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In the Electric Mist [Blu-ray]

 

(Bertrand Tavernier, 2008)

 

Image Entertainment (US) vs. High Fliers (UK) vs. TF1 (France) vs. DFW (The Netherlands)

 

     

 
               

 

     

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz - Gary Tooze's comments in green, red and yellow!

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Ithaca Pictures/Little Bear Productions

Video: Image Entertainment (US) vs. High Fliers (UK) vs. TF1 Video  vs. DFW

 

Disc:

Image Entertainment is Region "A"-locked

TF1 and High Fliers are Region 'B'-locked but DFW is region FREE!

(as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

 

Runtime: 1:42:20.300  / 1:42:15.000 / 1:57:04.833 / 1:57:12.025

Disc Size:

18,767,491,084 bytes / 19,582,970,085 bytes /  49,019,958,375 bytes / 24,459,496,480 bytes

Feature Size:

18,399,399,936 bytes / 18,427,889,664 bytes 37,250,949,120 bytes / 23,887,835,136 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps / 22.03 Mbps / 34.978 Mbps / 27.95 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 12 / 12 / 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Standard (thicker) UK case

Blu-ray case inside cardboard box

Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 3rd, 2009 /  February 8th, 2010 / October 7th, 2009 / May 10th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video / MPEG-2 Video / MPEG-4 AVC /  VC-1

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1906 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1906 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1935 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1935 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 2148 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2148 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 885 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 885 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1964 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1964 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 2128 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2128 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

 

 

Subtitles (both):

English SDH, Spanish, none vs. UK edition: none vs. French, none vs. Dutch, French, none

 

Extras:

None

 None

• Making of - (32:14 in HD) - in English with imposed French subtitles

• James Lee Burke - Louisiana Stories (51:49 in HD!) - in English with imposed French subtitles
• Interview with blues guitarist and singer George "Buddy" Guy and director Bertrand Tavernier (34:29 in HD!)
- in English with imposed French subtitles
• Five Deleted Scenes (4:54 in SD)
- in English with imposed French subtitles
• Music (5:08/ 4:36 in SD) - Buddy Guy performing

None

 

Bitrate:

Image Entertainment:

 

 

High Fliers:

 

 

TF1:

 

 

DFW:

 

 

The Film: 6
The movie, which will first see the light of U.S. distribution a week or so before its release on DVD, is based on the novel "In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead" by James Lee Burke - a much better title by the way – makes you wonder why it wasn't used. Bertrand Tavernier's film is beautifully photographed by Bruno de Keyzer and urgently and flavorfully scored (Marco Beltrami). Louisiana locales convey a sense of time standing still. Tommy Lee Jones, echoing a too-familiar role, plays veteran detective Dave Robicheaux, a recovering alcoholic with a penchant for dialogue with a long dead Confederate general (Levon Holm). When the 40-year old remains of a black man, evidently shot while still in chains, are unearthed by Katrina, Robideaux asks if the cultural climate of Reconstruction is still alive in the South.

As one of the narrative themes from In the Heat of the Night dances in our head, Robicheaux sets out on an investigation of a series of grisly murders of young women. In Tavernier's hands, the whodunit aspect of the mystery is not as important as the characters (played by John Goodman, Ned Beatty, Peter Skarsgaard, Buddy Guy and James Gammon, among others) our detective runs across. They may or may not be suspects but I think the idea is that these conversations are supposed to shed light on Robicheaux's initial question. It's all a bit murky and we are surprised by the extent to which he ignores the obvious during his investigation. But, then, this was also Detective Tibb's flaw as well.

 

 

Leslie Felperin writes at Variety:
The product of a reportedly troubled shoot in 2007, pic now exists in two versions: a richer but more sluggish director's edit, running 117 minutes and shown at the Berlinale, will be screened theatrically everywhere in the world apart from the U.S. (Pic has reputedly already sold to some major territories.) Meanwhile, a producer's cut, running a brisker but less-coherent 102 minutes, will be released straight to DVD by Image Entertainment on March 3 in North America.

 

 

 

The tone of each version is quite different, but the essential set-up is the same in both. Set in and around New Iberia, La., screenplay credited to Jerzy Kromolowski and Mary Olson-Kromolowski updates crime writer James Lee Burke's original novel "In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead," written in 1993, to the a post-Katrina present-day. As the community gets on with rebuilding homes and the Mafia gets fatter off post-catastrophe corruption, it's still business as usual for detective Dave Robicheaux (Tommy Lee Jones), a recovering alcoholic given to a little light rule bending and violence when necessary. [LF]

Excerpt of review from Variety located HERE
 

[LN:] I haven't seen the "International" version, but I agree with Felperin's assessment of the movie as released by Image, and especially with the observation about the ending of the U.S. version – Very tacky. Very faux-irony. Very too bad for us.

 

I'll say. I thought this was a great film - Haunting, an elusive plot, great characters. It's hard to address any of Leonard's comments as we were essentially watching different films. I saw the Director's Cut - and he, the 15-minute shorter, 'less coherent', Producer's Cut. Leslie Felperin (above) is probably right on the money indicating that the tone of each film is dramatically different. It was the aura of 'In the Electric Mist' that appealed most to me. I'd give this film experience full marks - I was right into its mysterious development - touching upon the occult, a killer on the loose and the eccentric personas running around exposing more of themselves with each step. I loved it.   

 

 

Image:     NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Do you suppose that imposing DNR on the face of Tommy Lee Jones would count as a mortal sin? This movie offers ample opportunity, but I suspect we are saved. Crags appear intact. Some noise in night scenes and colors appear, unfortunately boosted (very red skin tones). Overall decent looking image for a single layer.

Short take: the UK "High Fliers" (who the hell are they anyway?) sucks. It has a lowly MPEG-2 video transfer with more artifacts... and is the disjointed, shorter, "Producer's Cut" of the film. The TF1 French version has a vastly higher bitrate with the film taking up over double the space on a dual-layered disc. The flatter colors of the French edition suit the film so much better. This is cinema about mood and the falsely exuberant colors of the Image US and UK editions do NOT support the film's deeply entrenched aura.

NOTE: Anyone who knows the car below - it IS red with no orange dimming - ditto for the actor's skin tones!

Flesh tones tell us most of what we need to know. Leonard was accurate in his assessment of the boosting and those very red skin tones aren't sunburns or high blood pressure on Mr. Jones. The Image Entertainment disc has a lower bitrate (approaching half that of the TF1 dual-layered Blu-ray), shows more noise and the colors are dramatically altered from an authentic representation. The French disc just looks a whole lot better with its more passive, and realistic, if paler, contrast and more grain. It ends up being more detailed as well - excepting in the darker lit scenes (that are supposed to be dark!). There may be a touch of edge-enhancement on the French disc.

Okay, DFW (Dutch Film Works) have a region FREE Blu-ray version of the In the Electric Mist available at Amazon France. It is single layered and bare-bones. Importantly, it is the, longer, more cohesive, Director's Cut. The image more closely supports the darker contrast of the TF1 but while not as sharp - it has even cooler skin tones. The TF1 is still better looking with more depth and detail (I still support it's accuracy of the car color) but the DFW is not such a poor compromise - visually speaking. It is encoded VC-1 as opposed to AVC.    

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

NOTE: Some captures could not be exact matches as these are two different cuts of the film (Producer's Cut vs. Director's Cut) with slightly different shots - some not appearing exactly the same way in both.

 

1) Image Entertainment (Region 'A') TOP

2) TF1 (Region 'B') SECOND

3) High Fliers (Region 'B') THIRD

4) DFW (Region FREE) BOTTOM

 

 

Above shot not present in Director's Cut

 

 

1) Image Entertainment (Region 'A') TOP

2) TF1 (Region 'B') SECOND

3) High Fliers (Region 'B') THIRD

4) DFW (Region FREE) BOTTOM

 

 

1) Image Entertainment (Region 'A') TOP

2) TF1 (Region 'B') SECOND

3) High Fliers (Region 'B') THIRD

4) DFW (Region FREE) BOTTOM

 

 

1) Image Entertainment (Region 'A') TOP

2) TF1 (Region 'B') SECOND

3) High Fliers (Region 'B') THIRD

4) DFW (Region FREE) BOTTOM

 

 

1) Image Entertainment (Region 'A') TOP

2) TF1 (Region 'B') SECOND

3) High Fliers (Region 'B') THIRD

4) DFW (Region FREE) BOTTOM

 

1) Image Entertainment (Region 'A') TOP

2) TF1 (Region 'B') SECOND

3) High Fliers (Region 'B') THIRD

4) DFW (Region FREE) BOTTOM

 

 

Above shot not present in Director's Cut

 

 

1) Image Entertainment (Region 'A') TOP

2) TF1 (Region 'B') SECOND

3) High Fliers (Region 'B') THIRD

4) DFW (Region FREE) BOTTOM

 

 

1) Image Entertainment (Region 'A') TOP

2) TF1 (Region 'B') SECOND

3) High Fliers (Region 'B') THIRD

4) DFW (Region FREE) BOTTOM

 

 

 

More screen grabs from the TF1 Blu-ray

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 8/7
This may be a crime story but it is no thriller. Most of what goes on is in the form of dialogues between Tommy Lee and one or two other actors. Sometimes, Jones is heard in voiceover in a somewhat different acoustic (thank you). The dialogue, aided by DTS HD-MA, is clear enough, which is a good thing since several of the characters speak softly or in a local accent. The surrounds are quietly active to enhance atmospherics indoors and out, and are thoroughly engaged for the music score and in those occasional moments where the tough get going. No car chases, by the way, and very few guns fired.

The UK version has no lossless audio and along with the colors is another important facet to the film experience. No subtitles are available either. Sloppy on both counts.

Audio appears to have more parity than the video with both DTS-HD Master 5.1 tracks having around 1900 kbps - but the good news is that the French subtitles are NOT forced when the English lossless audio is chosen. Yes, one can watch the film in the original language with the imposition of subtitles forced upon you. Unfortunately, there is no English option for subtitles but even with the thick Nawlins' accents - they really aren't necessary. Both of these discs are region coded - Image Entertainment for 'A', TF1 for 'B'. Of course, not an issue for those with a region-free Blu-ray player.

There is no difference in the audio between the two DC versions available at Amazon France. The DFW sounds exactly the same with a decent lossless score in original English. There are Dutch and French subtitles available.    

 

 

Extras:

Zip!

Like the Image Entertainment disc is the UK editions is devoid of any supplements.

Where the region A disc offers nothing - the TFI includes quite a lot with everything spoken in English with imposed French subtitles. We get a 1/2 hour Making of with Tavernier, Tommy Lee Jones and the rest of the cast giving sound-bytes on the production. Desirable for many will be, the almost hour long 'James Lee Burke - Louisiana Stories' with the author reflecting on the Dave Robicheaux series and his career where for 14 years he couldn't sell a thing in hardback. There is a 1/2 hour piece with Bertrand Tavernier interviewing blues guitarist and singer George "Buddy" Guy, who plays Sam 'Hogman' Patin in the film. There are Five Deleted Scenes lasting only 5-minutes and some outdoor jam sessions with Buddy Guy performing.

The DFW has no extras at all and only an on-the-fly menu for French or Dutch options, chapters and audio/subs choice.

  

Image Entertainment (Region 'A') LEFT vs. TF1 (Region 'B') RIGHT

 

 
 

 

High Fliers (Region 'B') LEFT vs. DFW (Region FREE) - RIGHT

 

 

Bottom line: 5
This release represents a possible mistake on the part of Image who, for contractual or licensing reasons, may have resisted a BD-50 with the International version on the second layer. In any case, it's too bad we couldn't have both cuts of the movie. This and the lack of extra features and the muddy plotting mitigate an otherwise very good looking picture.

Bottom line: 1

I can find no reason to buy the High Fliers UK Blu-ray version. It is the shorter, disconnected, "Producer's Cut", it has an ineffectual MPEG-2 video transfer, no lossless audio and no subtitles and not one single extra. It's also more expensive than the best option! We strongly suggest indulging in the vastly superior TF1 edition for those locked to Region 'B' or region free-ers. I REALLY like this film in the 15-minute longer director's version (I voted for it in our Year End Poll HERE) and the TF1 A/V suit In the Electric Mist perfectly.

Bottom Line: 8.5

I was very taken with this film and the TF1, Director's Cut, Blu-ray. While I haven't seen the Producer's Cut offered by the Image Entertainment Blu-ray - I suspect as this film walks a fine line that some ham-fisted editing could easily destroy its powerful moods. I think it is one of the better films I have seen this year and the European Blu-ray does a great job with the A/V and has some bountiful extras. North Americans get screwed again with someone trying to decide what the general public 'might prefer' - altering it from the director's preference. For shame. 

Bottom line: 7 - While the DFW losses a full point for lack of extras and 1/2 point for video - it has the advantage of being both region FREE and the Director's Cut! It is also significantly cheaper (less than 50%) than the TF1 at the writing of this review.  For those locked to 'A' this represents an important opportunity to see the film as the director intended - and in 1080P. Recommended!

Leonard Norwitz
February 14th, 2009

Gary Tooze

December 3rd, 2009

April 15th, 2010

December 12th, 2010

 

Image Entertainment (US) vs. TF1 (France) vs. High Fliers (UK) vs. DFW (The Netherlands)

 

     

 
               

 

     

 

About the Reviewer: 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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