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Blood Simple (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 28, 2011 by  



A classic, neo-noir film that will thrill you!  Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Blood Simple” marks the debut of Joel and Ethan Coen and also Barry Sonnenfeld in a true classic that cinema fans will want to own on Blu-ray!

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Images courtesy of © 1985 River Road Productions. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Blood Simple

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1984

DURATION: 95 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 2.0 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

RATED: R (Violence and Language)

COMPANY: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: August 30, 2011

Directed and Written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Executive Producer: Daniel F. Bacaner

Associate Producer: Mark Silverman

Music by Carter Burwell

Cinematography by Barry Sonnenfield

Edited by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Don Wiegmann

Casting by Julie Hughes, Barry Moss

Production Design by Jane Musky

Costume Design by Sara Medina-Pape

Starring:

John Getz as Ray

Frances McDormand as Abby

Dan Hedaya as Julian Marty

M. Emmet Walsh as Private Detective Loren Visser

Samm-Art Williams as Meurice

Deborah Neumann as Debra

Raquel Gavia as Landlady

From the celebrated filmmaking team of Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (Fargo, Raising Arizona) comes this visually stunning tale of a double cross – and murder – in a small town.  When the owner of a backwoods bar hires a man to kill his cheating wife and her boyfriend, he opens a door into the criminal world that he’ll never be able to shut.  Blood Simple hurtles forward with the speed and intensity of a fired bullet…and delivers as devastating an impact as has ever been felt from a noir film!

A classic, neo-noir film that will thrill you!  Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Blood Simple” marks the debut of Joel and Ethan Coen and also Barry Sonnenfeld in a true classic that cinema fans will want to own on Blu-ray!

“Blood Simple” was the film that started it all for the Coen brothers, receiving positive reviews from film critics, included in the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Thrills” and #73 on Bravo’s “100 Scariest Movie Moments”.

With the recent Blu-ray release of the 2009 Chinese remake of “Blood Simple” titled “A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop” from Zhang Yimou, there has been quite a bit of chatter of people wanting to see the original film that the movie was loosely based on.

And now the film receives it’s Blu-ray release featuring the director’s cut (which was released on DVD in 2001) and reinstating the Four Tops “It’s the Same Old Song” as a theme and also including the interesting and intriguing audio commentary with Forever Young Films Kenneth Loring (a fictional artistic director who is actually using a script created by the Coen brothers).

“Blood Simple” is a film directed by Joel Coen and co-written with his brother Ethan Coen (both worked on “No Country for Old Men” “Fargo”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Raising Arizona” to name a few) and features Barry Sonnenfeld (“Get Shorty”, “Men in Black” films, “Wild Wild West”) as cinematographer.  The film was also the first for composer Carter Burwell (“Twilight”,”No Country for Old Men”, “Fargo”, “True Grit”, etc.).

The movie begins with bartender Ray (played by John Getz, “The Social Network”, “The Fly” and “Zodiac”) and Abby (played by Frances McDormand, “Fargo”, “Almost Famous”, “The Man Who Wasn’t There”) in a love affair that takes them to a seedy motel in the middle of nowhere.

By the next morning, the two receive a call from Abby’s husband, bar owner Julian Marty (played by Dan Hedaya, “The Usual Suspects”, “Mulholland Dr.”, “Commando”) who knows about their affair and now, sexual romance.  And to reaffirm their affair, photos from the motel of the two in bed were taken by creepy Private Detective, Loren Visser (played by M. Emmet Walsh, “Blade Runner”, “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, “Wild Wild West”).

Marty wonders why Visser took pictures but pays him off and tells him to stay away.  But Visser reminds him that if he is needed to  take care of someone, he can do it…for a price.

Knowing that her husband knows that she is having an affair, Abby takes Julian to her home to retrieve her gun and then moves into Ray’s home.  Meanwhile, Ray tries to collect payment from Marty for the days he worked but Marty tells him that because he got his wife, he doesn’t deserve any payment.

The next morning, while Ray is taking a shower, Abby notices Marty’s dog inside the house.  Marty tries to retrieve his wife by force but she manages to escape and hurt him.  Ray comes out and considers killing Marty but lets him go.

The embarrassment of seeing his wife with Ray leads Marty to go back to Visser and pays him to kill the both of them.

So, Visser sneaks into Ray’s home, retrieves Abby’s gun and returns back to Marty with photos of both Ray and Abby being shot to death.  While Marty opens his safe to get payment for Visser, Visser collects his money and then shoots down Marty.

Meanwhile, Ray goes back into the bar to get his money that he is owed by Marty but when he walks into Marty’s office, a gun shot goes off and Marty is seen dead and bleeding.  Ray starts to panic and thinks he will be implicated for the death of Ray (because he was going back for the money) and right before the bar is about to open, he drags a dead Marty out to his car and plans to bury him.

When Ray searches for a spot and returns back to the car, Marty is gone.  He is very much alive…  but Ray thinking that he is in deep trouble, decides to bury Marty alive.

Still freaking out about his experience, Ray tries to think if he should tell Abby about what happened.  But when Abby receives a call from Marty, Ray starts to lose it and can’t believe that the man he just buried, is back alive.  And as for Abby and even their friend, fellow bartender Meurice (played by Samm-Art Williams), they think that something is terribly wrong with Ray.

Is Marty back from the dead?

VIDEO:

“Blood Simple” is presented in 1080p widescreen 1:85:1.    Before the film begins, for those not familiar with the 2001 DVD release,  this director’s cut of the film features a fictional intro about the restoration of the film (which was written by the Coen Brothers).  It’s important to note that this is a 1984 film and while a lot of films shot during this time either look its age, look very soft or receive major restoration and look spectacular on Blu-ray, “Blood Simple” is a mix.

The intro with the title probably is what makes this film look its age but as the film continues, it actually looks very good, much better than its 2001 DVD release which looks more on the darker side and looks its age. It’s important to remind viewers that this film was created on a limited budget but the brothers definitely get the job done.

Good amount of detail can be seen, especially on the closeups of the characters.  Hint of softness which I expected from a mid-’80s film but black levels are good but personally, I feel this is probably the best this film will ever look for now and is definitely the definitive version to own.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Blood Simple” is presented in English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio and is a front channel driven soundtrack.  I actually preferred to listen to this film with my receiver set at stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack but I can say that listening to the film, dialogue is clear, including the musical soundtrack featuring the score by Carter Burwell.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blood Simple” features audio commentary by Kenneth Loring of Forever Young Films.  Note: This is is a fictional commentary written by the Coen Brothers for this film.  So, listening to the audio commentary, it’s a bit over-the-top but intriguing never-the-less.  The trailer for the film is also included.

When you think of the Coen Brothers and their wonderful writing, there is no doubt in your mind that when watching their first film “Blood Simple”, these two men were going to go far in their career.  You can feel it, sense it and just know through their screenplay and also their first directorial effort, these guys are going to go far.

The efficacy of “Blood Simple” is through the complexity of the script and also the characters.  Pacing is amazingly done and for the most part, the film was one thriller that was very much a memorable film.  The final scenes were just amazing to watch but of course, the talented Coen Brothers continue to create wonderful films and they get better and better and for me, it’s not as easy task to say which is the better Coen film, as they are great in their own way but “Blood Simple” gets its distinction for its thrilling scenes and most importantly, being the first film from the brothers (as well as for director/cinematographer/producer Barry Sonnenfeld).  Even composer Carter Burwell made his debut on this film.  So, needless to say…the film is what launched the careers for these men.

Well, here we are in 2011 with the Blu-ray release of “Blood Simple”. I have to admit that I was anticipating the 25th anniversary release of “Blood Simple” last year but what we have is the director’s cut of the original film which the Coen Brothers shortened a few scenes, made things tighter and re-instated the Four Tops songs back in 2001.

Yes, the fictional intro. with Kenneth Loring of Forever Young films is back (discussing the technological breakthrough in restoration) and of course, the intriguing fictional commentary.  But outside of that, there is nothing new added since 2001 aside from the Blu-ray release getting a bump in picture and audio quality.  So, I was hoping for a little more for this 25th or 26th anniversary of the film but I suppose the thinking is why mess with something that was solid already… granted, we have seen cast reunions for “The Big Lebowski”, I was hoping maybe for a reunion or featurette or so.

Overall, “Blood Simple” is a classic and for cinema fans who love the film and Coen Brothers fans who owned the 2001 DVD release, this latest Blu-ray release is the definitive version to own right now.

Definitely recommended!

 

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