2 Days in the Valley/B+,B+

HBO/1996/105/WS 2.35

       There's a beat to 2 Days in the Valley. It never stops. It's like a good pop song. It catches you, gets you tapping out the rhythm on the floor of the car while creeping along in expressway traffic. Writer-Director John Herzfeld uses his players and script elements like members of an orchestra. The fine cast works very well together in this highly entertaining ensemble film. Here's a dark comedy that keeps a good balance between taste and excess blood.
     Ice cold hitman Lee Woods (James Spader in one of his best roles) is hired to off a philandering boy friend. He in turn hires a former killer Dosmo Pizzo (Danny Aiello who works in a pizza parlor to assist. The crime is executed with terrific touches of humor, played right down the middle off-center and then Spader proceeds to set Aiello up as the fall guy.  Another beat finds art gallery owner Allan Hopper losing it to kidney stones while driving his BMW in top down San Fernando valley. Cut to Teddy Peppers (Paul Mazursky), a down and out movie director looking at the last shoot. Hopper's sister runs into Pepper at a cemetery, Pizzo falls into Hopper's backyard after escaping Woods, and Jeff Daniels and Eric Stolz are cops investigating the murder after running into a terrified Terry Hatcher fleeing the crime.

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Danny Aiello as a hitman..Rysher

     Add a touch of Charlize Theron as Woods' accomplice, a generous helping of Glenn Headley as Hopper's assistant, send them all on a collision course, and 2 Days in the Valley comes to delightful life.
     This is a very sharp DVD, perhaps a dram too sharp as straight lines and edges tend to jump and break up slightly. The night scenes are beautifully lit in the transfer and colors is rich and eye-popping. Transfer elements are in perfect condition. The 2.35 widescreen DVD incorrectly indicates that it is enhanced for 16 x 9. It is most definitely not anamorphic. Too bad. The Dolby 5:1 mix is very directional and adds impact to the presentation.






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