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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [Blu-ray]

 

(Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - LEFT vs. New Wave - Region FREE - RIGHT

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Ministry of Culture, Thailand

Video: Strand Releasing / New Wave

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:48:39.813 / 1:48:39.960

Disc Size: 44,578,972,288 bytes / 38,741,838,112 bytes

Feature Size: 26,852,450,304 bytes / 26,510,653,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.42 Mbps  / 24.90 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case (both)

Release date: July 12th, 2011 / March 28th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (both)

Resolution: 1080P / 1080i

Video codec: MPEG-2 Video / MPEG-4 AVC

 

Audio:

Dolby Digital Audio Thai 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Thai 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

DTS-HD Master Audio Thai 4186 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4186 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio Thai 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (non-removable) / English, none

 

Extras:

• Bonus Features: A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Short film that inspired the feature - 17:47 in 1080P)
Deleted Scenes (23:59 in 1080P)
Interview with Director (16:47 in 1080P)
Other Weerasethakul Trailers
Other Strand Releasing Trailers

 

• Bonus Features: A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Short film that inspired the feature - 17:48 in 1080i)
• Deleted Scenes (26:38 in 1080P)
• Interview with Director (16:06 in 576i PAL)
• Trailer (1:39 in 1080P)

 

Bitrate:

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Description: One of the best films of the year. Haunting... Hypnotic... It's a beauty! --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone Magazine

Winner of the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a unique tale of a man embracing life's greatest mystery. Choosing to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside, Boonmee is visited by his dead wife (a ghost) and his lost son (an strange hairy beast with red glowing eyes) who come to guide him to his final resting place, a cave where his first soul began. With a wry sense of humor and a humanist spirit, Uncle Boonmee, one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, is a magical tale of reincarnation, karma and nature.

***

Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the remote forest, an important place... from his childhood and, he believes, the possible location of his former existences. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and the spirit of his long lost son returns. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave -- the birthplace of his first life...

 

 

The Film:

There's a generosity and warmth here that practically radiate off the screen; you can't help but be pulled along as Weerasethakul takes his odd, wonderful journey. If you've seen Syndromes And A Century or Tropical Malady, you know the director's distinctive tone. If you haven't, you'll pick it up quickly enough.

Excerpt from Norm Wilner at Now Toronto located HERE

Uncle Boonmee” is not a difficult film. Like its title character, a farmer and beekeeper whose home in a peaceful mountain valley is occasionally visited by ghosts and mythical creatures, the movie is friendly and patient, welcoming you into its odd and beautiful world without much fuss or ceremony. You may need a bit of time to adjust your eyes and expectations — the nighttime forest scenes, like those in Mr. Weerasethakul’s “Tropical Malady,” are shot in dim, shadowy light, and what story there is emerges slowly and in fragments — but after a while, like one of those ghosts, you will start to feel at home.

Excerpt from AO Scott at the NY Times located HERE

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

Uncle Boonmee doesn't appear visually overwhelming on MPEG2 Blu-ray from a visual standpoint. But knowing the director's other features - I'd be more inclined to feel this is authentic rather than a fault of the respectable dual-layered transfer from Strand Releasing. Any softness seems inherent in the production and the Blu-ray, with a better-than-average bitrate, produces a consistent and pleasant, if not crisp and pristine, image. Actually some of the darker scenes are more impressive and there is not a preponderance of noise to interfere with the film experience. Effects are surprisingly strong as are the natural shots of waterfalls, trees and dramatic greenery. There is a sequence of static shots that also don't overwhelm with grandeur but they compliment the overall image quality. AVC would have boosted this I expect.

 

Oy Vey! What a rigmarole! The New Wave Blu-ray from the UK is AVC! but it is 1080i?! It is marginally brighter than the Strand but I wouldn't say a revelation in terms of detail. This doesn't appear to be as big of a boost as we would have expected - but there is no combing visible via the interlacing although the camera has little to no panning. It is also dual-layered and about the exact same file size.

 

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

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - TOP vs. New Wave - Region FREE - BOTTOM

 

 

 

Audio :

Strand lost an opportunity to go lossless with the audio and I think the film presentation would have benefited. It comes in two standard Dolby flavors - stereo and 5.1. There is some subtle separation that would have been exported more succinctly and with tighter range in an uncompressed track. So be it - it certainly wasn't a flaw in my presentation. The English subtitles are, unfortunately, non-removable on the region FREE.

 

New Wave have improved upon the Strand by going lossless with the audio supplying a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a more-than-adequate 4186 kbps or a 2.0 channel stereo linear PCM Audio at 1536 kbps. It is nice to have uncompressed (more subtleties and mood) but I wouldn't call it a deal-breaker. the subtitles are removable and of a larger font than the Strand (see sample below). This UK disc played on my region 'A' Oppo and both Momistus without converting to region 'B' and we determine it to be region free although some players that report issue with 1080/50i may have difficulties.

 

Extras :

There are some decent extras here including the intriguing 18-minute short A Letter to Uncle Boonmee that, reputedly, inspired the feature film. It carries the same warmth and like all video supplements is in 1080P. There are 24-minutes of deleted scenes but nothing that stood out for me except some solidifying background and, most interesting we get a 17-minute interview with director Apichatpong Weerasethakul as he discusses the evolution of the film and experiences that it relates to in his life. There are also some other Weerasethakul, and Strand Releasing, trailers.

 

Same - but the interview is in PAL (won't play on Oppo) - the rest are in HD.

 

Strand Releasing - Region FREE - LEFT vs. New Wave - Region FREE - RIGHT

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I was hesitant to get my expectations up too lofty for Uncle Boonmee but admit that this may be one of the best films I've seen this year - easily in the top 10. The director effortlessly produces a harmony within his films that becomes... addictive. It floats with gentle grace and lands innocently in your cinematic lap. While the screen captures won't extol the Blu-ray it nonetheless gives adequate, and probably the best, presentation that one is likely to find for home theater consumption. Solely based on the strength of the film's undeniable appealing aesthetic - we certainly can endorse.

 

Unfortunately, the improvement (AVC) is tainted (1080i/50i) and the audio is not enough to double-dip. I had my hopes that it would be a definitive step-up but it was still a pleasure to see the film again. It's a  film that is a must-have Blu-ray and hopefully you have enough information to make a judgment on which to indulge. 

Gary Tooze

August 3rd, 2011

September 6th, 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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