Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


 

Directed by David Lynch
France / Poland / USA
2006

 

The question every artist faces, if they're lucky – or doomed, as the case may be - is: Where do you go after you achieve success with your artistic vision? For my money, the most intriguing film of 2001 was Mulholland Dr. I imagine that David Lynch would have agreed with me; but more to the point, in Mulholland Dr. Lynch combined his usual ingredients into a satisfying, extravagant dreamscape of impressionist and expressionist proportions that seemed to both fulfill his intentions and please his audience.

The word "Masterpiece" is more than a little overused by film critics. I rarely find it a useful term of endearment, but I am tempted in the case of Mulholland Dr. So the question remains: where to from here, Mr. Lynch? Clearly, many of the same motifs and themes are revisited in his next and most recent feature film, INLAND EMPIRE: the psychic raveling and unraveling, time and identity shifting, the suborning of multimedia techniques. While Mulholland Dr. might be thought of as the cinematic equivalent of Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht, often considered the pinnacle of German Expressionism in music (its most obvious difference in terms of form is that Mulholland Dr. seems to exist in several temporal planes simultaneously), INLAND EMPIRE takes those ideas and us deeper into a subconscious. There is much to admire here, but not nearly as much to savor – among other things, the new movie, while it revels in its share of repulsive images, also lacks the raw eroticism of its predecessor.

But, love it or hate it, there is at least one new wrinkle for INLAND EMPIRE: the Sony DSR-PD150 camcorder. (Here's a review of the camera if you'd like to know more about it HERE ) The PD150 is not even HD – and one wonders why Lynch didn't go that route if his main goal was a certain degree of freedom of the trappings of MOVIE-MAKING? But there it is. For theatrical exhibition, the low-fi image must have first been converted to 35mm film, but even DVD is not exactly a 1:1 transfer. Reviews of the DVD were mixed on technical grounds, even polarized, leaving us to wonder if a HD transfer would make the limitation that much more apparent.

Well?

Leonard Norwitz
 

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 6th, 2006 - Venice Film Festival

Reviews       More Reviews       DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Absurda / Rhino (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Optimum Releasing (2-disc) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Optimum Releasing - Region B - Blu-ray

Big thanks to and Pete Hoskin for the Optimum DVD Screen Caps and Leonard Norwitz for the Blu-ray review!

 

1) Absurdia / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Optimum Releasing - Region B - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Absurda / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC Optimum Releasing
Region 2 - PAL
Optimum Releasing
Region B -
Blu-ray
Runtime 2:59:30  2:52:20 (4% PAL speedup) 2:59:43.814
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.42 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.52 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 45,587,853,847 bytes

Feature Size: 37,106,813,376 bytes

Average Bitrate: 21.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

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

Bitrate:

 Absurda

Bitrate:

 Optimum

Bitrate:

 Optimum Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1 far-field), and English (Dolby Digital 5.1 near-field)    English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1) DTS-HD Master Audio English 2813 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2813 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles French (standard and widescreen), None None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Absurda / Rhino

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Calibration static screens

• 90 minutes of Deleted Scenes
• Includes the short film "Ballerina"
• Lynch 2 (behind the scenes of INLAND EMPIRE with David Lynch)
• Talks with David Lynch and Laura Dern
• More Things That Happened (Additional Character Experiences)
• Theatrical Trailers (3)
• Stills Gallery (73 Photos)
• David Lynch cooks Quinoa

DVD Release Date: August 14th, 2007

Keep Case 

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Guardian interview at the NFT with David Lynch (17:23)
• A short interview in London (6:02)
• 'A conversation with David Lynch' by Mike Figgis (19:54)
• A masterclass with David Lynch (26:14)
• Interview at the Cartier Foundation (14:59)
• Theatrical Trailer

 

DVD Release Date: August 20th, 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 0

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing

 

Disc Size: 45,587,853,847 bytes

Feature Size: 37,106,813,376 bytes

Average Bitrate: 21.00 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• Guardian interview at the NFT with David Lynch (17:23)
• A short interview in London (6:02)
• 'A conversation with David Lynch' by Mike Figgis (19:54)
• A masterclass with David Lynch (26:14)
• Interview at the Cartier Foundation (14:59)
• Theatrical Trailer

 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 19th, 2010
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 0

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Optimum - Region B -Blu-ray - May 2010':

Image
I am happy to report that it doesn't and, quite frankly, I am surprised. I can still recall with some aversion the effects on faces of conversion and upscaling that went into large portions of Fahrenheit 911. Yuk! These same plasticized, textureless faces crop up in INLAND EMPIRE and their being upscaled to 1080p doesn't fix the problem. They still look like they belong in a wax museum. But neither do they look worse. Hair is still matted, but in well-lit scenes, we can make out a light beard on Justin Theroux, even a semblance of expression.

There was another nagging problem on the DVD (the Absurda/Rhino is the only one I have to compare), relating to movement. As we watch Grace Zabriskie walk up to Laura Dern's door near the beginning of the film, we reflexively reach for the Dramamine. We can't quite tell if what we see is the result of deliberate frame dropping, sloppy editing, a snafu in the transfer, or what. While there is still some jerkiness on the Blu-ray, it feels more deliberate and, if you'll indulge me, smoother. Note also the scene with the Polish "rabbits" who arrange themselves on a stage. The camera is still, but on the DVD the image isn't quite stable. If this isn't entirely apparent, it will be when you see the Blu-ray. These minute advantages add up to a far less fatiguing, more involving experience over a movie three hours long.

Differences in color and brightness between both the Rhino and Optimum's own DVD are also apparent. As to brightness, the Blu-ray strikes a middle course between the two DVDs, which I find suitable and preferable to either. The red shift is quite dramatic, and will not please everyone - I find it works better in some scenes than others. (I know we're supposed to reviewing what is actually on the DVD, but just a reminder: I'm sure you're display has video tone controls.)

Audio
As with the two DVD editions, Optimum's Blu-ray offers the choice of a 2.0 and a 5.1 mix, the latter in DTS-HD MA. As with the video, there are gains in the uncompressed audio mode that some will find even qualitatively delicious, depending on how good your audio system is. The music, especially, benefits from the kind of exquisite aural effect that will envelope and transport you directly into another universe. Be warned.

Operations
The biggest, and to many, the most important difference between the two DVDs are the chapter stops on the Region 1 disc and the lack of them on the Region 2. Nothing has changed for the U.K. company. Optimum continues to honor the director's "intentions" in this respect (NOTE: From George in email: "Absurda is Lynch's company and he has changed his views on chapter stops, so the existence of them on the US DVD cannot be coincidental - he actually talks about this on the extras. My guess is Optimum didn't even ask, they thought that Lynch simply has the same views on the matter, or simply couldn't be bothered to create some...") – which reminds me that the disc starts out with a short promo piece for Optimum that promises us a Blu-ray for Mulholland Dr. Can the director's intentions be far behind, and will they extend to matters beyond the absence of chapter stops? You know what I mean.

Extras
Optimum imported to their Blu-ray the same extra features that appear on their 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. The director is the lynchpin in all of them and, since they are gathered from various sources not originally intended for video bonus features, he tends to repeat much of the same material, fascinating though any of them may be. Conspicuous by her absence is any interview with his star, Laura Dern, about whose virtues as an actress, Lynch can't say enough. The Rhino wins out here.

Recommendation:
For admirers of the film, I'd opt for the Optimum Blu-ray for improved picture and sound, and the Rhino for its bonus features.
 

Leonard Norwitz
LensViews
May 5th, 2010

****

ADDITION: Optimum - Region 2- PAL DVD - August 07': The video transfer on the Region 2 release of 'Inland Empire' is lighter than its Region 1 counterpart. From my theatrical viewing of the film, I would suggest that the darker Region 1 transfer is the more accurate representation of Lynch's DV-shot footage. However – given that the transfers are near-identical in all other respects – I don't think that this slight difference in brightness should, by itself, deter potential buyers of the Region 2 release. Unfortunately, the Region 2 release mirrors the American DVD in only offering English subtitles for the Polish sequences of the film.

It should be noted – as Gary has pointed out below – that the nature of digitally-recorded footage means that the picture quality of ‘Inland Empire’ (both in its Region 1 and Region 2 incarnations) is in many ways inferior to that of traditionally-filmed productions. However, this is no bad thing. The grainy DV of ‘Inland Empire’ is the perfect marriage of message and medium. As Lynch himself states on one of the Region 2 disc’s extras:

“We all love film: so much, it’s so beautiful. And I really respect [cinematographers] for getting better and better and better images. But what it comes down to is to getting the image – whatever it is – that is true to that idea.”

In ‘Inland Empire’ – as far as I can tell – Lynch’s idea is to lay bare the protagonist’s psyche and to involve the viewer as closely as possible in her breakdown. Anything other than the immediacy and simplicity of digital video would defeat this. Rather than bringing us close to the subject, traditional film footage brings with it distance. To a lesser or greater degree, film implies DPs; it implies set-ups; it implies lighting; it implies grips, focus operators and technicians; and, most of all, it implies premeditation. All of which stand as barriers in the way of a more profound connection between actor and viewer; the type of connection that digital video can – and ‘Inland Empire’ does – succeed in delivering.

In fact (and even though the coolness of higher-end digital technology is well-used in Michael Mann’s recent tone-poems to masculinity), DV may have never been more perfectly exploited than it is in Lynch’s film.

Returning to the DVD(!): the Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 soundtracks are more than adequate, although I couldn’t discern much difference between the two.

And, as for the extras, the Region 2 offers absolutely no overlap with the Region 1 version. However there is plenty of internal overlap between the Region 2 release’s five featurettes, which are housed on a second disc. All of them are variations on an interview with Lynch, and many of them cover the same ground (how Lynch got into filmmaking; why he’s using DV etc.). That much of this ground has been covered elsewhere (a video conversation between Lynch and Mike Figgis formed the basis of a March 2007 article in ‘Sight and Sound’, for example) further devalues the disc.

By far the best extra on the Region 2 release’s second disc is a filmed chat between Lynch and the French film critic (and Lynch expert) Michael Chion. This takes places at a recent retrospective of Lynch’s artwork in Paris, and Lynch and Chion discuss many of the pieces on display. I found this exhibition to be one of the most pleasurable artistic experiences of my life (read my own review of the exhibition HERE, so I expect that Lynch and Chion’s discussions will prove valuable for those who were unable to attend it.

However – in the end – the Region 1 Absurdia/Rhino release (with its 90 minutes of deleted scenes, and inclusion of the short film ‘The Ballerina’) offers a far more complete and interesting selection of extras, making it the preferred choice for Lynch enthusiasts.

 - Pete Hoskin

****

ON THE ABSURDA / RHINO DVD: I suppose there must be a certain amount of artistic leeway for digital video but  regardless in comparison to most new stuff we review on DVDBeaver - this looks like crap. Certainly I'll wager it was this way theatrically and I have no doubt the dual-layered DVD faithfully is representing the finished product. Mini-cam Digital Video has definite benefits for direction and production but has a long way to go to equal the cleanliness and sharpness of, say, 35mm. Regardless the DVD is progressive and offers optional French subtitles (in both standard and widescreen versions). It sounds a bit better than it looks and purports a realistic 'feel' - that again was, most likely, intentional. I watched the film in a 2.0 channel audio option but also offered are a 5.1 'far-field' and 5.1 'near-field' choice. I tested them and they sounded different but not dynamically so and I don't know what to think of the option.

Disc one offers a static screen TV calibration test for brightness, contrast and color. This appears on all Absurda / Rhino DVDs (ex. Eraserhead). There is no chapter menu although the 3 hour film has 40 chapter stops. Disc 2 has a ton of stuff from the 90 minutes of deleted scenes to the Ballerina short (I liked!) to a behind the scenes ad-hoc work called 'Lynch 2' which has a lot of David spouting off in the production process. There is a huge 'Stills Gallery' (that could pass as art in itself), trailers and even a segment of Lynch cooking Quinoa (a green leafy vegetable - edible cereal seeds - found in the Andean region of South America).

Lynch's uncompromising film is pure art - in its most intense definition. This will appeal to some and distance many. This appears to have been made for a very narrow grouping as well, partially, for his fan base as there appears to be so much of what is David Lynch, and his past work, in the film. In fact many could go on to say both the film and the entire DVD are totally ego-driven works of expression. So be it. If it is entertainment one can only judge it on a personal basis.  I'm sure it will divide many audiences from disgust to, as Manohla Dargis of The New York Times states, 'Inland Empire” isn’t a film to love. It is a work to admire, to puzzle through, to wrestle with'. 

Gary W. Tooze

 

 



DVD Menus

 

(Absurdia / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Disc 2


(Absurdia / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

 

 
 

Subtitle Samples (standard and widescreen - French only optional on Region 1)

 

 


 

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

 

Screen Captures

 

 

1) Absurdia / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Optimum Releasing - Region B - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Absurdia / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Optimum Releasing - Region B - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Absurdia / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Optimum Releasing - Region B - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Absurdia / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Optimum Releasing - Region B - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Absurdia / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Optimum Releasing - Region B - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Absurdia/Rhino

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Absurda / Rhino - Region 1 - NTSC Optimum Releasing
Region 2 - PAL
Optimum Releasing
Region B -
Blu-ray




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!