Explicit Ills [Blu-ray]
(Mark Webber, 2008)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Phase 4 Films
Video: Peace Arch Home Entertainment
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 16,564,373,442 bytes
Feature Size: 14,655,252,480 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.27 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 14th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1878 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1878 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English, Spanish, none
• 4Trailers (3 in HD)
• 'Get Involved' text screens
Description: In the streets of North Philadelphia, the lives of strangers intersect in a bold and moving semi-autobiographical tale that crosscuts between the many people who struggle in the face of poverty, drugs and the human connection.
For much of its 87 minutes, “Explicit Ills,” an episodic movie about a number of Philadelphians living, working and often struggling in the same neighborhood, appears to move from life to life without particular reason. Its first-time writer and director, Mark Webber, doesn’t immediately reveal the story’s structure or his intentions: he simply places you among some dozen characters — children and young adults of different colors and with differing economic contexts — without introduction. A young boy buys a soda in one scene, an older boy explains the benefits of a vegan diet in another; one man sells pot while another sells colonics.
These are a few of the souls finding and losing themselves in a neighborhood in uneasy transition alongside a bohemian wife (Naomie Harris) who steals puffs off blunts in between yoga poses and a poor mother (Rosario Dawson) trying to care for her asthmatic son. In time, themes (financial distress, self-medication, existential isolation) emerge from their lives, and seemingly casual moments begin to take larger shape, much as the dots in a pointillist painting do as you step back from the canvas. Though some of his visual choices can seem arbitrary (the long shots tend to feel more like art-cinema tics than formally organic), Mr. Webber, working with the talented cinematographer Patrice Lucien Cochet, persuasively transforms a group of portraits into a group portrait.Excerpt from Manhola Dargis at the NY Times located HERE
Despite the meager technical transfer statistics, with the feature taking up less than 15 Gig of the single-layered Blu-ray disc, the image quality on Explicit Ills is quite acceptable. Certain color sequences are, intentionally, overly brilliant - detail is respectable if not stellar and grain is present. I didn't notice any blockiness or intrusive artifacts. I'd say this Blu-ray transfer supports the film adequately if keeping a 'Wow' factor in check.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
It's a fairly untested DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 1878 kbps. There isn't much in the audio is export dramatic separations or bass response (beyond a bit of music). There are optional English and Spanish subtitles and my Momitsu tells me this release is region FREE!
There are 4 trailers of Peace Arch releases - 3 of which are in HD including one for the feature film. There are a few text screen under 'Get Involved' about the 'Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign Outreach' but nothing more.
July 8th, 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
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Gary W. Tooze