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Florence Foster Jenkins: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) movie poster Florence Foster Jenkins

Theatrical Release: August 12, 2016 / Running Time: 111 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Stephen Frears / Writer: Nicholas Martin

Cast: Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Hugh Grant (St. Clair Bayfield), Simon Helberg (Cosmι McMoon), Rebecca Ferguson (Kathleen), Nina Arianda (Agnes Stark), Stanley Townsend (Phineas Stark), Allan Corduner (John Totten), Christian McKay (Earl Wilson), David Haig (Carlo Edwards), John Sessions (Dr. Hermann), Brid Brennan (Kitty), John Kavanagh (Arturo Toscanini), Pat Starr (Mrs. Vanderbilt), Maggie Steed (Mrs. James O'Flaherty), Thelma Barlow (Mrs. Oscar Garmunder)

Buy Florence Foster Jenkins from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

Florence Foster Jenkins tells the true story of an operatic singer who lacked vocal talent but had an abundance of money. Being born into the latter enabled her to surround herself with people who politely chose not to acknowledge her limitations,
instead supporting her endeavors, often to some personal gain.

Oscar nomination record-holder Meryl Streep plays the title character, a socialite who is highly regarded in certain circles, including a club she personally founded, despite her woefully off-key soprano singing. Among those turning a blind eye are Florence's husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), an English gentleman who claims the couple has an understanding regarding his living and sleeping in an apartment with a much younger woman (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation).

Set in 1944 New York, the film documents the final year of Jenkins' life, as she finds a dependable pianist/composer in the ever-nervous Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg of "The Big Bang Theory"), makes a personal recording that becomes an unlikely radio hit, and even gets to perform to an enthused sell-out audience at Carnegie Hall.

Meryl Streep plays Florence Foster Jenkins, an opera singer who can't sing in "Florence Foster Jenkins."

Florence unfolds with its one joke being repeated again and again. Miss Florence can't sing well at all, but no one has the heart, gumption, or financial near-sightedness to tell her. Her elderly contemporaries love her and Florence loves to sing and has no trouble attracting audiences. And so, she sings and enjoys it.

As it turns out, though, Florence's health is failing. The syphilis she contracted from her first husband on their wedding night is finally causing her fatigue some fifty years later. Though instructed to scale back activity for her health, Florence cannot help but continue to chase her dream.

Having proven she could sing capably in Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods, Streep here demonstrates that she can also sing poorly. If that makes you laugh, then you should enjoy the movie like the older crowd who spent much of the evening howling with laughing at my packed theatrical screening. If not, it's a long 111 minutes that continues to see Florence mangle her every attempt, Cosme try to contain his tittering while being unable to suppress incredulous facial reactions, and Bayfield acting like nothing occurring is out of the ordinary.

Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) and her longtime husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) have an understanding in their marriage.

Streep's enduring stardom has been rather remarkable. At 67, she continues to land meaty leading roles and in movies that the public tends to take note of. On the basis that there are so few substantial lead roles for women
and so few movies that can genuinely be classified as either a Musical or a Comedy (let alone both), Streep unsurprisingly picked up a staggering 30th Golden Globe nomination this week. More surprisingly, her co-stars Grant and Helberg both received Globe nominations as well in the Lead Actor in a Comedy or Musical and Supporting Actor categories. With that kind of recognition in its corner, the film now seems like a likely runner-up to La La Land in the Globes' Best Picture - Comedy or Musical category.

A 20th Oscar nomination is a longer shot, not merely because Florence has to linger in voters' minds months longer than most of the competition, but also because Streep would be up against formidable dramatic actresses as well. But it is certainly a possibility Streep will get that 20th nod when the Oscar nominations are announced in January. Although director Stephen Frears has twice landed Oscar nominations for Best Director (The Queen and The Grifters) and twice guided a film to a Best Picture nomination (The Queen and Philomena), it is unreasonable to expect anything like that from this rather lightweight period comedy, which fares best with older moviegoers but may not appeal much to the public at large despite favorable reviews from most critics.

Just in time for Christmas, Florence hit stores this week in DVD and Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD editions from Paramount. We review the latter here.

Florence Foster Jenkins: Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, Descriptive Video Track)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50s & DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Florence Foster Jenkins looks and sounds good. Well, it sounds bad, but in exactly the way it's supposed to. The 2.40:1 picture and 5.1 DTS-HD master audio leave nothing to be desired by Blu-ray's high standards.

Director Stephen Frears likes what he sees on the set of "Florence Foster Jenkins." Screenwriter Nicholas Martin discusses his script in "From Script to Screen."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Florence's extras, all of which are encoded
in HD and found only on the Blu-ray disc, begin with "Ours Is a Happy World" (5:01), a clip-heavy making-of featurette describing the film for someone who hasn't already seen it.

"The Music and Songs of Florence" (4:01) considers the music and songs of the film, with comments from Streep and other relevant parties on the challenges and specifics.

"Designing the Look" (3:43) tackles the period costumes and production design.

"From Script to Screen" (4:18) allows Nicholas Martin to share his thoughts on his screenplay and its creation.

Golden Globe nominee Simon Helberg needs no laugh track to enjoy the Florence Foster Jenkins world premiere. Meryl Streep talks with William Ivey Long in this Q & A.

As you can expect, "Florence Foster Jenkins World Premiere" (1:58) collects red carpet remarks from the cast and crew attending the film's April premiere in London.

A Meryl Streep Q & A (16:06) sees the legendary actress sit down with costume designer William Ivey Long for a light yet substantial and suitably charming chat about the film and her performance.

Old Carnegie Hall programs are on display in "Live at Carnegie Hall." Dressed in her Ride of the Valkyries regalia, Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) handles some backstage drama in this deleted scene.

"Live at Carnegie Hall" (10:09) lets Carnegie archives director Gino Francesconi discuss the New York concert hall's hallowed history, which is illustrated by a host of photos and memorabilia.

Finally, we get a section holding four deleted scenes (6:08). They supply more horrid singing and a peek at backstage drama.

The DVD only holds the movie. No trailers for Florence or anything else accompany either disc.

The static, silent menu expands the cover art to fill 16:9 screens.

The two plainly labeled discs -- a gray DVD and blue Blu-ray share a standard blue keepcase with your Digital HD insert. The case is topped by a glossy slipcover which is topped by a sticker designating the film a People (magazine) pick, in case you were on the fence about buying it.

Meryl Streep summons some waterworks, perhaps ensuring she gets more than just a Golden Globe Comedy or Musical nomination.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

With certain comedy tastes, you might love Florence Foster Jenkins. I did not. This broad production runs with one not so funny joke for nearly two hours. The cast may be on point and the production values are fine, but the story never grips you.

Paramount's Blu-ray combo pack delivers a high quality feature presentation, versatility you might appreciate, and a decent assembly of extras. But none of that will matter if you find the movie as difficult to warm to as I did.

Buy Florence Foster Jenkins from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Directed by Stephen Frears: Philomena • The Queen • Lay the Favorite • Dirty Pretty Things • Chιri • The Grifters
Meryl Streep: Into the Woods • August: Osage County • Julie & Julia • The Iron Lady • Doubt • Marvin's Room • The Giver
Hugh Grant: The Rewrite • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. • Did You Hear About the Morgans? • Four Weddings and a Funeral
Simon Helberg: The TV Set • A Serious Man • Mama's Boy | Nina Arianda: Rob the Mob • The Humbling • Midnight in Paris
Rebecca Ferguson: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation • The Girl on the Train
New to Disc: The Hollars • Cafι Society | Golden Globe Nominees: La La Land • Rules Don't Apply • Manchester by the Sea • Nocturnal Animals

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Reviewed December 16, 2016.



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