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Mississippi Grind (Blu-ray Review)

133896_slipMovies about people with a compulsion tend to work for me. While it is frustrating to see the lead characters make decisions that you know are going to hurt them in some way, I am compelled to see how they deal with the fallout of their actions. Mississippi Grind is a fine film about two guys that attempt to win big and all the drama that comes with the thrill of the game. The film stars Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds and it is now on Blu-ray for anyone with interest to enjoy.

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Film:

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Mendelson stars as Gerry, a gambler on a losing streak. Right at the start of the film, Gerry meets Curtis (Reynolds), a younger, charming gambler on something of a hot-streak. The two recognize an immediate bond between each other and decide to hit the road in search of a big payday. During their travels, Gerry and Curtis make some big plays, chase after woman and learn whether or not they can’t lose.

As opposed to something more nihilistic like the original The Gambler with James Caan, Mississippi Grind is happier to skate by on the charm of the lead performances and their chemistry together. There is not much plot here, as it is more about watching these guys make their way through a series of settings. That said, both characters are multilayered and the film has this sense of soul that is well-founded.

Directors/writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck previously turned in superb work with Half Nelson and have followed that up with the fairly decent Sugar and It’s Kind Of A Funny Story. Each of these films share a similar appeal, where there is a lot of slack in how the story is told, but plenty to enjoy from those involved in it and how things change as we watch them move through the world created in the film.

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Mendelsohn is quite good here. Playing what is basically a nice guy with problems, a change in pace from sleazy villain, Gerry has a problem, but he also has heart. It becomes sad and desperate to see him mess up during a time of need, but he also has a sweetness to him, which is seen by the characters that he gets closest to.

Reynolds is an actor I always like more when he’s in dramatic mode and that serves him well here. While playing things more cool and with the kind of attitude that he can use in comedies, Reynolds makes Curtis a guy who you are not sure if  you can trust, but you certainly want to, because he seems so genuine. Learning more about where he is in his life adds plenty to what the film has to offer as a nice counterbalance to Gerry’s issues.

While not the deepest of dramas, there is a lot to enjoy. The performances are strong and the film finds a fun rhythm in providing big gambling scenes and reflection on the choices that are made. The Midwest attitude certainly provides a nice aesthetic as well. Mississippi Grind does its job and comes up a winner for anyone looking for a drama where the stakes can go from low to high pretty quickly.

Video:

Photo Credit: Photo by Patti Perret, courtesy of A24

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: While set in present day, the film certainly goes for a retro kind of look to call to mind 70s character dramas (I did mention The Gambler in the review). As a result, there is an old-fashioned sort of film on display, but it looks pretty slick. There is grittiness, but it comes through with plenty of clarity.

Depth: Movements are appropriately cinematic and comes across smoothly.

Black Levels: Blacks come through strong enough.

Color Reproduction: There is a level of murkiness that comes with the nature of the environments, but that doesn’t take away from the strength of the colors that are on display.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures come through fine. Everyone looks natural and given the amount of close-ups, it helps that this area is solid.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing harmful.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The lossless track allows for plenty of audio elements to come through clearly enough. Given the background noise in the various locations these guys go to gamble, it is nice to hear the level of balance taking place in this track.

Low Frequency Extension: It comes down to a few soundtrack choices that allow the LFE channel to stand out, but it is solid when you hear those few scenes involving the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: All the channels are utilized to a point, but this is really a film with center focus, which is fine.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone comes through loud and clear.

 

Extras:

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It would have been great to learn more about what went into the development of this film, but we only get a standard featurette to fill in some blanks.

Features Include:

  • Two of a Kind: On The Road with Mississippi Grind (HD, 17:28) – A standard EPK featuring interviews with the cast and crew and a look at the filming process.
  • Previews
  • UltraViolet Copy of the Film

Summary:

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Mississippi Grind is a fine film overall. It has two solid lead performances and makes good use of its time, despite a lack of much plot. The Blu-ray is solid as well, as far as the technical presentation. It’s just a shame there is not more in the way of extras. Still, this is a solid drama for anyone interested.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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