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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Blue Valentine [Blu-ray]

 

(Derek Cianfrance, 2010)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Silverwood Films

Video: Weinstein / Anchor Bay

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:52:04.759 

Disc Size: 24,947,558,012 bytes

Feature Size: 23,054,419,968 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.14 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 10th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3531 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3531 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary with director Derek Cianfrance and co-editor Jim Helton
Deleted Scenes
The Making of 'Blue Valentine'
Home Movies "Frankie and the Unicorn"

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Blue Valentine is the story of love found and love lost told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest portrait of a relationship on the rocks.

***

A complex portrait of a contemporary American marriage, "Blue Valentine" tells the story of David and Cindy, a couple... who have been together for several years but who are at an impasse in their relationship. While Cindy has blossomed into a woman with opportunities and options, David is still the same person he was when they met, and he is unable to accept either Cindy's growth or his lack of it. Innovatively structured, the narrative unfolds in two distinct time frames, juxtaposing scenes of first love and youthful sexuality with those of disenchantment and discord.

***

Blue Valentine is a true love story flooded with romantic memories of the courtship between Dean and Cindy. The tale is told in past and present as they recall the episodes that brought them together. Oscar®-nominated Michelle Williams (Shutter Island, Brokeback Mountain) and Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, Half Nelson) deliver the performance of a lifetime in this unforgettable portrait of a young couple in love.

 

 

The Film:

But it is in the final days, when things turn ugly and love dies scene by scene, that Gosling and Williams prove what emotional heft they give their characters. The result is an unsettling portrait of marriage as failed enterprise and broken dreams, the tears over the scattered shards hard-earned.

What the filmmaker has understood best is that the conflict is as much about social class as love, and in doing so has made a film that is more penetrating and salient than it probably set out to be. With cinematographer Andrij Parekh, the filmmakers have given a gritty authenticity to life on the lower rungs of middle class where money's always tight. A wide shot of an overgrown front yard, a beloved dog that has gone missing, a child wandering in the weeds calling her name, is one of those classic opening scenes that uses both its simplicity and complexity to set the stage for all that is to come.

Excerpt from Betsy Sharkey at the L.A. Times located HERE

Ms. Williams is, as ever, heartbreakingly precise in every scene, but if Mr. Gosling’s character is burdened with too little story, hers is saddled with too much. Mr. Cianfrance is capable of drawing nuances of feeling from his actors, but he does not trust the story enough to let it move according to any internal emotional logic. Instead, a lot of pretty obvious and not always convincing stuff needs to happen. Cindy’s boyfriend and father need to be made into caricatures of male insensitivity, and narrative bombs need to be carefully lighted and detonated, as if ordinary love were not explosive enough.

Viewed from a certain, admittedly uncharitable, angle, “Blue Valentine” looks like a grim, dirty-realist, festival-circuit version of (and sequel to) “Knocked Up.” Like “Biutiful,” another unsparingly harsh movie that opens on Wednesday, it has a naturalism that is almost entirely a matter of visual texture and social milieu. The grainy, washed-out colors of the breakup phase, which contrast with the somewhat brighter palette of the courtship sections, create an illusion of immediacy and rawness that is underlined by the scruffy Keystone State locations. And Ms. Williams and Mr. Gosling are exemplars of New Method sincerity, able to be fully and achingly present every moment on screen together.

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

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

Blue Valentine has a decent amount of style in the cinematography - shifting from two specific timeframes noted by character's physical changes (mostly evident in Dean's receding hair or beard growth) and other factors determining the story's non-linear timeline. This comes through very well on Blu-ray shifting from heavier grain to more gloss and tighter detail. The film has an independent verité realization that works well and although I didn't see it theatrically I suspect that the single-layered Weinstein / Anchor Bay transfer is a close approximation. There is some noise but it is not overwhelming and while this Blu-ray does not look 'pristine' - it was not meant to. The film's appearance is perfectly in line with the content. I have no issues with the video transfer. I loved my 1080P presentation in the rarely used (nowadays) 1.66:1 aspect ratio.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

It's a solid DTS-HD 5.1 track at a healthy 3531 kbps that doesn't have much aggression or effects to export. Dialogue can be purposely hushed or scattered as a factor the film's realism intent. There isn't much depth but a few instances of separation and there are a few good song tracks - for the most part sparingly utilized in the film including - in a memorable scene - one entitled "Unicorn Tears" written and performed by... Ryan Gosling avec ukulele. Nothing sounds rich or imposing but is probably how it was theatrically. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

The commentary by director Derek Cianfrance and co-editor Jim Helton is a good one with some anecdotes involving the practicalities of a low budget film including the moving furniture scene which was identified as cinematographer Andrij Parekh's stuff - who was actually moving at the time. After that is a standard Making Of with input from the principles - being fairly frank about the production. 20-minutes of deleted scenes and a short 'Home Movies' entitled "Frankie and the Unicorn" that is reasonably cute. All the video supplements are in SD.

 

NOTE: the UK edition has a Q+A listed that is not available on the North American Blu-ray.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Blue Valentine is an excellent film. The critical acclaim is very worthy. The style seemed a gamble and I think it worked like a charm. The Blu-ray does its job in supporting the a/v. For both Williams and Gosling - this may be their best performances yet. Everything comes together perfectly and we strongly recommend seeing it - the Blu-ray is the best way to view it in your home theater. 

Gary Tooze

May 3rd, 2011


 

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.

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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