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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Salton Sea
The Salton Sea
Warner Bros. // R // September 10, 2002
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by D.K. Holm | posted September 30, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

The Salton Sea received a lot of pre-lease hype and enthusiasm, then came out for a week before vanishing into the video stores. In that regard, the film followed the same pattern as The Way of the Gun, another very good, very flawed examination of a violent underground that speaks to a minority of film fans.

When the detailed history of neo-noir, or post-noir or film soleil or film blanc or whatever you want to call it, is finally written, The Salton Sea, like The Way of the Gun, will loom large in that history. Visually stylish, dependably, even iconically, acted, narratively clever, with great, quotable dialogue, both films are premiere examples of their genre and are rather amazing artefacts to come out of contemporary studios.

But that is as much as I want to say about The Salton Sea, which is written by Tony Gayton (Murder by Numbers) and directed by D. J. Caruso (who is doing The Shield on TV right now). The hype failed to spoil the plot of the movie, and when I finally got a chance to seeing it, I soon learned that I was unprepared for its twists and turns. The Salton Sea, a real place, is the "Chinatown" of the film, a location symbolic of a failure of decision making.

Even saying that is too much. Suffice it to note that the film starts out to be the story of Danny Parker (a brilliant Val Kilmer). He's a heavily tattooed musician turned meth addict who lives in a permanent all-night party of tweaked crazies in a Los Angeles apartment. The film begins with a Casino-style history of meth, and then shows Danny and his buddy Jimmy the Finn (an endearing Peter Sarsgaard) going out to refuel the depleted "gak" supplies. Then…

No, that's it. The Salton Sea is better seen when thinking that it is just another portrayal of depressing drug addicts. Just note that (like the equally ignored masterpiece Heat) the film has a fantastic cast. Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Goldberg, Doug Hutchison (the movie is produced by Frank Darabont, who cast this same actor in The Green Mile), Anthony LaPaglia, Deborah Kara Unger, Chandra West, B.D. Wong, R. Lee Ermey and Shalom Harlow. Hey, The Salton Sea is a film that stars both Luis Guzman and Danny Trejo.


The DVD

VIDEO: Warner Home Video offers a fine transfer of this recent film, interestingly shot by Amir M. Mokri (Blue Steel, Coyote Ugly). The single sided, dual layered disc offers a wide screen version of the film (1.85:1) enhanced for widescreen televisions.

SOUND: Sound production if very good, even downright exotic, for this dreamlike film. It comes in Dolby Digital 5.1, in English and French, with English, French, and Spanish subtitles.

MENUS: The static, silent menu offers 29 chapter scene selection for the 103 minute movie.

EXTRAS: The Salton Sea comes with an adequate complement of extras. First off is a 10-minute "making of" documentary called "Embracing the Chaos: A Conversation with the cast of The Salton Sea." It's what you would expect, but is also much more informative than the usual product in this "genre." Second is another "making of" called "Meth and Method: The Production Design of The Salton Sea," an educational eight minute interview with production designer Tom Southwell. Also on hand is the trailer, which you should watch after the movie not before, as it reveals too much of the narrative (and hints at deleted scenes, not included here). Finally, there are cast and crew notes.


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