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I love Holly Hunter because she is a one actress who can turn characters into living, breathing entities. I also love LIVING OUT LOUD since it proves to be a showcase for her abilities. In LIVING OUT LOUD ($25), Ms. Hunter portrays Judith Nelson; a newly divorced woman caught up in her own fantasies, until a single incident turns her whole life around. Drawn out of her self-contained fantasy world, Judith is befriended by Liz Bailey (Queen Latifah), the sultry singer at a nightspot she frequents. She also begins a new friendship with Pat Francato (Danny DeVito), a down-on-his-luck elevator operator who dreams of a better life. Judith draws strength from her new friends, and thanks to their influence, becomes open to the world of possibilities that surrounds her.

Not only is Holly Hunter totally captivation as Judith, but her two co-stars also deliver the goods. Danny DeVito gives a fabulously warm and heartfelt performance as Pat. For my money, this is truly Danny Devito's finest moment on the silver screen. Special praise also has to go to Queen Latifah. Not only does she prove that her acting abilities go beyond typical sitcom fare, but her singing voice is nothing short of breathtaking. I will be acquiring the film's soundtrack album just for the few songs that she performs in movie. Queen Latifah's vocal performance in the film makes me hopeful that she will begin a new recording career dedicated to the kind of pop standards and smoky ballads found in LIVING OUT LOUD. In addition to its three leading performers, the cast of LIVING OUT LOUD also includes Martin Donovan, Elias Koteas, Richard Schiff, Mariangela Pino, Suzanne Shepherd, Eddie Cibrian and Rachael Leigh Cook.

With LIVING OUT LOUD, New Line Home Video has created another stunning DVD. The Letterboxed transfer perfectly recreates the film's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, plus the DVD contains the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 wide screen televisions. John Bailey's cinematography is a rich canvas of dark shadows and warm, beautifully saturated hues that this DVD reproduces flawlessly. Image quality is sharp and detailed, with true blacks and superb contrast. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed by Laser Pacific's usual first rate DVD authoring.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a simple, but wonderfully pleasing mix, which is highlighted by the lushly orchestrated songs featuring Queen Latifah. Sometimes Dolby Digital reproduces music with a slightly harsh coloration; however, this is not the case with LIVING OUT LOUD. Both the music and vocals have a sweet melodious quality. The soundtrack also contains intricate little sound effects are placed across the entire soundstage, taking advantage of the discrete nature of the Dolby Digital system. Dialogue reproduces with a clear, natural timbre and the track has respectable bass. A matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack is also provided on the DVD, in addition to English subtitles.

The interactive menus have a straightforward design that gives one access to the standard scene and language selection features. Supplements are also accessible through the menus. An audio commentary featuring director Richard LaGravenese is the DVD's primary supplement. LaGravenese's talk is rewarding since he gives a great deal of background on the production, plus insight into what it is like to be a first time director. Other supplements include five deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer and cast biographies/filmographies.

All in all, LIVING OUT LOUD is a terrific film with marvelous performances, as well as being wonderful DVD from New Line Home Video. Recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 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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