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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Frances Ha [Blu-ray]

 

(Noah Baumbach, 2012)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Scott Rudin Productions

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #681

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:04.200

Disc Size: 40,572,781,043 bytes

Feature Size: 25,722,089,472 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: November 12th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2824 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2824 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• New conversation between filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and Baumbach (15:21)
New conversation between actor and filmmaker Sarah Polley and the film’s co-writer and star, Greta Gerwig (17:01)
New conversation about the look of Frances Ha between Baumbach, director of photography Sam Levy, and Pascal Dangin, who did the film’s color mastering (18:19)
Trailer (1:57)
One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by playwright Annie Baker

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Greta Gerwig is radiant as Frances, a woman in her late twenties in contemporary New York trying to sort out her ambitions, her finances, and, above all, her intimate but shifting bond with her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner). Meticulously directed by Noah Baumbach with a free-and-easy vibe reminiscent of the French New Wave’s most spirited films, and written by Baumbach and Gerwig with an effortless combination of sweetness and wit, Frances Ha gets at both the frustrations and the joys of being young and unsure of where to go next. This wry and sparkling city romance is a testament to the ongoing vitality of independent American cinema.

 

 

The Film:

Effortless and effervescent, "Frances Ha" is a small miracle of a movie, honest and funny with an aim that's true. It's both a timeless story of the joys and sorrows of youth and a dead-on portrait of how things are right now for one particular New York woman who, try as she might, can't quite get her life together.

That would be the Frances of the title (the Ha isn't explained until the film's charming final frame), a joint creation of and career high point for both star Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach, who met on the director's "Greenberg" and co-wrote the script.

Together they have created an American independent film (shot in luminous black and white by Sam Levy) that feels off the cuff but is in fact exactly made by a filmmaker in total control of his resources. With a soundtrack that makes liberal use of music from Georges Delerue, a frequent Francois Truffaut collaborator, it's got the energy and verve of the French New Wave but remains unmistakably itself.

Excerpt from Kenneth Turan at the LA Times located HERE

Credit here belongs in large part to Gerwig, who proved the leavening touch in Baumbach's last film, the largely unbearable Ben Stiller brood vehicle Greenberg. There, Gerwig's dressed-down frumpiness and tongue-tied, aw-shucks humility served to cut Stiller's hard-faced astringency. Here, Gerwig and Baumbach configure those same self-consciously "quirky," half-manic qualities negatively. Frances is fun (as when she pees off a subway tunnel after a night of drinking) and funny (as when she honks off the advances of a would-be suitor), yet she's also capricious, stubborn, and self-interested, traits that at once endear her to a NYC subclass of parentally subsidized fuck-abouts (Adam Driver, Michael Zegen) and alienate her from her more careerist, self-serious longtime BFF (Mickey Sumner).

As with Girls, something about Frances's identificatory push-pull nags. In places, like a dinner scene that rivals The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's horrific bread-breaking, Frances Ha is too confident and truly terrifying to scan as cute. In pithier passages, like Frances's detour to her upstate alma mater to teach dance, slum around a dorm, and half-heartedly soul search, or precious snatches of dialogue ("I'm not even a real person," Frances beams at one point, in what might as well be a popular t-shirt slogan encapsulating twentysomething malaise), the film flattens abjection into a kind of condescending, wounded-bird pitying. We feel for her because we—or at least the film's presumed viewer—are her. Baumbach and Gerwig are too rosy in their recuperation of Frances, especially as she hunkers down, takes a desk job, mounts her own dance routine, finds an apartment, and generally springs through a too-quick last act that feels like a strained, half-deserved "get your shit together" montage.

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE

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

Frances Ha looks excellent on Blu-ray from Criterion.  The image has excellent contrast.  This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and we can guess that it is a solid representation of the film. I can't imagine it looking much more authentic. It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio (shot in HD on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II) and seems to avoided any noticeable weaknesses in that format. I saw no noise nor flaring. The visuals are rich and deep. This Blu-ray has no discernable flaws and supplies a beautiful 1080P presentation. Many of the shots are artistically based and remind me of postcards. Thumbs up!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Criterion transfer the audio via a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2824 kbps. The film does not carry an abundance of seperations - although a few are present. It is mostly dialogue and images and the audio sound competent. We do get some evocative music tidbits including Thème de Camille from Jean-Luc Godard's "Contempt", Bowie, Harry Nilsson, Bach, Stones and a lot of Georges Delerue. It all sounded as appropriately veritescattered as was intended. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras :

Criterion include a new (June 2013) conversation between filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and Baumbach running about 16-minutes. We also get a July 2013 conversation between actor and filmmaker Sarah Polley and the film’s co-writer and star, Greta Gerwig running 17-minutes. In an 18-minute piece, produced by the Criterion Collection (2013), co-writer Noah Baumbach, director of photography Sam Levy, and Pascal Dangin, who did the film’s color mastering discuss digital filmmaking. the late cinematographer Harris Savides and how they achieved the look of Frances Ha. There is also a trailer and a linear notes booklet featuring an essay by playwright Annie Baker. Being 'Dual Format' the package also has a DVD, with all content available of the Blu-ray.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is more than just an endearing sweet portrayal. Frances Ha is filled with a lovable energy that has tapped directly into the universal feeling of youthful, unsettled, lack-of-direction... of coping, resilience and positive-ness in the face of anything life throws at you. The New Wave comparisons are apt and the Criterion Blu-ray package offers a great film, impressive a/v presentation with keen extras. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 5th, 2012

 

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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