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 Longshots [Blu-ray]

 

(Fred Durst, 2008)

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Dimension Films

Blu-ray: Genius Products/Dimension Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 95 minu

Chapters: 20

Size: 25 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: December 2, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC

 

Audio:

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English SDH & Spanish (feature film). Burned-in English on Documentary

 

Extras:

• Making The Longshots (8:06)

• A Conversation with the Director (7:27)

• A Conversation with Ice Cube (5:30)

• Jasmine Plummer: The Real Longshot (6:45)

• Deleted Scenes (19:24)

• Theatrical Trailer in HD

 

 

The Film: 5
The publicity sheet that came with my review copy declares: “The new coach has a secret weapon in the hilarious and heartwarming comedy The Longshots.” Say, what!: “Secret,” “hilarious,” and “comedy” are hardly the terms that occur to me as I mull over the movie I just watched on Blu-ray. Good thing, I thought, I hadn’t read the promo before I watched the movie.

The whole point of what little dramatic tension exists in this family-friendly film about a true-life hero (make that: a pair of heroes) rests with there being no “secret” about Jasmine's gender - except insofar as it might put the opposition off stride as to her capabilities. And while the movie has its smiles, it is no comedy, and never remotely approaches laugh out loud proportions - unless you find it funny when one person who makes fun of another is shown up. I don't. I feel that kids who tease other kids deserve their comeuppance, and if that can be done with style and class and without deliberately setting out to making fools of them in return, so much the better. In this The Longshots succeeds admirably. Heartwarming, justice served, right on, baby - yes. But, funny - uh-uh.

So, let’s travel back in time a mere five years to Minden, a small town in Illinois. Jasmine Plummer is a high schooler - the real Jasmine was eleven, the actress (Keke Palmer) and her character is about 15, which made for more crunching football – she's isolated and teased for the usual lame-brained reasons by her classmates. Her single mom enlists her downandouter brother in law to look after Jasmine after school until she gets home late from her new job. Curtis warms up to the task and to his niece slowly (and vice-versa), but sees her natural potential as a football player and encourages Jasmine to try out for the local team - an idea that appeals to practically no one for obvious reasons.

The title turns out to be one of the more subtle aspects to this movie: it applies not only to Jasmine, but to her uncle, the team Jasmine joins and the whole town which is in the throws of a local depression caused by a factory closing. The problem with this movie, for all its good intentions, is its utter lack of tension. Every obstacle is easily and handily overcome; even the football games are over in maybe three plays; and every character that is introduced outside of Jasmine and Curtis take a seat on the sidelines to watch how the movie comes out. By the way, Curtis, there's more to being a quarterback than passing!

 


 

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.

This is a curious image: it's sharp enough – with bit rates in the mid 30s - but so devoid of character that it's a chore to make anything of it. Perhaps my bias against desaturation as a style, except in the most unusual instances (Butch Cassidy being one), played a role. I couldn't fathom the sense of it, any more than the use of a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I assume the lack of color was supposed to underscore the depression of the entire town – but what happens when their hearts start beating again? Nothing! The picture remains as gray as ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 6/6
The Longshots is pretty much a front-directed movie. There's an attempt to involve the surrounds during the games, but this isn't We Are Marshall and never aspires to be. 

 

Operations: 8
Clear instructions, easy to use.

 

 

 

Extras: 4
There are some self-congratulatory featurettes, all in watchable standard definition. I was interested in how Keke, who really impressed me no end, approached her part and the backstory of the "real" Jasmine Plummer, who is on camera for much of the 6:45 minute extra, but we never see her throw a football.
 

 

 

Bottom line: 5
This movie means well and the performance by its leading lady, Keke Palmer, is compelling, perhaps even inspiring, especially given the material and the fact that she never played football before. But the movie lacks drive. The coach has a big scene about the game being about the team, but it turns out that Jasmine's deadbeat dad has a more important role to play. Everyone in this movie is always protesting about having or not having heart, but having heart really isn't enough.

Leonard Norwitz
December 1st, 2008

 

 

 

 





 

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