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Still Waters Burn
A game of truth or dare ignites latent love. Still Waters Burn features Ian Hart (Finding Neverland, Backbeat, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), Claudia Wells (Back to Future), and the last film performance of Darren McGavin (A Christmas Story, The Night Stalker). Many times we feel trapped, impotent. In a love story for men and women, this film shows two people who have lost the passion for life but receive an opportunity to regain it. Jack, good at college sports but not good enough for the big-time, has tasted victory but has fallen into a life of mediocrity and routine. Laura, an enchanting woman, has sacrificed her soul to an oppressive marriage. A wild and irrational act brings them together-and they engage in a game of truth or dare. The day's fun, challenges and passions build to a culminating risk.
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Top customer reviews
The film shows of an indie budget with the low grade transfer to DVD, hence the sound was garbled and low in volume, so I turned up my center channel more, but what makes this worthwhile for me is the filming locales. I picked out the streets, buildings and freeways in downtown San Jose, the Shark Tank, hotels, etc. But most of all I figured out where the beach sequences were captured. Wasn't prepared to see in one film a church I had been in for a wedding 15 years ago, and beach scenes taken next to where I fell in love once.
So aside from my baggage there, the film makes for a believable mix of two people independently going through their own mid life crisis traumas, then randomly finding each other, quickly followed by a spur of the moment journey together. Their discoveries and moments of realization, albeit brief at times, make for a fathomable relationship. The ending was not predictable in either character's storyline, so that was a nice surprise. It was good to see Darren on screen one last time playing a father-figure roll, and Claudia shows she could have been so much more in this long absence from screen.
Granted, local Bay Area people will dig this more, and even with all of the production shortcomings of bad lighting and sound, it still makes for a decent evening rental.
Given the number of people involved in the production, this probably was a bigger budget movie than it appears to have been, which perhaps explains why it has most of the good aspects of a low-budget independent movie with none of the usual bad aspects. For example, the acting is convincing, the photography is excellent. And the actors are actually driving real cars on real streets. Altogether this is quite a refreshing movie. The story is simply told, and is far from complex in terms of ideas or execution, but nonetheless it is entirely captivating.
But the reason I am writing this review is to cover a few of the technical aspects of the DVD, so that if you read this before watching the movie, you won't be too disappointed by the shortfalls of the DVD.
On the commercial edition of this DVD, the packaging says it is widescreen, with an aspect ratio of 16:9. This is not correct. Amazon has it right in their description: the aspect ratio is 1.33:1, as in the old "formatted to fit your screen" versions of movies that we all now avoid. EXCEPT that I am pretty sure this was actually the originally recorded aspect ratio. I say this because the DVD also includes the "Original Theatrical Trailer" which is clearly widescreen, but it's widescreen by having been cropped at the top and bottom from the version we actually have on the DVD. Basically what we have here is the Stanley Kubrick method of shooting in 1.33:1, but keeping the action centred so the frame can be safely cropped for projection in wide screen cinemas.
That this version of the movie is 1.33:1 simply means you are getting to see MORE of the original movie than would have been seen by those viewing it in a theatre.
So, if watching this movie on a widescreen TV proves offputting by being pillarboxed, you won't lose any essential detail by zooming in to have the image fill the width and be cropped at top and bottom. I had to watch it in 480 mode, though, in order to get the aspect ratio correct on my own TV, so be prepared to have to mess with your DVD player and TV to get this movie to look right on your screen.
The sound on the movie is not absolutely clear. I mean I've heard worse, and I definitely applaud the way all of the actors' mouth movements matched their lips, by having all the dialogue be recorded live, but I would have loved subtitles, particularly during the voiceover passages which have no excuse for being as mumbly as they are. I think if I were editing the sound I'd have started by taking the music down two or three notches. That would have helped right there.
The picture quality pretty much matches the sound: it looks as though it is a (good) transfer from VHS, with picture degradation at the edges. I'd have even assumed the movie was filmed using video tape if it were not for the references to "negative cutter" and "laboratory" in the credits.
Amazon has the date of this movie as being 2010, which is presumably when they got the rights to sell it as a DVR. My copy has a copyright date, in the end credits (there is no date on the packaging), of 2007. The label placed on the DVD by the rental company says 2005. But as far as I can tell after an Internet search, the movie was actually made in 1996.
I would label this movie as "definitely promising" - the camera work, in particular, is very attractive - and I will now, as a result of watching this movie, look to find other work by the same director, Halfdan Hussey.