H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 5600 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







Sleepwalking [Blu-ray]

(William Maher, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Starz

Blu-ray: Anchor Bay


Time: 1:41:02, Dual-layered
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

English: Dolby 5.1, PCM 5.1 (uncompressed)

English, Spanish, none


• Featurette: "A Mother's Shame, A Family's Pride: The Making of Sleepwalking" (16:13)

• Trailer

Disc: 50GB Blu-ray Disc

DVD Release Date: July 8th, 2008


Product Description (back of box): Nick Stahl (Sin City), AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia) and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron (Monster) star in Sleepwalking, a moving drama about the deep familial bond that develops between James (Stahl) and his young niece, Tara (Robb) after the girl s mother suddenly leaves town. As old wounds from James own turbulent childhood begin to reopen, he is forced to re-examine his life and, for the first time, discover his true purpose. Directed by William Maher from a screenplay by Zak Stanford (The Chumscrubber), Sleepwalking also stars Academy Award Nominees Dennis Hopper (Hoosiers) and Woody Harrelson (The People Vs. Larry Flynt.) .



The Film: The almost perversely gloomy miserablist drama Sleepwalkers belongs to a strange subset of American independent film about pathetic characters who begin a film with next to nothing, then proceed to lose even that. It's the kind of punishing arthouse fodder where a pair of kicked-around misfits seeking shelter from a cruel world willingly subject themselves to the cartoonish cruelty of a poisonous patriarch, played by Dennis Hopper as the even more transcendently evil identical twin of the arch-villain he played in Blue Velvet. It's just the latest stop in Charlize Theron's ongoing campaign to make the world forget that she is a beautiful woman. Beyond her well-documented ability to look like a bedraggled small-town nobody, it's easy to see what attracted Theron to this role: Every scene in this grungy acting Olympics constitutes a big scene, an actor-friendly opportunity to bare the most painful recesses of the human soul.

Excerpt from Nathan Rabin's review at The A.V. Onion located HERE





Image: NOTE: These captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc. I'll be honest - I didn't find this appearance to be particularly exceptional. The subdued contrast is usually endearing but I found, in this case, it removed detail. It seemed to have a tendency to dampen and homogenize the color palette. I suspect my ambivalence has more to do with how this film was shot and I don't think that is exemplified well in 1080P. I have no doubt it looks superior to the SD edition but how much - I'll wager is not significant enough to consider a purchase. The film itself does not seem to encourage that either. I think it's worth a spin but this is a Blu-ray that will sit on most people shelf, after a single viewing, for perpetuity. I guess from such a modern film I might have had my anticipation fairly high in regards to the image quality. On the positive it looks competent - without a fleck of damage and is fairly consistent - lots of dark scenes though which come through fairly well - without undue noise. Overall it supported none of the brilliance people have come to associate with Blu-ray.      













Audio & Music: A strongly dialogue driven film the 5.1 and PCM tracks do a fair job but there is nothing noteworthy to mention. It probably could have been 2.0 channel without too many challenging the difference. I don't have much to say about the original music by Christopher Young. I didn't find it particularly engaging to the film narrative. There are subtitle options in English and Spanish.




Extras: Skimping on the supplements we have a lone 16 minute featurette entitled "A Mother's Shame, A Family's Pride: The Making of Sleepwalking" which has a lot of behind the scenes material and some sound-bites from cast/crew. It certainly doesn't fulfill the promise of the lengthy title. Aside from that is a trailer




Bottom line: No... most will decide upon the film and it doesn't 'cut the mustard' in my opinion - despite Stahl's fine performance, then the transfer is totally unremarkable (both video and audio), and finally the extras certainly don't make one leap for the purchase button either. So 'no sale' on three fronts - especially at the price offered. I do think some might like to see Sleepwalking - but it's SD rental territory only IMO.   

Gary Tooze
June 27th, 2008






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