Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - ITV DVD
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (27th July 2014).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

The secret of life? The secret's in the sauce.

Evelyn (Kathy Bates) is a middle-aged housewife, dissatisfied with her life. One day she meets an elderly lady, Mrs Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy) who tells her a story of two young women in the 1930's on a journey through life and love. The friendship of the two girls, Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth (Mary Louise Parker) inspires Evelyn to improve her life and luck.

In the tradition of the old Southern storyteller, Fried Green Tomatoes' classic tale weaves together disparate lives and cherished times. A warm, touching and greatly amusing tale about the importance of love and friendship.

Video

ITV Studios Home Entertainment have released "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" on to Blu-ray in the United Kingdom, at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (original aspect ratio is 1.78:1). The transfer is 1080p, and uses an AVC MPEG-4 encode. Unfortunately, it has fallen victim to a few problems.

One of the first things you'll notice, is the sometimes heavy use of filtering, with some parts of the picture looking unnatural, most notably some waxy faces here and there. Some random moments of slight blockiness and haloing are also present, with one such example being Mary Louise Parker's head at 24:25. Motion judder is also a frequent customer, usually just for a second or so, but at times, it is a much more prevalent problem, like at 39:40 for roughly six seconds, and again at 70:10. Aliasing can also be seen occasionally on some of the items in the background, but it isn't too bad. One scene did feel a little soft in comparison to others; in the courtroom at 93:45 (not the whole scene, just one particular shot). All these problems don't make the transfer a complete disaster though, as there is also plenty to like. Colours are generally strong, and the rural Southern locations and the characters light clothing can often show strong clarity and add a sense of depth to the picture. Details are also reasonably good at times, especially in facial close-ups (at least when the filtering isn't too strong). In comparison to the old DVD release from Carlton and Prism Leisure, this is a big improvement. There is certainly room for more improvement, but it's far from a write-off too.

The feature is uncut and runs 130:02. The version we have is the Theatrical, though there are Extended versions available elsewhere.

Audio

Two audio options are available for your perusal:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English LPCM 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing, I opted for the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, though it should be noted that it is the LPCM 2.0 Stereo track that plays by default. The track is above average for a drama from the early nineties, and features some surprisingly engrossing moments. One of the more notable scenes that makes full use of the sound field is when Mary Louise Parker and Mary Stuart Masterson are taking honey from a bee hive. As the camera gets closer to the hive, we get the immersive feeling of being surrounding by bees, with the buzzing making full use of channel separation and directionality. The surrounds also make subtle use of less obvious noises from the surrounding environments. Dialogue is clear at all times, and there are no signs of damage to the track such as drop outs or scratches.

Optional English subtitles have been included.

Extras

We start off the extras with a series of cast & crew interviews:
Play All (37:27)
Mary Stuart Masterson (2:15)
Mary Louise Parker (1:33)
Jessica Tandy (1:49)
Kathy Bates (2:03)
director Jon Avnet (1:55)
author Fannie Flagg (27:47, audio only)
This is a good selection of extras, but when it comes to the cast and director Jon Avnet, they equate to nothing more than some short backslapping sound bites. The saving grace here is the audio only interview with the author Fannie Flagg, who talks in-depth about the book and the film, the differences between the two, how surprised she was when someone wanted to turn the book into the film, and why she turned down the opportunity to write the screenplay herself. There is a funny part in the interview where Flagg suddenly asks why people are interested in the film at the time of interview, to which the interviewer tells her it is for the DVD release, something Flagg shows genuine surprise about.

Next up, we have a short featurette entitled "Remembering Jessica Tandy" which clocks in at just 3:19. It isn't so much a featurette, as an animated filmography which scrolls across the screen with a picture from various movie she had a role in. It's a nice touch, but a simple text list would have done.

We finish the extras package with a teaser trailer (4:09), and a theatrical trailer (2:41, HD).

All extras are in standard definition, except for the theatrical trailer.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: C+ Audio: B Extras: C Overall: B-

 


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