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2 Days in the Valley (Special Edition) (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


The lives and crimes of several people intersect over two days in the shadow of Hollywood.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

An ensemble film with a fantastic A-list cast, writer/director John Herzfeld’s 2 Days in the Valley is a zig-zagging dark comedy/thriller following the interconnecting lives of people from various social classes scratching out an existence in the shadow of Hollywood.

The icy cold and well-dressed hitman Lee Woods (James Spader) partners with bighearted mafia gangster turned pizzeria chef Dosmo Pizzo (Danny Aiello) to murder Roy Foxx (Peter Horton), the ex-husband of second-rate Olympic skier Becky Foxx (Teri Hatcher). The two storm into Becky’s bedroom in the middle of the night where they find Roy trying to romance his ex They quickly sedate Becky, Lee questions Roy about a North Korean contact, which puzzles his clueless partner Dosmo. Lee’s beautiful girlfriend Helga (Charlize Theron) is upset over his coldblooded killing, but not enough to leave him and in fact may even be turned on by his violent streak. The next morning, Becky awakes, wanders out of her home covered in blood, and flags down undercover vice officers Alvin (Jeff Daniels) and Wes (Eric Stoltz) who have been waiting to bust a prostitute, but have been hindered by Wes’ second thoughts and developing feelings for the woman they have been tailing. Meanwhile, a washed-up television director (Paul Mazursk) thinking of taking his life, crosses paths with a friendly nurse (Marsha Mason) who happens to be the sister of obnoxious art dealer (Greg Cruttwell) who is a cruel boss to retiring assistant Susan (Glenne Headly). Eventually, all paths cross when Dosmo, crashes the art dealer’s house after Lee tries to kill him, the television director and nurse arrive when she decides to take his beloved dog and give it to her brother, and the detectives get on the trail of the killing at Becky’s house.

At its core Herzfeld’s film is about desperate people trying to find a connection with someone, starting with the opening scene with Becky and Roy as he tries to convince her to start up their relationship together. Wes, the undercover vice agent who wants to work homicide, has a crisis of conscience when he tries to bust the massage parlor prostitute because he realizes he has feelings for her. His partner Alvin is dealing with anger because he is divorced and missing his family, and Susan feels she is unlovable. She and Dosmo have an instant rapport after discovering they share an Italian ethnic connection and may have met before. And then there is the nurse and director coupling who find each other as both are feeling loss at a cemetery for war veterans.

Much of this melodrama is tempered by the dark comedy Herzfeld infuses into the screenplay, like Dosmo’s fear of dogs or Alvin’s irrational tirades and hatred of any Asian massage parlor opening in the Valley. Despite this, the romantic connections in the film feel shoehorned into the plot and are not explored to their fullest, they just seem to happen. Regardless, the performances from the case are insanely good. Aiello is hilarious as the mobster with cynophobia, Theron is incredibly sexy and dangerous, and Spader could not be more believably ruthless.

  • 2 Days in the Valley (1996)
  • 2 Days in the Valley (1996)
  • 2 Days in the Valley (1996)
  • 2 Days in the Valley (1996)
  • 2 Days in the Valley (1996)
  • Charlize Theron in 2 Days in the Valley (1996)
  • 2 Days in the Valley (Special Edition) (KL Studio Classics)
  • 2 Days in the Valley (Special Edition) (KL Studio Classics)
  • 2 Days in the Valley (Special Edition) (KL Studio Classics)

The Video

KL Studio Classics delivers 2 Days in the Valley on Blu-ray from a brand new HD master from a 4K scan of the 35mm original camera negative. The film is presented in a 2.35:1 AVC 1080p encodement. This is a difficult transfer to assess for me. First there is the strange choice to do a 4K scan for only a release on Blu-ray. The disc immediately looks like it would be fantastic on 4K HDR. There are already vivid primary colors, especially the blues and reds. The various shades of blue in the art dealer’s home, from indigo to cerulean and the fire engine red of his BMW really stand out. The biggest issue I have with this transfer is it looks like overall gamma is maybe a touch too low. Even in the outside scenes in the daylight, there seems to be a dimness to the picture. Look at Chapter 4 around the 00:32:21 mark where Danny Aiello is pointing the gun at the dog with the sky behind him. The color of the blue in the sky looks closer to a darker periwinkle. One could also look at the fight scene between Teri Hatcher and Charlize Theron, which is admittedly in a motel room and ‘lamplit,’ but still tilting toward the dimmer side. That said, the darker appearance does present a contrasty appearance that is appealing. Blacks are inky, maybe leaning towards crush, but some detail can still be seen in shadows, and makes the color presentations deeper.

Overall detail is excellent and without criticism. The many facial close-ups in the film reveal pores, wrinkle, and stubble in the finest, crispest detail. And the lack of egregious source damage and finely layered grain help to impart even more clarity to the image, especially when compared to the non-restored image as seen in the trailer.

The Audio

The weakest link on this release is the audio. Not that the lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is awful, but it is basic, really using the surround channels for atmospherics and a lot of reverberation. Even the score gets a very wet sound and slightly heavy-handed emphasis in the surrounds. That said, it does provide clean and clear dialogue and a very wide spread of sound across the front channels. The stereo mix is also clean and wide-panned, perhaps even a bit more natural sounding overall.

The Supplements

KL Studio Classics includes two new bonus features for this release, including a very interesting and obviously sympathetic audio commentary by the filmmaker and a discussion between Herszfeld and longtime friend Sylvester Stallone. The other extras are previously released features. The package does get new artwork and a reversible inner sleeve with the original artwork as well.

Bonus Features:

  • Newly Commissioned Art by John Rivoli
  • New Audio Commentary by Writer/Director John Herzfeld
  • Sylvester Stallone and Jon Herzfeld Conversation (1080p; 00:35:05)
  • Q&A at Cinefamily with Charlize Theron, Glenne Headly, John Herzfeld, and Others (1080p; 00:30:16)
  • The Making of 2 Days in the Valley: Archival Featurette (SD; 00:07:03)
  • B-Rolls (SD; 00:07:34)
  • Cast and Crew Soundbites (SD; 00:17:08)
  • 2 Days in the Valley – Trailer (1080p; 00:03:01)

The Final Assessment

2 Days in the Valley had the misfortune of arriving in the wake of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, where these dark comedy crime thrillers had been completely flipped on their head by Tarantino. Not being as innovative, violent, or controversial, the film feels a little trite in comparison to other entries from the era but is still a solid and enjoyable film beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted. This new restoration from a 4K scan leaves it looking better than ever.

2 Days in the Valley (Special Edition) is out on Blu-ray November 14, 2023, from KL Studio Classics

  • Rating Certificate: R (for violence, sexuality, and language)
  • Studios & Distributors: Rysher Entertainment | Redemption Productions | KL Studio Classics
  • Director: John Herzfeld
  • Written By: John Herzfeld
  • Run Time: 105 Mins.
  • Street Date: 14 November 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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The lives and crimes of several people intersect over two days in the shadow of Hollywood. 2 Days in the Valley (Special Edition) (Blu-ray Review)