directed by Jacob Aaron Estes
USA 2004

 

In the tradition of stories about coming-of-age, “Mean Creek” follows the footsteps of “Rivers Edge” and “Stand by Me”, and takes a solid position as the key film for this generation. Described as “Deliverance meets Stand by Me”, Jacob Aaron Estes debuts with one of the most extraordinary indie films of 2004, depicting the exact moment where innocence is lost forever without any other dramatic tools than the look of the human face.

Fed up with being beaten up by the school bully, Sam (Rory Culkin) and Millie (Carly Schroeder) team up with Sam’s older brother and his even older rebel-without-a-cause Marty (Scott Mechlowicz) to teach George a lesson. They invite him on a boat trip with the intention of stripping him naked, humiliating him and making him run home naked.

Central for this sort of film, it deals with loss of innocence and peer pressure, and so many times before, the much older, and therefore self-assumed wiser, writer uses the story to dictate morality. But not here. Estes has stripped the entire film of morality. Each person in the film acts on his own in the absence of guidance. Thus Sam acts because he looks up to his older brother and because no one acts against George. Thus Marty acts, because in the absence of a father figure, the kids look up to him. They are all kids and act like kids and that gives the film its credibility. At no point are any of them smart, at no point does any of them reflect on morality. They are just kids who having lost their innocence are looking for a way out.

Wisely Estes never imposes neither himself nor his point of views upon the actors, who simply go with their instincts and play so natural as was it all just a game. Especially Josh Peck, the fat goofball from Nickelodeons “Drake & Josh Show”, and Carly Schroeder give very impressive performances. The casual atmosphere on the set really can be seen by the films non-acting acting.

I doubt the film would have been as effective and haunting hadn’t it been for its superb acting. The story is very thin and very predictable, but the acting adds both credibility and realism, so one is carried away.

Made for only $500.000 and shot on 16mm, “Mean Creek” is a haunting film about the moment where the innocence within us dies. Realistic, honest and emotionally affecting.
 

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 15, 2004 (Sundance Film Festival)

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DVD Review: Tartan - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

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Distribution

Tartan

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:26:06 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 9.30 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital English, 5.1 Dolby Digital English, DTS English
Subtitles English (HoH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Tartan

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by cast and crew
• Director interview (27:45 / 16x9)
• Storyboards (11 pics)
• Original Theatrical Trailer (2:37 / 16x9)
• Tartan Trailer Reel

DVD Release Date: October 3, 2005
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Chapters 16

 

 

Comments Shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm for theatrical screening, the image is naturally very grainy. This makes it hard to look for compression artifacts.

Four sound mixes (2.0, 5.1, DTS and 2.0 AC) plus an video interview does fill up, and yet the film with its 86 minutes running time is 4.74GB alone. And even with all the extras, the DVD9 still has a good GB left.

There appears to be some color banding, and there is some edge enhancement and color migration, especially in sharp contrast scenes, but considering the source, this is a great transfer.

Both the French and the US transfers are 1.83:1 (16x9), whereas Tartans is 1.78:1. Comparing images from the French DVD and Tartans, it appears that Tartan has opened up the frame, i.e. is less masked.

The additional material begins with a great audio commentary, where director Jacob Aaron Estes talks with DoP Sharon Meir, editor Madeleine Gavin and the actors Josh Peck, Trevor Morgan, Ryan Kelley and Carly Schroeder, about various aspects of the film. It is a very personal and insightful commentary.

Its followed by a by Tartan made interview, where Estes is asked various questions like how he got the idea, how the script was written and so forth. Solid background stuff.

The Story Board extra is disappointing. Its nothing but the film told by 11 pics from the story board.

 - Henrik Sylow

 

 



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Captures resized to 800px from 1016px native resolution

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 

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Distribution

Tartan

Region 0 - PAL


 




 

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