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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Woody Allen
Cast:
Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg , Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Alison Pill, Carol Alt
Writing Credits:
Woody Allen

Synopsis:
Romance! Adventure! Hilarity! Italy! Woody Allen leads this all-star cast on a rollicking ride through the streets of one of the world's greatest cities. Lovers and Fiances Opera Singers and Architects the talented and the famous and the youthful and the wise are all players within this ensemble tour-de-force as their stories and lives magically criss-cross and collide throughout this engaging film. Also starring Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page in a movie as incredible as Rome itself.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$361.359 thousand on 5 screens.
Domestic Gross
$16.684 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 1/15/2013

Bonus:
• “Con Amore: A Passion for Rome” Featurette
• Previews and Trailer


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.

RELATED REVIEWS


To Rome With Love (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 14, 2013)

Back in 2011, Midnight in Paris became a surprise hit for Woody Allen. Indeed, if we don’t adjust for inflation, it stands as his biggest box office success. Sure, The Avengers earned more in its first day than Paris did in its entire run, but for Allen, a total $56 million take was spectacular.

Alas for the Woodman, 2012’s To Rome With Love failed to capitalize on the success of Paris. It brought in a mere $16 million in the US; that figure is typical for Allen but still seems like a letdown after Paris.

None of this dissuaded me from giving Rome a look, though. Set in Italy – duh! – the film comes with a large group of characters. Because I find it to be a massive chore to write my own plot synopses for ensemble films, I’ll take this one from the press release:

To Rome With Love is told in four independent vignettes about four characters whose adventures change their lives forever: an average Roman (Roberto Benigni) wakes up one day to find himself a well-known celebrity; an American architect (Alec Baldwin) revisits the streets on which he used to live as a student; a young couple (Alessandro Tiberri and Alessandra Mastronardi) on their honeymoon are pulled into separate romantic encounters; and an American opera director (Allen) tries to turn a singing mortician (Fabio Armiliato) into a star.”

Since Allen did so well with the fantasy of Paris, he goes back to the well here, though not in such an obvious way. While Rome lacks realism, it doesn’t present the obvious fantasy of someone who travels back in time ala Paris.

Actually, it does in a way, as the Baldwin story offers a quirky form of time-travel; it just doesn’t make it clear. John (Baldwin) meets Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), a character who we eventually realize is just the younger John, but the movie leaves this as a fairly subtle choice.

The other stories come with a fantasy feel, though none more so than the one with Benigni’s Leopoldo. I understand that Allen wants to offer commentary on contemporary celebrity culture, but it stretches reality to do so when Leopoldo literally becomes famous a) overnight, and b) for no reason. As for the remaining two, they’re comedic and not especially believable, but they do feel like they theoretically could happen in the real world – especially with the newlyweds who stray.

I have no problem with Allen’s decision to offer comedic fantasy in Rome - it’s his homage to Italian cinema and not a bad idea. Unfortunately, Allen’s execution flops.

It doesn’t help that virtually half of the movie comes in Italian with English subtitles. Allen’s a verbal comedian, so his work loses punch when we can’t focus on the delivery and we have to read the lines. I’m sure the Italian actors do fine in their roles, but there’s a reason verbal comedy doesn’t cross borders well; that kind of material just loses a lot of its impact when read and not heard. (The fact Allen doesn’t speak any Italian and had to have the dialogue translated by someone else causes another issue.)

Ignoring these concerns, the biggest problem with Rome is that it offers an anthology in which none of its multiple stories succeeds. Four tales and lots of characters but not a single personality/narrative thread that I’d call especially interesting. Sure, some are more intriguing than others, but none of them do much to amuse/entertain. They all lack substance and fall flat on the screen.

Honestly, Rome could’ve been half its length and worked as well – if not better. It comes with underwritten ideas and extends them beyond the point of logic. Taking incomplete concepts and making them longer doesn’t improve them or turn them into something deep; it just stretches them even thinner.

As a hooker in the wrong place, Penelope Cruz provides the sole highlight here. Not only does she look great, but also she adds real spark and pizzazz to the proceedings. Cruz can’t really elevate the material, but at least she adds life for a little while.

Otherwise, Rome delivers a mediocre affair. It takes a fine cast but can’t do much with them, as they’re stuck with one-dimensional characters and forgettable narratives. It’s nice that Allen got to indulge his inner Fellini, but the results don’t work.

By the way, am I the only one who wonders if Allen stole the “singer who can only croon in the shower” concept from an episode of The Flintstones? The two seem awfully similar.


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

To Rome With Love appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Given the restrictions of SD-DVD, the film looked pretty good.

For the most part, sharpness looked nice. At times, wider shots tended to be a little soft, but those examples weren’t terribly intrusive. Much of the film appeared pretty accurate and concise. No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained minor. Source flaws also failed to create problems.

In terms of colors, Rome tended to stay with a natural palette. Hues took on a light golden tone at times, but that stylistic choice didn’t overwhelm. Instead, the colors appeared pretty clear and concise. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows showed good delineation. Overall, this was a pleasing presentation.

I thought that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Rome seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides.

Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, though, like those on the streets. However, most of the movie stayed with limited imaging.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.

Like all other Allen releases, this one lacks many extras. We find a featurette entitled Con Amore: A Passion for Rome. It goes for nine minutes, six seconds and includes comments from producer Letty Aronson and actors Alec Baldwin, Alessandra Mastronardi, Penelope Cruz, and Greta Gerwig. The show covers some story/character notes, shooting in Rome, working with Allen, challenges working in a non-English language and the film’s premiere. Nothing substantial appears here, but we get a few decent notes.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the Previews area provides an ad for Midnight in Paris.

After the late-career success of Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen falls back to earth with the mediocre To Rome With Love. While the flick has some potential, it’s too thin and underdone to succeed. The DVD provides pretty good picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. Leave this forgettable flick to Allen diehards.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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