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Before I go any further, I have to admit that Iíve always been in favor of nude scenes in the cinema, but ABOUT SCHMIDT ($20) contains a bit of nudity that I could have lived without. Getting back to the film at hand, ABOUT SCHMIDT is a film that serves an interesting character study, featuring a brilliant performance by Jack Nicholson. In ABOUT SCHMIDT, Nicholson portrays Warren R. Schmidt- a recently retired man who discovers that his existence was defined by his job. Suddenly widowed, Schmidt undertakes an oftentimes-amusing and oftentimes melancholy journey of self-discovery to bring some meaning into his life. Trying to reconnect with his daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis), Schmidt travels to Colorado for her wedding, but almost completely alienates Jeannie when he tries to convince her that her fiancť Randall (Dermot Mulroney) isnít quite good enough for her. ABOUT SCHMIDT also features a spirited performance from Kathy Bates as a future in-law, as well as some fine support from June Squibb, Howard Hesseman, Harry Groener, Connie Ray and Len Cariou.

New Line Home Entertainment has made of ABOUT SCHMIDT available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. As a New Line title, ABOUT SCHMIDT has been given a terrific looking transfer, even if the filmís cinematography is purposely flat and subdued looking. The image usually appears sharp and offers as much visual detail as the original photography will allow. Colors tend to be fairly bland and uninspired, although flesh tones do come across in a realistic and natural fashion. There is no chroma noise or smearing to mar the reproduction of even the strongest hues. Blacks are solid, whites are crisp and the picture produces a good level of shadow detail. The film element used for the transfer appears virtually pristine and whatever grain is present, is rather minute. Digital compression artifacts are completely concealed.

ABOUT SCHMIDT features 5.1 channel soundtracks in the flavors of Dolby Digital and DTS. Given the dialogue driven nature of the material, DTS is probably overkill, but it is still nice that New Line chose to include it on the DVD. The forward soundstage is where much of the film lives and breathes, but the surrounds to add a spatial quality to the mix. Fidelity is excellent, with the track creating convincing sonic environments, as well as smoothly rendering the musical component. The bass channel imparts just enough lows to get the job done. Dialogue is completely understandable and the voices are rendered with a nicely natural timbre. DTS has a bit more sonic warmth than Dolby Digital, but otherwise the soundtracks are pretty much the same. An English Dolby Surround track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. There are nine deleted/extended scenes on the disc, each of which contain a text explanation from director Alexander Payne, as to why it was removed/shortened from the theatrical release version of ABOUT SCHMIDT. There are also five different Woodmen Tower Sequences on the disc; these are culled from the extensive amount of footage shot for the filmís opening, which was turned over to the assistant editors for their own unique "take" on the material. A theatrical trailer, plus bonus trailers close out the extras.

ABOUT SCHMIDT is a rather unique and enjoyable film that features great performances from Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates. As expected, New Line provides a great DVD presentation for the film, as well as some interesting extras. If you are a Nicholson fan, ABOUT SCHMIDT is definitely a DVD to investigate. Recommended.



About Schmidt (2003)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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