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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary by Stillman, editor Christopher Tellefsen, and actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols
  • Rare outtakes and alternate casting, with commentary by Stillman

Metropolitan

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Whit Stillman
1990 | 99 Minutes | Licensor: Majestic Films

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #326
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: July 24, 2012
Review Date: July 20, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

One of the great American independent films of the 1990s, writer-director Whit Stillman's surprise hit Metropolitan is a sparkling comedic chronicle of a middle-class young man's romantic misadventures among New York City's debutante society. Stillman's deft, literate dialogue and hilariously highbrow observations earned this debut film an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Alongside the wit and sophistication, though, lies a tender tale of adolescent anxiety.

Forum members rate this film 8/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Released alongside their new Blu-ray edition of The Last Days of Disco, Criterion presents Whit Stillmanís first film, Metropolitan, on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 on a dual-layer disc in a 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer.

Like The Last Days of Disco it looks as though Criterion is yet again using the same high-definition transfer used for their original DVD edition from 2006. But in this case this isnít necessarily a bad thing. Unlike Disco, which is laced with artifacts and an assortment of other problems that I blame on an outdated, mediocre transfer, Metropolitanís transfer is a strong one to begin with, even though itís six years old.

The film was shot on Super 16mm and then blown to 35mm with the transfer coming from a 35mm interpositive. The film has a very grainy look, as it did on DVD, but the filmís grain receives a far better rendering here, looking far more natural. As to clarity it can look a little fuzzy, something I blame more on the shooting style and technical limitations, but I still think the transfer delivers the image as best it can and there is a striking amount of detail in certain scenes. There are times where the picture can look a bit noisy instead of grainy but in general I didnít detect any other troublesome artifacts, certainly not the edge-enhancement that is laced throughout The Last Days of Disco. Colours look accurate and saturated perfectly, while black levels are rich and inky and donít crush out details.

After the other Stillman Blu-ray release from Criterion I wasnít holding out much hope for this one but in the end itís very strong, with very few shortcomings, looking far more film-like and natural in comparison to the original DVD edition.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Though it does sound a little sharper and clearer I canít say I noticed a striking difference between the original DVDís Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track and this Blu-rayís new lossless linear PCM mono track, and Iím sure that can be blamed on the filmís sound design. Stillman more or less admits he doesnít know much about sound in films in the accompanying commentary and it shows here. Dialogue is a bit muffled and monotone but still easy enough to hear. The only lively moments are when the filmís score or music selections make their appearance and they sound a little more robust but not by much.

In the end the weakness has more to do with the overall sound design and possibly the technical limitations of the shoot than anything to do with the transfer, which I think is about as good as one can expect.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Everything gets ported over from the Criterion DVD, starting with an audio commentary featuring Stillman, editor Christopher Tellefsen, and actors Chris Eigeman and Taylor Nichols. Itís an enjoyable enough track with the four, all recorded together, recalling their first film. Stillman goes into detail about the development of the script, which he wrote after the script for Barcelona, figuring the lower key nature of this story would be easier to get made first. He also covers, along with everyone else, the difficulties and limitations that come up from such a low budget, and Stillman reveals a lot of his tricks in faking the film, which involved sneaking around and a lot of freebies. Thereís talk of casting, and the apparent taboo of casting a redhead as the main character. Thereís also a great amount detail about the editing process (the film was trimmed from 160-minutes to 99-minutes through a lot slight nips here and there) and Stillman talks about many of the things he took away from this film, including the horror he felt when he realized just how much film he had wasted. Stillman has most of the track and he can be a little dry, but everyone else, especially Eigeman, offer some levity, ultimately making the track far more entertaining than it probably should be. Fans of the film should enjoy it.

The remaining supplements are pretty slim, though not without their merits. Criterion presents a series of outtakes, starting with a 9-minute montage of various trims made to the film, along with alternate takes, bloopers, and even footage of some of the coverage of certain scenes, including an infamous moment Stillman mentions in the commentary where he filmed an empty chair for a large amount of time. Thereís also another small 2-minute section entitled Memorial to Line Producer Brian Greenbaum. This footage shows outtakes or stills where Greenbaum, who passed away in 1992, appear.

Alternate Casting presents test footage of alternate actors trying out for roles eventually filled by others. The first presents Will Kempe testing out for the role of Nick Smith, and the scene in question is where Nick and Tom are walking down the street while Nick explains his Polly Perkins story. The other scene presents Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Entertainment and responsible for such films as The Toxic Avenger, appearing as the record producer that shows up briefly in the film. Each segment runs about 2-minutes. An alternate commentary by Stillman features the director explain why he didnít go this route in casting. Whatís especially interesting is that Kempe would be cast Rick Von Sloneker, Nickís arch-nemesis.

The disc then concludes with the original New Line Theatrical Trailer, which runs 2-minutes and looks to have been sourced from a VHS tape.

The same essay Luc Sante wrote for the original DVD edition, which talks about the film and the people it represents, is included in the insert and doesnít appear to have been altered but I admittedly only did a quick scan.

And thatís it. Itís incredibly sparse, with not even 2-hoursí worth of material. Still, fans of the film will more than likely enjoy going through everything.

5/10

CLOSING

The supplements are decent but theyíre pretty slim. Thankfully the transfer offers a significant improvement and presents a far more film-like look in comparison to the DVD. For this aspect the Blu-ray is worth picking up or upgrading to.


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