Harsh Times (2005)
Picture: C+ Sound: B- Extras: B- Film: B-
strength of the ever-impressive Training
Day, writer David Ayer is back, directing his own screenplay this time with
Harsh Times (2005), an interesting
continuation of his knack for being able to look at current urban affairs
without the pretense of Music Video, formula or myth. This time, Christian Bale plays an vet of the
Iraq war trying to reintegrate, getting together with his best friend (Freddy
Rodriguez) and dealing with the woman in his life (Eva Longoria in some of her
best work yet) who is outgrowing him.
old enemies to deal with, is still interested in high risk encounters with
women and even has a sudden chance via his military background to work for
Homeland Security. Unfortunately, he has
just started using narcotics casually and that is the kind of behavior that
will undermine him in the end.
is very good, but Bale continues to grow as an actor and no other actor of his
generation is as willing to get his hands dirty as he. A co-producer here, he just knows how to dig
deep and stay there until he brings the role home. Rodriguez manages to hold his own and the
film is always compelling to watch, rarely missing a beat. Bale fans will be particularly happy, but
this is worth a good look as Ayer becomes a rising talent to be reckoned with.
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is a little soft, but is nicely shot in
Super 16mm film by Steve Mason, A.C.S., A.S.C., who along with the great editor
Conrad Buff, A.C.E., deliver a film that has a substantial look without
trickery or gutted color schemes. This
allows the viewer to become more involved.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is pretty good for a lower-budget production,
so much so that I wished this was in DTS.
The Dolby compression seems to distort the Hip Hop music in particular.
include an English theatrical trailer, TV spots in Spanish and English, deleted
scenes that are decent and a very good audio commentary by Ayer worth your time
and is especially recommended to filmmakers and film buffs.
- Nicholas Sheffo