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Fly By Night presents
"I told you I need cooperation on this one and I can goddamn well assure you I don't get it, it'll be like snake bit in a sandstorm, and I can assure you the results won't be very damn pleasant."
DVD ReviewThey don't often make noir films any more, those grainy, dark and shadowy tales of crime with a grim tone. My best guess is that Pueblo Sin Suerte (Town Without Luck) is an attempt at making such a film, but it's hard to tell for sure, since it's inept on just about every level imaginable, when it's comprehensible at all.
In 1930s Brine County, West Texas, a mother-daughter pair of singers turns up murdered out in the desert, victims of drifters Jack Kilroy (John Ryan) and Benny 'Buck' Brown (Michael Dawson). Local sheriff Ross Sullivan (Webb Wilder) looks to redeem himself from some unspecified past while grousing about the newspapers and the state police. Things apparently don't go too well for either the drifters or the sheriff, but it's hard to tell for sure. Nor is it quite clear exactly how this ends, after two viewings. I guess there's supposed to be some bitter irony, but what that might be, someone will have to tell me. On second thought, I'd prefer not to discuss this disc again.
The problem here is that other than some inept little character bits (mostly courtesy of sidekick C.M. Tillinghast (Jeff Miller) or the drifters) we never really learn anything about any of the characters. We get cryptic glimpses at a bunch of other characters, including a mute (Ximena Cuevas) and an obnoxiously loud cigar-smoking woman (Mikie Kelly), while the second-billed Lydia (Astrid Hadad) spouts Mexiglish that is completely opaque in either language for minutes on end. In between, there are long loving shots of the desolation of West Texas, sometimes right in the middle of scenes. That's nice, but doesn't contribute anything. The whole is poorly written, clumsily directed and horrifically lit, making most of the picture a murky mess that can't be distinguished even when the brightness levels are sharply boosted.
Apparently the screenwriter is a fan of Quentin Tarantino, since the characters tend to rattle off irrelevant chatter as in his model. The problem, of course, is that Tarantino uses this technique to tell you something indirectly about the character, whereas the dialogue in this opus tells you so little and is delivered so badly that it's downright painful. It's also delivered so fast that one gets the feeling that the cast was told to talk quickly before the producers ran out of film. This theory is supported by the fact that on more than one occasion an actor will muff his line, then start over, all of which is kept in. The camera work is an insult to the trade; one single move, a slow pan from left to right and back, is repeated over and over (often in the same barroom set) leading the viewer to want to throw something through the screen.
Even at a scant 68 minutes, this film is 7 minutes shorter than indicated on the keepcase, but it feels hours longer. Despite the relatively straightforward narrative outlined above, most of the running time is an opaque mess that doesn't develop the story or the characters in the least, with hardly a single redeeming quality.
Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: D-
Image Transfer Review: The nonanamorphic widescreen picture, as noted above, is frequently illegible. The picture is dark and plagued with constant video noise, aliasing and pixelation. Color, when visible, is generally acceptable, though outdoor sequences are rather washed out. To top it all off, there's a ton of edge enhancement present whenever there is contrast on the screen. Right up there among the poorest transfers on record.
Image Transfer Grade: D-
Audio Transfer Review: The best aspect of this disc is the audio, though it's not terribly good either. The 2.0 sound is often hard to make out, and segments of dialogue have substantial hiss and noise. A low electronic buzzing is also present frequently. The fiddle-and-guitar score for the most part sounds pretty good, though. A Nick Lowe song on the soundtrack is prominently billed on the case but it suffers from murky sound as well. There is occasional (seemingly random) surround activity. Some dialogue comes from all speakers, while other is center-anchored. Oddly enough, the track is labeled as 'Japanese,' another indication of the all-around quality of this presentation.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA wretched mess from start to finish, with a bad transfer to boot. Any viewer who buys or rents this will believe himself sin suerte.
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