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Blu-ray Review: Shadows and Lies

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Like many people on this planet of ours, I get a little stuck every now and then — and my normally-keen ability to put into words the way I feel towards a moving picture simply ceases to be. Such is the case with Shadows and Lies, a dreary excuse of a film starring James Franco as William, a young documentary editor/aspiring felon living in New York. Franco wanders through this movie like a depressed kid with attention deficit disorder wanders through a barren toy store with nothing but a stale, lint-covered Life Saver in his pockets: nothing to buy, nothing to sell.

The same could be said of Shadows and Lies’ plot. During the 101-minute-long exercise in tedium, Franco gets recruited by gangster Josh Lucas to deliver some “packages” to a few folks (scenes which are shown in their excruciatingly-extended entirety), in-between his own incessant inner-monologue (to wit he even chats with younger, imaginary versions of himself). In a vain attempt to bring some sort of interestingness to the film, Julianne Nicholson stars as Lucas’ girlfriend, whom he pimps out to clients. Martin Donovan also co-stars, as one of the few characters in the film that you hope and pray will get a transfer to a far more appealing feature.

Millennium Entertainment brings this thoroughly dull flick to Blu-ray in a presentation that is as lackluster as the film itself. The 1080p transfer is a lifeless expedition into the realm of the unexciting, displaying some cold colors and flat contrast throughout. Since most of the movie’s audio consists of little more than mumbling and unhurried incidental music, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless English-language soundtrack suffices admirably, but they could just as easily have thrown in an English Mono audio track and it would have had the same effect. Thankfully, no special features were included with this release to bore me any further.

In short: unless you enjoy watching shallow characters wither away their entire screen time, Shadows and Lies is most assuredly not your baby. It’s a movie so wearisome, I’m surprised it didn’t get nominated for Best Picture by the Academy.

Huh. What do you know? I thought of something to say about this one after all.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.