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Western Stars (2019) - Blu-ray Review

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Western Stars

Somewhere in Colts Neck, New Jersey there sets a horse farm owned by Bruce Springsteen.  And on those 378 acres there is a two-story barn which, on certain nights, doubles as a performance area for Springsteen, his wife Patti Scialfa, and some close friends.  The voices coming out from the barn doors on those nights make for some damn fine music.  

"one by one, the songs on Western Stars come out and reveal themselves as they light our way across this American landscape"


And, as captured here on Western Stars, the music - lyrics, melodies, and all - once sung and offered up to the audience and the night works to create something spiritual and uplifting for all.  To be a regular there would definitely be a spiritual thing.

Which is why this film, Western Stars, which made its premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and is co-directed by Springsteen and Thom Zimny, is such a gift.  

“I’m 2500 hundred miles from where I want to be,” sings Springsteen in “Sundown” and, man, to see him sing these epic songs - performing the entire 13-song cycle on this album - right in front of you is something spectacular indeed.  And the vignettes - occurring between each song, feature Springsteen reflecting on the songs, their meanings, and how the songs were created - give the audience more introspection than expected.

Bruce Springsteen, in full storyteller garb, celebrates the release of his latest album, Western Stars, with a film that, beautifully made, captures the spirit of that album.  Performed live in his family’s two-story barn, the performances, complete with a full orchestra, are beautiful and heartfelt as the characters in his song cycle deal with their pain, their memories, their age, and their choices.  And their struggles - matched with Springsteen’s worn voice - are all set against a sunrise/sunset cycle to tell a story that is completely American.

Western Stars feels like a tone poem and, with songs like “Moonlight Motel” and “Tucson Train” guiding the path, we definitely go on a heartfelt journey with his new characters.  Recorded over two nights in April of 2019, the best performances are included here and, during a revelation that lets us in behind the curtain, it isn’t until the end that Springsteen adds “Rhinestone Cowboy” to the conclusion.  Western Stars

Add to that the epic shots from cinematographer Joe Desalvo that were  filmed at Joshua Tree National Park and you have the ingredients for not just a wonderful evening with The Boss, but an epic journey across the landscape of the heart.

With Western Stars, Springsteen delivers the goods with reflections on lies, hard times, driving out of the darkness and straight into love; this is a film for survivors as much as it is a film for fans of Springsteen’s nineteenth album.  

Thanks to this film, one by one, the songs on Western Stars come out and reveal themselves as they light our way across this American landscape.

5/5 stars

Western Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- December 19, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
:
Audio:
Dolby Atmos
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Released by Warner Brothers, this epic melding of sound and vision is now available on digital download and blu-ray.  There are no special features, but the blu-ray is slipcovered with the art from the film (and not the art the album’s art).

Video:

Shot digitally, Western Stars revels in details.  From the historic barn and its decor to the lines on Springsteen’s face, there is detail everywhere and the crispness is appreciated as the music guides us to landscapes across Joshua Tree.  Black levels are strong throughout and colors are warm and vibrant.  Shadows are strong, but the delineation of them is handled by the camera with precision and artistry.  

Audio:  

With a Dolby Atmos soundtrack specifically remixed for the home theater environment, this release definitely exceeds expectations.  Every voice and every guitar strum is full of life and energy, making this release a very special one indeed.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • None

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 0/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

Western Stars

MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements, alcohol and smoking images, and brief language.
Runtime:
83 mins
Director
: Bruce Springsteen, Thom Zimny
Cast:
Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen
Genre
: Music| Documentary
Tagline:
A film by Thom Zimny and Bruce Springsteen.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 25, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 19, 2019.
Synopsis: Live concert performance of Bruce Springsteen singing songs from his album 'Western Stars'.

Western Stars

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