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"Central Station" is a tale that does not include elements of overacting or melodrama to bring the audience to understand what the characters are going through. Every touch, every step is wonderfully subtle and honest. The film takes place in one of the largest, if not the largest train station in Brazil, or at least the story begins there.
We meet the main character, Dora(Fernanda Montenegro), who has a small stand in the middle of the train station writting letters for customers who are illiterate, but then doing what she pleases with them; sending some, getting rid of others. Able to write, she holds herself above the people who pass her on a daily basis; she's not terribly mean, but she simply cares about only herself.
She meets Josue when he and his mother visit the station one day. Soon after, his mother is killed and he begins to wander around the station, without a purpose or a place to live. Thinking that anyplace will be better than the streets, she sells him to a local adoption agency and proceeds to forget about him, until her friend tells her that the adoption agency may not have the best intentions. She steals him back and the two proceed to go on a journey to find the boy's father.
There are quite a few layers of enjoyment that make up this film. Visually, it's frequently breathtaking, combining inventive and wonderfully creative cinematography with incredibly rich, natural locations. Performances by the two leads are fantastic; subtle, smart and very well-done. The script combines drama and touches of humor in a way that is very honest and refreshingly subtle. "Central Station" is a beautiful film, visually beautiful and well-acted and written. Highly recommended.
VIDEO: Tristar has put together a really goregous transfer for "Central Station". It's interesting to compare the look of a picture like "Affliction" that was recognized at the Oscars and the unfortunately poor transfer that film was given, then take a look at the kind of beautiful work that Tristar has done here on "Central Station"(which won the best foreign film Golden Globe and was nominated for two Oscars), and it's really an example of why I really love to review DVD. It's the enormous difference in quality from release to release. I open up a disc and I don't know what I'll be seeing. As long as there are releases like this, though, I'll be happy. "Central Station" has been given a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer and although the small film doesn't always look flawless, there are scenes that look wonderful, the sort of warm, sunny exteriors of the city and busy, colorful interiors of the station look great- colors are well-saturated and vibrant and detail is quite good. Contrast and flesh tones are both pleasantly presented and accurate and shadow detail is is also excellent. There are shots and scenes outside though, that are really breathtaking such as the shot overlooking Rio De Janero at about 25 minutes or so into the film. They may only last for moments, but there are quite a few scenes and sequences in this film that contain great imagry, such as images of people in the busy train station, or simply scenes of the streets of the city. There are no artifacts that I could see throughout- no pixelization, etc and the print itself is really quite clean and clear. This is really an instance where a smaller film was chosen to recieve the best possible DVD work by it's studio. It's a very strong "film-like" transfer. Very good work by Tristar. .
SOUND: There isn't too much to the sound for "Central Station", but what is here is actually very pleasing. The scenes at the train station and a lot of the other outdoor scenes sound very "open", capturing the details of the crowds and various sounds going on in the backgrounds of many of the environments. There's also a lovely score that occasionally makes itself known. Dialogue is in Portuguese.
MENUS: Non-anamated film-themed menus.
Commentary A commentary by director Walter Salles, producer Arthur Cohn and actress Fernanda Montenegro. What is so fascinating is that for the majority of the commentary, I thought that this was a commentary track where the speakers were recorded seperately since there is never any instances of people talking over one another, which sometimes happens in a group commentary, but here, everyone takes a turn speaking. The commentary has a lot of fascinating material to offer, especially the talk about the fact that many of the actors and crew were new to filmmaking- especially the young boy who plays the main character. There are also quite a few interesting tidbits on choices for acting as well as talk about the production on a small film such as this one, providing interesting details such as how the filmmakers did not interfere with the locations that they filmed in, which I really like- it gives the film an additional element of reality and sort of a natural, pure aspect. It's a really entertaining and informative commentary that I enjoyed quite a lot. There's a wonderful amount of informative detail in this commentary about how to produce a phenomenally successful small film and it's definitely worth a listen.
Trailers The trailer is included.
The Film: 92/A = (460/500 possible points)
Video: 96/A = (384/400 possible points)
Audio: 86/B = (344/400 possible points)
Extras: 91/A- = (273/300 possible points)
Menus: 77/C = (154/200 possible points)
Value: 90/A- = (270/300 possible points)
Presentation:87.5/B = (87.5/100 possible points)
Final Thoughts: A wonderful film that has recieved excellent treatment from Tristar- a beautiful transfer and a great commentary. Definitely worth a look on DVD.
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Central Station:Special Edition Tristar Home Video
2.35:1/Portugese 2.0(w/English subtitles)