Ceremony (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 06-15-2011, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Magnolia - 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 90 minutes
Genre: Dramedy

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, Reece Thompson, Lee Pace, Jake Johnson
Written & Directed by: Max Winkler
Music by: Eric D. Johnson
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 21, 2011

"She loves him, she loves him not"

Film Synopsis:

Aspiring children’s book author Sam Davis (Michael Angarano) convinces his former best friend Marshal (Reece Thompson) to spend the weekend
with him to rekindle their friendship at an elegant beachside estate owned by a famous documentary filmmaker Whit Coutell (Lee Pace). But it soon becomes clear that Sam has ulterior motives when Marshal learns that Whit’s fiancée, Zoe (Uma Thurman) is Sam’s ex. His plan is to thwart their impending nuptials but it begins to unravel as he is forced to realize how complicated love and friendship can be.

My Take:

Getting married is supposed to be the happiest time of Zoe’s life but not when her much younger ex-lover Sam shows up to win her back and sabotage her wedding to the seemingly perfect man. Figuring out how to nix the wedding and claim Zoe isn’t Sam’s only problem since he dragged his best friend along under the preconceived notion that they were going on a road trip to mend their strained friendship. Now Sam must learn the true meaning of love and friendship and save both relationships before they end terribly wrong.

When I read the press release for Ceremony I thought it looked like an interesting film that had diamond in the rough potential. While the potential is certainly there the callow script and misguided direction just leave too much to be desired. This is a quirky Indie film from first time director (and writer) Max Winkler that draws from a vague perspective and unlikable characters (except for Marshall). Sam is 23 (going on 35 in his own mind) extremely self serving, and has a surrealistic vision of Zoe. She is needy, complicated and prone to impulsive behavior. Her fiancé Whit is probably the most grounded character in the film but his overblown bravado, pretentious charm and British accent seems out of place both within the context of the story’s narrative and the dynamic of its characters. Marshall is easy going and sympathetic which makes him likeable but by design he is too flawed to be genuinely defining. The remaining characters are portrayed as a bunch of stunted individuals that seemingly have nothing of use to offer. Conceptually speaking the film isn’t bad however it fails to reach deep enough into its subject or characters to resonate. This isn’t helped by the haphazard nature of the direction which left many scenes feeling as though they were being adlibbed. I like Uma Thurman and Lee Pace but had no real reaction to their performances here. I did however think that Michael Angarano and Reece Thompson did reasonably well with what they were given to work with and I enjoyed watching them together. In the end Ceremony’s one note characters, unrefined script and aimless direction left me cold.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some language, sexual references and drug use.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 78

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Video: 82

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Ceremony comes to Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 16 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.1 Mbps.

This video presentation offers little in the way of highly polished, razor sharp images but seems to represent the film’s elements well. Colors are noticeably tamped down but appear natural. Complexions are a little on the balmy side but tonal delineation is appreciable. Blacks are respectable but don’t offer the depth and delineation that make them stand out. Detail in low light and dark backgrounds is estimable. Images offer fair dimensional depth, stable sharpness, and refining clarity but don’t expect opulent high level detail. This video presentation appears to look exactly as intended and looks fine overall. The audio presentation is solid and like the video renders the elements present in the soundtrack as intended. Dialogue is clearly articulated through the center channel as the film’s music holds sway over the front soundstage. Aural perspective is one dimensional and leans toward the front channels however spatial venue replicating effects and diffuse ambience is fed to the rear channels which provide a limited but effective sense of envelopment.

Bonus Features:

  • 3 Deleted scenes

  • Outtakes – 2 minutes

  • Extended scene

  • Making of Ceremony – 21 minute featurette

  • Max Winkler makes Ceremony – 8 minute documentary

  • Behind the scenes footage – 7 minutes

  • HDNet: A look at Ceremony – 4 minutes

  • “A year in a tent”: A film by “Whit Coutell” – 4 minute faux documentary featuring Lee Pace in character

Final Thoughts:

Ceremony is a quirky comedy from first time director (writer) Max Winkler that takes an interesting conceptual approach and does little with it. The film’s one note characters, unrefined script and aimless direction left it feeling like a missed opportunity. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia HE featuring clear lossless sound quality and adequate high definition video that appears faithful to the film’s original elements. The bonus supplements are highlighted by a decent making of featurette and an insightful director documentary by Max Winkler. If you’re typically drawn to offbeat comedies give this rent, otherwise I would pass.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Samsung BD-C7900 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

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post #2 of 2 Old 06-15-2011, 07:35 PM
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I thought the guy on the cover all the way to the right was Sam Rockwell at first. Thanks for the review Ralph. I will probably skip over this one, but I do appreciate the reviews on these smaller releases. This way I can dictate what to spend time on to watch and what to skip over. I perhaps will check out Kill The Irishman.
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