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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Prison > Acting > New York City > City Island (2009/Anchor Bay Blu-ray + DVD)

City Island (2009/Anchor Bay Blu-ray + DVD)


Picture: B-/C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Feature: C



Since his work on the underappreciated The Lost City (2005), Andy Garcia has been playing it commercial and safe.  That helps pay the bills, but it also stops him from becoming the peak big name many though he could (and still can) become, but big commercial and critical success have eluded him and Writer/Director Raymond De Felitta’s City Island (2009) is a lame, formulaic affaire that will not change anything.


Garcia is a corrections officer in New York City who wants to become an actor of some kind when he is encouraged to do so and finds an agent (Emily Mortimer of Harry Brown, Redbelt and Match Point) and gets support form an unlikely source, prisoner and con artist Tony (Steven Strait of Stop-Loss) he allows to leave prison and stay at his family home, something that does not go over well with his fired-up wife (Julianna Margulies).  The two teen children have a mixed response and this critic had a bored one.


I never believed any of this for a second, starting with Garcia’s poorly-written voice-over work, though he tries to read it convincingly.  The supposedly natural Italian family is borderline stereotypical and for that matter, in the wrong era, but that’s a separate essay.  The jokes never work, the humor is sometimes condescending and if it were not for some likable actors (also including Alan Arkin) and how this could have been good if a good script was supplied, this is a package deal dud.


Why De Felitta could make such a good film out of Two Family House (2000, reviewed elsewhere on this site) is beyond me, but he sadly did.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is supposedly shot in 35mm film, but this transfer is soft with motion blur and other flaws throughout, a problem extended more so on the anamorphically enhanced DVD version that has even weaker detail and lighter Video Black.  Director of Photography Vanja Cernjul did a better job on the telefilm The Bad Mother’s Handbook (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and the overall image in both cases looks a little washed out for no good reason.


The PCM 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray and Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD are almost equally weak and poorly recorded, with weak dialogue, a faint soundmix and even location audio issues you would usually encounter on a lower-budgeted production.  The Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (Hachi, Finding Neverland) score barely sounds better than the rest of the audio and the PCM mix is barley warmer or richer than the Dolby on the DVD.


Extras include Deleted Scenes, Dinner With The Rizzos featurette and a feature length audio commentary track with De Felitta and Garcia.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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