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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

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)

Runtime: 1:31:37.533

Disc Size: 17,121,757,126 bytes

Feature Size: 16,707,201,024 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

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.



The Film:

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.

I can't say watching this movie is an uplifting experience -- the effect left after watching "Parts" is a chilling, depressing one. But the bummer is, I presume, what Egoyan intended, and despite its disturbing implications, the movie has an emotional heart of its own, deep within those omnipresent video waves and that trance-inducing synthentic score, that asks us all to drop our channel-flippers and check our pulses.

The plot in "Parts" is appropriately banal, a rather ordinary melodrama of human whims and desires, in which movie extra, aspiring gigolo and hotel sheet-changer Lance (Michael McManus) finds himself the obsessional object of two women: Clara (Gabrielle Rose), a scriptwriter he has hustled for a part in an upcoming movie, and Lisa (Arsine Khanjian), a hotel maid who hangs on the all-but-tranced cover boy's every word and deed.

Excerpt from The Washington Post located HERE

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.

















Audio :

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.


Extras :

This Artificial Eye Blu-ray release is bare-bones with no extras at all.



Not to all tastes Egoyan's Speaking Parts is a brilliantly understated film.  He has really identified his own style and it runs so beautifully. The Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides a decent 1080P - and despite the lack of extras, those keen to investigate his early work should be pleased to see it in this format. 

Gary Tooze

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.

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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
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Gary W. Tooze






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