Someone to Watch Over Me
After exploring the science-fiction and fantasy worlds of Alien, Blade Runner and Legend, famed British director Ridley Scott turned to modern-day New York for Someone to Watch Over Me, one of a number of adult-orientated erotic thrillers, including Fatal Attraction, Black Widow and Jagged Edge, to appear in the late eighties.
Tom Berenger (Platoon, Inception) plays a blue-collar NYPD detective assigned to protect a wealthy murder witness (Mimi Rogers, The Rapture). Soon, the relationship becomes an affair, threatening Berenger’s marriage to Lorraine Bracco (Goodfellas, The Sopranos), and the killer is still on the loose…
Stylishly shot by Steven Poster (Donnie Darko), Someone to Watch Over Me is glossy, high-concept filmmaking from start to finish.
Ridley Scott’s Someone to Watch Over Me receives a region B locked Blu-ray edition from Indicator, presented on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode. North American viewers will need to use a player that can playback region B content.
Though I can’t say I was completely blown away by what has been delivered here, it’s perfectly serviceable enough. Sourced from a recent 2K restoration (that I think may have been scanned from an interpositive), the picture delivers a clean looking image that manages to provide a good, if not incredible amount of detail, grain looking okay if a bit clumpy in places. It's a dark film and the encode handles a lot of it rather well, but one of the presentation's biggest weaknesses is that black crush manages to sneak in there and it just flattens the image when it does. Most other aspects are strong, though: colours look nice and, it being a Scott film, Someone to Watch Over Me is loaded with smoke, reflective surfaces, and intense highlights, all of which is rendered without issue, the smoke even managing to stay natural and clean with no banding or artifacts present.
Damage isn’t an issue and I don’t recall anything noteworthy ever popping up. Overall, it all looks fine. If I don’t come off super excited here it’s simply because this is just an average, nice-looking representation of an 80’s thriller. It looks good, but is more or less what I was expecting.
The PCM 2.0 stereo presentation also does its job. The soundtrack is quite sharp with a nice level of range, from the quiet opening credits with the title song playing over it, to the louder more “thriller” moments, which call for more yelling, smashing, and gunshots. Dialogue is clear, the music fills things out nicely, and the overall quality is sharp.
Shout! Factory released the film on Blu-ray around 2 years ago through their Select line, and it was a skimpy release when it came to extras: separate interviews with screenwriter Howard Franklin (over 10-minutes) and director of photography Steven Poster (14-minutes), both of which have been carried over to this edition.
Both interviews are good, just short. Franklin talks about how he came up with the idea for the film (Cruising, of all films, inspired him) and he touches on how Scott came to be involved and how they did butt heads due to each having a different vision for the film. Poster talks about the more technical aspects around lighting and shooting the film, going over the looks Scott’s films can have and how he pulled off a number of shots in the film, including the mirror sequence, the Guggenheim sequence, and the murder that sets the whole film's plot off.
Those interviews together aren't even 25-minutes, but Indicator does offer more bang for one’s buck (or I guess it would be "quid" in this case) over the Shout! edition by including a new audio commentary featuring filmmaker and film historian Jim Hemphill. Hemphill, a big fan of Scott and even this film, works to defend it, explaining why he feels it’s one of the director’s more underrated works. Though he’s not changing my mind on the film anytime soon, I had to admire the level of effort he puts into it and he manages to bring up some decent points about what Scott is trying to do with the film and its look at class and an obsession with wealth that was heightened (to say the least) during the 80’s. He does veer off often throughout, even going down what sounds like unrelated subjects (when talking about screenwriter Howard Franklin he manages to somehow get on the subject of Bill Murray and how his career trajectory went after a few successes), though always manages to get back to the topic at hand. He also talks about a number of Scott’s other films in relation to this one, showing the wide range of genres the director has worked his way through. It’s a decent track in the end, one I ended up enjoying a good deal.
Indicator then includes a small image gallery featuring production photos and a handful of posters (the Polish one is great!), followed by the film’s original trailer. The limited edition also comes with a 31-page booklet, which starts off with a lengthy essay by Jamie Graham, who uses the film as an example for how the director could move from genre to genre with little effort, saying Scott is more of a studio director in the tradition of Howard Hawks and Michael Curtiz. The booklet also includes a couple of reprinted interviews from 1987: one with director of photography Steven Poster for American Cinematographer, followed by a short one with actor Mimi Rogers. The booklet then closes with a small sampling of critics’ responses to the film. Though Ebert’s found things to like he was generally cold, both Bob Thomas and Julian Petley seemed to enjoy it.
It’s still not a stacked edition by any means but the commentary is a decent new addition, and Indicator’s booklet is, as usual, a real selling point.
Not a knock-out edition by any means but for fans of the film this would be the one to pick up.