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John Slattery
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro
Writing Credits:
John Slattery and Alex Metcalf

After Mickey Scarpato's (Philip Seymour Hoffman) stepson Leon (Caleb Landry Jones), is killed in a construction accident, Mickey quickly tries to bury the bad news along with the body. But even in the gritty, blue-collar neighborhood of God's Pocket, PA, no secret can stay hidden forever.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Lossless PCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 9/9/2014

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Producer John Slattery
• Deleted Scenes
• TV Spot and Trailer
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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God's Pocket [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 15, 2014)

When Philip Seymour Hoffman died suddenly in February 2014, he left a handful of unreleased movies behind him. Apparently his final appearances will come in the Hunger Games series, but he plays a supporting role in those two remaining films. For one of his last leading parts, we go to God’s Pocket.

Hot-headed young psycho Leon Hubbard (Caleb Landry Jones) lives with his mother Jeanie (Christina Hendricks) and stepfather Mickey (Hoffman). After he mouths off too much at his construction job, he upsets the wrong person. Co-worker Lucien Edwards (Arthur French) clocks Leon with a lead pipe, and this kills the boy. Foreman Coleman Peets (Glenn Fleshler) claims Leon died in an accident and covers up the slaying.

Jeanie doesn’t believe this official story and she prods Mickey to use his underworld connections to discover the truth. In addition, alcoholic reporter Richard Shellburn (Richard Jenkins) pursues the story when ordered to do so by his boss. We follow complications related to these various elements.

Best known for his role as Roger Sterling on Mad Men, John Slattery makes his debut as director and writer with Pocket. On the positive side, Slattery’s acting career gives him access to plenty of noted friends, and this allows him to gather a good collection of talent for Pocket. In addition to Hoffman, Hendricks and Jenkins, we get folks such as John Turturro and Eddie Marsan.

Too bad Slattery wastes a strong cast with a thin, dull tale. Part of the problem comes from the movie’s utter lack of focus and its disjointed variations in tone. Much of the time it aspires to be a gritty drama about the seedier elements in life, but then out of nowhere, the film throws out dark comedy. Heck, we even find a scene with Mickey and Leon’s corpse that feels like an outtake for Weekend at Bernie’s. Apparently the source novel used a similar mix of comedy and drama; maybe this succeeded in the book, but Slattery can’t pull it off here.

Perhaps all of this would’ve worked better in a longer film. This seems counterintuitive given my impression that even at 89 minutes, Pocket feels long. However, sometimes movies cut too close to the bone and improve with more time; the extra minutes allow them to flesh out characters and become more satisfying.

Or maybe Pocket would’ve just been slower and more tedious. Unless Slattery decides to produce an extended cut, we won’t know. All I know is that the final product feels awfully thin and one-dimensional.

At no point do we feel like we understand or connect with the characters. They come across as bland clichés without real personality. As much talent as the cast boasts, none of the performers manages to bring true life to their roles; it seems like the actors remain on cruise control and don’t do much to contribute to their parts.

Without rich, involving characters, Pocket has nowhere to go. The movie comes without much plot, so it depends on the interactions and developments of those characters to maintain our interest. After all, it’s not a mystery – we know what happened to Leon and who killed him. Various investigations add no drama because they seem half-hearted and we really don’t care what happens.

That “who cares?” factor becomes the biggest drawback here. We never invest in any of the situations and personalities, so we’re left with a massive shrug from start to finish. Essentially a morass of undeveloped characters and subplots that go nowhere, Pocket disappoints.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

God’s Pocket appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the image looked solid.

The image mostly satisfied. Interiors could be a little indistinct, but the majority of the flick displayed solid definition. This meant we usually got a tight, accurate presentation here. I saw no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also didn’t pop up, so the movie stayed clean and clear.

In terms of colors, Pockeyt tended toward a somewhat green feel. This fit the dingy feel of the settings and made sense within the film’s design parameters. Blacks seemed dark and tight, while shadows offered nice clarity and smoothness. Everything satisfied in this strong transfer.

Don’t expect much from the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of God’s Pocket, as it usually remained subdued. Still, the soundfield opened things up to a moderate degree. Music showed nice stereo presence, and the soundscape broadened when appropriate. This mostly meant street scenes or those at the construction site, as the track featured decent use of the side and rear channels to recreate the various places. This was a restricted mix, but it seemed fine for the story.

Audio quality was good. Speech appeared natural, and the lines never demonstrated intelligibility problems. Music was dynamic and lively, as the score showed nice range and delineation. Effects were also accurate, with nice clarity. The breadth of the soundfield wasn’t special enough to rate anything above a “B-”, but I thought the track suited the film.

A handful of extras flesh out the set, and we begin with an audio commentary from co-writer/director/producer John Slattery. He delivers a running, screen-specific view of the source novel and its adaptation, story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing and deleted sequences, and related topics.

Though the commentary starts slowly, Slattery soon gets into the spirit of the matter and delivers a good look at the film. He provides a nice nuts and bolts take on the production and also covers areas like the reason he decided not to act in the movie. After that sluggish opening, the track moves well and offers solid information.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of two minutes, 49 seconds. These deliver a few character tidbits but nothing that adds up to much.

The disc opens with ads for Lucky Them, Cold in July, Hellion and Venus in Fur. We also find both a TV spot and a trailer for Pocket.

With an excellent cast at its disposal, God’s Pocket comes with strong potential. Unfortunately, it squanders all that talent as it gives us a thin, slow and meandering tale that never develops into anything interesting. The Blu-ray provides very good picture with decent audio and a mostly informative commentary. A dull character piece, Pocket becomes a major letdown.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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