L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

 

Introduction: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 [Blu-ray]

 

(Sanaa Hamri, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Warner Bros. Pictures

Blu-ray: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 120 min

Chapters: 26

Size: 25 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: November 18, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1

 

Audio:

Dolby True HD English 5.1; Dolby Digital English, French, Spanish & Portuguese 5.1

 

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish & Portuguese

 

Extras:

• Featurette: Go Jump Off A Cliff (4:22)

• Additional Scenes with Director Commentary (8:39)

• Gag Reel (3:19)

• Digital Copy Disc

 

 

The Film: 6
Four women of different backgrounds (and shapes, near as I can tell) met in college in the first movie and now they are about to head off into their separate odysseys. A single pair of well worn jeans that all of them can fit into is shipped from one to the other to be worn as good luck and a reminder of their sisterhood, something that being caught up in their various dramas can get in the way of.

Lena (Alexis Bledel) is now in Greece where she is attending a funeral, where she sees Kostas (Michael Rady) and learns that he has married. Returning to the States she sleepwalks her way into a drawing glass where she meets a handsome model, Leo (Jesse Williams), while thoughts of Kostas dance in her head. Bridget (Blake Lively) is still reeling from the suicide of her mother. Her relationship with her father is strained further when she finds a fistful of letters from her grandmother that her father hid from her. Bridget flies off to join an archeological dig in Turkey where the real lives behind the skeletons she unearths demands she rethink her family history. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) works in a video store while connecting with the worshipful Brian (Leonardo Lam). After a "malfunction" she worries about the possibility she is pregnant – either way, it stresses their relationship to the breaking point. Carmen (America Ferrara) finds her way to Vermont to crew for a play that another college friend is trying out for – the stuff that jealousies are made of.

It is only right that adolescence be a time where we begin to experiment with independence – college being an extension of that experiment and a place where we learn skills to prepare us to go out into the world. That's the idea, anyhow. Oftentimes, once our dragons are slain and perspective is recalibrated, our going out is ultimately followed by a return. Sometime not. The jeans are a fascinating symbol, as they are expected to be worn and thus make the sisterhood connection all the more viable.

The focus of the current story, taken from the series of novels of the same name by Ann Brashares, is about turning one's back on one's self and finding the way back – something like Odysseus. While the resolutions may be facile, the journeys are not. And while the four principal actresses are up to their respective tasks, they get considerable boosts – two or three of them anyway – by their elders (Blythe Danner, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Rachel Ticotin). It's not accidental that the scenes with mentors and mothers have the most weight, since what these young women are in most need of is reconnection to their pasts in order to move ahead to their futures.

 


 

Image: 7/8
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

The image is pleasant enough – filmlike, rather than crisp. Sharpness seems to be mostly a matter of filtration in the original photography. I was not distracted by artifacts or blemishes. The photography in the Grecian coastal town of Santorini is worth the wait. Bit rates are in the high teens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/8
While there isn't all that much to the surround track - we do get the occasional discrete effect – the thunder and lightning storm that frightens Bridget is powerful, gripping, yet natural. The Dolby True HD mix definitely helps the dialog along.

 

 

 

Operations: 7
While not taking advantage of any motion possibilities within the menu proper, navigation is readily understood. The Features page is less so since it's not easy to see what is being highlighted – a common fault for designers who try to reinvent the wheel with every disc.

 

Extras: 5
The Extra Features for the Blu-ray edition are all in HD, which is nice, especially for both the Go Jump Off A Cliff featurette and the Additional Scenes. Director Sanaa Hamri tells us that these scenes were deleted only to keep the movie to within a reasonable length, yet they do add some substance to the goings-on. It's nice to see them in HD so that we can better imagine them in context. The cliff-jumping extra is a cute little diary about how that episode came to be. Lots of girl-bonding, and the scenery can't be beat. There's no commentary, but Warner did supply a Digital Copy Disc for portability.

 

 

Bottom line: 6
Growing up as a post-graduate is the theme here – that, and the sisterhood of four friends now separated across the globe. Even though there is a journey in common, each story is almost necessarily thinned out, especially their resolutions. At one point Brian tells Tibby, unknowingly quoting Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan: "You need to have a little faith. Not everyone you love is going to leave you." (Woody wrote for a 30+ audience: "Not everyone gets corrupted.") The movie is well-meaning, right thinking and, while thin, the target audience should love it. The difference in list price is small, thus arguing for the Blu-ray, especially with a clearer dialogue track and extra features in HD.

Leonard Norwitz
November 15th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 


 

 





 

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