S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
(Sean Baker, 2012)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: CRE Film
Video: Music Box
Region: 'A' (untested)
Disc Size: 29,352,755,473 bytes
Feature Size: 20,316,002,304 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.00 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: May 7th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 2.4.0:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3265 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3265 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2105 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2105 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
English (SDH), none
• Commentary by Director Sean Baker plus cast and crew
•Behind the Yellow Wall: The Making of Starlet (28:30)
• Shooting the Scene (4:07)
• Editing Starlet (3:58)
• At SXSW with the filmmakers (11:57)
• A Conversation With Dree and Besedka (4:53)
• Besedka Johnson Screen Test (5:47)
• The First Rehearsal (3:09)
• Researching Melissa (4:34)
• Theatrical trailer (2:08)
Description: STARLET explores the unlikely friendship between 21 year-old aspiring actress Jane (Dree Hemingway) and elderly widow Sadie after their worlds collide in California's San Fernando Valley. Jane spends her time getting high with her dysfunctional roommates and taking care of her hihuahua Starlet, while Sadie passes her days alone, tending to her garden. After a confrontation at a yard sale, Jane finds something unexpected in a relic from Sadie's past. Her curiosity piqued, she tries to befriend the caustic older woman. Secrets emerge as their relationship grows, revealing that nothing is ever as it seems.
Director Sean Baker continues in the naturalistic style of his previous films, the Spirit Award nominated Prince of Broadway and Take Out, capturing the rhythms of everyday life with a rare authenticity. Featuring exceptional debut performances by Dree Hemingway (great granddaughter of Ernest and daughter of Mariel) and 85 year-old Besedka Johnson, who received a Special Jury Recognition at SxSW, Starlet is at once provocative, haunting, unpredictable, and surprisingly sweet.
In addition to creating "Greg the Bunny," Sean Baker has had a remarkable second career as a director of small, neorealistic character studies: "Prince of Broadway" was a moving father-son story set in New York's Chinatown, while "Take Out" dealt with the plights of Chinese immigrants. His third feature, "Starlet," follows two women of different ages and backgrounds thrown into an unlikely situation together in the San Fernando Valley. Expect Baker's typical blend of low key narrative and emotional weight to lead the way.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
The bright sun that blasts through “Starlet,” a thrillingly,
unexpectedly good American movie about love and a moral awakening,
bathes everything in a radiant light, even the small houses with thirsty
lawns and dusty cars. This isn’t nowhere, but it’s right next door — in
that part of Southern California known as the San Fernando Valley, more
commonly called the Valley. A seemingly endless stretch of subdivisions
and McMansions, the Valley lies far below the rarefied heights of
Mulholland Drive, that glamorous crest that helps divide the Los Angeles
area into distinct swaths, economic realities, lifestyle choices and
states of mind.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Starlet looks to have been shot on HD and comes to Blu-ray from Music Box Films. The film was shot entirely in Los Angeles over the course of a month from August to September 2011. It has some of the weaknesses of the newer format with brightness flaring but the film is shot with a very natural intent and this verité sensibility comes through well. It sneaks into dual-layered territory but retains a modest bitrate and has the sharpness of HD and some impressive depth. Some of the film has a green cast that is probably accurate to the production. This Blu-ray probably looks just like the film The Starlet and it gave me a worthy presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Choice between two DTS-HD Master tracks - one in 5.1 surround at 3265 kbps and a second in 2.0 channel stereo at 2105 kbps. This is essentially dialogue-driven with few effects but you get some separation in the Bingo parlor, and the audio transfer seems competent in relating the film's sound with some verité scattering. All was clear and there are optional English subtitles available. Most Music Box films Blu-rays (to my knowledge) have been region FREE - but I am unsure whether this follows the pattern so we will have to put Region 'A'-locked for now.
Supplements are bountiful by Music Box with a forthright commentary by director Sean Baker plus cast and crew chipping in. It is relaxed and enjoyable focusing on certain scenes and recollections. We also get an extensive 'Making of...' entitled Behind the Yellow Wall. It runs for shy of 1/2 an hour and has many of the principals giving sound bytes. There are brief videos - Shooting the Scene (4:07), Editing Starlet (3:58), and entertaining Conversation With Dree and Besedka for about 5-minutes and a piece filed at the annual SXSW (South by SouthWest Independent Film Conference) with the filmmakers (3 sections, Baker, Bree, Besedka). There are a couple of screen tests and a rehearsal (which may be overkill) and lastly a theatrical trailer.
April 29th, 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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