• Stormy Monday



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: July 18th, 2017.
    Director: Mike Figgis
    Cast: Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones, Sting, Sean Bean, James Cosmo
    Year: 1988
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    The Movie:

    The 1988 directorial debut of Mike Figgis is set in Newcastle and stars Sean Bean as a young man named Brendan. He’s a bit of a slacker but his life takes some interesting twists and turns once he’s taken on as a janitor by Finny (Sting), the owner of a jazz club. See, Finny is getting the screws put to him by Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones), an American mobster wanting to take over the club so that he can cash in on a potential land deal to take place in the neighborhood. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with Finny.

    All Brendan wants to do is earn his paycheck and mind his own business but when he falls in with Cosmo's ex-girlfriend Kate (Melanie Griffith, Body Double), well, it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to keep his nose of out things for long.

    Stormy Monday is a quirky picture that at times feels like it is at odds with itself. The story is grounded, gritty enough to feel like it could very well have played out in the England of the late eighties where it’s set, but the main characters seem to exist on another plane almost. They don’t so much use their heads as they follow their hearts, which gives the film a strong romantic slant not out of place in the noir inspired films that were clearly on Figgis’ mind when making the picture. While this allows for some great visuals, colorful characters and interesting moments it also makes it hard to relate to some of the characters. When they’re not acting logically, it prevents us from believing in them.

    The good outweighs the bad, however. The performances are good across the board. A young Sean Bean works well in the lead role. He’s got a strong screen presence and a world-weariness to him that makes his character interesting. He and Melanie Griffith, who is made up here with fairly bright red (and perpetually teased) hair have an interesting chemistry together. As the romance we know is going to blossom between them does just that the fall into their roles nicely and with some appreciable naturalness. Supporting work from Sting and Tommy Lee Jones is also really good, and Jones in particular makes quite an impression as the heavy of the film.

    You can’t talk about this film, however, without mention just how damn good the cinematography by Roger Deakins is. Anyone with an interest in film knows the man’s work – he not only shot some interesting British eighties classics like Sid And Nancy and 1984 but he’s since gone on to work with the Coen Brothers on films like Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski, No Country For Old Men and a few others. He’s been nominated for multiple Oscars over the years in addition to plenty of other prestigious awards. Regardless, his work here is amazing. His Newcastle seems to be perpetually drowning in rain and shadow and the night seems to only be lit by neon signs. This makes for some really striking imagery that is likewise complimented by Figgis’ own jazz fusion score.

    (The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men) and a seductive jazz score provided by the director himself. Presented here for the first time in high definition in the US, there has never been a better time to discover one of this iconic filmmaker's most assured and uniquely haunting efforts.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Arrow Video offer up Stormy Monday on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. According to the insert booklet, the transfer was taken from a master created in 2010 and as such, it’s not on par with the newest and most impressive restorations to hit the format, but it does look very good. Some minor print damage shows up in the form of small white specks and the occasional scratch and some shots look just a little soft (which seems to be intentional as it’s often due to the lighting used in the film) but overall things shape up nicely. Detail is well above what DVD could offer and there’s decent texture here as well. The source material looks to have been fairly grainy and that look is carried over to this release – not a bad thing, mind you, just an observation. Skin tones look good, we get really nice black levels and the image is free of any obvious noise reduction, edge enhancement or obvious compression issues.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language LPCM 2.0 Stereo track with removable subtitles provided in English only. The audio is free of any hiss or distortion related problems and it is properly balanced. There’s good depth here, you’ll notice it mostly with the score which sounds really good, while dialogue stays clean, clear and concise.

    Extras start off with a commentary featuring writer/director Mike Figgis moderated by Damon Wise. This is a pretty solid track with Wise keeping Figgis involved in the discussion and on track throughout. They talk about the origins of the story, some of the changes that were made to the script and to the title of the picture itself, casting the film, the locations and the importance of the look of the film afforded to the picture through the involvement of Roger Deakins.

    The only featurette on the disc is Just the Same? Stormy Monday 30 Years On..., a half hour long piece in which film critic Neil Young expresses his admiration for the picture and points out some interesting bits and pieces of interest that you might miss on first watch. He also talks about other films that tie into this one and that were made in and around the same location as Stormy Monday.

    Rounding out the extras are a theatrical trailer, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release a DVD version of the movie with the same extras as are found on the Blu-ray disc is also included inside the case. Accompanying the two discs is an insert booklet containing an essay on the film by Mark Cunliffe as well as technical information on the presentation and cast/crew credits for the feature.

    The Final Word:

    Stormy Monday is a solid, neo-noirish crime thriller with some good performances from the principals and some really striking imagery throughout. Arrow’s Blu-ray debut isn’t as jam packed with extras as some of their releases have been but it does include an interesting featurette, a good commentary and a few other bits and pieces. The presentation is solid, bringing the movie to Blu-ray in really nice shape. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





















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