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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Smooth Talk (Blu-ray)
Smooth Talk (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // PG-13 // November 24, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jesse Skeen | posted November 30, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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You know you have too many DVDs when you review a Blu-Ray disc and after watching it realize you've bought the same movie on DVD a long time ago but never got around to watching it. I had picked up MGM's DVD cheap at Big Lots, and somehow didn't remember until I'd finished watching Olive Films' new Blu-Ray and was about to write this review. Given how different the cover art for each are though, it might be hard to recognize.

Smooth Talk from 1985 was based on a short story called "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" and might have made more sense to keep that title. Laura Dern, who had already done a few movies by this point, stars as Connie, a typical lazy 1980s girl who likes to hang out at the mall or burger joint with her friend Laura (Margaret Welsh most of the time, while not helping out at home and being quite distant towards her parents (Mary Kay Place and Levon Helm). Now, this is one of those movies without any obvious plot right away- about the first two-thirds are just Connie either out with friends or at home uncomfortably with her family, as it takes place during summer vacation when typically nothing is going on. The performances and situations keep us interested regardless, and the 1980s scenery certainly helps 30 years later. Her dad is a bit odd and doesn't seem quite all there, while her mom disapproves of Connie's behavior but isn't sure what to do about it, just sighing at her near the beginning "I look into your eyes, but all I see are trashy daydreams." There's also a sister named June (who appears younger than Connie, but looking into the story and Elizabeth Berridge who plays her she's actually older) who is a bit smarter and gets along better with the parents. The mother's initial conflict is a long-time effort to get the house painted with Connie refusing to help, even forgetting to pick up supplies at the mall when asked, later she gets on her case about flirting with boys and "getting into trouble."

Treat Williams, who gets top billing, is the movie's "mysterious stranger"- an older man in sunglasses who we see driving by Connie's usual hangouts and looking at her from afar, until at one point outside the burger joint he says "I'm watching you." By the final third of the movie, the two of them have a very strange encounter which would spoil the movie for first-time viewers if I said too much about. I'll just say that this is the part where the movie's purpose makes itself known, goes on for quite a long time and might have some viewers a bit scared while more jaded viewers like me just wondering how this is going to play out. Trust me, you'll know this part when you see it and likely look around online for others' thoughts on it afterwards. (Some who've read the written story say that it lost a bit on its way to the screen.)

Fans of Fright Night released around the same time will enjoy seeing William Ragsdale in a small part as a guy Connie flirts with, and James Taylor serves as the film's musical director. Though he didn't write the score, a few of his songs are featured throughout and almost seeming like a product placement, one of his albums can be seen in the front of a record stack in one scene and his song "Handy Man" is played in the home once on a record player downstairs and again on a cassette upstairs- this family must sure love James Taylor!

Picture:

Framed at 1.85, the picture appears to be the same transfer used for the widescreen transfer on MGM's DVD (that also included a 4x3 transfer which appears to be mostly open-matte comparing the two.) It looks just as it should with natural colors that don't stand out, grain in dark scenes and no compression artifacts or banding in the disc's encoding. Compared to the DVD, this Blu-Ray is a definite improvement as many small details shine through- including the near to me 707 area code seen on a wall phone, signs in the mall and other hangouts, but unfortunately also the camera crew and equipment reflected in a car during a rather pivotal scene.

Sound:

The mono sound mix is nothing special but adequate- dialogue is reasonably clear although some of the music sounds slightly muffled. The Blu-Ray is encoded in 2-channel DTS-HD Master Audio and flagged to output as PCM on players that can detect that so the sound still stays in the center channel when pro-logic decoded (the added MGM lion bookending the film is in stereo.)

As usual with Olive, there are no subtitles or captions though both of those were present on the DVD; no extras were included on either.

Final Thoughts:

Smooth Talk is a "small" film that almost exists just for the sake of existing, with a bit of a bombshell thrown in later. Those in Northern California will enjoy the location shots in Sebastopol and the mall in Santa Rosa (which still exists but looks different now), and viewers who don't demand their movies to hurry up and get to the point will just enjoy taking in the slice of life it offers in its first hour. The Blu-Ray is a definite improvement over the previous DVD.

Jesse Skeen is a life-long obsessive media collector (with an unhealthy preoccupation with obsolete and failed formats) and former theater film projectionist. He enjoys watching movies and strives for presenting them perfectly, but lacks the talent to make his own.

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