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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tom Ford
Cast:
Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, Jon Kortajarena, Paulette Lamori, Ryan Simpkins
Writing Credits:
Tom Ford, Christopher Isherwood (novel), David Scearce

Synopsis:
A Single Man is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. Set in Los Angeles in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, it is the story of a British college professor (Colin Firth) who is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner. The story is a romantic tale of love interrupted, the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition, and, ultimately, the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life. 2009 Criticsí Choice Awards nominations include Colin Firth (Best Actor), Julianne Moore (Best Actress), Best Screenplay and Best Art Direction. 2010 Golden Globe nominations include Colin Firth (Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Ė Drama), Julianne Moore (Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture) and Best Original Score - Motion Picture.

Box Office:
Budget
$7 million.
Opening Weekend
$217.332 thousand on 9 screens.
Domestic Gross
$9.166 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 7/6/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Tom Ford
• ďThe Making of A Single ManĒ Featurette
• 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.


A Single Man [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 22, 2010)

Can I possibly be the only person who confused 2009ís A Single Man with 2009ís A Serious Man? Both feature similar titles and offer character-based dramatic pieces set in the 1960s.

Itís mostly about the titles and the timing, though. Set in 1962 circa the Cuban Missile Crisis, British college professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) lives in Los Angeles and continues to mourn the loss of his long-term partner Jim (Matthew Goode). George leads a mopey, mostly solitary existence, though he does occasionally spend time with his boozy pal Charley (Julianne Moore). The film follows him through one day Ė a day which George intends to end with his own suicide.

I suspect I mayíve written a sparer synopsis than that, but itís tough to think of one. Suffice it to say that Single isnít exactly a plot-heavy film. Indeed, one could argue it boasts no plot whatsoever, and one would probably be correct. It simply follows George on a potentially momentous day.

While I donít have a problem with that sort of character-driven tale, I must admit I donít feel Single makes it work especially well. The film seems most compelling during its first half, as it unfolds in a gradual manner that creates intrigue. It takes a while before we get a sense where the story wants to go, but that vagueness acts as an advantage. It could frustrate, but instead, it ensures that weíre curious to find out more.

Unfortunately, the movie becomes more tedious as it progresses. Once Georgeís desire for death becomes known, the story loses some of its intrigue. We get an idea where the climax will go, so all the meandering that leads us there feels a bit like padding.

Not that it truly is filler, as the events George experiences lead him toward his ultimate decision. While I understand the movieís need for scenes like the ones we find, their execution becomes the problem. The sequences simply lie flat on the screen and fail to engage us. We become more impatient to just get to the end; we donít obtain a better sense of George as a character and really want to wrap up the tale.

Speaking of which, I expect the movieís conclusion will prove to be controversial among viewers. Obviously I donít want to include spoilers, but I will say that I think itís a dissatisfying finish. Iím sure many will defend it, and I also expect itíll prompt good conversation/debate, but I donít care for it; I think it seems cruel and arbitrary.

When Single works, I think it does so mostly due to Firthís excellent lead performance. Heís onscreen virtually the entire film, and he delivers an exceptional take on the role. He turns George into the complex character we expect and doesnít fall into any easy traps.

While Firth manages to carry Single for long stretches, he canít totally redeem an otherwise inconsistent film. My overall impression of the flick remains reasonably positive, but I donít like the manner in which it unravels as it progresses. Movies should become more interesting as they go, whereas this one loses steam.


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

A Single Man appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer provided a good image.

Sharpness seemed satisfying. A smidgen of softness crept into a few wide shots, but those remained minor. Nothing prevented the picture from a general sense of crispness. I noticed no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and edge enhancement caused no problems. Source flaws also failed to appear.

Single went with a varied but exceedingly stylized palette. Some scenes boasted warm, rich hues, while others were sepia or totally black and white. Within the wide parameters of those choices, the colors appeared well-defined. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows seemed clear. This was a high-quality presentation.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack boasted a little more of a kick than I expected. Granted, that didnít say much, as I anticipated a quiet, subdued mix.

Which was what Single offered much of the time, but the filmís impressionistic tone meant that some scenes gave us more dynamic audio than typical for this sort of movie. Those occasions didnít crop up frequently, but some elements Ė a rainstorm here, a car there Ė delivered sporadic instances of pizzazz. The soundfield blended together well to create a good sense of place and movement.

Audio always seemed positive. Music showed nice range and depth, with good clarity across the board. Effects didnít have a lot to do outside of those instances I mentioned earlier, but they appeared accurate and clean. Speech was concise and natural as well. Little really leapt out at me here, but this was a good track for this sort of film.

Expect a smattering of extras. We get an audio commentary from co-writer/director Tom Ford. He provides a running, screen-specific discussion of cast, characters and performances, script, story and the adaptation of the source novel, sets and locations, photography and visual design, period elements, music, sound, and a few other areas.

Like the film itself, Fordís commentary occasionally drags. However, he usually makes this an insightful discussion. Ford touches on a nice variety of topics and adds good interpretation of themes and characters. Despite the occasional lull, Ford offers a useful chat.

The Making of A Single Man goes for 16 minutes, seven seconds and features notes from Ford, and actors Colin Firth, Matthew Goode, Julianne Moore, and Nicholas Hoult. The show looks at story and themes, the source novel and its adaptation, characters and performances, and Fordís work. ďMakingĒ offers a little more depth than the average promotional featurette Ė but not much. For the most part, it exists to sell the flick, so donít expect a lot of compelling material.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for The Pillars of the Earth, Nine, Nowhere Boy and Chloe. All but Pillars also appear under Previews along with snippets for The Runaways, Broken Embraces, Damages, and Breaking Bad. No trailer for Single shows up here.

As an acting showcase, A Single Man boasts merit; Colin Firthís Oscar-nominated work carries the movie for long stretches. Unfortunately, its lack of narrative means that it threatens to derail at times; it never does, but it loses enough steam as it goes to make the final act a bit of a chore to watch. The Blu-ray provides good picture and audio as well as a pretty interesting commentary. The movie has enough to offer to merit a rental, but I think it falls short of its goals.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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