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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


sex, lies and videotape [Blu-ray]


(Steven Soderbergh, 1989)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Outlaw Productions

Video: Sony Pictures



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

Runtime: 1:39:59.994

Disc Size: 33,201,395,680 bytes

Feature Size: 29,131,259,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.73 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 17th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 5120 kbps 5.1 / 96 kHz / 5120 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
DUB: Dolby TrueHD Audio French 1288 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1288 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), English, French, none



• Commentary with Soderbergh and Neil LaBute


20 Years Reunion at the Sundance Film Festival (3:30 in HD!)

Deleted Scene (3:21 in SD 4:3 widescreen) with optional commentary by Soderbergh

Soderbergh on the trailers

Soderbergh on sex, lies and videotape (8:11 in SD)

Trailer (4:3 SD 1:36)

BD-LIVE enabled





Description: With smoldering sensuality and biting humor, the surprising relationship between the three title subjects is revealed in sex, lies, and videotape, the most-talked about erotic comedy of the decade. James Spader (Stargate) ran away with the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his brilliantly understated and seductive performance as Graham, a long-lost college friend who drifts back into town and into the lives of John, a self-involved philanderer, his angelic wife, Ann, and her saucy sister, Cynthia. One by one, each is drawn into the very personal project Graham is working on, leaving the relationships between them forever transformed. A monumental debut effort from first-time feature director Steven Soderbergh, this comic original includes riveting performances by Peter Gallagher (The Player), Andie MacDowell (Michael) and Laura San Giacomo (TV's "Just Shoot Me").



The Film:

As its lowercase title suggests, sex, lies, and videotape is an example of lowercase filmmaking: lean, economical, relatively unpretentious (or at least pretentiously unpretentious), and purposefully small-scale. Its having walked off with the Cannes film festival’s Palme d’Or–making first-time writer-director Steven Soderbergh at 26 the youngest filmmaker ever to win that prize–saddles it with more of a reputation than it can comfortably live up to. In a time of relative drought, it’s certainly a small oasis, but the attention it’s been getting befits something closer to a breakthrough geyser.

All the fuss may be a sign of panic over more than just movies. Sexual repression is reflected in various ways in current pictures, but this is the only one that deals with it forthrightly as its central subject–specifically, as the main preoccupation of its two leading characters–and broaches sexual problems such as impotence and frigidity in the bargain. I haven’t heard such giddy, unnatural-sounding laughter in a movie theater since The Decline of the American Empire hit the art-house circuit a few years ago–the same sort of forced, hyped-up hilarity at the mere mention of words like “fucking” and “penis” and “getting off.” This makes it only that much harder to discuss a movie like Soderbergh’s, which tries to be level-headed and truthful about such matters.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's review at the located HERE



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

The image of sex, lies and videotape in 1080P can look very noisy. Grain is there but can be quite thick and clumpy and it also appears more like noise with some artifacts. I'm sure this is an authentic appearance and this is similar to the DVD renditions in keeping with the film's production authenticity.  This is Soderbergh's first feature film and belies, from a production stance, a very stark, flat look. I'd much prefer this than to have had it pushed through the DNR ringer to remove the textures. There is no gloss and the appearance is consistent to the film's intent. sex, lies and videotape looks more like this Blu-ray transfer than any other digital edition - going all the way back to the Criterion laserdisc - but individuals expecting a pristine, smooth image - will undoubtedly be surprised. I'm very happy that Sony haven't tried to homogenize the visuals to 'appear' like a modern Hollywood film. This is definitely not that animal... in many ways.  We have a dual-layered rendering with as strong bitrate. Colors have a tendency to be dullish and the indoor sequences can be dark at times with the shadows being crushed and fragmented representing more of the film's thick, honest, textures.


















Audio :

The only English option - a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track at a whopping 5120 kbps can easily handle anything this dialogue-driven film dishes out. The opening music is the biggest beneficiary of the separation with it filtered very crisply and loudly to the rear speakers. It sounds just great. Otherwise there are minimal effect noises for the mix to contend with and there is not a lot going on besides the fronts. There are English or French subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

We get the same very frank commentary with Soderbergh and Neil LaBute - it was a pleasure to re-listen to that after such a long time. I really enjoyed the discussion of the actors, camera angles, bad script writing etc. Before you 'Play' you get the option of the movieIQ feature - powered by 'Gracenote' it offers viewers access to a real-time movie database. With a movieIQ-enabled Blu-ray and an internet-connected Blu-ray player, fans can immediately access continuously-updated information on cast and crew and explore relevant trivia such as production facts, music and soundtrack information all tied to scenes within the movie. There are other supplements that I believe are new - but they are sparse. 20 Years Reunion at the Sundance Film Festival runs about 3.5 minutes, from this year, and has brief sound-byte input from Soderbergh, Peter Gallagher, Laura San Giacomo and others. There is a 3.5 minute deleted scene (SD 4:3 widescreen) with optional commentary by Soderbergh. It has Andie MacDowell's character, Ann, being manipulated by Ron Vawter playing her therapist. There are brief vintage excerpts of Soderbergh on the trailers and 8-minutes of a youngish Soderbergh on sex, lies and videotape sitting on a park bench. We get two trailers and the disc is BD-LIVE enabled.


I don't want to put a damper on this 1080P transfer - I just want to get across that the film's realistic look, while authentically exported, doesn't advance in the usual ways via this new format - ways that some may anticipate. After all these years sex, lies and videotape seems a bit opaque - yet remains an intriguing character, and human, study. Experiencing the film again in Blu-ray was interesting as it was one of the first demonstrative steps in the advancing Indie film movement. Fans may be more appreciative of this dimensionless, uncompromised appearance while those less experienced may determine it to have undesirable limitations. 

Gary Tooze

November 10th, 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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