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Friday, October 17, 2014

Words and Pictures Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche (Best Actress in a Supporting Role, The English Patient, 1996) and Academy Award nominee Clive Owen (Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Closer, 2004) deliver "a great Hepburn/Tracy rapport" (Entertainment Weekly) in "one of the best films of the year," (NPR) Words and Pictures. Prep school English teacher Jack Marcus (Owen) meets his match in Dina Delsanto (Binoche) - an abstract painter, and new teacher on campus - and challenges her to a war between words and pictures...and, in the process, sparks an unlikely romance.


Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Words and Pictures is a story of two prep school teachers – one an English Honors teacher and the other an Honors Art teacher.  Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) is an English Honors teacher who loves words.  He drives his fellow teachers crazy with word games.  One day, he seems to have met his match when a new Honors Art teacher, Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche), arrives at the school.  Delsanto believes art is more than words, and teaches her students to show, rather than tell, their emotions.  Marcus, however, believes words tell a story better than pictures and can give a better image.  Marcus challenges Delsanto to a contest at the ends of the year – Words versus pictures.  She will paint a picture; he will get 1,000 words to bring it to life. 

As they become rivals, both teachers find themselves drawn to the other, no matter how crazy they make each other.  When Jack’s job is on the line, he straightens up and begins writing.  He saves his job by becoming the teacher and writer he used to be, but it begins falling apart when his drinking once again gets out of control.  He hurts everyone around him and ultimately loses those closest to him.  But at least he has his challenge to try to make it all up to everyone.

I enjoyed this film.  It was a little slow at the beginning, but picked up and I really liked the story.  Both Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen are wonderful actors and I loved their chemistry.  Only once in a while did their laughter seem forced, but for the most part, they were good together.  The kids in the film were all good, and I enjoyed watching them.  I can only imagine how it was for them to act in a film with Binoche and Owen… two of the greats.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Words and Pictures’ 1080p high definition widescreen presentation was very good.  The picture was clear and all the colors were bold and bright.  Skin tones were authentic and background scenes were crisp.  I really enjoyed the clarity, as it makes the film more realistic and more enjoyable to watch.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio was good.  There were a lot of low volume parts that I had to turn the sound up on, but the dialogue was clear and once I figured out the volume level, easily heard.  Accents weren’t too heavy, and everything was easily understandable.  The story was good, and it was a good story to listen to.
Extras (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The features included were not that great.  The only real feature was the behind the scenes one and that was just okay.
  • Commentary with Director Fred Schepisi – The film with the director’s commentary
  • Behind the Scenes on Words and Pictures –  This is an 18-minute look at the film, how it was made and how the characters interacted and the chemistry between all the actors in the film.  This was interesting, but I found myself not really caring how it was made.  Though for me, that happens to be the situation on most behind the scenes features.
  • Theatrical Trailer:  The trailer for the film.
  • Bookmarks – I keep seeing this “feature” added to films.  Still not sure what the significance is, but I guess if you want to save a part of the movie, that’s where this fits in.
  • Also from Lionsgate – A replay for the previews from the beginning of the disc.
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
While the film itself was good, as well as the video and audio, the lack of interesting special features brought the score down.  Words and Pictures is a fun, romantic film that I enjoyed watching.  The story was good, the characters good and I found myself rooting for it all to work out.  But the time the film ended, I really wanted to know what happened next.  It’s rare for me to want more from a film.  It left me wanting, but in a really good way.

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