Not since Scarface with Al Pacino has there been a film that captured the world of the drug lord as well as Blow. The style is reminiscent of Goodfellas with its character-driven narrative and snapshot photography. Taken from the real-life story of George Jung who is still serving a 30-year sentence for drug trafficking, Blow explores the evolution of cocaine as the drug of choice for the American elite. Ted Demme manages to give us an honest portrayal of Jung that does not glorify or justify his evil deeds. Yet, the film does manage to evoke some sympathy for the man. Johnny Depp and a terrific cast, including Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman) deliver in every scene.
True story follows the life and crimes of George Jung (Depp) as he goes from small time pot dealing to the introduction of cocaine in the American market.
The audio is a very fine Dolby Digital 5.1 mix supplied in this release. Highs contain superb clarity and the lows, while not frequent, make themselves known when they are present. Ambient sounds are used artistically. There is often the temptation to overuse surrounds in a vain attempt to show off. Blow’s best testament is that the ambient sounds do not stand out but rather blend effortlessly into the sound field. The use of period source music is handled well. Dialogue is always clear and perfectly placed. This is a very sweet mix.
There is a commentary track with Ted Demme and George Jung. Demme dominates the track and at times seems to be overflowing with excitement. It can be quite contagious. The comments from the real-life George Jung get redundant and don’t mix well with Demme’s enthusiasm. It is obvious the two were not recorded together.
Blow is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The transfer is close to flawless. I found zero film artifacts or specks. There was no noticeable grain present. Colors are near reference, and darks are nothing short of outstanding. I was able to easily discern a great deal of detail. I was slightly disappointed in some of the Columbian vistas. The color and sharpness were great, but the framing does not take the best advantage of some of the natural scenery. It’s a shame that the best use of the landscape appears in a scene deleted from the actual film. (You can find it in the extras.)
New Line has released this film with something they call Infinifilm, which as far as I can tell just means bonus materials. When you enter the infini menu you will find a good collection of extras.
I loved the generous collection of deleted scenes. It’s apparent this film could have clocked in at two and a half hours of quality stuff. Don’t miss these gems. You can watch them with or without a commentary from Demme. Character outtakes come off like a series of interviews with most of the cast as their film characters. They tell us their impressions of George. A couple of trailers are included as is the usual collection of bios and production notes.
In an attempt perhaps to add balance to the story the disc includes two short documentaries. “Lost Paradise” is a Spanish-language feature about the effect the cocaine trade has had on Columbia. “Addiction: Body and Soul” is a 6 minute primer on the science of addiction. An interview session with George Jung starts out interesting but gets uncomfortable as Demme begins to descend almost into hero worship.
Nikki Costa’s “Push and Pull” music video rounds out a solid collection of extras.
The menus are appropriate and easy to use except for the initial “infinifilm” concept. For some reason the idea is to make a separate section on the disc for the extras. Here’s an idea. How about a 2-disc set?
I didn’t see Blow when it was in theatres and now I wish I had. The story is quite compelling and I can see that it must have truly been a treat on a big screen. Special credit must be given to a clever cast that gelled well together. This is one of those skip the rent phase and just pick it up DVD’s. You see, the trick is “to pay close attention to the small details”.