Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Mighty Aphrodite [Blu-ray]

 

(Woody Allen, 1995)

 

Also available in Europe in a Region 'B' release

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Sweetland Films

Video: MiraMax

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:34:45.680

Disc Size: 23,581,608,292 bytes

Feature Size: 23,469,920,256 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.10 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 11th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

Japanese, none

 

Extras:

• none

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Released in 1995, Mighty Aphrodite was arguably Woody Allen's most successful film since Hannah and Her Sisters almost a decade earlier. The story follows Allen's neurotic New York sports writer Lenny, who becomes obsessed with tracking down his adopted son's birth mother, Linda. His odyssey is narrated and commented upon with coruscating wit by a Greek chorus led by F Murray Abraham. Despite their dire warnings at his rather ham-fisted attempts at hubris, there is nothing tragic in the ultimately uplifting tale. Lenny eventually locates Linda (an Oscar-winning performance from the enchanting Mira Sorvino) and discovers that she's caught up in just about every aspect of the sex trade. Without revealing his reasons, he sets about improving her life with hilarious results.


Sorvino is a wonder as the tall, alluring and vulnerable Linda, who talks with candid innocence of her adventures in vice (she offers a blow job as if it was a pound of apples) and clearly deserves a better hand than she has been dealt. Helena Bonham Carter, not entirely convincing as a driven Manahattanite, plays Allen's ambitious art dealer wife whom Lenny ultimately realises is the love of his life. And a host of stars including Claire Bloom, Gwenn Verdon and Olympia Dukakis (Jocasta) contribute shining moments to this intelligent and touching comedy. When the chorus bursts into "When You're Smiling" at the end, it's like the sun coming out.

 

 

The Film:

A dissatisfied Manhattan sportswriter finds more than he expected when he searches for the biological mother of his... adopted child in Woody Allen's comedy. Writer-director Allen also plays Lenny, a slightly more relaxed incarnation of his usual neurotic screen persona. Lenny is trapped in a bad marriage to high-strung art dealer Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter), but he finds solace in his relationship with his adopted young son. Indeed, he grows so fond of the boy that he decides to track down the boy's real mother, expecting to discover a brilliant professional. Instead, he finds Linda (Mira Sorvino), a ditzy prostitute and porno star who mingles casual vulgarity with disarming innocence. Despite his initial disillusionment, Lenny soon develops a fondness for Linda and decides to play matchmaker, setting her up with a handsome young boxer (Michael Rapaport) who is equally good-hearted and scatterbrained. While the contrast between the free-spirited Linda and the uptight Lenny provides the bulk of the laughs, hints of Allen's more literary humor are also present, particularly in the scenes involving a roaming Greek chorus commenting upon Lenny's fate. Sorvino received a supporting Oscar for her title role in a well-received movie that is nevertheless not at the level of Allen's best-known classics.

***

This is one of those circumstances in which I am at odds with most critics regarding their lukewarm to scalding reaction to a film. When I first saw "Mighty Aphrodite" years ago, I was uproariously delighted. After getting a few opposing takes on the film I could not find any support for my extremely highly lauded opinion. So I simply dismissed my feelings (Hey, maybe I was just in a good mood that day!). So, I choose it to show to friends the other night, recognizing its bawdy and boisterously lewd, at times, content. I understood that we were all adults. Well, I was even more appreciative of how evenly and meticulously this film had been crafted. My opinion only rose to greater heights. So, I watched it the following day again. This time with a focused critical eye prepared to find fault at any misplaced juncture or split infinitive. Once again, this film, its neo-classical hubris juxtapositions, tuned (if over-ripe) performances and dramatically ironic ending, won me over. I re-read some reviews of others and it actually has made me quite angry. As Jacobin Mugatu (Will Ferrell) said in 'Zoolander' - "I feel like I've taken Crazy Pills !" as no one seems to use the superlatives that I will right now to describe this unequivocally mature masterpiece.

Written by Allen and resonating with an enduring classical structure, yet modernized with apparent extemporaneously doubt, bouncing "Mighty Aphrodite" hits the screen with the press' eventually on the director's heels for his personal indiscretions and later marriage to girlfriend's (Mia Farrow) adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. There is a strong Oedipal irony buried in there somewhere.

Lenny Weinrib (Allen) is a busy sportswriter. His wife Amanda, (Helena Bonham Carter) is a busier New York gallery owner. They have adopted a son to conform to their hectic schedules as pregnancy would be too time-consuming for her. They name the one-day old infant 'Max'. Totally enamored with the young lad as he advances beyond infancy, Lenny's curiosity overcomes him and he MUST find out about the child's true parents. Were they geniuses who part-timed as professional models? His skewed perspective is obviously driven by the intense love for his son. Even if you cannot appreciate that emotion of parental fascination, you surely know friends who also constantly express the touching uniqueness they feel about their evolving child (ren). It is universal response existing since parenthood began.

 The encompassing desire to know his son's true mother is, alone, reflective of a Greek tragedy in the making. Supporting this intelligent association is a occasional narration by a Greek Chorus whose third wall with the audience is typically broken compelling their willing suspension. Of course the references with classical theatre are rife and the humor abounds further when Lenny finds, to his utter disbelief, the mother of his child is a dim-witted, simple yet lovable hooker/porn star named (among other obscene pseudonyms) Linda Ash. Her charm, melded with this dumfounded, slap-your-forehead circumstance drives Lenny to learn more and help poor Linda overcome her sex-trade limitations. Culminating with a dramaturgical twist worthy of Shakespeare, Allen even throws in Deus ex machina to turn the teetering bittersweet comedy to one of the most joyful endings I have ever seen... Ever! This is not simply a good Woody Allen film, but rather book-ended with "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Sweet and Lowdown" as his best (Yes... I have seen them all!). To convince me I am accurate in this statement, I need simply to see it again or better yet, just ask my 15 month old son Kyle... he's a genius and he loves the singing and dancing of the Greek Chorus!

Excerpt from Gary Tooze's article 'A favorite Opening Scene and... located HERE

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

Straight forward single-layered transfer of the Japanese Blu-ray of Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite.  The image is in 1.78:1 and looks flawless without blemishes ort manipulation. There is decent detail - some scenes show depth. Colors are tight and true - a lot of earthy browns for the Greek Chorus. No noise at all - not particularly glossy either. Not much more to add - this advances beyond the last DVD editions in every area and. hence, supplies a very strong Home Theater presentation. Zero complaints.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Solid linear PCM stereo track at 2304 kbps. Typical of a Woody Allen film we have some Cole Porter, Erroll Garner, Count Basie, Benny Goodman which all sounds marvelous via the uncompressed. As does the Dick Hyman Chorus. There are optional Japanese subtitles. There is also a Scandinavian Blu-ray of Mighty Aphrodite available but I have not seen it. I presume the transfer is similar although it may be Region 'B'-locked. This Japanese Blu-ray is Region FREE.

NOTE: The menus are in English.

 

Extras :

Nothing - not even a trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I am so biased but I'm sure I am not alone in admitting this to be my favorite Woody Allen comedy. Mighty Aphrodite is just brilliant and I still howl at the jokes that I can now recite after so many repeat viewings. There isn't anything I would attempt to complain about this masterpiece - the ending is so joyous and the Blu-ray is a welcome addition to my library. I'll re-watch this many many times and I love having the, obviously, improved video and audio. Despite the lack of extras I give this my, personal, highest recommendation. 

Gary Tooze

May 24th, 2012

 

Also available in Europe in a Region 'B' release


 

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

 

       HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE     ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!