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  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • German: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Stereo
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  Extras

    Mask

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 115 mins . M15+ . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    1985 was the year I entered Grade 9 in high school and I can remember my sister-in-law reading this book, but I was more interested in film books like The Deer Hunter and Midnight Express. Mask just didn’t look like a movie I could be bothered with. That was a shame, because this is an excellent movie with a real story to tell. Told with startling audacity and honesty, Rusty Dennis shares the story of her beloved son Rocky and his short life with a disfiguring displasia of the face.

    Knowing all his life that doctors believe he hasn’t long to live, Rocky (Eric Stoltz) seems determined to cram as much living into his 15 year-old life as he can. A brilliant student who is naturally witty and personable, Rocky endures living with his wayward mother and her wild lifestyle. They have a special relationship however, with Rusty never allowing any special treatment or pity to muscle in. With a gang of devoted biker friends who are seemingly always around the house, Rocky is saving to take a Harley trip across Europe with his best friend as soon as they have enough cash.

    When he starts a new school and is shunned due to his unusual features, his good humour soon wins him friends and he becomes good pals with a couple at school. Watching their happiness together, Rocky wrestles with his ideals of a ‘normal’ face and plastic surgery to correct his features.

    Whilst going through the usual teen angsts on top of this, Rocky’s life is in turmoil when adding the addictions of his mother and her drug dependency. Offered a counsellor role at a summer camp for blind teenagers, Rocky uses the chance to get away from his mother and allow her some time to get her act together. At camp he forms a relationship with a blind girl who doesn’t see his disfigurement and they fall in love. However, Rocky’s health is beginning to deteriorate and as he returns to his regular life, things start going wrong.

    The story told from Rusty’s point of view portrays her son as a loving and pleasant young fella who ends up saving her from herself and her many addictions. It’s a warm story and honest and this makes the entire cast of characters quite endearing, regardless of their hard-nosed biker image. Whilst not being a pretty portrait of herself, the story is a touching one of the relationship Rusty shares with Rocky and the troubles they survive by sticking together.

      Video
    Contract

    Holding up okay after 18 years, Mask looks pretty good for the most part. Delivered in the original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect and 16:9 enhanced, Mask does have the look of an after-school special. Whether this is just that dry Californian look with the distant hills all brown or the rather cheesy font used in the opening titles I dunno. There are only minimal artefacts present and nothing really distracting, so the picture looks pretty sharp all up. Flesh tones are mostly okay and the Rocky makeup looks excellent throughout.

    There are some funny fashion moments among the 1985 setting which includes a tight leather-pants wearing dude with a bandana chatting up Cher. He looks just like Axl Rose putting the moves on her and it made me laugh. There’s another funny one in Sam Elliot wearing a black t-shirt that states Moustache Rides (whatever the hell that means. Sure is funny though). I love the ’80s.

      Audio
    Contract

    Another all round great audio transfer by the folks at the Sony DVD Center (as usual). The dialogue is all nice and clear (including some quite understandable slurring by Eric Stoltz as Rocky) and is well synched as well. The sound effects are all okay, with plenty of nice loud motorcycles and such roaring around. They may be a little stock at times, but that’s okay.

    Music is nicely balanced throughout and the levels are all even over the whole soundtrack. Naturally, being set among bikers, we are bound to get the stereotyped motorcycle songs. These include the classic Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama, though both have been so overused by now they may be a little trite for most (luckily they didn’t include Born to Be Wild). Also included is some Grateful Dead and even good old Bob Seger (sans Silver Bullet Band). However, trite as they all may be, they sound just fine in the Dolby Digital stereo provided here.

      Extras
    Contract

    This would have been such a good chance to give us some information about this rare affliction, or even an interview with the real Rusty Dennis, but nup. Zero extras for the extras fans.

      Overall  
    Contract

    Mask still stands up today as a great film and one well worthy of rewatching every so often. Excellent performances from Cher (in her first leading role) and Eric Stoltz bring justice to this story and both are convincing and work well together. Sam Elliott seems born to play the role of Gar, Rusty’s on-again off-again partner, and does so with the great conviction he brings to all his roles. Whilst a stirring story, it remains uncluttered by sentimentality and is well told and truly inspirational. A great transfer but sadly devoid of extras and unfortunately this may affect the popularity of this excellent film.


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      And I quote...
    "An inspirational story told with honesty and warmth and thankfully without blubbery sentiment."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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