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A satiric look at the inner workings of the Washington news bureau of a major TV network and the romantic triangle between the feisty young female producer, the vain male news anchor, and the good-hearted male reporter.
For more about Broadcast News and the Broadcast News Blu-ray release, see Broadcast News Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 26, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: William Hurt, Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter, Robert Prosky, Lois Chiles, Joan Cusack
Director: James L. Brooks
» See full cast & crew
Broadcast News Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 26, 2011
Winner of Silver Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, James L. Brooks' "Broadcast News" (1987) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; audio commentary with James L. Brooks and film editor Richard Marks; the documentary "James L. Brooks - A Singular Voice"; video interview with Susan Zirinsky; deleted scenes; and standard featurette. The disc also arrives with a 18-page illustrated booklet. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
The main characters in Richard L. Brooks' Broadcast News work for a network news bureau in Washington, D.C. They invest so much energy into their professional lives that have practically none left to properly manage their personal lives. Because of the imbalance between the two, they often feel insecure and lonely, and on rare occasions even angry.
Jane Craig (Holly Hunter, The Piano) is a young producer from Atlanta who simply does not know how to slow down. She is tense, sarcastic, and so smart that often times her colleagues feel uncomfortable in her presence. She is the ultimate perfectionist, the type who set aside time to cry and vent.
Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks, Modern Romance) is a brilliant reporter with one serious weakness - he looks terrible on camera. He can manage pressure but not how his body reacts to it.
Tom Grunnick (William Hurt, Children of a Lesser God) is tall and handsome, the type of man every woman would love to be seen with during a charity event. He is also a talentless reporter on a mission, looking to advance up the corporate ladder rather than improve. Tom has just moved to Washington D.C.
Aaron and Jane have been best friends for years. At the bureau they have complimented each other and followed the same high journalistic standards, shared the good with the bad. Now Aaron hopes that perhaps they could also share their lives. But Tom joins their team and quickly dazzles everyone with his charm, including Jane, who suddenly realizes that her biological clock is ticking. When Tom asks her out, she enthusiastically accepts - and immediately breaks Aaron's heart.
Broadcast News is a different type of romantic film - it is too smart, too subversive, too well researched not to be taken seriously. Director Brooks shot it in 1987, four years after his Terms of Endearment won five Oscars awards, at a time when the major networks and their most familiar faces were evolving and searching for new identity.
On the surface Broadcast News seems to be about three people who try hard to have some sort of normal relationships in an abnormal environment. They begin experimenting but quickly discover that it is a lot harder to be sincere when they are not reporting or directing than it is to look sincere when they are actually delivering the news.
These characters and relationships, however, are only a small part of a much bigger picture whose focus of attention is on the mechanics of real television news coverage. Various processes - including producing, delivering and even manipulating the news - are all carefully documented, offering the viewer a real sense of how the news networks operate.
Hunter was selected to play the frisky heroine two days before shooting of Broadcast News was to begin. Director Brooks was lucky to meet her while she was visiting New York City. Without her Broadcast News would have been a very different, I dare say, simpler film. She is the engine that makes it run.
Brooks and Hurt are also terrific. The latter, in particular, plays the pretty but clueless anchor to perfection. Jack Nicholson has a tiny role as the network's senior anchorman as well.
Note: In 1988, Broadcast News won Silver Berlin Bear for Best Actress (Holly Hunter).
Broadcast News Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, James L. Brooks' Broadcast News arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised and approved by director James L. Brooks and editor Richard Marks, this new high-definition digital transfer was created on a DFT SCANITY Film Scanner in 4k resolution from the original 35mm camera negative, and color corrected on a Baselight Eight in 2K resolution. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system.
Telecine supervisors: James L. Brooks, Richard Marks, Lee Kline.
Telecine colorist: John Persichetti/Sony Colorworks, Los Angeles."
This is an excellent high-definition transfer. Fine object detail is outstanding, clarity terrific, and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. Edge-enhancement is never a serious issue of concern; neither is macroblocking. I did not see any traces of heavy noise corrections - the fine film grain is wonderfully resolved and consistent. Color reproduction is also impressive; the variety of reds, blues, greens, yellows, browns, grays, and blacks look rich, fresh, and natural (only at the end of the film - the airport scene - I noticed some very short color instability, but I it is fairly obvious that it is inherited). The various close-ups convey outstanding depth and tightness. Even the darker scenes from the studio look very strong. Finally, there are absolutely no stability issues to report in this review. I also did not see any large damage marks, cuts, warps, or stains. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Broadcast News Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Criterion have included optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The 2.0 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm Dolby A magnetic tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation." The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is solid. It has a good range of dynamics and pleasing, natural crispness. The dialog is clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Bill Conti's music score either. I also did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review.
Broadcast News Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Broadcast News Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
James L. Brooks' Broadcast News is a thinking man's film - smart, playful, and deliciously sarcastic. It is a real eye-opener. Criterion's treatment (with a top-notch contribution by the guys at Sony Colorworks) of the film is excellent. The supplemental features included on their disc are also very informative. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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After a quiet December, Criterion will kick off the New Year with renewed energy, as five very varied titles have been announced for Blu-ray release in January. On January 11, The Army of Shadows (L'armée des ombres; Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969) and Robinson Crusoe ...
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