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Sex and Death 101(2007)
Less than two weeks before his wedding, good-guy Roderick Blank (Simon Baker) receives a mysterious email listing every girl he's ever had sex with...and the 70+ names of everyone he ever will have sex with. But as Roderick begins enjoying all the strippers, porn stars, stewardesses and celebrity lesbians on the list, he discovers that his ultimate date with destiny may lay with the serial killer known as "Death Nell" (Winona Ryder). Is the luckiest man in the world now doomed to face the final position of the Karma Sutra?
For more about Sex and Death 101 and the Sex and Death 101 Blu-ray release, see Sex and Death 101 Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 6, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Wisdom, Tanc Sade, Patton Oswalt, Simon Baker, Mindy Cohn, Winona Ryder
Director: Daniel Waters
» See full cast & crew
Sex and Death 101 Blu-ray Review
And the point is...
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 6, 2008
The who, the what, the where, and the when is never as important as the why.
Heathers is one of the finest dark comedies ever committed to celluloid, and holds nearly infinite replay value for me. Unless I've just watched it last week, I'm always comfortable pulling it off my DVD (hopefully some day soon Blu-ray) shelf for yet another screening. Sex and Death 101 is brought to us by the same writer that penned Heathers, Daniel Waters. His career as a writer is an interesting one, with a wide array of projects under his belt, from high-octane action (Demolition Man) to poorly received cinematic duds of epic proportions (Hudson Hawk) with the likes of The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Batman Returns idling somewhere on the middle of his resumé. As an established fan of both Heathers and Demolition Man, I went into Sex and Death 101 with moderately high expectations; this film fits a genre I generally despise, but the promise of good, funny writing, as evidenced in Waters' earlier works, curiously drew me to this, his latest script (which he also directed).
Roderick Blank (Simon Baker, Land of the Dead) is a happy enough man with a steady job, good looks, and a wife-to-be. One day while speaking with his secretary, she opens a mysterious e-mail (sent, we discover, by an all-knowing supercomputer) that contains the list of the 29 women Roderick has been with, up to and including his fiancé. The list also contains, to his astonishment, 72 more names listed after his bride-to-be (which, conveniently, adds up to 101). When girl number 30 turns out to be a dancer at his bachelor party and girl number 31 is a centerfold model, Roderick loses himself in the quest to find and scratch off every woman on the list, that is, until he discovers the identity of the last person on the list, a person that just might be the death of him.
I'm trying very hard to discover the point of this movie, and if there is indeed a point or a supposed lesson or significance here, I took it as a lesson that tells us not to take fate at face value. Roderick rides an emotional roller coaster throughout the film, a ride that he is taken on courtesy of one simple piece of paper that may or may not truly hold the secret to his life (and, ultimately, death), but he begins to spiral out of control as he lets fate, not himself, control his destiny. As two troubled souls struggle through life and come together either by happenstance or cosmic intervention, Sex and Death 101 tries to convey that not everything can be taken as face value, and even if we were to somehow catch a glimpse of our own destiny, the end journey may not take us where we expect it to. I'm reminded of one of those old "deal with the devil" proverbs where you ask the devil to heal your dog of its illness, and as it leaves the vet healthy and happy, it gets loose from its leash and is run over by an 18-wheeler. Appearances, ideas, goals, desires, and destiny aren't always as they seem, neither set in stone, nor, as in this case, printed on a sheet of paper, which, as fate would have it, was one of the themes in Waters' superior film from the 1980s, Heathers.
Sex and Death 101 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Sex and Death 101 debuts on Blu-ray in a 1.78:1 framed, 1080p high definition transfer. Simply put, this is a mostly superb release from Starz. It has a video rather than film-like look about it, looking like something that you might find filmed for and playing on late night cable television. Nevertheless, detail and color reproduction are extraordinary. Colors are vibrant, rich, and accurate. Both foreground and background objects are sharp and finely tuned, exhibiting sometimes extraordinary depth and visible detail and nuances. Even the most mundane of objects, such as a green door Roderick enters to visit with the men in charge of the supercomputer, allows us to see every brush stroke from when the paint was applied and a few minor blemishes on it. Close-ups of faces reveal blemishes, fine lines, and other nuances on actors. Even the buttons on the telephone seen in Roderick's office made me want to "reach out and touch someone" so clearly visible and tactile were they. A fine layer of film grain covers the image. It's never obtrusive and adds a bit of depth to the transfer, but never adds a cinematic flair to the image that retains that filmed-on-video appearance noted above. This transfer is hands down the star of this disc, and it looks marvelous.
Sex and Death 101 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sex and Death 101 is accompanied on Blu-ray by a PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack. The film's opening musical sequence is nice and clear, a solid way to begin the movie. Instruments are often placed in discrete channels across the front, and the rear channels pick up much the general beat of the music. It all blends together for a very pleasant, high-quality listen. Afterwards and most of the way throughout, this is a mostly front-heavy listen with the occasional discrete effect in the front and back, but there is very little ambience or excitement to the proceedings. The music heard in chapter nine in the club offers up a bit of pizazz with some moderately deep lows and some more rear-channel presence. There is some nice echoing and reverberations in the "white room" where the supercomputer is located. Dialogue is clean and prominent; every syllable is accurately rendered and reproduced through the center channel. Sex and Death 101 is another one of those comedy soundtracks that never puts your sound system through its paces, but for this style of movie, this soundtrack is an admirable one.
Sex and Death 101 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sex and Death 101 arrives on Blu-ray with only a few extra materials, highlighted by a commentary track with writer/director Daniel Waters. Waters delves into some of the nuances of the script and lets us in on his deeper thoughts on the meaning of the film. Intertwined with the more philosophical observations are some standard behind-the-scenes comments and pats on the back. Of note is his pointing out that the diner seen in the end of the film is utilized in many a Hollywood movies. Suddenly, it hit me that it is the same diner seen at the beginning of Training Day. 101 Perversions (480p, 17:13) is next. As the name so obviously implies, this is a classic behind-the-scenes feature that takes us into the minds of the cast and crew and they provide their thoughts on the movie and the meaning behind it (Waters describes the film as coming from his "Van Gogh" period). Concluding the supplements is the film's original theatrical trailer (480p, 2:17).
Sex and Death 101 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The beauty of movies like this, and any movie really, is that anyone can interpret it every which way to Sunday. Sex and Death 101 is a vapid comedy that tries to muster some kind of significance at the end of the film, and as to whether it accomplished that goal is best left to each viewer. The ridiculousness (generally in a Mystery Science Theater 3000-worthy production; get a load of the wholly generic "oracle") that preceded the film's all-too-touchy-feely ending ruined the whole "dark comedy" angle the film seemed to be headed towards. While I wouldn't necessarily say the film's writer needs to go back to scriptwriting 101, I would label Sex and Death 101 as his teenage fantasy period rather than his Van Gogh period as the film offers little more substance than the writer living vicariously through Roderick Blank's numerous sexual escapades. Starz presents Sex and Death 101 on Blu-ray as a fairly standard package with excellent video quality, audio befitting this style of movie, and a predictably boring set of supplements. Worth a rental for the curious and not-so-easily offended.
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Sex and Death 101 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Sex and Death 101 Announced for Blu-ray - May 5, 2008
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Simon Baker and Winona Ryder film 'Sex and Death 101' to Blu-ray on July 1st, day and date with the DVD release. The film come from Daniel Waters, the writer of the cult classic film ‘Heathers'. ...
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