Synecdoche, New York - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (Sony Pictures Classics Collection)Overview -
Oscar-winning Writer Charlie Kaufman added director to his resume with the oddball sprawling drama comedy Synecdoche New York. Featuring the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman and a variable cast of thousands, the film wasn’t a hit in theaters but has grown into a fan-favorite and now scores a fitting Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release as part of the 11-Film Sony Pictures Classics 30th Anniversary Collection. Recommended
From Charlie Kaufman comes a visual and philosophic adventure. Theater director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is mounting a new play. His life catering to suburban blue-hairs at the local regional theater in Schenectady, New York is looking bleak. His wife Adele (Catherine Keener) has left him to pursue her painting in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive with her. His therapist, Madeleine Gravis (Hope Davis), is better at plugging her best-seller than she is at counseling him. A new relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel (Samantha Morton) has prematurely run aground. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his autonomic functions, one by one. Worried about the transience of his life, he leaves his home behind. He gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in New York City, hoping to create a work of brutal honesty. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a growing mockup of the city outside.
SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK 4K UHD Disc Breakdown
· Feature presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision
· English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
· Special Features:
o The Story of Caden Cotard Featurette
o NFTS/Script Factory Masterclass
o Infectious Diseases in Cattle Roundtable
o In and Around Synecdoche, New York Featurette
o Theatrical Trailer
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Synecdoche New York is a perfect example of why I rewatch movies I didn’t previously enjoy. I account for time, space, and overall mood in my viewings and how they can color my experiences. When this film hit theaters, I was stressed, tired, and all around in a bad mood. I didn’t like it. As virtually everyone I knew disagreed with me and pulled away something powerful and relatable from the film, I knew I needed to revisit it. So over the years, I’ve borrowed it from the library or caught it on streaming, and my esteem for the film has steadily grown. I still don’t think it’s Charlie Kaufman’s masterpiece, I felt as a writer he crafted more interesting and dynamic stories, and then as a director, I think he’s made better movies since. But I will stand and say Synecdoche New York is a fine piece of work well worth checking out.
Now for a far better-written and more in-depth review, check out Joshua Zyber’s 2009 Synecodche New York Blu-ray Review
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Exclusive to the 11-film Sony Pictures Classics 30th Anniversary Collection, Synecdoche New York constructs its first single-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release. Pressed on a BD-66 disc, the disc is housed in a standard case with theatrical poster insert art with a set-exclusive slipcover. The disc loads to a static image main menu with standard navigation options and the bonus features tab along the right side of the screen.
In a welcome turn to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, this visually intricate film offers an immediately appreciable improvement over its 2009 SDR counterpart. I was most struck by facial clarity and detail. There are a lot of close-ups in this film. The 2009 Blu-ray was pretty great for its day, but new technology and enhanced color give more life to these faces. Likewise, as Caden is putting his little opus together and amassing a huge company of people, the little details in set and location all come to life. And yeah that visit to the dentist is cleaner and clearer than ever before. Fine film grain is well resolved without looking too noisy or intrusive, and no signs of DNR or smoothing.
The Dolby Vision grading keeps the range of colors and shadows natural to this particular little film. Any given scene colors can be brighter or darker depending and shadows can be more oppressive depending on what’s happening in the film. Black levels are lovely with deep inky blacks and strong shadow separation for some added three-dimensional depth to the transfer. Colors aren’t radically different from the 2009 disc, but the new enhancements offer up healthy skin tones with a little more stable primary presence. All around this is a pretty beautiful-looking release and a welcome improvement over the aged 1080p version.
Rather than stick with the old Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track, Sony upgraded to a new DTS-HD MA 5.1 track this feels stronger and more present than before. This is still a very conversational affair with most of the key sound elements sitting in the front/center channels, but there’s enough happening in any given sequence to give you plenty of surround enjoyment. And the busier the sequence the more active and full that soundscape sounds. Jon Brion’s excellent score fills out the mix nicely without overpowering the show. Levels are spot on without issues. Flipping over to my receiver’s DTS Neural:X function offered up a little more channel spacing, but didn’t add enough to make that option necessary.
Sony again brings back all of the previously available bonus features. I would have loved to see - or rather hear - a new audio commentary for this one, but these older ones still hold some worthwhile info even if they’re not that extensive.
- The Story of Caden Cotard Featurette
- NFTS/Script Factory Masterclass
- Infectious Diseases in Cattle Roundtable
- In and Around Synecdoche, New York Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer
Synecdoche New York wasn’t a favorite of mine when I first set down to it nearly fifteen years ago. Wrong time to see the movie. Over the years after a few more revisits the film has grown on me. Watching Hoffman’s Caden again dearly made me miss that wonderful actor and ponder all of the great films he could have been in these last few years. Now with a new Dolby Vision transfer, Charlie Kaufman’s first directorial effort scores a fitting and improved 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release with a new and slightly improved DTS audio mix to match. All around a great release and a highlight of the set. Recommended
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