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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Martha Marcy May Marlene [Blu-ray]


(Sean Durkin, 2011)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Video: 20th Century Fox



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

Runtime: 1:41:54.733

Disc Size: 44,137,835,003 bytes

Feature Size: 31,384,922,112 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.80 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 21st, 2012



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3221 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3221 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



Mary Last Seen (Durkin short) 13:38 in 1080i

Spotlight on Elizabeth Olson (2:46 - 1080P)

• The Story (3:41 - 1080P)

• The Making of Martha Marcy May Marlene (3:09 in 1080P)

• A Conversation With the Filmmakers (3:14 in 1080P)

The Psyche of a Cult (5:11 in 1080P)

• 'Marcy's Song' Music Video by John Hawkes (3:58 in 1080P)

Theatrical Trailer (2:25 in 1080P)





Description: Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after... fleeing an abusive cult.



The Film:

As its title suggests, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is a story of fractured identity, in which a young woman tries to negotiate incompatible versions of herself, all the while wondering who she really is. The film, Sean Durkin’s impressively self-assured debut feature, switches back and forth between two periods in its protagonist’s life — an indeterminate span when she is part of a cult in rural New York and the time just after her escape from the group, when she has found refuge with her older sister and brother-in-law in their rented lakeside vacation house.

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

Elizabeth Olsen is known, if she’s known at all, as the Olsen sister who isn’t a twin. That won’t last for long, and it’s fitting that she is finding her own fame in Martha Marcy May Marlene, a psychological thriller about the fractured identity of a sister who is looking for family, and in all the wrong places.

Olsen sometimes has the look of a softer Faye Dunaway, an unfocused beauty that’s ideal for Martha, whose similarly vague past has left her drifting through life. First-time writer-director Sean Durkin never makes this explicit — Martha Marcy May Marlene is a film of feints and allusions — and much of it takes place in the corner of the screen, where Martha (not to mention Marcy May Marlene) cowers under her confusions. The rest of the screen is typically taken up with blank walls.

Excerpt from Jay Stone at The National located HERE

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

The image quality of the interestingly realized Martha Marcy May Marlene looks very natural on Blu-ray from Fox. I would guess that the film was meant to appear in this, less glossy, manner. This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and contrast can appear softer than you might expect for a modern feature. Detail is there and an occasional sense of depth. Colors, too, are reasonably passive and reflect a honest vérité style. There is noise in the transfer but I never found it overwhelming. This Blu-ray visuals have a strong sense of realism - as does the camerawork. This Blu-ray probably looks like the theatrical film Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Max tells us in email: "Thanks for the review of MMMM. I saw the film last week in a cinema here in the UK and you are indeed right, the blu ray looks close to what was on the big screen. The film was shot on 35mm and underexposed intentionally. It was then brightened in post, which gives it this amazing texture and greyish blacks (as you can see on that second of your stills for instance)." (Thanks Max!)


















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master in 5.1 at 3221 kbps is very strong. The film is probably more memorable for its silent, tense, moments than any bombastic or obvious aggression. There is original music by Daniel Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans that doesn't impose upon the film's gentle style. I didn't note any strong separation - excepting, perhaps, to occasionally establish outdoor scenes - which tend to dominate the film. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region A-locked Blu-ray.


Extras :

Mary Last Seen is a Durkin short film that is a precursor to the feature as he wrote the script. It runs shy of 15-minutes, in 1080i, but contains some of the same style features as his debut. There are a handful of other short video featurettes including a Spotlight on Elizabeth Olson, a piecve on the development of the story, a 3-minute 'Making of...', a A Conversation With the Filmmakers, details on the 'Psyche of a Cult', 'Marcy's Song' music video by John Hawkes (great actor!) and a Theatrical Trailer all in HD.



Firstly, this is a very impressively made film. And even more so as a 'debut' by director/writer Sean Durkin. I appreciated the fragments and time shifts to reveal parts of a story without treating the audience as... brainless. This is probably not for everyone because of the film's intentional ambiguities - relying on your own intelligence to understand the dynamics of a 'cult' lifestyle, relationship conflicts without obviousness etc. . Personally, I would say this is close to a masterpiece. I'll be watching Durkin's future projects with keen interest.  The Blu-ray supplies a strong HD presentation and will make for an intriguing night in the Home Theater. Watch this one! 

Gary Tooze

February 11th, 2012



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 5000 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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