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Lewis Black: In God We Rust Blu-ray Review

Lewis Black: In God We Rust (2012) Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com In God We Rust
Special & Blu-ray Details

Original Airdate: March 17, 2012 (EPIX), September 7, 2012 (Comedy Central) / Running Time: 79 Minutes (Extended) / Rating: Not Rated

Writer/Performer: Lewis Black / Director: Adam Dubin / Producers: Jack Gulick, Benjamin Brewer / Executive Producers: Lewis Black, Joanne Astrow, Mark Lonow

1.78:1 Widescreen / 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), 2.0 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: September 11, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $22.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($16.99 SRP) and CD ($14.31 SRP)

Buy Lewis Black: In God We Rust from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD CD

This just in: Lewis Black is still angry. It's been fourteen years since Black got his first stand-up comedy television special and over twenty-five since he made his film debut in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters. In that time, Black, who turns 64 on Thursday, has remained visible, respected, and gainfully employed
in every relevant medium from animation voice work to recurring commentator on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Through it all, Black has stayed a stand-up comedian first and foremost, hardly letting a year pass without at least a new comedy album. This year's album and concurrent concert film are titled In God We Rust, which was also the name of the comedy tour he began in January 2010.

After premiering on EPIX in March, In God We Rust comes to Comedy Central on Friday, September 7th, and then four days later to DVD and, in a Lewis Black first, Blu-ray in an uncensored "extended director's cut" presentation. Culled from two performances from the same May 2011 night at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, In God We Rust initially finds Black self-deprecating and unusually sedate, as he warns those unaccustomed to his comedy.

Lewis Black performs in front of a giant suspended red cube in his stand-up comedy special "In God We Rust."

But the outbursts do come, with calm, level-headed remarks building up to an irate yelp of a crescendo. Seemingly any topic can get Black to that level, which he ridicules the local paper in Wendover, Nevada for characterizing as "mental breakdowns" in their anticipatory write-up of a show there. While talk of that hellhole small town (nicknamed "Bendover" by its residents) contributes to the clearly leisurely pacing of an extended cut,
Black reaches his comfortable boiling point in a rant questioning the timing of Valentine's Day.

The War on Terror isn't the most current or fertile subject for a comic to be discussing in 2011, but In God We Rust is far from cutting-edge, a fact its subject even acknowledges. Black is careful to be an equal opportunity inoffender, dismissing Republicans and Democrats collectively and not singling out either of their positions. He does, however, crack a couple of jokes about Michele Bachmann in front of her constituency and later rails on the Tea Party for not being a feasible alternative to the two major parties he can't stand.

Political satire makes up a small portion of this act, with Black raising gay marriage as an issue that will never be resolved and summoning the word "abortion" purely for the discomfort it brings to all. Despite the title, religion is absent from this special, unless you count the two times the comic identifies himself as a Jew.

Black devotes a lot more time to technology, focusing much of his attentions on cell phones, Facebook, and their respective "apps." His frustrating experiences with unreliable cell phone service are relatable, although his decision to pretend playing with his cell phone for an extended period of his set is ill-conceived and odd. His descriptions of things like Farmville and the Apple Store are inspired. His bewilderment at using an app to find the best sushi place in any given neighborhood, an action he places into context with a recollection of his youthful LSD experimentation, amuses while also dating him. Age is another topic that arises, if for no other reason than to boast of Paul McCartney winking at him at Ringo Starr's 70th birthday party.

The large crowd never seems especially bowled over, but they enjoy the act as any paying assembly of that size should. Black's targets are easy and a little stale, but his profanity-peppered rage remains moderately diverting, the kind of shtick you could apply to any facet of modern living to some amusement.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Blu-ray's 1.78:1 presentation offers perfect picture quality, delivering as much sharpness and detail as you could want. The show's bold colors -- Black wears a dark suit in front of suspended giant red cube (a design credited to his elderly father) -- present no bleeding or other concerns.

DTS-HD master audio is offered in 5.1 and 2.0 varieties (for some reason, the latter is the default). I listened to the 5.1 mix, which was just fine. Moderate crowd response claims the surround channels, while Black's microphoned audio is always crisp in front. One nice thing is that Comedy Central has fitted this Blu-ray with English SDH subtitles, a luxury it rarely extends to DVD, a format it at most gives closed captioning.

Sam Black, John Bowman, and Lewis Black share the stage Sam designed in a pre-show photo gallery image. With fingers extended toward the camera, Lewis Black advertises "In God We Rust" as a 3D presentation, which it is not.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Four short, appropriate extras are presented in high definition.

"The Walk-out" (2:06) captures a couple's mid-show exit with a nimble spotlight and some Black ad-libbing.

A "photo gallery" (5:02) is in fact a slideshow comprised of behind-the-scenes stage preparation images and shots of Black's performance.

"Audience Participation" (6:50) features show outtakes in which Black responds to those contributing their voices,
including a couple of female front row hecklers whose faces are blurred (but can be seen in the show itself).

"Fun at the Promo Shoot" (4:52) shows the comedian shooting a promo with his nonagenarian father Sam and a few others on his own, the latter producing profane outtakes.

Not included as bonus features despite their obvious relevance and worth are the tauter broadcast version of the special and John Bowman's marquee-sharing opening act.

The menu loops the special's opening title music (Rick Redcay's "Niles Awakes") over a static shot of the distinctive stage. Though the Blu-ray doesn't support bookmarks, it does resume playback, which is a nice and not standard touch for a Paramount BD.

The eco-friendly Blu-ray case is topped by an embossed cardboard slipcover repeating the artwork below. A double-sided insert features photos and a very brief note.

This long shot gives us a good look at the suspended red cube which adorns the stage at the State Theatre in Minneapolis for Lewis Black's 2011 show.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Recommending In God We Rust really comes down to your appreciation of Lewis Black's style. The slightly dated material adequately suits the comedian's manner, but I doubt this is his best work to date. If you haven't warmed to Black's shtick, this won't do the trick, but if you consider yourself a fan, then it is worth checking this out and preferably in its complete, uncensored, uncut form as opposed to next week's cable broadcast. While this probably isn't a title you'd spend $5 extra to own in high definition, that option is definitely a viable one on this satisfactory Blu-ray.

Buy Lewis Black: In God We Rust from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / CD

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Reviewed August 28, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Stark Raving Black Productions, Comedy Central Home Entertainment, and Paramount Home Entertainment.
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