Cemetery Junction (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
August 14, 2010 by Dennis Amith
“Cemetery Junction” is a fun, entertaining and heartfelt film. The story doesn’t strive to be anything great, nor does strive to be anything else but just your average usual coming-of-age film. But if you do enjoy the film or its talent, the Blu-ray release delivers with two audio commentaries and a good number of special features.
Images courtesy of © 2010 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Cemetery Junction
FILM RELEASE DATE: 2010
DURATION: 95 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Hindi
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (For Language and Some Sexual Material)
RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2010
Written and Directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Executive Producer: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Produced by Sue Baden-Powell, Charlie Handson
Music by Tim Atack
Cinematography by Remi Adefarasin
Edited by Valerio Bonelli
Production Design by Anna Higginson
Art Direction by David Hindle
Set Decoration by Andy Grogan
Costume Design by Ruth Myers
Tom Hughes as Bruce Pearson
Ricky Gervais as Mr. Taylor
Christian Cooke as Freddie Taylor
Ralph Fiennes as Mr. Kendrick
Matthew Goode as Mike Ramsay
Jack Doolan as Snork
Emily Watson as Mrs. Kendrick
Steve Speirs as Sgt. Wyn Davies
From the award-winning team behind the hit series; “The Office”. 70’s England is in full swing as three outcast friends find themselves drinking, joking, fighting and chasing girls, while dreaming of escape from their blue-collar hometown of Cemetery Junction. Freddie (Christian Cooke) is a salesman suddenly thrown onto the fast track when he gains the attention of his boss, Mr. Kendrick (Ralph Fiennes). Torn between a prior life of partying with his friends (Tom Hughes and Jack Doolan) and the promise of a brighter future, life gets more complicated when the bosses daughter becomes the focus of Freddie’s affection. Also starring Ricky Gervais and Emily Watson.
Actor/director Ricky Gervais returns to the director’s scene alongside longtime friend/writer Stephen Merchant (both who have previously worked in BBC’s “The Office”) in a coming-of-age story of three British teens in 1973 and inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s song “Thunder Road”.
The film was screened theatrically in the UK and will now be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.
“Cemetery Junction” revolves around three friends. Freddie Taylor (played by Christian Cooke, “Trinity”, “Echo Beach”, “The Chase”) is a young man who came from a not so great area in England but wants to be successful in the insurance business like Mr. Kendrick (played by Ralph Fiennes) who has built a life insurance empire. Freddie wants to make good money and so his father (played by Ricky Gervais) and the rest of his family can have a good life.
Meanwhile, his other two friends don’t share the same ambition.
Bruce Pearson (played by Tom Hughes, “Trinity”, “Casualty 1909”) is a man with a short fuse. He loves to have fun and party but the slightest thing against him can set him off and usually gets him and his friends locked in jail. But because the head police Sgt. Wyn Davies (played by Steve Speirs, “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”, “Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest”) is good friends with his dad, Bruce and his friends are usually let go despite how much trouble they get themselves into.
Bruce’s home life is difficult as he despises his father (played by Francis Magee, “No Angels”, “EastEnders”, “Butterfly Man”) of their father walking out and Bruce talks down to him like he’s nothing but a waste because of how his mother had left them. He blames his father and thus he treats him badly.
The third friend is the goofy Snork (played by Jack Doolan, “The Green Green Grass”) who just likes being with the guys and having fun. On his chest is art of a shirtless woman peering out the window and on his back is the nude woman looking at the window, looking at a naked drawing of himself wearing only socks. Snork thinks it’s a great conversation breaker with women but in truth, he’s more like Freddie and Bruce’s goofy friend who loves to crack jokes and have fun.
But these three friends are going through changes in their lives. Freddie wants to start becoming a man and making a living, Bruce just wants to have troublesome fun and work at the factory and Snork just wants to have a girlfriend.
Freddie knows he needs to move on away from the trouble and focus on his new career. But when he meets an old friend named Julie (played by Felicity Jones, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, “The Worst Witch”), who happens to be his bosses daughter and his trainer Mike Ramsay’s (played by Matthew Goode) girlfriend, he starts to find himself falling for her.
How will things fare for these three friends?
“Cemetery Junction” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1). Picture quality is well-done as detail of the 70’s exteriors are well-captured. I will say that the overall look of the film and Gervais and Merchant explain their goal in achieving the ’70s look and growing up in Reading. Certain scenes show off a lot of color, from Freddie’s blue shirt or blue eyes to the reds that are seen during the dance sequence. Granted, I do feel that the dance sequence seems more modern than 1973 but that was probably my own personal quirk.
The film definitely looks great on Blu-ray, although there is one scene taken place when Freddie and Julie are in her film developing room in which there seems to be some experimentation on video and it seemed as if there was globs of artifacting but I think that it was more of a psychedelic experiment with red lighting and filtering. But that was probably the only scene that caught my attention and made me wonder if there were problems video-wise.
Blacks are nice and deep in certain scenes and for the most part, picture quality is well-done.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Cemetery Junction” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA and in English-Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue driven but there are some parts, such as the factory in which your room is enveloped by the sound of machinery and the LFE and surround channels are kicked up a notch. But aside from that primary scene, the film is center and front channel driven and what shines about “Cemetery Junction” is its soundtrack which features music by Elton John, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Roxy Music and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
“Cemetery Junction” comes with the following special features in high definition, English 2.0 and subtitles in English:
- Commentary with Writers/Directors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant – Audio commentary by both directors Gervais and Merchant with optional English subtitles. Gervais and Merchant talk about the film and also explain how they wanted to capture the 1973 and how, outside of London, these areas were not 1973-definitive since towns still looked as if they were several years behind.
- Cast Commentary with Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, and Jack Doolan – Featuring the audio of the three main characters of the film. The commentary features optional English subtitles. The cast talk about their experiences while shooting the film.
- Deleted Scenes – (13:38) Featuring ten deleted scenes.
- Blooper Reel – (13:42) Featuring outtakes from “Cemetery Junction”.
- The Directors: A Conversation with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant – (15:07) Both Gervais and Merchant talking about how they wanted to make a serious feel-good coming-of-age drama.
- The Lads Look Back: The Stars Discuss Cemetery Junction – (10:14) Tom Hughes, Christian Cooke and Jack Doolan talk about the auditions, being cast on the film and working on “Cemetery Junction”.
- Seventies Style: Production and Costume Design – (8:44) The cast talk about the ’70s look and what went into the production and costume design for the film. Production designer Anna Higginson talks about what she wanted to capture for the homes of the main characters, while costume designer Ruth Myers.
- Production Featurette – (6:45) Featuring three production featurettes: The Start of Filming, Week 1, Meet The Boys and The Directors On Set.
- movieIQ+sync (logo) and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie!
“Cemetery Junction” is a film that carries on the banality of young adult life in your usual coming-of-age type of film but a definite step-up for Ricky Gervais from his previous directorial stint in “The Invention of Lying”. Both Gervais and co-director Stephen Merchant were able to come up with a pretty fun, stylish film that doesn’t come anywhere near any gag-driven type of comedy films that Gervais is known for but the two men were able to come up with a heartfelt coming-of-age film.
For the most part, the friendships between the Freddie, Bruce and Snork is quite fun to watch and and like most teen coming-of-age films, you know there is trouble to be had for these young men. As the film takes place in the ’70’s, the problem that I have is these both Freddie and Bruce look like they come out of a GQ magazine than two young men who grew up in a town in which their family are not the best in their financial situation. You would like to think that these young adults who have pretty much have gotten themselves quite a bit of trouble had challenging upbringings but I felt the casting for a few of the characters were just too good to be believed.
I actually did question the films timeline of taking place in 1973 but according to Gervais and Merchant, in the small towns outside of London, despite the time period of 1973, many towns were behind a few years in terms of overall decor and aesthetics. So, they wanted to have an early ’70s look but not overly emphasizing the ’70s in general. But I will definitely give the film credit for its cool soundtrack!
But the film’s structure is simple and in many ways, there are no surprises. Personally, I was welcoming some sort of tragedy to fall upon one of the friends, or possibly the two best friends having enough of each other and getting into a brawl but I suppose that would be too much of a cliche.
But I felt the chemistry of the three friends worked quite well onscreen. Both Cooke and Hughes are obviously standouts in their role and Jack Doolan is like the UK version of Jack Black or Jonah Hill. And the cast does benefit with veteran talent courtesy of the performances by Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Steve Speirs and Francis Magee.
The Blu-ray release of “Cemetery Junction” does come with its fair share of special features and the addition of two audio commentary, one for the directors and the other with the three main cast members was a nice addition.
Overall, “Cemetery Junction” is a fun, entertaining and heartfelt film. The story doesn’t strive to be anything great, nor does strive to be anything else but just a usual coming-of-age film. There is no significant climax, it’s just a group of friends growing up, getting in trouble, having fun and moving on. Nothing more, nothing less. And because of that, the film is just average. But I do welcome Ricky Gervais trying something different and not becoming a director who gets pigeon-holed for only comedy-based films.
Nevertheless, “Cemetery Junction” shows us that Gervais and Merchant work quite well with each other, granted I’m not expecting them to be the next Powell or Pressburger but perhaps their next collaboration will be bring us something much more ambitious, compelling and entertaining.
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