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ANGEL HEART ($10) is a very intriguing film about the nature of good and evil, played against the backdrop of a film noir detective story. Set in 1955, ANGEL HEART is the tale of one Harry Angel, a second rate detective working out of Brooklyn. Angel’s fortunes seem to take a turn for the better when a high priced law firm contacts Harry about doing some investigative work for one of their clients. Harry is engaged by a gentleman named Louis Cyphre, who wants him to find Johnny Favorite, a former big band singer who may or may not have been injured in W.W.II. Harry is offered a hefty fee and accepts the case.

The search for the missing singer leads Harry down to New Orleans and into swamps of Louisiana. The investigation turns out to be like nothing Harry Angel has ever experienced in Brooklyn. Johnny Favorite was heavily into the occult, which adds to the prevailing weirdness to the case, plus every person that Harry questions about the missing singer eventually turns up dead. Mickey Rourke gives one of his most interesting performances as Harry Angel, a man who discovers too late that he is in way over his head. Robert De Niro steals his few brief scenes as the mysterious Louis Cyphre. Lisa Bonet is surprisingly good in the role of voodoo priestess Epiphany Proudfoot. However, whatever potential Bonet displayed in the controversial role did nothing for her career in the long run. The cast of ANGEL HEART also features Charlotte Rampling, Brownie McGhee, Stocker Fontelieu and Michael Higgins. Director Alan Parker really makes the film’s detective story work, even when the elements of the supernatural threaten to overtake it. Parker builds an atmosphere of impending doom throughout, yet he never overplays his hand making the film’s climax very effective.

Live Entertainment has issued ANGEL HEART on DVD in a fine looking Letterboxed transfer that features the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. ANGEL HEART is framed very close to 1.85:1 and the compositions appear balanced, without anything missing from the edges of the image. Color reproduction is quite good, with the DVD offering clean, well saturated hues. The image is clear and well defined throughout the film, plus the dark sequences have respectable detail. Digital compression artifacts were in check most of the time, but there were one or two occasions where they became somewhat noticeable.

There is a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack that decodes to standard Dolby Surround. Of course, the track is nowhere as good as it would be in full Dolby Digital 5.1. However, the track has an engaging mix full of atmosphere and some nice directional effects. Trevor Jones’ jazz influenced score is highlighted in the mix and sounds fairly impressive. The DVD includes Spanish subtitles and English closed captioning. The interactive menus are somewhat animated and offer access to a theatrical trailer, a "making of" featurette, production notes and cast biographies.


Angel Heart (1987)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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