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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.60:1
  • 1.60:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Thai Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Thai PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES

Mysterious Object at Noon

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
2000 | 89 Minutes | Licensor: World Cinema Project

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $124.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #875
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 30, 2017
Review Date: May 28, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

As a recent film-school graduate, Apichatpong Weerasethakul brought an appetite for experimentation to Thai cinema with this debut feature, an uncategorizable work that refracts documentary impressions of the directorís native country through the concept of the exquisite corpse game. Enlisting locals to contribute their own improvised narration to a simple tale, Apichatpong charts the collective construction of the fiction as each new encounter imbues it with unpredictable shades of fantasy and pathos. Shot over the course of two years in 16 mm black and white, this playful investigation of the art of storytelling established the fascination with the porous boundaries between the real and the imagined that the director has continued to explore.


PICTURE

Years after releasing their initial World Cinema Project box set (featuring a number of overlooked films from around the world recently restored by Martin Scorseseís Film Foundation) the Criterion Collection finally brings us their second volume featuring another six films. The second film in the set is Apichatpong Weerasethakulís Mysterious Object at Noon. Opting to release the set only in a dual-format edition (there are no separate DVD or Blu-ray only editions), Mysterious Object at Noon shares the same dual-layer Blu-ray with Insiang but receives its own dual-layer DVD. The Blu-ray presents the film in 1080p/24hz while the DVD presents a standard-definition version utilizing the same master, enhanced for widescreen televisions.

The film is technically presented here in the aspect ratio of 1.60:1, an odd ratio I donít believe Iíve ever come across before, though I suspect it is to accommodate the rather odd framing of the film, or at least the framing of the print used: not only do you get thick black borders on the sides of the image, you also get a thick black border underneath the image as well, with the film image itself, aligned to the top, looking to be in a ratio of about 1.75:1, give or take a bit. The accompanying notes specific to this title state that this new 3K restoration comes from a scan of a 35mm duplicate negative struck from the original 16mm camera reversal. This duplicate negative comes with burned-in subtitles and that black bar at the bottom. Despite the film being only 17-years old this print is the best available element still in existence, the 16mm print now gone..

I suspect that the sourceís odd framing and borders were placed in there to accommodate the English speaking market; the look to the film would probably impede the legibility of the subtitles unless they were presented in a different colour (and thereís no way in hell cinephiles would put up with yellow subtitles!) so laying them over a black bar was probably the best option at the time. As to why the restoration team didnít just lop off the bottom I believe itís either related to the fact that the subtitles (which again are burned-in) still appear over the main image from time to time, which further complicated things, or Weerasethakul actually prefers the film to look this way. Unfortunately the notes donít clarify this

So yes, that framing is odd but itís just another interesting layer to the film, which has an incredibly unorthodox and experimental look to it past that. Shot on a very grainy, high-contrast film stock the film has a rough look that mostly translates well to Blu-ray (and even DVD to an extent). Whites can be very bright, just on the verge of blooming Iíd say, and blacks can be very deep, but thereís still a decent balance in between with distinct tonal shifts in the grays. The image is still nicely detailed when the source materials allow it and it does, for the most part, retain a filmic look. Unfortunately, even for the high-def image, the heavy grain for the film may be a bit too much and it can come off noisy and pixilated a bit early on, then on and off throughout the film. Most of the time, though, I found the grain pleasingly rendered.

Impressively, despite the filmís heavy grain, the restoration work hasnít left much in the way of damage. There are some visible tram lines and what may be some minor debris, but itís surprisingly minimal, and the clean-up doesnít appear to have harmed the final image in any way. All things considered this still looks quite good.

7/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

I was surprised to find that the film comes with a 5.1 surround track presented in DTS-HD. Itís not a terribly robust surround track but it still manages to have deliver a few surprises. Dialogue sticks to the fronts but the background sounds in some of the busier locations, like the city streets, noticeably fill out the environment, though rather subtly. Dialogue can sound a bit rough around the edges, though it could be related to shooting conditions. The track otherwise sounds clean and stable.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The set presents six films, each film coming with an introduction and then another video supplement. This review will focus specifically on the features included with Mysterious Object at Noon.

Again we get an introduction by Martin Scorsese, the director talking briefly (around 1-minute-and-40-seconds) about the film and why a film so new (from 2000) needs help. Following that is then a new 18-minute interview with the filmís director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, talking about the lengthy production and its inspirations, and that thin line between fiction film and documentary (no shock that he mentions Abbas Kiarostami was an inspiration to him).

Itís a shame there isnít more material for the film, which could probably benefit from more scholarly material, but Weerasethakulís contribution should aid those a bit lost with the film.

3/10

CLOSING

Itís an unorthodox film in terms of structure and look but this edition translates it rather well to home video, despite a few minor hiccups in rendering the filmís heavy grain levels.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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