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Liberal Arts Blu-ray Review

Liberal Arts Blu-ray

Elizabeth Olsen makes “Liberal Arts” worth a watch.

The plot: Josh, a college admissions advisor, is a bored, literature loving guy who just got out of a relationship. He’s clearly at a crossroads in his life and he’s looking for something more. After being invited to a college Professor’s retirement dinner, he is suddenly transported back to the past as he not only falls for the college campus life again, but meets a young, vivacious college gal (Zibby) (who is the daughter of one of the Professor’s pal). Through Zibby, Josh begins to essentially revisit his youth and perhaps fall in love once again. The only problem for Josh is that the age gap between he and Zibby is pretty significant which causes Josh to feel uneasy. Can a relationship between them work? Will Josh find someone for him?

While I wasn’t overly impressed with writer/actor/director Josh Radnor’s first film “Happythankyoumoreplease,” his sophomore effort (“Liberal Arts”) is an improvement (albeit a slight one). Once again, Radnor’s script isn’t exactly top notch material. Not only is it hard to shake the feeling that Radnor is trying to be the modern day Woody Allen, but Radnor seems obsessed with lazy plotting to further the story. The entire story is essentially built on predictable, convenient meetings with people. As a result of this, astute viewers will always be one or two steps ahead of the film which is frustrating to say the least. Radnor clearly has some interesting things to convey about love, youth, age, and time, but they’re lost in the shuffle of a so-so screenplay.

Much like Woody Allen, Josh Radnor also seems prone to sticking himself in his own films. I wish he wouldn’t as his mumble heavy and sometimes wooden performances are a bit grating. Thankfully, Radnor is surrounded by great talent here such as Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, and especially Elizabeth Olsen. Olsen, who bowled me over with “Martha Marcy May Marlene” last year, owns the screen yet again in an entirely different role as the charming Zibby. To say she is one of the most exciting actresses in the biz right now is a gross understatement.

Video/Audio:

The film, which is presented in 2.35:1 1080p, looks a little too bright in hi-def, but it’s a good transfer nonetheless.

The 5.1 DTS-HD audio track is generally pretty quiet, but it does the job.

Extras:
* IFC Films and “Liberal Arts” trailers.
* 16 ½ minutes of deleted scenes.
* A brief “Featurette” that contains film clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and cast comments.
* Commentary by Josh Radnor and producer Jesse Hara. The two talk about filming locations, scenes, behind-the-scenes stories, etc. It’s a track worth listening to.

Summary: Indie film lovers, hipsters, and “How I Met Your Mother” fans may adore “Liberal Arts,” but really, the only reason to see this film is for Elizabeth Olsen.

December 30, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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