10.4 C
New York
Friday, November 27, 2020
Advertisement

Life During Wartime [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: N/A
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: July 26, 2011
  • List Price: $39.95

[amazon-product]B004WPYO38[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Life During Wartime - Widescreen

Purchase Life During Wartime [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

Todd Solondz’ films have always dealt with the fringes of society, the outcasts and misfits, social pariahs that dwell on the outer limits of the world as we know it. And he has never been afraid to touch on the taboos, the third rails of social mores either, like pedophilia, rape, and interracial sex. Going all the way back to 1995’s Welcome to the Dollhouse and through 2001’s Storytelling, these are the things that have informed his cinematic vision.

Life During Wartime revisits these themes once more. It not only revisits his usual themes, but, in fact, revisits one of Solondz’ whole films. It is an update of his previous work, 1998’s Happiness, rejoining those characters a decade later in their lives, this time played by a whole new cast. I have to admit upfront that I’ve never seen Happiness, it somehow managed to slip past me, but I have seen the other films from Solondz that I’ve mentioned here. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, judging from the reaction of people familiar with Happiness, maybe it was best to go into Wartime fresh, not knowing these characters.

It’s a dark comedy, that’s no surprise, and it focuses on the lives of three very different sisters. Trish (Allison Janney) is trying to rebuild her life during a separation from her husband Bill (Ciarán Hinds), a pedophile who has just been released from prison. She believes she’s found the man of her dreams, well, at least the compromise she’s willing to live with, Harvey (Michael Lerner). He’s everything she needs right now, he’s “normal,” he’s Jewish and he likes Israel. Meanwhile, Trish’s sister, the quirky, Joy (Henderson), is haunted by the ghost of her dead of lover Andy (Paul Reubens), taking a break from her job in New Jersey helping recovering ex-cons and from her sex addict husband, Allen (Michael Kenneth Williams). Sister Helen is having doubts about her status as a writer, convinced that she is nothing but a sellout since she gave up poetry to write screenplays in Hollywood, but at least she gets to go out with “Keanu.” At the crux of these neurotic women’s issues are the men on the fringes of their lives – Bill the pedophile released from prison who immediately breaks into Trish’s home then goes looking for her older son so he can make sure he’s not a “fag,” the ghost of Andy who want’s Joy to join him in his misery and Allen whom she can’t seem to save from his sins.

It’s a beautifully shot film, awash in the warm glow of sunshine, transplanted from Solondz’ usual New Jersey to Southern Florida. The film has a warm palette of oranges and reds with blown out whites and tanned flesh tones. There’s one particularly beautiful scene from the film which stands out that finds Joy wandering the streets of Miami at night in her flowing white nightgown, the midnight blue background of the sky and big white full moon aglow behind her, shining down upon her like an angelic visage set adrift in an empty wasteland of shopping malls.

What the film is missing, however, is any real soul. Perhaps this is where its connection to Happiness comes into focus. Do we need to know these characters from before to understand why we should feel some connection to them? Nothing ever really comes into view in this wandering character study. Its humor never rises above mildly moving and no one evokes any level of real sympathy. My understanding is, familiarity with Happiness only makes it seem worse. Perhaps its time I got around to watching Happiness, then, because it has to be better than this given that I’ve always been a fan of Solondz’ work in the past.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

‘Director of photography Ed Lachman supervised and approved this new transfer, which took place in New York at Technicolor and Final Frame. The film was shot with the RED One Digital Camera at 4K resolution and the entire production was completed in a digital workflow. During the grading sessions, the original .r3d RED were used and standard DPX were rendered out from SCRATCH. The final color-corrected DPX files were also output to Rec. 709 high-definition color space for BD and DVD release.’

The film arrives on Blu-ray from Criterion in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement. It has a purposely warm color palette with blown out white levels, as per Ed Lachman’s comments in the special features on this very disc. It looks lush and sunny, clean, and detailed just as one would expect from such a production, and it is absent any video noise.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The fully digital soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit in Pro Tools HD from the original digital audio files. It is provided on this Blu-ray release in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 encodement. As for the mix itself, it offers clean natural sounding dialogue and its limited musical soundtrack is relatively full and spacious. Overall, however, the soundfield is quite narrow; to call this front-heavy would be an understatement. The surround channels are practically nonexistent and stereo panning is rather narrow.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

As always, Criterion has provided a solid set of exclusive extras that give a lot of insight into the film and its creators. Of particular interest here is the audio feature where Solondz answers the emails of viewers solicited by Criterion and the interviews with director of photography Ed Lachman, who provides lots of technical information on how the film was shot.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Ask Todd (00:44:46) – In March 2011, the Criterion Collection invited viewers to email questions for Todd Solondz about Life During Wartime. In this audio presentation, the director answers some of the hundreds of questions sent in from around the world.
  • Actors’ Reflections (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:29:54) – Actors Shirley Henderson, Ciarán Hinds, Allison Janney, Michael Lerner, Paul Reubens, Ally Sheedy, and Michael Kenneth Williams discuss their experiences making Life During Wartime. The interviews were conducted exclusively for the Criterion Collection in spring 2011.
  • Ed Lachman (1.78:1; 1080p/24) –An interview with the director of photography conducted exclusively for the Criterion Collection in March 2011 includes selected-scene commentary and Five Questions.
  • Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)
  • Booklet: The illustrated booklet contains one rather lengthy essay on the film by David Sterritt (Chairman of the National Society of Film Critics, chief book critic at Film Quarterly, and adjunct professor at Columbia University and the Maryland Institute College of of Art), as well as the usual film credits and information on the transfer.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Life During Wartime is a bit of a misfire from a director who is normally spot on. Those familiar with his previous works, especially Happiness, will most likely be disappointed with this far weaker film, despite what is a typically strong reference release from the magic workers at Criterion.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product]B004WPYO38[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Life During Wartime - Widescreen

Purchase Life During Wartime [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Join the Discussion on Our Forum

Advertisement

Related Articles

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

301FansLike
0FollowersFollow
724FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment “screeners” and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

2067 (Blu-ray Review)

With the world deforested and people dying from a deadly disease caused by synthetic oxygen, a quiet tunnel worker receives a message from the future and must save humanity in this uneven but watchable dystopian Aussie indie sci-fi thriller.

The Irishman (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray Review)

Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-nominated (Best Director) late career crime world epic gets the Criterion Collection treatment it deserves.
%d bloggers like this: