DVD Review: Brooklyn Rules

City Lights
Movie ••½ Picture •• Sound ••• Extras ••

The DVD packaging proudly trumpets the fact that Brooklyn Rules is "from the writer of The Sopranos" (Terence Winter). But if you're going through withdrawal after the end of that epoch-defining TV series, this derivative movie about childhood friends caught up in the local mob isn't likely to stop your jonesing. In fact, the only real saving grace of Brooklyn Rules is in the details of neighborhood life - the gambling-addicted rabbi who frequently holds Casino Night at the temple, the diner's silly names for the daily specials, and the '80s fashions.

The DVD transfer doesn't help. It's grainy, and it even has a few authoring errors. Since much of the action takes place in dark alleyways and dimly lit clubs, the most notable flaw is the picture's murkiness. When boss Alec Baldwin and his cohorts are sitting on a black leather sofa in the VIP room, their suits blend into the couch so much that everything becomes a dull mess. The DTS 5.1 soundtrack serves the film significantly better, doing a nice job handling both the quiet, dialogue-driven sequences and the sudden explosions of violence. It's not the most active mix, but it adds to the drama in some key places.

Extras are pretty sparse. There are 6-minute interviews with each of the cast members. And in a pedestrian commentary by Winter and director Michael Corrente, too much time is spent describing the onscreen action and patting each other on the back. This seems like a wasted opportunity; the cast makes reference to how much of the screenplay was based on Winter's childhood experiences, but he doesn't reveal any more about this here. [R] English, DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo; letterboxed (2.35:1) and anamorphic widescreen; dual layer.

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