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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Whatever Works [Blu-ray]


(Woody Allen, 2009)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Sony Pictures Classics

Video: Sony Pictures / Maple Pictures (Canada)



Region: US Edition is Region FREE! and the Canadian disc is region 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:31:26.047

Disc Size: 18,035,371,975 bytes

Feature Size: 17,853,075,456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.99 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 27th, 2009 / November 3rd, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: US disc is 1080P / 23.976 fps - Canadian is 1080i / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



The US disc is DTS-HD Master Audio English 2478 kbps 5.1

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2286 kbps 3.0


English on US - Canadian has none



US has 2 HD Trailers and is BD-LIVE enabled

Canadian has none





Description: After the failure of his career, his marriage, and his suicide attempt, world-class grouch Boris Yellnikoff, spends his days insulting the small children unfortunate enough to study chess with him and irritating his still-loyal friends with his never-ending tirades about the worthlessness of absolutely everything. A former Columbia Professor and self-proclaimed genius who came close to winning a Nobel Prize for Quantum Mechanics, Boris fancies himself the only one who fully comprehends the meaningless of all human aspirations, and the pitch-black chaos of the universe. As he readily admits, Boris is not a "feel-good person".



The Film:

Woody Allen said in “Manhattan” that Groucho Marx was first on his list of reasons to keep on living. His new film, “Whatever Works,” opens with Groucho singing “Hello, I Must Be Going” from “Animal Crackers.” It serves as the movie’s theme song, summarizing in five words the world view of his hero, Boris Yellnikoff.

Yellnikoff, played with perfect pitch by Larry David, is a nuclear physicist who was once almost nominated for a Nobel Prize, a statement so many of us could make. His field was quantum mechanics, where string theory can be described in the same five words. He’s retired now, divorced from a rich wife who was so perfect for him he couldn’t stand it. He lives in a walk-up in Chinatown and works part-time as a chess instructor to little “inchworms,” who he hits over their heads with the board.

Mostly what he does is hang out at a table in a coffee shop and kvetch with old pals. These scenes seemed perfectly familiar to me because of my long honorary membership in a group centering around Dusty Cohl at the Coffee Mill in Toronto. Boris doesn’t talk with his friends, he lectures them. His speeches spring from the Jewish love of paradox; essentially, life is so fascinating, he can’t take it any longer.

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



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

I've considered writing much of this is information in an article. Canadian manufacturers Alliance, TVA and Maple (whose name is on the spine of one of these disc packages) are the worst producers of Blu-rays in the entire world. There are multiple examples I can give for their interlacing, incorrect aspect ratios and sloppy transfers that are disrespectful to the films they are releasing. This was true in DVD and it is now true in high-definition. I'm only thankful that their output is minimal.


The US edition of Whatever Works in hi-def is different from the Canadian edition - released one week later - in a few ways. Firstly, the Canuck Blu-ray is interlaced - where the American one is progressive. This makes the US Sony edition better in the image department although there is little difference in the image captures that do not exhibit the combing artifact - so I won't be including in direct comparisons. This is most notable, though, in motion. Otherwise both editions are fairly unremarkable in regards to image quality - both are single-layered and decent detail is exhibited with a fine sheen of nominal grain. 




Combing from the 1080i (interlacing) Maple Edition















Audio :

Being a solely dialogue driven film the audio differences are negligible - both being lossless - but the US sporting a 5.1 track (with minimal separation anyway) and the Canadian being 3.0 - Allen often favoring these less-used 3 channel track choices. What is unusual is that the Sony release is region FREE and the Canadian one is Region 'A'-locked - as verified by my Momitsu.



Extras :

Nothing on the US disc but two HD trailers and it is BD-LIVE enabled. Nothing at all on the Canadian. That's all folks. Menus on both disc are similar but not exactly the same.



I suppose there is some legal reason that these different editions exist. But both being accessible via the apposing country's Amazons - I'd like to encourage Canadians to support the American transfer which is superior and offers a moderately better package - including a more reasonable price! Yes, the Maple edition has the gall to charge more for their inferior Blu-ray! It's a run-in-the-mill Allen effort - which makes it better than most new comedies that come out. So, while we like the film notably performances by Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood and Patricia Clarkson - even the Sony package seems vacant and priced a shade exorbitantly for what it is offering. 

Gary Tooze

October 29th, 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 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 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:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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