H D - S E L E C T

A view on HD DVDs by Yunda Eddie Feng

 

Introduction: Hello, Beaver readers! I became a serious cineophile in 1994 when I saw Schindler's List on my birthday. I realized that movies weren't just for fun--they could be serious art, too (even mainstream popcorn flicks if they're made with skill). Although I have a BA in English, I went to grad school for an MA in Film Studies. There, I met my mentor Dr. Warren Buckland, who shares my interest in Steven Spielberg's artistry (Spielberg and art aren't mutually exclusive). I helped edit Dr. Buckland's book Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. I also contributed a chapter to Dr. Buckland's forthcoming anthology of essays about "complex storytelling" movies--movies that avoid classical linear storylines in favor of temporal disruptions, unreliable narrators, metatheatrical/"self-aware" references, etc.

Eddie's Home Theatre:
Sharp 30-inch LCD TV (1280x768 resolution)
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player
Oppo OPDV971H SD-DVD player
Pioneer 7.1 DD/DTS receiver
Harmon Kardon speakers (5.1)

(I'm using the HD-A2's optical audio connection to obtain DTS 5.1 downmixes.)

Yunda Eddie Feng

 

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Talk to Me - HD DVD and Combo SD (flip side)

(Kasi Lemmons, 2007)

 

Universal (USA)

2.35:1 1080p

119 minutes

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, DD Plus 5.1 English

Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French, none

Extras: Who Is Petey Greene?; Recreating P-Town; Deleted Scenes

Released: October 30th, 2007

HD DVD case

20 Chapters

 

Talk to Me starts out broad and schematic only to surprise you with its subtlety as it unfolds.  Conveying the passage of time through the usual shorthand of clothes, hairstyles and vintage pop music, the movie nonetheless steers clear of the usual biopic conventions.  Petey may be the charismatic, self-destructive center of attention--and Mr. Cheadle is as engaging and resourceful as ever--but the drama resides in his sometimes volatile, always closely observed partnership with Dewey.  “You say the things I’m afraid to say,” Dewey remarks, “and I do the things you’re afraid to do.”  While Petey brushes this off as greeting-card hooey, Talk to Me explores the idea of their symbiosis in a nuanced and insightful manner.

 

 

 

As soon as he takes the microphone as a morning disc jockey, Petey connects with his listeners, and his breakthrough moment comes when he helps to calm the city’s streets after the rioting that followed the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Dewey, who becomes Petey’s manager, pushes his friend and client toward ever bigger stardom.

 

His ambition causes a rift between them, and their relationship captures a basic tension within African-American popular culture.  Dewey, you might say, is eager to cross over, a desire represented by his dream of seeing Petey on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Petey, for his part, is uncomfortable straying too far from the local public that sustains him.  His mantra is “Keep it real.”

 

But to quote a song that appears in two versions on this movie’s superb soundtrack, compared to what?  The sentimental way to tell the story would be to sneer at Dewey while painting Petey as an uncompromising hero.  The filmmakers and the actors, thankfully, are too smart and too honest to go that route.  While they pay homage to Petey’s militant, confrontational stance and to his hometown loyalty, they also respect Dewey’s discipline and his drive toward self-improvement.  To its great credit, Talk to Me doesn’t ask the audience to choose a side, but rather invites us to appreciate the strengths and limitations of both men.

 

Excerpt from A.O. Scott's review at The New York Times HERE

 

Video:

Talk to Me arrives on HD DVD in 2.35:1 1080p.  Except for some outdoors daytime shots, this is a mostly dark transfer.  However, there’s a difference between dark and dim, and this is far from the latter as you can always see fine object delineation.  Sharpness is exceptional for a low-budget film.

 

 

 

 

 

Audio:

With a dialogue-driven movie such as this one, a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless track probably doesn’t take up much more space than the expected DD Plus 5.1 track.  Therefore, Universal saw fit to grant Talk to Me two primary English mixes.  Pundits will tell you that they can hear the difference, but to my ears, the TrueHD and DD Plus tracks are basically identical.  There is a lot of music, but much of it is front-loaded.  The rears have some music chores, but the movie is understandably light on ambient and effects pyrotechnics.

 

Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

 

 

 

Extras:

In “Who Is Petey Greene?”, members of the cast and crew reminisce about their reactions to the tumult of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  Of course, Petey Greene figures into the discussion because he was a broadcast activist.

 

“Recreating P-Town” shows how a budget-challenged production managed to evoke the 1970s without becoming a fashion show.  Oftentimes, making do with less is best.

 

Finally, there are some decent “Deleted Scenes”.

 

 

--SD DVD side--

The SD DVD side is basically the same as the HD DVD side with reduced technical specs and a few previews for other movies.

 

--Miscellaneous--

An insert advertises other Universal HD DVDs.

 

Starting with this review and the one for Pride & Prejudice, I will no longer list My Scenes as an Extra on Universal’s HD DVDs.  After all, this is practically an HD-DVD standard offered by Paramount, Universal, and Warner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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