Fox brings One Hour Photo to the home viewing market in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in a beautifully rendered anamorphic transfer. The transfer is highly detailed and sharp throughout and I really had to pore over the print to find many mentionable flaws in Fox’s work. Short and simple, One Hour Photo looks amazing.
It’s obvious from the onset that director Mark Romanek and director of photography Jeff Cronenweth (of Fight Club fame) had some definite points they wanted to portray through the filtering and camera work employed in the film and the viewer is presented with three definitive locales – #1, the SavMart’s overly sanitary, brightly-lit, and fluorescent environment which contains austere whites and splashes of intense colors and hues scattered throughout the store; #2, the warm and inviting hues of the Yorkin home – straight out of a modern day Rockwell painting; and #3, the claustrophobic and dark world of Sy’s apartment, complete with out-of-balance colors and hues, as well as despondent and protracted shadows throughout. With all of these divergent and unique locales, with their distinctive hues and tints, Fox had their work cut out for them on the video transfer side of the house and when it was all said and done, the DVD never missed a step and came out looking simply stunning. If you missed the film during its theatrical run and aren’t familiar with the filtering and saturation I’m speaking of, consider yourself in for a real treat with the DVD streets in a couple of weeks and you’re given the chance to check it out for yourself. However, if you saw the film in theaters and are know what I’m talking about, you’re in for a treat as well as Fox’s results will meet, if not surpass, any high expectations you might have had.
The high levels of saturation open the film up for easier flaw inspection and I’ll be darned if Fox doesn’t mask them masterfully. While I did notice a couple of instances of miniscule grain and edge enhancement, anomalies such as print flaws, shimmer, or pixelation are completely absent in the transfer. Ultimately, the colors were all properly saturated and balanced for effect, while black levels were consistently deep, dark, and foreboding. Shadow detail and delineation were right on the money, whiles fleshtones were accurate and natural – often taking on the pronounced hue meant for the scene.
This is absolutely one of the most gorgeous transfers I’ve seen in ages and Fox has put out one of the more stunning transfers in their quite impressive catalog. One Hour Photo is absolutely picture-perfect and fans of the film – and those who appreciate quality transfers – will be ecstatic when they see the fruits of Fox’s labor.
One Hour Photo contains a pretty impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that gets as many points for being subtle as it is does for its few moments of bombastic activity. Right from the get-go, during the opening credits, the industrial NIN-ish score from Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek gives your system quite a nice workout, as it makes great use of all of your distinct channels and gives your LFE a nice pounding with some very aggressive low-end. The score works well for the film throughout and really adds to the sinister atmosphere the film successfully creates through other avenues.
There aren’t really any explosive effects to speak of in the film, although there are multiple instances where the surrounds delicately immerse and engulf the viewer in an all-encompassing soundstage that was expertly authored. The mix for One Hour Photo reminds me a lot of the audio transfer in the Tom Hanks vehicle, Cast Away. If you listen carefully, when you think the mix is silent, you’ll find that there’s actually a lot going on in the rear surrounds that’s quite intricate and subtle – creating a nice ambient atmosphere that is quite dynamic.
The track is perfectly balanced throughout and no one element overpowers another at any time. Dialogue remained firmly anchored in the center channel and was always crisp, clean, and easily understood. Your LFE gets an impressive workout considering the genre and the independent roots of the film and there are quite a few moments of surprisingly bombastic low-end. Dynamics and fidelity are rock solid and ultimately, the audio transfer for One Hour Photo was an impressive one.
Fox also includes an audio transfer in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround dubbed in French and Spanish, subtitles in English, Spanish and French, and English Closed Captions.
While dumbed-down American audiences didn’t embrace One Hour Photo at the box office too much, Fox has still done an incredible job of adding a nice set of supplements to compliment this incredibly creepy film. Each of the extras does a marvelous job of diving deeper in to the film and giving us all a better understand of what the filmmaker’s were trying to convey by bringing One Hour Photo to audiences everywhere.
First and foremost, we find a link for the film’s Commentary with director Mark Romanek and Robin Williams. The two jump right into things and the duo really play off of each other quite well. Williams, while funny in spots, is definitely reserved here and gives the commentary the serious treatment that it deserves. The duo was recorded together for the commentary and dive quite deep into the symbolic and cerebral aspects of the film. Williams shows a deep understanding of the film and his role in it and he and Romanek get in to some really nice and meaningful discussions on how they approached the film and its disturbing subject matter. If you’re interested in learning more about this great film and how it came together, this is a commentary that simply shouldn’t be missed. The pair goes over a plethora of topics and all of them are quite engaging and interesting. Included are some great anecdotes from behind-the-scenes, marvelous discussions on the filtering and production design used to great effect in the film, meticulous discussions on character motivations and plot point dissection, and general conversation on technical hurdles that had to be crossed in order to being the film to life.
Next we find the Cinemax Featurette (13:21). This is pretty much a standard-fare behind-the-scenes look at the film and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table as far as these types of supplements are concerned. However, being such a passionate fan of the film, I enjoyed the extra regardless. Using the standard mix of film clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and interview snippets, we get a bevy of information from the principals including the inspiration and genesis of the script, character motivations and story arcs, what it was like having Robin Williams on the set and how he handled the disturbing role of “Sy the Photo Guy”, and even some discussion on the colors and hues used in the film to create its hyper-realistic/surreal look. Ultimately, this was an interesting supplement, but still remained very promotional in nature. In order to dive deeper into the film, you’d definitely need to rely on the other extras included on the DVD. Interviews in the supplement are included with writer/director Mark Romanek, producers Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, as well as actors Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, and Eriq La Salle.
Next we find an option for the Charlie Rose Show (35:59) that featured in-depth interviews with both Mark Romanek and Robin Williams, as they appeared on the show together in order to promote the film. Becoming a staple of DVDs and once again proving why Charlie Rose is among the greatest of interviewers, this supplement is nothing more than the unedited segment that appeared on Rose’s show featuring the two principals. There are a multitude of topics covered in the interview and to try and summarize it in a couple of sentences simply wouldn’t do this supplement (or Charlie Rose) justice. Just know that this is a wonderful companion to the film, as well as the commentary, and this segment simply shouldn’t be missed. Rose is in tip-top form here and Romanek and Williams respond to him beautifully.
Following is The Sundance Channel’s brilliant Anatomy of a Scene (27:50) and here, the focus is obviously on One Hour Photo. As usual, the episode focuses on a particular scene from the featured film, in addition to discussions on the casting process (especially Williams’ role), rehearsal methods and exercises, and even the film’s sanitary and fluorescent visual style and the intricate production design and cinematography used to accomplish that feat. After a rather lengthy introduction to the film and its characters from many of the principals involved, the supplement segues into the construction of the story and then on to the deconstruction of the scene where Sy meets Will Yorkin in the flesh for the first time in the aisles of the SavMart. Again, much like the extra preceding it, this is a definite must-see. Interviews are included here with writer/director Mark Romanek, producer Christine Vachon, Robin Williams, editor Jeffrey Ford, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, producer Pamela Koffler, costume designer Arianne Phillips, producer Stanley Wlodkowski, actor Michael Vartan, and production designer Tom Foden.
Finishing off the disc’s extras are the film’s Theatrical Trailer in widescreen and Dolby Digital 2.0, as well as three TV Spots presented in fullscreen. The TV Spots included are “After Hours”, “Psycho” and “One Hour Photo”. Fox has also included a –PLAY ALL- selection for the spots as well. Also included was a two-minute trailer for the film The Dancer Upstairs
Fox has done a marvelous job of providing viewers a set of impressive extras that really open the film up for closer examination for those of you who want to know more. There’s not much wasted space across any of the extras and fans of the film should be delighted with the selection of supplements that Fox has provided.
If my comments up to this point haven’t clued you into my feelings on this film and DVD, I don’t know what else I can do. Simply put, One Hour Photo comes highly recommended on all fronts – this is a great, great film and Fox has given us a DVD to match.