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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Natural Selection [Blu-ray]


(Robbie Pickering, 2011)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Best Medicine Productions / Cinema Guild

Video: Cinema Guild



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

Runtime: 1:29:59.435

Disc Size: 30,678,560,816 bytes

Feature Size: 22,437,457,920 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.98 Mbps

Chapters: 21

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 13th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2576 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2576 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






• Interviews (Rachel Harris - 3:37, Matt O'Leary - 3:48, Crew - 2:43)

Theatrical Trailer (2:32)

• 10 Previews from Cinema Guild





Description: Winner of the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at SXSW and nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Actress for Rachael Harris, NATURAL SELECTION is a wonderfully irreverent indie comedy about a devoted Texas housewife who’s carefully ordered world is turned upside down when she sets out to find her husband’s long lost son.



The Film:

A woman eager to grant what could be her husband's last wish ends up on a road trip with an ill-mannered criminal in this comedy from writer and director Robbie Pickering. Linda White (Rachael Harris) has been married for more than 20 years to Abe (John Diehl), a Christian so devout that he refuses to have sex with his wife; when the couple had trouble conceiving early in their marriage, a doctor discovered that Linda was infertile, and believing that sex without producing offspring is a sin, Abe insisted their union be celibate. Linda, an obedient spouse and devout Christian, has obeyed Abe's edict, but when he suffers a stroke likely to claim his life, Linda makes a surprising discovery -- Abe has been making frequent deposits at a sperm bank, and wants to meet one of the children he's sired before he dies. Linda is able to track down one of the products of Abe's seed, but Raymond (Matt O'Leary) is hardly the sort of son most folks wish for -- he's a mean-spirited prison escapee with a taste for drugs who agrees to travel from Florida to Texas with her only to avoid the cops who are on his trail. At first, Linda and Raymond mix as well as oil and water, but after a few days on the road the two discover they have a bit more in common than they expected. Natural Selection won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

A dimly lighted film with washed-out color and a muffled soundtrack that renders some of the dialogue unintelligible, it still won a passel of awards at the 2011 South by Southwest festival. But its technical limitations are serious impediments to appreciation. The storytelling and editing are also choppy. And subsidiary characters that include Linda’s callous sister, Sheila (Gayland Williams), and her lecherous brother-in-law, Peter (Jon Gries), are cartoons.

Long before Linda tracks down Abe’s 23-year-old son, Raymond (Matt O’Leary), he has already made a spectacularly gross entrance. It comes in the opening scene, which shows him climbing out of a manure bag on a giant lawn mower outside the prison from which he is escaping. When Linda finds him living outside Tampa in a filthy shack littered with drug paraphernalia, Raymond is a snarling foulmouthed beast. But with the police hot on his heels, he has no choice but to flee with her.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

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

Natural Selection is put to Blu-ray from Cinema Guild.  This was shot with a Red One Camera (HD digital). It has benefits for filmmakers - one of which Pickering notes is continuous running - getting 18 takes in 45 minutes of continuous shooting. The visuals of the film are not as waxy as we have seen from other HD efforts, and the contrast flaring isn't an issue either. I wouldn't say that the visuals are particularly striking but the dual-layered transfer has a high bitrate and I suspect this is an accurate duplication of the original Indie theatrical presentation. It mostly looks like 'film'. Daylight scenes are more impressive but nothing is overly dark and there is no noise. I never got the impression of a lot of depth but the 1080P image quality is consistent and nothing interfered with appreciating the narrative.
















Audio :

Audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at 2576 kbps. At the mercy of the Indie roots - the sound naturally produces a verité feel with a scattered effect in some dialogue. A few separations exist but they are not particularly crisp, remarkable or integral to the film. This is probably in-line with the original production. There is some original music by iZLER and Curt Schneider that plays well beside the film. There are no subtitles offered and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Supplements have some brief interviews (Rachel Harris - 3:37, Matt O'Leary - 3:48, Crew - 2:43), a Theatrical Trailer and 10 Previews from Cinema Guild. Being his first feature, perhaps more director involvement in the extras would have been appropriate and bolstered appreciation. NOTE: FYI, there is an interesting interview with Pickering HERE.



I found Natural Selection appealing for the characters, notably Harris and O’Leary (NOTE: TimeOut Film Guide cites Harris as "What she does with Linda, the film’s childless, devoutly Christian heroine, is practically miraculous: She suggests a cloistered, frustrated existence without ever mocking the character’s religion, roots or emotional neediness."). But what I also thought was a very positive sign was Robbie Pickering's story and direction - although perhaps the low budget-ing may not have realized his vision with full potential. It is still an amusing and engaging film experience. I liked Natural Selection, but can see some not embracing it fully. The Cinema Guild Blu-ray appears to be an accurate representation of the theatrical - which is all we can ask. Perhaps a director commentary would have been appropriate but, regardless, it's a film I will revisit one day. If this award winning film sounds intriguing to you - I suggest indulging in the Blu-ray.

Gary Tooze

February 27th, 2013



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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