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Kate & Leopold(2001)
Kate McKay is all business and has no time for anyone, especially her ex-boyfriend neighbor, who keeps claiming he discovered a portal in time. He is true however and upon a trip back to the 1800's an inquisitive, gentlemanly duke named Leopold follows him back to the modern day. Leopold is fascinated by a modern woman like Kate who herself begins to appreciate his old fashioned ways.
For more about Kate & Leopold and the Kate & Leopold Blu-ray release, see Kate & Leopold Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on April 8, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Breckin Meyer, Natasha Lyonne, Bradley Whitford
Director: James Mangold
» See full cast & crew
Kate & Leopold Blu-ray Review
Time for love?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, April 8, 2012
The human mind struggles to make sense of time, a phenomenon which is both maddeningly nebulous and frighteningly visceral. We know we're experiencing time, and yet any attempt to describe it, to somehow capture it with our rational minds, proves frustratingly elusive. Perhaps that's why time travel has always held such an allure— somehow journeying through time makes it more physical in a way, almost like the scenery one passes on a road trip. Time travel stories have populated science fiction for centuries now and often involve (to quote a certain Steely Dan album) pretzel logic that can leave even professional physicists scratching their heads in confusion. Vast storytelling edifices involving supposed time travel paradoxes have been erected in literature and of course film and television, with layer upon layer of self-referencing the frequent result, as in the underappreciated second outing of the Back to the Future trilogy, where several versions of various characters are traipsing in and out of a shared timeframe. Kate and Leopold, a largely appealing 2001 time travel fantasy cum romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan (with "Face Number 2") and Hugh Jackman, largely eschews the more convoluted aspects of time travel in favor of keeping its characters locked in one of two disparate eras (though keep a sharp eye out in the film's opening gambit, where co-writer and director James Mangold gives a quick glimpse of a conundrum as Jackman chases co-star Live Schreiber out of a mansion into a cold rainy late 19th century night).
Jackman portrays an 1876 British nobleman named Duke Leopold, heir to a prestigious title but not much else, leading to his impending matrimonials with whatever rich American heiress he decides he can stand living with for the rest of his life. Schreiber portrays Leopold's great-great grandson Stuart Besser, a struggling early 21st century physicist who has discovered a "time portal" whereby he can journey back a century and a quarter or so to visit his ancestor. Stuart's return to the present day is complicated when Leopold, intrigued at who this stranger who has been following him is, tails Stuart back to the portal and ends up in 2001 along with his once and future descendant in a roiling New York City. There he meets Kate (Meg Ryan), Stuart's upstairs neighbor and ex-girlfriend, a cynical market analysis consultant who has forsaken emotion in favor of an accelerated career trajectory.
Kate and Leopold tries to meld both an "opposites attract" scenario with a "fish out of water" scheme, with largely successful results. We get a quick purview of Leopold's late nineteenth century predicament; he's obviously a man not happy with his station in life, despite the desperate upbraiding from his Uncle (Paxton Whitehead) who can't quite understand why his nephew doesn't just face facts and realize that a marriage of convenience is a necessity due to the family's utter lack of funds, despite their titles. Once we segue to the 21st century, we find Kate not quite at the level of realization that Leopold is vis a vis her personal unhappiness, though the cracks are beginning to show and she's obviously bitter about her recent breakup with Stuart. Leopold seems to be everything she's ever wanted in a man (if indeed she ever really has wanted a relationship), but she's convinced he (along with Stuart) are both looney-tunes for insisting they've just returned from more than century prior.
Most of the gentle humor of Kate and Leopold comes from the clash between Leopold's ultra sophisticated and ruminative nineteenth century persona and the bustling, chaotic world of 2001, as personified by Kate. Leopold's incessant politeness drives Kate a little batty, and his insistence on absolute honesty also rubs her the wrong way, especially after she gets him a gig promoting diet margarine, something he does with aplomb until he actually tastes the hideous stuff. It's an illuminating little discourse on the dialectic between truth and appearances, something that Mangold and his co-writer Steven Rogers do a fine job toeing the line between getting their none too subtle point across without actually beating their audience over the head with it.
The time travel paradox issue does have a couple of perhaps slightly unsettling aspects with regard to Kate and Leopold, at least if it's thought about too seriously (something obviously not part of the film's lighter than light comedic approach). It should come as no great surprise that Kate ultimately falls in love with Leopold, choosing (against what would appear to be her very constitutional makeup) to return to the 19th century to marry and raise a family with him. Since we already know that Stuart is Leopold's great-great grandson, that means that 20th (or 21st) century Kate was actually carrying on a romance with her own descendant. That pretzel logic can sometimes lead to results that have been joked about for years with regard to "kissin' cousins" in backwoods America. Leopold, all pomp and circumstance, might well be appalled at the thought of it all.
Kate & Leopold Blu-ray, Video Quality
Kate and Leopold is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate and Miramax with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. These Miramax catalog releases which have been coming down the pike with fair regularity over the past several months have been an oddly inconsistent concatenation of really excellent (or at least mostly excellent) transfers along with some that for whatever reason don't quite rise to true eye popping high definition splendor. Kate and Leopold is neither the best nor the worst of what we've seen from these catalog releases thus far, though I personally would rate this release more on the lackluster side of the equation. DNR-phobes will be happy to know that it appears absolutely no digital scrubbing of any kind has been done to this release, with the result that several scenes swarm with grain that approaches mosquito noise in at least a couple of moments. Fine detail is generally very good in close-ups, but the overall look of the film is pretty soft most of the time, especially in the amber hued 19th century prologue, where that may actually have been an intentional choice.
Kate & Leopold Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Kate and Leopold's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix is a surprisingly fulsome and immersive experience, especially considering the "rom-com" ambience of the film, a genre which typically doesn't exploit surrounds or sound effects as consistently as this film does. The film gets off to a boisterous start with some great LFE and excellent panning effects, and though the immersion does tail off considerably once we return to the "present" day, there are still some great surround usages in the location Manhattan scenes. Fidelity is excellent, with all dialogue presented cleanly and clearly. The underscore, including Stings' Oscar nominated "Until", sound just fine in this lossless environment.
Kate & Leopold Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Kate & Leopold Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Kate and Leopold is a surprisingly breezy and enjoyable affair that doesn't dwell too much on the absurdity of its plot mechanics, nor indeed even upon the burgeoning romance between the title characters. Instead this film works best as a subtle comedy of manners, something that co-writers Mangold and Rogers handle with a good deal of subtlety and flair. Jackman and Ryan are extremely appealing in the leads, and Schreiber is appropriately annoying as the third wheel. The film looks rather handsome most of the time, and even those who usually run screaming at the mere mention of "romantic comedy" may want to give this film a chance. Though the video quality on this is on the lower end of the spectrum we've seen from these recent Miramax catalog releases, the audio quality and some good supplements help to balance things out and keep this release Recommended.
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Kate & Leopold Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Kate and Leopold: Director's Cut Blu-ray - January 18, 2012
In April, Lionsgate Home Entertainment will release the director's cut of Kate & Leopold on Blu-ray. This romantic comedy stars Hugh Jackman (The Prestige) as Leopold, a 19th Century duke who accidentally travels through time and ends up in modern-day New York ...
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