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Are You Here (Blu-ray Review)

Are-You-HereMad Men has long been a hugely celebrated drama and is deserving of its many accolades over the years.  It broke the Emmy barrier for Cable TV saying that not just premium channels were making great television, regular old cable was doing it too.  The man behind the series is Matthew Weiner, who steps out of that light to direct the film we’re reviewing the Blu-ray of today.  Are You Here was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and made a short theatrical run this past August.  As we know, it did not topple Guardians Of The Galaxy of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Now its ready for its debut on the glorious Blu-ray format.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

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Film 

Are You Here tells of Two childhood best friends embarking on a road trip back to their hometown after one of them learns he has inherited a large sum of money from his recently deceased estranged father.  The other friend is a womanizing office floozy who seems to be just using his longtime friend as a source of pot to get high.  The newly wealthy friend’s sister isn’t about to let him get a big part of the inheritance however, and wants to stop at nothing to make sure she is the one who will inherit the estate.

I hate to come right out in this review and say it so on the nose and right in your face, but Are You Here bored me to tears and was quite the chore to get through.  Its a typical story with actors playing parts they typically get cast in.  Everything in the film pretty much lands flat.  Nothing is too humorous, and if it is slightly, its mainly because it reminds you of another time the performer did something similar.

We have Amy Poehler playing the uptight, no-nosense older sister in a sort of comedic sense, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen her in this role quite a bit when she winds up in movies.  Owen Wilson seems to be playing an extension of his Wedding Crashers (and other films) character.  And guess what?  Zach Galifianakis plays a crazy eccentric guy.  Ever seen that before?  Galifianakis is given some more dramatic stuff to work with here, but he doesn’t seem to be able to pull it off and a lot of it comes across as awkward or your brain thinking “is this supposed to be funny or is he screwing around or what?”

I hope this isn’t what we’re going to be expecting to see from Matthew Weiner once Mad Men has come to a close.  Are You Here was a rather dull indie that I expected something more out of the guy who has made one of TVs all time greatest dramas.  The guy has some talent, but maybe its relegated to the small screen (not a bad thing).  This film has names attached to it that will attract you to giving it a chance, but you’ll want to steer very clear from it.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Detail is above average and the image is well defined.  Fabric and surfaces are distinct and you can easily make out patterns and blemishes.  The image is sharp and features a nice natural look to it.

Depth:  Above average.  There are some solid exterior moments.

Black Levels:  Blacks are nice and inky.  Minimal crushing present, but the dark helps to define and sharpen the image.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are rich and pop pretty good when available.  This one doesn’t have too deep a palette, but when it does the colors are distinct.

Flesh Tones:  Natural and consistent.

Noise/Artifacts:  None

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  There’s not a whole lot of crazy sound to go around in this dialogue heave film.  However stuff like forks hitting plates, doors opening and closing, chairs creaking are all well portrayed in the mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  Some enhancements are made to effects.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Mostly ambiance and extra scoring.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, crisp, clean and front heavy.

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Extras 

Not really a lot to support this release here, but at least there’s commentary.

Audio Commentary – With Writer/Director Matthew Weiner

Previews – Are You Here, Fading Gigolo

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Summary 

While I can’t recommend Are You Here, it does have a pretty good presentation.  There’s not much in the way of bonus material, but those who listen to them know that a commentary with the director is a pretty sufficient information dump if you choose to listen.  Comedies that fall flat like this are something that I find to be on the worst level of torturous viewing.  The cast is solid and does their parts somewhat well, but none of the printed material is working and what they are doing doesn’t overcome that.  If you’re going to give this a shot, enter with the most minimal of expectation.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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