Stella Does Tricks DVD Review
PicturePicture quality in a non-Anamorphic 1.85:1 print is disappointingly poor. There is sporadic noticeable frame damage and consistent minor grain throughout the film. Compression artefacts rear their head on occasion and overall the film is soft in detail and murky. Colours have a tendency to look washed out and the night scenes slip have an inclination to slip into impenetrable darkness. How much of this is down to the low budget origins of the film and how much is attributable to poor handling of source materials is difficult to say. In many ways one could build an argument to say the film benefits from a grainier, dirty print given its style and subject matter. In this respect the transfer gets itself out of jail as being wholly suitable in the context of the production. A more challenging movie would certainly not be as forgiving however, and the use of a non-Anamorphic image in today's day and age really doesn't cut the mustard.
SoundAs with the picture, sound is no more than adequate. One Dolby 2.0 track is included, and it goes about its task in a workmanlike fashion. In fairness no more is needed, the film isn't exactly an aural extravaganza. Sound is thin and hollow throughout and wholly uninspiring. Dialogue is however clear and well balanced, and that's about as much as you can hope for. Passable, but barely. Again, a more demanding audio requirement would bury this track.
ExtrasAgain the disc proves disappointing, this time in the extras department. All that is included is an exceedingly pointless photo gallery (consisting entirely of no more than stills from the film) and a reasonably thorough but limited biography section (only Giedroyc, Macdonald and Bolam are included). One senses a missed opportunity here: perhaps with the addition of some documentary footage that actually inspired the film, or an audio commentary from the director. As it stands the extras are no more than token efforts of little interest with the sole purpose of preventing the disc from being completely supplement free. Yawn inducing.
VerdictThe DVD release of the film falls into the same traps as the movie itself, being as it is somewhat underdeveloped and missing it's potential. This is no more than a functional release, with unspectacular AV and a disappointingly bare selection of extras. This budget disc is a slight and minor release for a slight and minor movie. Those who enjoy kitchen-sink nineties drama will find something of worth here, but if British social realism is really your bag then you will surely know there are far more accomplished examples out there.
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