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Lilly and Lana Wachowski
Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano
Lilly and Lana Wachowski
Tough ex-con Corky and her lover Violet concoct a scheme to steal millions of stashed mob money and pin the blame on Violet's crooked boyfriend Caesar.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 6/18/2024

• Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski, Editor Zach Staenberg, Technical Consultant Susie Bright and Actors Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano
• “Pipeline to Seduction” Featurette
• Interview with Actors Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly
• Interview with Actor Joe Pantoliano
• Interview with Actor Christopher Meloni
• “Modern Noir” Featurette
• “Playing with Expectations” Featurette
• “Title Design” Featurette
• Trailers
• Booklet


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Bound: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1996)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 18, 2024)

1996’s Bound raked in a sliver under $4 million at the US box office. However, the movie’s positive reception marked writers/directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski as talent on the rise, and that became enough to greenlight 1999’s The Matrix, a film that enjoyed massive success.

Lesbian ex-convict Corky (Gina Gershon) gets a job in an apartment complex as a plumber. She lives next door to Mafia money launderer Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) and his mistress Violet (Jennifer Tilly).

When they meet, Corky and Violet become lovers. They decide to steal $2 million that Caesar holds for mob boss Gino Marzzone (Richard C. Sarafian), a theft that comes with dangerous ramifications.

Nearly 30 years after its release, I don’t think I actually heard about Bound back in 1996. The Internet didn’t “spread the word” about smaller movies like it eventually would, and given the flick’s limited distribution, I suspect it slipped under my radar.

Until Matrix hit it big in 1999, that is. At that point, I definitely became aware of its immediate predecessor.

For reasons unknown, though, I never dug up a copy of prior DVD or Blu-ray versions of Bound, so this 2024 Criterion release becomes my first experience with the film. Was it worth the wait?

Yeah, to a moderate degree at least. While Bound reinvents no film noir wheels, it offers a pretty good update on the genre.

After a semi-sluggish start, that is. The first act embraces a mix of thriller concepts without much creativity and seems more concerned with girl-on-girl action than real plot or character movement.

Given the iffy nature of this opening segment, I started to fear Bound would sputter the whole way. This seemed especially possible because so much of the movie came across as more invested in noir tropes than actual storytelling.

However, once Corky and Violet dig into their scheme in the second act, matters improve considerably. Bound sticks with those noir concepts but it comes with enough spirit and twists to spark to life.

This becomes when the Wachowskis decide to kick things into higher gear. While Bound clearly adheres to the aforementioned noir concepts, the filmmakers ratchet them up to the proverbial “11” along the way.

And this makes the movie a gleeful ride once we get past that spotty opening act. The Corky/Violet plan eventually encounters snarls, and the film explores these with plenty of vivacity.

Does anything terribly surprising emerge? Not really, as the film supplies the usual twists and curves.

Nonetheless, the Wachowskis explore these domains with so much flair and spark that any clichés become irrelevant. Bound didn’t break new ground ala Matrix, but it brings us a flashy and fun thriller.

Footnote: Credited to “The Wachowskis”, filmmakers Lana and Lilly were Larry and Andy in 1996. They choose to go with their newer names for projects so I honored that preference, even if it doesn’t follow the original billing.

For the record, Bound lists them simply as “The Wachowskis” in the opening credits but changes the 1996 source to bill Lana and Lilly in the final reel.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Bound appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a positive presentation here.

Sharpness seemed strong for the most part. Some minor soft spots emerged, but for the most part, the image looked tight and precise.

No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and no edge haloes materialized. In terms of print flaws, I saw no issues, and the movie boasted light but consistent grain.

The film largely opted for hues that leaned toward blues and browns. While nothing dazzled, the colors felt full and well-rendered.

Blacks were deep and tight, while low-light shots demonstrated nice definition and density. This wound us as an appealing image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Bound, it didn’t shoot for the stars. Most of the audio focused on the front, and it usually stayed with general environmental material.

The track boasted pretty good movement in the front, and the surrounds added some general support. Music involved the back channels the most, but this never turned into an especially memorable soundscape.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech came across as clean and distinctive.

Music duplicated the score well. Effects contributed some dimensionality, at least during the smattering of louder scenes.

Those elements were consistently accurate and concise. Ultimately, enough worked well to make this a “B“.

Recorded for a 1997 laserdisc, we find an audio commentary from writers/directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski, editor Zach Staenberg, technical consultant Susie Bright and actors Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano.

This becomes a running, screen-specific chat that starts out with the Wazchowskis, Staenberg and Bright together. Pantoliano joins at seven minutes, 15 seconds, but Tilly doesn’t arrive until 1:07:25 and Gershon doesn’t show up until 1:18:05.

The commentary covers story/characters, genre domains, cast and performances, the movie's depiction of sex and lesbian culture, music, editing and photography, sets and locations, and related domains.

Much of the track proceeds at a somewhat spotty rate. While we get a decent array of notes, the participants tend to seem less than engaged, and we find a fair number of dead spots.

All this changes when the bubbly Tilly arrives, and she helps carry the track the rest of the way with some assistance from Gershon. This leaves us with an inconsistent commentary but at least its final 40 minutes or so work really well.

A mix of video pieces follow, and a new essay called Pipeline to Seduction runs 16 minutes, 45 seconds. It offers info from critic Christina Newland.

We find info about the noir genre as well as the movie's story/character choices, sex scenes and lesbian context, symbolism/metaphors and themes. We got some of this in the commentary, but Newland still adds some good insights.

The remaining featurettes previously appeared on a 2018 Blu-ray, and we find an Interview with Actors Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly. Both sat for separate chats combined to last 26 minutes, 38 seconds.

The actors discuss their casting, how they both wanted to play Corky, their performances/interactions, working with the Wachowskis, experiences during the shoot and ideas for a sequel. This turns into a delightful and fun discussion, especially when we hear from the extroverted and hilarious Tilly.

An Interview with Actor Joe Pantoliano follows. It spans 15 minutes, five seconds.

Pantoliano covers aspects of his career, getting cast for Bound, and his work on the film. Though not as rollicking as the Tilly/Gershon piece, Pantoliano nonetheless brings a good collection of notes.

Next comes an Interview with Actor Christopher Meloni. This one goes for nine minutes, 53 seconds.

As expected, Meloni gets into his casting, his performance and other on-set experiences. We get another solid look at the shoot.

Modern Noir occupies 29 minutes. It involves Staenberg, director of photography Bill Pope and composer Don Davis.

This reel examines how the various participants got their jobs as well as aspects of their work. They deliver useful nuggets.

After this we go to Playing with Expectations. It takes up 13 minutes, 55 seconds and features professors B. Ruby Rich and Jennifer Moorman.

“Expectations” looks at aspects of noir, the movie's themes, its depiction of sex, and thoughts about the film's impact. Some of this feels redundant but the reel still includes some insights.

In addition to two trailers, the disc wraps with Title Design. It lasts six minutes, 50 seconds and features title designer Patti Podesta.

Here we find Podesta's thoughts about the movie's opening credits. She adds worthwhile notes.

The package concludes with a booklet that includes credits, art and an essay by film scholar McKenzie Wark. This finishes matters on a positive note.

Though now commonly seen as the movie that sent the Wachowskis on the path to make The Matrix, Bound holds up well in its own right. A sly reinvention of film noir tropes, it overcomes a spotty first act to become a solid tale in the end. The Blu-ray comes with positive picture and appropriate audio as well as a useful selection of supplements. This winds up as a satisfying erotic thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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