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Ceremony (Blu-ray Review)

It has been quite a while since I’ve actually seen a film with one of my favorite actresses in it.  When I got word that I would be reviewing Ceremony on Blu-ray for Why So Blu, I was pretty excited, if only for justice.  I didn’t know what Ceremony was about, or who else was in it.  It was just Uma!  I’m easily amused.  The cover art gives it that chick-flick kind of appearance, but I can honestly tell you that it is not a chick-flick in the traditional sense.  In fact, even in the traditional sense, I wouldn’t classify Ceremony as a chick-flick either.  Blame it on whoever created the photoshopped artwork, I guess.  Anyways, enough about that, let’s get to the review! 

Film

Ceremony is the story of Sam (Michael Angarano) and his former best friend Marshall (Reece Thompson) and the rekindling of their friendship.  Sam tells Marshall that the weekend will be just the two of them up at a beach side hotel retreat.  What Sam doesn’t tell Marshall is that his ex-girlfriend Zoe (Uma Thurman) will also be up there in the area.  You see, the beach side estate that Sam and Marshall will be going to is owned by documentary filmmaker Whit Coutell (Lee Pace).   Zoe and Will are engaged to be married that weekend, as well.  Sucks for Marshall, but Sam knows that he has work to do in order to get her back.

Again, as I said in my opening remarks about Ceremony, I thought it would be a chick-flick, and it wasn’t.  What it did turn out to be was a Wes Anderson clone.  From the opening scenes to the smart and witty dialogue, these characters do not miss a beat!  I initially pictured Sam as Owen Wilson and Marshall as Jason Schwartzman.  If it weren’t for the fact that I actually wanted to continue with the journey, I would have turned the television off early on.  I could not do that, though.  I needed to take this adventure, because all roads, at least according to the advertisements, lead to Uma, right?

Awkward situations are plentiful and at times hilarious.  Zoe’s brother Teddy (Jake M. Johnson) is hysterical, and no way can his dialogue be scripted.  It may have been, but you would not tell.  I laughed out loud at all of his lines.  The guy is a big time spaz.  Lee Pace is also hilarious as the sarcastic British documentary filmmaker Whit Coutell.  I didn’t even recognize Lee Pace, and for a minute there, I thought Pace was actually British. He is not, but pulls off the accent nicely.

Ceremony was running all cylinders for the first three quarters of the film.  When it reached its final act, that’s where it lost me.  Not because I couldn’t tell what was going on, but because Sam is a selfish manipulative little jerk who is all about Sam.  At the risk of losing his best friend, and further alienating his ex-girlfriend (I don’t blame her for dumping him) he comes of as a pathetic whiny loser with stalker tendencies.  Sam is an aspiring author, but can’t seem to break in to the business.  He’s also broke, and has no regular job prospects.  He may be a “work in progress” but Zoe doesn’t see it, and he can’t seem to work around it without hurting everyone around him.  The other thing that was somewhat quirky was that I don’t necessarily buy that Zoe and Sam were ever together.  Unless Sam had some serious mad game, Zoe is WAY too hot for him.  Just saying.  Only in the movies.

 

Video 

Ceremony is presented in 1080p 16X9 (2.35:1) widescreen.  From the opening scenes you know you’re watching a film that has been tweaked slightly in post to give it an almost pastel-like look.  This is not a bad thing.  It works, and it looks really cool.  Skin tones look off-natural; costumes, cars, or anything with color stand out the most.  Ceremony takes place at a beach property, so some of that haze does filter in to the picture.  In fact, during production, Ceremony was hit by a nor’easter storm.   Certain compositions work wonderfully and they remind me of a painting.  Big props go out to the video presentation on this one.


Audio 

Ceremony is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  Ceremony is a dialogue driven film and that comes through without any problems.  Music is also used throughout the film which sounds great coming through the front stage and trailing off into the surrounds.  The clean ocean air with waves off in the distance sound as if you could just jump right in.  Ambient surrounds are great.  This is an indy-film, no doubt, but am glad that there was money left for post-production.  The audio is pretty amazing. 

Special Features 

And they were doing so well.  Ceremony contains several special features, none of them an audio commentary, but do contain deleted scenes and several featurettes.  All of these special features have been presented in SD.

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Extended Scene
  • Max Winkler Makes Ceremony
  • Behind the Scenes Footage
  • A Year in a Tent – A Film by Whit Coutell
  • HDNet: A Look at Ceremony


Final Thoughts

Max Winkler has a done a pretty good job with his first writing-directing gig.  I hope to see him do more projects in the future.  It was great to see Uma Thurman back in the saddle and Michael Agarano was pretty good in the lead.  Ceremony runs at a brisk pace, but if you’re in the mood for a Wes Anderson clone of a film with some heart and more than a few laughs, I do recommend you check it out.  It’s most definitely worth a rental.

 

Order Ceremony on Blu-ray!

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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