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MIRAMAX

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ben Affleck
Cast:
Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver
Writing Credits:
Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard, Dennis Lehane (novel)

Tagline:
Everyone Wants The Truth ... Until They Find It.

Synopsis:
Based on the novel by Mystic River author Dennis Lehane, Gone Baby Gone marks the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck. Featuring a solid cast that includes Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, and Afflecks brother Casey in the lead role as a private detective, Gone Baby Gone centers on the disappearance of a young girl in the working class neighborhood of Dorchester in South Boston. With plenty of twists and turns, the movie works as a solid crime thriller, but its as a study of a place - and ones ability to either accept and embrace or ultimately break free from it - that the film flowers.

Box Office:
Budget
$19 million.
Opening Weekend
$5.501 million on 1713 screens.
Domestic Gross
$20.300 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 2/12/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ben Affleck and Writer Aaron Stockard
• “Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Affleck” Featurette
• “Capturing Authenticity: Casting Gone Baby Gone” Featurette
• Six Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 8, 2008)

Though his acting career continues to subject him to jeers, Ben Affleck earned a lot of respect for his directorial debut, 2007’s Gone Baby Gone. Set in Boston, four-year-old Amanda McCready goes missing, and her relatives hire a pair of low-rent private detectives named Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) to help find her. This is out of their league, but they need the work, so they take the job.

As they dig into the case, they butt heads with Boston Police Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) and get resistance from the local cops. They also learn about the seedy life led by Amanda’s mother Helene (Amy Ryan) and how these factors complicate matters. We follow the ins and outs of this sticky case as the movie progresses.

Given his fame, Ben Affleck’s move to the director’s chair sets him up for more scrutiny than the average novice filmmaker would experience. To his credit, he holds up pretty well. Gone doesn’t reveal a fully mature director, but it does show us someone with a fairly good grip on the reins.

Most first-time filmmakers would want to make a huge splash with all sorts of flash and pomp. Happily, Affleck avoids those pitfalls. He creates a generally measured flick that avoids gimmicks or showy cinematic techniques intended to dazzle with empty pizzazz. Affleck gives the film a gritty tone but never puts on airs or goes out of his way to impress us. He makes a movie with heart and darkness as well as a refreshing lack of pretensions.

There’s an honesty to much of Gone that I really like. The film takes on a decidedly gritty feel, especially during the first act, as it involves us in a variety of seedy worlds. However, Affleck doesn’t revel in the ugliness. Many filmmakers would give the flick an almost gleeful sense of nastiness, but Affleck presents things in a matter of fact manner that works well for the material. He doesn’t accentuate the nastiness; he just shows it and lets us decide for ourselves.

In this sort of film, we’re accustomed to seeing the protagonists come in and save the day. Normally the police would be morons and the outsider detectives would show them up at every turn and crack the case. That never happens here. Yes, Patrick takes the lead and demonstrates his intelligence as the flick progresses, but he never turns into a supercop sort of character. Again, this goes back to the film’s inherent honesty and lack of simplicity.

That factor extends to plot points. Gone takes a fairly major twist about halfway through, and it throws out more curveballs as it goes. You may see some of these coming, but the tale doesn’t telegraph them. It also doesn’t present easy answers. The movie comes with an uneasy sense of morality and it lacks simple concepts of right or wrong. There’s a constant battle to decide what’s the appropriate thing to do, and it never tells us what to think.

An excellent cast supports things well. Ryan got an Oscar nomination for her small but pivotal role as the kidnapped girl’s mother; she does a ton with her brief screen time and makes an enormous impression. Casey Affleck grounds the material with a strong but unassuming turn, and solid professionals like Freeman, John Ashton, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan add power as well. Ben Affleck clearly called in some favors to get this cast, and they were worth the effort.

By no means would I call Gone Baby Gone a great film, especially since it falls apart a little during its third act. Some of the subtlety goes AWOL, and plot twists become a bit too convenient and conventional. Nonetheless, the movie succeeds much more than it falters, and it creates a genuinely compelling and thought-provoking effort.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Gone Baby Gone appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though never quite excellent, the transfer consistently looked good.

No problems with sharpness emerged. I noticed virtually no softness throughout the film, as it always came across as nicely tight and concise. I also saw no jagged edges, but I witnessed a little shimmering and a hint of edge enhancement. Source flaws were absent, but grain tended to be fairly heavy.

Like most modern thrillers, Gone went with a moderately subdued palette. It stayed on a reasonably natural path, though, and didn’t seem overly stylized. Within its parameters, the colors appeared accurate and full. Blacks were fairly deep and dark, and shadows usually appeared clear, though a few exceptions occurred; sometimes low-light scenes were a bit dense. Overall, this was a “B” transfer.

Similar thoughts greeted the good but unexceptional Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Gone Baby Gone. Don’t expect a lot of fireworks from the soundfield. Much of the movie stayed with general ambience, though it opened up at times. For example, gunshots during the quarry sequence used the five channels well. Music also showed nice stereo imaging, but the mix usually remained restrained.

Across the board, audio quality was solid. Music sounded full and dynamic, with clean highs and good lows; some scenes with rap boasted particularly full bass. Effects were concise and accurate, while speech was natural and easily intelligible. Outside of a couple of shouted lines, no edginess occurred. The audio served the movie appropriately.

A smattering of extras fill out the disc. We begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Ben Affleck and writer Aaron Stockard. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They discuss adapting the novel and related script/story challenges, cast and performances, locations and set design, visuals and shooting techniques, music, and a few other production subjects.

During his commentaries as an actor, Affleck excelled. He always proved to be funny and refreshing. In the director’s role here, however, he turns less loquacious and also less interesting. Oh, don’t get me wrong; he and Stockard offer a reasonably good look at the film’s creation. However, the track never becomes especially intriguing. It sags at times and lacks the spark that would make it something special ala Affleck’s prior commentaries. It still merits a look, but temper expectations accordingly.

Two featurettes follow. Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Affleck lasts seven minutes, five seconds and presents the standard mix of movie clips, shots from the set and interviews. We get notes from Affleck, Stockard, author Dennis Lehane, producer Sean Bailey, and actors Morgan Freeman, Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, and Ed Harris. “Home” looks at the story and its adaptation, Affleck’s move to the director’s chair, shooting in Boston, and the flick’s themes. “Home” is pretty typical promotional material. It occasionally delves just a little deeper, but not in a significant way. It remains fairly forgettable.

The eight-minute and 56-second Capturing Authenticity: Casting Gone Baby Gone offers notes from Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Bailey, Monaghan, Freeman, actors Amy Ryan, ad John Ashton, and some extras. As expected, “Authenticity” looks at the actors and their performances. It reminds me a lot of “Home”, as it provides a few decent details but fails to stand out as anything memorable or especially informative.

Six Six Deleted Scenes run a total of 17 minutes, four seconds. These include “Extended Opening” (8:19), “On the Porch” (1:13), “After the Bar Fight” (1:49), “Having Kids” (0:56), “Quarry Jump” (1:00) and “Extended Ending” (3:44). Many of the scenes expand on the relationship between Patrick and Angie, and we also see them on the job before they get the kidnapping case. These are moderately interesting but ultimately superfluous, as they tell us little we don’t already figure out from the final cut. The longer “Ending” just adds some minor moments, so don’t expect anything substantially different.

We can watch these with or without commentary from Affleck and Stockard. We get some thoughts about the sequences and why they didn’t make the film. Like the main commentary, we hear decent details here but don’t find great insights.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Blu-Ray discs, No Country for Old Men, and Dan In Real Life. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with a clip for Becoming Jane. No trailer for Gone appears here.

Slam him as an actor if you’d like, but Ben Affleck shows tons of promise as a filmmaker with his directorial debut. Gone Baby Gone occasionally slips, but it usually provides a rich, involving tale that doesn’t tell the audience what to think. The DVD presents pretty positive picture and audio along with a decent set of extras. This deep, thoughtful flick deserves your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.7105 Stars Number of Votes: 38
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