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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Zack and Miri Make a Porno [Blu-ray]

 

(Kevin Smith, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: View Askew

Blu-ray: The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: All

Runtime: 101 min

Chapters: 21

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 3, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ about 26 Mbps

 

Audio:

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1. English & French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English SDH & Spanish

 

Extras:

• Popcorn Porn: The Making of Zack and Miri (1:14:48)

• 43 Deleted Scenes (1:35:02)

• 22 Money Shots Webisodes (48:44)

• Comic-Con 2008 (23:09)

• Outtakes, Ad-Libs & Bloopers (13:00)

• Seth vs. Justin: Battle for Improvisational Supremacy (7:24)

 

 

The Film: 6
Have you noticed what power there is in the spoken word? Billy Crystal was simply trying to unhinge Meg Ryan with his now famous sweeping generalization "Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way." His rationalizations were all very clever, but he was doomed to spend the next dozen years defending that position only because he said the words out loud. Zack and Miri have been friends since kindergarten. They are now platonic roommates. They know more about each other's intimate lives than many married couples and, until they decided to make a porno movie just to pay the rent, never took the idea of romance between them seriously.

While Ms. Banks is a passable Meg Ryan, Seth Rogan is no Billy Crystal, so the challenge is getting the audience to take Rogan seriously as Elizabeth's lover. Kevin Smith's workaround is to make the idea so preposterously funny that we won't notice how he works it out – or even if.

 

 

 

Rogan has made a career out of his schelpshlub persona (now: Kevin Smith's alter ego, it would seem) who somehow manages to make it with babes (think: Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up). Zack and Miri, unlike Ben Stone and Alison Scott, seem to be equally matched for raunchy utterances, so the idea that they might give the thought of making a porno is not completely out of the Milky Way.

This they do, and along the way come across an assortment of amusing creatures in cameos or the duration - among them: a gay porn star played by Justin Long in a wonderfully affected basso whom Zack and Miri run into at their 10 –year high school reunion.

 


 

Image: 8/9
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.

Right out of the gate, I give Weinstein credit for containing the contrast of snow and ice of a Midwest winter. A natural grain lurks in the darker scenes, but no noise to speak of. The impulse to make the porno sections of the movie look amateurish is held moderately in check while still looking randomly overexposed and in 4:3. I suspect everything looks on this Blu-ray as intended. Compared to
Clerks II the image looks downright professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/7
Dialogue-driven but with heaping scoops of jukebox and live band music, properly gauged for each venue.

 

Operations: 7
Along with Clerks II this is among the longest loading discs in recent centuries. Beyond that, the menus are sensible, if not especially interesting.

 

Extras: 6
The bonus features are of variable image quality, but all of them are in 16x9/480p except the Deleted Scenes, which are, for some reason that we can all be thankful for, in 1080p though not quite as finished as the final film where they would have figured. With four and a half hours of extra features, you'da thought an extra disc, perhaps – like on
Clerks II. Sorry about that. That said there are a couple of worthies: best of these, or at least the most comprehensive, as "Popcorn Porn" which walks us through the process from concept to finished film, with the usual stops for casting (which you might imagine is a major consideration for such a movie), rehearsals, photography and the MPAA ratings battle: Kevin was contractually obligated to make an R-Rated movie, but with each subsequent cut and submission to the board it came back NC-17. An entire hour and a half of deleted scenes, even in 1080p - a nice touch to be sure, as is the Play All function - certainly let's us in on the editorial thinking process, but you gotta love this stuff or suffer the consequences. I don't find the sort of improvisation we see in the webisodes or the Justin/Seth shootout to be half as funny as the participants seem to. I gather I'm not representative.

 

 

Bottom line: 7
A more polished effort than Kevin Smith's simultaneously released
Clerks II, but for all its daring and foul and explicit language, Zack and Miri is not as wild and crazy as its predecessor, nor do I find its conclusion as convincing. So much for my opinion. But the Blu-ray is superb, and recommended for followers of the View Askew.

Leonard Norwitz
February 3rd, 2009

 

 

 

 

 





 

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