Thief (1981) – Blu-ray review

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Synopsis: Coming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the Mafia, who have other plans for him.

What’s it like? Rififi meets The Killing

Film: 10/10. Michael Mann’s theatrical directorial debut may just be his best work. Less well known than Heat but more impressive, Mann captures the duality of the city of Chicago – “normal” by day, but filled with dangerous dark spaces and brightly lit neon lights that assault the senses at night. Caan’s best leading performance. 125 mins.

Picture quality: 10/10. Arrow has used Criterion’s 4K restoration and it’s incredibly impressive. Aside from a handful of shots with source related issues (soft shots mainly) there’s an amazing level of detail on show. Contrast and colour reproduction is excellent and really makes the vivid lighting of the city stand out in the night-time sequences.

Audio quality: 10/10. The remastered audio is top notch. Dialogue is perfectly reproduced, the atmospheric effects make the city come alive and the various heist and action scenes are filled with a flurry of precise activity. Tangerine Dream’s amazing score is a character of the film itself and sounds fantastic.

Trailer: YouTube

Disc reviewed: Country: U.K., Studio: Arrow, Region: B locked

Director: Michael Mann
Starring: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, Robert Prosky

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Blood Simple (1984) – Blu-ray review

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Synopsis: A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

What’s it like? Double Indemnity meets Cape Fear

Film: 9/10. The Coen Brothers’ theatrical debut is a masterclass in noir film-making. What starts off as a seemingly simple revenge film escalates into a cat and mouse thriller with plenty of twists and turns. 96 mins.

Picture quality: 6/10. It’s serviceable and a marked improvement on the DVD but unfortunately it’s quite soft and colours are not always accurate. Criterion released a remaster in 2016 that showed a marked improvement in both areas.

Audio quality: 8/10. The stereo surround track does the job nicely. The score in rendered well, as are the multitude of effects. For a film made on a relatively small budget and of this age the sound design is very nuanced.

Trailer: YouTube

Disc reviewed: Country: U.S., Studio: MGM, Region: A locked

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring: Dan Hedaya, Frances McDormand, John Getz, M. Emmet Walsh, Samm-Art Williams

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