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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Empties aka "Vratné lahve" [Blu-ray]


(Jan Sverák, 2007)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: The Czech Republic State Fund for Support and Development of Cinematography



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

Runtime: 1:43:32.456 

Disc Size: 23,771,567,467 bytes

Feature Size: 19,453,249,536 bytes

Video Bitrate: 16.52 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 24 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Czech 1742 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1742 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS Audio German 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
DTS Audio Polish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit



English, Czech, German, Polish, Slovak, none



• Making of Featurette (31:30)

• Trailers (3:48)

• Gallery

• Storyboards (7:37)

The cover, case are in Polish





Description: The long-anticipated serio-comedy Empties constitutes director Jan Sverak's third installment in his trilogy on aging that commenced with The Elementary School (1991) and continued with the beloved Kolya (1996). The filmmaker's father, Zdenak Sverak, stars as Josef Tkaloun, a curmudgeonly middle-aged lit teacher who grows exhausted from instructing his demanding, occasionally obnoxious students, and opts to take a hike - into an early retirement. Though his wife, Eliska (Daniela Kolarova) (to whom he has repeatedly been unfaithful) continues to tolerate his insensitivity, Josef quickly recognizes his own need for a daily grind, and thus heads into a series of random occupations, including bike messenger and bottle retriever in a grocery store. The latter proves particularly colorful, introducing Josef to a host of eccentric and occasionally funny co-workers. Meanwhile, Josef makes feeble attempts to set his hyper-devout daughter (Tatiana Vilhelmova) up with a crass former coworker (Jiri Machacek), and lapses into lusty fantasies about the headmistress of his former school (Nela Boudova) - endangering his marriage in the process. At the time of its release, this film reportedly netted a greater profit than any movie in Czech history.



The Film:

In Empties, father-son Czech collaborators in the Oscar-winning Kolya – the Czech Republic's venerated screenwriter/actor Zdenek Sverák and director Jan Sverák – focus on how poorly a cantankerous high school teacher (Sverák senior) adapts to what amounts to forced retirement.

Crusty, crafty, hyperactive and a bit of a ladies' man, the grey-bearded Josef Tkaloun can't abide the prospects of a quiet and settled life with his wife of more than 40 years, Eliska (Daniela Kolárová).

He takes a job in the bottle collection department of a local supermarket, hoping to keep in touch with the world – mostly in the form of talkative women who see him as a sexy, avuncular confidant – and to indulge in his rich fantasy life.

Josef isn't the kind of elderly hero North American audiences are used to. He's often impatient, selfish, unkind and deceitful, and he can't avoid meddling in the lives of others.

Excerpt from The Toronto Star located HERE

Those cinephiles who rejoice in both charming foreign films and long memories will recall Kolya. The story of how a five-year-old Russian boy gets dumped on a grumpy bachelor cellist in Prague, the Czech film won the Oscar for best foreign film in 1996. Good news: The father-and-son team behind it is back with an equally likable offering in a rather similar vein.

This time, Jan Sverak directs his father Zdenek (who again wrote the script) as he plays another grumpy old guy in a film punningly entitled Empties. Sverak Sr. is Josef Tkaloun, an overstressed high-school teacher dismayed by the disrespectful youths he has to instruct. After an episode in which he wrings out the blackboard sponge over the head of one particularly obnoxious student, this twitchy grouch is forced into a frighteningly empty retirement. Realizing he can hardly sit at home watching his tight-lipped wife Eliska (Daniela Kolarova) cook and clean, he looks for another job and eventually finds his calling manning the bottle-return counter at a supermarket.

Excerpt from Globe and Mail  located HERE

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

Empties is a wonderful Czech film on Region FREE Blu-ray. It's a delight.  It is transferred using a VC-1 encode and looks quite strong despite the low-ish bitrate for the 1 3/4 hour film. It has no untoward gloss and shows some depth and I would guess the 1.85:1 aspect ratio + 1080P transfer is a strong replication of the theatrical appearance a few years hence. This Blu-ray image is as tight as you might expect from a modern film. Visually this gets high marks.


















Audio :

The audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 1742 kbps in the original Czech. There are two DUBs (German and Polish.) There aren't a lot of separations in Empties but there are a few surprises and the score by Ondrej Soukup sounds excellent in supporting the film with some pleasing depth and eventful pauses. There are optional subtitles, including English (see sample), and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE Blu-ray playable on machines worldwide.



Extras :

There are some supplements all English-friendly - a 1/2 hour Making of Featurette (with Eng subs) with the filmmakers telling some of the production story, plus there are trailers, a photo gallery, and storyboards.



Empties is such a pleasure. A family affair production with so much warmth going for it. It's funny and explores themes of love, acceptance of age, relationships, female beauty and many universal emotions. It was such a pleasure to view - especially on this, English-friendly, region FREE Blu-ray. I wish every BD viewing I had was this good. Strongly recommended!

Gary Tooze

August 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 3500 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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Gary W. Tooze






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