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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

Black Snake Moan [Blu-ray]

(Craig Brewer -  2007)

 

 

Studio: Paramount (USA)

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:55:33.927

Disc Size: 24,877,349,920 bytes

Feature Size: 20,474,781,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.83 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release Date: June 3rd, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

 

Audio:

Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, English, French,  Spanish and none

 

Extras

• Commentaries by writer/director Brewer

• Documentary: Conflicted: The Making of Black Snake Moan

• Featurette: The Black Snake Moan

• Featurette: Rooted in the Blues

 

 

Black Snake Moan

Writer/director, Craig Brewer, followed his 2004 debut, Hustle & Flow, with this story of redemption and resurrection.  The three principal characters are seriously damaged: Lazarus, by way of a marital betrayal of biblical proportions; Rae, the town nymphomaniac, is the victim of familial sexual abuse; and Ronnie, Rae's boyfriend, is bound up with something that suspiciously resembles homosexual panic.

 

The time and place is present day rural South.  Lazarus is having words with his woman who has left him for his brother.  Heated words are exchanged, first between them and then between Lazarus and his brother.  Friends are concerned things might turn really ugly, but Lazarus finds solace in liquor.  He goes home to clean out all traces of his ex only to find a comatose Rae lying in his driveway.  Rae, after Ronnie had left town for a stint in the military, had been on a sex and drugs binge and ended up getting punched out and left for dead in the middle of the road.  What to do – an older black man, known to be drunk and angry, a young sexpot, beat up all to hell?

 

 

For the next hour or so, Brewer takes us on some interesting byroads, exploring addictions and questions of redemption and recovery.  But I'm afraid his muse wasn't up to the challenge – I worry that he doesn't quite understand his own characters – for the denouement is too facile, especially as regards Rae and Ronnie.

 

That said, there are some great solo and small group blues bits, sung by Samuel L himself; the settings are colorful and convincing, especially around Lazarus' home; and the performances by the three protagonists, especially Christina Ricci, are electric.  Ricci's Rae is – to borrow a description from Professor Higgins – "so deliciously low, so horribly dirty."

 

 

Black Snake Moan

The Score Card

 

The Movie : 7 - It is interesting and unusual that a movie's release on video should come so close on the heels of its theatrical: Black Snake Moan appeared at Sundance, January 24, 2007, and began its formal U.S. theatrical run on March 2, 2007.  Two and a half months later, it shows up on simultaneous SD, HD and BD release on June 26, 2007.

 

Image : 9   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

Strong image considering it is single-layered with a middling bitrate. Detail is excellent in the few close-ups - colors are bright and there is some dimensionality - especially in the outdoor sequences.  Very good contrast with reasonably rich black levels. There is minor grain and noise and overall the film's lush visuals are supported well by the Blu-ray transfer.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music : 8/8 - Samuel L does his own vocals, which is the good and bad news here. Pretty good twang on the guitar. Unfortunately it is not offered in lossless and the separations and depth are not at premium levels.

Empathy : 8 - The deft contrast image, which is entirely consistent with the intensity of the drama, and sound quality, which is pretty good, but not exceptional, are not quite on the same par, creating a small disconnect.  Still, the image is so good and the story, for the most part, and performances so compelling that I remained intrigued.

Operations : 8 - Easy to load, menus straightforward and easy to use, with clear summaries of what the features are.  As is characteristic of BDs from Paramount, untitled chapter thumbnails do not expand, so much as swell a bit.

Extras : 8 - As we would expect from a simultaneous video format release, the supplementary features in all cases are the same.  Brewer's commentary, among other things, discusses his adaptation of George Eliot's novel, Silas Marner, on which the movie is loosely based.  (I thought this plot seemed familiar.)  The Making of… documentary is a half hour affair of interviews with cast and crew.  Mercifully, the feature is less self-congratulatory than most of its kind.  The two music featurettes are only about ten minutes each that all too briefly look at various aspects of the blues.

 

Recommendation : 9

Recommended for image quality, excellent performances by Ricci and Jackson, and the first hour and half of the story. Definitely worthy of a spin or two.

Leonard Norwitz
LensViews
July 29th, 2007

 

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