Media

Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2010

ARTICLE INDEX

"American Beauty" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-september-2010-american-beauty

Synopsis

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is stuck in a rut.  He hates his job, doesn't relate to his wife anymore, and his daughter seems to openly spite him.  Next door, a new family moves in, with a military Dad, Col. Frank Fitts (Chris Cooper), his wife, and their son, Ricky.  Through an encounter with Ricky at a cocktail party, and with one of his daughters friends, Lester starts to snap out of his mid-life malaise and see the world through fresh eyes once again.

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 1999, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 2 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: MPEG4
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning
  • Directed by Sam Mendes
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

American Beauty came out during a great year for movies (1999, which also featured Fight Club, Magnolia, Boys Don't Cry, The Insider, Being John Malkovich, Elexction, and more) and wound up as easily my favorite film of that year.  Having not seen it in a long time I wasn't quite sure how it would hold up a decade later, but I found it to once again be consistantly entertaining.  The script still is full of humor and bite, and the acting performances are all around fantastic.  Being able to watch it once again in high definition was certainly a treat.

Technical

While American Beauty looks better than it ever has at home, it isn't as good as I had hoped it would be.  Early on in the film we are treated to close-ups of Kevin Spacey and Mena Suvari, and there is certainly more detail than before.  However, we can't make out the fine detail on Kevin Spacey's forehead as you can on the best transfers, nor the texture on the dancing outfit that she is wearing.  It certainly looks good, just not great, and not as good as I was hoping for.  The soundtrack fared much better, as it did a very good job bringing me into the film, with good use of the surrounds for ambient sounds and effects, as well as clear dialogue from the center channel.

Extras

This Sapphire Series release features audio commentary from the director and screenwriter, trailers, a featurette on the making of the film, and a longer, in depth feature with the cinematographer that describes the process of going from storyboards to filming a scene.