Blu-ray 4 Out Of 5 Stars It's About You Review

In 2010 John Mellencamp dug deep into his roots and influences and recorded a retro-styled album, No Better Than This, critically acclaimed not only for its songwriting and arrangements, but for the style in which it was recorded. Mellencamp, renowned for his numerous hits such as “Jack & Diane”, “Pink Houses”, “Lonely Ol’ Night”, “Small Town”, and “Cherry Bomb” recorded the album while touring with legends Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. He used nothing but vintage 1950s reel-to-reel tape recorders, microphones, and console equipment, and recorded in historic sites, like the First African Baptist Church and the famed Sun Studios. The resulting album, in warm and glorious mono, was a testament not only to Mellencamp’s songwriting skills, but to the enduring power of a time long gone and the classic techniques that gave birth to rock and roll.

Photographer Kurt Marcus and his son Ian traveled along with Mr. Mellencamp on that 2009 tour documenting not only the concert tour, but his writing and recording of the album No Better Than This. Captured all on Super 8mm with an introspective narration from Kurt Marcus, It’s About You transcends its subject, becoming more than just a document about Mellencamp on the road. Unlike most documentaries of this nature, which can seem self-indulgent, It’s About You isn’t just about Mellencamp, it’s about the Marcuses and, mostly, it’s about Mellencamp’s beloved heartland. It’s a visual postcard of America, a bygone America or the America of books like some stream of consciousness Kerouac novel. It’s visual beauty is at once recognizable by the visual cues of Americana, inspiring, and heartening in its depictions of prosperity and decay. This is a marvelous little indie film that is more than a film about music, it’s a film about the American landscape, the American experience.

Video Quality
This entire production was shot on Super 8mm, so expecting a miraculous high definition reference release on Blu-ray would be absurd. It looks like what it is in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 transfer from MPI, low-res, gritty, with big thickets of grain, low levels of contrast, at times like old home movies, but with little in the way of source damage.

Audio Quality
The audio compliments the quality of the video in that, although a LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit) is offered up and much of the film does consist of complete or nearly complete musical performances, there is very little stereo separation; it’s a very narrow soundfield. With that said, it does have relatively clean dialogue and the overall sound works for the feel they were trying to accomplish here. There are also some moments where the low frequency extension is surprisingly deep and musical.

Supplemental Materials
It’s got zilch, so move on along.

The Definitive Word
Overall: An excellent film that not only encapsulates the decades of Mellencamp’s career, but tells a beautiful story about the country he has been fighting for his entire career. The Marcus team show their undoubted photographic eye in this 8mm production with subtlety and beauty that will linger on in your thoughts long after the credits finish rolling. Recommended