29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant movie, great Blu-Ray,
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This review is from: The Reader [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
"The Reader" deserved its Oscar for best actress, but it also deserved the Oscar for best film (it lost to the inferior "Slumdog Millionaire.") It tells the tale of a young man growing up in post-war Germany who has an affair with a mysterious older woman. Without spoiling too much, the story ends up touching on the holocaust, how much we can blame participants, and whether or not love transcends these historical pains.
Normally, I dislike holocaust films. I find that Hollywood too often beats us over the head with the "it's BAD" message (This Just In! Hollywood Geniuses Discover Holocaust Was Bad!) as opposed to mining the much more interesting tales of personal struggle, loss, redemption, and ignorance. "The Reader" offers an intelligent, probing, and insightful look at the human costs on those who were not direct victims, and on the society of post-war Germany at large. It also tells a heck of a love story, to boot.
I felt so respected by the makers of this film. There is no heavy-handed moralizing, in fact, the message of the film seems to be that, while of course there are great moral wrongs that have been perpetrated, there are lesser consequences which do not make it into history books, but do have an impact on real people and deal them real pains that ought to be respected.
As mentioned in other reviews, this is not a movie for the kids, at least not kids who still titter when they see nudity on screen. The first half of the film is consumed by a lusty affair between a 32 year old and a 15 year old. It's not for immature audiences.
On the opening scene, I thought this film must be shot on digital. The source was just too clean, with little to no film grain in evidence. Upon further research, however, I have discovered that it was indeed shot on Kodak Vision2 and Vision3 film - which Kodak advertises as producing less grain in low light and in general. Given this, and the fact that detail is generally so strong in this image, I can only assume that this Blu-Ray has been mastered without excessive Digital Noise Reduction.
It is a lovely 1.85:1 image which suits nice widescreen displays beautifully. Black levels are strong, loads of detail is evident in shadows, and colors are extremely naturalistic. There are many moments that offer the sort of "3-D" realism that the best HD can give. The quality of the image adds immediacy and impact to the already involving film.
Audio is very dialogue driven. This is not a BD that will rock your neighbors.
Extras are very strong. 42 minutes (!) of deleted scenes are presented in 480p widescreen. I watched them all, and I would say only one cut was truly unfortunate - a little bit of backstory for Michael's law professor that would have added depth to the story. Mini-documentaries are also available, touching on the writing and casting process, as well as Kate Winslet's aging with make-up. Overall, it's a very strong slate of extras.
Any fan of serious dramas and romances would do quite well to pick this up. It's a truly great movie that is very affecting and also thought provoking. It's a monument to respecting the viewer, allowing them to digest complex morality without beating them over the head with a "message." I would compare it to films like "The English Patient" or "I've Loved You So Long" (another 2008 Oscar Nominee).
It is also presented in an exceedingly beautiful HD transfer and a strong package of extras. Certainly, if you're doing a survey of 2008 Oscar nominees, you should pick this up over the trite, pat Hollywood fare of "Slumdog." It's also better than the very good, but somewhat flabby "Benjamin Button," and the excellent, but not as brainy "Milk." I can't recommend it enough.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 7, 2009 10:34:02 AM PDT
M. Hafner says:
The transfer has some ringing. Not ideal.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2009 8:11:45 PM PDT
Matthew T. Weflen says:
I didn't really notice any. Do you have your sharpness set too high, or other "detail enhancing" (i.e. artifact-creating) settings turned on? What sort of display do you own? I am watching on a Sony KDS-50A2000 SXRD RPTV, and I have it calibrated to avoid any false artifacts from sharpness.
Is there a transfer you would compare it to in terms of edge-enhancement? For instance, Star Trek IV has some serious EE that is obviously in the source, not in my display. Whereas, "The Reader" shows none for me.
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