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After being evicted, hardworking single mom Elaine Cheng (Cindy Cheung) tries to maintain a normal life for her children. Elaine juggles a number of jobs, including working for a questionable pyramid scheme. When Elaine doesn't return home one night, nobody knows the kids are home alone, and they are left to fend for themselves. As the days pass, her son, a budding inventor, realizes he needs to come up with a plan to take care of his little sister.
Restraint proves a virtue of — and a shrewd if necessary choice for — “Children of Invention,” a modestly scaled, quietly effective independent movie about a struggling single mother and her two children. Directed and written by Tze Chun, making a fine feature debut, the movie offers both a familiar tale of immigrant striving and a topical look at what it means to be working and poor in America while hanging onto a badly frayed thread. Yet while the politics are there, you might be too busy choking back tears to notice.
Urgent, artful and even austerely poetic, writer-director Tze Chun's "Children of Invention" has taken some time hitting theaters after a much-lauded tour of the fest circuit. But in that time, its issues have ripened to a point where the movie seems ripped from the headlines: foreclosures, Ponzi schemes, children facing an uncertain economic future. This domestic drama seems very much of the moment -- maybe the next moment -- and could ignite a passion among some indie auds via its delicate treatment of a small family in the jaws of financial ruin.
Theatrical Release: January 18th, 2009 - Sundance Film Festival
DVD Review: Indieblitz Releasing - Region FREE - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Indieblitz Releasing - Region FREE - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.42 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
|Subtitles||English (burned-in) for Chinese dialogue|
by Cast: Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu, Cindy Cheung and writer/director
• Theatrical trailer (2:11)
• 8 Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by writer/director Tzu Chun (9:04)
Wonderful film and solid DVD. I am very impressed by the feature debut of director/writer Tzu Chun and Indieblitz Releasing that I don't believe we have ever covered a disc from them before.
Image quality ranges from strong to occasionally outstanding. I can't be positive that it was shot with HD (and moved to 35mm) but detail has outstanding moments and colors are bright and true. This dual-layered DVD looks just great with only some very minor noise artefacts in darker sequences as a niggling drawback. These anamorphic and progressive visuals should look great on most systems - they are clean, clear and sharp. A notable 'A' for SD image quality.
The film is almost exclusively in English with some minor Mandarin (with non-removable subtitles) in a couple of scenes. Audio gives the choice of 2.0 channel stereo or underused 5.1 surround. The latter doesn't shine because of the film's dialogue driven content - this is no action thriller. It was all discernable and consistent.
The DVD shines like a Criterion release in terms of supplements - we get 2 commentaries - the first, reasonably laid back, by cast members Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu, Cindy Cheung and writer/director Tzu Chun. There is some laughs and enjoyment in the grouping and pertinent information is divulged but rigors of production specifics aren't overly explored. The second commentary is by the 'Crew' with writer/director Tzu Chun, Producers Mynette Louie, Trevor Sagan, Dave Saltzman, Sheila Dvorak and director of photography Chris Teague. I'm not as big a fan of 'too many' commentarists in one sitting but this option is available to those who would be more keen on the production details. Included is an 11-minute short film by Tzu Chun entitled 'Windowbreaker'. It also has an optional commentary by the talented writer/director. There are some short snippet interviews with Michael Chen, Crystal Chiu and Cindy Cheung - this runs only about 3.5 minutes in total but it is nice to see the kids faces to go along with the first commentary discussion. There are 3 'Audition tapes' kind of over running at more than 15-minutes, a theatrical trailer and 8 Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by writer/director Tzu Chun for about 10 minutes where he comments on why scenes were left out of shot in the first place. There was some real thought and effort put into these supplements and it's wonderful to have the director so accessible.
If only all new films I reviewed were this good - or DVDs this strong. The transfer is quite excellent and the package is stacked with extras - creating a very worthwhile and touching film experience. This is strongly recommended!