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Speaking Parts [Blu-ray]
(Atom Egoyan, 1989)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Ego Film Arts
Video: Artificial Eye
Region: 'B' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 17,121,757,126 bytes
Feature Size: 16,707,201,024 bytes
Video Bitrate: 22.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 24th, 2012
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Description: "In my films, you're always encouraged to remember that you're watching a collection of designed images." Thus spake Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan in describing his calculatedly non-realistic style. In keeping with his earlier works, Egoyan's Speaking Parts, though grounded in reality, could never be confused with the facts of life. Arsinee Khanjian plays a near-somnambulistic maid who carries a torch for aspiring actor Michael McManus. She obsesses on McManus by renting tapes of the films in which he's appeared as a non-speaking extra. As McManus ignores Khanjian while wooing would-be filmmaker Gabrielle Rose (he wants to star in a film based on Rose's life-saving organ donation), Khanjian develops a sort of rapport with video store manager Tony Nardi, who also harbors dreams of becoming a filmmaker. The most curious (and, to some, maddening) aspect of Speaking Parts is that all the characters physically resemble one another. What this has to do with Egoyan's "message"--if any--is unclear, but it sure works towards the director's goal of assuring that the viewers are constantly aware that they're watching a movie and not Real Life.
Pursuing the obsession with sex, death and videotape evident in Family Viewing, Egoyan here addresses the dangers of 'living in a situation in which everything depends upon one's attachment to, or rejection of, certain images'. For Clara (Rose), the danger lies in her desire to turn her dead brother's life into a TV movie, a project from which she is progressively erased. For shy hotel chambermaid Lisa (Khanjian), who watches videos of the man she loves as an extra in movies, it's her naive ignorance of the medium's potential for manipulation. Handsome gigolo Lance (McManus) has a role in both their lives; as the object of Lisa's unrequited, strangely ritualised love; as Clara's lover and the actor playing her brother in the film. In striking contrast to the flat, degraded video images of Family Viewing, the visuals here are lush and beautifully designed; still, a sensation of unreality persists. Machines like the video telephone link used by Lance and Clara as a sex aid seem to hinder rather than aid communication. Nevertheless, far from condemning recording media out of hand, Egoyan scrutinises our ambiguous relationship with them; and as the characters grope towards less alienated (self) images, the film achieves a remarkable synthesis of intellectual analysis and deeply felt emotion.Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE
That the video age has mesmerized us into a collective state of
emotional frigidity, spiritual emptiness and self-absorption couldn't be
better illustrated than by Atom Egoyan's "Speaking Parts," a
Canadian movie in which people find their deepest emotions buried, not
in their hearts, but in their TV monitors.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Speaking Parts gets an 1080P transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye. It is single-layered with a supportive, if not stellar, bitrate. Colors are brighter and truer than SD could relate and there is only a touch of noise in the few darker sequences. There is a shade of teal-leaning. It has a thick appearance that supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, black levels and some minor depth in the 1.78:1 frame. It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and the minor TV screen 'video' sequences look as intended. This Blu-ray probably looks very similar to the theatrical version of the film and it gave me an acceptable if not dynamic presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Unfortunately, the audio is not lossless - we get a standard Dolby Digital stereo track that seems to do the job as the film has many silences. The dialogue is clean and clear - there are minimal effects. There are no optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
This Artificial Eye Blu-ray release is bare-bones with no extras at all.
July 4th, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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