H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Two Lovers [Blu-ray]


(James Gray, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: 2929 Productions

Video: Magnolia Home Entertainment



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

Runtime: 1:50:07.434

Disc Size: 24,040,705,107 bytes

Feature Size: 20,596,672,512 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.12 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 30th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2125 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2125 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps



English (SDH), Spanish, none



Commentary by director/co-writer James Gray

Behind the Scenes (7:04)

• Three Deleted Scenes (9:22)

HDNet Look at Two Lovers (4:33)

• Magnolia Trailers





Description: Leonard, a charismatic but troubled young man, moves back into his childhood home following a recent heartbreak. While recovering under the watchful eye of his parents, Leonard meets two women in quick succession: Michelle, a mysterious and beautiful neighbor who is exotic and out-of-place in Leonard's staid world, and Sandra, the lovely and caring daughter of a businessman who is buying out his family's dry-cleaning business. Leonard becomes deeply infatuated by Michelle, who seems poised to fall for him, but is having a self-destructive affair with a married man. At the same time, mounting pressure from his family pushes him towards committing to Sandra. Leonard is forced to make an impossible decision - between the impetuousness of desire and the comfort of love - or risk falling back into the darkness that nearly killed him.



The Film:

Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) is focused on his inner demons. His fiancee left him -- dumped him --and he has moved back to his childhood room, still with the "2001" poster on the wall. He makes customer deliveries for his dad's dry cleaning business. Sandra (Vinessa Shaw) is the daughter of another of another dry cleaner, in the same Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn. Her father plans to buy his father's business, and both families think it would be ideal if Sandra and Leonard married.

But Leonard meets Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) and is struck by the lightning bolt. She's blond, exciting, and in his eyes, sophisticated and glamorous. She seems to like him, too. So a triangle exists that might seem to be the makings of a traditional rom-com from years ago. James Gray's "Two Lovers" is anything but traditional, romantic or a comedy. It is a film of unusual perception, played at perfect pitch by Phoenix, Shaw, Paltrow and the other actors. It is calm and mature. It understands these characters. It doesn't juggle them for melodrama, but looks inside.

Excerpt from Rogerr Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE



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

Something about this film, and many Magnolia Blu-ray releases, that I really like. The effort is of moderate visual quality - superior to DVD and seems to support the film well enough. Dark scenes are heavily grainy and also show some noise, but I like the textured look. Contrast is above-average and colors don't leap off the screen in artificial brilliance. Two Lovers has a pragmatic appearance that is just fine in 1080P. It's never pristinely glossy or demo material but exports a consistent adequacy that makes for an enjoyable presentation. Expectantly the transfer is spotlessly clean. I was pleased with the single-layered presentation on Blu-ray.















Audio :

We get a highly under-utilized DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 2125 kbps. The film never tests the audio depth or range and seems quite flawless for the less than dynamic, dialogue-driven film. Aside from some wonderful Opera - there isn't much music in the film - which is very suitable for Two Lovers narrative. Everything sounds adequate - clear and crisp and there are optional English or Spanish subtitles available. My Momitsu tells me this disc is indeed region FREE! 




Extras :

I listen to a lot of commentaries and for one reason or another wasn't expecting a lot from this one but I was happy mistaken. James Gray was able to impart informative detail on production at all levels that only a director and co-writer would be privy to. He related his personal stance on the performers (ex. Joaquin's humor, Paltrow's preciseness) and how he gained conceptually in one scene from Kieslowski's A Short Film About Love. He was intelligent and great to listen to. There is also a standard 'Behind the Scenes' running 7-minutes with further input from Gray and other principles. We get three deleted scenes with a director statement preceding them running 9.5 minutes, a brief HDNet Look at Two Lovers for less than 5 and another crop of Magnolia trailers and previews. Pretty good overall with the commentary being the most appreciated.



What a pleasant surprise this film was - great performances with a unique story that never lets onto the direction that it was heading. The Blu-ray is a fabulous way to see Two Lovers, although it would never be considered reference for your home theater.  Magnolia and director Gray have put some effort into this with some useful extras. I doubt we're going to see this looking or sounding any better and I give a healthy recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

June 24th, 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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