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Sid & Nancy: Collector’s Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 9, 2012 by  



With wonderful acting, writing and cinematography, Alex Cox’s “Sid & Nancy” is a film that captures a unique kind of romance in cinema, one that is consumed by a couple’s own self-destruction through heavy drug use.  At the end of the day, “Sid & Nancy” is a love story like no other…  and for this film alone, I highly recommend watching it!

Images courtesy of © 1986 Zenith Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sid & Nancy: Collector’s Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1986

DURATION: 113 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: United Artists/MGM/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

RATED: R

Release Date: December 27, 2011

Directed by Alex Cox

Screenplay by Alex Cox, Abbe Wool

Produced by Eric Fellner

Co-Producer: Peter McCarthy

Associate Producer: Abbe Wool

Music by Pray for Rain

Cinematography by Roger Deakins

Edited by David Martin

Production Design by J. Rae Fox, Andrew McAlpine

Art Direction by J. Rae Fox

Set Decoration by Marcie Dale

Costume Design by Catherine Cook

Starring:

Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious

Chloe Webb as Nancy Spungen

David Hayman as Malcolm

Debby Bishop as Phoebe

Andrew Schofield as John

Xander Berkeley as Bowery Snax

Perry Benson as Paul

Tony London as Steve

Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb execute performances that are nothing short of phenomenal (Los AngelesTimes) as Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his unforgettable junkie girlfriend- two socialmisfits who literally love each other to death.

Featuring a fantastic performance by Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb, “Sid & Nancy” is an amazing film that captures the punk scene but also a couple’s self-destruction.

In the late ’70s, Sid Vicious (the monicker used by John Simon Ritchie) was the bassist of the punk band, the Sex Pistols.  Known more for his charisma in the punk scene (insulting the crowd, getting in fights with the crowd, slashing or carving words on himself) more than his actual bass playing, together with band leader/vocalist Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook and managed by Malcolm Mclaren, the band would be known for initiating the punk movement in the UK and also inspiring any punk bands and musicians.

But despite the band only lasting for 2 1/2 years and producing four singles and one studio album, the band continues to be influential to many.

But for many who followed the band, people were shocked by the band’s breakup in 1978 and even moreso by Vicious’ heroin overdose in 1979.  But there was more to the story about Sid Vicious the man but also his unique relationship with girlfriend Nancy Spungen, a stripper and groupie but known around the scene as “Nauseating Nancy” for her temperamental attitude and verbal abuse.  And for both individuals, what they had each other was love but also both were heavy abusers of multiple drugs.   And as the two have had a pact with each other, “to go out in a blaze of glory”, both died at a young age via their own self-destruction.

Nancy murdered by Sid Vicious while both were drugged out and Sid Vicious, overdosing on heroin (which his mother alleges was suicide as a note was found that Sid Vicious carried out the pact the two have made for each other).

While media was fascinated by the story of this couple, in 1986, filmmaker Alex Cox (“Repo Man”, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) along with producer/screenwriter Abbe Wool (“The Big Lebowski”, “Planet of the Apes”) would go on to create the British biopic “Sid and Nancy”.

“Sid and Nancy” was well-received by film critics especially for the outstanding performance of talents Gary Oldman (“The Dark Knight”, “Batman Begins”, “The Fifth Element”) who plays Sid Vicious and Chloe Webb who plays Nancy Spungen (“Practical Magic”, “Twins”) but the film was also denounced by Johnny Rotten as inaccurate but did praise the acting of Gary Oldman.  The film was also critical of Vicious portrayal by those who knew Sid.

The film was released on DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection long since out-of-print and now “Sid & Nancy: Collector’s Edition” is available on Blu-ray courtesy of MGM/Twentieth Century Fox.

“Sid & Nancy” begins with police arresting Sid Vicious (played by Gary Oldman) at the Hotel Chelsea in New York for the murder of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen (played by Chloe Webb).  And during the interrogation, Vicious is asked to describe what had happened.

The story then flashes back to when Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten (played by Andrew Schofield) met an American junkie (Nancy), who claimed that she had come to London because she was a big fan of the Sex Pistols.  Both men disregard her at first but then through occasional run-ins, Sid notices her being treated badly by another man.  When he goes to talk with her, he finds out that when she had arrived to London, she gave all her money to the man for drugs and literally used her.

But when Sid lends her money to buy drugs, she does and immediately the two manage to become friends and eventually start having sex with each other and doing drugs together.    Both fall madly in love and are nearly inseparable, and as the film focuses on their destructive relationship, the film also showcases Sid Vicious as he performs with the Sex Pistols and take part in a disastrous tour in America.

But the over indulgence of drugs was starting to take its toll on Sid Vicious relationship with his bandmates of the Sex Pistols and eventually they breakup and Nancy takes on the roll of becoming Sid’s manager and from that moment on…this couple would spiral downward as both become heavily addicted to heroin and both make a pact that they would end their lives together, to go out in a “blaze of glory”.

VIDEO:

There is no denying that many have been wanting “Sid & Nancy” on Blu-ray.  As one of the most desirable and most-wanted out-of-print titles released by the Criterion Collection, fans of the film have clamored for a Blu-ray release.  Although not released by the Criterion Collection, MGM/Twentieth Century Fox does give “Sid & Nancy” the HD treatment.

Presented in widescreen 1:85:1, there is no doubt that the film looks magnificent on Blu-ray.  Comparing this to the old DVD, the picture quality for this 1986 film looks clean, detailed and vibrant.

The cinematography by Roger Deakins (“The Shawshank Redemption”, “No Country for Old Men”, “Fargo”, “The Big Lebowski”) is fantastic as he manages to cover the dingy areas that Sid and Nancy visit and possibly the most memorable scene of the film, both sharing a romantic kiss near a dumpster while garbage flows around them.

This is the best looking version of the film to date!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sid & Nancy: Collector’s Edition” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.   It’s important to note that previous DVD releases of “Sid & Nancy”were in Dolby Stereo but this time around, the soundtrack receives a lossless soundtrack.   The film is still center and front-channel driven but what is more pronounced is the film’s musical soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Sid & Nancy: Collector’s Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • For the Love of Punk – (15:46) Music writers and those who knew Sid and Nancy discuss the film and why it resonated so well with viewers.
  • Junk Love – (16:30) Music writers, editors and those who knew Sid and Nancy talk about the real Sid and Nancy.  Including another theory of how Nancy died.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:02) The theatrical trailer for “Sid & Nancy”.

“Sid & Nancy” is a romance story like no other.

Rarely has American cinema tapped into the punk scene nor would you see Hollywood willing to cover the scene or anything that had to do with it.  But in 1986, filmmaker Alex Cox did just that, while the film should not be considered as accurate, Cox’s film does showcase the love between two individuals, both have difficult lives, both are heavy drug users and both died under tragic circumstances.

When I first watched this film nearly 20 years ago, I was struck by performances by actor Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb.  For Oldman, how this one man was able to capture a man’s self-destruction and we see it through his performance, from the over-indulgence of drugs to the after-effect of not having drugs in his system, Oldman’s performance was effective, believable and fantastic!

And Chloe Webb, I felt that her performance was fantastic then…but here we are in 2011, 25-years after the film was screened in theaters and now, many of us can view the actual interviews with Sid & Nancy, especially to hear Nancy vocalize…and to realize, how Chloe Webb’s voice, mannerisms were nearly exact.

I have to admit that back then… I felt that Webb’s performance of Nancy was so good, but made me wonder if the real Nancy spoke this way.  Was she that annoying?  And after seeing a few interviews of the real Nancy, I can see how vocal she was around Sid and even by herself.  She spoke her mind.

“Sid and Nancy” is a love story but also a tragedy.  There is no denying that Sid Vicious was exploited by the industry and media in a sense that people wanted him to fuck up or to stayed fucked up.  He was unlike any other music talent out there.  Sure, many talents have died of drug tragedies before, but for Vicious…this was a man who got into fights, spit or threatened the crowd he performed to and he had no qualms carving himself and bleeding.

He was reviled because of his rejection of society and inspired the punk scene who wanted to be like him.  But at the end of the day, there was Nancy.  A woman who could talk so much shit to anyone, to everyone including Sid, but no matter what…he still loved her.  He was the only person who could understand her, and she was the person who felt that was the only person out there who can understand or even help him, when no one else would.

Since watching this film 20-years ago, watching it in 2011, I actually felt a bit more compassion for Nancy, especially after the release of Deborah Spungen’s book “And I Don’t Want to Live This Life: A Mother’s Story of Her Daughter’s Murder” (a must-read for those wanting to know about Nancy Spungen, who was very intelligent at a young age but even as a baby, after being born and nearly dying due to oxygen deprivation due to the umbilical cord around her neck, she was very temperamental as a baby and violent as a toddler to others and herself and her parents knew she was mentally ill).

As for the Blu-ray release, there is no doubt that this film looks absolutely great in HD compared to its two DVD counterparts.  But while the two special features are good, especially hearing from those who knew both Sid and Nancy, for those who owned the original Criterion Collection release, I would still hang on to that DVD.  Not because it’s still a highly sought-out Criterion Collection DVD but it also contained the documentary on the making of the film, the 1976 interview with the Sex Pistols, interviews with Sid and Nancy and audio commentary by screenwriter Abbe Wool and the talent of the film, including historians.  Unfortunately, none of this awesome content made it to the Blu-ray release and that’s a shame!

With wonderful acting, writing and cinematography, Alex Cox’s “Sid & Nancy” is a film that captures a unique kind of romance in cinema, one that is consumed by a couple’s own self-destruction through heavy drug use.  At the end of the day, “Sid & Nancy” is a love story like no other…  and for this film alone, I highly recommend watching it!

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