Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (US - BD RA)
Gabe prepares his ugliest audio recorder and his shortest tapes...
Following an emotionally shattering break-up with her boyfriend (John Krasinski) Sara Quinn (Julianne Nicholson) endeavours to interview a series of men for her anthropological dissertation. The proposed purpose of the interviews is to uncover the effect of the feminist movement on the male sex, but in reality Sara is working through her own issues and questions. In the end she uncovers a lot more than she bargained for.
I’m guessing that fans of cute-guy actor John Krasinski’s are going to be left spinning when confronted with his feature writing and directorial debut. I had no real idea what to expect from Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, but I’m left disrupted, and unable to quite decide if this is a genuinely bad film, or a good film that I don’t like. I know next to absolutely nothing about famed and beloved author David Foster Wallace, so I apologize for my intellectual shortcomings in terms of Krasinski’s adaptation. Speaking strictly in terms of personal taste and context (which should go without saying I suppose) I didn’t like the film’s style, tone, or narration, which doesn’t really leave me with much nice to say. For the most part this brand of actor’s art film just doesn’t appeal to me. I can appreciate the style, the natural acting, and the sedate mood, but the whole project is so sterile and un-relatable to me that I found the exercise a total chore. I suppose the point of the entire film is to expose the shallow truth of the male animal, but it seems to me that there’s really no greater truth beneath the awkward, sad pain.
I can certainly appreciate Krasinski’s technical direction. The film is incredibly well edited and constructed, despite the clear fact that the adaptation was very difficult. Christopher Meloni’s little airport story is actually a fantastically staged little short film, cutting between locations without tripping up the flow of the realistically rendered little non-story. Other scenes overplay this style and spill into pretension. Herein, I suppose, lies the major problem that I’m thinking even the film’s supports won’t quite be able to overcome— Hideous Men is never the sum of these little parts. It’s so fractured the audience’s attention span will surly crest and fall all over the place. The relatively brief and generally well-paced movie is eternally long-winded, and prattles on forever before finally flash-cutting to the point. Krasinski’s own interview scene, which takes place at the climax of this quick cut assault is so painful, on the other hand, I’m tempted to detract anything nice I had to say about his film. When the point finally dawned I realized I’d just watched the subtext of Fight Club played out without any of the fun or energy, and I was left feeling empty. I realize this is the second or third time Fight Club has come up in one of my reviews recently, and I apologize if I perhaps just have the film on my mind, but it really seems that Krasinski is dealing with the same post-feminist male existential crisis Fincher slammed dunked ten years ago.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is certainly an indie film, and isn’t aiming for much in the way of artistic grab-assery, so this Blu-ray is not the last word on how to watch the film. I’m sure the DVD looks pretty similar. The interview scenes are probably the most interesting stylistically speaking with their varying blue hues and cooled skin tones. The details are pretty sharp here, and even, though the brick wall cuts off the depth of field. The scenes with more natural lighting are less sharp, though not objectionably so. Most of the film is made of medium shots with medium focus, so there really isn’t a lot to say concerning sharpness, and the production design is so plane there isn’t much to say concerning the interplay of intricate images. Colours are left mostly natural, and they blend pretty effectively without too much artefacting. The stronger reds and purples are pretty noisy with tiny greenish blocks, and the stronger whites are kind of lumpy with grain. Blacks play an important enough role in separating elements, but aren’t always super pure either.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio follows the film’s less than blockbuster aspirations. The interview scenes are aurally sterile, focuses almost exclusively on the pertinent dialogue, which is crisp and natural words taking precedent. Sometimes the music is a part of these scenes, but not very often. The interviews often cut to a different realm aurally before they do visually, which gives the stereo and surround channels something neat to do despite the film’s lack of exciting audio design. Party, restaurant and outdoor scenes feature plenty of fluttering activity, and directional elements are effective. The musical track certainly throbs the LFE despite the score’s low-key tone. The music mostly pops from the front stereo channels, but does occasionally wrap around to the rear for echo effects.
The extras are super brief, starting with an interview with writer/director John Krasinski (06:30, SD), recorded in a really busy, loud room. Krasinski is personable and quite modest, and the brief content is somewhat informative. The behind the scenes segment (07:30, SD) is pretty rough, but there are a few fun moments, and fans will get a decent look at Krasinski’s process. The disc also includes a TV spot, a trailer, and trailers for other IFC releases.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is mostly and exercise in shallow intellectual hobnobery. I don’t think there’s anything significant beneath the surface, and that the core argument at the heart of the whole thing is rendered moot because writer/director John Krasinski is deflect genuine thought with shock. I did watch the film with three women who were yelling at the screen by the final reel, so if raw reaction was Krasinski’s goal, I can’t say he didn’t achieve it. This Blu-ray release looks and sounds good enough, but people that enjoy what they see might want to just shoot for a DVD release, because there isn’t a lot in the film to earn 1080p video or DTS-HD MA sound. The extras are indeed, a disappointment.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 16th March 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Interview with John Krasinski, Behind the Scenes, Trailer, TV Spot
Easter Egg: No
Director: John Krasinski
Cast: Julianne Nicholson, John Krasinski, Timothy Hutton, Will Arnett, Will Forte, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Meloni
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 80 minutes
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