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Henry Poole is Here(2008)
When a man discovers that he has only six weeks to live, he leaves his job, his fiancee and his overbearing mother and tries to spend his remaining days in seclusion. But when a miracle transforms his life, his quirky neighbors disrupt his plan to live out his days in quiet.
For more about Henry Poole is Here and the Henry Poole is Here Blu-ray release, see Henry Poole is Here Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 23, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Mark Pellington
Writer: Albert Torres
Starring: Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell, Adriana Barraza, George Lopez, Cheryl Hines, Beth Grant
» See full cast & crew
Henry Poole is Here Blu-ray Review
Henry Poole is here, but is he also in your Blu-ray collection?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 23, 2009
It's like a sign from God!
Henry Poole is Here is a film about faith, hope, and promise. The driving force behind the film is religion and religious belief, but the film doesn't offer an overtly religious message. Instead, Henry Poole is Here uses religion, or better said one man's lack of faith in both a higher being and in those that do hold religious values, as a tool to showcase the power of faith and strength through positive thought and a strong values and belief system. Still, the film manages to be accessible -- and meaningful -- for most any audience, religious or not. The film tells a powerful story that is easy to become lost in, one that is uplifting, captivating, and purposeful, a side of filmmaking that doesn't necessarily earn a deluge of critical accolades, public affection, hype, or revenue as do more meaningless but nevertheless entertaining movies. Henry Poole is Here may not be cinema at its finest, but it is nevertheless important cinema, because it means something, because it exists for a purpose, and much like the story it tells, will touch and inspire those willing to allow it to do so.
Sometimes you have to be sad to remind yourself that you're alive.
Henry Poole (Luke Wilson, Bottle Rocket) is the proud owner of a new California home, a home he willingly paid too much for, visible warts and all. None of it matters, for Henry is an ill man with but a few precious days or weeks to live out his life in seclusion, in the darkness, finding comfort in the recesses of his mind and with the straight diet of vodka and pizza he enjoys. He is irritated not only that the grocery store check-out girl, Patience (Rachel Seiferth), takes an interest in his well-being, but that his next-door neighbor, Esperanza (Adriana Barraza, Babel) introduces herself and offers him a plate of baked goods. Soon thereafter, Esperanza discovers what she believes is the face of Christ on the side of Poole's house, though he believes the image to be nothing more than a water stain from a bad stucco job. Nevertheless, Esperanza remains firm, showing the image to Father Salazar (George Lopez) and several of her friends. Poole agonizes over the incessant Esperanza's repeated and failed attempts to convince him of the image's power. Meanwhile, he befriends a young neighbor girl, Millie (Morgan Lily), and her single mother, Dawn (Radha Mitchell, Man on Fire). Will Poole ever become convinced of the image's perceived power, or will he slowly fade away, a lonely and unconvinced man?
Everything happens for a reason.
Henry Poole is Here isn't necessarily a blunt film, but it does tell its story with plenty of coincidence and circumstance that support the themes espoused throughout the picture. Nowhere else is this more evident than the names of three of the most important people in Henry's life as seen throughout the movie, Patience, Esperanza, and Dawn. Patience, the grocery store clerk, is a girl working a job she is clearly over-qualified for, a fountain of knowledge and someone that takes both an instant platonic liking to Henry, showing concern over his diet and, most importantly, his mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, seeing through him and identifying both the sadness and anger trapped inside of him, despite her Coke-bottle glasses. She seems to be the perfect vehicle to teach Henry about patience, for she seems to be all-too-happily working a job somewhat less demanding than she seems capable of handling; Henry's low self-esteem, his bad attitude, demeanor, and even countenance reflect a beaten man, a man that has rejected what little bit of life he has left, but Patience, in a way, shows him the importance of waiting for something better to come along.
Henry's neighbor, Esperanza, serves as the cornerstone of the story, the first and strongest believer in the image. Her name, translated from Spanish, means "Hope." Indeed, she represents, throughout the course of the film, a guide of sorts as Henry progresses through his journey, supporting him no matter his views and, at times, carrying him on her shoulders during his lowest moments. Even when he fails to see the power of the image, be it a real or imagined power, she reassures him that it, too, will end up touching his life. Esperanza not only offers hope to an ill, aggravated, and sometimes hopeless Henry, but to the audience too. Finally, Henry's neighbor and love interest, Dawn, represents a newfound purpose in Henry's life, like her name implies, the beginning of a new day, the dawning of something better, something to strive for, perhaps, even, the "reward" for his patience and hope. The image on the wall is what brings them together after it seems to heal Dawn's daughter of a traumatic life event that has left her voluntarily mute for some time. Indeed, though he may not recognize the power of the image, it works for him, in its own way, and in its own time, and whether or not its power is real, imagined, or somewhere in the middle, it serves a much-needed purpose in Henry's life, that purpose being, well, purpose itself, just maybe leading him to better appreciate life, those around him, and of course, himself.
Aside from the powerful and often moving themes seen throughout the film, Henry Poole is Here is also a technical achievement, a fine piece of filmmaking that rounds out an already wonderful package. Luke Wilson delivers a remarkably understated performance as Poole, playing an unkempt man who has given up on life. His eyes tell the story as much as the narrative, the look of sadness, regret, and loss of a desire to live showing in most every scene. Poole merely lives out his life in the dark recesses of his home, with the windows covered and the doors closed, unwilling to see any positives, any signs of hope, that others around him may see, and believe in, and no matter how obvious they may be. The supporting cast is first-rate as well, with Adriana Barraza turning an exceptionally solid performance as Esperanza, capturing the relentless enthusiasm and strength of the character effortlessly. Henry Poole is Here is also nicely directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road). He manages to keep the film visually interesting and stimulating without playing as too gimmicky and especially as too odd to take attention away from the story. He also does well to frame the movie in such a away so as to allow audiences to take away almost any message they chose from the film, never allowing it to slip into preachy or blunt territory.
Henry Poole is Here Blu-ray, Video Quality
Henry Poole is Here appears on Blu-ray with a very high quality 1080p transfer, presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Colors are remarkably vivid but not overstated, each a natural, pleasing hue, from the blue paint on Poole's house to the earth-colored bricks, dirt, and fences that surround it. This is a nice, stable, quality image with fine detail across the board, and sharp, clear, and clean images in just about every frame. The image remains detailed from front to back, the depth very nice, and the overall presentation never lacking. The movie exudes a fine film-like quality, with a subtle layer of grain present. The movie is very bright, one of the brighter ones available, but there are a few very dark moments, particularly about mid-film as part of the backstory is revealed. There are some amazingly dark spots where blacks are solid and true, no surprise considering the technical success of the rest of the transfer. Flesh tones are natural and pleasing, never wavering towards an unnatural red push. Overall, Henry Poole is Here offers yet another impressive video transfer from Starz.
Henry Poole is Here Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While not a life-changer, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack found on this Blu-ray release of Henry Poole is Here is easily acceptable. Like the video, the audio is often a joy, certainly not reference material, but excellent for the style of movie. The music over the opening credits montage is crisp and pleasing, with fine fidelity. The soundtrack depends on the front channels for much of its ambience: chirping birds, blowing wind, the subtle tones of wind chimes, and a barking dog, for example, all come primarily through the front speakers. The track does feature some more aggressive moments, like the presentation of Blur's Song 2 which provides a welcome amount of bass and nice rear-channel support. In fact, several musical performances throughout the film sound fantastic, with great penetration into the listening area, accompanied by a hearty amount of bass and fabulous sense of space and breadth. Dialogue, too, is reproduced pitch-perfectly. While no audio religious experience, Henry Poole is Here sounds perfectly fine on Blu-ray.
Henry Poole is Here Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Viewers are treated to a good selection of supplements with this Blu-ray release of Henry Poole is Here. Two audio commentaries serve as the anchors of the bonus features, the first featuring Director Mark Pellington and Writer Albert Torres. The track is a good one, offering up plenty of information, including the origins of the story, shooting locations, the themes and tone of the picture, how the picture was an outlet for both Torres and Pellington's experiences with personal dark chapters, the pair's memories of working together, and plenty more. This track is not so much entertaining, but rather smart and insightful, an easily recommended listen for fans of the film. The second track once again features Pellington, this time accompanied by Director of Photography Eric Schmidt. This track is far more technical than the previous one, focusing more on the process of shooting the film rather than discussing the story itself. Not as endearing but equally intriguing as the first, this track makes for a good listen for more technically-inclined audiences. The Making of 'Henry Poole is Here' (480p, 15:49) is an above-average making-of piece that delves into both the themes of the story and a few of the technical aspects of the making of the film, including a look at the ensemble cast. This piece includes plenty of cast and crew interview snippets and clips from the film. Also included on this disc are twelve deleted scenes (480p, 31:12) with optional commentary with Pellington and Torres, a music video entitled All Roads Lead Home (1080p, 3:34), and the film's theatrical trailer (480p, 2:21). Finally, this disc is BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) enabled. At time of writing, the BD-Live page featured exclusive deleted scenes, again with commentary by Pellington and Torres, and trailers for additional Starz Blu-ray releases.
Henry Poole is Here Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Henry Poole is Here is an odd sort of movie, the tale of a man living his last days not in search of answers, but for peace, quiet and solace at the bottom of a vodka bottle and the inside of a pizza box. Oddly, the movie is about the answers searching out the man, and it just might take the face of God Himself, or at least supportive and loving neighbors, to make him realize that life is worth living fully and joyfully through to the very end. Henry Poole is Here is one of the better movies of 2008, one that most anyone, spiritually inclined or not, will appreciate for its take on the importance of love, hope, understanding, and never giving up. Starz delivers this fine film to Blu-ray with a spectacular high definition video transfer, a good lossless soundtrack, and a nice helping of supplements, all of which only add to an already wonderful movie. Henry Poole is Here earns a very high and enthusiastic recommendation.
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Henry Poole is Here Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - January 20th - January 20, 2009
In the heat of the format war, a great deal of emphasis was placed on player prices, an area where the rival HD DVD format had somewhat of an advantage. Highlighting that advantage was the Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Add-on, which came packaged with one of the most ...
• Henry Poole Gets Specs - November 19, 2008
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment have announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Henry Poole is Here', which is due to hit store shelves on January 20th, day-and-date with the DVD release. For this Luke Wilson film, video ...
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