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Still Alice (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 30, 2015 by  



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A touching, heartbreaking and wonderful film about a family dealing with familial Alzheimer’s Disease.  Featuring an award-winning performance by Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” is a film that I highly recommend!

Images courtesy of © 2014 BSM Studios SAS. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Still Alice

FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Mature Thematic Material, and Brief Language Including a Sexual Reference)

Release Date: May 12, 2015


Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland

Novel by Lisa Genova

Screenplay by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland

Produced by James Brown, Pamela Koffler, Lex Lutzus

Co-Producer: Declan Baldwin, Elizabeth Gelfgland Stearns

Executive Producer: Emilie Georges, Celine Rattray, Marie Savare, Trudie Styler, Christine Vachon

Music by Ilan Eshkeri

Cinematography by Denis Lenoir

Edited by Nicolas Chaudeurge

Casting by Kerry Barden, Ro Dempsey, Allison Estrin, Hunter Lydon, Paul Schnee

Production Design by Tommaso Ortino

Set Decoration by Susan Perlman

Costume Design by Stacey Battat


Starring:

Julianne Moore as Alice Howland

Kate Bosworth as Anna Howland-Jones

Shane McRae as Charlie Howland-Jones

Hunter Parrish as Tom Howland

Alec Baldwin as John Howland

Kristen Stewart as Lydia Howland


Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Also starring Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish.


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In 2014, “Still Alice” was released in theaters.

An adaptation of Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestselling novel, the film was written and directed by real-life couple Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (both directed “The Fluffer”, “Pedro”, “The Last of Robin Hood”).

The film was also personal as Glatzer had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” and it was important for him to create this film despite having the disease which would leave him unable to talk but was able to communicate via iPad to Wash and the cast.  Glatzer would die from complications from the disease in March 10, 2015.

“Still Alice” would star Julianne Moore (“The Big Lebowski”, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”), Alec Baldwin (“The Departed”, “30 Rock”, “Beetlejuice”), Kristen Stewart (“The Twilight” films, “Snow White and the Huntsman”), Kate Bosworth (“Superman Returns”, “21”, “Blue Crush”) and Hunter Parrish (“Weeds”, “17 Again”).

“Still Alice” would receive critical acclaim and actress Julianne Moore would win an Academy Award for “Best Actress”, the Golden Glove for “Best Actress – Drama” and also a SAG and BAFTA Award.

And now “Still Alice” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“Still Alice” is a film that revolves around linguistics professor Dr. Alice Howland (portrayed by Julianne Moore).  As she celebrates her 50th birthday with her husband John (portrayed by Alec Baldwin), her daughters Anna (portrayed by Kate Bosworth), Lydia (portrayed by Kristen Stewart) and her son Tom (portrayed by Hunter Parrish), the film shows how close knit the family truly are.

While she looks forward to Anna and her husband’s first child, she often worries about Lydia who doesn’t want to go to college but become an actress.

One day while at a lecture, Dr. Howard forgets a word but she starts to realize something is wrong while jogging on campus and she feels that she is lost.

Worried about her condition and thinking that she may have brain cancer, she goes to visit her doctor and she is diagnosed with early onset of familial Alzheimer’s Disease.

Because the gene can be hereditary, she tells her children about her diagnosis and explains to the children that they may have the gene and will want to get tested.

The film then focuses on Alice as she deals with the disease and how it affects her during a period of time but also how her family copes with her disease and how the disease brings them all together and how each remain supportive.


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VIDEO:

“Still Alice” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). he film looks fantastic in HD, while some scenes look soft, outdoor scenes are vibrant, closeups show amazing detail and skin tones look natural.  I saw no banding, artifacts or any negative issues with this film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Still Alice” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film features crystal clear dialogue and music but for this film, the lossless soundtrack is appropriate as it is primarily front and center-channel driven.  With an occasional scene with crowds for ambiance.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Still Alice” comes with the following special features:

  • Directing Alice – (8:41) A featurette with writer/director duo Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.
  • Finding Alice – (9:21) A featurette about familial Alzheimer’s Disease and how Julianne Moore worked with Sandy Oltz who has familial Alzheimer’s Disease and was an advisor to Julianne Moore.
  • Interview with Composer Ilan Eshkeri – (6:29) Composer Ilan Eshkeri discusses the motivation of creating the music for “Still Alice”.
  • Deleted Scenes – (6:09) Featuring three deleted scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:18) The original theatrical trailer for “Still Alice”.

EXTRAS

“Still Alice” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet code to instantly stream or download the film in Digital HD for TV, computers, tablet or smartphones.


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“Still Alice” was a honest portrayal of one who has Alzheimer’s Disease and seeing the individual slowly lose themselves to the disease, while their family try to do all they can to support their loved one.

The film was also quite personal for me as I lost my grandfather to Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014 and my mother-in-law currently has it.

And the most difficult aspect for me having watched my grandfather who has had the disease is to see how quickly things became.  From a man who was perfectly healthy, to remembering our names during the summer, barely remembering our names during the fall, now forgetting a lot of us by Christmas time and then within weeks, suddenly losing all bodily functions in January and eventually dying from the disease.

And because my grandfather was the first known relative with Alzheimer’s Disease in our family, I often wondered if it will be hereditary.

While, I do all I can to keep my brain fresh and active, in the back of my mind, when words don’t come as quickly or I forget certain conversations, I often think of my grandfather and the possibilities that any of us in the family will experience the same situation…younger, older… it’s something I don’t like to think about, but it’s something that is often in the back of my mind.

Watching “Still Alice”, it was heartbreaking.  I have heard of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease and I was aware that actress Rita Hayworth was diagnosed at age 60.  And I have watched documentaries such as Allan King’s documentary “MEMORY FOR MAX, CLAIRE, IDA AND COMPANY: BEING THERE” which showed one businesswoman who had early onset of Alzheimer’s and the first time I watched it, it was the first time I learned that people younger can also be diagnosed with it.

And the way that directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland was able to convey the story that because there is no cure, there is also no true happy ending.  But as they portrayed the character of Alice doing all she can to survive and live with the disease, we know that Alice’s condition will get worse.

The performance by Julianne Moore is magnificent.  She was able to play a character that made you feel that you weren’t watching a movie but a person you knew and was getting worse from Alzheimer’s Disease.  We watch her as a healthy young woman and eventually see how she and her family have a difficult time ahead of them, until the last final scene in the film and for anyone who has had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, the impact becomes real.

Both Glatzer and Westmoreland were able to portray Alzheimer’s Disease handled the film in a restrained manner, being respectful of capturing the drama as if it was real.  Seeing Julianne Moore perform with such efficacy was wonderful and you feel she is quite deserving of the Academy Award.

Surprisingly, the other actress that was a surprise to see in this film was Kristen Stewart as the rebellious daughter who doesn’t want to follow her mother’s advice to go back to college, and she becomes the only sibling who does not want to get tested.

But yet, despite her rebelliousness, she is the most curious about her mother’s disease.  She is a daughter that wants to be there for her mother and we see this relationship grow between mother and daughter which was great to see in the film, especially for the film’s final moment.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and the film looks great on Blu-ray.  Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and musically-driven through the front and center channels and the crystal clear soundtrack was appropriate for this film.  You also get several special features including a featurette with the late Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.  And knowing how “Still Alice” was important to both men and to see Glatzer’s determination and persistence to work on the film despite having ALS is inspirational, but also to see how happy both men were in knowing they accomplished something special with “Still Alice”.

A touching, heartbreaking and wonderful film about a family dealing with familial Alzheimer’s Disease.  Featuring an award-winning performance by Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” is a film that I highly recommend!

 

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