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The Crossing Guard(1995)
Freddie Gale is a seedy jeweler who has sworn to kill the drunk driver who killed his little girl.
For more about The Crossing Guard and the The Crossing Guard Blu-ray release, see the The Crossing Guard Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 7, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Sean Penn
Writer: Sean Penn
Starring: Jack Nicholson, David Morse, Anjelica Huston, Robin Wright Penn, John Savage (I), Piper Laurie
» See full cast & crew
The Crossing Guard Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 7, 2012
Nominated for the prestigious Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, Sean Penn's "The Crossing Guard" (1995) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal. Unfortunately, there are no supplemental features offered with this release. In English, with optional French subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Sean Penn's The Crossing Guard is about two men whose lives have been irreversibly damaged by a tragic event. Jack Nicholson plays the first one, Freddy Gale, a lonely and disillusioned jeweler who spends most of his time getting drunk and making love to equally lonely and disillusioned women. David Morse plays the second man, John Booth, who has spent the last couple of years in prison.
On the day when John is released from prison Freddy meets his ex-wife, Mary (Anjelica Huston), to let her know that he is planning to kill him. While they scream at each other, it is revealed why Freddy wants John dead. He's got a good reason.
Shortly after, Freddy meets John in his trailer, holding a gun. But John is filled with guilt and does not attempt to run away. Without talking much, Freddy tries to shoot him, but his gun jams. Enormously frustrated, he gives John three days to sort out his life and get ready for the inevitable.
During the next three days, Freddy and John's lives take unexpected turns. For the first time in years, Freddy and Mary talk about the good old days, the dreams they once had. Both realize that they are still very much in love with each other.
John meets a beautiful painter named JoJo (Robin Wright). She immediately falls madly in love with him, but he can't love her back because his soul is hurting so bad that at times he could barely breathe. When they are alone, the only thing he could think about is guilt.
As promised, Freddy returns to kill John. This time he runs away and Freddy goes after him. During the chase, the two men discover that they have plenty in common.
Dedicated to Charles Bukowski, Sean Penn's second feature film appropriately blends black comedy and drama - but in the mix there is substantially more of the latter. Its message is about right and wrong, forgiveness and acceptance.
The narrative is simple, free of surprises. Naturally, the entire film depends on Nicholson, Morse, and Houston's strong individual performances. The high points are the scenes where they clash and argue with each other or let Penn's camera carefully observe their faces.
Most of the film is raw and gritty. It also has a distinctively '90s flavor, but strangely enough it does not feel dated. One reason why is the fact that it is a dialog-driven, free of political correctness piece; another reason is its casual, borderline Cassavetes-esque tone.
The film is beautifully lensed by acclaimed cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Brian De Palma's Obsession, Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter). Some of the nighttime footage as well as the club scenes are notably beautiful. The film is also complimented by a strong soundtrack featuring tracks by Bruce Springsteen ("Missing"), Joe Henry ("King's Highway'), and Dead Can Dance ("Ubiquitous Mr. Love Groove"), among others.
Note: In 1995, The Crossing Guard was nominated for the prestigious Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.
The Crossing Guard Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Sean Penn's The Crossing Guard arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Studio Canal.
The high-definition transfer has been struck from a dated source and most of the time it shows. There are traces of mild filtering throughout the entire film as well as sporadic contrast fluctuations. A few tiny flecks also pop up here and there. Fortunately, there are no traces of post-production sharpening. Color corrections have not been performed either. Naturally, even though the film does look dated for the most part it still has a filmic look. I specifically wanted to mention this because the old R1 DVD release Miramax produced was non-anamorphic (I have not seen the new Echo Bridge DVD release and cannot comment on it) and today it is virtually unwatchable. Lastly, there are no serious stability issues to report in this review. All in all, even though there is plenty of room for improvement, for the time being, given the film's history, I consider this release a decent upgrade. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content),
The Crossing Guard Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English LPCM 2.0, and French LPCM 2.0. For the record, Studio Canal have provided optional French subtitles for the main feature.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track opens up the film in all the right places rather well, but anyone expecting a wide range of nuanced dynamics will likely be disappointed. Depth and improved clarity are the two most notable improvements. The excellent soundtrack, in particular, benefits the most. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. additionally, there are no sync issues, distortions, or problematic audio dropouts to report in this review.
The Crossing Guard Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, there are no supplemental features to be found on this Blu-ray disc.
The Crossing Guard Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
American critics were not kind to Sean Penn's The Crossing Guard, but I think that it is as good if not better than his The Indian Runner. It has a certain rawness and attitude that few contemporary American films with big stars in them have. Studio Canal's release definitely could have been better, but I still believe that it is very much worth picking up. Shop around and see if you could find it on sale. RECOMMENDED.
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The Crossing Guard Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Crossing Guard Blu-ray - January 19, 2012
Studio Canal will release on Blu-ray Sean Penn's second feature film The Crossing Guard (1995), starring Jack Nicholson, David Morse, Anjelica Huston, and Robin Wright. In 1995, the film was nominated for the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. The ...
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