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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Aaron Schneider
Cast:
Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black, Gerald McRaney, Bill Cobbs, Scott Cooper, Lori Beth Edgeman
Writing Credits:
Chris Provenzano (and story), C. Gaby Mitchell, Scott Seeke (story)

Tagline:
A True Tall Tale.

Synopsis:
Inspired by the true story of Tennessee recluse Felix "Bush" Breazeale, who planned his funeral while he was still alive, director Aaron Schneider's dramatic period thriller stars Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and Lucas Black. Few folks have spoken with Felix Bush (Duvall) since he disappeared into the Tennessee woods 40 years ago, and the ones who have don't necessarily have the kindest things to say about him. Gruff, confrontational, and ill-tempered, Felix has been the source of many malicious rumors over the years. Some say he's a cold-hearted killer and his penchant for walking into town with a shotgun, a wild beard, and threadbare clothes doesn't exactly give the impression of a man who seeks to make friends. When Felix walks into Frank Quinn's (Murray) funeral parlor and announces his intentions to throw himself a massive party before he passes away, word quickly spreads through town and anticipation starts to run high. Before long the big day has finally arrived, and Felix surprises everyone by revealing exactly why he shunned society to lead a life of solitude in the deep woods.

Box Office:
Budget
$7.5 million.
Opening Weekend
$88.182 thousand on 4 screens.
Domestic Gross
$9.156 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
English Stereo
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $38.98
Release Date: 2/22/2011

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Aaron Schneider, Producer Dean Zanuck and Actors Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek
• “The Deep South: Buried Secrets” Featurette
• “Get Low: Getting Into Character” Featurette
• “A Screenwriter’s Point of View” Featurette
• “Cast and Crew Q&A” Featurette
• “On the Red Carpet” Featurette
• Trailer and Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Get Low [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 16, 2011)

Billed as a “true tall tale” set in the 1930s, 2010’s Get Low introduces us to grizzled old hermit Felix Bush (Robert Duvall). He decides that he wants to stage his own funeral – while he’s still among the living. The local pastor requires a certain level of religious devotion that Felix can’t deliver, and it doesn’t help that the local townsfolk view him as an outcast at best or evil at worst.

Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) runs an unsuccessful funeral home, so he jumps at the chance to host Felix’s last rites. He learns of this opportunity from his employee Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black), and he makes Buddy attempt to sell Felix on their company. Despite misgivings, Buddy takes the chance to move up in the company, and he semi-bonds with Felix. Frank and Buddy help Felix plan the “funeral party”, so we follow their actions and also learn more about Felix’s past along the way.

Normally I avoid films with strong potential for whimsy, but Low had enough going for it to entice me. If nothing else, the cast deserved my attention; with Oscar winners Spacek and Duvall as well as Murray, it came with a high-powered group of performers.

And they deliver. Duvall acts as the center of the flick, of course, as Felix becomes the person around whom all else revolves. I won’t say Duvall’s incapable of a bad performance; he’s appeared in some crummy movies over the last few years, and they’ve threatened to drag him down with them. When given good material, though, Duvall demonstrates the skills that’ve made him a legend, and he brings out real humanity in a character who easily could’ve become a stiff caricature.

Which leads me to the most surprising aspect of Low: its almost complete lack of whimsy. Based on the advertising, I expected something that accentuated the story’s silly and comedic elements. Those exist, but they’re a fairly minor aspect of the story.

Instead, Low brings out a darker than expected tale, and that’s to its benefit. Instead of the larger than life bogeyman we think we’ll get, Felix comes out as a haunted man who wants to make good for his sins before he dies. This does still allow for lighter moments – most of which occur during the first act, when we’re still presented Felix as a taciturn backwoods hermit – but the dramatic heft takes priority.

And I think that’s a good thing, as it lends depth and emotion to the movie. Get Low evolves at a natural pace that keeps us involved; we look forward to the development of the mysteries, but we don’t become impatient or frustrated. The film offers too much of a rich character piece for that. It’s a class act.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Get Low appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a consistently strong presentation.

Almost all of the film demonstrated solid sharpness. A few interiors looked a little soft and smeared, but those were rare and minor. The majority of the flick appeared concise and distinctive. No issues with jaggies or shimmering materialized, and I didn’t see any edge enhancement. Print flaws also failed to appear.

Period pieces usually opt for subdued palettes, and that held true for Low. This was a fairly sepia presentation that threw out an occasional mildly bright hue, but we didn’t get many of these. The desaturated image favored browns, and these were fine for what they were. Blacks appeared dark and dense, while low-light shots showed nice delineation. Overall, I felt quite pleased with this transfer.

Though not dazzling, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Get Low offered a more involving piece than I expected. For the most part, the soundscape stayed pretty low-key, but it opened up well when necessary. Some storms broadened the mix in a strong manner, and a few other louder moments used the spectrum to positive effect. Music fleshed out the sides and the rears added a good enough sense of place.

Audio quality was always pleasing. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, with no roughness or distractions. Music was full and dynamic, and effects followed suit. Though those elements didn’t often have much to do, they showed strong clarity and impact when necessary. Nothing here turned into demo material, but the track was a fine complement to the film.

When we check out the set’s extras, the prime attraction comes from an audio commentary with director Aaron Schneider, producer Dean Zanuck and actors Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the film's development, cast and performances, story and character notes, sets and locations, thoughts about the movie's real-life inspirations, editing and changes from the script, and music.

Don’t expect much from Spacek, as she rarely speaks during the commentary. However, despite some reticence at the start – he threatens to jump out a window! – Duvall adds a lot to the piece. He offers many nice insights into his work and proves to be charming and enjoyable. Schneider and Zanuck throw in plenty of good behind the scenes facts as well, so this turns into a satisfying discussion.

Five featurettes follow. The Deep South: Buried Secrets runs seven minutes, 40 seconds and offers notes from Zanuck, Schneider and screenwriter G. Gaby Mitchell. “Secrets” discusses the story and its origins, development and financing, and locations. A few decent notes emerge, but much of the content repeats material from the commentary, and much of the remaining space just tells us how it was a miracle the movie got made. It’s a pretty lackluster piece.

During the nine-minute, 29-second Get Low: Getting Into Character, we hear from Zanuck, Schneider, Duvall, Spacek, and actors Bill Murray, Lucas Black, and Gerald McRaney. As expected, this one gets into cast, characters and performances. Murray throws out a few funny remarks, but mostly we get a slow chat without much strong information.

Next we get A Screenwriter’s Point of View. This goes for five minutes, seven seconds and provides remarks from Mitchell as he talks about the story and characters and his experiences. Mitchell delivers a few insights about the writing process, but unfortunately, this show maintains the semi-fluffy feel of its predecessors.

Cast and Crew Q&A fills nine minutes, 25 seconds with statements from Spacek, Duvall, Murray, Schneider, Zanuck, and writers Bill Seeke and Chris Provenzano. It tells us more about origins and development, characters and performances, and a few other aspects of the film. Once again, we hear some enjoyable remarks – mostly from Murray – but not a ton of substance.

Finally, we find the four-minute, 23-second On the Red Carpet. It shows a variety of folks at the premiere: we see Schneider, Duvall, Spacek, Seeke, Provenzano, Black, McRaney, Zanuck, filmmaker Ivan Reitman, and actors Bill Cobbs, Jon Lovitz, Lynn Bryant, Mira Sorvino, Delta Burke and James Caan. They reflect on the movie and tell us what they’d like their funerals to be like. It’s quick-paced fluff.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a collection of Previews. These include ads for Another Year, Inside Job, The Illusionist, Barney’s Version and Made in Dagenham.

Get Low avoids some potential whimsical pitfalls and delivers a strong character piece. It boasts excellent performances and deep personalities to turn into an involving drama. The Blu-ray provides very good picture along with reasonably positive audio and supplements. Give this introspective flick a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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