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In Bruges - Blu-ray Review


In Bruges Blu-ray

Earning his first BAFTA award for original screenplay, a BAFTA Best Film nomination and, ultimately, the Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges is no stranger to the award circuit.  Even its actors got in on the fun with Collin Farrell walking away with a Golden Globe.  Now, a mere three years AFTER critics originally went gaga over his first feature film, McDonagh’s work – thanks to Universal Studios - is finally available in glorious HD format.

After severely mucking up a job in England in which a child (Theo Stevenson) is accidentally killed, two Irish hitmen, Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), arrive in Bruges, Belgium with the implicit directive – given to them from their boss, Harry Waters (a hysterically vulgar Ralph Fiennes) – to enjoy the sites, act like tourists, and keep a low profile for awhile.  Ken, with his clear conscious as an experienced hitman, can do this perfectly, but novice Ray, haunted by his accidental killing of the boy, cannot.  He also hates the medieval trappings of Bruges and declares his dislike every time Ken attempts to play tourist guide.  Ray’s only relief from the surroundings of Bruges are Belgium’s finest beer, a drug dealing woman names Chloë (Clémence Poésy) whose looks he likes, and an über-racist midget (Jordan Prentice) that tickles his funny bone. When Harry gives Ray his new assignment, the three men discover – rather unexpectedly - that Bruges, Belgium just might be their final resting place.

Playing out in similar fashion to the scenario in Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, McDonagh’s dark and comical script is a pretty hilarious and often well-balanced narrative that gives emotion, as well as a healthy dose of violence, a serious workout.  Poetic and richly precise, the script seldom enters into the landscape of the tired and clichéd trappings of its genre through the furiously fresh banter of its two leads: Farrell and Gleeson.  Practically carrying the movie, their chemistry together, as strained as it is at times, is the reason to keep coming back to this gem of political incorrectness.  Wholly lifelike, their characters (and their performances) certainly give this film its tick-tick-tick of well-timed exactness.

Adding to the calculation in the film’s overall success is Fiennes’ flared-nostril and teeth gnashing performance as their deadly boss.  His manic unhinging is a rewarding performance of comedic beats that is punctuated by the fact that the film uses the ‘F-bomb” over 100 times throughout its running time.  Although not confirmed, I’m sure Fiennes, turning on a dime with the bark-raving madness of a wild dog, contributes to at least half those colorful bombs of language.

Expertly shot in the natural light of Bruges, cinematographer Eigil Bryld exquisitely captures the ancient city on film, highlighting its gothic architecture and peaceful canals.  Rendered so effectively on film, In Bruges and its cinematography will make you want to visit the city – in spite of Ray’s vocal judgements against it.  While the two Irish hitmen might be out of place walking the cobbled streets of the medieval city, In Bruges, as a film finally released on Blu-ray, would definitely be at home on a shelf next to any movie by Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie.


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

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 13, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); D-Box

The Blu-ray is a visually gorgeous transfer, using the AVC Mpeg-4 compression codec, and maintaining the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.  The black levels and contrast are never shadowy gray and remain exceptional throughout with stability.  While the color palette is muted, the whites remain bright and punctuated under the natural light of its filming.  Wonderfully anchored by Carter Burwell’s piano score, the audio suffers only minimally with a couple of moments of hiss and background noise in its 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track.

The special features are quite a letdown, though. They include the following:

Supplements:

Deleted Scenes:

  • 18 deleted scenes, 2 extended scenes
  • Gag reel (6 mins)

Featurettes:

  • A boat trip around Bruges (5 mins): scenic views of Bruges set to text based facts

D-Box Motion Code enabled

BD-Live enabled

{pgomakase}

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