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MGM Studios DVD presents
Kiss the Sky (1998)

"There is no 'Way,' Marty... your own true nature—your Buddha nature—is inside of you, whether you realize it or not. How you realize it is up to you."
- Kozan (Terence Stamp)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: June 10, 2000

Stars: William L. Petersen, Gary Cole, Sheryl Lee
Other Stars: Terence Stamp, Patricia Charbonneau
Director: Roger Young

Manufacturer: Sunset Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (strong sexual content, drug use, language)
Run Time: 01h:45m:04s
Release Date: June 06, 2000
UPC: 027616849922
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ CCC- D-

DVD Review

MGM's Kiss the Sky is a 1998 made-for-cable TV movie starring William L. Petersen and Gary Cole as a pair of successful but unhappy middle-aged businessmen. A real-estate development project in Manila leads the long-time friends on a side trip to the Philippines, where they revisit youthful excesses and become involved in a friendly ménage á trois with the free-spirited Andy (Sheryl Lee). Longing to recapture their "freedom," the men divorce their wives back home and begin building a spiritual resort on a remote island with Andy's assistance; when a monsoon destroys the project, they seek solace in the teachings of Kozan (Terence Stamp), an earthy Buddhist monk.

Directed by Roger Young from producer Eric Lerner's script, Kiss the Sky tries to be a different kind of "guy movie." It successfully steers clear of the beer-commercial machismo of Backdraft and deserves some credit for NOT being an action flick, but its take on male sexuality and male/female relationships is ultimately banal and simplistic. When the film opens, Jeff (Petersen) and Marty (Cole) are whiny and unappreciative of what they have—when they get what they think they want and are still unsatisfied, they retreat without having truly learned anything. The film seems to be saying that true happiness comes from within, but the point is not supported—both men are unsure of themselves and genuinely seem to dislike women, blaming them for their own shortcomings while craving their affection and dependence. Neither character grows or changes in any permanent way, and the film comes off as a midlife-crisis--cum--fantasy that fails to resolve the most interesting issues it raises.

Stylistically, Kiss the Sky is enlivened by colorful location settings, classic Leonard Cohen songs and some surprisingly explicit softcore sex scenes (this DVD version is Unrated). Young's direction is competent but cold, with some interesting camera angles but little empathy for his characters. All the actors contribute solid performances, doing what they can to inject emotion into the thin, talky script. Sheryl Lee (best known as Twin Peaks' Laura Palmer) portrays Andy as a real woman, intelligent and independent with a credible Australian accent. Terence Stamp is great fun as a Buddhist monk who periodically leaves the monastery to sample the sins of the world (he has also been one of Andy's lovers), and his presence lends much-needed weight to the movie's pop philosophy. Patricia Charbonneau as Jeff's long-suffering wife is sympathetic and human, never resorting to soap-opera histrionics. There's a lot of talent on display here, but good performances can't overcome the movie's weak fundamentals.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Kiss the Sky is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio as produced by MGM Worldwide Television Pictures. The source print has an excessive amount of dirt flecking for such a recent production, and it becomes distracting in a few scenes. The DVD transfer exhibits some shimmer here and there, but color fidelity and black level are solid, with minimal edge enhancement by TV-movie standards and no other distracting artifacts. MGM's DVD handles the film's soft look and often-shallow depth-of-field successfully; a watchable but undistinguished disc.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The disc lays claim to a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack, but it's far from enveloping. Dialogue and music are restricted to the front soundstage, and when the rear speakers are used they're not well-handled—in one case, a sound effect pans from the front left to BOTH rears when it should stay on the left. Dialogue and sound effects are generally clear, LFE bass and stereo effects are evident in the musical score, and Leonard Cohen's great songs sound fine, but the soundtrack is generally unimpressive and 2.0-ish.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: MGM's Kiss the Sky DVD is nearly feature-free, with Spanish and French subtitles and 28 chapter selections raising it just above "F" territory. Menus are silent and static with photos emphasizing the film's sex scenes. There are no trailers, production notes, bios or other "standard" supplements here, and the entire presentation seems half-hearted and rushed.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Kiss the Sky is an interesting failure—it strives to be meaningful, thought-provoking and erotic but founders in its own angst and cynicism. MGM's DVD transfer is average at best, with no supplements to speak of. Worthy of rental consideration, but I can't recommend a purchase.


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