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When Harry Met Sally...(1989)
Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.
For more about When Harry Met Sally... and the When Harry Met Sally... Blu-ray release, see When Harry Met Sally... Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on July 21, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Bruno Kirby, Carrie Fisher, Steven Ford, Lisa Jane Persky
Director: Rob Reiner
» See full cast & crew
When Harry Met Sally... Blu-ray Review
It Had to Be Them
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, July 21, 2011
Certain works bestride their genre like monuments, both inspiring and intimidating those who come after. Any dramatist who isn't a hack feels Shakespeare's plays looming over him. Any novelist worth taking seriously knows he'll probably never write anything as perfectly crafted as Great Expectations or as apparently effortless as Huckleberry Finn. Any director aspiring to make an epic has to figure out how to learn from David Lean without being overwhelmed and paralyzed by the mastery of Lawrence of Arabia or The Bridge on the River Kwai. And anyone trying to create a romantic comedy has to resign themselves to the near-certainty that they'll never do anything as near to flawless as When Harry Met Sally . . . (hereafter, WHMS). It's been twenty-two years, and I have yet to see a film about male-female relationships that matches WHMS in wit, insight, durability or sheer entertainment. The film has permeated the culture, and not just because everyone has heard of the orgasm scene and "I'll have what she's having" is among the AFI's Top 100 Movie Quotes (a fact of which director Rob Reiner is especially proud, because his mother delivered the line). As star Billy Crystal remarked in 2008, even the obscure line "baby fish mouth" gets quoted to him. In my own household, the film has entered common parlance the way Hamlet is now embedded in the English language. Phrases like "you're right, you're right, I know you're right"; "having a date on national holidays"; "I am the dog?"; and "Phone moi" are heard regularly. I've seen WHMS at least a hundred times -- in the theater, on cable, laserdisc, DVD and now Blu-ray -- and I still can't say for sure why it worked then and holds up today. One clue is that its creators didn't start out to write a romantic comedy; they weren't trying to check off a genre "box". The film arose from inquiries into human behavior that were being pursued with deeply personal urgency -- in the case of director Reiner, why was he so miserable in his private life ten years after his divorce; and in the case of screenwriter Nora Ephron, what could she make out of this golden opportunity to get two typical men (Reiner and his producer, Andrew Scheinman) to tell her things they wouldn't even tell their shrinks, because, hey, when you're trying to make a good movie, everything is fair game.
As rich as WHMS is in character and incident, its plot is relatively simple. In 1977, two recent graduates of the University of Chicago, Harry Burns (Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan, in her first starring role), share a ride from Chicago to New York, where both are starting jobs. It's Sally's car, and her friend Amanda (Michelle Nacastro), who is dating Harry, puts the two of them together. During the eighteen-hour drive, Harry and Sally discover that they're opposites. She's neat, organized, upbeat, detail-oriented and romantically choosy. He's a slob, an improviser, a cynic (but like most cynics, a romantic underneath), doesn't sweat the details and will sleep with almost anything female. When they shake hands and part near Washington Square Park, they're glad to see the back of each other. During the next ten years, Harry and Sally meet twice, first on the upswing, and then on the downswing of key relationships with other people. Harry marries Helen (Harley Jane Kozak), who crushes his ego by divorcing him for another man. ("I don't know if I've ever loved you", she tells him, just before movers ring the doorbell to pick up her belongings.) Sally spends years living with Joe (Steven Ford, son of former Pres. Gerald Ford), until she realizes one day that the relationship is stalled and forces a confrontation that finishes it. When the two acquaintances meet again by chance in 1987, they're at loose ends, and they're surprised to find that they can handle each other now. They haven't exactly mellowed, but they've at least gained enough self-confidence to listen. A friendship begins. Attempting to play matchmakers, Harry and Sally introduce each other to their best friends, Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Jess (the late, much-missed Bruno Kirby). But their matchmaking plays out unexpectedly when Jess and Marie become an instant item, leaving Harry and Sally on their own again. One night they become lovers, and everything falls apart -- until they finally figure out that this has been their destination all along. (Harry: "It only took three months." Sally: "Twelve years and three months.") One of the film's most inspired devices is the use of "couples interludes" interspersed throughout the narrative, in which elderly married couples relate how they first met. The stories are real - one is that of Ephron's parents; another is that of the parents of Reiner's friend, Alan Horn, co-founder of Castle Rock Entertainment and later president of Warner Bros. -- but they've been rewritten for brevity by Ephron and are delivered by actors, who are trained to speak scripted dialogue with the appearance of spontaneity. The interludes provide an optimistic counterpoint to whatever obstacle happens to be confronting Harry and Sally at that moment in the film. They also serve as a reminder (as Reiner notes in one of the featurettes) that every couple has a story, and each of the stories is interesting.
When Harry Met Sally... Blu-ray, Video Quality
Crystal had just completed Throw Momma from the Train, and he recommended its cinematograher, Barry Sonnenfeld, to Reiner. Sonnenfeld's work on WHMS is unusual for him, eschewing his trademark odd angles and shooting scenes simply and unobtrusively. Sonnenfeld balanced the film's color pallette midway between everyday naturalism and the kind of fantasyland that New York typically becomes in a Woody Allen film. The New York City of WHMS is enticing and exciting, but not so much that it ceases to be a place where real people live. (By the same token, the apartments inhabited by Harry and Sally are real, but they're far too spacious for people of their age and occupations to afford, a decision that was conscious, according to the production designer.) The 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer has been taken from nearly pristine source material and displays excellent detail, black levels and color fidelity. There is an occasional but very light presence of visible grain, but overall this is a richly smooth image, without any evidence that the smoothness was achieved by digitally stripping detail. In some of the sustained shots where characters are walking and talking, detail sometimes suffers, but this is not a flaw in the transfer. It's a result of the focus puller struggling to maintain focus under difficult conditions on location. (Reiner comments on the challenge of staging these scenes in the extras.) There are a few moments of aliasing on fine patterns of clothing here and there, but otherwise I saw no artifacts in the transfer.
When Harry Met Sally... Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film's original stereo track has been remixed for 5.1 and is presented in DTS lossless, but the rear channels do almost nothing other than support the musical score comprised of standards selected, arranged and often played on piano by Marc Shaiman; sung by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles or Frank Sinatra; or, in the closing credits, performed by Harry Connick, Jr. and his orchestra. Dialogue, which is the principal element of this soundtrack, is always clear and natural and is mostly centered except for an occasional panning or stereo effect, e.g., in the scene where Harry and Sally are having a telephone conversation late at night and are shown in split screen. As much as WHMS is supposed to be a "New York" movie, the sound mix is actually quite artificial, as it doesn't just dampen, but virtually eliminates most of the city noise that would accompany any of its outdoor scenes and most of its indoor settings. This approach is consistent with the film's narrative strategy of using the urban landscape to provide visual interest while maintaining tight focus on the inner life, as expressed through conversation, of a few people in a city of millions.
When Harry Met Sally... Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Come on, Fox. With so many special features, can't you at least provide a basic menu from which to browse them? Just like on your own catalogue releases? But once again, Fox has mastered an MGM disc so that it plays continuously, and the special features can only be accessed one at a time from a pop-up menu. And as usual, the disc has been mastered with BD-Java, omitting the essential ability to set bookmarks but otherwise not providing any advanced capabilities. All of the special features have been ported over from two previous DVD releases in 2001 and 2008. Items marked with a single asterisk (*) appeared only on the 2001 DVD. Items marked with a double asterisk (**) appeared on both. Unmarked items appeared only on the 2008 DVD.
When Harry Met Sally... Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A great classic has been given a fine Blu-ray treatment. Highest recommendation.
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• Five MGM Catalog Comedies Arriving on July 5th - June 21, 2011
Wal-Mart is currently listing for pre-order the MGM catalog titles, When Harry Met Sally, Throw Momma from the Train, A Fish Called Wanda, Legally Blonde, and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The Blu-rays will be released courtesy of Fox Home Entertainment as ...
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