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"Something Wild" - {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Criterion
Release Date:
Special Features:

Interview with director Jonathan Demme; interview with writer E. Max Frye; original trailer; booklet with essay by David Thompson Rated: R


Leave it to Jonathan Demme to come up with something "wild" before he branched out into his mainstream break through "The Silence of the Lambs". Jonathan Demme is a unique talent. He had already demonstrated a flair for quirky comedy and even tackled a mainstream Hollywood film ("Swing Shift") that went horribly wrong when Demme came into conflict with actress Goldie Hawn during the shoot and when the studio elected to reshoot/re-edit major sequences of the film. Demme was burned out by the experience and had thought about not directing again. Then the script for "Something Wild" caught his eye. An unconventional comedy/thriller with shifting tones throughout the film took Demme back to what he does best--breaking new ground by throwing a twist into what could have been a conventional Hollywood comedy in the wrong hands. The director moved seamlessly from comedy to dark drama and action within the same movie years before Tarrantino did the same thing in his films. "Something Wild" remains one Demme's finest films. ***

A brief summary of the plot (those who have seen the movie can skip it--Jeff Daniels plays Charles Driggs an uptight businessman who meets Lulu (Melanie Griffith)in a diner and is immediately taken with her to the point where he chucks his day and ends up on the road involved with her. It becomes clear when Ray (Ray Liotta)a dangerous and demented criminal appears that Lulu isn't everything she appears to be and Charles may be in trouble. ***

Jeff Daniels does a terrific turn as Charlie a man who had everything and lost it all suddenly rediscovering the excitement of life when he meets the impulsive Lulu (or Audrey as he later discovers). Griffith likewise does a great job as Lulu finding the heart of this "free spirit" who really is very injured. Once Ray Liotta appears he steals the rest of the movie in his turn as Ray. --

Image & Sound:

Criterion does a terrific job of bringing the movie to Blu-ray with a nearly flawless looking transfer that looks positively stunning. This new transfer was created form a newly struck interpositive transfers created from the original negative of the film and supervised by DP Tak Fujimoto and approved by Demme. There's a nice layer of fine grain present to just remind us that this IS a film. The image hasn't been overprocessed so there's a nice level of detail present throughout. Colors pop and skin tones are accurate to the original intention of the director. ***

The film appears in its 1.78:1 preferred aspect ratio. ***

The 2.0 audio mix sounds quite nice with dialogue front and center as it should be during the comedic and dramatic moments in the film. ---

Special Features:

The extras are extremely good if a bit on the slight side especially compared to other Criterion releases. There's a 30 minute entertaining interview with Demme that's quite entertaining. There's also a 13 page essay by film critic David Thompson. We also get an interview with the writer E. Max Frye ("Band of Brothers")included as well. I'm a bit disappointed that Demme wasn't asked to do a commentary track and missing-in-action here are stars Jeff Daniels, Ray Liotta and Melanie Griffith all of which could have provided additional insight into the making of the movie. ***

Perhaps there were some cost/licensing issues that prevented more special features from being provided but why the actors couldn't have given new interviews, audio commentary tracks, etc. is beyond me. ---

Final Words:

Although a bit slight on the special features, "Something Wild" receives a lovingly done transfer with input from Demme and Takimoto. I doubt that the film would have received as extensive a restoration by any of the major studios. It's a pity that Daniels, Liotta and Griffith weren't interviewed for this set (although it's possible that Criterion may have tried to arrange something and the studio wasn't able to for a variety of reasons). While Demme's interview provides plenty of candid insight into his career and the making of the movie, I would still have loved to get a commentary track for the film. Still, the sharp, rich transfer and the special features we do get make this essential for movie fans. ***

Highly recommended.


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