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In 1970s England, three blue-collar friends spend their days joking, drinking, fighting and chasing girls. Freddie wants to leave their working-class world but cool, charismatic Bruce and loveable loser Snork are happy with life the way it is. When Freddie gets a new job as a door-to-door salesman and bumps into his old school sweetheart Julie, the gang are forced to make choices that will change their lives forever.
For more about Cemetery Junction and the Cemetery Junction Blu-ray release, see Cemetery Junction Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 16, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Directors: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Starring: Christian Cooke (I), Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan, Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Emily Watson
» See full cast & crew
Cemetery Junction Blu-ray Review
This look back into 1970s Britain looks great on 2010 Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 16, 2010
You'll never amount to anything.
Big dreams, small town, no chance. It's a familiar refrain in literature, on screen, and in life, and one of the latest films to examine that quandary is Cemetery Junction, a fine British-made picture from Directors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. If those names sound familiar, they're the dynamic duo behind the original UK version of the television program "The Office." However, Cemetery Junction isn't classic Gervais and Merchant. The film certainly displays some wit and delivers several laughs, but it's a serious Drama about life, hope, taking chances, family, friendship, and following dreams. Nothing much here is new, but the film's cast and crew manage to capture the very essence of the idea and inject it with plenty of emotion and authenticity to spare. That's what sets Cemetery Junction apart from others of its kind; it never strays from formula, but considering its likable characters, strong production values, and blend of humor and heart, Gervais' and Merchant's film stands apart from the field and makes for one of the better pictures of its kind.
Young Freddie Taylor has grown up in the town of Cemetery Junction where everyone goes to Stonemeade, one of the worst schools in England. There, graduation means only one thing: a job in the local factory. Young Freddie Taylor (Christian Cooke), though, has different ideas. His father (Ricky Gervais, Ghost Town) isn't keen in the idea of his son trying his hand at anything that leads him away from that predetermined linear path, but Freddie lands a job working at Vigilant Life Assurance, a company owned by a fellow Cemetery Junction resident, Stonemeade graduate, and a rare local success story, Mr. Kendrick (Ralph Fiennes, Clash of the Titans), who sees in Freddie someone who's cut from the same cloth and with the drive to make something more of his life. Leaving behind his hip 70s attire and instead putting on the charm and the business suit, Freddie sets out to make a name for himself as a door-to-door insurance salesman, not only against his father's wishes but to the bewilderment of his two best friends, the reckless Bruce (Tom Hughes) and the absentminded Snork (Jack Doolan). Freddie's efforts at maintaining a balance in his life -- finding peace and comfort amongst family, staying with his friends but keeping out of trouble, juggling a possible new romance with Mr. Kendrick's daughter Julie (Felicity Jones), and learning the darker secrets of success and what a lifetime's worth of work for his boss might entail -- just may prove too much for him to handle as he searches for himself and longs to satisfy his big dreams in the small town of Cemetery Junction.
Those that have seen Rudy will probably find it difficult to watch Cemetery Junction and not be immediately struck by the similarities. While Gervais' and Merchant's picture is centrally formula through and through, it, like Rudy, hits many of the same chords and builds its story around several homogenous details, the most visually obvious being the calling of a small-town factory job for the protagonist; to much greater purpose to their stories, however, is the characters' desire to expand their horizons beyond the bubble in which they seem forced to exist. At their centers, both pictures are stories of the human spirit, the desire to overcome not physical or mental challenges but rather that obstacle of life itself, a life that says "don't bother, this is as good as it gets. Accept your fate and build from that what you can." They're about big dreams and seeing the greater good beyond the boundaries of small-town life where a nine-to-five job, a steady income, a decent house, and maybe a family seem like the pinnacle of life. Rudy and Freddie dream of something greater; theirs are ambitions to achieve greater respect, greater self-confidence, to extend beyond limitations, to prove that there's something better in ife than the routine of their forefathers, and to challenge themselves beyond what's expected of them. These are their dreams, and while their visions of a greater tomorrow may confuse and even upset those that believe things like "ambitions" and "hope" are little more than fairly tales and goals better left to the educated, the rich, or anyone but themselves and their children, neither Rudy nor Freddie are about to let go of them at the drop of a hat, a word from their father, or another "no you can't" from someone in their lives.
Cemetery Junction delivers a fairly routine but nevertheless touching and well-crafted story, and while it works to a point on its own merits, it's the picture's excellent cast and obviously knowledgeable crew that contribute those intangibles that elevate the story from "ordinary" to borderline "extraordinary." Cemetery Junction does an excellent job of contrasting the the picture's five distinct worlds: that of Freddie's father, representing stagnated stability; that which defines Freddie's career ambitions and his relationship with insurance magnate Mr. Kendrick; his dynamic friendship with Bruce and Snork that sees Freddie wanting to fit in but leave the group's more childish endeavors behind; Freddie's budding relationship with Julie; and his own personal struggle as he attempts to sort out the several complexities that seem all at once convergent in his life. Cemetery Junction's cast shares a wonderful rapport in the way they so effortless play in a deep film and off of an unusually complex main character; the picture features a share of set-in-their-ways characters that play off of Freddie, and the actors that portray them -- notably Gervais and Francis Magee as Bruce's father -- understand the dynamics both scripted and emotional that must define their relationships with the picture's ambitious and uncertain primary character. It's all captured in Gervais' and Merchant's fluid, well-paced, and engrossing direction, complimented by a wonderful array of period music, sets, and costumes that put the finishing touches on one of the best coming-of-age pictures of the past several years.
Cemetery Junction Blu-ray, Video Quality
Cemetery Junction arrives on Blu-ray with another stellar 1080p transfer from Sony. "Rock solid" is a great way to describe it; Cemetery Junction won't be the first disc off the shelf at demo time, but it could easily serve that purpose if need be. The transfer sports a fantastic film-like texture that sees excellent details and colors across the board, not to mention a fine layer of natural grain. Whether in the darkened factory where the transfer captures every small detail on the rusty and worn machinery or in the brighter daytime scenes that showcase exemplary fabric textures, Cemetery Junction rarely lacks for finer detailing, though faces sometimes do appear slightly pasty and textureless. Colors are a bit dulled and washed out but seemingly by design to evoke something of a retro period feel, but they're every bit as scrumptious on Blu-ray as the film allows them to be. Black levels are consistently strong, and the image is free of any distracting artifacts or heavy digital manipulation. In other words, Cemetery Junction is typical of Sony's first-class new release Blu-ray titles.
Cemetery Junction Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Cemetery Junction's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is surprisingly robust and engaging considering the picture's lean towards the dramatic and thought-provoking. Music is very smooth, crystal-clear through the higher ranges and tight and deep at the bottom, with good spacing across the front and with a noticeable, but not overwhelming, surround presentation. The film's Rock music doesn't loose clarity with the boost in aggression. Again, the lows are fantastic and guitar riffs power their way through the soundstage with the same strength and clarity normally reserved for high-end concert discs. The track also delivers plenty of surround activity and environmental ambience; the factory scenes spring to life with a cacophony of sounds in the form of blowing steam, clanking machinery, and sparkling welding, while outdoor scenes feature a much less pronounced but certainly not wanting-for-realism environmental support structure. With its pitch-perfect and center-focused dialogue reproduction, Cemetery Junction's lossless soundtrack is every bit the equal of Sony's 1080p video transfer.
Cemetery Junction Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sony brings Cemetery Junction to Blu-ray with a nice array of bonus features, including a pair of audio commentary tracks. The first features Writers/Directors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant sharing a track that's equal parts insightful and humorous, though the laughs definitely dominate the proceedings. They discuss their experiences as directors; settling on the picture's look, sets, and lighting; the picture's themes and how the visuals and sounds tie into them; the basics of the story; the quality of the cast; and plenty more. Gervais is always a blast to watch or listen to, and this track is no different. Merchant, too, proves his mettle as a commentator, and the two deliver a track that fans of the film and its participants will enjoy a great deal. Actors Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, and Jack Doolan man track two. Though recorded about 18 months after filming, these actors share a nice bit of information, though some of it is nothing more than inconsequential ramblings and generic insights. Still, they rise above the average group commentary, creating a nice flow and rarely speaking over one another to annoying or track-destroying effect.
The Directors: A Conversation with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (1080p, 15:07) features the directors discussing their desire to make a Drama, the themes they wanted to capture, the cast's chemistry and the qualities the leads brought to the picture, and their experiences and preferences as directors. The Lads Look Back: The Stars Discuss 'Cemetery Junction' (1080p, 10:14) contains Tom Hughes, Christian Cooke, and Jack Doolan sharing their experiences in making the film, including their auditions, the bond they formed during the shoot, filming some of the more difficult physical and emotional scenes in the film, and what they're taking away from the experience. Seventies Style: Production and Costume Design (1080p, 8:44) takes a short look at the picture's visual scheme, colors, sets, clothing, and more. The piece features cast and crew interview clips and plenty of scenes from the film.
Next are four production featurettes (1080p). The Start of Filming (1:15) features Gervais and Merchant discussing the picture's style and themes. Week 1 (1:33) looks briefly at the making of a scene and again features the directors discussing various aspects of the film. Meet the Boys (2:27) is a brief introductory piece to the three lead actors and the parts they play. Finally, The Directors on Set (1:51) features the cast laying the praise on their directors. Also included is a collection of 10 deleted scenes (1080p, 13:36); a blooper reel (1080p, 13:42); BD-Live functionality; MovieIQ connectivity; and 1080p trailers for Salt, Grown Ups, The Back-Up Plan, Death at a Funeral, The Karate Kid, and The Other Guys.
Cemetery Junction Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Thematically, Cemetery Junction isn't all that different from many other coming-of-age pictures. What sets it apart is its unusually strong ability to precisely capture the dynamics below the surface and create characters that are in no way bigger than life but who are in search of something bigger for their own lives. This is an honest, enthralling picture that follows formula but doesn't always play out as expected, resulting in an experience that feels familiar but manages to deliver something that's just unique enough to make it well worth a watch. Complimented by some exemplary performances, fine writing and direction, and a fantastic score, Cemetery Junction should find itself a strong following in the years to come. Sony's Blu-ray release delivers near reference-quality video and audio while also featuring a complete package of extras. Cemetery Junction is one of the stronger overall releases of the year, and comes highly recommended.
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Cemetery Junction Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Cemetery Junction Announced on Blu-ray - June 7, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced Cemetery Junction for release on Blu-ray on August 17. This coming-of-age comedy/drama, set in 1970s England, is written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. It didn't get a theatrical release in the ...
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