American Fiction - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

Moderator / Reviewer
Staff member
Thread Starter
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
5,375
Location
Arizona
More  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
Other Amp
Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Panasonic UB820 4K UHD Player
Front Speakers
Cheap Thrills Mains
Center Channel Speaker
Cheap Thrills Center
Surround Speakers
Volt 10 Surrounds
Surround Back Speakers
Volt 10 Rear Surrounds
Rear Height Speakers
Volt 6 Overheads
Subwoofers
2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
Video Display Device
Sony 85 inch X950H FALD TV
American Fiction


front.jpg
Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras:
Final Score: :3.5stars:




AV NIRVANA is member and reader-supported. When you purchase an item using our links, we might earn an affiliate commission.

1.jpg
Movie

It’s amazing to watch to comedic films try and tackle the issue or race, pandering, and other tensions within the world right now from African American directors/actors, and watch one fail so dramatically, and the other slip under the radar but be the better production. Naturally I’m talking about American Society of Magical Negroes and American Fiction. It was almost awe inspiring to watch American Society of Magical Negroes literally touch on some of the VERY SAME issues that American Fiction did, and yet watch it literally burn itself to the ground, losing all good will to the point that even the people defending the former film had to throw in the towel and say “yeahhhh, even we can’t hold this one up. Yet it was the one that got all of the publicity (and they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity), while American Fiction pretty much slid straight under the radar for most folks. Kind of makes you ponder on the idea of messages, and how to actually craft a message so that the general public finds it appealing (also, VERY ironically, one of the big subjects OF American Fiction). Anyways, I was sort of burnt out after watching The American Society of Magical Negroes, but I have huge respect for Jeffrey Wright as an actor, so I decided to request the film from Warner and give it a spin. And luckily for you, I didn’t choose in vain.

Part scathing satire, part familiar conflict based melodrama, American Fiction tells the story of one Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright), a highly intellectual author and literary professor who has a problem. He’s an upper middle class black author who hasn’t sold or published a book in years. He lives with his head in the intellectual clouds, and his sales have sort of proved that what he’s writing isn’t to the general public’s tastes. After getting laid off from his teaching position, Monk heads back home to Boston to spend time with his mother and siblings, only for tragedy to strike. His sister Lisa (Tracee Ellis Ross) dies shortly after arrival, and his mother is slipping deeper and deeper into dementia. Monk has no idea how to handle everything, as his recently uncloseted brother Cliff (Sterling K. Brown) is a bit of a mess, and he’s the only responsible one left.

So caught between a midlife personal crisis and an ACTUAL familial crisis, Monk angrily decides to right a complete “trash” novel under a pseudonym. One of those ebonics filled, black cliché ridden novels that appeals to the base consumer instincts of watching a train wreck. Monk originally did so as a middle finger to the publishers. A sort of “bleep you” to the people who have been poo-pooing his much headier and more intellectual works for years. The only thing is, every publisher in the nation pretty much falls in love with it. Now Monk is forced to make a choice between intellectual honesty, and keeping with his true ideals, and making absolute BANK off a puff piece book whose only sole purpose is to assuage the general public’s interest in “real street stuff”.

2.jpg
Honestly, I was shocked at how much I loved American Fiction. After watching The American Society of Magical Negroes, I was completely expecting another clunky and heavy handed satire that completely misses the mark, but halfway through this film, I was chuckling and nodding my head to some of the “bites” that Cord Jefferson was making. I didn’t always agree with every assertion, but my goodness, did he hit the nail on the head 9 times out of 10. Issues on race, stereotypes, and even our own misconceptions are handled in this whimsical and charming way, and even I was completely swept up in the whole thing (and barely noticed that 2 hours had gone by when the credits started rolling. Honestly, being that those of us here are heavily invested in film (duh) that end scene with Wiley and Monk where the two are hashing out the end scene of their movie was probably one of the funniest things I had ever seen. The sheer frustration on Monk’s face while he has to talk to a clueless executive about finishing the film with an OBVIOUSLY pandering cheap ending was PRICELESS.

If I have to complain at all, I think that American Fiction has some difficulty in balancing both Monk’s obsession with finding his voice in the literary world AND his familiar conflicts evenly. At times the film feels like two films in one, with two different endings and a sensation that some of the familial issues COULD have been cut out. It’s not that those are two incompatible sub plots, but I couldn’t help but feel that American Fiction sometimes felt like a movie at odds with itself. That being said, I enjoyed the film way more than I didn’t, and found that it was probably one of my most enjoyable watches of the year.




Rating:

Rated R for language throughout, some drug use, sexual references and brief violence.




Video: :4stars:
3.jpg
American Fiction sports a great looking 1080p disc, filled with nuanced detail levels and a strong adherence to warm colors. The film itself isn’t flashy or showy, and the final Blu-ray result doesn’t try to make it anything that it’s not. Colors are warm and vibrant, with very strong primary representation during the daylight outdoor shots. Indoor shots can have some more ambers and burnished tones that tone things down a bit, but still show off impressive detail levels. There’s very little digital artifacting going on here, and I can only really think of a couple of scenes where I noticed any obvious banding (that scene in Monk’s head where he goes over to his girlfriend’s house at the end and fades to black being the most obvious), but overall this is a nice looking disc (and it better be, with a dual layer BD-50 and zero extras).









Audio: :4stars:
4.jpg
You already know what I’m going to say. American Fiction is not a wham bam and slamming action track, but rather a very dialog forward comedy with a few moments of brief excitement. As such this is going to be a solid mix that lives in the front of the room for the most part, with a high deference to vocal clarity and some mild panning effects in the mains. Surrounds get a little bit of activity during the final few moments of the film as well as inside of Monk’s home with people yelling, otherwise it tends to live way up in the front of the room. Bass is mostly relegated to supplementing the score, but the imaginary “shootout” at the end of the film actually brings out a few good bumps for us bass nerds. Simple, effective, and heavily dialog centric, American Fiction’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA track does everything well without being something superb.












Extras:
5.jpg














Final Score: :3.5stars:

As I said above, I was genuinely surprised by American Fiction. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and Cord Jefferson’s first feature film actually turned out to be a very solid flick. It handles some delicate subject matters in a delightfully charming and yet poignant way, and did so in a way that didn’t drag itself down with political infighting. Jeffrey Wright was absolutely fantastic, and Warner did a very solid job with the Blu-ray (outside of the criminal offense of ZERO extras on the disc). Very solid watch.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Adam Brody, Issa Rae
Directed by: Cord Jefferson
Written by: Cord Jefferson, Percival Everett (novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1 French, Spanish DD 5.1, English DVS 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spnaish
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: NR
Runtime: 117 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 18th, 2024
image.png





Recommendation: Good Watch

 
Last edited:

Jack1949

Active Member
VIP Supporter
Joined
Jun 9, 2017
Messages
276
Location
Loveland, Colorado
More  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha RX-A3040
Additional Amp
KING 5-CHerry Amp - Digital Amplifier Co.
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Oppo BDP-103D
Front Speakers
JTR 210RT
Center Channel Speaker
JTR 210RM
Surround Speakers
Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers with RAAL
Front Height Speakers
Polk Audio RT55i
Rear Height Speakers
Polk Audio RT35i
Subwoofers
Dual JTR 118HT
Other Speakers or Equipment
miniDSP 2x4 HD
Video Display Device
Samsung UN60H6350
Ditto on our reactions to American Society of Magical Negroes and American Fiction. We lost interest in American Society of Magical Negroes in about 30 minutes and shut it off. On the other hand, we very much enjoyed American Fiction. I got a kick out of his pseudonym name Stagg. R. Leigh, which reminded me of the 1959 hit song by Lloyd Price, Stagger Lee.
 

Todd Anderson

Editor / Senior Admin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 20, 2017
Messages
9,427
Location
Balt/Wash Metro
More  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
StormAudio ISP.24 MK2
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-5
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA Gen3 2.8 multichannel amp
Other Amp
Denon X8500H
Computer Audio
AudioEngine A2+
DAC
THX ONYX
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Kaleidescape TERRA, OPPO UDP-203, Panasonic UB9000
Front Speakers
GoldenEar Technology Triton One.R
Center Channel Speaker
GoldenEar Technology SuperCenter Reference
Surround Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround
Surround Back Speakers
SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Front Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Front, Top Mid-Front)
Rear Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Middle, Top Rear)
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
Other Speakers or Equipment
Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
Video Display Device
JVC NX7
Screen
Seymour Screen Excellence, Enlightor NEO AT Screen
Streaming Equipment
iFi Audio Zen Blue
Streaming Subscriptions
Qobuz, TIDAL, Spotify, ROON
Other Equipment
LG Electronics 65-inch B6 OLED, Sony 65-inch X900F, ZeroSurge 8R15W x 2, ZeroSurge 2R15W x 2
This one slipped under the radar in our home. Sounds like I need to dial it up!
 
Top Bottom