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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Michael [Blu-ray]

 

(Markus Schleinzer, 2011)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion

Video: Artificial Eye

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:36:12.057

Disc Size: 30,281,674,465 bytes

Feature Size: 28,807,962,624 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 28th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio German 2690 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2690 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio German 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

Interview with director Markus Schleinzer (11:40)

Trailer (2:00 in 1080P)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: A protégé of Michael Haneke, Markus Schleinzer's Michael is a triumph of uneasy cinema. With an unorthodox level of restraint, the director tells the story of a dull office drone who keeps a kidnapped young boy locked in his house. Despite its subversive edge, Michael successfully drains the shock out of a frightening premise and instead delivers a keen observational thriller. From its opening minutes, Michael reveals its alarming plot with a patient, naturalistic atmosphere.

 

 

The Film:

Markus Schleinzer’s debut film MICHAEL created a stir at its premiere at Cannes in 2011.
This is a portrait of an impassive man, remarkably (or un-remarkably) portrayed by Michael Fuith, who we observe quietly going about his suburban life – attending his work, returning with his shopping to cook dinner in his neat and tidy home.

We soon learn this man, Michael, has a boy held captive in his cellar. What makes the film so compelling is the ordinariness of their strangely domestic set up, at times they could be mistaken for father and son. Michael cuts the boy's hair, they prepare for Christmas and take trips to local parks.

The true horrors of what is going on are only implied to us.
The film deftly avoids emotions, judgement and even controversy – and as it should, we hardly need to be coerced into a feeling or opinion on this. What plays out has a cool, slow burning tension, fractured inter-mittently with shocking moments and sometimes even humour, that serve to remind the viewer of the quiet chaos that lies not only in the cellar, but which often lurks beneath the ordinary…

***

It may seem shocking to some that such ideas need to be challenged, and that's just one more way in which the film creates discomfort. Quietly, in the background, details become almost too horrible to watch. Michael chatting to boys at a motor sports event; later, asking questions about a boarding school. The boy in the basement playing with his toys, David Rauchenberger's vivid yet naturalistic performance reminding us that he is just a child. He doesn't run, he doesn't try to get help, because he is vulnerable in far more than just a physical way. But he is growing up, and small fault lines of tension are beginning to form, potentially threatening both the inhabitants of the house.

A timely and important film that traverses difficult territory with sensitivity and real insight, this is no easy watch, but it is an admirable piece of work.

Excerpt from Jennie Kermode at Eye For Film located HERE

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

Juxtaposing the passive 'ordinary' visuals of Michael lies a dark, unthinkable, secret.  The Blu-ray from Artificial Eye is dual-layered with a high bitrate. This is a clean, clear HD transfer showcasing depth and strong detail. Contrast seems a bit on the lighter side but services the film adequately. The transfer faithfully replicates the straightforward visuals with a shade of noise in the darker areas and some realistic colors. It is exceptionally clean and the 1080P provides a very good presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

We get the choice of the DTS-HD 5.1 surround at 2690 kbps which doesn't get a lot of surround / depth work or a leaner LPCM stereo track at 2304 kbps. Original music is by Lorenz Dangel and supports the film sparingly subtle cues creating an undercurrent of suspense - almost bordering on terror. There are frequent pauses. The film is devoid of extensive effects - the German dialogue is sparse and there are optional subtitles offered and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

We get an interview with director Markus Schleinzer lasting about a dozen minutes. It is revealing. There is also a trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Yes, Michael Haneke-like. A very uncomfortable topic and delivered with... subtle precision. The Blu-ray is another job well-done by Artificial Eye in the UK. This is, obviously, not for everyone - the implicationss of the story may leave a bad taste in your mouth - especially those with children. Those appreciative of sparse style and subtle build of a harrowing minimalist cinema experience should be intrigued, if not blown-away, by Michael.

Gary Tooze

May 17th, 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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