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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Margin Call [Blu-ray]

 

(J.C. Chandor, 2011)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Before The Door Pictures

Video: Roadside Attractions

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:47:03.500

Disc Size: 22,699,850,823 bytes

Feature Size: 18,447,212,544 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.28 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 20th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3085 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3085 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Director and Producer Commentary

• 2 Deleted Scenes (2:06 in 1080i) with optional Commentary

• Revolving Door: The Making of Margin Call (5:58 - 1080i)

• Missed Calls: Moments with Cast and Crew (1:06 in 1080P)

From the Deck: Photo Gallery (3:41 in 1080i)

Bookmark-able feature

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Set in the high-stakes world of the financial industry, "Margin Call" is a thriller entangling the key players at an... investment firm during one perilous 24-hour period in the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. When entry-level analyst Peter Sullivan unlocks information that could prove to be the downfall of the firm, a roller-coaster ride ensues as decisions both financial and moral catapult the lives of all involved to the brink of disaster. Expanding the parameters of genre, "Margin Call" is a riveting examination of the human components of a subject too often relegated to partisan issues of black and white.

 

 

The Film:

Want to be a fly on the wall when a gaggle of investment bankers precipitate the 2008 financial crisis? Step up for Margin Call, a thrillingly intense look at what went down through the prism of one unnamed Wall Street investment firm trying to save its ass before Armageddon. Writer-director J.C. Chandor, whose father toiled for Merrill Lynch, makes an impressive debut by focusing the action on a 24-hour period that starts with staff layoffs. One of the shitcanned is Eric Dale (a reliably superb Stanley Tucci), a manager who shares the smell of disaster with his protégé Peter Sullivan (a very fine Zachary Quinto, one of the film's producers). It looks like the future losses will exceed the firm's total market capitalization. Peter and his colleague, Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley), call in their boss, Will Emerson (Paul Bettany), who brings in his chief, Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey)..

Excerpt from Peter Travers at Rolling Stone located HERE

It may have happened something like this. "Margin Call" depicts the last night of good times on Wall Street, as a deadly certainty travels up the executive ladder at an investment firm: Disastrous speculation in the mortgage markets is leading to the firm's collapse. We can still recall those days in the summer of 2008, during the Obama-McCain campaign, when America seemed awash in prosperity, and the stock market was setting records. Then one firm after another was forced to declare bankruptcy, the nation's economic structure was threatened, and Congress ponied up its huge bailout.

"Margin Call" begins on a day at an unnamed investment firm that must certainly have an inkling of what's coming, since 80 percent of the work force is laid off. One of the victims is Eric (Stanley Tucci), a senior risks analyst who like many of his colleagues was incapable of seeing that the real estate market was built as a house of cards. Although writer-director J.C. Chandor's film has sympathy for most of its characters, it is important to remember that they all felt they had to play along with the deals that were bringing their firms such huge profits and bonuses.

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.

Margin Call doesn't look especially brilliant on Blu-ray.  It shows superior detail than SD but looks fairly flat and lifeless. This is only single-layered with a very modest bitrate and contrast may be the culprit for a less-than-stellar image. It's not that there are any glaring weaknesses and the film itself may not have produced dynamic theatrical visuals. Much of the story takes place over one late (early morning), inside a large office building. This doesn't make the film any less-compelling but I expect a more robust transfer would have benefitted the Blu-ray presentation. There doesn't appear to be any digital manipulations. It looks okay - but doesn't take advantage of the format's capabilities. I still liked the film and it does look better than DVD - just not as significantly as it could, in my opinion.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3085 kbps doesn't get a lot of exercise in Margin Call. Effect sounds seem limited to elevators, computer keyboards, inter-office telephones, cars etc., dialogue and... silence. Nathan Larson's score is sparsely utilized and there is not much separation to extol. The lossless transfer handles the film with ease. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

The director/producer commentary has some interesting tidbits but also some of the mundane production details that aren't overly appealing. There are two short deleted scenes with optional commentary, a featurette; Revolving Door: The Making of Margin Call running less than 6-minutes with some interview snippets. There are a few jovial moments for 1 minute in Missed Calls: Moments with Cast and Crew. Strangely there is also a photo gallery. The Blu-ray is bookmark-able.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Since the public, and politicians, have been constantly 'in the fog' about what really happened via mortgage-backed securities in the 2008-2009 financial meltdown - 'Margin Call' has the advantage of educating as well as presenting a fairly tightly-knit drama. The passivity won't be appealing to those with little interest in the topic. I can see that many may not be willing to invest the time despite the many strong actors involved. What I liked was how the film approached the mercenary-dominant attitude of these individuals who simply divorce themselves of the impact of their behavior - from reality. It's astonishing... and revolting. The Blu-ray isn't top-shelf but I was intrigued enough by the film to disregard the weaknesses. This will probably be the best way to see it and if you are keen - indulge at a decent price.

Gary Tooze

December 8th, 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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