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The Ghost Writer(2010)
After his predecessor perishes under mysterious circumstances, a ghostwriter agrees to help a former British prime minister finish his memoirs, but the author but finds himself in danger when he uncovers a web of secrets and corruption.
For more about The Ghost Writer and the The Ghost Writer Blu-ray release, see the The Ghost Writer Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 4, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jon Bernthal, Kim Cattrall, Pierce Brosnan, James Belushi, Olivia Williams
Director: Roman Polanski
» See full cast & crew
The Ghost Writer Blu-ray Review
Who knew writing was this semi-sorta-kinda-not-really-all-that dangerous?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 4, 2010
You name it, he ghosts it.
Embattled Director Roman Polanski's (Chinatown) The Ghost Writer is an oftentimes brilliant picture that's engaging, well-made, and fairly acted, but it's also a picture, it would seem, of little lasting resonance, one that's admirable for its craftsmanship but that ultimately comes up a bit short in terms of purpose and relevance. That doesn't mean it's not worth a watch -- or two or three. The picture's brilliance lies in its contrasts, settings, and the way Polanski handles the purposefully slow-to-develop story line. The lack of action is evident, but The Ghost Writer doesn't set out to blow anything away -- other than the viewer's mind, of course. It's a fascinatingly intense picture built on a foundation of intrigue rather than muscle, of deliberateness rather than speed, of style but not completely absent substance. It's a picture, too, constructed by political overtones -- overtones that define the entirety of the plot -- that will be readily evident to those that keep up with the latest headlines, but viewers who might not see the parallels to recent history or who simply choose to ignore them in favor of the story line will find plenty to love in The Ghost Writer. No matter the real-world similarities, though, The Ghost Writer proves a slickly-produced picture sure to captivate cinephiles even through its political veil and lack of lasting resonance.
Former English Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan, The Tailor of Panama) has been paid a handsome $10 million sum for his memoirs. He's got a good story to tell, but there's only one problem: he's not a writer, and his previous "ghost writer" has recently turned up dead. Enter "The Ghost" (Ewan McGregor, Angels & Demons), the man hired as the replacement writer and given the assignment of working with Lang at his Massachusetts vacation house. The Ghost is given a one-month deadline to edit a hulk of a manuscript that's got more problems than promise, but it's not the daunting task of fixing it up that ultimately gets The Ghost scared stiff. Immediately after work begins on the manuscript, Lang finds himself in hot water for facilitating the torture of terror suspects by the CIA. With that and pending war crimes charges looming, The Ghost takes on an added and unwelcome dimension to his work, not to mention a shortened deadline. Complicating matters is his belief that there's something more about Lang and those around him both then and now that's not found in the text, at least upon casual inspection. The Ghost uncovers clues about both the findings of his deceased predecessor and Adam Lang's past, leading him to believe that there may be something greater at work in the text than a replay of British and world politics and the musings of a former Prime Minister.
The Ghost Writer is a superbly-executed traditional three-act structure picture that builds on a nicely-realized introductory set-up that takes a turn towards its ultimate destination as the second act opens with a development that's sure to quickly tear apart the foundations laid at the start. The picture culminates with the revelation, a revelation that's worth the effort and remains wonderfully clandestine until the end, a revelation that demands subsequent viewings whereby the search for the subtle clues Polanski litters about the film can supersede the need to pay closer attention to the generalized plot advancements. Still, it's not so much the story but the style that makes The Ghost Writer a winner. Polanski manages to pull off one of cinema's most difficult tasks, constructing a picture that's absent much physical action but nevertheless remains a riveting, edge-of-the-seat type experience built not on adrenaline but the mystery, emotion, and craftsmanship that take the picture from the realm of lackadaisical Thriller to pertinent mind-bender. If there's a fault, it's not in the lack of guns, explosions, and fast car chases, but in that the story just doesn't seem to find much purpose beyond its superficial existence. The Ghost Writer seems wanting for some greater message that never really comes and while everything else about the picture is first-rate, that gaping hole where the picture's legacy should be seems as obvious as Polanski's exceptional handiwork behind the camera and his actors' in front of it.
The Ghost Writer also succeeds as a picture of stark contrasts that help define the film's purpose and plot. Most evident is the difference between the film's two lead characters. One, known only as "The Ghost," is portrayed as an apolitical figure, a man who shuns the spotlight but isn't scared away by the difficult assignment, nor does he fear challenging himself and facing the truth, no matter how dangerous or damning it may be. His job as a "ghost writer" implies invisibility and the clandestine, and his lack of a given name, too, further reinforces his anonymity. On the flip side is Adam Lang, a world figure that can't escape the camera or the headlines, a man with as many enemies that would just as soon see him dead as friends ready with shovels to build him a monument. The film plays this contrast for all its worth, just as it does the juxtaposition behind the construction of a memoir meant to shine light on an individual but that's kept under lock and key; that may contain world-shaking revelations that aren't printed clearly and succinctly anywhere within the text; and resides within the rainy, gloomy, and cold surroundings of the Massachusetts-in-wintertime setting. Ultimately, however, for as strong as the film may be, its plot advancements rely on too many crutches of modern technology; is piecing together an international mystery really as simple as listening to a seemingly wayward GPS device and typing in a few keywords into a search engine? In The Ghost Writer, the answer is "yes," but while these and other elements lean towards the convenient, Polanski masks the shortcomings of the story well enough through the prism of exceptional filmmaking and wonderful performances from his cast, notably a fine but brief effort from veteran Tom Wilkinson.
The Ghost Writer Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Ghost Writer pens a flawless masterpiece of a high definition transfer. Framed at 2.34:1 and presented in 1080p, Roman Polanski's picture looks fantastic on Blu-ray from every angle. This is an immaculately clean, crisp, clear, and perfectly-defined image that boasts exceptional depth, detailing, and color. Slight grain is retained to give the picture a strong film-like appearance, and the print is free of any errant speckles, dirt, or other unwanted anomalies. Likewise, intrusive elements such as blocking, banding, and aliasing are never evident in the transfer. Viewers will note the intricate details on everything from fuzzy carpet and rough pavement to brick walls and the texture of paper, and to make matters only better, even distant and unimportant background objects like buildings and vehicles retain superior definition. Shadow detail is first-rate and blacks are superbly rich and defined, while flesh tones retain a neutral tint throughout. Colors, too, are exemplary, even if the film does take on a predominantly cold and gray color palette. Brighter shades -- a red bus, a yellow bag -- positively sparkle, adding another feather in the cap of one of Blu-ray's best transfers.
The Ghost Writer Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Summit brings The Ghost Writer to Blu-ray with a pristine DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. It's primarily of the talky Drama/Thriller type, but Summit's track nevertheless squeezes every ounce of vigor it can out of the material, and the result is a stable and oftentimes awe-inspiring listen that delivers the goods on a scale that ranges from robust bass to the slightest of nuances. The track is dotted with several strongly-realized atmospheric elements, including driving rain, honking car horns, blowing wind, and gently rolling waters, all playing seamlessly throughout the soundstage and creating a wonderfully immersive 360-degree sound field. The low end kicks in at several junctures, whether the lesser sounds of protestors beating on car windows or a jet engine rumbling across the soundstage. Music enjoys a seamlessness that's found in only the best soundtracks, yielding a wonderful sense of space that seems to eliminate the speakers and expand the soundstage well beyond its physical limitations. Supported by pitch-perfect dialogue, The Ghost Writer sounds almost as good as it looks on Blu-ray.
The Ghost Writer Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This BD-59 "flipper" disc of The Ghost Writer features the Blu-ray on one side of the disc and a DVD copy on the other; both versions contain the same array of extra features. First up is 'The Ghost Writer:' Fiction or Reality? (1080p, 10:46), a short piece that features Writer Robert Harris discussing his book, its inspirations, the characters, the picture's Hitchcockian overtones, his personal and working relationship with Roman Polanski, the picture's ending, and more. The Cast of 'The Ghost Writer' (1080p, 11:48) is a pat-on-the-back piece that features the primary cast sharing the pleasures of working with one another while praising the quality of one another's work. Finally, An Interview With Roman Polanski (1080p, 8:38) features the director sharing his thoughts on various aspects of the picture, including the story, Harris' novel, the political overtones, the cast, sets and shooting locales, and more.
The Ghost Writer Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Ghost Writer doesn't seem destined to remembered alongside the greats of cinema or even amongst the cream of the crop found on Director Roman Polanski's resumé, but it's nevertheless a taut, well-constructed Thriller with a foundation built on real-world elements suitably fictionalized for mass entertainment consumption. Based on a novel by Robert Harris, The Ghost Writer -- with its complex characters, layered themes, slow-to-develop story, and plot subtleties -- does play more like a page-turner than a lively cinematic Thriller, but Polanski pulls off the slow pace and the story's many nuances superbly. The lone problem: there doesn't seem to be a legacy or a purpose here beyond political commentary and, of course, the crafting of a solid motion picture. Still, The Ghost Writer is worth a watch, more than one, actually, for all it has to offer from a technical and structural perspective, though the film seems one that's more likely to disappear into the pile of "good movies long forgotten" than it is to be remembered as an always-watchable classic. Summit's Blu-ray release of The Ghost Writer sports a flawless 1080p transfer and a lossless soundtrack that's almost as good, but it comes up well short of a proper supplemental presentation. Recommended as a buy for fans and as a rental for newcomers.
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The Ghost Writer Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Polanski’s Ghost Writer on Blu-ray/DVD Flipper - June 9, 2010
Summit Entertainment has announced that it will release the Roman Polanski-directed thriller The Ghost Writer on August 3, on a "single-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo." This is the first time a new release is coming out on this two-sided, two-format disc presentation.
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