Another Day in Paradise/B+,B+

Trimark/1998/101m/WS 1.85

       Larry Clark’s Another Day in Paradise has all the ingredients that often turn me off to a movie: blatant drug use; kids swimming on the periphery of life; brutal beatings and cold-blooded murder all captured with hand camera techniques in many low light situations. So I am baffled by the way Another Day of Paradise affected me. I often found the characters sympathetic despite obvious reservations. Maybe it was the way relationships that were developed.  The interaction was often unexpected. As the film raced ahead I was more and more involved with their waiting fates. You’ve got to hand it to Clark. His first feature, Kids was endlessly fascinating to watch despite characters that were a turn off. Clark musters the magic again as he mines depths of society for cinema entertainment.     

Mel and Sid hold court. ©Anchor Bay

      On the surface Another Day in Paradise may be just another crime spree, a road movie with losers self-destructing. But it’s also about family and relationships and love. It’s a trip worth taking.
James Woods is right in his perfect screen element as drug selling low life criminal Mel. Woods makes Mel fascinating to watch yet repellent. He’s unpredictable, violent yet strangely compassionate. In the end Mel is the cold-hearted killer. You can look into Woods’ olive pit eyes and know he means business. Melanie Griffith is very sympathetic as Sid, Mel’s long time companion in bed and crime. The quartet of actors is completed by Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner is excellent along side their more experienced co-stars.

Bobbie and Rosie listen carefully. ©Anchor Bay

     Clark's style doesn't make for a punchy looking DVD. Still, the transfer is very accurate. There is virtually no edge enhancement and at first glance the image may look a little soft. This is not the case. It's a clean image. Color varies according to lighting conditions. Some of the scenes with more interesting lighting techniques come across very well on the DVD. Look at the wonderful way Bobby's face is lit when the book of matches flares in an early scene. There are scenes with grain that are well controlled. The grain has a smooth feel, like film, as opposed to a choppy video look. Another Day of Paradise has an amazing Blues and Soul score filled with moody gems; everybody from Clarence Carter to Otis Redding to Willy Dixon to Bob Dylan. They compliment the film with unusual insight. The music punches up the visuals effectively Clark's overall use of sound is excellent. Pans move with seamlessly from speaker to speaker in this Dolby Digital 5:1 mix. 
     There are two versions of Another Day in Paradise on this DVD, the theatrical release and a director's cut. There's about five minutes additional in the later and I see no reason why not to watch the extra cursing and sexual activity. The DVD also includes audio commentary by director Clark and as music video as well. Clark's commentary is honest and straight forward. He details the genesis of the project, points out the improvised scenes and slides easily into tales about the principals involved in Another Day in Paradise. Clark's movie making philosophy can be summed up by his comment :"I just wanted people to stay loose, not be afraid to do nothing."










































































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