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Two-Lane Blacktop [Masters of Cinema] [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: U
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment/Masters of Cinema
  • Run Time: 103 Mins.
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 23, 2012
  • RRP: £23.48

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005SDDE2K[/amazon-product]

Also available:

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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:4/5]

Looking to duplicate the success of Easy Rider (1969), Universal handed out $1 million to filmmakers to come up with a response. What we got was this 1971 road movie from the cult auteur Monte Hellman, Two-Lane Blacktop. Where Easy Rider was a psychedelic celebration of the open road and the hippie ideals of the late 60s, Two-Lane Blacktop was a melancholy meditation on a country gone astray and, perhaps, a condemnation of the naiveté of the hippie ideals.

Two drag racing friends, The Driver (singer-songwriter James Taylor) and The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys) hit the road  in a customized ’55 Chevy painted primer grey, but soon find themselves in a cross-country race with a rival in a shiny yellow GTO (Warren Oates) for both the pink slips to their cars and the affections of The Girl (Laurie Bird) who’s hitched along with them.

A defining film of the so-called “New American Cinema,” Two-Lane Blacktop is like Kerouac on wheels, a revved up, wide open, big sky looming dream that alluded to Dharma Bums or On the Road and predicted the listless malaise of the mid-70s America.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Director Monte Hellman oversaw this new high definition transfer of Two-Lane Blacktop himself, so everything you see in this 2.35:1 framed AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement is exactly as intended by the filmmaker. With that being said, the film itself doesn’t always yield the greatest high definition material, but one cannot argue with the filmic quality of this transfer from Eureka’s Masters of Cinema imprint. There is no evidence of video noise, grain looks natural, though a little heavy at times, and flesh tones are spot on.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

There is something here for purists and those looking for a little something extra to show off their audio systems. The original monaural soundtrack has been remastered and provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Furthermore, there is also a brand new 5.1 mix offered in DTS-HD Master Audio. Both have their advantages. The monaural mix is clean and straightforward with little clipping. In comparison, the 5.1 mix sounds warmer with less emphasis on the high frequencies, but dialogue is a little lower in the mix as well. There is a lot of directional panning of sound effects across the front and during racing scenes there is discrete use of the surrounds to help fill up the room with the roar of the engines.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

You won’t be disappointed with these typically strong, informative, and in-depth extras from this Masters of Cinema release. Particularly noteworthy are the filmmaker’s audio commentary and video featurette with the director revisiting the film’s locations with his students.

The supplements:

  • Music and effects track
  • Audio commentary by Monte Hellman and associate producer Gary Kurtz
  • On the Road Again: Two-Lane Blacktop Revisited (1.78:1; 1080i/60) – A 43-minute video piece in which Monte Hellman and his film students revisit the film’s locations
  • Somewhere Near Salinas (1.78:1; 1080i/60) – A video interview by Monte Hellman of Kris Kristofferson recorded in 2007.
  • Sure Did Talk to You (1.78:1; 1080i/60) – In this 24-minute video filmed in 2007 the director Monte Hellman interviews producer Michael Laughlin, production manager Walter Coblenz, Steve Gayedos, and his son Jared Hellman.
  • Screen Tests – Screen tests from Monte Hellman’s archives featuring James Taylor and Laurie Bird.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Booklet: The deluxe illustrated booklet contains an all new essay on the film by Brad Stevens, Two-Lane Blacktop: On the Road with the New Hollywood by Shelley Benoit from Show: The Magazine of Films and the Arts, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 1971 and notes on viewing with disc and film credits.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Two-Lane Blacktop is a long-lost American classic that, ironically, arrives on Blu-ray, finally, from the UK’s Eureka Entertainment in a fine, director-approved Masters of Cinema edition. This should be part of every cinephile’s collection.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005SDDE2K[/amazon-product]

Also available:

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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