Robert Altman is the cineaste auteur of choice. Those holding pretension of cinema as major art form per excellence, hold his work up with regard. 1996 KANSAS CITY is a film that suffered some what critically. Sparsely shining and often derided. The story is simple enough. A kidnapping of a socialite Carolyn (Miranda Richardson) by Blondie O’Hara (Jennifer Jason Leigh), seems strange. However things become clearer. Johnny (Dermot Mulroney), her beau has been messing with the wrong man. He set up a steal from Seldom Seen (Harry Belafonte), a Kansas City mob boss. Blondie refuses to let this pass. Carolyns prominent government husband (Michael Murphy) could help. He could swing it for them to be raided and problems solved. However the problem is not gonna be that easy to solve. Altman’s take on the Roaring 30’s, is not his first.
THIEVES LIKE US, took depression era, rural America at face value and re formed it. He was an exceptional director at doing this. Using form and style, in a fusion of meta cinematic tools. Often producing films that were intelligent and a little subversive. Arrow Academy has realised from Altman’s catalogue, a film that had suffered and shined. I hated it to be honest on first view. It felt like a main stream film. It has a lack of skill in its editing, direction and felt watered down in way of cinematic substance. On review, it is less of an car crash. It is an ally to Altman’s filmography. Yes, it is weaker. Less robust or rounded certainly. Its far more a piece that explores a time. Timely and troubling in a way that is clever and profound. Yes it is far from his best, but it is also has enough touches to make a new entrant see what is on offer.
HD transfers are a thing. This one has some major light issues. The tendency is to go dark or go blown. This is dark and in a way that blocks the viewing experience.
Few are on offer. The best? Gare, Trains et Déraillement. Great analysis of the film as a work of art. Form and function. Contorting images and words. The worst. Those music video stuff…
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
- Original 2.0 and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary by director Robert Altman
- Newly filmed appreciation by critic Geoff Andrew
- Gare, Trains et Déraillement, a 2007 visual essay by French critic Luc Lagier, plus short introduction to the film narrated by Lagier
- Robert Altman Goes to the Heart of America and Kansas City: The Music, two 1996 promotional featurettes including interviews with cast and crew
- Electronic press kit interviews with Altman, Leigh, Richardson, Belafonte and musician Joshua Redman, plus behind-the-scenes footage
- Four theatrical trailers
- TV spots
- Image gallery
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Dr Nicolas Pillai, original press kit notes and an excerpt from Altman on Altman.