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There are two distinct audiences for the DVD version of the movie SIRENS ($30). The first are interested in watching a charming, albeit naughty, Australian comedy starring Hugh Grant and Sam Neill, while the second just want to see supermodel Elle Macpherson naked. Personally, I can understand the viewpoints of both camps and will not favor one side over the other.

SIRENS tells the tale of Anthony Campion (Grant), a young minister who has been assigned the unenviable task of trying to get a prominent artist named Norman Lindsay (Neill) to withdraw several paintings from an art exhibition because the church deems them obscene. While on his way to his new parish in the Australian countryside, Campion and his wife Estella (Tara Fitzgerald) stop off at Lindsay's home, where he hopes that he can discretely settle the mater with the artist. Of course, Campion thinks that he is modern enough to handle the Lindsay's bohemian lifestyle, however the sensuous surroundings, as well as the artist's nude models have a profound effect on the young minister and his wife. The cast of SIRENS also includes Portia de Rossi (of ALLY MCBEAL fame), Kate Fischer, Pamela Rabe, Ben Mendelsohn, John Polson and Mark Gerber.

SIRENS heralds under the Miramax Classics banner, which makes this an older Miramax Home Entertainment title that hasn't undergone a new wide screen transfer since it was issued on Laserdisc several years ago. Being an older transfer, there was no chance of the anamorphic enhancement being present on this edition of SIRENS. Could SIRENS looked better on DVD with a new anamorphic transfer? The answer is a resounding yes, but there is little one can do about it until Miramax/Buena Vista can be convinced to re-master their entire unenhanced catalog. The 4:3 Letterboxed transfer itself properly frames the film at 1.85:1 and is relatively nice looking. Sharpness is a bit exaggerated; nevertheless the image offers good detail, even within the shadowy recesses. Film grain is noticeable in a few places, but it isn't too bad. Additionally, there is one sequence in the film where Hugh Grant's face appears double exposed- I don't know if this anomaly is an imperfection in the transfer, or is traceable back to the film's original cinematography. Color reproduction on this DVD is excellent. Most of the hues are saturated to the point of excess, almost as if they were the colors of overly ripe fruit on the verge of rotting. Now even with the extreme saturation, the DVD flawlessly recreates the colors without any traces of chroma noise or distortion. Both the black level and contrast are flawless. Digital compression artifacts remain in check throughout the presentation.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard surround. Competent, but unremarkable is about the best way to describe the soundtrack. Dialogue is reproduced cleanly, but there is little by way of active directional effects within the mix. However, the mix provides some pleasant ambient fill, as well as a good sounding musical component. English subtitles have been provided on the DVD. The interactive menus are very basic, providing access to the scene selection and subtitle features.




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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