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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Directors:
Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland
Cast:
Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish
Writing Credits:
Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland

Synopsis:
A linguistics professor and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 5/12/2015

Bonus:
• “Directing Alice” Featurette
• “Finding Alice” Featurette
• “Interview with Composer Ilan Eshkeri” Featurette
• Three Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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.

RELATED REVIEWS


Still Alice [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 3, 2015)

After four nominations, Julianne Moore finally earned an Oscar with 2014’s Still Alice. A linguistics professor at Columbia University, Dr. Alice Howland (Moore) celebrates her fiftieth birthday with her husband John (Alec Baldwin) and adult kids Anna (Kate Bosworth) and Tom (Hunter Parrish). Youngest daughter Lydia (Kristen Stewart) remains in California, where she pursues a career in acting.

We observe as Alice starts to experience mental blips. She loses her train of thought during a lecture, she forgets where she is during a jog around campus, and she can’t recall recipes she’s made for years.

Concerned with her symptoms, Alice goes to a neurologist and she eventually receives a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. We follow how she and her family deal with this.

The focus remains on Alice, and that becomes both a strength and a weakness for the film. On the negative side, the supporting characters tend to feel like one-dimensional props, especially Alice’s husband and kids. Except for perhaps Lydia – who gets to grow as the movie goes – these roles lack the exposition necessary to develop them in a satisfying manner.

This seems especially true for John, who almost feels like the movie’s “villain”. We watch as he consistently favors his career over Alice and he ignores her requests to spend more time together. We get hints that this acts as the way he copes with her illness, but the film doesn’t spell out the theme well enough, so John tends to come across like a selfish jerk.

That said, Alice really should focus on its lead character, and the first person manner in which it depicts the issues related to Alzheimer’s become a strong point. The movie tends to play events in a fairly understated manner, so we don’t get many tears or histrionics.

Instead, we follow Alice’s slow, gradual deterioration, and this semi-objective telling makes matters all the more heartbreaking. Alice avoids TV movie melodrama and gives us a fairly objective take. Sure, it can lean toward slight manipulation at times, but it keeps those choices to a minimum.

Moore certainly boosts the project with her stellar performance. She makes Alice believable and human, without the showy overplaying that someone else might’ve brought to the part. She undergoes a true transformation and creates an indelible impression.

I could quibble with other aspects of Alice, but it does too much right for me to pursue those complaints. In the end, it brings us a dramatic, emotional examination of Alzheimer’s and the impact it creates.


The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Still Alice appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a competent but less than stellar presentation.

At times, sharpness seemed a bit iffy. Interiors tended to be a little fuzzy; this wasn’t a substantial issue, but the movie didn’t always provide great delineation. Still, it was usually fairly accurate.

I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, and the movie lacked edge haloes. I also failed to discern any print flaws, as the film remained clean and clear.

Colors veered toward a somewhat amber feel. Other tones tended to seem fairly desaturated, and these came across fine given the palette choices. Blacks could seem a little muddy, and shadows were slightly dense. While I think the image lacked impressive elements, it was reasonably appealing.

Similar feelings greeted the low-key DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Still Alice. The soundscape lacked much ambition, as even street/beach scenes stayed constrained. A few unique elements popped up in the surrounds – like a guy who handed out leaflets on a college campus – but this was a mostly restricted mix without a ton of environmental information.

Audio quality appeared fine. Music was warm and full, and speech remained natural and concise. Effects had little to do, but they showed good accuracy and clarity. No one will use this mix to demo home theaters, but it suited the story.

The set includes three featurettes. Directing Alice goes for eight minutes, 40 seconds and includes comments from writers/directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland and actor Julianne Moore. Glatzer dealt with ALS during the film’s production and died from related complications in March 2015 – so “Directing” shows how he and Westmoreland worked on Alice. This becomes an abnormally interesting – and moving - look behind the scenes.

With the nine-minute, 20-second, Finding Alice, we get info from Moore, Glatzer, Washington, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer Maria Carillo, executive producer Maria Shriver, early-stage Alzheimer’s advisor Sandy Oltz, co—producer Elizabeth Gelfand-Stearns, and actors Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart. “Finding” examines the actors’ research and their approach to the roles. The featurette delivers another insightful view of the subject matter.

An Interview with Composer Ilan Eshkeri lasts six minutes, 29 seconds. In this piece, we learn about the movie’s music. Though not as good as the prior two programs, this one adds some good details.

Three Deleted Scenes run a total of six minutes, eight seconds. We find “Original Intro” (1:58), “Doctor Visit” (2:10) and “Student Presentation” (2:12). Though I wouldn’t deem any of them to provide crucial information, all three bring us some good moments.

The disc opens with ads for Whiplash, Foxcatcher, Mr. Turner, Leviathan, Red Army and Wild Tales. We also get the film’s trailer.

Though not a great film, Still Alice provides a fairly involving, emotional look at the course Alzheimer’s Disease takes. Led by an excellent performance from Julianne Moore, it mostly succeeds. The Blu-ray offers adequate picture and audio as well as a small but useful set of supplements. Alice becomes a moving drama.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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