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Barry Levinson
Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig, Dianne Wiest, Kyra Sedgwick, Dylan Baker, Nina Arianda
Writing Credits:
Michael Zebeda and Buck Henry

A stage actor who is slowly losing his mind engages in a relationship with a sexually confused younger woman.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 3/3/2015

• “Making Of” Featurette
• Previews


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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The Humbling (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 23, 2015)

Expect plenty of Oscar-caliber talent in 2014’s The Humbling. Once-successful actor Simon Axler (Al Pacino) finds himself on the skids professionally. This leaves him suicidal, so he winds up institutionalized.

After he improves enough to go home, Simon encounters Pegeen Mike Stapleford (Greta Gerwig), the lesbian daughter of old friends. They get to know each other, and this leads to an improbable romantic relationship.

As Birdman shows, the life of a fading, mentally-unbalanced actor can deliver interesting cinematic fodder. Humbling doesn’t remotely approach that film’s level, as instead, it brings us a boring mess of a movie.

To be sure, the flick comes with promise, partly due to the talent involved. In addition to Pacino and Gerwig, we find actors such as Dianne Wiest, Charles Grodin and Kyra Sedgwick. Buck Henry co-wrote the script and Barry Levinson directed it. How could such an assembly of big names flop?

I don’t know, but flop they do – and they flop bad. Actually, the actors do fine. Pacino largely tones down his usual hamminess, and Gerwig handles her role’s components with aplomb. The others fit into the picture well enough.

The problems come from the script and the direction. Story-wise, Humbling lacks focus. Granted, we’re supposed to be left off-guard to a degree due to Simon’s state mind, but that factor doesn’t adequately cover the tale’s meandering nature. The movie flits around without any real cohesion, and the nature of the material seems so boring that it can’t hold our attention in the slightest.

Levinson does nothing to enliven the proceedings. Indeed, he seems to make them worse due to sluggish pacing and questionable visual choices. Levinson likes a documentary feel, which means lots of “on the fly” focus and shaky handheld camerawork. Those elements make a dull story even more off-putting, as the bad cinematic choices fizzle.

At its heart, The Humbling wants to be an incisive psychological portrait with a mix of comedy and drama. Unfortunately, none of these factors succeed. Despite some decent performances from the actors, the movie bores.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

The Humbling appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a fairly positive presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed solid. Due to photographic choices, the image could be tentative at times, but the movie usually showed pretty good clarity. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

Like most films of this sort, Humbling gave us an amber-tinted palette. Other hues appeared, but the golden feel dominated. Within those parameters, the hues were positive. Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed reasonable smoothness and clarity. The cinematography made this a less than stellar image, but it represented the source.

As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Humbling, it lacked a ton of ambition. The soundfield focused on music and ambience, though it opened up on occasion. For instance, street scenes became a little more involving, as were a few “inside Simon’s head”. Nothing especially memorable occurred, though.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well enough. They didn’t have much to do, but they appeared reasonably accurate. All of this ended up as a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack for this sort of movie.

A Making of featurette runs three minutes, 43 seconds. It provides notes from director Barry Levinson and actors Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig. The show covers story/themes, Levinson’s approach to the film, and cast/characters. This is a superficial piece without much merit.

The disc opens with ads for Reach Me, Elsa & Fred, By the Gun and Fading Gigolo. We also get the trailer for The Humbling.

Rambling and self-indulgent, The Humbling wastes a lot of talent. As hard as it tries to be deep and meaningful, it ends up as a meandering dud. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. Don’t let the names involved lure you – The Humbling lacks merit.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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