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Directed by: Pedro Almodovar
Staring: Victoria Abril, Antonio Banderas

An Introduction

“I have nothing, so I have nothing to lose.”

Nine times out of ten, whenever an NC-17 movie comes to town, I try to go to see it regardless of its popularity. I one day hope this rating is able to live and thrive with the other ratings and have its own place in cinema. So when I heard this film was actually rated NC-17, I was shocked to actually find out why. With comparison to today’s films, it’s very tame.

The Movie

“I didn’t mean to hurt you, but you started to scream.”

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is a film that was described to me as “a pretty sexy film” but unfortunately I never found a single scene to actually be sexy. But I digress; I’m getting ahead of myself.

The film centers around the characters of Marina and Ricky. The film starts off with the character of Ricky being released from a mental institution after a judge deems him fit for the public. Sad that he must leave, he tracks down an actress, (ex-porn star he had a one night fling with a few years ago) and kidnaps her to show his devotion and love to her. Stockholm syndrome anyone?

Personally I always found the story of Beauty and the Beast to be a little off putting, especially when it came to their romance, but that was an animated film so I was able to look over it. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about this film and I generally found it to be incredibly creepy. I also found the “breaking point” of her actually starting to like him to be all too sudden and jarring.

Aside from the creepiness of the story, I did find the film to be quite enjoyable due to the character interactions between one another. The dialogue was very naturalistic and the Spanish language never bothered me in the slightest (personally its my least favorite language). Directorially Pedro Almodovar does a fantastic job at making the filmmaking look effortless and very simplistic in nature.

Considering the infamous NC-17 rating, which this blu ray contains, I found it to be a lot of over hype and something that is considered tame with as many sex comedies, such as The Hangover, that really make it feel overhyped. This also gives the film an overrated feel to the film, with art crowds proclaiming it to be a much better film than it actually is. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is by no means a bad film, but a film that I found to be forgettable and will only be remembered for an early career film of Antonio Banderas.


The Video

“I had to kidnap you so you’d get to know me. I’m sure you’ll get to love me as I love you. “

Presented in a 1:85.1 aspect ratio, TMU! TMD! really does look fantastic on blu ray. At first I thought it just looked fine, until I saw an unrefined trailer, and the differences were astounding. Criterion has provided details as to the transfer. “This new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Deluxe Madrid, where the film was also restored, under the supervision of director Pedro Almodovar and executive producer Agustin Almodovar.” The very first thing I noticed about the transfer was the use of the color red, which is almost used in every single shot in the film. The color red popped in a way that almost stands out more than any other color. The film grain has a nice level to it and never becomes a detriment to the viewing experience. The only complaint I have with it is some minor flicker in the beginning of the film, but other than that, this is a great transfer.


The Audio

“I’m 23 years old, I have 50,000 pesetas, and I’m alone in the world. I’ll try to be a good husband to you and a good father to your children.”

Presented in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix, TMU! TMD! Springs to life, but never really blew me away. Criterion has provided details to the creation of the mix. “The original 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX3.” The very first thing I noticed was how quiet the rear speakers are. Several moments in the film I actually walked over to them just to check if they were working and on, only for them to be very low in volume. This was not a problem with my system but a very quiet mix that didn’t really have much use for them. That aside, fidelity is very strong with dialogue being the center focus with other folly sounds sounding very realistic. Music is incredibly lifelike and gives the soundstage a much-needed kick of energy.


Packaging and Bonus Features

“If you’re untied, will you escape?”

Criterion has provided some incredible cover art over the years for their releases and this is no exception for this release. The cover has the primary colors of the film (red, white, orange and black) with the image of hands holding on to someone who is tied up. It really is a poster that one could frame and hang on their wall. Bonus features contain a plethora of features for fans and film people alike that really shows the film in a second light. All special features are in 1080i or 1080p. total runtime for the special features clocks in at around ninety minutes, but they include conversation pieces, behind the scenes footage, premiere footage and a discussion piece on the director and his relationship with Sony Pictures Classics. Also included is a 28 page booklet with several articles about the creation of the script, all the way to a discussion where Wes Anderson talks about Pedro Almodovar.

• Theatrical Trailer
• United! Reflections on Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!
• Pedro and Antonio
• Michael Barker
• “Resistire”
• Booklet
• DVD Copy


Overall(not an average)

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! is a film that, while it has its fans, I am not really one of them, but Criterions release of this is quite fantastic. The video and audio quality ranges from great to very good, and the bonus features are a great read/listen to boot. Recommended!


The Review
The Movie: 7/10
The Video: 9.5/10
The Audio: 8/10
Packaging and Bonus Features: 8/10
Overall (not an Average): 8/10