Friday, 18 April 2014

"Blow" on BLU RAY – A Review Of The Ted Demme 2001 Film





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"…I'd Broken A Promise…" – Blow on BLU RAY

It’s the summer of 1968 and ‘Boston’ George Jung of New England Massachusetts (Johnny Depp) arrives on Manhattan Beach in California with $300 dollars in his pocket and his rotund childhood best buddy 'Tuna' in tow (Ethan Suplee of My Name Is Earl). Every girl is gorgeous and says things like "right on", "groovy" and "solid". And everyone - but everyone - is getting stoned smoking Pot. 

It’s a far cry from his constantly bickering parents Fred and Ermine Young (Ray Liotta and Rachel Griffiths). His Dad is a Plumber/Heating Contractor who slaves 7 days a week for his half-crazy high-aspirations wife who keeps leaving him and coming back again. Both are always two minutes away from financial foreclosure. George worships his father Fred as a dependable blue-collar hero - but determines he will never be like that - or them – and absolutely never be that kind of parent to his own children…

One afternoon in their Californian beach apartment – armed with a huge bag of quality grass - blond-haired George and a giggling Tuna hook up with Kevin Dulli. Dulli (Max Perlich) is another college dropout who tells the hippy pair that he’s never smoked Pot this good before. Kevin also points out that there are 100,000 rich college kids back East who would pay handsomely for such quality. George gets an idea to make easy money and visits his supplier Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens) - a gay who owns a men’s hair salon. And soon he is using Derek, Air Hostess Barbara (a beach girl he’s fallen in love with played by Franka Potente from The Bourne films) and his pal Dulli to courier Pot from LAX to BOS airports via her two suitcases that never get checked because she’s staff.

Now demand is outstripped supply – so they go to the source in Mexico and literally ask on the streets for a hook up with a Pot dealer. They get what they want and are soon flying in a single-engine Cessna (with the pilot door missing) into a private strip and start dealing big time. George, Tuna, Dulli and Barbara buy a gaudy multi-layered Canyon mansion with their illicit gains - working hard and partying even harder by the pool. But when George’s parents come to visit – they can’t figure out where all the money’s coming from? And on it goes to Columbia in 1976 where George meets with the ruthless drug baron Pablo Escobar (Cliff Curtis) and soon Dulli and George haven’t enough room to fit thirty million dollars in cash in their apartment’s closet.

But in between all of this 'living-the-dream' lifestyle comes the first of many disappointments and heartbreaks. George gets busted in Chicago in 1972 with 622 kilos of Grass and is charged with intent to distribute; he gets two years prison time. But following a nosebleed at dinner with his parents – it transpires that his beloved girlfriend Barbara has cancer - and literally doesn’t have two years to wait for him. And while in prison George meets with even worse – a South American called Diego (Jordi Molla) with a sweet and persuasive tongue - asking the money-hungry George has he ever dreamt of ‘cocaine’…

"Blow" is a story film – and a long one at that. Acapulco 1972 becomes Florida 1987 morphing into California 1990  – and you’re presented with one long litany of narcotic clichés - addiction, greed, sex, paranoia, stupidity, double-crossing friends, physical depravation and what the lack of willpower will do to a person.

It’s undoubtedly cool too – the house parties – the naked girls – lines off tables – fancy restaurants – and a trophy Columbian wife Mirtha (Penelope Cruz) who is the probably the most desirable woman on the planet. There’s even possible redemption for George when he and Mirtha have a daughter Kristina (Emma Roberts) whom he adores with his whole being. Maybe he will clean up for her…

But on his 38th birthday George uses his 6-year old daughter with devastating lifetime results (dialogue above). Still - maybe he’ll get a second chance at the age of 42 (but now looking like he’s 92) as he tapes an apology to his aging and broken father Fred that he hopes will make amends somehow. He quotes their father-child mantra "…Dance With The Stars…" which now seems like a cruel and sad echo from the past…

The BLU RAY picture is superlative throughout. It’s Anamorphic 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio (bars top and bottom) but even stretched to Full Aspect – it still looks top dog all the way through (especially in the sunnier destinations). Audio is English 5.1 Dolby Digital and English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD with a Subtitle of English for the Hard Of Hearing. 

The Extras include Focus Points, Behind The Story, George Jung Interview, Music Video, Production Diary, Trailers, Additional Scenes and Character Outtakes.

Adapted for Screenplay by David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes from a book by Bruce Porter, co-Produced by Denis Leary and Directed by Ted Demme - "Blow" tells the true life-story of George Jung and cocaine without fudging the obvious. There are a lot of films about drugs but few of them deal with the bitter reality – especially when it comes to the personal devastation not just to yourself – but also to those who surround you.

Is Ted Demme’s 2001 film about Cocaine and addiction – or is it about what drugs do to your family, your children, your friends, your precious time on this planet, your very soul. It starts out all Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers cool - where everyone is your lover and friend – but ends up a nightmare - doing a 40-year stretch – walking alone in a Prison Compound with mirages in your head – a life wasted - everything you love and care about in the world ostracized.

Incarcerated in 1994 - Federal Inmate 19225004 is due for parole in 2015 - aged 72. Check this film out but be prepared to shed a tear…

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