Friday, June 5, 2009

ROXANNE - Blu-Ray (Columbia 1987) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Fred Schepisi’s Roxanne (1987) is actually Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac recast, updated and set in a small Washington ski village during the off season. On this occasion, Cyrano is Charlie Bales (Steve Martin), the accomplished captain of the town’s inexperienced fire brigade. Charlie’s a great guy – everyone’s best friend and a genuine ham when it comes to the ladies.

He has everything going for him except his nose. It’s huge and the subject of much hushed discussion within the town – hushed, that is, because anyone making a public spectacle of Charlie’s formidable girth can expect a verbal crucifixion and possible assault with a tennis racket in return.

Confident, proud and generally above the trivialities of life, Charlie’s world is turned askew with the arrival of sophisticated astronomer, Roxanne Kowalski (Daryl Hannah).

Almost immediately, Roxanne is attracted to Charlie’s intelligence and sensitivity. But can she ever truly find him desirable?Charlie's friend, Dixie (Shelly Duval) insists that all Charlie has to do to win the fair Roxanne is be who he is. Instead, Charlie finds himself writing love poetry as the mouthpiece for fellow firefighter, Chris McConnell (Rick Rossovich).

Every man’s envy and every woman’s desire, Chris is so deathly afraid of women in general that he literally throws up when true love is mentioned. Soon Roxanne finds herself torn between the prose of one man and the physicality of another whom at least in the flesh, pales to her expectations in both wit and class. How can this be?

The film is justly remembered for Steve Martin’s sustained comedic performance and its superb set piece that takes place inside the town’s local watering hole. Confronted by a bar room boar, Charlie accepts the challenge to come up with thirty more clever ways to make fun of his own nose.

Darryl Hannah, Shelley Duvall and Rick Rossovich all give credible – if hardly superb – performances in support of Steve Martin’s wit. Schepisi’s direction is smooth and effortless. This is a timeless comedy, immeasurably fleshed out by its beautiful cinematography and the effortless grace of Martin at his best. In the final analysis, Roxanne is a treat and, in retrospect, an adult comedy that does not talk down to its audience.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Blu-Ray incarnation easily bests the lack luster, non-anamorphic transfer fans of this film have been grappling with since its debut in 1999. The Blu-Ray’s anamorphic widescreen image is remarkably life like with vibrant – if dated - 1980’s colors. Solid contrast levels and a considerable amount of fine detail are clearly evident, even during the darkest night scenes. Occasionally, flesh tones still appear slightly pasty, though they are much improved over the old DVD transfer.

Age related artifacts that were obvious on the DVD have been removed on the Blu-Ray and compression artifacts often glaringly obvious on the DVD are absent on the Blu-Ray for a very smooth and satisfying image throughout. The audio is 2.0 surround and sufficient for this primarily dialogue driven movie. There are NO extras.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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