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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Square [Blu-ray]


(Nash Edgerton, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC)

Video: Apparition



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

Runtime: 1:46:00.354

Disc Size: 33,809,878,568 bytes

Feature Size: 26,325,676,032 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.91 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 24th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3479 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3479 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), English, none



Inside The Square (29:35 in SD)

14 Deleted Scenes (24:57)
Pre-Visualization (5:09 in SD)

Deconstruction of 3 Scenes (5:13)
Short Film: Spider (9:33 in HD!)
"Sand" Music Video By Jessica Chapnik (3:59 in SD)

• Previews

BD-Live functionality





Description: Temptation turns a man's life upside down in this noir-influenced thriller from Australia. Ray Yale (David Roberts) is a construction worker who is married to Martha (Lucy Bell) and is helping to build an upscale resort hotel just outside Sydney. Ray isn't entirely happy in his marriage, and his roving eye has become focused on Carla (Claire van der Boom), a hairdresser who lives next door. Carla is married to a low-level mobster, Greg (Anthony Hayes), but she craves excitement and is soon having a torrid affair with Ray. Carla knows that Greg has a large bundle of cash hidden in their home, and she hatches a scheme she shares with Ray -- they steal they money, set fire to the house, and run off together, with Greg imagining the cash was lost in the blaze. While Ray isn't interested in a life of crime, he can't say no to Carla, but when he develops cold feet at the last minute, his attempts to reach Billy (Joel Edgerton), who was hired to torch the house, are unsuccessful, and things take a turn for the worse when he learns that Greg's aged mother was in the house when it burned to the ground. Ray quickly realizes he's been implicated in a murder, and Billy doesn't hesitate to use this knowledge to his advantage. The Square was the first directorial project for Nash Edgerton, who previously was one of the leading stuntmen in the Aussie film industry.



The Film:

If you’ve seen “No Country for Old Men” or “A Simple Plan” or any number of other, similar movies, you probably know that nothing good is likely to come from taking somebody else’s bag full of cash. Perhaps Ray and Carla, the adulterous couple at the center of “The Square,” haven’t seen these films, or have drawn the wrong lessons from them. After Carla comes across a satchel full of money that her loutish, vaguely criminal husband has stashed in a crawl space in the laundry room of their house, she and Ray concoct a plan to snatch it and get out of town. What else would they do? And what could possibly go wrong?

Quite a bit, of course, but Ray and Carla’s misfortunes are, in the perverse, tried-and-true logic of film noir, a boon to the audience, who can reap a clammy kind of satisfaction from a well-turned wallow in someone else’s depravity. “The Square,” which is the first feature directed by Nash Edgerton, an Australian stuntman turned filmmaker, is a nasty, gripping exercise in sin and comeuppance. Written by Matthew Dabner and Mr. Edgerton’s brother, Joel, it turns a humdrum Down Under backwater into a black hole of haphazard crime and arbitrary punishment.

Ray and Carla’s mixture of lust, greed and desperation doesn’t make them all that unusual in this place, it turns out. Their amateurism is what sets them apart, and it is possible to feel sympathy for their weakness as well as disgust at their callous irresponsibility. Mr. Edgerton, with crack timing in the editing room and a sure hand on the Steadicam, is a coldblooded professional. His craft is frightening.

Excerpt from the A.O. Scott review at NY Times located HERE


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

The Square was shot with a limited budget (16mm) and 'printed' to 35mm. It therefore doesn't seem to fare well in the transfer to Blu-ray. It looks consistent but fairly ineffectual in advancing to the glory that 1080P is capable of exporting. I don't doubt that this dual-layered rendering, with a strong bitrate, is an authentic representation of the original appearance but beyond the heavy grain - it may not even advance demonstratively over SD-DVD. Detail is limited - but, not surprisingly, the heavy texture works quite well for the narrative. The gritty crime-drama film has a gritty appearance. Colors are passive but not faded. The appearance looks the weakest in darker sequences - of which there are quite a few with limitations in the lighting. Noise exists but doesn't seem to supplant the thick grain. There is little to no depth. I fault neither the film nor the Blu-ray production but fans should temper their expectations accordingly. By modern standards this is extremely tame visually but as a representation of the original - I doubt much more could be done. I don't think the image quality should deter purchasers but those simply seeking HD demo material - The Square won't fit the bill.












Audio :

We have a solid lossless DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a healthy English 3479 kbps. It shows some range and depth when called upon - rain, gunfire and fist-a-cuff grunts are all part of the film and the track seems to export them robustly.  I don't recall moments where the bass was dominant but I get the feeling it is replicating the production capabilities very well. This is a lower budget film and the audio has expected weakness - some scattered dialogue - but you can't fault the HD track - it seems tight - while the film never exports a crispness. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

Extras don't have a commentary which would have definitely encourage my appreciation. I felt I needed something like that. We get, more or less, the standard - a short featurette entitled Inside The Square running about 1/2 an hour in SD. Input from the filmmakers exporting some of the usual information. There are a whopping 14 deleted scenes, a pre-visualization piece for 5 minutes and a slightly more appealing Deconstruction of 3 Scenes. Some may wish to indulge in the 10-minute short Spider and a "Sand" Music Video By Jessica Chapnik. The disc starts with previews and there is a BD-Live logo that I can't comment on its significance prior to release date.



Many people tended to enjoy The Square a lot more than I did. I'll admit to many positives - good tension, noir-esque betrayals and I was attentive till the end. Something didn't grab me though and it could very well have been my mood. I will give this a repeat spin in a few months and see if I am more impacted - or perhaps, less distracted. Generally I like the simple production suspense-based films just like this one. The Blu-ray while a good representation of the original won't impress many with the A/V or extras and the price may scare away purchasers - I suggest seeing this at some point if you are intrigued by the plot. It's close to $10 less on DVD HERE - and that may be the more prudent route for those who don't rate features like intensely heavy grain as appealing.

Gary Tooze

August 19th, 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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