Monday, 7 April 2014

"The Bucket List" on BLU RAY – A Review Of The 2007 Rob Reiner Film...

"…Joy To Others…" - The Bucket List on BLU RAY

Car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) is at the garage tinkering with a Chevrolet Camaro – cigarette in his gob like it always has been for 45 years. He smiles as his younger co-worker quizzes him on five former American Presidents whose surnames begin with H (Carter has a thing for accumulating knowledge). He of course gets their names right. But then mid explanation on the next question (which man actually invented the radio) - his Doctor phones with test results - and the cigarette that was placed between Carter’s fingers to take the call falls to the greasy floor…

Meanwhile in a courtroom far away – four-times married multi-millionaire Edward Penniman Cole (Jack Nicholson) is assimilating hospital number 16 into his privatized portfolio. Sipping his Indonesian Kopi Luwak (the most expensive coffee in the world) from a Gold mobile dispenser - he asks his puppet assistant to give the panel of trustees "the spiel…" Their financially failing Hospital needs him and no matter what their 'moral posturing' maybe - in his moneymaking medical palaces there are two beds to every room for patients (no exceptions). But in the middle of another crass speech about how he’s running a hospital and not a health spa - Edward suddenly starts to cough something into his handkerchief that isn’t phlegm…

Next both wildly different men find themselves lumped together in the same room of a Hospital Edward Cole owns. But because of bad PR – the grouchy Cole can’t get a private room to be away from “the living dead over there”. Gradually across chemo, operations, puking and diarrhoea - they become reluctant buddies of sorts. One day Edward finds a yellow jotter page on the floor on which Carter has written "The Bucket List". It’s what his former college tutor told him to write as a young man – things you want to do before you 'kick the bucket'…

Recovered momentarily and now with a diagnosis of 6 months and one year respectively – Edward persuades Carter not to go home to his Nurse wife Veronica and his three kids to be swallowed by pity and grief – but to take a shot at all the things he’s wanted to do. After all money is not a problem. And despite his wife’s misgivings – Carter knows Edward is right. It’s now or never. So they skydive, get a tattoo, drive a Mustang Shelby 360, laugh until they cry, kiss the most beautiful woman in the world, witness something majestic…and so on.

Part of the joy of "The Bucket List" is watching two acting giants given great material - let rip with it – and that’s what you get here. The chemistry and obvious respect between Freeman and Nicholson leaps off every frame and Director Rob Reiner never interferes – even when the film is being silly and a little preposterous. In fact in the first 30 or 40 minutes as they navigate the physical and mental agonies of terminal illness in a Hospital – “The Bucket List” is truly touching movie-making - with a razor-sharp script and life observations that don’t feel obvious nor too cutesy.

Even in the second-half where the story demands they do their comedy party pieces – the conversations between them on Cole’s private jet and in a luxurious hotel bathtub are filled with classy one-liners and power delivery (beautifully scripted by Justin Zackham). And it’s funny too (most of which is provided by the incomparable Jack Nicholson). By the time it gets to The Shawshank Redemption Morgan Freeman voiceover end - when a Chock-Full-Of-Nuts tin is being carried up a mountain - you’re a willing convert.

This is major Hollywood movie and the picture quality on the BLU RAY is simply glorious. Defaulted to 1.85:1 Full Aspect – the frame fills the entire screen and there isn’t a shot that doesn’t look immaculate and impressive. Even the CGI of the chat about his daughter Emily on top of the Pyramids is convincing (title above) - as is the motorbike ride on the Great Wall of China and their walks around the Taj Mahal. Audio is Dolby Digital English, French and Spanish 5.1 for each - while the Subtitles offered are English, French and Spanish.

The Extras are delightful – interviews with both leads, Director Ron Reiner, the Screenwriter, a Making of and John Mayer’s gorgeous acoustic balled "Say".

As he treks through snow keeping a promise to a man he first despised but then grew to love - Carter Chambers says of Edward Cole - "When he died…his eyes were shut...and his heart was open…"

"The Bucket List" has been a joy to re-watch on BLU RAY. Do yourself a solid – and open your bruised ticker to this modern-day nugget...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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