H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Surveillance [Blu-ray]


(Jennifer Lynch, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Magnet Releasing

Video: Magnolia Home Entertainment



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

Runtime: 1:37:30.845

Disc Size: 23,231,203,815 bytes

Feature Size: 20,288,839,680 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.13 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 18th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3840 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3840 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English, Spanish, none



Surveillance: The Watched Are Watching (15:11)

Commentary  by Jennifer Lynch, Mac Miller and Charles Newmark

• Two Deleted Scenes and one Alt-Ending - all with optional commentary by Lynch Miller and Newmark (12:10 in 1.78)

• HDNet: A Look At Surveillance (4:41)

Previews and HDNet advert





Description: It’s been a hell of a day on the highway. When Federal Officers Elizabeth Anderson (Julia Ormond) and Sam Hallaway (Bill Pullman) arrive at Captain Billing's office, they have three sets of stories to figure out and a string of vicious murders to consider. One zealot cop, a strung out junkie and an eight year old girl all sit in testimony to the roadside rampage, but as the Feds begin to expose the fragile little details each witness conceals so carefully with a well practiced lie, they soon discover that uncovering 'the truth' can come at a very big cost...



The Film:

It’s impossible to know whether Ms. Lynch was having her playful way with the interviewer or not. Whatever the case, to judge from the evidence of both of her features, she remains committed to literalizing this unorthodox view of love, except that now she’s also drenching her (presumed) metaphor in gore. In “Surveillance,” which opens with a scene of a couple being slashed in their bed, she might still be entertaining modest artistic pretensions. But she’s now as in thrall to clever images of death and seeping, gushing, spurting blood as anyone in vivisectionist cinema. Mostly, though, she seems to want to shock you, which, given her father’s brilliant way of drilling your head and body with art, comes off as depressing.

If it seems unfair to compare her with her father, Ms. Lynch, much like Sofia Coppola, makes it easy. Once again, she hasn’t just cast actors, here Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond, who have worked with her father; she has borrowed ideas and visual motifs from his surrealistic storehouse and done her best to imitate his off-beat timing and uneasy humor. Credited as an executive producer, Mr. Lynch even sings the movie’s creepy closing song. It’s hard not to wonder if he helped her with her school projects when she was young, perhaps by making a severed ear out of papier-mâché or dioramas with angry dogs. He has not done her any favors here, however, because all of her images invite unflattering comparison to his.

Excerpt from Manhola Dargis at the New York Times located HERE



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

Surveillance appears less detailed than what one might tend to expect on Blu-ray. It's gritty, especially the flashback sequences where colors are heightened. The non-glossy image quality shows some minor grain although noise is also apparent. Daylight scenes and close-ups can appear more impressive and at least one of the barren vistas with glorious open sky were downright 'wow'.  This is only single-layered with a low-ish bitrate but seems un-manipulated and I wouldn't be surprised if it looked similar theatrically.

















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a healthy 3840 kbps exhibits strength and the track shows some definite aggression with distinctive gunshots exporting cutting loud bass. I didn't find the separation factor overwhelming and Todd Bryanton's original score was similarly discreet. This may be his only work beyond TV. There is a certain depth and crispness when called upon but it's not a demo track. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

The commentary with director Jennifer Lynch, Mac Miller (Johnny) and Charles Newmark (Officer Wright) has a lot of fun, laughing, clowning and 'woohoo'ing'. It imparts some information but they sound perhaps a little inebriated or rather just high on each other's company. It can get occasionally crude and Lynch makes a comment about Julia Ormond's beautiful ass and it kind of goes from there. We get a kind of 'Making of...' featurette entitled Surveillance: The Watched Are Watching with some behind the scenes shots running about 15-minutes. There are 6-minutes of 2 deleted scenes and a 6-minute Alt-ending - all 3 have an optional commentary by Lynch, Miller and Newmark. HDNet offers a 5-minute Look At Surveillance and there are your usual Previews and an additional HDNet advert.



My feelings on Surveillance are not as harsh as some that I have read on the Net. I found it disjointed, but I also felt this was purposeful - perhaps too much so - and it was absolutely a shocking film. I liked the build and the concept but, like a Shyamalan film, once the twist is discovered it - your mind conjures up all the past scenes to test its validity. Pullman and Ormond have the star power to support the validity. Surveillance is not for the squeamish and beyond the graphics - it is still a disturbing humankind profile. I'll just say that I liked it more than most and will revisit it again one day. The Blu-ray is, typical of Magnolia Home Entertainment, a bit below par but supports the film consistently in both audio and video. I doubt we're going to see it looking any better and if you are adventurous and not particularly sensitive to the dark, violent nature - you too, may get something out of it. I think it's unusual for me to like a film like this but, part of me, does. 

Gary Tooze

August 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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