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Off the Black


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Product Details

  • Actors: Nick Nolte, Trevor Morgan, Timothy Hutton
  • Directors: James Ponsoldt
  • Writers: James Ponsoldt
  • Producers: Carrie Fix, Maggie Meade, Matt Tromans, Meg Mortimer, Robert Hariri
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Image/Thinkfilms
  • DVD Release Date: May 10, 2006
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000M343CQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,610 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Off the Black" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Two-Time Oscar-Nominee Nick Nolte stars as Ray Cooke, a disheveled, grumpy high school umpire who forms an unlikely friendship with a troubled teenager, Dave Tibbel (Morgan), after he catches him vandalizing his home. A straightforward exchange - if Dave repairs the damage, Ray won't call the cops - becomes an ever increasingly personal relationship and enables Dave to cope with his own distant father (Oscar-Nominee Timothy Hutton). As they grow more dependent on each other, Ray asks Dave to go to his 40th high school reunion and pretend to be his son, a benevolent act of deception that winds up opening unexpected dimensions in the two men.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
NicK Nolte won the Academy Award for best actor in my dreams.
Richard Schulman
There are no 'bells and whistles' to be found, just a well told story and some very fine performances.
B. K. Stepp
The soft, natural lighting of the interiors allows the full mystery of the characters to flourish.
larry-411

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By larry-411 on April 17, 2007
Format: DVD
The experience of seeing "Off the Black" did what very few films have done for me lately; it left me with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face.

Within seconds, literally, we are introduced to young Dave Tibbel (Trevor Morgan). He's standing on the pitcher's mound, sweat beaded on his brow, studying the catcher's signals. His face completely fills the screen, as if the director is saying, "here you go. If you don't like what you see, this will be tough for you. If you do, sit back and watch the story develop." The story is that of a relationship between Dave and someone else, of course. But that someone is no blonde bombshell or voluptuous vixen. The other half of that relationship is Ray Cook (Nick Nolte), the ump standing behind home plate. But this is not "Brokeback Baseball," no, although surely that may enter your mind. It's something else. It's something rarely explored in American cinema, and it's bold and daring. It's a love story -- a good old-fashioned romance between two individuals who just happen to be male, and it's totally platonic. "Is this possible?" you may ask. It sure is, and "Off the Black" will prove it to you.

This film is made with passion and care. The soft, natural lighting of the interiors allows the full mystery of the characters to flourish. Single point lighting allows interplay of light and shadow which echoes the bright and dark sides of Dave and Ray, as well as the family members who surround them. Dave's father Tom (Timothy Hutton), withdrawn and distant. Sister Ashley (Sonia Feigelson), on the cusp of adulthood, gawky and afraid. All have secrets to tell, but don't, or won't, or can't. Cinematographer Tim Orr manages to find beauty in every little thing -- contrails, dripping gutters, siding and eaves and gently sloping roofs.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By B. K. Stepp on April 18, 2007
Format: DVD
Not quite a home-run but a very good indie debut by first time director James Ponsoldt. There are no 'bells and whistles' to be found, just a well told story and some very fine performances. Nolte, in particular, totally embodies his characters ailments and addictions. The viewer can almost hear his bones creak with each movement. His voice is like a rake over gravel with the volume turned down. A very brave and fine performance.

Also worthy of mention are a very natural performance by Trevor Morgan, an understated Timothy Hutton and a surprise (to me) appearance by Sally Kirkland. A very nice movie for fans of indie films or character studies.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By B. Merritt VINE VOICE on May 7, 2007
Format: DVD
Family is family, and sometimes that is unfortunate. Especially if one has to deal with an absent parent or a psychologically dysfunctional one ...or both. And such is the case for Dave Tibbel (Trevor Morgan) who's mother left him and his kid sister with their severely depressed father played by a surprisingly effective Timothy Hutton. But much of this is slowly unveiled and OFF THE BLACK begins with an umpire making a pivotal call at a baseball game which ends up costing Dave Tibbel and his team their high school championship. The umpire is a gruff man named Ray Cook played by Nick Nolte (Over the Hedge (Widescreen Edition)).

It is Nolte who carries the entire film, really. And it probably wasn't that much of a stretch for him to play the drunken Cook character considering Nolte's past notices on the local news. Which, of course, made him the perfect casting choice. His gravelly voice and fading good looks matched Ray Cook's persona to a tee. When Ray finds a bunch of team members toilet-papering his home, he's able to catch one of them and, of course, it's Dave Tibbel. They strike up an interesting relationship. Dave needs something more of a father figure (which he's not getting at home), while Ray needs to connect with someone from the outside world in a meaningful way.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The two bond in father/son fashion one night after Ray takes Dave to his 40 year class reunion posing as Ray's son. It is here that Dave learns much about this enigmatic patriarchal man. Ray has a real son that he sends video recordings of himself to, only to have most of them returned unopened.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Barry TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 16, 2011
Format: DVD
A couple of shades short of a masterpiece, "Off The Black" is still a superlative and very assured debut from a new director - James Ponsoldt.

Nick Nolte plays an old-school Baseball Umpire called Ray Cook - a 57-year old drunk by night barely holding it together on the field by day. At the very beginning of the movie, Ray makes what most of the town considers is a 'bad call' on the pitch of a minor Leagues game. The recipient of this gaff is a young baseball hopeful called Dave Tibbel (played by Trevor Morgan - he looks like the son of Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurley) and it changes both of their lives forever.

In revenge for the sending off, Morgan and two of his mouthy team-mates shower Nolte's home that night with toilet rolls, spray paint his driveway with a dick drawing, break his car window and generally vandalize his property. But the young and inexperienced Morgan gets caught in the act by a boozed-up Nolte who vows that Morgan will have to pay for his actions - in short - clean up the mess. Morgan's character David - being essentially a nice kid - agrees - and over the next few days, they enter into an unexpected and unlikely bond - David slowly becoming the son that loser Nolte never had.

While this is going on, David's real father, Timothy Hutton, offers little help to either him or his lost little sister at home. David's sister is played by Sally Kirkland - who looks like a young Natalie Portman - just as beautiful and an actress that's definitely one to watch. Hutton's character is a man who's lost his wife two years back for inexplicable reasons (possibly mental illness, maybe drink) and seems to have mentally checked-out ever since. He offers his kids mumbles at the breakfast table, distant platitudes that have no teeth.
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