Tim’s Vermeer appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a consistently appealing presentation. This became an appealing presentation.
Sharpness was solid. Shot on high-def video, only a smattering of slightly soft shots appeared, so the majority of the program seemed accurate and crisp. I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also didn’t interfere with the image.
Colors tended toward a natural feel and seemed appropriate. While they didn’t leap off the screen, they showed positive reproduction. Blacks were dark and deep, and low-light shots displayed nice clarity. All in all, the image satisfied.
One wouldn’t expect much from the documentary’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, and the mix seemed restrained. Effects were essentially a non-factor, and the back channels offered little – if any – material. Much of the film focused on speech, and those lines stayed in the front center. Music offered positive stereo imaging.
Audio quality appeared fine. Again, effects were a minor element; the bits and pieces we heard were accurate but stayed in the background. Music stayed gentle but seemed smooth and distinctive, while speech appeared natural and concise. Though nothing impressive, the mix fit the documentary.
As we shift to the set’s extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Teller, producers Penn Jillette and Farley Ziegler and subject Tim Jenison. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the project’s roots, story and history elements, research, music, editing and narrative choices, background to various sections, and some shoot specifics.
Across the board, this becomes a solid commentary. I worried that Teller may remain silent to continue his public persona, but that doesn’t occur, as he provides a chatty, engaging presence. The track covers a good mix of areas and adds to our understanding of the film.
We learn a bit more from a Toronto Film Festival Q&A. This runs 21 minutes, 21 seconds and offers notes from Penn, Teller, Jenison, and Ziegler. They go over the notions behind the film and aspects of its development, telling Tim’s story and editorial choices, music, and some art-related notes. We get a few remarks that echo the commentary, but we also learn a decent amount of new material here.
Six Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 22 minutes, 45 seconds. In these, we get a version of the film’s “origin story” – also heard in the commentary – as well as an alternate opening and additional bits with Tim.
The opening and a scene at Buckingham Palace would’ve added a much stronger “Penn and Teller” vibe to the film, so I’m glad they’re cut. On their own, they’re entertaining, but I think the movie fares better without so much of Penn’s brash personality. All the scenes are fun to see but not compatible with the finished project.
Five Extended and Alternate Scenes fill a total of two hours, 18 minutes and 13 seconds. This is where I say “that’s not a typo” – this collection really does last almost twice as long as the final film. The segments include a long confab between Tim and Martin Mull, a discussion of Caravaggio, a test with a model, a chat between Tim and David Hockney, and more of Tim at work.
Given that the 80-minute final film already seems long, I didn’t welcome the chance to see 138 minutes of additional footage, and the material proves to be pretty dull. Actually, the Caravaggio piece offers some value, and it’s fun to get more of Hockney, even if the quality of the recording makes it tough to understand at times.
We get way too much of Tim’s technical explanations, though. A little of these go a long way, so long, long discussions add little. Whatever new info we find becomes buried beneath the tedium of the scenes; they really drag and can be a chore to watch.
The disc opens with ads for The Lunchbox, For No Good Reason, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Invisible Woman and Jodorowsky’s Dune. These also appear under Previews, and we get the film’s trailer as well.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of Vermeer. It includes the Q&A as well as some – but not all – of the deleted and extended scenes.
At the heart of Tim’s Vermeer, we find an intriguing story, and the movie manages to maintain our attention for a while. Unfortunately, it grows tedious before too long and threatens to lose the viewer well before it ends. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture, acceptable audio and a broad collection of bonus materials. I want to endorse the film but think it becomes too dull to be a true success.