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The Birthday Party [Blu-ray]
(William Friedkin, 1968)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 33,938,033,632 bytes
Feature Size: 27,524,984,832 bytes
Video Bitrate: 26.42 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: September 5th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1556 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1556 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Interview with Director William Friedkin (25:04)
Description:The Birthday Party was originally presented on stage in London in 1958 Legendary playwright Harold Pinter (The Homecoming) became an overnight sensation and is now recognized as one of the greatest talents in contemporary English literature. The Birthday Party has been described as a comedy of menace... a dramatic exposé of contemporary man s inability to cope with his fears and guilt. The story centers around a shabby seaside boarding house in England where a seemingly inane and trivial conversation suddenly transforms from humorous to terrifying. The second feature film directed by the great William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) stars Robert Shaw (Figures in a Landscape, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) and Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon).
The movie, like the play, forces us to accept a horror
story that has no reasonable antecedents: Stanley
(Robert Shaw) is the only guest at a rundown, seaside
boarding house owned by Meg (Dandy Nichols) and Petey
(Moultrie Kelsall). Into their lives of placid
desperation come two strangers, Goldberg (Sydney Tafler),
tackily urbane and garrulous, and McCann (Pattrick
Magee), a faithful goon. They have been sent by someone
named Monty and "the organization" to retrieve Stanley.
Film version of Pinter's first full-length play, a rather unsubtle and flashy piece of seaside gothic in which a scruffy, stay-at-home boarding-house lodger is terrorised by two sinister visitors: rather clever inversions of the stereotypic stage Jew and Irishman. Seems long and fussy, partly the fault of both play and director, but some marvellous performances (Nichols creating her Silly Moo character, Tafler superb as the anecdotal Goldberg) make it worth seeing.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of The Birthday Party looks reasonably adept in 1080P. Aside from two exterior shots - bookending the film - it is almost entirely within the main floor of a house. The source is fairly clean with only a few speckles. It is transferred in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Contrast is a bit wanting but detail in the close-ups are surprising. A few instances of colors having some depth - notable red dress and purple shirt etc. but mostly the image seems improved upon SD but not in any dynamic way. There are hints of pleasing depth. This Blu-ray visuals are watchable with occasional flashes that can impress with HD quality.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1556 kbps in the original English language - which is clear and consistent. There are no demonstrative effects in the film - being mostly dialogue-driven. There is no credited score and no background music distracting from the power of the narrative and performances. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
There is a very interesting 25-minute interview with director William Friedkin who traces his career leading up to The Birthday Party and his experiences of filmmaking to that point, including the production. It's revealing and worth the indulgence. He's always intersting. There are also five trailers from other films.
August 15th, 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 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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