FIVE EASY PIECES CRITERION COLLECTION BLU RAY

Somewhere in the works of Jack Nicholson is his greatest work as an actor. For some it is his Oscar winning turn as Randall P McMurphy. For others it is his Jack Torrance insanity that wins out. For me it is as Robert (Bobby) Dupea in FIVE EASY PIECES, Bob Rafelson’s masterpiece of wasted relationships and  rebellions. For here, Jack gives us a bit of his self and in a way, his real act. For he is the persona of a man known as Jack Nicholson and this film truly captures it before it became a parody.

Bobby Dupea works on an oil field in Kern County, California. Days are hard and hot, nights are spent with his girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black) and his friend Elton (Billy “Green” Bush). She wants to sing, he wants to bowl, get drunk, and philander. Bobby however acts the part of a blue-collar man. He was and hopes to be again, a classical pianist. When he finds his girlfriend is pregnant, his life unravels and the past, a family of upper class musicians, surface again.

Like us all in the arts, who descend from blue collar families, we often have this issue of duality. We have to spend time in the ‘real world’ but also desire to ascend. Rise to the top. Get to the height of artistic satisfaction. The universal problem is, this does not pay the bills. Bob Rafelson drives his film (and it is his film) with a subtlety and emotional honesty that emphasises this dicothomy. For me and many, it is hard to ignore. This is why FIVE EASY PIECES is so good. Characters are well drawn. Textured almost. The narrative is condensed but elaborate and the whole is a validated sum of its many parts. This is where it probes us. Pushing us into the unseen realm of the human agency which often undermines the creative process. This is not to say that there is nothing else in the film but for me, the central tenet of the work is that. Seventh watch and still I cant hide from its beauty.

DISC

I commend Criterion for going with HD. It stands up. I have little complaints and lots of applause. Colour, frame and skin tones are back to there cinema best. Reds are deep and rich. Sun is harsh and warm. Its all the while superb on so many levels.

 

EXTRAS

Packed to the hilt. The best is BBStory. This was on the Region 1 DVD of the set. The story of BBS is a thing of cinema then and cinema now, as much as it is about the artists behind the events. The Audio commentary has been around before but it is interesting to hear the rational behind the film, from the mouths of the creatives. Although I would have liked Jack to talk. When they talk of film contributions that is.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

  • Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography László Kovács, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Audio commentary featuring director Bob Rafelson and interior designer Toby Rafelson
  • Soul Searching in “Five Easy Pieces,” a 2009 video piece with Rafelson
  • BBStory, a 2009 documentary about the legendary film company BBS Productions, with Rafelson; actors Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, and Ellen Burstyn; directors Peter Bogdanovich and Henry Jaglom; and others
  • Documentary from 2009 about BBS featuring critic David Thomson and historian Douglas Brinkley
  • Audio excerpts from a 1976 AFI interview with Rafelson
  • Theatrical trailer and teasers
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Kent Jones

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