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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Big Chill [Blu-ray]

 

(Lawrence Kasdan, 1983)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #720

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:45:18.895

Disc Size: 46,047,295,693 bytes

Feature Size: 27,473,184,768 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: July 29th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3620 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3620 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Alternate remastered 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
New interview with Kasdan (12:19)
Reunion of cast and crew from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, including Kasdan and actors Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams (43:48)
Documentary from 1998 on the making of the film (56:05)
Deleted scenes (9:39)
Trailer (2:41)
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by writer and filmmaker Lena Dunham and a 1983 piece by critic Harlan Jacobson

2 DVDs with feature and extras

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Description: After the shocking suicide of their friend, a group of thirtysomethings reunite for his funeral and end up spending the weekend together, reminiscing about their shared past as children of the sixties and confronting the uncertainty of their lives as adults of the eighties. Poignant and warmly humorous in equal measure, this baby boomer milestone made a star of writer-director Lawrence Kasdan and is perhaps the decade’s defining ensemble film, featuring memorable performances by Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams. And with its playlist of sixties rock and R&B hits, The Big Chill all but invented the consummately curated soundtrack.

 

 

The Film:

Embraced by the Baby Boomer generation and spawning countless imitators, the sophomore film of writer-director Lawrence Kasdan was a successful comedy-drama with a best selling soundtrack of Motown hits. Kevin Kline and Glenn Close star as Harold and Sarah Cooper, a couple whose marital troubles are put on hold while they host an unhappy reunion of former college pals gathered for the funeral of one of their own, a suicide victim named Alex. As the weekend unfolds, the friends catch up with each other, play the music of their youth, reminisce, smoke marijuana, and pair off with each other in unexpected combinations. Included are Michael (Jeff Goldblum), a smarmy journalist; Sam (Tom Berenger), a TV star; Karen (JoBeth Williams), unhappily married and pining for Sam; Nick (William Hurt), a drug-addicted Vietnam vet; and Meg (Mary Kay Place), a single career woman who wants a child. Joining the group is Alex's bizarre girlfriend Chloe (Meg Tilly), who finds new love with Nick. As they learn to deal with the truth about the loss of idealism in their lives and Alex's sad demise, the friends find their bond still intact, while the marriage of Harold and Sarah is healed in an unusual way that's in sync with the era of their youth. Cut from the release of The Big Chill (1983) was the brief appearance of young actor Kevin Costner as Alex. Kasdan promised Costner a role in his next picture, which turned out to be a star-making part in Silverado (1985).

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

A funeral reunites a group of friends from the idealistic '60s who have gone their separate ways in the pragmatic '80s. Over the weekend they eat a lot, argue, go jogging, try to bed one another, and reminisce endlessly to the accompaniment of a host of '60s greats on the soundtrack. However, the script deftly avoids the twin pitfalls of solemnity or sentimentality which threaten such a scenario; instead it's perceptive, affectionate and often very funny.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

 

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

The Big Chill arrives on Blu-ray from Criterion. This should be considered the definitive digital video appearance for the film being a "New, restored 4K digital film transfer, supervised by director of photography John Bailey and approved by director Lawrence Kasdan".  The image can look very thick at times but this would certainly be deemed authentic.  This is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 1 3/4 hour film. Occasionally the visuals are kind of bland or rosy softness but, again - I would assume, this would be in-line with the original appearance. Colors have richness but nothing is crispy tight. The old (1999) DVD was criticized for its appearance and it would seem SD was less-capable of bringing the film's darker, almost crushed, sequences to digital without noise being produced. For the most part HD handles this very adeptly.  It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and well-lit detail is very impressive. They are frequent examples of depth. This Blu-ray does a great job in presenting the film for, the best possible, home theatre consumption.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Criterion transfer the audio via a linear PCM track in original mono at 1152 kbps but also give the option in an alternate remastered 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master at a whopping 3620 kbps. I sampled both and the surrounds sounds good without overindulging the separations although there are some - a few crisp - and it adds to the atmosphere. There aren't an abundance of effects - being very dialogue driven but the music is a huge part of the experience as the soundtrack features ten late '60s/early '70s pop/rock songs, including "The Weight", "Good Lovin', "In the Midnight Hour" (the Young Rascals version), "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine (the Marvin Gaye version)", "A Whiter Shade of Pale", "My Girl" (the Temptations version), "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "Joy to the World" (the Three Dog Night version). It sounds wonderfully clean with some depth and bass in the lossless. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Criterion stack the package with supplements. There is a new, 2014 interview with director Lawrence Kasdan who discusses the challenges creating personal work within the Hollywood stufio system and his remarkable career as a collaborative screenwriter and writer-director. It runs a dozen minutes. Reunion of cast and crew from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the film. It has Kasdan and actors Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams talking for almost 45-minutes. We also get the, 56-minute, 1998 documentary by Laurent Bouzereau about the making of The Big Chill featuring interviews with cast and crew. It was entitled The Big Chill: A Reunion. There are 10-minutes worth of deleted scenes, a trailer and the package contains a booklet featuring an essay by writer and filmmaker Lena Dunham and a 1983 piece by critic Harlan Jacobson. The dual-format set has 2 DVDs with the feature and extras of the Blu-ray.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Big Chill is such a well-made film - often imitated and also the butt of many jokes. The dialogue and performances are excellent - as is the pacing. It extends beyond its nostalgic and 'serious comedy' labeling.  Kasdan has made a real gem here - a celebration of friendship, warm, fun, reflective, sexy... human. This is a masterpiece and the Criterion Blu-ray package offers a magnificent a/v presentation with plenty of interesting extras. Very strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

July 9th, 2014


 

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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