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Romantic drama from writer and director Hal Hartley following the comic antics of two brothers determined to trace their missing father, a former baseball champion and student radical, who is somewhere on Long Island. With the brothers' search leading them to two different women, they encounter passion and insight into the father they have not seen for so long.
For more about Simple Men and the Simple Men Blu-ray release, see Simple Men Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 16, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Robert John Burke, Bill Sage, Karen Sillas, Martin Donovan, Joe Stevens, Elina L÷wensohn
Director: Hal Hartley
» See full cast & crew
Simple Men Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 16, 2013
Nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Hal Hartley's "Simple Men" (1992) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The supplemental features on the disc include a long video interview with the American director and an informative featurette. In English, without optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The two brothers could not be any more different. Dennis (Bill Sage, Mysterious Skin) is a quiet loner who overanalyzes everything. Bill (Robert Burke, Dust Devil, Thinner) is a small-time criminal with a broken heart who likes to be the first to hit his opponents.
The brothers are told by their mother that their father (John Alexander MacKay, Niagara, Niagara), a former baseball star and radical leftist who may or may not have bombed the Pentagon in 1968, has gone missing. They are also given an emergency phone number with an area code suggesting that their father could be somewhere in Long Island and warned that the FBI is trying to get him. The mother does not really want her husband back in her life but does not want him behind bars either, which is why she urges Dennis and Bill to track him down and maybe help him leave the country.
On the way to Road Island, Dennis and Bill meet a strange guy (Jeffrey Howard) fighting with his bike and help him get it fixed. Dennis also talks to a friendly schoolgirl (Holly Marie Combs, A Reason to Believe), who calls the phone company to get more information about the emergency phone number, and a not so friendly nun (Vivian Lanko) who occasionally likes to smoke.
Soon after, Dennis and Bill arrive in a small town where they meet Elina (Elina Lowensohn, Amateur, Lourdes), a beautiful epileptic from Romania, and her friend Kate (Karen Sillas, What Happened Was..., Female Perversions), who runs a small bar she inherited from her husband. Bill quickly falls in love with Kate. Dennis tries to make Elina fall in love with him, but she calmly reveals to him that she is already sharing his father's bed.
While everyone waits in Kate's bar for Dennis and Bill's father to appear, the sheriff (Damian Young, Amateur) begins snooping around. He also spends a great deal of time explaining to those willing to listen the not so obvious relationship between women and misery.
The style and atmosphere of Hal Hartley's Simple Men very much remind of Jim Jarmusch's work. Simple Men also has that familiar poetic quality Jarmusch's best films convey that makes even the most casual sequences look strikingly original.
The dialog is sensational. The exchanges between the different characters are some of the best one is likely to encounter in American independent films. Some of the exchanges are loaded with sarcasm, some are painfully honest, and some are indescribably hilarious. (These exchanges have a certain rhythm that makes them even more effective. See the sequence where the sheriff and the two gas station attendants argue).
The focus of attention is primarily on Bill's transformation, but the rest of the characters and the evolution of their relationships are also closely observed. In the grand scheme of things, however, this is a film about the way these characters express themselves while they are in front of the camera, rather than what they are or where they end up being when the final credits roll.
The film's atmospheric soundtrack features original Hartley and top tracks by Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo.
Simple Men Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Hal Hartley's Simple Men arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
There appears to be a a little bit of cropping on the top of the image frame, but it never becomes distracting. Detail and depth are very good, both during close-ups and panoramic shots. Clarity is also consistently pleasing. There are no traces of excessive degraining corrections. There are absolutely no traces of post-production sharpening adjustments either. Color reproduction does not disappoint - there is a good range of warm and very natural greens, blues, grays, browns, and blacks. Unsurprisingly, from start to finish the film has a solid organic look. Serious compression anomalies, such as heavy banding and aliasing, are nowhere to be seen. Also, there are no large damage marks, cuts, debris, or stains to report in this review. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Simple Men Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Artificial Eye have not provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Overall dynamic intensity is limited, but depth and clarity are outstanding. The guitar solos from Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo's tracks that are heard throughout the film sound particularly impressive. The dialog is very crisp, clean, and always easy to follow. (While it is unfortunate that there are no optional English SDH subtitles, the dialog in Simple Men is indeed very clear and easy to follow). Lastly, there are no audio dropouts, pops, hiss, or distortions to report in this review.
Simple Men Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Simple Men Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Simple Men is one of American director Hal Hartley's best films - it is very funny, incredibly witty, and impeccably acted. I cannot imagine anyone seeing the film and not being amused by its bold rejection of cinematic cliches. I think that it as good and as effective as the very best of Jim Jarmusch's films. If you have even the slightest interest in American independent films, I urge you to pick up Simple Men. Also, take a look at all the other Hartley films Artificial Eye and Olive Films have already released on Blu-ray. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Simple Men Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Upcoming Artificial Eye Releases - January 31, 2013
Independent British distributors Artificial Eye have informed us that they are planning to add four films to their impressive Blu-ray catalog: Hal Hartley's The Unbelievable Truth (1989), Simple Men (1992), and Amateur (1994), and Cate Shortland's Lore (2012), ...
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