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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • 2 Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Director, writers, editor.
  • 5 Filmographies

Red Rock West

Umbrella Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 94 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Red Rock West is the story of Michael Williams (Nicholas Cage), a drifter who arrives in Red Rock, a small mid-west US town, and finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the right place at the right time depending upon your view. After being turned down for a construction job, he attempts to drift out of town, but gets a tip about a job at Wayne's Bar. It's here that he makes his first mistake.

Wayne Brown (J.T. Walsh) runs the local bar and mistakes Williams for a hitman, "Lyle from Texas" (Dennis Hopper), who he has employed to kill his wife. Williams, short of a few dollars, doesn't correct Wayne, and plans to take the cash, warn the victim and get out of town. Things start to get tricky from here when his wife Suzanne Brown (Lara Flynn Boyle), makes Williams a counter offer to get rid of Wayne, for twice the amount on her head. He makes his second mistake when he takes her money and runs. But...

He quickly scribbles off a letter to the local sheriff about Wayne and Suzanne (mistake number three) and attempts to leave town. From this point, things just deteriorate into the biggest mess imaginable. Anyone who has told a small white lie and has suddenly found themselves in the midst of a huge pile of poo that's unable to be backed out of will know what this means. And just when you think it couldn't get any worse for Michael Williams, Lyle from Texas rolls into town. To tell you any more will simply ruin the series of events that follow, and the number of twists and turns is both wonderful and frustrating. This is a film best watched knowing as little as possible.

If you enjoy David Lynch type films, but with a plot you can follow, then this is for you. There are elements of Hitchcock here also, and the combination of these two styles is a winner. The excellent cast brilliantly develops the characters. The camera work is excellent, the editing is very good, and the various small town settings are atmospheric and somewhat claustrophobic.

The constantly twisting story, the interwoven events and the small town characters combine to keep you firmly entrenched in Michael Williams' world. The harder he tries to leave town, the quicker he finds himself back in the middle of it, and although this might sound unlikely, it's actually quite believable. There is a lesson here for anyone who has ever been tempted to meddle in affairs that are not really their concern - don't!

  Video
Contract

Don't let the DVD cover and cover shots fool you. They may look a little faded and worn, but the video quality of this is anything but. Sure, it's not reference quality, but being made in 1992 means that the production values are quite good. The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Colours are strong and natural. Skin tones are also very accurate and well contrasted. The picture has great clarity and the image is sharp with great definition.

There are no problems with such things as colour bleeding or chroma noise. The source material is very clean and virtually free from dirt, dust, marks and flecks. Shadow detail is generally good and the dark bar scenes and the numerous night scenes look good. There is some minor but infrequent aliasing, but nothing to cause concern. There is no evidence of edge enhancement.

There is no layer change to disrupt proceedings and the whole movie flows extremely well.

  Audio
Contract

Although we are not treated to a full 5.1 audio mix, the Dolby Digital stereo track is still quite good, performing admirably enough. You my need to give the volume control a tweak, but other than that everything else is quite good. There is a solid and quite dynamic sound range, and both the low-level sounds and the higher treble sounds are good.

The sound is clear and there are no problems hearing the dialogue or with audio synchronisation. There is some slight separation of sound, and panning has been used to quite good effect. There is no sound from the centre or rear speakers, and the subwoofer likewise is silent.

The music provided is very good, and borders on spaghetti western. The low-level sounds here are quite good. There are no subtitles included.

  Extras
Contract

The extras provided are minimal and give little extra value to the disc, but some is better than none, as they say.

The Director's Commentary features the director, John Dahl, and friend?, but strangely we meet them mid-conversation and as we are not treated to an introduction we can only assume the other commentator is his brother and co-writer, Rick Dahl. This is quite off-putting, especially having no idea what they are talking about initially. At the five minute mark, Scott Chestnut, the editor of the film, drops in unannounced - and solo! The two writers and the editor continue to alternate, but only Chestnut actually addresses anything on screen. What's going on here?

The commentary itself is quite solid and there are no real gaps. The editor gives most insight into the creation process, casting, writing, character development and where the writing inspirations come from. The director and his brother give more commentary on the idea for the film, location scouting, and the intricacies of location filming.

An obligatory theatrical trailer is provided in a non-anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital 2.0. It provides enough intrigue for those who might stumble across it, even if it is very dark and a very dirty full frame print.

Five talent profiles are provided for the main cast and crew, but they are simply stagnant screens presenting filmographies.

There are also two further trailers, for Bagdad Cafe and Jamon Jamon provided in Umbrella Propaganda and again these should provoke enough interest to encourage viewers to seek them out. The trailers themselves however are not of great quality, but the actual DVD releases are superior to the dark and dirty trailers.

  Overall  
Contract

Red Rock West is a very good thriller with numerous plot twists, solid acting and some fine suspense, with each twist throwing up more questions until the pieces all finally fall into place. The film plays like Lynch meets Hitchcock with some atmospheric and most appropriate music. The story is largely believable and never less than enthralling. It's a shame that this film did not have the marketing and exposure it deserved, and the DVD will possible get swamped by the large number of releases that are flooding the market. Those who manage to cross its path will be rewarded.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2221
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      And I quote...
    "Lynch meets Hitchcock in this little known gem. Plenty of twists, a good script, a quality cast, and a decent transfer! What’s going on here? "
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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