filmhead2.jpg (3932 bytes)

Out of Sight/A,A

Universal/1990/145m/WS 1.85

     Out of Sight is one smooth movie ride. The finest dialogue imaginable punctuates every moment. Scenes that vary from "getting to know you" in a car trunk to Friday night at the fights to a rude raid on a posh Detroit mansion all come alive through savvy characterization. These characters say what you think characters like these would say. Their actions are consistent with the world created by the makers of Out of Sight without ever turning predictable.
     This is a delicious set-up. During a prison escape, a U.S. Marshal on the scene is kidnapped. Dumped in her car trunk together with the escapee Jack Foley, the close proximity leads to sexual sparks. Good thing the Marshal is a lady. Elmore Leonard was inspired to write Out of Sight when he chanced on a news photo of a beautiful lady Federal Marshal posing with her shotgun. Tough and sexy Karen Sisco is the result. The pursuit of Foley and the seduction of Sisco ride the same road climaxing in a head on collision at opposite ends of a staircase. The stairs may symbolize the unbreachible gap between these characters from opposite end of the legal spectrum, but before the finale filmmakers make sure their badge-crossed lovers at least get a taste of what it might be like if things were different.
outofsight.jpg (10304 bytes)

Lopez and Clooney: close quarters and sexual sparks. ŠUniversal

      The chemistry between my lady Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney is amazing. Clooney works the magic as Foley. He’s tough, charming, smart and thoroughly romantic. Lopez turns up the sexual barometer every time she’s on the screen. She equally convincing packing a gun and packed into her designer clothing. Clooney and Lopez make the scene in the car trunk hot enough to melt the spare tire. The supporting actors work with beautiful ensemble precision. Albert Brooks disappeared so well into the role of prisoner billionaire Robert Ripley that I had trouble recognizing him until later in the film. Ving Rhames is a little less threatening than usual as Foley henchman Buddy. Don Cheadle continues to infuse films with his unique energy, this time out playing small time con and boxer Snoopy Miller and Dennis Farina play Marshall Sisco with a wink and flare. There are two nice small roles filled by Michael Keaton, reprising FBI agent Ray Nicolet and Sam Jackson a prisoner with a mission to escape.
      The cutting of Out of Sight is bold. The story moves back and forth in a two-year time frame with the same reckless abandon that Jack Foley pulls off bank jobs. While I usually enjoy stories told chronologically, free form suits Out of Sight well. By choosing the order of events carefully, the filmmaker’s maximize emotional involvement. Director Steven Soderbergh consistently makes the right choices. Terrific casting and a team of talented principal collaborators give Out of Sight the goods. Screenwriter Scott Frank, who also wrote the terrific screenplay from Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty, once again proves the perfect interpreter of Leonard’s world. Eccentricity and cockeyed charm are hallmarks of this excellent script. The director and writer appear to be working in perfect sinc. A quirky, pop score reflects the players very well. The slight wink that accompanies the entire production plays throught the score as well. Along with confident photography and smart production design, the entire Out of Sight team plays to the max under director Soderbergh’s command.
     Somebody up there likes me. Out of Sight is transferred with no edge enhancement, resulting in the cleanest possible images. Soderbergh uses very different color and lighting schemes for varied locales of the shoot, which are faithfully transferred on this DVD. Don’t panic at the bright slightly washed out images defining Lompoc Federal Penetentiary. That’s just what Sodewrgergh is looking for. By giving the prison scenes at Lompoc and at Glades distinctly different looks it makes it easier to follow the film’s chronology. From the very difficult lighting in the trunk scene to the lush interiors of Ripley’s Detroit mansion, the transfer reflects the vision of the filmmakers. With sharp and detailed film-like images, Out of Sight is a pleasure. The Dolby Digital 5:1 has good bass beat to punctuate the action. Surround sound provides the right balance of ambiant detail without calling attention to itself.
     Out of Sight is a full blown special edition. The heart of the specials is the enjoyable audio commentary of director Soderbergh and screenwriter Frank. Their wry observations are laced with self-deprecating remarks. It’s an open discussion between the director and writer and often creative decisions where they differ are sited. Listening to the commentary is a sort of handbook of taking the screenplay from the pages of Elmore Leonard’s novel to the screen. Soderbergh mentions how both Michael Keaton and Sam Jackson worked their small roles per gratis and that Quentin Tarantino invited him to see Keaton’s scenes in Jackie Brown to help nail the repeating character of Nicolet in Out of Sight. The spirit of a community of filmmakers wanting to do the best job they can is conveyed in the interaction and respect these filmmakers have for each other. In additon to the commentary there is a by-the-numbers documentary that includes comments and appearances by the cast and crew. A number of expanded and deleted scenes are also part of the package. They might have been more edifying by including Soderbergh’s commentary over them. An index of the songs includes direct access to those film segments.