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Garden State (2004) - Blu-ray Review

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Garden State - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

It’s hilarious to me to hear about people and critics turning their backs on a film they once heralded as a post-modern Bush-era classic. That’s exactly what is happening to Zach Braff’s Garden State. Upon its release in 2004, the film was nominated for the Grand Jury prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, its soundtrack won a grammy, had a certified fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, and it made bank at the box office (something like 14 times what it cost to make this indie gem). Nowadays, people seem to be flocking away from its many successes.

Garden State, especially after viewing the recently released blu-ray from 20th Century Fox, still feels different. It feels alive with inspiration. Braff plays Andrew Largeman, read as “whiny hipster” to all you self-important older-than-dirt bastards out there, and upon waking from a dream in which he is on board a crashing airplane returns to New Jersey, his home, because his mother has died. He’s a struggling actor in Los Angeles and his father (Ian Holm) is his psychiatrist and keeps him prescribed to every medication known to man due to unfortunate accident that happened years and years ago.

Emotionally disconnected, Largman returns home and meets up with old friends - Mark (Peter Sarsgaard), Dave (Alex Burn), Jesse (Armando Riesco) – and makes an important new one. Sam (Natalie Portman) is a pathological liar and will change his life, reawakening him as he confronts the issues brought up between his father and himself due to his mother’s passing. Featuring stellar performances from the above-mentioned cast and Michael Weston, Jim Parsons, Denis O’Hare and Jean Smart, Garden State never rings a false note in screenplay and in soundtrack.

This is Braff's feature directing and writing debut and, as he is only now following it up with Wish I Was Here (after a much publicized Kickstarter campaign), he seems to have purged all his young man’s tension and angst with this release. The structure and its themes are dynamic and spiritually-loaded as he and his friends go out of their way to recover a piece of jewelry that once belonged to his mother and which eventually helps Largeman feel emotions again. It’s not perfect. There are a lot of characters left stranded due to it solely being about Largeman’s own emotional state but it is much more sharply-plotted than you might think.

Oh, but now, now people turn up their noses at it. “I can’t believe I liked that sentimental garbage”, they huff.   Just Google the film and read the rants and ravings against it now. It’s simply ridiculous and proves to me just how quickly people forget actual invention. Upon its release, there was nothing like it. Nothing. That’s right, all those things that today drive us nuts about rom-coms and quirky movies and hipster indies owe EVERYTHING to Garden State. From their mopey mood to their pixie-looking girls, it all comes from ONE film and ONE writer so show some respect because your younger self was right about this movie.

Let’s show some love for Zach Braff’s Garden State and quit being so goddamn old and creaky and blindly privileged about it.

Garden State - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R for language, drug use and a scene of sexuality.
Runtime:
90 mins
Director
: Zach Braff
Writer:
Zach Braff
Cast:
Zach Braff, Peter Sarsgaard, Natalie Portman
Genre
: Comedy | Drama | Romance
Tagline:
Garden State
Memorable Movie Quote: "Ooh, great job man! I really thought you were retarded. I mean, you're better than that Corky kid and he's actually retarded. If there was a retarded Oscar you would win, hands down, kick his ass!"
Distributor:
Fox Searchliught Pictures
Official Site: http://www.miramax.com/movie/garden-state
Release Date: August 20, 2004
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 4, 2014
Synopsis: A quietly troubled young man returns home for his mother's funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade.

Garden State - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 4, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Dubbed
: English, Spanish
Audio:
English (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Garden State arrives on blu-ray with a solid, at times very good, but not quite exceptional video presentation in 1080p High Definition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. The film – shot for a cool $3 million – has never looked perfect. So, with that in mind, this is a respectful, decent HD upgrade. Detail is good throughout, particularly noticeable on the longer shots – the at times stunning cinematography beautifully rendered here. The film – complete with a nice layer of grain – looks vibrant and vivid. Black levels are strong. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is impressive and offers a new depth to the sonic field.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are a total of two commentaries. The first is with Braff and Portman and the second is with Braff, Director of Photography Lawrence Sher, Editor Myron Kerstein and Production Designer Judy Becker. There is a nice chemistry between Portman and Braff which translates well in the commentary. It might be the sweetest commentary ever commissioned before. The second one is more technical but as interesting as the first. Well worth the cost of the disc.

Special Features:

This is a nice collection of supplemental material. You get a solid look at the making of the picture, a solid look at its creator, a nice collection – of varying degrees in quality – of deleted scenes and a couple of good outtakes. Nothing to complain about. We get plenty of information here, presented in a nice retrospective way – from how they financed the movie, how he got Natalie Portman involved, the way the story shifted from self-discovery to first love, what the production was like, and some of the scenes that were cut. Fans of the movie should be pleased with this release.

  • Making Of (25 min)
  • In The Mind Of Zach Braff (25 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (40 min)
  • Outtakes (10 min)

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