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De-Lovely (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 19, 2011 by  



A story about Cole Porter and his wife Linda Lee.  From Cole Porter’s extravagant lifestyle and famous career and the woman who stood behind him no matter what.  Featuring a wonderful musical soundtrack and a wonderful performance by Kevin Cline and Ashley Judd, “De-Lovely” is worth giving a chance and definitely worth the upgrade from its DVD counterpart.

Images courtesy of © 2004 United Artists Films, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: De-Lovely

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2004

DURATION: 125 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen (2:35:1), English 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Digital , Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

COMPANY: MGM/Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: PG-13 (Sexual Content)

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011

Directed by Irwin Winkler

Written by Jay Cocks

Producer: Rob Cowan, Charles Winkler, Irwin Winkler

Executive Producer: Simon Channing Williams, Gail Egan

Line Producer: Georgina Lowe

Cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts

Edited by Julie Monroe

Casting by Nina Gold

Production Design by Eve Stewart

Art Direction by John Hill

Set Decoration by John Bush

Costume Design by Janty Yates

Starring:

Kevin Kline as Cole Porter

Ashley Judd as Linda Porter

Jonathan Pryce as Gabe

Kevin McNally as Gerald Murphy

Sandra Nelson as Sara Murphy

Alla Corduner as Monty Woolley

Peter Polycarpou as L.B. Mayer

Keith Allen as Irving Berlin

James Wilby as Edward Thomas

Kevin McKidd as Bobby Reed

Richard Dillane as Bill Wrather

Edward Baker-Duly as Boris Kochno

Angie Hill as Ellin Berlin

From Paris to Venice to Broadway to Hollywood, the lives of Cole (Kline) and Linda (Ashley Judd) Porter were never less thanglamorous and wildly unconventional. Though Cole’s thirst for life strained their marriage, Linda never stopped being his muse, inspiring some of the greatest songs of the twentieth century.

Irwin Winkler is a producer that is best known for producing Martin Scorsese films such as “Goodfellas”, “Raging Bull” and also bringing the “Rocky” films to the big screen.   But the producer is also a director who is best known for films such as “The Net”, “Life as a House” and “Home of the Brave” and in 2004, he took on the role of directing a biopic about famous American composer and songwriter Cole Porter.

Along with screenwriter Jay Cocks “Gangs of New York”, “The Age of Innocence”), the duo would set out to research the life and career of Cole Porter (played by Kevin Cline) and his relationship with his wife Linda Lee Thomas (played by Ashley Judd) from the moment they met up and showcasing how much of an influence she had on his life.

The film’s title “De-Lovely” which is derived from Cole Porter’s hit song from his 1936 musical “Red Hot and Blue” would feature musical talent performing covers of Cole Porter songs on the soundtrack but also star in the film.  Musical talent such as Robbie Williams, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole including Kevin Cline and Ashley Judd would take part in the film’s musical soundtrack.

Kevin Cline was nominated for Golden Globe for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy” and Ashley Judd for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy” and also receive a Grammy nomination for “Best Compilation Soundtrack for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media”.

“De-Lovely” is a film about a man reviewing his life as a musical.

The film begins with Cole Porter (played by Kevin Cline), in his late years is visited by the archangel Gabrliel and Gabriel beginning to talk about Porter’s career.

Immediately, Porter’s life flashes before him and he alongside the archangel Gabriel are watching a musical production of Cole Porter when he was young.  Cole Porter was known to be a man who was bisexual and despite having flings with many of the lead men in his musical productions, he still fell in love with Linda Lee Thomas (played by Ashley Judd).

Linda Lee Thomas was a socialite who was first married to another man named Samuel Thomas, a wealthy man but divorced him because he was abusive.  At the wedding of railroad heiress Ethel Harriman and Henry Potter Russell, both Linda Lee Thomas and C0le Porter met and less than a year later, the two would get married.  Despite Porter’s busy schedule and his gay lifestyle, Linda Lee Thomas still stood by her husband’s side to give him support and use her wealthy connections to introduce him to people.

Their relationship was a positive in the sense that Linda could continue her socialite status despite her divorce but also knew that Porter would not abuse her like her ex-husband and for Cole Porter, due to the climate towards homosexuals at the time, it would be an advantage of him to have a wife (especially one who didn’t mind too much of his gay lifestyle) and to continue the lifestyle that he enjoyed.

But the film would show Cole Porter as a man who loved working, loved having fun and enjoy self-indulging, meanwhile his wife knew that as much as she gave Cole her love and support, during those years of Porter’s self-indulgence, she would not be his #1.  That would be his music and she respected that.  No matter if he was out with other men and she never knew the reasons of why he was out, she would continue to support him throughout their marriage from 1919 through 1954, the time of her death due to emphysema.  But also during a time when Cole Porter suffered a severe leg injury after falling from a horse which required 34 operations and caused a series of ulcers.  Despite her illness, she always put Cole Porter first and supported him regardless of what was happening in their marriage.

The film would also spotlight how Linda inspired some of his hit songs and then showcase various music talent performing those songs.

VIDEO:

“De-Lovely” is a presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1).  If there is one thing positive I can say about “De-Lovely”, its the awesome makeup and costume design.  As the film showcases both Cole Porter and Linda Lee Thomas aging throughout the film, on Blu-ray, you can see how thorough the makeup and effects team were in trying to capture the realistic look of Cole Porter and Linda Lee during various points of their lives.  If the camera is doing a closeup of one’s face or hands, you can see the wrinkles, the crow marks, the skin spots and more.  There is a lot of detail in the film and by no means does the makeup look terrible, it was done exceptionally well and looks fantastic.

You can also spot the detail of the various fabrics of the clothing worn by the characters throughout the rolling 20’s through the various decades.  Makeup, hair, clothing, there is this stylish look about the film and for the most part, I was quite happy with what I saw.  I didn’t see any banding, especially in scenes that utilized a lot of reds.  I didn’t see any compression or significant dust, speckles, scratches, etc.   Blacks were nice and deep, colors were vibrant, skin tones were natural, even during those scenes where they were aged, it looks great.  And for the most part, those who bought the DVD, should be happy with this Blu-ray release when it comes to PQ.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“De-Lovely” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround and French 5.1 Dolby Digital.   Although a biopic on the life of Cole Porter and his wife Linda Lee Thomas, the film could also be seen as a musical as the film serves as a vehicle to showcase Cole Porter’s music and also showcase a lot of well-known musical talent singing those Cole Porter songs.  The music sounds absolutely wonderful via lossless and that is one major positive that fans of the film would truly enjoy watching “De-Lovely” on Blu-ray.

The scenes that feature audiences and large crowds can be heard through the surround channels, as are certain instruments.  The musical mix is very well-done and was definitely a major factor in my enjoyment of the film.  The dialogue, which is quite heavy in this film is crystal clear and understandable as well.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“De-Lovely” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio CommentaryFeaturing audio commentary by director Irwin Winker and Kevin Cline.  Both go into detail about Cole Porter, Kevin Cline playing Cole Porter, the makeup and also how Kevin Cline played the piano and sung the parts at the set rather than added later in post-production.
  • Audio CommentaryFeaturing audio commentary by director Irwin Winker and writer Jay Cocks.  Cocks talks about the writing angle and the challenges he had faced on working on the film.  Both men talk about how “De-Lovely” came to be.
  • Making of De-Lovely Featurette – (25:37) The making of “De-Lovely” featuring interviews with cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage on the making of the film.
  • Music of De-Lovely Featurette – (15:19) Featuring the music talent who appeared in the film singing covers of Cole Porter’s music.
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Be a Clown Featurette – (5:33) Behind-the-scenes on the making of the “Be a Clown” musical scene.
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Love for Sale Featurette – (3:10) Behind-the-scenes on the making of the “Love For Sale” music scene and showcasing Porter’s gay lifestyle.
  • Deleted Scenes – (14:29) A total of nine deleted scenes including an alternate ending.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:22) Original theatrical trailer for “De-Lovely”.

I grew up in a household that listened to Cole Porter’s music and also watching films by Cole Porter and growing up, but aside from knowing of his famous career and his lifestyle, I never knew the story of his wife Linda Lee nor did I know the challenges that Cole Porter faced after a possible career-ending injury.

What I loved about the film is its over-all look and how much the make-up crew went into make Cole Porter, Linda Lee and their friends grow up together and eventually get older.  A lot of films that try to capture that look of aging in various stages, sometimes its not done too well but in the case of “De-Lovely”, they set-out to capture the authentic look of Cole Porter and his wife Linda Lee aging and the result was magnificent.

Kevin Cline did a wonderful job in playing Cole Porter, from playing the piano, singing and even capturing Porter’s vibrant lifestyle, while Ashley Judd also did a wonderful job in playing the supportive but lonely wife.

While I have read reviews and it’s been split among the film critics in the fact that Cole Porter’s life should have been featured as vibrant and enthusiastic, I felt that Jay Cocks did a good job in showing us another perspective of Cole Porter’s life.  I know that there are people that may feel that this biopic may make Cole Porter look like a spoiled entertainer who focused on his work and was constantly gallivanting with other men while his wife was stuck home alone, and its the lifestyle that Cole Porter was known for, he worked hard…he partied hard.

And as for Linda, she remained faithful and supportive of him to the end, despite being lonely and not being #1 to her husband.  And although we don’t know how Porter felt about his wife’s death, we do know that from her death and later from a leg amputation, he withdrew from society and said goodbye to his friends while he lived in seclusion.  I’m not sure if his loneliness was because he was now alone without his wife or that the amputation of his leg was his what made him a recluse but the film shows us how Porter was when things were going great in his life and when things weren’t, his wife was there for him and continued to inspire him, which eventually led to the music for “Kiss Me, Kate”.

As mentioned earlier, this is a biopic but the film also has a musical essence to it.  For each session in which Cole Porter is working on a hit song, we see him working on it and then the scene transitioning to a music talent performing that song.  I know for some people, this transition from Cole Porter then to showcasing Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Alanis Morissette, Robbie Williams, etc. may seem a bit out-of-the-blue but I had no problem with this because even back in the early ’90s, I bought Cole Porter compilation soundtracks titled “Red Hot +Blue” featuring U2, Annie Lennox, David Byrne, Sinead O’Connor and many others singing Cole Porter covers (in this case, it was a major AIDS benefit from the music industry) and this was no different.  For me, hearing these talent perform covers of Cole Porter were all well-done but it also gave the film some panache.

The Blu-ray release is pretty much an upgrade over its DVD counterpart.  The PQ and AQ are very well done and if you enjoyed the film and its musical soundtrack, you’re going to love hearing the music in lossless HD.  As for the special features, its the same special features that came with the DVD and are presented in standard definition.  But even when the DVD was released, I felt it was a solid DVD especially with its two audio commentaries.

Overall, “De-Lovely” definitely gives us another perspective of Cole Porter’s career but also his personal life.  I know there are some who would have rather see something a bit more vibrant and there is no doubt that we could have had a Fellini-esque “8 1/2” style of film if Irwin Winkler wanted to go that route but I believe they went through the path of showing the ups and downs in Cole Porter’s personal life and right there along with him, maybe not in the traditional sense of a “normal” marriage” but his wife Linda Lee, as lonely as she was, stood by him and supported him throughout their marriage up to her death and how she had an impact on his career.

If you enjoyed this film on DVD, definitely upgrade to Blu-ray!  If you are curious about this film, I definitely recommend on giving it a try!

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