So I’ve gotten around to watching the 4K disc of Tony Scott’s True Romance that was recently released by Arrow. Picture-wise the film looks fantastic, especially the cooler shots in the first thirty minutes or so before the setting switches to California; once the story moves there, Tony Scott’s obsession with orange filters betrays the films age (there was a time it seemed all films looked that way), but detail is always very good -faces and fabrics of clothes can be astonishingly detailed, the widened colour gamut and the HDR both really do add depth. Its a great presentation and another example of why 4K is such a great format.
I hadn’t watched the film is quite a while, possibly not since the DVD days. I’d first seen the film in the cinema, apparently one of the view that did- at the time I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t a big hit, I mean, it’s got mainstream success written all over it; sharp, fast-moving script, a stellar cast, nice music, plenty of action and laughs, but it just didn’t connect. Maybe it was just too ‘cool’ to convince, before filmgoers got used to Tarantino’s style with Pulp Fiction etc. Maybe only the film nerds ‘got it’ at the time. Certainly the scene between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper ranks as one of the very greats and must surely have been cited in favourite-scene lists over the years since.
I think the problem for the film -and I actually count it as a plus rather than a problem- is that its not exactly a Quentin Tarantino film and not exactly a Tony Scott film, but rather something else in between. Its got the witty, too-clever-to-be-real trademark Tarantino dialogue, but it doesn’t look like a Tarantino movie, and while it looks like a Tony Scott movie (visually all sorts of nods to Days of Thunder, Top Gun etc) it never sounds like a Tony Scott movie: everytime anyone opens their mouth you know who wrote the script. It has this weird almost ‘indie’ vibe when so many Scott films seemed so depressingly, calculatedly commercial: True Romance always seemed more something his brother Ridley might do (witness Thelma and Louise that came out a few years prior). That being said, before Tony Scott went and made Days of Thunder and The Last Boy Scout, but after (jeez, what a filmography) he’d made Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop 2, he’d made Revenge, which is my favourite film of his (and by the way, where’s the bloody Blu-ray of that?) so perhaps True Romance should be less a surprise in his filmography.
Part violent crime drama, part geeky wish-fulfillment romance, the film always feels more adult fairy tale than anything real, and I’ve come to the opinion this time around that the two leads are absolutely batshit crazy insane and really rather quite scary. You can watch these kinds of characters in films and maybe even root for them but crikey, I wouldn’t want to actually meet them.
Anyway, anybody who likes this film really should get this 4K edition if they have the kit because this really is the best it has ever looked and it’s one of those feature-laden special editions that seems quite rare these days – four commentaries and then additional scene-specific commentaries from actors, and also new interviews to accompany all the past features/deleted scenes from the old DVD (and presumably Blu-ray) special editions which allows those discs to go in the bin (“if you got ’em, bin ’em” as QT might say). Really, the weakest thing about this release is the horrid box art (but at least the standard amaray case within has reversible cover art); other than that, this is absolutely Definitive and the last copy of True Romance that anybody shall ever need buy.
Mind, I can remember thinking the same thing in the VHS days when films finally went widescreen- was I really ever that young and dumb?