigh would have turned into bleak poignance, but God’s Pocket – played, ostensibly, straight, but with a proclivity towards being tonally imbalanced – has very little to tell indeed, and certainly nothing that hasn’t been told before, and with considerably more flair.
It starts with the simple, tell-all quote: "The working men of God's Pocket are simple men. Everyone here has stolen something from somebody else, or when they were kids, they set someone's house on fire, or they ran away when they should have stayed and fought.".From this we are supposed to glean all that we need to know about the people who live in this small community, but actually it ends up being all we ever get to learn about these characters. The music may be moody, the atmosphere may be dour, and the luck may be down for everybody involved, but there’s little – other than perhaps the late, great, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, striking out in a surprisingly understated but punchy performance as a God’s Pocket outsider – that rides even vaguely in the vicinity of fresh originality here. This is just another tale of a corrupt, self-policing, self-destructive little neighbourhood where nobody is innocent, and where everybody ultimately suffocates in the doomed cesspit of hell.
Blu-ray Picture QualityGod’s Pocket comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. The image is largely impressive, shot digitally and boasting a proficient quality that almost contradicts the attempted period setting.
Detail is strong throughout, with plenty of finely nuanced close-ups and well-textured longer shots; the wrinkles and lines on every furrowed brow and the cracks and warps in every piece of background scenery coming to life. The colour scheme is intentionally dour, limited to honest, natural tones that seldom show the spark of vibrant primaries.
Production limitations notwithstanding, the digitally-shot God's Pocket looks pretty good.
Whilst unable to quite graduate to the levels of demo standards – the natural lighting used for most of the shoot often leads to a hazy, softer quality which, whilst not necessarily distracting, does leave the image far from reference perfection – this is still a faithful presentation of the material.
On the aural front the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a similarly solid effort, which delivers on every level, promoting firm dialogue, atmospheric effects, and a strong score in support.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely emanating from across the fronts and centre channels, with distinct prioritisation over the rest of the proceedings. Effects are myriad, and bring the environment to life, making God’s Pocket bubble with vibrancy. There’s nice little ambient touches, by and large, although a few gunshots ring out, along with slams and crashes off-screen which frequently come into play within the narrative. Surrounds aren’t exactly given a workout, but this isn’t that kind of movie, and what it does have to offer, is promoted well, even with the restricted dynamic array and limited LFE input. The score is a tiny bit too intrusive, but that’s more to the quality of scoring, than the promotion of it, and, all in all, this is a technically solid audio presentation.
ExtrasRather than port over the same extras as were found on the US disc Arrow have dropped the core element – an Audio Commentary from Writer/Director/Producer John Slattery – leaving us with just the miserable leftovers: a trio of unnecessary, and short, Deleted Scenes; and the movie’s original Theatrical Trailer. There are also a couple of interesting Preview Trailers that play on disc startup, but none of this makes up for the unforgivable lack of Commentary.
VerdictIf it weren’t for Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s performance, and the semi-effective atmosphere of the piece, there’d be even less here to recommend.
God’s Pocket certainly has nothing new to offer.
This Region B-locked UK Blu-ray promotes impressive video and audio, but loses out on the extras front, losing the Director’s Commentary and dwindling the already-limited US release’s selection down to just some Deleted Scenes. As a small curio featuring the late Hoffman, this is worth checking out, but it has very little else to offer, and, even if you did like it, you’d probably be better off looking overseas for a purchase.
You can buy God's Pocket Blu-ray Here
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