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Alex Cox
Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, Drew Schofield, David Hayman, Debby Bishop, Tony London
Writing Credits:
Alex Cox , Abbe Wool

Love Kills.

Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb execute performances that are "nothing short of phenomenal" (Los Angeles Times) as Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his unforgettable junkie girlfriend -- two social misfits who literally love each other to death. In this "riveting biography of burnt-out icons" (The Washington Post), award-winning writer director Alex Cox (Repo Man) creates a "great film" ("Siskel & Ebert") about the destructive lives of two 1970's punk legends.

Their love affair is one of pure devotion. Sid falls hard for groupie Nancy Spungen, who seduces him with her affection -- and addiction to heroin. Their inseperable bond -- to each other and their drugs -- eventually corrodes the band, sending Sid and Nancy down a dark road of despair. Out of money, hope and options, the despondent two hit rock bottom while living in squalor as New York's infamous Chelsea Hotel. But their journey takes yet another tragic turn as they face their final curtain -- and attempt to fulfill their destiny of going out in a blaze of glory!

Box Office:
$4 million.
Domestic Gross
$2.826 million.

Rated R

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

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 12/27/2011

• “For the Love of Punk” Featurette
• “Junk Love” Featurette
• Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Sid & Nancy [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 11, 2012)

When a film documents recent events, one problem stems from the familiarity of the viewers, especially when the depiction covers a famous topic. Many more people will grant you artistic license when you tell a story about Mozart than when you show the Beatles; too many of the viewers lived through the events and will have an innate sense of accuracy.

Sometimes the facts can be correct but the tone is wrong, and that’s kind of how I felt about 1986’s Sid & Nancy, a film that depicts the seedy love story between American waste-oid Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb) and talentless British rock star Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman).

Although he remains arguably the band’s most famous member, Vicious had almost nothing to do with the music of the Sex Pistols. His predecessor, bassist Glen Matlock, was really the main creative force in the group, and he was much of the reason for their success with tunes like “Anarchy in the UK” and “God Save the Queen”.

Matlock got the boot apparently because of some bourgeois tendencies; singer Johnny Rotten indignantly spat that he wanted to turn the band into the Beatles. Vicious came on as Matlock’s replacement although he didn’t know how to play the bass at the time.

Matlock’s departure eventually would have killed the band since he was the creative force; granted, the group somehow produced what it arguably their best song - “Holidays in the Sun” - after he left, but it seems unlikely anything else of significance would have developed.

In any case, this was a band with a shelf life, though not for the usual reasons. Generally it’s teen-oriented groups like Backstreet Boys who feel the ticking of the clock; rock bands can go on for much longer. However, the Pistols embodied the crash and burn mentality of punk; they had to die for the movement to make any sense.

S&N tries to pin the group’s demise on Vicious’ escalating drug habit, and that may well be related to the immediate cause. However, it’s too neat a turn to be real, and the film ignores the general chaos that surrounded the group. The movie makes it appear as though the other members were organized and efficient but that damned loser Sid ruined all of their pop-chart plans! The story even makes Rotten look like an artsy perfectionist. That’s not even remotely accurate, and this tone - however will it fits the movie’s storyline - kept me from buying into the tale.

Actually, there’s a lot about S&N that makes it next to impossible for me to suspend disbelief. The reproductions of the Pistols’ songs don’t come terribly close to the originals. Worst of the bunch is Andrew Schofield’s attempt to emulate Rotten; he gets some of the technique correct but never reasonably replicates the original. The music comes closer but still left me feeling distant (even though Matlock performed on the film’s tunes).

The film alternates between telling us how untalented Vicious was (which is true) and also sending the message that he could have been a big rock star on his own (patently false). Vicious had a few moments of ironic glory as a solo artist due to his punk rendition of “My Way” but there was literally no chance whatsoever he could have done anything else in the business. The movie depicts Nancy’s continued insistence that he has what it takes to be a star, and the story often seems to believe her; the tone appears to demonstrate that only some narrow-minded jerks kept him from reaching his potential.

I’ve looked over other reviews of S&N that complain about the movie’s general tone of darkness and decay. However, I thought the events rarely seemed dismal and unsettling enough. There’s a mood about the time that should have come through in the film but it never did, and that’s why the picture always felt like a cheap replication of the period. Director Alex Cox clearly had an affection for the time, but somehow he completely missed the boat in his depiction of the era. It’s hard for me to pinpoint the flaws, but I just thought that the movie felt wrong.

The same went for the much-lauded acting of leads Oldman and Webb. This was Gary’s first notable role, and while he seems to inhabit Sid to a certain degree, I never really bought him in the part. Frankly, Oldman’s innate intelligence came through too much of the time. Sid was a moron - a total moron at that - and Oldman simply appeared too bright, sensitive and insightful to play Vicious. There’s simply too much going on in his head.

As for Webb, she offered a terribly grating and screechy performance as Nancy. I had more trouble judging the accuracy of her portrayal, but it felt too broad. Actually, it reminded me of Tracey Ullman’s annoying comic turn in Woody Allen’s Small Time Crooks in that the actress adopted the most nasal and whiny of American accents. Was this really how Nancy sounded and acted? Perhaps, but it seemed forced nonetheless.

I guess that remained my biggest complaint about Sid & Nancy: it never felt real. The movie seemed to want to get the era correct but it never was quite able to do so; a few moments came across as vivid and accurate, but too much of the picture was muddled and ineffective. S&N scored points for taking on a difficult and unpleasant subject and rendering it in a fairly graphic manner, but I ultimately thought the movie didn’t live up to its potential.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Sid & Nancy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a much more attractive than expected presentation.

Sharpness seemed consistently good. Interiors could look a smidgen soft, but those were the only minor examples of that. Overall definition seemed concise and distinctive. No instances of jaggies or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. In terms of print flaws, I noticed a few small marks but nothing much; those defects appeared infrequently and created no real distractions.

Despite the dank subject matter and generally decaying tone of punk, the film offered a lot of bright and vibrant hues. From dyed hair to lots of different outfits, the colors looked clear and vivid throughout the movie. Black levels also seemed deep and rich, and shadow detail was clear and appropriately opaque. Sid and Nancy isn’t a demonstration-level image, but it seemed much better than I expected.

Also surprisingly good was the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield seemed essentially monaural during the early parts of the movie but it soon began to expand. Music spread nicely to the side speakers and also often blasted from the rears; during club scenes, the tunes used the room effectively and realistically. Other scenes conveyed appropriate and mildly engrossing ambiance, and audio panned between channels cleanly. It’s not a rock-‘em, sock-‘em affair that you’ll use to impress friends, but I found the soundfield to be nicely engaging.

Audio quality seemed similarly solid. Some of the dialogue was difficult to understand, but that resulted from thick English accents and had nothing to do with the recording. Otherwise, speech seemed reasonably natural and warm and showed no signs of edginess.

Effects appeared generally clear and accurate, and at times they boasted some nice depth, such as during a loud thunderstorm. Music seemed consistently crisp and deep, with solid dynamics and good accuracy. The bass wasn’t as tight as I’d like, but for a movie from 1986, the soundtrack seemed very positive.

How did this Blu-Ray compare with the MGM DVD from 2000? Audio was a bit warmer and clearer, while the image was tighter and better defined. The old DVD was pretty solid, but the Blu-ray delivered a nice improvement.

That 2000 DVD included no extras beyond the film’s trailer. It repeats here along with two featurettes. For the Love of Punk runs 15 minutes, 46 seconds and offers notes from Punk Magazine editor/publisher John Holmstrom, Rolling Stone Magazine editor Joe Levy, MTV News’ Kurt Loder, artist/magazine illustrator Mark Vallen, film critic Owen Gleiberman, filmmaker Dick Rude, “punk insider” Leee Black Childers, musician Zander Schloss, actors Miguel Sandoval and Sy Richardson, “Complete Control Radio” host Joe Sib, “Sound Off” host Matt Pinfield, photographer Jenny Lens, and Variety editor/writer Steve Chagollan.

Though it includes some thoughts about the punk movement and the events depicted in the film, “Love” mostly acts as an appreciation of Sid and Nancy. In that regard, it does okay for itself, but I can’t claim it provides a rich examination of the movie’s elements. It gives us a watchable take on the flick but nothing more.

Junk Love lasts 15 minutes, 30 seconds as it delivers comments from Levy, Childers, Loder, Holmstrom, punk photographer Roberta Bayley, and photographer Bob Gruen. This piece gives us a look at the real-life Sid and Nancy and aspects of their lives. The presentation tends to be somewhat too flashy, but it’s still a fairly good overview that provides a quick biographical piece.

Sid and Nancy was a movie that I wanted to like but I found it to be strangely uncompelling. The acting appeared technically strong but felt somewhat unconvincing; not once did I think I was watching anything terribly true to life. The Blu-ray offered very good picture and sound but only included modest supplements. Though I’m not wild about the movie, I can’t complain about the Blu-ray, as it made the flick look and sound better than ever.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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