White of the Eye (UK - BD RB)
Marcus goes technical with White of the Eye while looking at himself in a mirror
Paul White (David Keith) is an audio installation expert whose life with his wife (Cathy Moriarty) and young daughter (Danielle Smith) is threatened when he finds himself caught up in an investigation into a string of local serial killings.
Directed by Donald Cammell, White of the Eye is a rather formulaic story but told with a a series of great visuals and with POV murder scenes akin to a Dario Argento film, which all put together elevates what should be formulaic to something pretty interesting to watch unfold.
The image here is heavy on the grain and not in the good ways. There's a god awful looking super grain heavy opening sequence which is almost overbearingly grainy at times and even though the main body of the film holds improvements it's never enough to impress.
Starting with the low points of the presentation, the flashback scenes, which we’re told on the extras have been through a specific process of making them purposely more grainy and contrast heavy are the worst the disc has to offer. The colder colours and smudgier blacks gives everything a rather grubby look that doesn't translate very well to an HD presentation for the most part.
The present day elements of the story make much better use of warm colours, natural light and a fresher appearance so it’s all a bit better to look at. The image quality generally jumps between bright and crisp in the landscape celebration wide shots to rather hazy and soft in closer character based scenes. These closer shots are still all warm and fresh feeling but the grain keeps everything looking that step or two away from truly sharp and the entire presentation never really achieves full HD glory despite the fact the upgrade must be a darn site better than previous editions given the boost in colour and light.
All in all this is a presentation that feels its age but has a fresh coat of HD 1080p to freshen it all up a little. It’s certainly not a striking transfer and some elements are actually quite terrible but this still manages to feel like a true presentation of a twenty five plus year old film.
The use of songs and score (some of which is quite obviously co-written by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason) is a fantastic driver to the film’s events and the merging between pieces is put to great use throughout. Music really drives the mood of everything here and does a lot to help us get to know the characters and set the scenes.
Dialogue is nice and clear and is often used to sell the distance between things as the volumes rises and falls depending on the point of view we're experiencing the scenes through. It’s not the most dynamic of audio tracks but it gets punchy enough in the tenser moments and while it’s not the case for all of the elements most of the louder sound effects pack a bit of a punch that reaches out beyond the stereo track.
The commentary track by Biographer Sam Umland combined with the visuals feels almost like an old school American wildlife film at first. He gives step by step descriptions of the visuals, the suggestions the camera is making and details of locations. He offers up film knowledge and connections to this film and all in all this is as dense a track as reading an in depth book on the film would be.
'The Ultimate Performance' (73 mins HD) is the 1998 feature length documentary on Donald Cammell's career. It begins with the details that he shot himself and then has his brother briefly recounts his career before we get a bit more detailed. There’s input from many of his cast and many who appreciate his work and we get a nice overview of the filmmakers life and work.
‘The Argument’ which is Cammell’s 1972 Short Film (11:34 HD) also comes with a commentary with Sam Umland.
‘Into The White’ (11:01 HD) talks to one of the film’s director of photography, Larry McConkey and he paints a good picture of Donald Cammel's process. Talk of the director’s chaotic almost self destructive approach and his seeming intentions to cause conflict in his cast and crew to generate his art.
There’s a run of Deleted Scenes (05:21 SD) with another commentary option from Umland, The ‘Bleach Bypass Sequences. (11:40 HD) show those flashback scenes before the treatment that boosted all that grain and high-contrast visuals and last up we get some ‘Alternate Credits’ and of course a DVD copy.
White of the Eye has some great performances from most of its cast and some interesting ideas throughout but feels rather standard in today's landscape of film due to many of the techniques becoming more common place. That said, it still has a solid story to tell and it's all told well, with a sense Cammell was trying to go down different routes with his vision of the tale.
The disc itself isn’t all that pretty to look at, with a whole lot of grain on show and a rather standard sounding audio track. The HD boost is there but really it will only be fans that appreciate it I’d imagine. Talking of fans, the extras should more than accommodate them. I’m a newbie to the film and I found the extras very interesting indeed, so fans should lap them up.
Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 31st March 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: PCM Stereo 2.0 English
Subtitles: English HoH
Extras: Commentary, Documentary, Interview, Delted Scenes, Alternative Credits, Alternative Scenes, DVD Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Donald Cammell
Cast: David Keith, Cathy Moriarty, Alan Rosenberg
Genre: Crime, Drama and Thriller
Length: 111 minutes
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