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Pleasantville

review by Zach B.

 

Rated PG-13

Starring Toby Maguire, Reese Whiterspoon Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J.T. Walsh. Don Knotts

Running Time: 124 Minutes

Written, Produced and Directed by Gary Ross

 

Retail Price: 24.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Gary Ross, Isolated Score with commentary by Randy Newman, "The Art Of Pleasantville" behind the scenes featurette, Fiona Apple's music video "Across The Universe", Storyboard Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailer, Color TV Set up. DVD ROM: Script to Screen with Storyboards, Web access and weblinks

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, English Captions, Chapter Search

 

I felt "Pleasantville" was overlooked for some major awards. Yes, it was noticed for it's artistry and Randy Newman's excellent score, but I felt this movie brought up some excellent points about society and values.

"Pleasantville" begins with a brother and sister, by the names of David and Jennifer (Maguire and Whiterspoon). They couldn't be more different. David is the nerdy one who is used to rejection and being alone, and Jennifer is the rebellious, angry teen. However, one fateful night, they break the television remote. A creepy TV repaiman (Don Knotts!) shows up at their door instantly, and begins testing David, a big "Pleasantville" TV show fan, on various episodes. Impressed, the repairman gives David a special remote, and the two siblings begin to argue over it, and soon, become trapped in the world of "Pleasantville" itself. However, we soon learn Pleasantville is a safe place, filled with meandering repitition. However, thanks to David and Jennifer's arrival, the world slowly of black and white slowly changes to color. This sparks controversey in Pleasantville, and a segregation between the ones in black and white (normal) and the ones in color (different) takes place.

With that said, "Pleasantville" shows the power of change and what it can do, as well as commentaries on moral issues such as segregation. Gary Ross creates an excellent world, which though is new to us, we seem to know so well. His script is very good and original, and his direction is superb. The performances are excellent. William H. Macy does his usual but brilliant supporting role, Joan Allen is moving as the repressed wife of Macy, Jeff Daniels as the soda shop worker looking for something exicting as new, the late great J.T. Walsh as one of the insecure but leading townspeople, Knotts as the weird TV repairman and Maguire and Whiterspoon as the ones who help change Pleasantville. The art direction is breathtaking, and Randy Newman's score is right on par. For an excellent drama, look no further than "Pleasantville". It shouldn't be missed.

 

"Pleasantville" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and all I have to say is that no one should be disappointed with New Line's excellent transfer. A movie with this kind of artistic beauty needs to be handled with care, and thankfully, it has, with excellent care. I felt compression could have been a little better, but I did not notice any grain, dirt or artifacts (except during "Pleasantville" episodes, which are supposed to be that way showing the show's age). There was also some slight edge enhanment, but nothing noticeable at all. The colors and fleshtones perfectly fit the film and are accurate, and you can see all of the majestic beauty clearly. Detail is perfect, and the blacks are really solid. I was also glad to see New Line only offered the widescreen version of the film (then again, this edition has a lot of supplements, so maybe it did not fit). I really feel this movie should be viewed in widescreen, so we see every little detail of the movie in its full glory. An exceptional transfer.

 

The English 5.1 Dolby Digital track is really nice. This movie is all talk mostly, but there are some great surround effects. There are some crashes and loud style effects now and then, but Randy Newman's score really makes up the rear channels. Randy Newman's score is really beautiful, and it's a pleasure to hear. The mix is very well done and uses everything in correct way. The .1 LFE is used a lot better than I expected.

 

A "New Line Platinum Series" disc, Pleasantville is filled with some great supplements sure to please any fans of the film. For starters, there is an audio commentary with writer/director/producer Gary Ross. It's an interesting and very good commentary, as he explains some of the character development and elements of the film. Randy Newman's beautiful score comes isolated in a seperate 5.1 track, and during moments of silence, he explains about the score and all. His score is beautiful, and his commentary is quite nice. Fiona Apple's "Across the Universe" music video is included, and was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (the writer and director of "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights"). The music video takes place at the soda shop, a key place in the film, and the song's moody feel is nice. It's a good video. A storyboard gallery is included, as well as a behind the scenes featurette entitled "The Art of Plesantville". The original theatrical trailer is presented in anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 audio, and there's a color TV set up. For you DVD-ROM users, there is a script to screen storyboard feature, web links and some web access features. I'm disappointed that the menus aren't interactive, though.

 

 

An excellent film which I feel everyone should see, "Pleasantville" is a fabulous disc. The transfer cleary shows the artistic value of this film, and the audio and features are really good. The price is also right. Highly reccomended. Bravo again, New Line.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(4.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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