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Fat City [Blu-ray]
(John Huston, 1972)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 45,881,897,068 bytes
Feature Size: 32,243,021,184 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.90 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: May 18th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3009 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3009 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary and JP Lecture Series:
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
DTS-HD Master Audio Undetermined 1535 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1535 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
English (SDH), none
• Audio commentary by film
historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 5,000 copies
Description:John Huston’s sombre but compassionate boxing drama is a criminally-underseen late-career masterpiece from the great director. Peppered with outstanding performances this gritty yet affectionate look at the world of small-time boxing highlights a down-and-out fighter and a young up-and-comer, both moving through a world of seedy gyms and flop houses.
Few studio-era directors' careers survived the freewheeling 1970s, a time when successful filmmakers were more likely to be recent college graduates than weathered craftsmen. But John Huston made some exceptionally challenging films during the me-decade, and would continue to do so until the end of his life. Fat City (1972), which stars Stacy Keach and Jeff Bridges as a couple of down-and-out boxers, is one of the more uncompromising movies of the period. It isn't mentioned in the same breath as such Huston classics as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) or The African Queen (1951), but this gritty little movie is definitely not the work of an obsolete director.
Marvellous, grimly downbeat study of desperate lives and the escape routes people construct for themselves, stunningly shot by Conrad Hall. The setting is Stockton, California, a dreary wasteland of smoky bars and sunbleached streets where the lives of two boxers briefly meet, one on the way up, one on the way down. Neither, you sense instantly, for all their talk of past successes and future glories, will ever know any other world than the back-street gymnasiums and cheap boxing-rings where battered trainers and managers exchange confidences about their ailments, disappointments and dreams, and where in a sad and sobering climax two sick men beat each other half to death for a few dollars and a pint of glory. Huston directs with the same puritanical rigour he brought to Wise Blood. Beautifully summed up by Paul Taylor as a 'masterpiece of skid row poetry'.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Fat City is extremely thick on Blu-ray from Indicator group in the UK, It is cited as a "4K restoration". Huston and cinematographer Conrad L. Hall were matching the film's down-trodden milieu with a very gritty, rough appearance. It avoids any gloss or crispness, that would not suit the film, and this flat, dampened, stylistic appearance is consistent. This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate and the hazy look is supported by the previous Twilight Time 1080P that was also 4K restored, looking similar. I would guess the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 'loose', image is an accurate look for Fat City. This Blu-ray offers an authentic 1080P presentation. This is all that we can ask.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is transferred via a linear PCM 1.0 channel track or, an unnecessary, 5.1 surround bump in DTS-HD Master (both 24-bit). Boxing effects have minor depth. The film's music has Kris Kristofferson's Help Me Make It Through the Night, Burt Bacharach and Hal David's The Look of Love as performed by Dusty Springfield and If performed by Bread. These songs sound excellent in the lossless. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.
Indicator add the same audio commentary by film historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman. It is very informative. Sucker Punch Blues is a new video by our friends at Fiction Factory and runs just shy of an hour. It features interviews with actors Keach and Candy Clark, casting director Fred Roos and assistant cameraman Gary Vidor, chronicling the making of this modern classic. An American Classic is a newly illustrated 22-minute audio interview with Fat City author Leonard Gardner. John Huston on Fat City is 6-minutes archival interview filmed for the French TV programme Pour le cinéma from 1972. 'The John Player Lecture with John Huston' is an audio recording of an interview conducted by Brian Baxter at the National Film Theatre, London in 1972. There is also an isolated score, original theatrical trailer, and image gallery. The package has a limited edition exclusive 28-page booklet with a new essay by Danny Leigh, a contemporary review, and John Huston's reminiscences about the film and comes with a second disc DVD. This Dual Format Edition is limited to 5,000 copies.
Indicator have announced that:
"We regret to report that there is a problem with the presentation of the documentary 'Sucker Punch Blues' on the Blu-ray Disc of FAT CITY which occurred during the encoding of the disc. As a result, this 55-minute documentary ends abruptly at approximately 37 minutes, leaving the end section missing. We are working hard to fix the problem, and will be making further announcements soon, but for those of you who wish to watch the documentary right away, we thought it might be useful to highlight that the entirety of 'Sucker Punch Blues' is presented on the DVD which is also included in this Limited Dual Format Edition"
April 7th, 2017
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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