The Tailor Of Panama (Blu-ray)
B Sound: B- Extras: B- Film: B
Pierce Brosnan is no longer James Bond, there will always be the question of
what would have happened if he had done a more intelligent, grittier, more
serious Bond film. The closest he may
ever come to this is sending up the Bond image as a rogue in John Boorman’s
underrated adaptation of John Le Carré’s The
Tailor Of Panama (2001), being issued in the Blu-ray format in time for
people to catch up on it as Casino
Royale arrives in Blu-ray and DVD and Layer
Cake arrives in Blu-ray from Sony, responsible for this disc too.
Osnard (Brosnan) decided he needs help on his latest mission and decides he
needs that help from someone who would be least suspected and lowest in profile
to get the job done. He solicits Harry
Pendel (Geoffrey Rush) and expert tailor and maybe the best one around to help
him spy on politicians among others as the fate of the Panama Canal may take a
dramatic turn. Harry has a family (including
a pre-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe
in his first feature film appearance and daughter played by Lola Boorman’s,
John’s daughter) and wife (Jamie Lee Curtis in one of her last good acting
roles) making for a happy life, though the marriage may be a tad strained.
determined to see what he can do, then starts to wonder what is really going
on. It becomes more suspenseful as it
also becomes more diabolically comical, yet never looses its way thanks to the
expert direction of Boorman, who could annihilate most directors alive with his
talents. This is a mature, adult work
and with the Spy Genre turning to more serious materials, the rest of the world
may finally catch up with this terrific film.
Boorman and Andrew Davies co-wrote the exceptional screenplay adaptation
and the supporting cast is strong, including Brendan Gleeson, Leonor Varela,
Catherine McCormack and writer Harold Pinter as Uncle Benny.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is a mixed transfer, looking like an
early HD master at best where messing with the image was ill-advised and may be
the same master for the old standard DVD.
Philippe Rousselot, A.F.C., (of Antwone
Fisher) did a terrific job shooting the film and this is an improvement
over that DVD, but no match for the original 35mm prints. The film is one of the nicer and more
natural-looking Super 35mm shoots for scope, so there was no reason to
mis-tweak it to begin with. It looks like
a British production and processing is the reason, despite a French Director Of
Photography. As long as the film
materials have been kept properly, an improved transfer later down the line
should be very easy.
DVD had the theatrical Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix, though the DVD fails to note
the EX. There was not much in the way of
any .1 there, so the PCM and lesser Dolby mixes here are labeled 5.0, with
little EX in the Dolby version. The PCM
is the better of all the soundtracks the film has been issued in on home video,
but there is more distortion in some of the dialogue than I remember from the
theatrical presentation, suggesting the audio and video materials here are both
a generation down and/or were tampered with unnecessarily.
include an alternate ending with optional commentary, Brosnan/Rush interviews
in a piece called The Perfect Fit, trailers and another terrific audio commentary
by Boorman (Zardoz is another one)
that is exceptionally informative, repeating all the extras from the old
DVD. Though this is not the best Blu-ray
yet, it is one of the better back titles so far with performance that is good,
but could be better. Don’t miss it.
- Nicholas Sheffo