Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Jon Polito
20th Century Fox
Leo (Albert Finney),
a likeable Irish gangster boss, rules an Eastern city along with
Tom (Byrne), his trusted lieutenant and counselor. But just as
an Italian underboss (Polito) and his ruthless henchman
(J.E. Freeman) challenge their authority, Leo and Tom also fall for
the same woman (Harden). Tom, caught in the jaws of a gangland
power struggle, walks a deadly tightrope as he tries to control
and manipulate its violent outcomes.
the great Blood Simple and the hilarious Raising
Arizona, The Coen Bros. create yet another visually defining
piece of work. Miller’s Crossing makes Gabriel Byrne
stand out really well among a very fine cast. The film is about
controlling territory and to what extremes some people will go
to achieve such control. The opening scene is interesting, but
the next twenty-or so minutes do not indicate right away
what the underlying textures of the film are going to be. Only
after thirty minutes did I really get into the film. As the film
progressed so did my enjoyment.
doesn’t move as fast as it should and lacks a particular focus
on its progression, but the positive aspects of the film
ultimately outweigh the negatives. For example, Carter Burwell’s
score is exciting and moving. Byrne’s acting is focused and
cool. Barry Sonnenfeld’s cinematography is engaging and
inventive. And last, but certainly not least, the Coen Bros.’
storytelling is imperative. While I think some story elements or
scenes need more tightening, the rest are fantastic. Consider
the scene between Byrne and John Turturro in the forest,
terrific. Watch for Albert Finney’s commanding and in-your-face
(literally) rampage as he unloads rounds of ammunition into the
bodies of two assassins in his house. Jon Polito is both
notorious and hilarious as Italian underboss Johnny Caspar. The
whole film is essentially a cat-and-mouse game with twists and
turns. The last fifteen minutes are especially indicative of the
smarts of the Coen Bros.
should be considered a Coen classic, but aren’t all of their
films? Who can choose a favorite from films like Blood Simple,
Raising Arizona, Fargo and The Big Lebowski?
One fact remains, the Coen Bros. deliver a very fine crime drama
with Miller’s Crossing.
is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. For
this DVD release, 20th Century Fox updates the print to very
good standards, thereby accentuating Barry Sonnenfeld’s
"handsome" cinematography. The lack of color detail and depth
from the fullscreen VHS version is gone as Miller’s Crossing
is presented with a very nice transfer. The colors are terrific
in this presentation, especially if you compare it to the VHS
version. The transfer really picks up on the green colors in the
forest scenes and likewise at other points in the film. I didn’t
notice any major artifacts or dirt, but minor problems occurred
in some parts. Dark tones and black levels are handled quite
well. While I don’t think the transfer is digitally mastered,
the print looks pretty clean overall. Miller’s Crossing
looks very good, but not great.
Century Fox presents Miller’s Crossing in an English 4.0
Surround track. The film sustains its impact even though a 5.1
track is not available. Many of the sound effects, mainly
gunshots, impact the presentation. Rear speakers are quite
hesitant and most of the noise is concentrated on the front
speakers, but the noise of this track can’t be ignored. Carter
Burwell’s very good score is accentuated surprisingly well.
Dialogue is clear most of the time. On a few occasions, however,
the lack of surround usage takes its toll on the characters’
accents making some dialogue hard to understand, but subtitles
come in handy in this case. Overall, the 4.0 Surround Sound
presents its capabilities rather well, but falls short of being
anywhere near impressive.
Sonnenfeld Featurette – This one-on-one conversation (8:35) with Sonnenfeld is the only substantial extra worth your time. While
it doesn’t substitute for an audio commentary, this interview
holds interesting and valuable information, such as which lenses
Sonnenfeld likes to shoot in and how he became acquainted with
the Coen’s and ended up as the cinematographer on three of their
films. Fans of the Coen’s and anyone with an interest in
cinematography should check out this "handsome" featurette.
Interviews – Not necessarily interviews per se, these snippets
taken from interviews feature Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden
and John Turturro talking up the film, production, the Coen’s,
their respective characters, etc. A “play all” function is
included which gives these snippets more of a flow instead of
painstakingly selecting each one by one.
get the theatrical trailer for Miller’s Crossing (in
2.35:1 widescreen format) and promos for Raising Arizona
and Barton Fink. Lastly, some photos of the cast and crew
make up the Still Gallery.
The DVD offers English and Spanish
subtitles. The menus are not animated. The 115-minute feature is
organized into twenty-eight chapters.
a fan of the Coen Bros. then Miller’s Crossing is
definitely for you. It’s a smart crime drama with a really cool
performance by Gabriel Byrne, among other really good things
(you’ll know if you read the critique). Video and audio
presentations are good, but not great. A lack of substantial
extras also hurts this release, but the film should not be
ignored. A commentary would have been genius, but even without
it, this DVD comes recommended. For anyone who is not a fan of
the Coen Bros., rent it and you won’t be disappointed.
(not an average)