Five Easy Pieces might not have been my cup of tea as it is slow moving and no real plot to speak of being a character study, but Jack Nicholson’s performance, in one of his first lead roles, is fantastic and it is a fairly well written film with one iconic scene.
Five Easy Pieces
The Criterion Collection
Criterion Collection | R – 98 min. – $39.95 | June 30, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Bobby Dupea (JACK NICHOLSON) is a shiftless thirty-something oil rigger and former piano prodigy immune to any sense of responsibility, who returns to his upper-middle-class childhood home, blue-collar girlfriend (KAREN BLACK) in tow, to see his estranged, ailing father.
Quick Hit Review:
Five Easy Pieces is often heralded as a forgotten classic featuring one of Jack Nicholson’s better performances, albeit still behind obvious contenders like Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Few Good Men and maybe The Shining. And while Nicholson was indeed fantastic playing a real SOB and POS from beginning to end, which is in itself refreshing to see a character who doesn’t change by the end, the film itself I found to be a chore to get through. That said, it’s easy to see why the movie has its fans and worth at least one viewing for not only Jack Nicholson and Karen Black’s performances but the iconic, and epic, diner scene.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
This release comes housed in a clear HD Keep Case inside is an essay foldout.
Audio Commentary features Director Bob Rafelson and interior designer Toby Rafelson as they recount making the movie.
Soul Searching in Five Easy Pieces (9:08; HD) is a 2009 featurette with Director Bob Rafelson and Actor Jack Nicholson discussing the writing and development of the film.
BBS: A Time for Change (27:38; HD) – Filmed in 2010, Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider and Steve Blauner provides a history of their production company, BBS.
BBStory (46:35; HD) is a documentary featuring Rafelson, Peter Bogdanovich, Henry Joglom, Jack Nicholson, Karen Black and Ellen Burstyn, among others, reminisce about making the groundbreaking films of BBS Productions.
Bob Rafelson at AFI (49:23; HD) – This is an audio excerpt from the AFI with Rafelson discussing his career, creative process and the films he directed for BBS.
Lastly we get two Teasers and the Trailer.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Criterion Collection releases Five Easy Pieces onto Blu-ray with a new, restored, transfer from the original film negative, and its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio. The 1080p transfer, from a 4K restoration, looks nearly brilliant with great colors while detail levels are relatively sharp and no signs of artifacts, dust marks or other ailments were apparent.
AUDIO – 3.25/5
While the video was impressive, it’s evident that the soundtrack had its limitations. Although the movie got a make-over for its audio, with a PCM Mono track, dialogue levels were tepid and not altogether clear while the score, what little there is, comes through that center channel a bit better. However, it’s not a knock against Criterion but a limitation with the production and I doubt this will ever sound better…
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Five Easy Pieces might not have been my cup of tea as it is slow moving and no real plot to speak of being a character study, but Jack Nicholson’s performance, in one of his first lead roles, is fantastic and it is a fairly well written film with one iconic scene. Taking the movie aside, the Blu-ray released by the Criterion Collection offers a fine selection of bonus material and some nice restoration work on the video but the audio mix isn’t up to snuff, though that’s mostly the fault of a poor on location sound mix than anything.