Top positive review
30 people found this helpful
One of my favorite movies. Blu-ray is good but disappointing.
on January 16, 2014
The movie itself is timeless as far as I'm concerned. The unfolding of the depth behind this initially horrendous Billy Brown character is paced in such a way that you are watching the evolution of his past and present character simultaneously. Layla who seems to have a great insight into Billy's pain turns out to be his savior, and even though she is presented without any back story whatsoever you can't help but admire how important she becomes to the story. There is some controversy about misogynistic and homophobic acts and language in the film. While these aren't completely unwarranted someone going through the events portrayed in the film would most likely have these type of feelings regardless of moral guidelines. Billy is not meant to be portrayed as a saint but as a deeply flawed (damaged) character from a lifetime of humiliation and feeling inadequate. It is through Layla's acceptance and understanding that he evolves and begins to accept love and friendship as a tangible and obtainable goal. This part of the story is actually quite beautiful if you can move past the gritty and nasty behavior and try to see Billy as Layla does, accept him as a deeply flawed and hurt product of his environment with redeemable qualities that can be nurtured to bring out his true nature.
All of this is set just underneath or on top of (depending on your view) a very effective dry humor. It is through this humor that you stay engaged and willing to take the journey with an initially deplorable person and find yourself discovering there is more than what is on the surface. Real life opinions of Gallo aside this film is amazing and deserves far more credit and attention than it receives. There was a rather painstaking process to the actual filming and production that was more expensive and "inferior" according to the people who bankroll the film. This process was insisted on by Gallo and it adds a really artistic quality to the cinematography. There are many little touches such as the surreal singing moment or Layla's dance at the bowling alley that remind you that this is art...and they are mesmerizing, almost hypnotic. Do not miss this movie.
As for the Blu-ray itself. A 15th anniversary edition with only a trailer as the "special features" is a travesty. And while the movie looks and sounds great the fact that it got a single layer 25GB pressing with an inferior bitrate to the very high quality Japanese pressing is a real annoyance. If I had been aware of this single fact before purchase I would have spent the extra $15 or so for the nearly doubled (37GB vs 21GB) pressing with a total bitrate around 40Mbps which is the top end of what Blu-ray is capable of. These are technicalities of course and as I said this pressing looks great, but I am left wondering how much fine detail I missed out on by not purchasing the obviously less constrained and compressed Japanese version which is still region A and in English. I would have paid the additional funds for this copy to be of equal quality.
You aren't likely to be disappointed with the picture quality on this version though especially if you never see the Japanese copy. It looks as good as many of my high bitrate Blu-rays and better than some. Be aware that while the sound is high quality, it is only in stereo. This is a limitation of both pressings with the Japanese version having a TrueHD stereo track and this version having a DTS-HDMA stereo track. It is an impressive track none the less and if you have quality speakers with good imaging you won't be taken out of the experience because of it.