Angels Don’t Sleep Here is the stuff of crime melodrama: long forgotten murders, revenge, twin brothers, and corrupt public officials. It’s a mild foray into the genre. The film knows the notes but not the music; but the actors, or the instruments, (if we continue the music metaphor) really save the day.
Dana Ashbrook (from Twin Peaks) plays a forensic specialist who returns to an unnamed city to start poking around about his long lost twin brother. The trail leads to a DA (Kelly Rutherford)… who later becomes Ashbrook’s lover. The trail also leads to corrupt cops and politicians (played by Robert Patrick and Roy Scheider, respectively). The strength of the film is the acting. Both Ashbrook and Rutherford play it very straight and very natural. A more “over the top” acting style would’ve made the movie, with its “over the top” subject matter, unbearable to watch. Patrick has seen better days. I kept waiting for him to turn into liquid metal. But he’s fine here. And Roy Scheider… What has happened to you? You were Popeye Doyle’s partner in the The French Connection… you were Joe Gideon in the fantastic All That Jazz… and you were the perfect everyman, Sheriff Brody in Jaws. You just look tired here, as if saying “why can’t I get any good scripts”. Note to Tarantino, if you’re looking at a comeback for an actor…writer a part for Scheider, okay?
The filmmaker, Paul Cade, directs his material with a slickness… but like an oil patch. The camera moves more often than it should (and for no apparent reason). The film is more successful when Cade just locks the camera down and lets the acting do the work. However, he does create a kind of creepy discomfort with the cold, antiseptic like atmosphere.
This disc is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround stereo, but there’s not a lot of surround here. The mix is fairly front heavy. Most of the rear speaker action is reserved for ominous music cues and occasional gun shots. The dialogue is clear and well mixed. It’s not a great audio track, but it does the job.
This 1.33:1 fullscreen transfer is pretty clean. Not a lot of digital artifacts or edge enhancements. This is a good, straightforward transfer, but the look of the film is a bit on the bland side though. Blacks aren’t really that rich, and flesh tones aren’t really that fleshy. But again…it’s not all that bad. I’ve seen worse.
None. And there’s a reason… there no menu to go to Special Features! I’m not joking. There’s no menu. I’ve never seen a DVD without a menu. I was shocked. I put the movie in my player… there’s a FBI warning and then the movie starts. I push menu… menu… nothing. The movie is over, so I thought maybe it will go back to menu… but no! The FBI thing starts all over again, and the movie does too. So, maybe it was just my copy, but if it’s not, you’ll be taking your chances if you really like DVD menus.
Despite the lack of menu, Angels Don’t Sleep Here is just a baby step ahead of other films of its ilk. The acting is fairly solid…and that’s what makes the movie. The story itself is melodramatic and ridiculous. Video and audio are good, but far from mind blowing. What do you expect from a movie with no menu.
Special Features List