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

Stuck [Blu-ray]


(Stuart Gordon, 2007)






Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Image, ThinkFilm, Amicus & Prodigy

Blu-ray: Image Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 85 minu


Size: 25 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: October 14th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC



English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio; English DD 5.1 Surround



English SDH & Spanish (feature film only)



• Commentary by Director Stuart Gordon, Writer John Strysik, and Actress Mena Suvari.

• Featurette: Ripped from the Headlines (17:09)

• Featurette: The Gory Details (9:28)

• Featurette: Driving Forces (8:02)

• Interviews and Footage from the AFI Dallas International Film Festival (24:53)

• Theatrical Trailer in HD



The Movie: 7
Stuck stars Mena Suvari (American Beauty) as Brandi, an overworked, but dedicated nursing aide in a convalescent home. Come the weekend, Brandi parties with her favorite co-conspirators: Ecstasy & Booze. Throw in a little sex with her supplier, Rashid (Russell Hornsby), and life's just about complete. Now if she could only get that promotion she thinks she's promised (fat chance!). Then there's Stephen Rae (The Crying Game), the man of a thousand dogfaces, as Thomas Bardo. Thomas is homeless, and not too good at it, I fear.

The paths of Brandi and Thomas cross fatefully one Friday night when Brandi smashes into poor semi-conscious Thomas as he crosses the street. Her car hits him in just such a way so that he goes through her windshield, where he remains lodged – half in, half out - as she drives around town trying not to figure out what to do. Despite blood everywhere, Thomas is not dead – yet. . . . which, quite naturally, drives Brandi crazy. Some more Ecstasy and sex, and a couple days later, things haven't changed much with Thomas, whose constant pleas for help only serve to drive Brandi further up the wall. Can the ultimate solution be far away?

I first encountered this story as an episode on CSI (Anatomy of a Lye, May 2002) that I gather made its way onto Law & Order as well. So vivid was the segment of CSI that I recognized it at once even though many of the details are different in the movie. Director Gordon and writer John Strysik derived their screenplay from the original Ft. Worth incident in 2001, which is detailed in the accompanying featurettes Ripped from the Headlines and Driving Forces.

As the story moved along, the film felt increasingly like a black comedy/horror film in the mold of Blood Simple. I delighted in the title, not only as it applied to Tom, but especially to Brandi and Rashid as well. My only complaints are a tendency to rely on cliché for the portrayal of management types that's at odds with the film's rather unflinching look at personal behavior; and, that in presenting Brandi as a sympathetic person to begin with, we are left with only the drugs and alcohol to explain her behavior after the accident. This makes her motivation less interesting – thus the horror movie that follows. I think the filmmakers believe that Brandi's behavior re Tom is a human study of sorts, but I see this differently: once drugs and alcohol are a part of the picture, then it makes behavior murkier.

One further note about the cut of the film used: The iMDB lists the run time as 94 minutes. The Blu-ray cover indicates 85 minutes. Indeed, checking with my disc log, 85 minutes it is. I didn’t feel anything was missing while watching it – but a 10% cut of a short movie to begin with – makes you wonder.


NOTE (ed.): From Amazon: "Imagine my disappointment upon finding out that this long-awaited DVD is just an 85-minute ABRIDGED version of the glorious 94-minute version I saw with an enthusiastic crowd as part of the "Midnight Madness" programme of the 2007 Toronto Film Fest. "



Image: 6/8
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 appears to be derived from a source that, while clean, is not of A-movie stock. But I don't feel that his movie, which feels more like "B" than "A" anyhow is hurt by it. All the same the deep shadows, of which there are lots, especially in the garage and the streets at night, are clear of noise. In fact, there is not all that much difference compared to the DVD. The DVD is about as artifact-free as any DVD these days: no noise, little or no edge enhancement. The blu-ray is more luminous and has better color, but not much better. Bit rates tend to the upper teens.











Audio & Music: 7/6
Besides the excellent recreation of nightclub ambiance and music for that one scene, Stuck is not big on surround effects. I toggled back and forth between the DD5.1 and uncompressed DTS track to hear what was gained: Subtle noises like in the garage, the music track, the dialogue to some extent: all these are much clearer and open up the soundstage considerably. Perhaps the best scene that demonstrates this is the nightclub scene with its music, customer noises, and dialogue: It's alive and palpable.


Operations: 7
Quick-loading. Easy to understand and navigate the rather unremarkable menus. I missed subtitles for the rap music, especially at the beginning of the movie. It seemed to be telling me something, but I couldn't say what. Say what?




Extras: 5
The DVD is being released by Image simultaneously with the Blu-ray. Curiously the SD-DVD has no extra features except the trailer. In the running commentary, director Stuart Gordon, writer John Strysik, and Mena Suvari reminisce about the making of the film, once again review the original true story, talk about how they approached various scenes, and pay homage to Lionel Mark Smith. Smith plays Sam, the homeless man who offers Tom a drink and a cart, died only a short while before the commentary was recorded. "Ripped from the Headlines" and "Driving Forces" visit behind the scenes and news footage of the incident the film is based on, tend to repeat a good deal of information. Pick either one. In The Gory Details we learn more about special effects and makeup, highlighting the crash into the windshield. The interviewer at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival is prettier than she is prepared. Even so, Rae and Gordon have a few things to say about their film. All the featurettes are 480p.



Bottom line: 8
A fascinating film. Definitely worth a looksee. While there isn't a great deal to recommend the Blu-ray over the DVD in terms of image, the uncompressed audio and the extra features make it the one to have.

Leonard Norwitz
October 10th, 2008







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