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My Blueberry Nights(2008)
After a rough break-up, Elizabeth sets out on a journey across the U.S., leaving behind a life of memories, a dream and a soulful new friend; a cafe owner--all while in search of something to mend her broken heart. Waitressing her way through the country, Elizabeth befriends others whose yearnings are greater than hers, including a troubled cop and his estranged wife and a down-on-her luck gambler with a score to settle. Through these individuals, Elizabeth witnesses the true depths of loneliness and emptiness, and begins to understand that her own journey is part of a greater exploration within herself.
For more about My Blueberry Nights and the My Blueberry Nights Blu-ray release, see My Blueberry Nights Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 9, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Norah Jones, Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman
Directors: Kar Wai Wong, Wong Kar-wai
» See full cast & crew
My Blueberry Nights Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 9, 2008
American singer Norah Jones falls for British heartthrob Jude Law in Wong Kar-Wai's visually lush, but thematically underwhelming, "My Blueberry Nights"(2007). Cameos by Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz add extra flavor to this already too moody film, but also affect the flow of the narrative. Courtesy of Optimum Home Entertainment.
A heartbroken beauty (Jones) enters the coffee-shop of a charming Brit (Law) living in New York City. She opens her heart to him, he offers her a piece of blueberry pie - the two spend the night sharing their stories. On the following day the girl heads West.
First stop is Memphis, Tennessee. The girl gets a job as a waitress in a cheap bar with plenty of colorful characters. She befriends the alcoholic cop Arnie (David Strathairn) who tells her about his ex-wife Sue Lynn (Rachel Weizs), and then commits suicide. A few days later, the girl from New York heads to Nevada.
Next stop is Las Vegas. Again making ends meet as a waitress, the girl befriends the extravagant gambler Leslie (Natalie Portman). After a horrible loss at the poker table, Leslie asks if her new friend would borrow her money. She also tells her that if she loses, her brand new Jag would belong to her. The girl agrees on the deal, and Leslie screws up at the poker table yet again. The two jump in the Jag and leave town. While having breakfast, somewhere in the desert, Leslie is told that her father is dying in a Las Vegas hospital. The friends part ways and the girl heads back to New York City for another piece of blueberry pie.
Women are unnaturally good looking and elegant in Wong Kar-Wai's films. Their bodies move slowly, almost as if to seduce those who might be watching, their eyes tell rich stories, and their lips utter words men cannot resist. However, they seldom speak more than they have to.
In My Blueberry Nights, a generally predictable film about broken hearts seeking to find peace, there are four beautiful women. The first one, played by Norah Jones, is also the most fascinating one. She is a traveler and a dreamer, and a near perfect replica of the young Asian girl from Wong Kar-Wai's cult Chungking Express (1994).
The wild Southerner played by Rachel Weisz, and the extravagant gambler portrayed by Nathalie Portman, are reminiscent of the two heroines seen in 2046 (2004). The fourth girl, a Russian beauty with a truly small part played by the gifted singer-writer Cat Power, is undoubtedly the most mysterious one. We see her for a very short period of time talking to Law's character about their past. Then she disappears.
I focus on the four women from My Blueberry Nights as they appear to be the glue holding together the scattered pieces of this colorful film. Their stories seem decevingly simple, but in the hands of Wong Kar-Wai they come off as uncannily beautiful. Not surprisingly, they resonate with us primarily because we like what we see, not necessarily because we understand what they tell us. So, when their stories end, they disappear without a trace, leaving behind plenty for us to ponder.
My Blueberry Nights is a strange film that reminded me a lot about Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr's Too Much Flesh (2000). Both films tell us about unusual relationships where strangers become emotionally involved. Both films also play with trust in some quite unusual ways. Finally, both films also reveal a side of their directors that won't resonate particularly well with those who have grown accustomed to their cinematic language. With other words, while the ingredients are familiar the final product isn't.
I certainly have some mixed feelings about My Blueberry Nights. Visually, the film is on par with Wong Kar-Wai's early works, it is also less confined within the stylistic limitations he favors. In fact, you don't necessarily have to understand the main protagonists to appreciate the mesmerizing visuals. What I am unsure about is the balance. There seems to be an uncomfortable gap between the tone of My Blueberry Nights, one that appears influenced by classic romantic cinema, and the shy camera, suggesting a degree of intimacy I don't believe is welcomed by the script.
My Blueberry Nights Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with VC-1 and granted a 1080p transfer, Wong Kar-Wai's My Blueberry Nights arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of UK-based distributors Optimum Home Entertainment.
My Blueberry Nights relies heavily on color manipulation. There are large blocks in this film that flirt with pastel yellows, nuanced reds, lush blacks, and lovely blues. Frankly, the film is much more fascinating to behold from a purely technical point of view than it is in terms of substance. This being said, the 1080p high-definition transfer provided by Optimum Home Entertainment does a terrific job of sustaining the look I described above -- contrast is excellent, detail strong, and the actual color-scheme simply terrific. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not an issue of concern here either. Optimum Home Entertainment's high-definition transfer also appears to have preserved the film's overall very warm tone, which I remember from the theater. Finally, I did not detect any debris, scratches, or specks to report here. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" disc which you will not be able to play on your Region-A hardware. You will need either a Region-B player, or a Region-Free one).
My Blueberry Nights Blu-ray, Audio Quality
An English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is what Optimum Home Entertainment have supplied for this release. Unsurprisingly, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 delivers all the bells and whistles one could have hoped for. Ry Cooder's heavy guitar solos coupled with Nora Jones' singing are probably one of the top reasons why you would want to own this disc. In fact, what I heard from my speakers, impressed me far more than anything else found on this disc - the bass was deep and heavy, the rear channels quite active, and the high frequencies (listen to Ry Cooder's wailing guitar) simply perfect. In addition, the cozy jazz tunes are simply mixed to perfection, you really will be hard-pressed to find any flaws with the heavy on flavor soundtrack (those of you who have seen the film already should be aware of the numerous scenes I refer to). Also, the dialog was crystal clear and very easy to follow. I personally did not feel the need to turn on the optional English subtitles as I have in the past, considering that at times Jude Law's accent could be rather difficult to understand. Finally, I did not detect any hissing, pops, or cracks to report here either. For the record, the English subtitles appear inside the image frame.
My Blueberry Nights Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray disc offers the same supplemental features found on the SDVD release. First, there is a large fragment from the Cannes Film Festival where Wong Kar-Wai and Norah Jones address a number of different questions. Next is "10,279 Miles Since Hong Kong", a rather long making-of featurette where additional comments by the cast and crew are supplied. Finally, there is a short featurette titled "Character Study" where you will see and hear collage of personal comments, some overlapping with is available in the other two featurettes, addressing the main protagonists and their dilemmas.
My Blueberry Nights Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A beautifully photographed film, rather reminiscent of Wong Kar-Wai's early works, My Blueberry Nights entertains interesting themes about loneliness, sharing, and committing. Love is also somewhere in the mix, but it isn't really the commanding theme the picture is built upon. Unsurprisingly, it is rather difficult for one to identify with all of the main characters in My Blueberry Nights - there is simply too much going on for the type of intimacy Wong Kar-Wai aimed for. The Blu-ray disc, courtesy of Optimum Home Entertainment, is of excellent quality. The audio treatment in particular adds a great deal of flavor to this already notably moody piece of cinema. Recommended.
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