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Bullets Over Broadway [Blu-ray]
(Woody Allen, 1994)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Sweetland Films
Video: Kadokawa Shoten
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,053,751,080 bytes
Feature Size: 22,931,791,872 bytes
Video Bitrate: 26.98 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: May 5th, 2012
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Description: Struggling 1920s playwright David Shayne (John Cusack), having failed to secure financing for his latest work, reluctantly makes a deal with mob boss Nick Valenti (Joe Viterelli): a Broadway debut, with the chance to direct, as long as Nick's flibbertigibbet girlfriend, Olive (Jennifer Tilly), plays one of the lead roles. As Olive and star Helen Sinclair (Dianne Wiest) attempt to upstage each other, Olive's gangland bodyguard Cheech (Chazz Palminteri) starts suggesting changes to David's script.
Set in the Runyonesque New York of the Jazz Age, when artists rubbed shoulders with gangsters at speakeasies, this is the story of idealistic young playwright David Shayne (Cusack). With backing from mob boss Nick Valenti (Viterelli), Shayne can direct his new work on Broadway, and even attract stars of the magnitude of Helen Sinclair (Wiest) and Warner Purcell (Broadbent). There's just one catch: Valenti insists that his flapper girlfriend Olive (Tilly) play a leading role. Not only is she terrible, she comes with a shadow, Nick's bodyguard Cheech (Palminteri), who oversees the rehearsals with barely concealed impatience. A merciless satire on the pretensions, hypocrisies and indulgences of theatre folk, this is Allen's fizziest piece in years. It's propped up by two fiercely competitive caricatures from Tilly and Wiest, who completely and appropriately overshadow Cusack's approximation of the inexperienced author. It must be said that this is scarcely new ground, and that the staging is sometimes clumsy, but just when you wonder how much life is left in these stereotypes, Allen pulls off a doozy of a dramatic switch which takes the farce to unexpected, dizzy heights. No! Don't speak! See it!
Well, Bullets Over Broadway is indeed a confection, but this one has wit and sass. Cowritten by Allen and a new collaborator, Douglas McGrath, the movie, in a delightful caprice, ends up turning the tables on Allen’s honorable-nerd alter ego. As rehearsals for the play commence, David assembles a flaky crew of thespians, including Tilly’s one-dimensional Harlow knockoff, Olive Neal; the gluttonous English hambone Warner Purcell (Jim Broadbent); the perky Eden Brent (Tracey Ullman), who delights in telling jokes no one quite gets; and Helen Sinclair (Dianne Wiest), an edging-over-the-hill Broadway grande dame whose passion for martinis is surpassed only by her burgeoning affection for David. Most of the actors have ideas for changing David’s script; each wants his or her role to stand out (or, in Olive’s case, to feature fewer big words). But the one who ends up wielding the most influence on David isn’t an actor. It’s Cheech (Chazz Palminteri), the glowering, thick-lipped gangster assigned to look after Nick’s girlfriend. He couldn’t give a damn about the theater — but he knows life, and what every thuggish bone in his body tells him is that David’s play stinks.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Straight forward single-layered transfer of the Japanese Blu-ray of Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway. The image is in 1.85:1 and looks weak - just as the DVDs did - so it may be more a factor of the production. It does brighten in 1080P (the film has many dark interior sequences) - colors (skin tones) and contrast are certainly improved and more realistic over SD. No noise at all and the SDs had some artifacts. The resulting HD presentation is flat with minimal gloss. It still carries inherent softness - which may be totally authentic. One day we might compare to a newer BD but I don't anticipate dramatic differences.
NOTE: Nathaniel tells us in FB - "FYI, this is also out on German and French Blu-ray as well. The German one is a complete mess (lots of element damage and rolling waves of noise throughout the film, making darker scenes unwatchable); the French one looks the best of all of them but has forced subs." (thanks Nathaniel!)
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
DVD screen captures by roland heurex
More Blu-ray Captures
Solid linear PCM stereo track at 2304 kbps (24-bit). This probably advances equally or more so than the video. Typical of a Woody Allen film we get music like Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo' Bye!) as performed by Al Jolson with the Vitaphone Orchestra plus other stuff by Eddie Cantor, The Three Deuces Musicians & Singers, Red Nichols and His Five Pennies, Bix Beiderbecke - the music of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, George Gershwin etc. It sounds tight and pleasurable. There are optional Japanese subtitles. There is also a Spanish Blu-ray of Bullets Over Broadway available but I have not seen it and presume it to be a bootleg. This Japanese Blu-ray is, supporting the region-code of that country, Region 'A'.
Nothing - not even a trailer. The menus are in English.
December 13th, 2016
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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