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Powder Blue [Blu-ray]
(Timothy Linh Bui, 2009)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Grosvenor Park Media
Video: Image Entertainment
Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 16,688,338,848 bytes
Feature Size: 15,211,837,440 bytes
Average Bitrate: 19.10 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: May 26th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.4:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2016 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2016 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 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), Spanish, none
with director Timothy Linh Bui and Producer Trace Stanley• Making of... featurette (17:03 in SD)
Photo Gallery• Trailer
Description: On the gritty streets of LA, the destinies of four people desperate for connection and redemption are about to collide. Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker and Eddie Redmayne lead a top-notch cast in this powerful thriller about an overwhelmed erotic dancer, a grieving husband who has lost his will to live, a terminally ill ex-con and a pathologically shy mortician. With Kris Kristofferson, Lisa Kudrow and Patrick Swayze in unforgettable supporting roles, this film movingly chronicles the imperfect lives of people teetering on the edge of despair and the miracles that bring them back.
I felt compelled to write about Powder Blue as it game me a shade of Déjà vu for Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia. Another piece of cinema garnering divergent love/hate responses. While many critics seem to have panned with authority, Timothy Linh Bui written and directed offering, much of the general public seem less dismissive and some are even quite enamored. The film's heavy and obvious melodrama - almost reminiscent of the golden-age of Hollywood - will allow jaded viewers, who are unwilling to bend around its irrational conventions, the excuse to openly dismiss the film's objectivity. Some have become over-exposed to films with the prospect of another set of divergent characters who are depressed, withdrawn, lonely and who are markedly distinct in quality or character. Obviously they must intertwine and their bonding brings about revelation... maybe even happiness. And what is so wrong with that? Well, nothing really. About 1 hour into Powder Blue there is a scene that separates itself from the humorless narrative - bordering on absurdity. But it's so pleasurable and well-executed I found it very easy to give myself over to the rest of the, less plausible, dramaturgy. Yes, I swallowed this hook, line and sinker. I had such a ball and no one else can take that away from me. I can only state that I honestly enjoyed this film immensely - such am I, the digital geek with no taste.
Powder Blue's image at 1080P is thick with grain and noise. At times it's like watching through a screen door or a consistently placed swarm of insects. It is single-layered taking up only 16.5 Gig of space and the feature is rendered to a very modest 15. The bitrate is less than 20 Mbps. So while there are no awards for the fullness of the transfer - I was content with the way it presented the film. Frankly, I loved the heavy texture. Detail in close-ups is stronger than one might expect with the technicals while backgrounds are consistently muddy. There is no smoothness or glossiness that some appreciate on Blu-ray. It's replaced with a gritty, realism and sometimes noisy, visual 'look'. Colors seem very true but nothing pops off the screen although the image does exhibit some surprising depth at times. This appears to be one time where a 'lesser' technical transfer doesn't necessarily hinder the viewing experience. It certainly didn't for me.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
It's a modest DTS-HD offering at 2000 kpbs. The track has minor gunplay and limited effect noises but it all sounded quite competent if not dynamically separated. Bass has a few notable moments and the track appears to do its job with emphasis on the center and fronts. There are optional subtitles in English and Spanish. My Momitsu tells me this is region-locked to 'A'.
The commentary (duplicated on the DVD) seems kind of unprepared with many off-the-cuff glad-handing quips from both director Timothy Linh Bui and Producer Trace Stanley. I did get something out of it, but Criterion this is not, and there is also a 17-minute Making of... featurette with cast and crew (Whitaker - also a producer on the film, Biel, Redmayne etc.) giving soundbites around specific topics including production and character development. Image Entertainment have included a trailer and the superfluous stills gallery.
May 14th, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player
Gary W. Tooze