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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

A Serious Man [Blu-ray]

 

(Ethan Coen + Joel Coen, 2009)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Focus Features

Video: Universal Home Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:45:36.371

Disc Size: 40,218,656,215 bytes

Feature Size: 32,674,191,360 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.19 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 9th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33 (matted to 1.78) and 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3272 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3272 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs: DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

Becoming Serious (17:04 in HD!)

Creating 1967 (13:43 in HD!)

Hebrew and Yiddish for Goys (2:14 in HD!)

• 'My Scenes", BD-Live enabled

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Academy Award-winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen return to their comedy roots with this original and darkly humorous story about one ordinary man’s quest to become a serious man. Physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) can’t believe his life: His wife is leaving him for his best friend, his unemployed brother won’t move off the couch, someone is threatening his career, his kids are a mystery and his neighbor is tormenting him by sunbathing nude. Struggling to make sense of it all, Larry consults three different rabbis and their answers lead him on a twisted journey of faith, family, delinquent behavior and mortality in the film critics rave is “seriously awesome!”.

 

 

The Film:

Masters of audacity, the Coen Brothers continue to amaze with their versatility and, unlike many who have achieved success, they have shown no inclination to slip into a comfortable groove. When one scans their joint resumes, it becomes apparent that, while Joel and Ethan have not always hit pay dirt, their efforts have always been at least interesting. Their latest, A Serious Man, represents another change in course for the brothers, and it will reside in the upper echelon of their titles, although a little below the top.

 

After working with star-studded casts (George Clooney, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Pitt) for a string of consecutive features, the Coens have populated this outing with character actors. There's not an A-lister to be found in the credits; the best-known names are Adam Arkin and Richard Kind. The lead, Michael Stuhlbarg, has made his reputation on stage, and he has won a Tony. His TV and screen credits are few and far between, with single-episode appearances on shows like Law & Order making up a lion's share of them. He, like his fellow "no namers," is excellent, and the presence of so many low-key performers gives A Serious Man a very different, distinctly non-Hollywood vibe. The absence of familiar faces allows the Coens to fully immerse their audience in the time (1967) and place (the U.S. Midwest) of the story.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli at ReelViews located HERE

 

 


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

A Serious Man sports a gorgeous visual presentation and the Blu-ray transfer from Universal supports it superbly. The combination of Roger Deakins' cinematography and the painstaking art direction and costuming have created a tremendous looking film. There isn't a lot of visible grain - what is there is quite fine and the image is exceptionally smooth in motion - but not overly glossy. I should note that grain is slightly more abundant in the 1.33 sequence prior to the opening credits. Detail in close-ups and colors shine brightest. This is dual-layered with an extremely high bitrate and the film's beautiful appearance is adeptly transferred to 1080P. It looks incredibly impressive at times. Skin tones seem accurate - contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels and I couldn't find any demonstrative flaws at all. This Blu-ray seems to do a great job of presenting A Serious Man with a powerfully appealing image quality.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3272 kbps is superb. Multiple times I had head turning incidents giving approval to the strong separations with running footsteps, a surprising car crash, a head being banged against a blackboard and other minor effect details springing from the rear speakers. Carter Burwell's score is kept low key but meshes perfectly with the three Jefferson Airplane songs featured in the film. There are rhythmic guitar licks fading into “Somebody To Love” and “Comin’ Back To Me” both sounding amazingly crisp and clean. The audio here is perfect. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

Supplements are modest with no commentary and only 3 featurettes. Becoming Serious is a kind of 'Making of...' running less than 20-minutes with input from the Coens, actor Michael Stuhlbarg, producer Robert Graf and others. Creating 1967 takes less than15-minutes to inform us of some of the details of the impressive art direction and getting the visual look of the late 60's from costumes to electronics and home furnishings and much more. Hebrew and Yiddish for Goys is a 2-minute comedic primer for a few of the phrases used in the film. This Blu-ray has 'My Scenes' ability to bookmark and is BD-Live enabled - post release date.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Coen brothers films are, for the most part, immensely enjoyable. This could easily be considered another of their masterpieces. Each scene is put together looking effortless but maintaining endearing, realistic, qualities that never dissipate. Akin to Coen movies like The Big Lebowski (when the heck is that coming to Blu-ray, anyway?), A Serious Man has immense rewatchability and has spiraling, layered, depth as well as creating magnificent entertainment with profoundness, satire and human comedy. The Blu-ray A/V is undeniably adept producing a hypnotic HD presentation. The extra are a little light but with the offered price (less than $20) this gets our highest recommendation. Buy with confidence!! 

 

Gary Tooze

January 28th, 2010

 

 

 

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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