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Charlie Driggs is a timid New York investment broker who lets himself be abducted during his lunch hour by an attractive nut named Lulu. While drunk, she drives him to a New Jersey hotel for some kinky sex and petty thievery, and later convinces him to accompany her to Pennsylvania and pose as her husband at her high school reunion. More misadventures ensue, and Charlie gradually finds himself loosening up and falling in love, but then the film makes a sudden left turn with the appearance of Ray, Lulu's real husband.
For more about Something Wild and the Something Wild Blu-ray release, see the Something Wild Blu-ray Review
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, Ray Liotta, Margaret Colin, Tracey Walter, Dana Preu
Director: Jonathan Demme
» See full cast & crew
Something Wild Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 1, 2011
Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild" (1986) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer and video interviews with screenwriter E. Max Frye and director Jonathan Demme. The disc also arrives with a 16-page illustrated booklet containing an essay by writer/director David Thompson. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
They meet in a small diner somewhere in New York City. Her name is Lulu (Melanie Griffith, Body Double, Another Day in Paradise). She is young, beautiful, and looking for an adventure. His name is Charlie (Jeff Daniels, Love Hurts, Timescape). He has a calculator and a pen and looks like a guy who has never had an adventure. Lulu approaches Charlie and asks if he would like to join her. He doesn't know where but jumps in her car.
And so a fascinating journey begins. The couple heads to Pennsylvania where Lulu's mother (Dana Preu) lives. Along the way she robs a liquor store, while he discovers that sometimes it is fine to drink and drive. They have sex in a not so decent motel and then have diner in a decent restaurant. They walk out without paying their bill.
Lulu introduces Charlie to her mother as her husband - right before she reveals to Charlie that her real name is actually Audrey. Her mother doesn't believe that she is legally married but allows Charlie to help her with the dishes. Shortly after, Audrey takes Charlie to a high-school reunion where they meet Larry (Jack Gilpin, Funny Farm) and his pregnant wife Peggy (Su Tissue). Larry and Charlie work in the same building in New York City.
Audrey and Charlie also meet Ray (Ray Liotta, Dominick and Eugene), a tough, fast-talking, genuinely scary guy. Ray and Audrey are old friends. In fact, they used to be lovers, before Ray went to jail. Now he wants to have a drink with her, while she wants to go home. Charlie has absolutely no idea what he wants.
Eventually, Ray gives Charlie a black eye and tells him to go back to New York City, where he belongs. Charlie leaves but then comes back for Audrey, convinced that a woman like her is worth fighting for. Surprised and outraged, Ray decides to teach Charlie a lesson he would remember for the rest of his life.
What makes Jonathan Demme's Something Wild special is the fact that it is virtually unpredictable. It starts as a comedy and turns into drama but it overflows with romantic overtones. The film is also a beautiful, unpolished piece of Americana that touches the heart in a variety of different ways.
The film is about two very different people who break free. Charlie is a young man obsessed with success whose only goal in life is to keep moving up the corporate ladder. He feels good because his coworkers envy him, but deep inside he is actually overwhelmed and angry because the system he belongs to dictates how he lives his life. Occasionally he rebels against it – mostly by eating out and walking away without paying his bill – but knows well that he is a coward who lacks the courage to openly confront it.
Audrey has a different problem. She has tried to achieve some sort of a balance in her life but a string of unfortunate decisions and a disastrous relationship have left her alone and transformed her into a compulsive liar. Unlike Charlie, she has confronted the system but quickly discovered that the best she could do is cheat it, not change it.
During their trip Audrey and Charlie connect not because they are perfect for each other, but because they have had similarly disappointing lives, filled with regrets and seriously damaged, and each understands how the other feels. The trip clears their heads and makes them realize that live is worth living only if they have someone to share it with.
Demme's direction is intense but at the same time allowing the cast to breathe freely. Some of the most memorable scenes in the film contain brilliant improvisations. Griffith, who early into the film looks like the legendary Louise Brooks, is irresistible, while Daniels is absolutely hilarious. Liotta, in his first major role, is also very impressive.
Something Wild Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jonathan Demme's Something Wild arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"Supervised by director of photography Tak Fujimoto and approved by director Jonathan Demme, this new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm interpositive struck from the original camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Telecine supervisors: Tak Fujimoto, Lee Kline.
Telecine colorist: Jow Gawler/Deluxe, New York."
The overall quality of the presentation is very good. The high-definition transfer conveys wonderful depth and fluidity and color reproduction is very pleasing. Clarity and contrast levels are also consistent. Fine object detail does not disappoint either; the close-ups and the larger panoramic scenes look good. This being said, I noticed various traces of mild sharpening that pop up during specific scenes. However, the image does not have that unique coarse look that typically accompanies heavy sharpening and excessive contrast boosting. Extremely mild edge-enhancement occasionally tries to creep in as well (see the first screencapture in our review). Generally speaking, film grain is very much intact - it is well resolved and consistent. Additionally, I did not see any heavy aliasing or banding to report in this review. There are no serious stability issues either. Lastly, I did not see any large damage marks, scratches, stains, or debris. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Something Wild Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The Dolby 2.0 surround track was mastered at 24-bit from the 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is excellent. In fact, I was quite surprised to hear what a terrific range of nuanced dynamics it has. The diverse soundtrack, a mix of World Music and American Rock, has benefited greatly from the loseless treatment. The witty dialog is also exceptionally crisp and clean. For the record, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or audio dropouts to report in this review.
Something Wild Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Something Wild Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Jonathan Demme's Something Wild is a wonderful little film with an enormously big heart. It takes its audience on a fascinating and truly unpredictable trip back to America that no longer exists and a time that seems so distant now. It's a real gem. As always, Criterion's technical treatment of the film is very good. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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