Stormy Monday takes place during America Week in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, so events will be carried out over more than the one day that the name might imply.
(Yes, it’s title of the 1948 song from T-Bone Walker, which appears in this film courtesy of the late BB King, but allow me that intro)
As is admitted in the extras, the plot isn’t the most complex you’ll have come across, but the gravitas of the acting, the direction and the cinematography is where this movie comes to life.
Francis Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones) is a dodgy American businessman who wants to redevelop the area in his own image, so offers a fair price to all by sending bad guys Patrick and Tony (Mark Long) and Tony (James Cosmo – is that where Jones’ character got his name from? That’s never mentioned in the extras, so I would love to know) round to beat people up and/or shoot at them…
This includes club boss Finney (Sting), who won’t take it lying down, and despite making a good fist of this role, he’s barely starred in a film since, which is a great shame.
Waitress and Cosmo’s ex-squeeze Melanie Griffiths, and cleaner for Finney, Sean Bean (yes, cleaner – and not the ‘Nikita’ kind), get caught up in the whole thing, adding to a wonderful cast for an engaging movie where Newcastle is draped in more neon than Los Angeles and, as critic Neil Simon points out in his piece about the movie in the extras, the pair go for a drink after midnight which, in the late ’80s, was completely impossible due to licencing restrictions. But, hey, this is the movies, and the style which writer/director Mike Figgis wants to apply.
Figgis also throws in a number of slo-mo shots, while at other times mixing two scenes together while predominantly using the audio from one. This certainly adds panache, and his direction overall also adds tension where some other directors might just go for a perfunctory look to a scene.
Overall, Stormy Monday is a cracking thriller with great acting from all concerned and I also got a chuckle from the barman who has to reel off a list of all the malt whiskies they have for sale 🙂
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and there’s a slight amount of grain that I usually see on Arrow’s restorations, but other than that, no particular issues.
The audio is in DTS HD-MA 2.0 (stereo), and while the music comes across brilliantly, there’s a strange sort of echoing in the soundtrack that comes at any sort of effect, e.g. when a briefcase is opened. This must be on the original soundtrack, but is very odd. I wonder if Arrow can explain that one?
There’s not a huge amount of extras, but they’re certainly worth a look:
- Just The Same? Stormy Monday 30 years on… (33:15): Film critic Neil Simon talks about the film, taking in a number of locations and how many of them were dressed up with neon signs to make them look slightly futuristic when they were anything but. Neil looks like he’s trying to be Alex Cox and not quite managing it, and it would also help if he was reading from a script he’d written rather than talking as he thinks of things, leading to many edits in its filming.
This piece also includes discussion of the other works from the four leads plus Figgis.
- Theatrical trailer (1:29): In the original ratio of 1.85:1. The quality’s clearly a bit iffy, but then that’s because it’s a 30-year-old film, almost. The trailer gives just enough of a flavour without giving too much away.
- Image Gallery: a mere 11 images plus the theatrical poster. I would’ve liked more. Maybe there weren’t so many around.
- Audio commentary: with writer/director Mike Figgis, moderated by critic Damon Wise
The main menu features a short piece of the theme music set to clips from the film, there’s a bog-standard 12 chapters and subtitles are in English.
Stormy Monday Special Edition is out today on Blu-ray/DVD Dual-format, and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 93 mins
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: July 10th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio (Stereo)
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Mike Figgis
Producer: Nigel Stafford-Clark
Screenplay: Mike Figgis
Music: Mike Figgis
Kate: Melanie Griffith
Cosmo: Tommy Lee Jones
Brendan: Sean Bean
Tony: James Cosmo
Patrick: Mark Long
Jim: Brian Lewis
Pianist: Mick Hamer
Andrej: Andrzej Borkowski
Cosmo’s Secretary: Catherine Chevalier
Weegee’s Manager: Richard Hawley
Himself: Don Weller
Don Weller Band: Andrew Cleyndert, Mark Taylor, Nick Pyne
Barman: Keith Edwards
Finney’s Woman: Louise Hobkinson
Mrs Finney: Prunella Gee
Mayor: Alison Steadman
Radio DJ: Al Matthews
The Krakow Jazz Ensemble: Charlie Hart, Paul Jolly, Terry Day, Mel Davis, Ed Deane, Davey Payne
Musician: Del Hart (uncredited)
Barman: D James Newton (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.