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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Eight Men Out [Blu-ray]

 

(John Sayles, 1988)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Orion Pictures

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:59:50.474

Disc Size: 48,427,995,307 bytes

Feature Size: 34,783,309,824 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.00 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 24th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3675 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3675 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1858 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1858 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
 

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Feature commentary with director John Sayles
Retrospective documentary (57:54)
Theatrical trailer (2:20)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The scandal that gave the nation’s favorite pastime a black eye is dramatically rendered in the John Sayles (Honeydripper) scripted and directed Eight Men Out. Based on Eliot Asinof’s book Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series, the film traces the gambling conspiracy by members of the Chicago White Sox to lose the 1919 World Series in order to win a huge gambling payday. The film features an impressive cast including John Cusack (Being John Malkovich), Charlie Sheen (Wall Street), D.B. Sweeney (Taken 2), David Strathairn (Lincoln), Michael Lerner (Barton Fink), Clifton James (WUSA) and Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future).

 

 

The Film:

Writer/director John Sayles' dramatization of the most infamous episode in professional sports -- the fix of the 1919 World Series -- is considered by many to be among his best films and arguably the best baseball movie ever made. This adaptation of Eliot Asinof's definitive study of the scandal shows how athletes of another era were a different breed from the well-paid stars of later years. The Chicago White Sox owner, Charlie Comiskey (Clifton James), is portrayed as a skinflint with little inclination to reward his team for their spectacular season. When a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein (Michael Lerner) gets wind of the players' discontent, it offers a select group of stars -- including pitcher Eddie Cicotte (Sayles regular David Strathairn), infielder Buck Weaver (John Cusack), and outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (D.B. Sweeney) -- more money to play badly than they would have earned to try to win the Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Sayles cast the story with actors who look and perform like real jocks, and added a colorful supporting cast that includes Studs Terkel as reporter Hugh Fullerton and Sayles himself as Ring Lardner.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Sayles tells the story of the 1919 World Series baseball scandal as an allegory of the way the uneducated poor can be manipulated, corrupted and destroyed by the rich and powerful. The Chicago White Sox were tempted, thanks to the paltry salaries paid by their penny-pinching boss, to take bribes from a group of gambling hoodlums (Arnold Rothstein included) in return for throwing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The affair rocked America; and Sayles' movie, sticking close to the known facts, reflects the disillusionment that came with the realisation that these heroic figures were merely weak, corruptible humans. At the same time, however, his use of a near-legendary story to comment on the economic and social factors which made such corruption possible pushes him into a black -and-white polarisation of the characters which is only partly redeemed by the overall excellence of the acting. Given the inevitably knotty plotting, the message is oddly unrevealing, although the film features more than enough intelligently, wittily scripted moments to remain a fascinating insight into a crucial episode in the souring of that old American Dream.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

Eight Men Out arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films via a dual-layered transfer with a very high bitrate. It shows some pleasing texture (supporting the 'period' piece) and looks quite good but the image may be marginally horizontally stretched (to my eye). Contrast has some tight layers and the quality is quite consistent. There are smatterings of depth but I'd say the grain is the defining HD attribute. The Blu-ray dynamically improved the presentation over an SD rendering and the 1080P is quite appealing in-motion.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at a whopping 3675 kbps (24-bit) and sounds fabulous with adroit separations in the ballpark from plays to crowds. The jazzy/blues-infused score is by Mason Daring with support via After You've Gone and It Could Happen To You strongly instilling the period and mood (Sayles calls the score another voice in the film.) It is all extremely tight and impressive. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Olive include an excellent commentary by director John Sayles (also found in the 2008 Anniversary DVD edition) and I enjoyed his insights and comments on the cast and the intricate details of the story/production. There is also a lengthy retrospective documentary running just shy of an hour (also on the aforementioned DVD). It includes clips, and interviews with D.B. Sweeney, David Strathairn, Sayles and others mainly focusing on the project's evolution and transformation from the book. Lastly, we get a trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Eight Men Out is an excellent film for many reasons - that include the, original, story - its adaptation - the performances, wonderful period art direction and Sayles confidence with the source material. We'd like to feel it's an accurate re-telling of the infamous story and it works well in embracing that mystique. The Blu-ray (Sheen on the cover is a stretch as he didn't get extensive screen-time) gives a solid 1080P viewing with a strong audio. I think the commentary is a very good one and there is value in the 'Retrospective'. It's a film worthy of multiple re-visitations and this is the definitive way to enjoy it in your Home Theater. Certainly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 23rd, 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.

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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