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TUMBLEWEEDS ($25) is a very entertaining little movie that features engaging performances from Academy Award nominee Janet McTeer and newcomer Kimberly J. Brown. McTeer stars in TUMBLEWEEDS as Mary Jo Walker, a charming and flirtatious southern woman, who has spent her life running away from bad relationships with men. After leaving her forth husband behind in Tennessee, Mary Jo and her daughter Ava (Brown) travel across country to the California community of Starlight Beach, where the two intend to make a new start. Their lives in Starlight Beach starts off well enough, however Mary Jo soon gets involved with a man and Ava sees her mother falling back into the same old routine that cause them so much trouble in the past.

TUMBLEWEEDS is a well written, character driven film that soars above its simple premise. Janet McTeer is absolutely wonderful as the free spirited southerner who instinctively charms every man who turns up on her radar. Sure, the character of Mary Jo Walker is reminiscent of the kind of person you see on a trashy talk show, but McTeer brings so much joy to the character, you canít help but like the woman. Additionally, Kimberly J. Brown delivers a genuinely delightful performance that perfectly complements McTeerís. The cast of TUMBLEWEEDS also features Jay O. Sanders, Gavin O'Connor, Laurel Holloman, Lois Smith, Michael J. Pollard, Ashley Buccille, Cody McMains and Linda Porter.

New Line Home Video has made TUMBLEWEEDS on a dual layered DVD that offers viewers a choice of full screen and anamorphic enhanced wide screen presentations. The full screen version is fine if you are looking for something slightly better than the pay-per-view experience, however TUMBLEWEEDS looks better with its 1.85:1 aspect ratio in tact. As I have come to expect from New Line DVDs, the 16:9 enhanced presentation looks absolutely terrific. TUMBLEWEEDS is a smaller independent movie, yet New Lineís transfer ekes every last bit of sharpness and detail out of the image, making it look almost as good as big Hollywood offering. Sure, there are some minor limitations within the image, but there is nothing disappointing about the way this DVD looks. Colors are strong, with natural looking flesh tones and no traces of chromatic distortion. Blacks are accurately rendered and the level of shadow detail is pretty respectable. Digital compression artifacts do not make their presence know on this smartly authored disc.

The two-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack decodes to standard surround and is relatively pleasant. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and anchored in the center channel. Since TUMBLEWEEDS a dialogue driven character piece, directional sound effects are intermittent and pretty much localized to the forward soundstage. Music is well integrated into the mix, with a bit of fill being provided by the rear channels. Additionally, ambient sounds also emanate from the surrounds. English subtitles are encoded onto the DVD.

The interactive menus are basic and provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVDís supplements. Director Gavin O'Connor provides a detailed running audio commentary, plus the DVD features a theatrical trailer and cast/crew filmographies. TUMBLEWEEDS is also DVD-ROM enabled, providing access to the filmís screenplay and theatrical web site.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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