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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

The American [Blu-ray]

 

(Anton Corbijn, 2010)

 

 

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: 1:44:55.664

Disc Size: 33,927,423,437 bytes

Feature Size: 29,161,426,944 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.72 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: December 28th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3333 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3333 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
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
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Feature Commentary - With director Anton Corbijn

• Deleted Scenes (5:34)
Journey to Redemption: The Making of The American - An inside look at the making of The American (10:52)
• BD-Live: Access the BD-Live Center through your Internet-connected player to watch the latest trailers and more!
• pocket Blu: USHE's groundbreaking pocket Blu app uses iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, Nokia Smartphone, Android, PC and Macintosh to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray player. Also available on the iPad, owners can enjoy a new, enhanced edition of pocket BLU™ made especially to take advantage of the tablet's larger screen and high-resolution display. Consumers will be able to browse through a library of Blu-ray content and watch entertaining extras on-the-go in a way that's bigger and better than ever before. pocket BLU™ offers advanced features such as:
• Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray player. Users can navigate through menus, playback, and BD-Live functions with ease.
• Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
• Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
• Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket Blu-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray Hi-Def. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
• Keyboard: Entering data is fast and easy with your device's intuitive keyboard.
• My Scenes - Bookmark your favorite scenes from the film.
• uHear: Never miss a word with uHear™! This innovative feature instantly skips back a few seconds on your Blu-ray disc and turns on the subtitles for the section you couldn't hear. (Blu-ray only)

Code for Digital Copy

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: As an assassin, Jack is constantly on the move and always alone. After a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected... for this American abroad, Jack retreats to the Italian countryside. He relishes being away from death for a spell as he holes up in a small medieval town. While there, Jack takes an assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious contact, Mathilde. Savoring the peaceful quietude he finds in the mountains of Abruzzo, Jack accepts the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto and pursues a torrid liaison with a beautiful woman, Clara. Jack and Clara's time together evolves into a romance, one seemingly free of danger. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.

***

Academy Award winner George Clooney (Up in the Air, Burn After Reading) is The American in this sexy suspense thriller from director Anton Corbijn (Control). The American follows elusive assassin Jack's (Clooney) treacherous journey as he completes his last assignment - but when he pursues a torrid relationship with a beautiful woman, Jack soon finds himself in a battle to escape from his troubled past. Also starring Violante Placido (Soul Mate), Thekla Reuten (In Bruges), and Paolo Bonacelli (Midnight Express), The American is a mesmerizing film critics are calling "a labyrinth of seduction, secrets and suspense!" (Jake Hamilton, Fox-TV).

 

 

The Film:

The entire drama of this film rests on two words, "Mr. Butterfly." We must be vigilant to realize that once, and only once, they are spoken by the wrong person. They cause the entire film and all of its relationships to rotate. I felt exaltation at this detail. It is so rare to see a film this carefully crafted, this patiently assembled like a weapon, that when the word comes it strikes like a clap of thunder. A lesser film would have underscored it with a shock chord, punctuated it with a sudden zoom, or cut to a shocked close up. "The American" is too cool to do that. Too Zen, if you will.

The director is a Dutchman named Anton Corbijn, known to me for "Control" (2007), the story of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division, a suicide at 23. Corbin has otherwise made mostly music videos. Here he paints an idyllic Italian countryside as lyrical as his dialogue is taciturn. There is not a wrong shot. Every performance is tightly controlled. Clooney is in complete command of his effect. He sometimes seems to be chewing a very small piece of gum, or perhaps his tongue.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

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

The American looks impressive on Blu-ray from Universal.  Aside from some minor noise in the darkest of scenes - the film, frequently shot in natural light, looks clean, consistent and textured.  The VC-1 encoded image quality shows some grain while detail is also strong.  This is dual-layered and the transfer supports a strong video bitrate. Colors and hues seem realistic without being falsely exuberant. Skin tones are, likewise, true - and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. The result gives The American a thicker, film-like, look that gives me no reason to suggest that it is not a strong representation of the theatrical. This Blu-ray supports a fine home-theater presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

While a supportive and adept audio transfer - a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at 3333 kbps - is not tested often. The American is the film that doesn't especially lean on effects and separations to establish its aura. It is far more sedate than many might expect. This is another of the reasons that I liked it - but for those expecting the explosively deep bravado of a typical action-genre film - you will be left wanting. The film takes a contemplative edge to its scenes and this is done subtly with the images and pace. When the track is called upon - it delivers adequately with depth and some range. There are certainly moments of immersive intent. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Aside from a solid, if occasionally dry, commentary with director Anton Corbijn, 5-minutes of deleted scenes and a decent, if standard, 10-minute featurette - Journey to Redemption: The Making of The American - described as "An inside look at the making of The American" - there are also a bevy of Blu-ray special attributes (not available on the DVD) from the expected BD-Live and My Scenes to video time-lines, Mobile and even keyboard accessible features (all through 'pocket blu'). This was the anticipated interactive direction of digital home theater and this release has it all - complete for the geek in you keen on indulging. As it stands, I like Corbijn and his commentary - and those who enjoyed the film enough - should as well. Ohh... you also get the code for a Digital Copy.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I agree with Ebert who also seemed to appreciate this much more than the bulk of critics. This is a film that speaks through its visual content - with minimal dialogue. Clooney is fabulous, the story is taut, suspenseful and exports a certain degree of tense realism. There are plenty of atmospheric positives to make this an entertaining and thoughtful night in the home theater. The Blu-ray, in my opinion, does a fine job for the film presentation and plenty of extraneous interactive BD attributes for those who desire to indulge. Certainly a film and transfer we can recommend! 

Gary Tooze

December 21st, 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.

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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