directed by Abel Ferrara
Italy/France/USA 2005

 

The controversy surrounding the film-within-a-film owes more to similar protests surrounding the release of Jean Luc Godard's "Hail Mary" rather than publicity stunts surrounding "The Da Vinci Code" or "Passion of the Christ." Abel Ferrara directs two parallel stories: Juliette Binoche plays an actress who, after having played Mary Magdalene in director/star Tony Childress' (Matthew Modine) film "This is My Blood" feels emotionally and spiritually drained and leaves behind her career to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, in New York, Ted Younger (Forest Whitaker) is a TV journalist doing a TV series on the life of Jesus tries to find God when the lives of his wife (Heather Graham) and prematurely born child hang in the balance. Meanwhile, violent protests surround the upcoming premiere of Childress' film.

The film didn't make me a believer but it is a typically fascinating character-driven drama from Abel Ferrara (who seems to divide his own personality among the characters played by Whitaker, Modine, and Binoche) except that there is not enough development of the various characters. Juliette Binoche is given little to do but she does it well (we are not given enough of a sense of her spiritual emptiness before she decides to leave her career behind). Matthew Modine plays the cynical, hotshot director who rightly rails against protesters who haven't seen his film but the character and the performance come across as shallow (especially compared to Ferrara's other director figure in "Dangerous Game" played by Harvey Keitel). Forest Whitaker's character arc is most developed and his performance is consistently rivetting and moving. Other fine actors such as Marco Leonardi and Stefania Rocca are unfortunately wasted in supporting roles.

 

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: June 23, 2006 (Los Angeles); June 9, 2006 (New York)

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DVD Review: Aurum - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Aurum

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:23:22 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.48 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 English (Dolby Digital 5.1); Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles English; Spanish
Features Release Information:
Studio: Aurum

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer
• Other Trailers (preceding main menu)
• Notes

DVD Release Date: October 17, 2006
Amaray

Chapters 12
 

 

 

Comments:

This Spanish DVD is probably the most affordable of the available releases. The Italian DVD has English interviews but an Italian overdub reportedly makes them difficult to understand for English viewers. The French DVD has DTS tracks in English and French but DTS seems like an extravagance for an Abel Ferrara film. The 5.1 mix on the Spanish DVD is restrained with most directional effects in "action" sequences which are few and far between in this character-driven film. The image is as pristine as the original cinematography allows with intentional grainy low light scenes, lagging follow focus (indicative of loose blocking), and archival interspersed video footage.

The only annoyance is the video previews, the cinema previews, and finally the "piracy is a crime" promo that all precede the main menu. Some players cannot skip past them and must be fast-forwarded through each clip.

 - Eric Cotenas



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Aurum

Region 2 - PAL





 

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