STORMY MONDAY (1988) Blu-ray/DVD combo
Director: Mike Figgis
Arrow Video USA

Mike Figgis' neo-noir feature debut STORMY MONDAY comes to Blu-ray/DVD combo from Arrow Video USA.

Industrial Newcastle Upon Tyne is in the throes of American Week with the local council hosting the visit (and influx of cash) from American developer Frank Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones, BLACK MOON RISING) who wants to perform "major surgery" on the rundown quayside area. Standing in opposition is jazz club owner Finney (Sting, THE BRIDE) who refuses to sell his club. While the two have never met, their worlds are about to intersect when Finney's new cleaner/errand boy Brendan (Sean Bean, GOLDENEYE) overhears a conversation between two hitmen (TRAINSPOTTING's James Cosmo and THE KILLING FIELDS' Mark Long) who have been hired to use force to coerce Finney into signing over his property. Brendan gets a crash course in crime and corruption as Finney and his associates send the two hitmen packing, but he becomes further embroiled in the standoff between the two businessmen when he falls for Cosmo's former mistress-turned-waitress Kate (Melanie Griffith, BODY DOUBLE).

A visually striking eighties neo-noir shot by the great Roger Deakins (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), STORMY MONDAY makes use of the rundown environs of industrial Northern England, rain slicked streets, streetlamps, and omnipresent neon to provide a stunning backdrop to a crime film in which chance and assumption shape the fates of the characters. Just as Finney calls into question whether puppet master Cosmo is not the one really being taken by the local bigwigs he is bribing, the film slowly reveals that, however much Cosmo has underestimated him, Finney is neither a little man standing up for his business or an underworld crime figure. Events that conspire to pit them against each other in an increasingly violent manner come about without either of them manipulating them, with Cosmo coming to believe that Finney is considerably more dangerous than assumed when an associate (Scott Hoxby, CLIFFHANGER) mistakes Brendan for a "pro" when he shoots another of Cosmo's men in self-defense with a gun Kate has found in the car Finney has seized from one of the hitmen and given to the younger man. Some other characters may go out with a bang in the climax, but it is leverage rather than violence that allows one of the businessmen to conquer the other. The re-release of the film in both the US and UK on Blu-ray in 2017 may seem quite timely given the latter's recent economic and political upheavals and the rumors of American intervention. Director Figgis provides the underscore himself while the film also features live-recorded performances by The Krakow Jazz Ensemble – whose guest appearance in the city during America Week is taken by some as an affront – and The Don Weller Band.

Released theatrically by Atlantic Releasing and on video by Paramount, STORMY MONDAY ended up along with other Atlantic titles with MGM via Polygram and was released by the former on DVD in 2002. Arrow's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is derived from a 2010 HD master that sports vivid saturated reds and cool blues along with some faint wear. The LPCM 2.0 stereo track nicely conveys the live and scored music but reveals some of the production limitations in dialogue recording with some amplified lines spoken by characters having an echo effect while the recording of dialogue by the principals in the same scene (and sometimes in the same shot) sounding clearer and crisper. A major sequence in which the two henchmen try to rough up Finney has a similar echo effect, but this appears to be intentional since it is the sound effects that are affected. Optional English SDH subtitles are included. A rights issue with the title caused Arrow to temporarily withdraw the American edition before the street date but this has apparently been settled.

Extras start off with an audio commentary by director/writer/composer Figgis moderated by journalist Damon Wise. Figgis discusses the film's autobiographical aspects, the long time it took to mount the film as his feature debut (after an hour-long telefilm shot for Channel Four) including an earlier deal with Hemdale that fell through. He reveals that Kim Cattrall was in the running for Griffith's role, but Griffith became more in demand after Jonathan Demme's SOMETHING WILD, that Albert Finney were considered for Finney before Atlantic recommended Sting, and that Harvey Keitel and Christopher Walken were in the running for Jones' role. He discusses his jazz background and being in a band with Bryan Ferry pre-Roxy Music, working as a cleaner in a jazz club, and taking inspiration from other jazz-scored crime films like IN COLD BLOOD. "Just the Same?: STORMY MONDAY 30 Years On..." (33:15) is a featurette by Newcastle native Neil Young, a writer for Sight & Sound, who discusses the city's history in film, contrasting the grittiness of GET CARTER with the dreaminess of STORMY MONDAY (the latter in his opinion being more genuine because of the input of locals Figgis and Sting). He also draws parallels on the local government corruption aspect with the Poulson corruption scandal which involved Newcastle city council leader T. Dan Smith and the attempted redevelopment of the city's Quayside. The disc also includes a theatrical trailer (1:29) and image gallery. Not provided for review were the reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacey as well as a booklet featuring new writing by critic Mark Cunliffe (included with the first pressing only). (Eric Cotenas)