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Cemetery Junction - Blu-ray Review

4 stars


Cemetery Junction Movie Review

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Released theatrically overseas, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s directorial debut, Cemetery Junction, gets the straight-to-DVD treatment here.  It’s a lovingly shot picture that takes its time with its coming-of-age comedic narrative that vividly recreates the ‘70’s with fine polyester detail.  Truly, what makes Cemetery Junction so charmingly intricate and detailed an experience is its ability to be an entertaining character story about the tiniest things – the most innocent and wonderful - that makes us all a little more…human.

Intentionally steering clear of the grimy look of other pictures about working-class British families, Cemetery Junction concentrates on a tale about three lifelong protagonists:  Freddie (Christian Cooke) pursues the dependable, yet soul-crushing business of an insurance salesman all while falling in love with the engaged daughter (Felicity Jones) of his boss (Ralph Fiennes); Bruce (Tom Hughes), always dreaming of leaving the one-horse town of their youth, finds himself continually working in the dull factory and getting into bloody bar fights at night; and, finally, Snork (Jack Doolan), who simply wants to figure out how to talk to women without using offensive slang.  While Ricky Gervais, Emily Watson, and Matthew Goode also star in the movie, the plot revolves around these three characters.

Written by Stephen Merchant and Gervais (The Office), Cemetery Junction reads as a nice love letter to their native land.  In the opening scene, Reading England circa 1973 is perfectly captured on celluloid film, bathed in a saturated golden hue.  Uncharacteristic of the working-class genre of filmmaking?  Certainly, and totally welcomed, too.  Shots like the one described fit the ever-arching mood of the life-changing events that mark Merchant and Gervais’ eager screenplay.  While it isn’t completely a comedy, Cemetery Junction does have some funny beats reminiscent of BBC’s The Office.  And in spite of all its vibing cool sensibilities, the movie isn’t a drama either, nor is it Hollywood gloss, but, damn, if it doesn’t feel like it; a remarkable feat for the film’s humble budget.

Cemetery Junction earns an extra reel for its warmth.  Like Our Friends in the North before it (with regard to tone), the movie never falters in pitched rhythm.  Merchant and Gervais haven’t delivered an absolutely brilliant screenplay, but Cemetery Junction isn’t simple-minded.  The movie supports a fine cast that brings a bit more meat to the written word.  Sure, the narrative might be a tad predictable, but when a formula works -  when developed right - that formula often works well.  Thankfully, Cemetery Junction does this; it involves and charms, bringing its audience close to the characters and then wins all over again because of its spell.

With the proud spirit of Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics in “Thunder Road” as its inspiration, Cemetery Junction, arriving here in the states on Blu-ray and DVD this month, certainly delivers on a promise to trade its working-class “wings for some wheels” and just let it roll.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
4 stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 17, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Hindi
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live; movieIQ

In what can only be described as another great transfer from Sony, Cemetery Junction’s 1080P transfer sports a wonderfully charged film-like texture that hits screens with excellent details and vibrant colors of natural grain.  No matter the location, this disc absolutely bursts with studio-like colors and richness.  Also surprisingly moving is the disc’s sound, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that is consistently engaging with plenty of surround channel activity.

Supplements:

Commentaries:

  • The first is from Writers/Directors Merchant and Gervais, who – as a comedic team – are a joy to watch, listen to, or just be around.  Here, inside the commentary track, is no different; this duo is on fire with rock ‘n’ roll and silliness.  While it is insightful with a lot of specific details about the making of the film, the two definitely let the laughter to dominate the recorded commentary.  The second commentary is a little more subdued with actors Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, and Jack Doolan discussing the making of the film.  Interesting, yes, but not nearly as intriguing as Merchant and Gervais’s musings.

Interviews:

  • The Directors: A Conversation with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (15:07):  an interview in which the directors discuss their desire to make the film and their experiences shooting it.
  • The Lads Look Back: The Stars Discuss 'Cemetery Junction' (10:14): an interview in which the lead actors discuss their experiences with the film.  This also includes their audition footage.

Featurettes:

  • Seventies Style: Production and Costume Design (8:44):  this feature promotes the film’s style, featuring plenty of input from the actors and actresses.

The Blu-ray also features 4 short featurettes, all shot in 1080p, highlighting the film’s development.  They are as follows:

  • The Start of Filming (1:15)
  • Week 1 (1:33)
  • Meet the Boys (2:27)
  • The Directors on Set (1:51).

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