Liberty Heights

Liberty Heights (1999)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Adrien Brody, Bebe Neuwirth, Joe Mantegna
Extras: Interviews, Deleted Scene, Isolate Music, Production Notes

After creating a classic with his 1982 film ’Diner, ’ writer and director Barry Levinson recently revisited America’s 50s in another movie, ’Liberty Heights.’ It is the story of the 50s, a period of change, hope and romance, but also of racism prejudice and political unrest. Shown through the eyes of a Jewish family, the movie let’s viewers partake in a nostalgic look at those changing times.

The DVD contains a 16×9 enhanced widescreen transfer of the movie in its 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The source print is virtually free of defects and blemishes and with a very high level of detail, the image quality of the transfer is very good. Colors are generally well rendered with powerful hues and good saturation, although the contrast of the presentation seems a little low at times, resulting in a very dark image at times. Especially during night time scenes the transfer seems a tad too dark with shadows losing definition, shrouding the entire image in blackness. The compression is free of artifacts, such as pixelation, leaving all the details of the transfer intact.

’Liberty Heights’ features an English 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track that is well produced – although very unobtrusively so. Surround usage is limited to a number of scenes where the ambiance is given a nice spatial integration, but for the most part the movie’s audio is firmly located in the center channel. Bass extension is natural and also very unobtrusive, giving the audio track a good balance and a very natural bass roll-off that is never exaggerated. Dialogues are well integrated and placed in the mix without distortion or sibilance, always held at an understandable level.

The movie’s 50s music is also presented in an isolated audio track that is also presented in a 5.1 mix. Since these are original mono numbers however, the spatial possibilities are mostly used to beef up the overall quality of the songs rather than create new multi-channel mixes of these songs. Nonetheless, for fans of the period, it is a great opportunity to listen to these tracks in newly remastered versions.

’Liberty Height’ is an entertaining and warm movie that touches upon many social aspects of the 50s in a sensitive manner. Well directed and acted, this film is a worthy follow-up to ’Diner’ by the same director and brings this romantic time in American culture back to colorful life.