The Salton Sea (2002)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||99:16 (Case: 103)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (0:00)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||D.J. Caruso|
Warner Home Video
Anthony La Paglia
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Who is Danny Parker (Val Kilmer)? Why is he playing a trumpet in a burning building? Why is his real name Tom Van Allen? These are the questions that are asked at the beginning of The Salton Sea, a movie that is styled in the tradition of film noir and oscillates backwards and forwards between the two separate lives of one man. From this opening scene we are drawn into a world where Parker is a crystal meth user and dealer. A world where he works for the cops as an informant, albeit a rather reluctant one, and who has some deep underlying motivation behind everything he does.
The Salton Sea's strength lies in an excellently conceived plot by the writer of Murder by Numbers scriptwriter Tony Gayton, who twists and turns things inside and out in order to extract as much as he can from the material. He makes sure that we never quite work out what is going on until it is time to reveal it. Additionally, director D. J. Caruso handles a very fine ensemble cast with aplomb, allowing them room to present their own interpretations of the characters. Supporting Kilmer are a varied cast who play the lowlifes that now inhabit Danny Parker's life, including Anthony La Paglia as Garcetti, a crooked cop using Danny to bust up dope addicts and scoring from them, and his partner Morgan (Doug Hutchinson). Vincent D'Onofrio is Pooh Bear, who is the Crystal Meth king and has taken so much of the drug he has lost his nose. Other bit players include Deborah Kara Unger, his abused next door neighbour, and Quincy (Luis Guzman), her boyfriend. She offers a friendship that never quite matures and he offers nothing but misery.
From the outset we gain a glimpse into the history of Crystal Meth, its origins, manufacture and quite graphically, its uses (shades of Requiem for a Dream, but Requiem was much more graphic). Parker is now in the middle of a goth/punk lifestyle where he not only takes the drug, he also deals it to others. He is a man who lives on the edge though, as the two bent cops use him to snitch on other drug dealers and bust them. Along for the ride are Danny's friend, Jimmy (Peter Sarsgaard), who will do anything for Danny, although he has no real idea who he is and a bunch of other crystal meth misfits who can't even plan a robbery in their own minds (which turns into quite a funny scene). Danny, though, seems to be struggling with his own place in things. So long has he been immersed and with the cops hassling him, he decides to stake it all on a one shot deal with Pooh Bear. The problem is, Pooh Bear is probably the most dangerous dealer in the city. Beneath all of this though, nobody knows that Danny has his own agenda, an agenda in which Tom Van Allen is a part and which will ultimately pull all the pieces of the puzzle into order.
When I first saw the cover for this movie at the video store I thought it was some sort of punk rock movie. When I first sat down to review the movie I had visions of a typical piece of Hollywood fare, but this is far from it. Firstly, the cast of this movie is extremely well chosen. The style and pace of the movie isn't typical Hollywood either, because a very dark and seedy part of life is portrayed. There are no bright lights here. There are lots of dark places. Characters and even the walls sweat and peel with decay. Kilmer provides a voice-over monologue to prime you for what is ahead, the trumpet plays its funereal dirge and the building burns slowly, a metaphor for his life as Danny Parker. This is a very good movie which I thoroughly enjoyed once I got past the packaging. If you enjoy something different, then this is one that needs to be in your collection.
An excellent transfer to DVD is the order of the day here with only minor problems to spoil your viewing pleasure.
The aspect ratio of the transfer is 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced, which is very close to its theatrical release of 1.85:1
Grain is very minimal throughout, with no major problems attributable to it. No low level noise was noted with solid blacks at all times. Shadow detail is excellent with solid backgrounds providing plenty of depth to the picture. Fine detail is plentiful for a very pleasing presentation.
There are no problems with the colour on this disc with an excellent palette in use. The saturation levels are excellent with skin tones spot on and no colour bleed or chroma noise noted.
Some slight aliasing on a phone cord at 13:44 and some pixelization at 1:01 along a trumpet are the worst of the glitches noted. No film artefacts were noted and if any exist they were so small as to be insignificant. No MPEG break-up was detected and any other artefacts were pleasantly absent.
We have standard fare for the subtitles, being white with a black border. They are small and well placed, offering little interference with the visuals and are very precise to the spoken word.
The layer change occurs at 55:26 mid scene but is so well placed as to be almost unnoticeable.
An English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at 384 kilobits adorns this DVD. From the outset, there is a lot to relish with this soundtrack. There is an excellent soundfield generated from the front speakers with lots of separation. Ably supported by some good rear work, the immersive quality is high without being overpowering and sustained energy from the music augmented the sometimes slow-moving pace of the movie.
There are no problems with the dialogue, although Vincent D'Onofrio's 'noseless' speech was a little hard to discern when he first appeared, but you quickly get used to it. There were no discernable syncing issues throughout.
The music is by Thomas Newman and is a real highlight of the movie. Trumpet and blues mixed in with cranking techno sounds throughout give this a really diverse flavour. At no time does the music dominate or become overpowering - Newman has a deft touch that is appreciated.
The surround channels are well utilised to add a very full envelope, especially to the music used in the movie. There is little in the way of isolated channel work with the rears taking on mono characteristics but they are used quite a bit and add significantly to the overall quality of the soundtrack.
The subwoofer is used in a slightly muted way. It never really draws full attention to itself but there is a solid undercurrent when needed to add that extra dimension to the soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Both the Region 1 and Region 4 releases appear to be precisely the same except the R1 gets a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and we get an Italian 5.1 track.
A depressing world inhabited by depressing people whose only outlet seems to be drugs; either taking them or busting those that use them. Even the walls scream out for a coat of paint in this dark, dank and seedy movie about the underbelly of life. The Salton Sea won't appeal to everyone, but if you like your movies without all the glitz and glamour, then you could do worse. Strong casting, an excellent plot with plenty of twists, well acted with strong direction and you have something to savour. Personally recommended!
|DVD||Sony NS-305, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Rotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Rotel RB 985 MkII|
|Speakers||JBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer|