My Blueberry Nights Blu-ray impressions
My Blueberry Nights is my second Wong Kar Wai film. My first was 2046, which I found pretty but vapid, and this 2007 effort, starring chanteuse Norah Jones, is similar, in that it’s once again pretty, albeit more so, and vapid, albeit more so. However, any film that has visuals so mesmerising that I can completely ignore a rather limp plot and uneven performances has my immediate respect: admittedly, I caught myself clock-watching by the time the Natalie Portman scenes near the end of the film were drawing to a close, but for a good 90% of the film’s duration I was held rapt by how incredibly beautiful every single shot was. This may be the the nicest-looking film I’ve seen since Amélie. Presumably the effect is diminished somewhat when viewed on a television, but I was lucky enough to be able to view it on a 123” display. The UK Blu-ray disc, from Optimum, is coded for Region B only, but thanks to the magic of the home theatre PC and its solutions to such errors, the studios can no longer deter me from giving them money. Strangely enough, I don’t think they’re going to thank me for lining their coffers.
Ahem, the disc… I’m going to make an assumption here and say that the film was heavily degrained at the DI stage. The result of this is that shots where the camera is in motion take on a very oily appearance, with the grain seeming almost like running liquid. Thankfully, the camera remains static throughout most of the film, and when it does move it tends to do so slowly, meaning that the problem is not as pronounced as it could have been. Detail is generally excellent, although it does vary and certain wide shots tend to become a little on the waxy side - again, I suspect, because of the degraining. Compression is very good on this single-layer AVC encode, and there isn’t so much as a hint of edge enhancement or detail reduction (beyond the side effects of the degraining). A shame, then, that someone forgot to set the black level properly, meaning that there is no “pure” black in the film, just dark grey. Look at the opening logos and you’ll see that the letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the screen are noticeable darker than what is meant to be the logos’ black background.
My Blueberry Nights
(Optimum, UK, AVC, 21.4 GB)
And yes, I’m aware that I need to see In the Mood for Love. I suspect I’ll hold out for a Blu-ray release of it, and I’ll certainly be picking up Chungking Express when Criterion releases it on BD later this month.