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Columbus Circle (2010)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/6/2012
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/28/2012
Everyday we are bombarded by stereotypes and cliches, and yet we are told to ignore them. However, the thing about stereotypes and cliches is that there is often a nugget of truth to them. One such stereotype is that many comedians or comic actors work from a dark place and that they use their humor to cover up old wounds. This may sound far-fetched at first, but one only has to listen to some stand-up material to see that this is often true. (Oddly, with some comedians, the more popular they get, the more dark and personal their work becomes.) It can be assumed that these "sad clowns" are using comedy to exorcise their personal demons. There must be some kernel of truth to this, as evidenced by one of the co-writers of Columbus Circle.
Columbus Circle is set in a posh high-rise apartment building located in the titular New York City area. Abigail Clayton (Selma Blair) lives alone in a penthouse apartment and she hasn't left her home in years. She only communicates with the concierge, Klandermann (Kevin Pollak), (through letters which she slides under the door), and her physician, Dr. Raymond Fontaine (Beau Bridges). Abigail's real name is Justine Waters, and she's actually a famous heiress who "disappeared" years ago. Distrustful and paranoid, she has chosen to lock herself away. One night, the old woman across the hall from Abigail dies when she apparently falls down her stairs. Police Detective Frank Giardello (Giovanni Ribisi) insists on learning if Abigail heard anything, despite her reluctance to speak with him. A few days later, a new couple, Charles (Jason Lee) and Lillian (Amy Smart), move in across from Abigail (despite the fact that she'd hoped to buy the space and have the entire floor to herself). The two have a volatile relationship, and against her better judgment, Abigail reaches out to help Lillian. Will opening her home to a stranger result in dire consequences?
Columbus Circle is a decidedly Hitchcockian thriller, so it's somewhat surprising to see that it was co-written by stand-up comic turned actor Kevin Pollak. Yes, he's taken some dramatic roles over the years, but these often have some comedic elements. Here, both his performance and his writing are both very serious. The other writer on the film is George Gallo, who also directed. Seeing as his resume contains titles like Midnight Run and Bad Boys, he seems like more of a match for this material. (If I said, "Hey do you want to watch a movie from the writer of Bad Boys and Kevin Pollak?", you would think that I was crazy.) Together, they've created a nice little film noir which harkens back to the thrillers of the 40s.
This falls squarely into a category I like to call a "solid movie". Again, the story is decidedly Hitchcockian, as we have a mysterious woman, a crime, and double-crosses. The film noir aesthetic is not only evident in the film's shadowy look, but also in the story, as everyone has an agenda and no one is who they seem to be. The script is full of twists, some evident, and others which will catch the viewer off-guard. (Once you understand that this is a "twisty" film, the sudden turns in the story become easier to predict.) However, there is still an unescapable feeling that we've seen this before. The acting is solid, and it's interesting to see some actors taking a risk, as Jason Lee plays a heavy and Kevin Pollak plays the skittish doorman. Selma Blair always comes across as icy, so she's perfect as the woman who wants to be left alone.
Yes, Columbus Circle has some good elements, but they only add up to the aforementioned "solid movie" and not a great one. This simply has to do with the fact that the movie never swings for the fences. It's got a good look, the story is fairly solid (despite some plotholes in the finale), and the actors are good, but it never pushes the envelope. Note that I didn't begin this review with my typical "I've heard of these people, why haven't I heard of this movie?" intro. The movies in the category are typically shelved films which deserved to stay on the shelf, but Columbus Circle is actually worth watching if you're in the mood for a twisty movie.
Columbus Circle makes me wish that I sealed my correspondence with a wax seal (and that I did correspondence) on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 31 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing a trace amount of grain at times and no defects from the source material. The colors look good, but the image gets a bit too dark at times. However, the contrast between light and dark works quite well most of the time. The level of detail is good, as we can make out textures on objects. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround sound effects are very good, as we are often treated to the noises happening off-screen outside of Abigail's apartment, and these noises fill the front and rear channels. The subwoofer effects are good, as well, most notably during the fight scenes. Overall, a very good audio track.
The Columbus Circle Blu-ray Disc contains no extra features.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long