Before receiving Singles on Blu-ray, I had never seen it. As a fan of Cameron Crowe, I have always felt like I’ve been missing out, given how I assumed there was a good film here that I hadn’t had the chance to see. That said, all I really knew was that the film had a great, grunge-heavy soundtrack and was supposedly the inspiration for Friends (according to Crowe). Now having seen the film, it definitely gave me a neat look back at the 90s, along with a sense of completion, when it comes to the work of Crowe. Fortunately for the fans that have been waiting, this Blu-ray not only features the film in HD, but is stocked with a whole bunch of deleted scenes and more.
Singles focuses on a group of twentysomethings living in an apartment block in Seattle. There are four key characters. Linda (Kyra Sedgwick) is a recently spurned woman that is worried about committing to a new relationship. Steve (Campbell Scott) feels largely the same way. Janet (Bridget Fonda) is a coffee barista with a crush on Cliff (Matt Dillon), the rock musician who a little too aloof to know what really matters. We follow this group and their friends/neighbors, as they deal with the comedy and drama of life and relationships.
Based on how these characters interact and the style employed, this definitely feels like a Cameron Crowe film. The dialogue certainly feels very “written”, which is not necessarily a bad thing, just a way for the film to definitely fit into its own universe. That is certainly emphasized in the way this film has the character directly address the camera. The fourth wall breaking is never distracting though, it’s just part of the film’s charm.
Style aside, coming after Say Anything…, a film that I love, Singles does feel like an ambitious attempt to be larger in scope. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite reach the level of Crowe’s films that came before and after (Say Anything and Jerry Maguire). Despite having a solid cast, the film ends up feeling a bit too cluttered and unsure of how to handle all of the characters within one movie.
It is of little surprise that this Blu-ray contains deleted scenes that encapsulate entire subplots cut from the film and a lot more material for supporting characters. I say that because it is as if Crowe had ideas for two separate films, but since they would have been too short, he crammed the ideas together and made a film that tries to be an ensemble comedy, but falls short of being anything more than an entertaining diversion.
That may sound a little harsh, but I did enjoy this movie. The cast is uniformly strong, as I am a big fan of all of these actors. All of that said, Seattle is certainly a co-star in this film as well. Specifically this era of Seattle, as the music scene was huge and mixed with getting a look back at the style of the times, it certainly felt like a period film that happened to be made during the period.
Singles was a nice film to finally catch up on. It may be more in line with something like We Bought A Zoo as opposed to Almost Famous, but Cameron Crowe and his earnest sensibilities with films like this have always appealed to me, even when they are not showing off his skills in the best of ways. And yes, the film most certainly has a solid soundtrack.
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Clarity/Detail: This was an interesting experience, as there were times when the Blu-ray for Singles seemed to show off some impressive quality, given the film’s grainy roots. That said, it became clear that only so much was really done to bring this film to Blu-ray and raise the video quality in the process. There is a lack of detail that you could hope for, upon deeper inspection, but it was not as if it was a bad image. Really, it just felt as if it was a consistently average transfer.
Depth: Depth is decent enough, as we get a number of scenes featuring big crowds that rely on seeing a level of dimension, when it comes to picking out our main characters.
Black Levels: Blacks are nice enough, but nothing special here.
Color Reproduction: Despite the botched job on making a prime, detailed viewing experience, there are a lot of colors that pop at various times in the film. There may be a lack of better definition, but the colors come through strong enough.
Flesh Tones: Skin textures are lacking, based on the average nature of this overall transfer, but it is not as if you can’t see these people. In a lot of instances, the film looks perfectly suitable.
Noise/Artifacts: Plenty of grain, but it is due to age and not true “problems” with the transfer.
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 2.0, German and French Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Korean
Dynamics: If the one thing you were hoping for was getting a solid enough audio track to clearly hear the music featured in the film (and occasionally some people chatting), then this lossless track does the job, as it has been preserved well enough for this Blu-ray disc.
Low Frequency Extension: N/A
Surround Sound Presentation: N/A
Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is loud and clear.
Apparently the original DVD release of this film had next to nothing to offer, but despite this film’s lack of care to really bring the video to greater life, the archives were searched to provide the deleted material (in standard def), along with some other features. Sadly there is no commentary, which could have been great.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD, 50:00) – 25 deleted scenes and no “Play All” function. That’s strange, but at least everyone has the chance to see a lot of the omitted material, including a whole subplot with Bill Pullman’s character. This is surely a big treasure trove for Cameron Crowe completest, along with whatever is in store for the June release of Vanilla Sky.
- Gag Reel (SD, 3:17) – A lot of Campbell Scott swearing and various takes of a young Paul Giamatti saying his one line in the film.
- Unedited Music Performances (SD, 15:00) – Full performances from Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. We get the following songs: “Birth Ritual”, “It Ain’t Like That Anymore”, and “Would?”
- Theatrical Trailer
Singles was a fun film to catch up on, even if it is not my favorite effort from Cameron Crowe. Unfortunately the video quality left a lot to be desired, despite a strong enough audio track to best hear the film’s soundtrack. The best part was getting a treasure trove of deleted material to go through, but seriously, no “Play All” function? It’s a mixed bag at the end of it all, but well worth the viewing experience.