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All Good Things (2009) Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 March 2011
Image“All Good Things” is a difficult one to place.  It had a tough start.  The film changed hands between directors and production companies, finally landing with Magnolia and limited theatrical release.  The sales at the box office didn’t even come close to covering the estimated budget of the film.  Let’s face it most of rarely here of limited theatrical releases, let alone go see them.  Hopefully the film will do better on home video.

The film is not the best film of the year, but it ranks in the upper half.  This is labeled as a true-crime drama.  “All Good Things” tells us the story of New York’s most famous disappearance, Kathleen McCormack.  But the story is really that of Robert Durst, or in the case of the film David Marks.  In early 2000s, Durst was put on trial for the savage murder of one of his friends.  This film is told from his perspective at his 2003 trial.

In order to make the film a bit more interesting, the filmmakers have added a “fill in the blank” style to the story.  The disappearance of Marks’ wife, Katy is still unsolved, so the film couldn’t very well provide us with true ending to this tragic story.  However, the filmmakers do provide us with possibilities as to what actually happened.  For better or worse this suggested endings are intriguing.  Ultimately, the ending is unsatisfying because we all want to know what really did happen.  Unfortunately, no one but the killer really knows.

The film analyzes David Marks’ relationship with his wife Katy (Kirsten Dunst) and two friends, Susan Berman and Morris Black.  There is a also a side plot between Marks and his father.  Marks was heir to a real estate tycoon in New York.  He rejected this lifestyle only to find that he had to come crawling back to his father for work.
As the film opens Marks meets his wife-to-be, Katy.  At first the relationship is tender.  Marks, played by Ryan Gosling is loving and Katy, the girl from the opposite side of the tracks is endearing.  However, as the film progresses we watch as Marks transforms into a darkened and frightening individual.  While all actions are merely suggested in the film, they are powerfully laid out, making them highly plausible.

Marks ends up sporting a new cross-dresser look by the end of the film, making friends with an elderly man in the next-door apartment.  Again, while the events that unfold are merely suggestions, they play out perfectly.  Frank Langella and Philip Baker Hall both put everything they have into their performances, making their characters more intriguing than the script makes them out to be.

“All Good Things” is far from perfect.  The music score is burdening, creating a sense of drama throughout the entirety of the film.  The lack of any dynamics there leaves the audience struggling a bit.  The film can get a bit drawn out and redundant at times, but still the story moves rather well.

The video quality present on this Blu-ray release aptly suits the style and mood of the film.  This is not going to be a transfer that grabs you and keeps your eyes glued to the screen.  However, the technical aspects of the transfer are quite good.  The colors are nicely saturated despite the consistent blue filter over the image.  The image, except for the opening remains pale and cold, obviously intentional due to the nature of the topic.  Fleshtones are accurate, but they are extremely pale.  The black levels are the weak point here.  They never stretch into the deepest range, always falling out in the lower mid range.  This provides more of a gray look.  Shadows remains decent, but lack strong contrast.  Technically, there are no artifacts here.  Edge enhancement and digital noise reduction are absent, preserving the integrity of the image.  This is a very fine transfer, just not one that will keep you thinking about it after the film ends.

Likewise, the audio transfer is nothing special, but is technically sound.  The audio is presented in the typical DTS-HD MA 5.1 format.  Dialogue remains prioritized.  The surround channels got more use than I would have expected.  Heavy ambience is present in the rear channels, yielding a nice enveloping feel to the soundtrack.  Again, with the music score, the balance is a bit hard to take.  The music score remains more prioritized than the rest of the elements, leaving the audience exhausted.  Discrete effects are not what this film will be known for.  There are only a few and those don’t have the best directionality.  Ultimately, prioritizing in the mix is the biggest issue.  It leads to some dialogue drop-offs and some other buried elements.  But again, this is a perfectly fine audio track for the film.

Surprisingly, this Blu-ray feature comes with more special features than most Magnolia releases.  The oddball and most interesting supplement here is the first of the audio commentaries.  This commentary is with director Andrew Jarecki and the real Robert Durst.  I don’t why Durst would participate in a film that makes him out to be heavily guilty in the murder of all three individuals.  While there is nothing revelatory in this commentary it is still interesting to here is tale.  The second audio commentary is with Jarecki and two screenwriters, Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling.  While a good commentary, the first one is better.  “All Good Things: Truth In Fiction” is a making-of piece with interview with cast and crew.  “Back In Time: Researching The Original Story” is another excellent featurette composed of Jarecki’s interviews with Durst’s associates while researching the story.  Next, there are four deleted scenes.  “Wrinkles In Time: Ryan Ages” is a make-up application lesson.  “Beneath The Surface Of ‘All Good Things:’ Interview With Andrew Jarecki” is yet another great featurette.  Jarecki provides even more information on the process and story than in the making-of piece and the commentaries.

“All Good Things” has its faults, but the audio and video qualities are more than adequate.  The story is intriguing, but really, the special features offer more in the way of the real story than the film.  I would suggest at least giving this one a rent.

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