Alamo Bay (1985/Blu-Ray/Twilight Time) Review

When I was young, every afternoon I ran. Off the bus, 4 o’clock, home felt around the corner. Rushing in, I flipped the switch. The bluest of skies, dark clouds, blaring light, what a show. The opening is so clear. White titles, a bittersweet tune, a shadow fills the screen. The notes swell and then we see him. Leather jacket, a bushel of hair, anything is possible. Hitchhiking, a station wagon, the open road, the horizon calls. Nothing lasts. Place to place, week to week, there’s always a need. The Odd Couple, god’s plan, this is television.

Capra had it right. Small town, a slow burn, the weight of the world, one man making his way, mistakes were part of the plan. Clasping hands, feeling pain, we forget. We delude ourselves. A honeymoon is what you catch. The rescue, the friendship, the love we seize, the moments nestled in the margins. A film is a life, as sure as drama. When we pry, we strip to the bone. The why explains it. Take George Bailey. His days are numbered. His hours rip. Overhead is salvation or is it a Wonderful life?
Zuzu’s petals, Claude and the telegrams, the courtroom; a judgment is personal. Skies, breathtaking beauty, the surface buffs the brush. Dolphins, ships, man and nature. “A family that prays together stays together.” That’s the rule. The Highway to Heaven goes both ways. Celebrities aren’t what they seem. Not everyone is Fonda. A dilemma isn’t always obvious. Hanoi Jane? Now that’s obvious. Tricky Dick, “I didn’t inhale”, or “Read my lips”, now that’s Hollywood.
Alamo Bay is something else. Easy answers aren’t so easy. Even the visuals foam at the mouth. So much beauty, so much spite, the niceties toss the shoe. News fishtails into narrative. Malaise isn’t Apple Butter. What we believe flanks us. It teethes on the fabric. “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” The lens cashes the check. Fear roams the streets. Beards, flags, men in uniform, the mob is us. Everyone acts badly.
Washed out, worn out, there’s blame all around. "Like sands through the hourglass… so are the Days of Our Lives." The loner, a boiling pot, a group lingering, “there are no friendly civilians.” Emotion and reason claw and hiss. The 80’s is ripe with fuss. Where’s the fun? Aliens, monsters, machines, “there are no heroes anymore… just men who follow orders.” Rambo, Field of Dreams, escape is a sandbox. Molotovs, rifles, who wins? The stranger? The townsfolk? Martial law? Is the Wild West a food fight?
The film is basic. Navigating the waters, Dinh (Ho Nguyen) looks for work. A once-thriving community ekes by with more coming every day. Local fisherman and Vietnamese battle for their way of life. Tradition baffles tradition. Ante for ante ends in one likely conclusion. Nursing his losses, Shang (Ed Harris) lets it happen. The crux is environment. The ills keep on rising. For any who enjoy the absolute worst, be my guest. But be warned, there’s little to cherish.
TT’s package does it again. The video teams with detail. The colors are impressive. Faces, vistas, everything equals the very best from Sony. The audio provides a potent 1.0 DTS HD-MA mono soundtrack. Cooder’s score pounds. The extras include an isolated score, a theatrical trailer, and Ms. Kirgo’s essay and booklet. Do check it out.

-- B.L. Matthews

Director: Louis Malle
Lead Actor/Actress: Ed Harris
Genre: Drama
Blu-ray Release Year: 2013
Theatrical Release Year: 1985
Time Length: 98 minutes
Rating: R
Region Code: Region Free
Release Company: Twilight Time/SAE
Website: http://www.screenarchives.com/index.cfm