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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Robert Benton

I am quite surprised at how much I love this film. I thought it perhaps a "one-off" when I saw it in the mid 90's... or maybe it caught me in an exceptional mood. Upon revisiting it though I honestly feel this is one of the last great films of 'Americana' ever made. Newman is at the height of his onscreen charisma and the rest of the cast have no option but to unselfishly support him to the nth degree. They ALL do this wonderfully with special note to Tandy and Griffith. The film is of note as one of the better shot - cinematographically, in the 90's. It is subtle yet always on cue. It plays like an updated melodrama from the 50's, only with a more complete plot and engaging, well-rounded characters supporting the tight realism of the performances. Newman plays "Sully" - a character who we all have known; a person who almost religiously does not do what is best for him... and is quite carefree in the process. He is separated from his wife, estranged from his son and grandchild and gravitates with an eclectic circle of similar "characters" who never ask anything of him. There are many humorous and touching moments as Sully interacts with his compadres or with an over-zealous fledgling police officer - played by a toned down Philip Seymour Hoffman - who has yet to show himself in a poor performance in any film he's in. There is also significant drama in the story when spousal and child abuse are confronted and a reunion of father and son and reintroduction of the grandson. There are so many small-town USA markers, right down to the incestuous knowledge of each other at the local watering-hole. This all culminates with one of the warmest expressions that I can remember and the credit lies squarely at Newman's feet. There isn't much of a plot, but as far as character-driven films go I can't recall a better one. out of


Theatrical Release: December 23rd, 1994 - USA

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DVD Review: Paramount -  Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Paramount  Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:50:04
Video 1.78:1.00 Letterboxed WideScreen / 16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
• Widescreen anamorphic format

DVD Release Date: September 9, 2003
Keep Case
Chapters: 17

The DVD video is very strong with only some slight weakness in the black levels, but all colors seem very accurate. This disc has that wonderful warm muted color palette that I noticed in the Criterion "Antoine Doinel" collection. It may be my eyes, but I seem to see a slight stretching in the aspect ratio. Everyone looks a shade tall and thin to me... but still, really very wonderful. The sound has a 5.1 remix and it is also very strong. Paramount didn't even attempt to "fool" us with some think Extras - there are instead none... not even a trailer. Some chat from director Benton ( what a character ) would have been appropriate, if not some words from Newman himself. Regardless I am so enamored with the film that I still give this out of               

Gary W. Tooze

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Distribution Paramount  Region 1 - NTSC




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