H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


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)

Runtime: 1:27:05.720

Disc Size: 16,564,373,442 bytes

Feature Size: 14,655,252,480 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.27 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 14th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

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



• 4 Trailers (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.



The Film:

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



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

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.















Audio :

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!



Extras :

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.



I enjoyed the diversity of style by, first time director, Mark Webber's and there are some wonderfully framed shots in the film but purchasers should be aware of the 'preachy' quality that ensues. Rosario Dawson is only briefly in Explicit Ills despite her marquee billing. I am curious enough to view this again fairly soon - which is a positive sign. The Blu-ray is only adequate with no viable extras and an acceptable image - so the value ratio may encourage waiting for it to be listed around $15 although the film is definitely an interesting attempt and has an impacting effect.


Gary Tooze

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 HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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