My Blueberry Nights (UK - BD RB)
Reviewer Marcus Doidge takes a look at Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry Nights BD
My Blueberry Nights is acclaimed Director Wong Kar-wai’s first English language film. Starring Jude Law as Jeremy, a Northern Englishmen (just about) and owner of a New York diner, the film centres on one of his customers, Elizabeth, played by singer turned actress, Norah Jones who comes to the diner after being messed around by her boyfriend. Jeremy comforts Elizabeth with the help of his blueberry pie and the two instantly hit it off. You’d think that was the entire story (given the title), but Elizabeth throws a spanner in the works of this blossoming romance by going on a year-long cross-country trip, which leads her into some short stories involving Rachel Weisz, David Strathairn and Natalie Portman.
I’ll admit upfront I’m not that accustomed too much of Kar-wai’s work. I’ve seen 2046 and In the Mood for Love and enjoyed both, but never so much that they ever pushed me into exploring his other work. I saw My Blueberry Nights when it had a fairly limited run in UK cinemas and other than his fantastic eye for colour in his movies, I have to say I was under-whelmed. Watching it again on Blu-ray nothing has really changed my opinion.
My biggest problem with the movie is how disjointed it all feels. Considering this is one director’s vision, it feels a lot like a collection of short stories with the only common threads being their explorations of love and the movie’s lead, Norah Jones, though to say she has any sort of lead presence in the movie may be pushing it a little. She initially has a sweet innocence about her and this being her first step into the world of movies; she brings naturalness to the role. She has genuine chemistry with Jude Law despite the less than convincing dialogue a lot of the time, but over the course of movie the fact she’s not really an actress and as a lot of the special features mention, she had no intention of becoming one, her ability to stick out from the crowd dampens, especially when in scenes with the other big name actors.
That’s not to say the big actors fare much better. Jude Law’s performance would be a likable one if Jude didn’t drop you out of the movie with what has to be said, is a terrible accent. He’s essentially just being Jude Law and every tenth word has a slight Northern twang to it. Seriously, there are chunks of dialogue where you forget he’s playing northern and then he drops a pronunciation to remind you and it’s really quite jarring and unintentionally hilarious once you’ve picked up on it. Natalie Portman does a little better with her accent but her take-no-shit gambler character isn’t quite as convincing. It’s a good role for her to take on as it’s quite different for Miss Portman, but let’s just say it’s not a performance anyone’s going to care about or really remember.
The only two performances that come out unscathed come from David Strathairn and Rachel Weisz, whose thread is actually quite engrossing. Strathairn once again shines with his character work. His alcoholic cop who’s in turmoil over his ex (Rachel Weisz) is a performance so full of sadness and loss that you instantly connect with the character. Weisz isn’t anywhere near as engaging, but her part in his turmoil is multi-layered and perfectly delivered and she takes what could have been a one note performance and really gives it a lot of heart… and she doesn’t look half bad doing it either.
The movie itself sort of does its job. It explores the different aspects of love and the perceptions of it. It gives you a selection of characters and their attitudes to love and in some elements Wong Kar-wai's ideas work very well. What’s underwhelming is that it’s all a little dull. Nothing ever really lifts the mood and I just didn’t feel enough for the majority of the characters. The visuals are pretty to look at and the colour palette is obviously thought out and emphasized for a look that is all Wong Kar-wai's but for every impressive directorial touch there is the ultimate killer move for me: slow motion. I guarantee you will never see quite so much slow motion in a movie in your life. Seriously this makes 300 look like it’s running on fast-forward. It’s not even nice slow motion; it’s missing the odd frame slow motion that does absolute squat for the feel of the movie. In fact it’s distracting and clumsy and by movie’s end it becomes almost ridiculous.
Now here is where I expected the Blu-ray to impress me. Wong Kar-wai's work with colour and lighting is probably his finest skill. I’m sad to report that this continues My Blueberry Nights underwhelming run and was just a big disappointment. The image glows like you’d expect a fine HD transfer to do, but the overwhelming amount of grain just let’s down the overall effect for me. This is obviously intentional and part of the films ‘charm’, but there was absolutely nothing here that I would regard as overly impressive and certainly nothing that would be a show off moment for the Blu-ray format in general.
Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 this was quite a good audio mix. The film isn’t exactly a powerhouse action movie, so there’s nothing really pushing the limits of the 5.1, but the audio is crisp and clear and the films laid back mellow songs sounds great in the overall mix. This was one of the highlights of this release for me as despite being under-whelmed by the movie in general the use of sound here gives the movie a nice feel and is probably its biggest success.
First up there’s a ‘Video and Audio Configuration’ option on the disc. After my comments on the picture quality I’m not 100% sure why they bothered, other than for making sure the bright colours brighter, but these are always worth using to fine tune your picture once in a while, so it’s a nice addition. The audio one is just a test tone in each speaker, so once you’ve confirmed that all of your speakers are wired they send you off on your way (yes it’s really that un-impressive).
As for the actual movie features there are a few interesting bits here. ‘10,279 Miles to Hong Kong: My Blueberry Nights’ (20.57) is a fairly conventional making of for this sort of movie. A few clips, chats with the cast and director on set and reasons why they took the movie and what they think of Wong Kar-wai’s work in general. There’s quite a bit of insight here, considering the modest run-time and all in all it made for some good viewing, despite the god-awful blurry picture.
‘Cannes Press Conference’ (20:37) is exactly what it claims to be. It features Wong Kar-wai and Norah Jones in a small room behind a table with press asking questions. It’s pretty much unedited and was full of a lot of the same stories from the making of, but I always enjoy things like this, especially if they are as unedited as this and despite the audio for the questions being a tad hard to hear, this was a good little feature.
The other bits included are a ‘Character Study’ (8:01), which is essentially a few clips and on-set filming overlaid with some cast sound bites and music from the movie and to finish, a trailer (2:03) for the film. In all, there’s not a lot here, but probably just enough for a casual fan of Wong Kar-wai.
My Blueberry Nights failed to impress me. It’s not a bad film at all; it just doesn’t do anything to really raise any real feeling towards it. It’s slow, drawn out and is an under-whelming Blu-ray release for an under-whelming movie and above all else it pushed my tolerance for slow-motion to its breaking point and if I see any more this year I may very well go insane.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 1st June 2007
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Extras: 10,279 Miles since Hong Kong: My Blueberry Nights, Cannes Press Confrence, Characters Study, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Wong Kar-wai
Cast: Norah Jones, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, David Strathairn
Genre: Drama and Romance
Length: 134 minutes
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