PictureYou get a basic video configuration tool as part of the extras on this disc. That's a welcome inclusion and infers that you are encouraged to calibrate your contrast and brightness in order to get the maximum out of what the picture has to offer here. The film is presented in a 2.35:1 ratio and the film is encoded using the VC-1 high-definition codec.
The movie itself is very colourful, bright neon type colours are prevalent both in the forefront or backdrop of most scenes. The colours are unashamedly heavily saturated and overly hot. As a result the picture sizzles for the most part and the colours certainly play havoc with skin tones. However, not so all the time as some of the day-lit scenes do retain a natural authenticity about them.
Scenes within the dark smoky bars and of the cold dark evenings standing outside the New York diner having a cigarette exhibit some good levels of black but the detail is lost all too easily. The blacks tend to crush in many of the indoor scenes. The contrast levels are ok but balance with the black levels remains out of kilter. Disappointingly, it all lacks the snap and visual dimensionality you would expect in a high-definition format. There is plenty of grain in the image and it adds to the art-house feel of the movie. but unfortunately edges also reveal digital enhancement all too often.
In all honesty it's a mixed bag and not the greatest of efforts. It's certainly not what I was hoping for, however it is shot undeniably beautifully.
SoundThe audio comes in one flavour, it's English and it's surprisingly a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 24-bit/48Khz soundtrack.
The extras include an audio configuration tool but don't get too excited. It is nothing other than a very basic test tone fired across each of your channels to confirm that they are all wired up correctly.
Anyhow most of the dialogue is centric and the fronts are where all the action is. Voices are very smooth and natural sounding and in all honesty it's actually quite atmospheric for what it is. The rears are not overly used so the whole thing lacks some degree of ambience but the integrity of the sound, thanks to the resolution, is always evident.
Well, as you can probably imagine it's not going to be a movie that you're going to crank up to serious levels. Even if you chose to you'd find the LFE is MIA (Missing in Action). No seriously, it does kick in when the musical soundtrack plays along and you do hear the odd subway train rumbling by, but that really is about it. Suffice to say it's no great shakes even though the Ry Cooder composed soundtrack was never going to induce any earth shattering bass anyway. To be fair though, this movie doesn't need to go there.
As I say I was a little surprised that we've got an uncompressed MA sound track here, it's used in a very utilitarian way but can't really complain, we'll have it nonetheless.
ExtrasAll the extra are presented in SD and in general it's a sparse affair but there is some quality to the content.
10,279 miles since Hong Kong : My Blueberry Nights - (20mins 57secs) Wong Kar Wai leads the most of this and explains how My Blueberry Nights is an extension of a short piece of his earlier work 'In the mood for love 2001'. There's lots of insight in how he went about making his first English spoken movie and a glimpse into how he works. Norah Jones has some input and explains how she was approached and how the style of movie making was adapted to help her in playing the role. It's evident that they both prefer to work in a spontaneous way. The 20 minutes make for a good watch and i enjoyed this feature.
Cannes Press Conference with Wong Kar Wai and Norah Jones - (20mins 37secs) Both Wong Kar Wai and Norah Jones sit in front of the Cannes media in a small hotel room taking questions. The general release of the movie is 13 minutes shorter than what was screened at the festival and most of what was removed was voiceover stuff. Norah Jones looks rather unsure and uneasy taking some of the questions (not too dissimilar as to how she comes across in the movie). Nevertheless, the questions are all intelligent and pertinent, the answers reveal Wong's thoughts and style of film-making. Blueberry Nights was filmed in a very spontaneous manner and Norah was actually allowed a loose script to follow and improvise upon. This is just as well as she appears to be a very shy and unassuming kind of person. Another quite interesting feature.
Character Study - (8mins 1secs) The main cast of the movie explain what they felt of the roles and how they went about portraying their characters. For Norah Jones bouncing off experienced actors and actresses helped to pull her through as Elizabeth although it was evident that she was way out of her depth early on. Unfortunately this feature is quite a bland on the surface insight into the characters. It would have been better to dwell deeper into some of the emotional problems that each of the characters had to wrestle with. It would have helped to portray the required depth of the characters far more.
Theatrical Trailer - (2mins 3secs) As the title says this is the original theatrical trailer, voiced over by Jude Law
Video Configuration - A very, very basic tool is included here to help you set up brightness and contrast levels. Unfortunately, the picture quality on the disc is not up to much.
Audio Configuration - Well, this is nothing other than a very simple test tone being fired across to each of your channels. There is no set up involved whatsoever and all that the tones do is to confirm that your speakers are connected and receiving a signal. Was this worth including ?
VerdictIt's quite difficult to know where to place My Blueberry Nights. Yes, it's a romantic at heart, but it retains a distinct art-house feel to it throughout that tends to veer it away from that during its course. The lines of romance become rather murky in the middle of the film developing rather demarcated feeling towards the overall proceedings.
Norah Jones was indeed a bold choice to take centre stage. I'm not sure it's one that paid off. Her innocence in acting is painfully evident from the start and she never looks altogether comfortable. To her credit though she grows in stature as the role develops. Her more learned and practiced compatriots on the other hand really do pull their weight to make up for her shortcomings. David Strathairn and Rachel Weisz certainly earn their corn with thoroughly excellent performances.
Rachel has hardly looked better on screen nor acted it but the trump performance for me was from Natalie Portman. Her character comes late on in the film and not a moment too late. It really perks up the movie, which is just as well as it is at a time where some viewers may begin to otherwise lose interest. Jude Law on the other hand though is underwhelming and his character lacks gravitas.
As a blu-ray disc this one is a bit of a mixed bag. The video quality is not where it needs to be for a high definition release and the audio is marginally better by virtue of a lossless soundtrack. The extras are all too sparse and I'm afraid it's all a case of style over substance. Then again it is some style. Off-axis and quirky, an immensely creative style of shooting is employed throughout the movie. Each frame is beautifully captured and shot in a very artistic and most eye pleasing manner. They've then gone and quite infuriatingly stitched it all together like a rag-doll !
Frustratingly though it does still work. Just about. It's not up to repeated viewings although you could watch this movie a few times over a period of time and glean a different perspective from it each time. The overwhelming thought I was left with after the first viewing was that when we lose a friend, family member, lover or partner is it actually their loss that we mourn or do we actually only feel sorry and pity for ourselves?
My Blueberry Nights delves into the truer, darker and deeper meaning of solace. Its very naïve in places but it's wistful at the same time; it skirts along yet stumbles into surprising depths; it's colourful and lively yet it has its moments in equal measure. In other words it's a flawed gem.
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