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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (Blu-ray)
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (Blu-ray)
Twilight Time // PG // August 11, 2015 // Region Free
List Price: $34.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 27, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy is a period-piece from writer-director Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris). The film was produced by Robert Greenhut (Annie Hall, Big).  The story takes place during the 1900's and is set in the countryside over the course of a summer weekend at a country house.

Andrew (Woody Allen) is an inventor who got rich while on Wall Street and decided to buy a country house and spend his time working on his zany inventions. He toils away at various creations (such as a flying bike... which sometimes works but usually doesn't). Adrian (Mary Steenburgen) is married to Andrew. The two are having relationship problems.

Andrew and Adrian decide to invite over some friends to their countryside house because of the announcement of the engagement between Adrian's cousin Leopold (Jose Ferrer), a philosopher, and Ariel (Mia Farrow), who turns out to be a crush of Andrew's who he hasn't seen for a long time. Maxwell (Tony Roberts), a doctor who is best friends with Andrew, comes over for the celebration as well and he brings along a nurse named Dulcy (Julie Hagerty) as his date.

The engagement party turns into a zany weekend in which Maxwell falls in love with Ariel, Ariel starts to recall her feelings for Andrew, Andrew wonders if he is in love with Ariel, Leopold decides he wants to have a pre-wedding rendezvous with Dulcy,  and Adrian is determined to try and fix things with Andrew but is no longer as interested in him. The celebratory weekend turns into a chaotic romantic zig-zag amongst the characters. 

Inspired by William Shakespeare's famous play A Midsummer Night's Dream, Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy pays homage to and combines elements from the beloved Shakespeare play with elements that were inspired by Ingmar Bergman (including his film Smiles on a Summer Night). Allen playfully adds supernatural elements which explore ideas of magic through the addition of a "spirit ball" which seems to be inspired by the film's directed by Fellini and the work of Shakespeare.

The cinematography for the film is by Gordon Willis (The Godfather, Annie Hall). This is a beautiful looking film with a great visual aesthetic. The period setting is well fitted to the photography by Willis (who helps the film look impressive with his compositions of the outdoors). The scenic greenery play a big part in the filmmaking.

Many other production elements impress as well. The remarkable costumes were created by costume designer Santo Loquasto.  The production design was done by Mel Bourne. Art direction was designed by Speed Hopkins. The music selections are exquisite. These are elements which add a great deal to the production.

Allen's film is one that has a lot of impressive things going for it. Though it is not as strong as some of the other Allen films that shortly followed it (such as Broadway Danny Rose, Radio Days, and The Purple Rose of Cairo) it is an interesting piece in his filmography. The effort features a strong production and the performances in the film are uniformly good.

Allen is experimenting with this film. It's one of his earliest efforts at blending together drama and comedy in a style he would later utilize much more often throughout his career. The film also marks two interesting new elements to Allen's films: it's one of his first to be largely set outside of New York (which is now a common practice for many Allen films, such as Midnight in Paris and To Rome With Love) and it features Mia Farrow in her first performance in a Allen film.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy is presented on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with a strong 1080p High Definition presentation. The release features excellent color reproduction and clarity. The presentation is a naturally filmic one with fine film-grain. It's presentation is authentic to the cinematography of the film and there is no issue with DNR. While the image is impressive at presenting the film as intended, it is also occasionally soft. This is because of how the film was shot and is not a detriment of the Twilight Time release, which is worthwhile. Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

Audio:

The film is presented with a lossless 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mono audio presentation. This accurately reflects the film's original theatrical audio presentation. The music score has strong fidelity and the dialogue is well reproduced. This is a good lossless audio presentation.

English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are provided.

Extras:

Twilight Time has provided this release with a booklet featuring an essay written by Julie Kirgo. On-disc extras include a lossless isolated music presentation, the original theatrical trailer for A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, and a MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Inspired by Shakespeare, Bergman, and Fellini, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy stands as an interesting transition film from writer-director Woody Allen. The film is a departure from his usual New York setting and it features the Allen debut of Mia Farrow.

Twilight Time's Blu-ray release features an excellent presentation of the film and is worth a look for fans of the filmmaker.

Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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