• No Way Home (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 27th, 2020.
    Director: Buddy Giovinazzo
    Cast: Tim Roth, James Russo, Deborah Kara Unger
    Year: 1996
    Purchase From Severin Films

    No Way Home – Movie Review:

    Twelve years after Buddy Giovinazzo made Combat Shock, he wrote and directed No Way Home, a dark and gritty crime drama that stars Tim Roth as a man named Joey. He’s recently been let out of prison after spending six years behind bars for killing someone. Joey suffers from brain damage due to a childhood accident and upon his release, he moves in with his brother Tommy (James Russo) and his stripper wife Lorraine (Deborah Kara Unger). There is stress in the home at first, as Lorraine is understandably having someone who killed another human being living in their home, but it isn’t too long before she’s taken a liking to Joey and even starts to get protective of him.

    Things take a bad turn when Tommy winds up in a bad place when he can’t payback a loan from a local mobster. When he winds up getting into an altercation with some of the mobsters soldiers, a movie that started as a sober character-heavy drama soon turns very violent…

    This one starts off as a pretty solid character drama before then turning into a crime film in the last half hour or so. It’s a pretty dramatic shift in tone when it happens, but Giovinazzo makes it work by doing a really good job of letting us get to know the film’s characters before letting it all hit the fan. At times it feels a bit like Taxi Driver and thematically it has a fair bit in common with Combat Shock, but No Way Home is definitely its own animal and it has Giovinazzo’s stamp all over it.

    Shot in and around New York City with a fair bit of footage lensed on the director’s home turf of Staten Island, the movie benefits from some great location work and some impressive cinematography. It also features a really strong score from Buddy’s brother Rick Giovinazzo, and while this wasn’t made with a huge budget, by Hollywood standards at least, the film has plenty of technical polish and quality production values.

    Of course, the main draw here is going to be the acting. Tim Roth, putting on a New York accent reasonably effectively, is very good here. He makes Joey a very real and very interesting character, a seriously flawed human being but someone that we have an innate sympathy for. It’s a good performance and one that maybe should have brought Roth more attention than it did. Every bit as good in this picture is James Russo, who plays his part with no lack of intensity. He’s also very good here. Rounding out the cast is Deborah Kara Unger and, again, her work is excellent. Had this movie had a less impressive cast it would have been easy to overlook it but these three all bring their best to the picture and the end result is a really strong film that deserves a bigger audience than it would seem to have.

    No Way Home – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films presents No Way Home on Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 50GB disc taken from a new 2k scan of the original 35mm negative with the feature given 29.8GBs of space. This is a pretty gritty looking film, intentionally so, and as such the heavy grain feels right for the image. There’s a bit of minor damage here and there, but mostly just small white specks and the like. Otherwise, the image looks really nice, with strong detail, depth and texture and very nice, natural color reproduction. It also always looks very filmic, never showing any issues with noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression problems.

    An English language DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo track is the only option on the disc. Removable subtitles are available in English only. No problems to note here. The audio isn’t always fancy but it suits the low-fi tone of the film very well. The score sounds really nice, the levels are properly balanced and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion to complain about.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring Director Buddy Giovinazzo moderated by Severin’s David Gregory. He talks about the differences and similarities between making Combat Shock for $40,000 and No Way Out for $3.2 million. He covers shooting the prison scenes on location at Sing Sing, scenes that were cut and trimmed before making it into the final cut of the movie, trying to capture what it would be like to get out into the world after doing tim, what it was like working with Tim Roth, James Russo and Deborah Kara Unger, casting the picture, details on the set design, how much he relied on cinematographer Claudia Raschke, what he would change about the movie were he to make it now, how and why his mother made it into the movie, the editing style employed in the film, the importance of letting the characters carry the film, how he hoped the film would take off the way a lot of other 90s indie films did, the dangers involved in using a real gun on a set, the influence of Taxi Driver and Buddy's first experience seeing that movie and loads more.

    Darlin’ Be Home Soon: Editor Stan Warnow On The Road To No Way Home is a fourteen-minute featurette where Warnow speaks about his background and inheriting his technical talents from his father, learning to work with a Movieola at a young age, going to film school, working with Robert Downey Sr., working as an assistant for Thelma Schoonmaker, working on Don't Go In The House, how he came to work on No Way Home through producer Robert Nixon, how much he enjoyed working with Giovinazzo, what went into cutting the feature and his thoughts on the movie overall.

    A Tasty Marquee is an interview with Producer/Casting Director Marcia Shulman that runs for thirteen-minutes. Here she speaks about how she came to work with Giovinazzo, what she did in her role as producer on the film, who was originally meant to play Russo's role and why Russo wound up getting the part, working on Vampire's Kiss with Nicolas Cage, what the casting process involved, how Tim Roth came on board through his agent, bringing Deborah Kara Unger onboard, some of the problems that came up involving the effects work on the picture, what it was like on set and more.

    Composer Rick Giovinazzo and Director Buddy Giovinazzo are up next in Following The Emotions, a nineteen-minute piece that goes into detail on Rick and Buddy's days in a cover band that evolved into an act called Hot Ice, some of the influences that worked their way into their music, writing their own material after getting heavy into prog-rock, a few gigs that they played while the band was still active, doing a whole lot of 'learning as you go' while working on Combat Shock, trying to create the right music for Combat Shock, how making No Way Out was a big step up for both of them, how the editing can throw off the timing of a score, why certain instruments were chosen to be used on the score, turning ideas into sound, using Capital Studios in Hollywood to record and plenty more.

    The seventeen-minute Dancing With The Camera interviews with Cinematographer Claudia Raschke. Here she talks about her background in dance and how she pulls from that when doing cinematography, her background and training, how to use movement as a storytelling device, having to be very quick on her feet while working on the set, how the dynamic on set can change how the camera should move, the importance of learning the mechanics behind the camera, how she came on board to work on No Way Home, having to work in some tight and small locations, why certain vantage points were chosen for a few key scenes and quite a bit of other interesting details about her work.

    Uncle Frank's Wine is a twelve-minute short film made by Buddy Giovinazzo. It begins with a few men in a basement where an elderly man named Uncle Frank talks about making wine in there for forty-years. As they talk we see Frank's process and get a firsthand look at what goes into this basement oenologist’s work, complete with a tasting session.

    A trailer for the feature as well as menus and chapter selection round out the extra on the Blu-ray, however, it’s definitely worth mentioning that the Severin exclusive limited Black Friday edition includes the first ever release of the original motion picture soundtrack on CD, which is a nice bonus for soundtrack fans. An insert inside the black keepcase contains the track listing.

    No Way Home – The Final Word:

    No Way Home is a really good movie, very underrated and underappreciated. Roth, Russo and Unger are excellent in their respective roles and Giovinazzo does a great job pacing the film and developing the characters. Severin has put in the effort on this release to bring it to Blu-ray in a very nice presentation and with a strong array of extra features documenting its history. Recommended!

    NOTE that this release is limited to only 2,500 copies and will not be reissued.

    Click on the images below for full sized No Way Home Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      So happy that this is finally on disc.