Nixon Blu-ray Review
PictureNixon gets voted onto your screens at 2.40:1 1080p using the MPEG-4/AVC codec. A lot of the scenes are shot in darkened or shady rooms and more than a few at night. The blacks are good but not really getting down the the levels that are enjoyed. Shadow detail is still apparent in the Lincoln Room at the Whitehouse, some campaign meetings and in the darkened television control rooms. The print is clean and blemish free however during one scene just after Nixon takes a press conference then retreats to the Oval Office there is a mark at the centre top of the image, this is on during cuts from scene to scene and is never seen elsewhere in the feature. There is some grain on the film but this really is only when we're seeing Nixon in flashbacks on television or conference appearances.
Whites in the brighter scenes are strong with little blooming and not completely eradicated but very minimal enhancement shown against some of these bright skies or backdrops. These fleeting errors are never excessive enough to detract you from the main focus of the film your watching. Similarly although the colour palette is narrow it blooms when needed; the colours in CIA director's office, the pavilion at the race course for instance, the red white and blue of the clearly defined stars and stripes of the US national flag.
Encoding is very decent indeed with no blocking or noise to be seen, some enhancement as mentioned earlier but by no means anywhere near excessive. Detail is excellent on the textures of clothing and look at Hoover's hat in one of the screenshots I have provided, the weave is excellent. There is enough detail in certain scenes to allow a three dimensional image, again in the CIA director's office, the race course, the visit to the Lincoln Memorial. It's not across the board though, due in part to the lack of deep blacks in some of the darker scenes.
Overall this is a pleasant image to watch, flitting back and forth between certain styles and this adds to the feeling of the film, putting you into the frame of his press conference or his podium speeches, and propels you through the movie making you concentrate on the discussions at hand.
SoundThere's two English tracks to choose from, an full and detailed lossless 5.1 PCM track and a rather narrower, thinner Dolby Digital 5.1 offering at 640kbps. This later track is adequate enough in it's own right but it pales beside the deeper PCM variety and as such that PCM gets the full treatment here.
The PCM track is wide when the score kicks in and although the score itself is usually always there in the background it rarely takes centre stage but it does add depth and width to the presentation as a whole. There's some LFE use but it's never really the order of the day apart from the horses thunderous hooves at the racetrack and some historical news reports from the atomic bomb or Vietnam. The upper tones are somewhat constricted again apart from the strings from Williams' flowing score.
Surround use is not excessive apart from some party chatter, the odd fly by from aircraft, the crowds at conferences. There's some panning between your fronts but again it's never really excessive, the odd car that Nixon is being transported in for instance. Much like many films I have reviewed recently this is a dialogue driven piece and most of the audio will emanate from the centre. It's always crisp and clear from the clink of ice on glass to the mumblings tones of a drunken Nixon. Sure and steady would best define this track.
There's two commentaries up on offer here, both solo chat tracks by Stone himself. The first he discusses the cast and their performances, the second comparing the scenes to the actual events of the time. As with most Stone tracks these two are enjoyable affairs with Stone often having a good laugh at the history he is trying to put on screen. I don't think though that there's sufficient information in there to justify two tracks. Each have long periods of silence so you would have thought that the better option would have been to combine the tracks, leaving enough space on the first disc for an historical documentary of Nixon himself.
- Deleted Scenes. - 0:58:16 - MPEG-2/480i
11 deleted scenes in total of which 6 have been reinserted into this directors cut. Some of those scenes, the meeting with CIA director, before Nixon's daughter's wedding speaking to Hoover about wire tapping, the meeting of the students for instance need to be in this film for it to become the rounded piece that it has, the others I could take or leave. I cannot see why these scenes were edited from the initial release unless it was for time constraints. Stone appears on screen to introduce these snippets and he relates some very pertinent information at the start and in between the cuts which in itself is a worthwhile listen. You can play these scenes individually or en mass.
- Beyond Nixon. - 0:35:19 - MPEG-2/480i
This all too short documentary has political historians, columnists and former advisor John Dean making comments on the movie and this period in history. None are too complimentary to the man himself, with Gore Vidal producing the best statement of the piece indicating that to be a member of the political establishment in the U.S. You naturally have to be corrupt, an interesting statement which could be applied I'm sure to most political institutions world wide. There's obvious comparison to the events in the movie and events which took place for real and the film does come in for some criticism, which is fair comment in all honesty.
- Stone Interview with Charlie Rose. - 0:55:09 - MPEG-2/480i
Stone in a one on one interview with PBS interviewer Charlie Rose. Its a good enough track with Rose himself indicating what he enjoyed and disliked about the film then giving Stone the opportunity to comment. Like any good interviewer he puts the initial question forward then lets Stone ramble having his own say only interrupting when he needs a little further information. Stone expands on some of the issues he raised in his commentaries in so far that he indicates why he took certain liberties and why Nixon the man fascinated him so much.
- Original Trailer. - 0:04:30 - MPEG-2/480i
As the name suggests, a rather dramatic trailer for this dramatic personality.
A worthwhile set of extras but one commentary too many really and what this disc is screaming out for is a good historical documentary on the man and the period at the time. Sure the Beyond Nixon is good but there's so much to this man and this time that more could and should have been said. That was the only let down I had from this set really.
VerdictNixon is a film about the man Nixon and not really about his time in office, just like Stones earlier work The Doors was more about the man Morrison than the band themselves. Those people wanting to see a damning account of his presidency will be left wanting. Sure his actions in office are related somewhat but if you want more detail then get on The History Channel sometime.
It's again typical of Stone though, demanding performances by the actors at his hand and having another swipe at a political system the very participants seem unable to change or influence. Excellent acting is the order of the day coupled with some superb cinematography and a detailed, intricate score not first apparent by John Williams. More than adequate picture and sound, and with some good detailed extras add up to a rather neat package, although I found the Java menus on the second disc a little clunky to say the least.
It's another Stone disc that will be gladly added to my collection, I've enjoyed most of his works in the past and he's produced some of my favourite thought provoking films so although this is not top shelf in terms of Stone, like much of his work it still raises itself above most of the mediocre nonsense out there. Like everything else though it's personal preference but I have no hesitation in recommending this is added to your collection too.
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