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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

The Invention of Lying (Digital Copy Special Edition) [Blu-ray]


(Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson, 2009)






Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Lynda Obst, Media Rights Capital & Radar Pictures

Blu-ray: Warner Home Video



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

Runtime: 1:39:28.754 

Disc Size: 17,494,595,829 bytes

Feature Size: 14,756,007,936 bytes

Video Bitrate: 14.58 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Standard Blu-ray case with slipcase

Release date: January 19th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video




Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1404 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1404 kbps / 16-bit (AC3
Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps



English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none



• Prequel: The Dawn of Lying – in SD (6:30)

• A Truly “Honest” Making of Featurette with Ricky Gervais – in HD (7:15)

• Meet Karl Pilkington – in SD (17:30)

• More Laughter: Corpsing and Outtakes – in SD (5:30)

• Deleted Scenes – in SD (7:10)

• Ricky and Matt's Video Podcasts – in SD (10:00)

• Digital Copy Disc



The Film: 8
Imagine, if you will, a world without lying, where people comment only on what is, not what might be; where they say whatever pops into their mind about what they feel or think because the idea of hurting another person's feelings doesn't factor into the equation; where there is no fiction and where advertisers invite us to buy their products on the basis of the obvious – "Coke is famous" and "Pepsi is what you buy when they don't have Coke" – where creativity and imagination, evidently, is limited to technological pursuit. Success is granted to those with good genes; disappointment is the natural bequest for those lacking in beauty, smarts or money. It is a world without God and without hope – not for the young and certainly not for the old.

This is the depressing, humorless universe imagined by co-writers/directors Ricky Gervais ("The "real" Office) and Matthew Robinson (in his first IMDB credit). As weird as this may seem, since we're telling the truth here, theirs is a world more plausible and – dare I say it - funnier than the day of The Hangover. It's world where the entire text is contrived of the subtitles from the rooftop dialogue between Annie Hall and Alvy Singer. When Mark Bellison (Gervais) hooks up with Anna (Jennifer Garner), his blind date for the evening, he immediately expresses the worry that he is out of her league and she tells him right off he doesn't have a chance with her. Insulting as that may seem, it's pretty much the truth – because that's how Mark sees himself as well.

It's a bit of a surprise that Mark gets himself to work the next day knowing that he is likely to be fired – a "fact" that his secretary (Tina Fey) can't stop reminding him of, as does his nemesis, Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe.) Mark and Brad work at Lecture Films as copywriters whose job it is to regurgitate history (which has to be boring as all hell since their history is uneditorialized) into screenplays, whose success depends on the subject, not the writing. Poor Mark is assigned the 13th Century where the Black Plague takes center stage.

Then one day, it just sort of comes to him much like the ape considering the bone in 2001: A Space Odyssey that he could say what is not: that is: lie. At first he uses his newfound skill – a skill that only he has, by the way - to make money (I won't spoil the fun of telling you how), and soon discovers that he can console others by offering them hope. This, quite naturally, leads to the invention of God, which Mark calls "the Man in the Sky". It makes for a less successful second act, but then this might just be the writers' idea of cinema verité. (And, ladies, don't get yourselves in a tizz, it was the first attempt at the face of God – what did he know!).

But Gervais and Robinson don't neglect the non-romance between Mark and Anna, who sees in this "short, fat man with a snub nose" a source of humour, warmth and, eventually, possibility." All the same, right up to the alter, she is torn between Mark and Brad, whose genetic pool promises successful, handsome children (I kept hoping for Mark to go all Ben Braddock and crash the wedding of his Elaine, but I won't spoil that either.)

The Invention of Lying is just a notch short of brilliant in its assessment of both the hypocracy of lying and its less obvious benefits as a coping mechanism. Perhaps it is this ability, and not the opposing thumb, that separates us from other species. Neither the music nor the photography amount to much, and Gervais, while perfect for the role in his self-deprecating, forced laughed way, isn't exactly what you would call charismatic enough to carry a whole movie. But the writing and situations are relentlessly smart, insightful and subtle.



Image: 5/7   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

If only The Invention of Lying were supported by an engaging image. I suspect the fault lies with the production, which suffers from unimaginative, inconsistent lighting and photography which alternates pointlessly between flat, dull images and overlit contrast. I suppose I should have downgraded the Movie Score another point, but I'm trying to get the hang of this lying thing. Back to the truth: this is not a fun image – so much so that I could not work up much enthusiasm to focus on transfer issuers. I can say that there is a persistent and useless digital grain, which adds softness to an already soft image. The lowish bit rate doesn't help, but I doubt doubling it would have solved the problem.
















Audio & Music: 6/6
Only slightly better is the audio. I even had to resort to the subtitles on occasion. It's mostly front-directed, as we would expect, with the surrounds casually engaged. I didn't expect much and, except for the somewhat muffled dialogue, I wasn't disappointed.


Operations: 6
I very much liked the way the Extra Features window is configured, but I took off a couple points because my OPPO remote was unable to advance through the Scene Selections. Could be a glitch at my end. Maybe.


Extras: 4
There is no commentary, and I can't say that I miss one, seeing as how the film speaks for itself. All of the Extras are tongue-in-cheek, not least the Truly “Honest” Making of Featurette. The Prequel: The Dawn of Lying is a short that considers the first lie out of the mouth of a caveman – not nearly as funny as the movie. The only production segment is "Meet Karl Pilkington" which is hosted by Ricky's best friend who was invited to be an extra in the movie – make that, the caveman prequel – dry and very English.



Bottom line: 7
As much as I liked this movie, I am reluctant to give it any more than a lukewarm recommendation for its rendering in high definition, though it has several more extra features as compared to the DVD – just trying to be honest, here.

Leonard Norwitz
January 10th, 2010








About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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