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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Joyce Chopra
USA / UK 1985

 

Suspended between carefree youth and the harsh realities of the adult world, a teenage girl experiences an unsettling awakening in this haunting vision of innocence lost. Based on the celebrated short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates, the narrative debut from Joyce Chopra features a revelatory breakout performance by Laura Dern as Connie, the fifteen-year-old black sheep of her family whose summertime idyll of beach trips, mall hangouts, and innocent flirtations is shattered by an encounter with a mysterious stranger (a memorably menacing Treat Williams). Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Smooth Talk captures the thrill and terror of adolescent sexual exploration as it transforms the conventions of a coming-of-age story into something altogether more troubling and profound.

***

Based on the short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?", by Joyce Carol Oates, this film chronicles 15-year-old Connie's sexual awakening in the Northern California suburbs. Her experimenting begins to get out of hand when the mysterious Arnold Friend takes an interest in her.

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 10th, 1985 (Toronto International Film Festival)

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Review: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Criterion Spine #1068 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:31:48.544        
Video

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,012,389,747 bytes

Feature: 25,221,537,792 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.63 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,012,389,747 bytes

Feature: 25,221,537,792 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.63 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Short Films
- Joyce at 34 (1972) (27:49)
- Girls at 12 (1975) (29:57)
- Clorae and Albie (1976) (36:43)
Joyce Chopra
- 2020 Interview (16:58)
- 1985 KPFK Radio Interview (29:24)
The Women of Smooth Talk (56:14)
Joyce Chopra, Mary Kay Place, and Treat Williams (22:53)
Production Design with David Wasco (18:13)
'The Pied Piper of Tucson' (39:15)
Trailers
-  Original Theatrical Trailer (02:35)
-  2020 Theatrical Re-release Trailer (02:02)


Blu-ray Release Date:
February 23rd, 2021
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray (January 2021): Criterion's new Blu-ray of Joyce Chopra's 1985 "Smooth Talk" is a welcome addition to their already enviable canon of releases. This comes from a recently restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Joyce Chopra. The dual-layered Blu-ray disc sports a high bitrate. The film was shot using Ultracam 35mm Cameras, and the 1.85:1 image shows a film-like grain structure throughout the picture. Colors seem natural, with a moderate contrast helping in the few night-time shots. There are a few brief moments where the quality of film seems to dip unexpectedly. An example of this occurs during Connie's (Laura Dern) scene outside at night with her father (Levon Helm, R.I.P.). During this scene the grain seems to get really noisy near the end of the sequence, with the picture suddenly lacking pristine detail. This happens again during a scene at the mall, though to my memory these are the only real noticeable examples. This is almost certainly due to the source material and not any fault of Criterion's, otherwise pristine, transfer. The level of detail is quite fine, even with the rather thick sized grain (sometimes the film looks as though it could have been shot on super 16mm but with even greater detail, if that makes sense). The sequence with Treat Williams' visit to the family home in the second half features also benefits from this transfer, showing that consistent film-like appearance with strong details, even when shots are being filmed through the screen door. Nothing much to complain about here.

NOTE: We have added 30 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

Criterion presents "Smooth Talk", in its original 1.0 mono, in a 24-bit linear PCM track that sounds quite fresh, despite the film being around 35-years-old. Russ Kunkel, George Massenburg, and Bill Payne provide the music for the film, while James Taylor acts as the musical director, even contributing three songs of his own ('Is That the Way You Look', 'Limousine Driver', and 'Handy Man'. Rachel Sweet's hit 'Cruisin' Love' serves up some 80's synth bubblegum pop while the lyrics hint at the dark things to come later in the picture. New Jersey rock band Franke and the Knockouts also provide a few numbers ('You Don't Want Me', 'Come Rain or Shine'). Richard Taylor and David Carlson's music is even more haunting, perfectly accompanying the second, darker half of the film. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on this Region 'A'
Blu-ray from Criterion.

While there is no commentary track, Criterion still gives us a slew of worthwhile bonus features. First up are three roughly half-hour short films from Joyce; "Joyce at 34", "Girls at 12", and "Clorae and Albie". The first of the three was also featured on Criterion's recent release of "Girlfriends'' as the film was made with director Claudia Weill. These three titles show a director well in control of their medium, while also maintaining a consistent sensibility to certain subjects. Up next is a new 17-minute interview with the director, filmed by Criterion. "The Women of Smooth Talk" is another new piece, recorded as part of the 58th New York Film Festiva's premiere of the new restoration of "Smooth Talk". Due to Covid, this is presented in the 'Zoom' tradition. This almost hour-long chat is with director Chopra, author Joyce Carol Oates, and actor Laura Dern. The chat is moderated by Turner Classic Movies host Alicia Malone. Malone also appears during another online interview, this time spending 23-minutes talking with Joyce Chopra, Mary Kay Place, and Treat Williams. "Production Design with David Wasco'' spends 18-minutes with the film's production designer describing how he achieved the various looks of the film. "The Pied Piper of Tucson" is the 1966 Life magazine article (on serial killer Charles Schmid Jr.'s killing spree) that inspired author Oates to write her short story "Where are you Going, Where Have You Been?". This short-story would go on to be the basis for "Smooth Talk". This article is read aloud overtop of a still image on the screen. The film's original trailer and the 2020 re-release trailer round out the
Blu-ray disc from Criterion.

Criterion's release of the 4K restored "Smooth Talk" comes highly recommended. The film sneaks up on you, almost appearing to be light-hearted teen movie fare, yet things are constantly boiling beneath the surface, and the film takes a turn for the second half that I won't spoil here. I'll just say that it doesn't exactly follow the short story based on Joyce Carol Oates' "Where are you Going, Where Have You Been?". The film's transfer is quite something, with a ton of great extras also on the
Blu-ray disc. It is easy to see how Laura Dern was headed for a life in front of the camera, given how seemingly effortless her performance is. Dern shows a range that most actors could only dream of, with the ability to shift the tone of a scene with the smallest look or gesture. It is also worth mentioning Mary Kay Place's equally complex role as the concerned and troubled mother. The rest of the rather small cast is equally excellent, from the creepy big-bad-wolf performance of Connie's red-flags-galore-suitor (Treat Williams) to her lovably clueless father (played by the one and only Levon Helm). I can only hope that this film gets a wider audience thanks to Criterion's Blu-ray inclusion in its prestigious collection.

Colin Zavitz

 


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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Criterion Spine #1068 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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