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Hester Street [Blu-ray]
(Joan Micklin Silver, 1975)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Midwest Films
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,530,264,467 bytes
Feature Size: 23,140,958,208 bytes
Video Bitrate: 30.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: March 17th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1829 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1829 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
• Burned-in English for infrequent Yiddish dialogue
Description: Carol Kane (Annie Hall, TV's Taxi) stars with Steven Keats (Death Wish) Doris Roberts (TV's Everybody Loves Raymond) in Joan Micklin Silver's (Chilly Scenes of Winter) touching tale of Gitl (Kane), a young Jewish woman who comes to America in the 1890s, only to discover that her husband, Jake (Keats), has given up the ways of the old country, and taken up with a new girlfriend, and a new life. By turns heartbreaking, comic, and sharply observed, this remarkable film garnered Kane an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in 1975, and launched director Joan Micklin Silver's career.
Among the first releases in the new wave of independent films of the 1970s, writer/director Joan Micklin Silver's portrait of turn-of-the-century New York is also important for its unflinching look at women's issues. Russian Jewish immigrant Gitl Carol Kane joins her husband Jake Steven Keats in New York after he has gone ahead to establish himself. Jake has quickly assimilated many American customs, much to the dismay of Gitl, who clings to her Old World ways. Gitl's discovery of how Jake was able to finance her trip to America leads to more tension, and Gitl is soon on her own with few resources on which to draw. Although the film performed modestly at the box office, it was a sign of changing times when Kane's quietly assured performance was nominated for an Academy award, a rare recognition by Hollywood of a film made outside the studio system.
There is nothing very original about "Hester Street" except its
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Lesser-known Hester Street arrives on Blu-ray from the Kino-Lorber label. The black and white image shows a bit of softness, but I suspect this was inherent in the production to accentuate the period 'feel'. The NY Times columnist stated "There is a defect in the picture, although it is not a major one. The street scenes are too fully packed with color..." and there is no color scenes in the film on Blu-ray - but he may have simply been referring to the 'colorful activity' as opposed to literal color scenes. This is standard single-layered with a very high bitrate for the 1.5 hour film and I expect this is as good as Hester Street has ever looked on digital. Grain is present to varying degrees and the contrast wavers a bit - also dependant on the scene - it can look pale/faded. This is in the slightly bastardized 1.78:1 aspect ratio and some minor depth is visible at times. Overall it is pretty solid with only a couple of instances of noise. This Blu-ray provided a decent, not stellar, presentation - obviously superior to SD.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino-Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1829 kbps. Hester Street is largely dialogue with some street scenes of economic activity. There is a score by cornet soloist Herbert L. Clarke that follows the period and, frequently, somber mood. There are burned-in English subtitles when there is Yiddish dialogue and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
None - not even a trailer. I think the film deserved something, perhaps an interview with Carol Kane?
NOTE: Eric tells us "The old, Out-of-Print Image Entertainment US DVD release had a commentary, documentary excerpt, and interviews (including Carol Kane)."
March 3rd, 2015
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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