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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 58:49)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, Spanish
  Extras
  • 4 Teaser trailer - Lost in La Mancha, Russian Ark, Nowhere in Africa, Amandla!
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Featurette - The Story, The Characters

The Safety of Objects

Madman Cinema/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 121 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Welcome to:

  1. one of the most engaging films of 2003,
  2. a dynamic and emotionally enveloping story, and
  3. most importantly, welcome to the neighbourhood where youíre about to meet four of the most unique families you could ever dream of.

Challenging, unique, innovative and compelling, The Safety of Objects daringly delves into the depths of these four quiet neighbourhood families where everyone is trying to fit in and find their way, clinging desperately onto the safety of their own objects. However, it is over the duration of the film that their lives unravel and the past suddenly comes back to tie it all up.

Letís introduce you to the Gold family. Esther (Glenn Close) is always kept busy looking after her comatose son Paul (Joshua Jackson), while in constant conflict with her rebellious daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell) and totally single-handedly mind you, as husband Howard (Robert Klein) refuses to acknowledge Paulís existence.

Now here are the Train family. Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney) is a dedicated lawyer who has spent years working towards a successful career suddenly realises that his super-efficient wife Susan (Moira Kelly) is quite capable of running the household without him. Their two children, Jake (Alex House) and Emily (Carly Chalom), are your usual kids, except Jake is secretly having a love affair with Emilyís plastic doll, Tani (voiced by Guinevere Turner), leading to an odd relationship.

The Jennings family, lead by single mother Annette (Patricia Clarkson) is coping, just, without assistance from her ex-husband Bruce (Andrew Airlie) while raising two children, Samantha (Kristen Stewart) and Rayanne (Haylee Wanstall). But this divorce is just getting messier by the day, creating conflicts and anger, and ultimately the loss of custody for one of the parents.

Finally we have the Christianson family, led by mother Helen (Mary Kay Place). She has a strong face, but inside she is screaming, stuck in a rut of her consistent and repetitive existence. Her husband Wayne (C. David Johnson) is a typical male father, letting Helen do the simple work and getting a tad suspicious when Helen suddenly gets in the mood for something a little arousing. Children Sally (Charlotte Arnold) and Bobby (Aaron Ashmore) are happy and naÔve in this upper-class existence, yet Bobby holds on to some major memories which tie him to the other families.

Standing on the outside is Randy (Timothy Oliphant), who is the local neighbourhood pool and lawn man. Heís the sort of guy who is totally approachable during the day, but he too has a dark past that is just waiting to be told.

Stick this DVD in, and watch it all open up.

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Jeez Pacey, is that all you've got?

Told in a disjointed fashion, The Safety of Objects gradually unfolds at a rather slow pace, and leaves you guessing as to why things are the way they are. Often resorting to a flashback that runs simultaneously with the present day, the twists of these peoplesí lives intertwine firmer than the strongest of spider webs, all connected in some fairly sticky and minute way, yet strong and bold at the same time. Running at a smidge over two hours, the pacing of this film is surprisingly good, as there is so much happening with such unique circumstances that just keeps your attention glued right to the screen. Performances from this ensemble cast are absolutely superb, working boldly with some confronting and challenging material that is sure to make a few audience members feel a little uneasy. Rated MA for Adult Themes, this is a fairly honest classification for the film, which does have a rather confronting scene towards the end as well as some troublesome themes throughout, so it may not be suitable for all audiences.

Putting these issues aside, this is the sort of film that is for fans of unique, independent and art-house cinema, boldly stepping into new territory and breathing fresh life into the film industry and is something that should be seen. It is films like The Safety of Objects that are worthy of attention, and are able to alter the way we look at things and especially the way that we as humans hide behind our material possessions to create our own safe existences. As a recommendation, watch this film if you enjoyed things like American Beauty.

  Video
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How Close will she go?
Madmanís anamorphically enhanced transfer captures the cinematography of The Safety of Objects in its luscious 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a reasonably nice effort. Colours are vibrant and healthily saturated, oozing a lifelike quality, and blacks are quite solid and stark. Strangely, the brightness level is up a hint too far, as two sets of black bars can be seen on a standard 4:3 television Ė the anamorphic bars as well as the letterboxing bars. Oh well, you do become accustomed to it, however at times you can lose track of the bottom frame line and wait for the bottom of the frame to fill with a picture and it never does. Not a major hassle, but worth mentioning nonetheless. A fine coat of grain covers the image, gently massaging the clarity of the image, and a film artefact or two sometimes quietly flicks past. At times you can see a smidge of edge enhancement, mainly around faces, but nothing overly garish, and at one particular indoor scene in a purple room, you can see a hint of slight posterisation. Spread spaciously over two layers, the layer change occurs at 58:49, and jumps past with a bit of a clunk but is otherwise reasonably well placed. Warm yellow subtitles accompany the film, and are practically word-for-word perfect bar the odd unnecessary word.

  Audio
Contract

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A clone of Margaret Pomeranz?
Complementing this nice video transfer are two solid English Dolby Digital audio tracks, with options in the 5.1 and stereo domains. The 5.1 track, the default listening option, is far superior with its enveloping scope and creative use of the soundstage in comparison to the stereo effort. Being a dialogue-driven film, effects arenít of a primary focus, and hence only the subtle effects take form in the effectual speakers of the 5.1 sound setup. However, it is the appropriateness and successful placement of these effects that makes this track stand out. They add a rich quality to the track without being stunningly obvious that there is a speaker nearby. Dialogue is crisp from the centre channel, and is audible throughout the film. During the opening sequence, the music is a tad loud, drowning out the dialogue, but this graciously recovers as the film takes off. The score by Emboznik is appropriately quirky and cleverly intense, building a sense of obscurity to the film, casually unfolding and opening up as themes progress. This score, strangely, takes place mainly in the rear channels, leaving the front end of the soundstage to carry dialogue and effects, and the rear channels to hit you with a smack across the back of the head. This is a unique aural experience, and one that is pulled off well. One point to make is with a slight inaccuracy on the DVD cover art, which states there is a stereo and a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack. The 5.1 track included is not an EX track.

  Extras
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The extra features included on this DVD are rather appalling given Madmanís tendency to flood us with both quality and quantity. Sadly, this time we get neither. The menus are nicely built, yet unfortunately are not animated in any way. The scene selection menus are slightly frustrating to use with their clumsy navigation and slow response times due to the loading of unnecessary images with any push of the remote.

Up first is a featurette on The Story which runs for 7:20 and features interviews from the writer/director Rose Troche and actors including Dermot Mulroney, Glenn Close, Mary Kay Place and Patricia Clarkson. This featurette sums up the opinions and views from these people regarding the film and gives you a solid background on each family, yet does give a few spoilers as to how things happened.

Secondly is a featurette on The Characters, which runs for 4:27 and features a very edited interview from Rose Troche where she introduces us step-by-step through each of the main characters, as well as interviews from Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney and Patricia Clarkson.

Included is the filmís quirky 2:19 theatrical trailer which gives a good introduction to the film, yet still avoids divulging the twists that the film contains, leaving it a totally original experience. When viewed on a television with little overscan, some odd framing lines can be seen on the right hand of the screen, perhaps a slight problem with the telecine transfer?

Now where would any Madman DVD be without the Madman Propaganda? Trailers included are for Lost in La Mancha (1:34), Russian Ark (2:11, along with some hideous scratches), Nowhere in Africa (2:22) and Amandla! (1:42). What would have been really nice would be the full versions of the interviews, as well as an audio commentary which would no doubt be just as engaging as the film itself.

  Overall  
Contract

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We all find safety in something
Quite honestly, you should go out and see this film. It is one of the most challenging, demanding and emotional experiences of the recent year, and ultimately incredibly rewarding too, offering a unique tour of these four suburbanite families. Solid performances from all involved are just joyous to see played out on screen, honestly dealing with some complex themes and emotion. Madmanís transfer is quite nice, giving the film its well-deserved justice, but is let down by the lack of extra features. Itís a heck of a lot to ask for, but a 'Collectorís Edition version' at sell-through time would be absolutely phenomenal, hopefully giving some more insight into this highly engaging film...


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      And I quote...
    "An engaging and emotionally demanding look into the lives of four very different families, each trying to find their own place in the world."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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