In Short: Outstanding, but overlooked at the box office Clint Eastwood flick gets fairly good DVD treatment.
"True Crime" stars Clint Eastwood as washed up reporter Steve Everett, one of those film characters who doesn't seem like he's got much left and in definite need of redemption. He's got a fairly rocky(to put it lightly) relationship with his wife, quite a few problems at work, he's having relationships with women less than half his age and to top things off, he's trying to quit his rather nasty drinking habit. The film follows the story of Everett inheriting a "human relations piece" from a female co-reporter he was having a relationship with when she is suddenly killed in a car crash. The story is of a young African American man on death row who may or may not be innocent of the crime he's accused of: killing a young woman in a convience store robbery in broad daylight.
Even though the story doesn't always hold up for the running time, Eastwood has certainly done an incredible job here bringing great(and some even fantastic) performances out of his actors. These are not one-dimensional characters, either. They are wonderfully rich and fully written. There's his editor-in-chief(played by James Woods in an absolutely electric performance), his editor( Dennis Leary in yet another excellent performance) and other small characters that pop out of the chaos of the newsroom, where the best scenes of the film are contained. There are scenes in this newsroom, exchanges of dialogue between Eastwood and Leary or Eastwood and Woods or a triangle arguement between all three, that are wonderfully sharp and absolutely engrossing to watch. These scenes have a spark to them that give the movie a serious momentum: I was not bored for one out of the 127 minutes.
Everett begins doing research into the background of the case and slowly, naturally, begins to do a little investigation and realizes that there is more to the case than meets the eye. What I found refreshing was the pace at which Everett put the pieces together; he's not given all the answers right away and when he does get them, they aren't implausable or predictable. I really enjoyed the flow of the film as well; it starts off slowly and then builds fantastically, little by little. At one point, Steve finds himself stuck with taking his daughter to the zoo in the middle of tracking down a lead. He simply makes a game out of the situation, making the trip a game with his daughter to see how fast he can run(literally) her through the zoo while she sits in a stroller, a game that doesn't exactly end well. You can see a perfect example of the perfection of the building tension throughout the film in one scene where Everett is interviewing the convicted man. It starts off with basic conversation and slowly, it builds up, with a richly detailed and careful pace, to a fierce confrontation that only makes Everett more eager to find proof of the man's innocence.
The convicted man is played by Isaiah Washington, who was recently seen in "Out Of Sight". He gives a very, very strong performance as a man facing his last hours, and his interaction with his wife and young daughter during these scenes is frequently heartbreaking. I don't know the name of the girl who played the daughter of Washington's character, but it's the debut of a natural actress. The girl gives the simple act of not being able to find a green crayon to finish a picture for her father great emotional impact.
The film comes back to the newsroom every so often and it's wonderful how the film pushes off from these points, gaining momentum till the final reel: "True Crime" even has a very sharp plot twist to throw at us before it really starts chugging along as Everett begins to race to beat the clock in his search for information. The final sequences are staged smartly and bring out every last bit of tension as "True Crime" builds to near overload, but thanks to Eastwood's incredible skill, it's never implausable and, in this film, it had me on the edge of my seat.
"True Crime" is a finely crafted film by Eastwood and his team of writers(Stephen Schiff, Larry Gross, Paul Brickman) that is thrillingly smart and constently powerful. There are even some scenes where Eastwood works in some instances of sharp and very funny humor, especially in the newsroom. Performances are excellent across the board, especially James Woods and Eastwood; the scenes between the two of them just crackle with energy. The film does go a bit too overboard in terms of the emotional level at times and there are a few minutes here and there that could have been trimmed. These are minor complaints though, in a film that works so hard at putting together a film of the highest quality for its length.
I left the theater with a smile on my face, the film is just that good. This a film that is done by an absolute professional; the performances, the dialogue and especially the pacing, work gloriously well in a film that I would definitely see again. Great characters and memorable scenes make "True Crime" truly grand entertainment.
The DVD VIDEO: This is a good anamorphic transfer from Warner Brothers in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. First, there are definitely a few positives to the image quality. Images are consistently sharp and clear throughout The disc also presents the colors of the newsroom as well as the pale browns and greys of the prison correctly and accurately. Colors are pure , natural and well-saturated. Fleshtones are accurate throughout, in all the various lighting tones. The print used is clean, free of nics, scars or other blemishes. Detail is good throughout.
Where the disc goes wrong is a noticable amount of pixelization during some of the film. Nothing hugely distracting, but when I noticed it, it was definitely enough to make a note of. Thankfully, it's not evident throughout the entire film- I mainly just noticed it in a few interior scenes. The exterior shots, all filmed in San Fransisco look really good, with sharp images and strong detail. Overall, with a few exceptions, it's definitely a nice image-just not the best work I've seen from Warner Brothers.
SOUND: A suprisingly nice sound mix. I saw this in theaters and didn't find the sound mix that memorable, and although it's not as impressive as most action movies, there's certainly a nice use of ambient sounds as well as a few nice instances of rain and thunder use. Dialogue is clear and clean, never sounding compressed or thin. There's a nice detail as people talk in the prisons, with the sounds of their voices echoing.
MENUS: Like their recent edition of "Message In A Bottle", warner has prepared a nice opening animation clip of scenes from the movie that lead you into a well-done fully animated main menu. The animated clip is really well-done, but goes on a little too long- personally, I just want to start the movie right when I put the disc in.
Documentary:"The Scene Of The Crime", an informative documentary that contains interviews with Clint Eastwood detailing his thoughts on the origin of the project and what he thought of the screenplay and novel as well as his thoughts on the ideals and concepts that went into his character. Other members of the cast also share their thoughts not only on what is was like to work with Clint Eastwood as a director, but on the relationship that their character has to the plot in general. The only problem that I had with this documentary is that I wish there would be a little more in the way of interviews and a little less in the way of clips from the film. The documentary runs about 8 minutes.
Documentary 2:"True Crime:True Stories": A documentary focusing on the true story of an LA times reporter whose investigation of a wrongly accused prisoner is similar to this film's, providing interviews with the reporter and clips from the film. This documentary runs a little over 20 minutes.
Also::A music video("Why Should I Care?", by Diana Krall) and the trailer. Cast and crew bios are also included.
Final thoughts:A Really good film, definitely a nice DVD- Recommended.
The Film: 95/A = (475/500 possible points)
Video: 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Audio: 90/A- = (360/400 possible points)
Extras: 83/B = (249/300 possible points)
Menus: 89/B+ = (178/200 possible points)
Value 90/A- = (270/300 possible points)
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True Crime Warner Home Video
1.85:1/ Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time:127 Minutes