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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary featuring writer-director David Mamet and actor William H. Macy
  • New video program featuring interviews with recurring Mamet actors Steven Goldstein, Ricky Jay, J. J. Johnston, Joe Mantegna, and Jack Wallace
  • Gag reel and TV spots

Homicide


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: David Mamet
Starring: Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy, Natalija Nogulich, Ving Rhames, Vincent Guastaferro, Rebecca Pidgeon, J. J. Johnston, Jack Wallace, Lionel Mark Smith, Ricky Jay
101 | 1991 Minutes | Licensor: Edward R. Pressman Film Corp.

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #486
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: September 8, 2009
Review Date: August 28, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

In David Mamet's cinema, nothing is as it seems-so you better know what you're looking for. Unfortunately, the protagonist of Mamet's nightmarish urban odyssey Homicide, inner-city police detective Bobby Gold (Joe Mantegna), is as bewildered about who he is as who (or what) he's after. Gold's investigation, following the murder of an elderly Jewish candy-shop owner, leads him down a path of obscure encounters and clues, as well as profound reckoning with his own self and identity. Filled with Mamet's trademark verbal play and featuring standout supporting performances from William H. Macy, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Pidgeon, Homicide is a taut, rich work from a true American original.

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PICTURE

David Mametís Homicide makes its R1 DVD debut through Criterion and is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layer disc. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

The transfer on here is certainly disappointing. Restoration looks to have been rather thorough since there is about nothing in the way of damage but the digital transfer itself is a bit of a mess. Other than some odd sequences scattered throughout the entire film looks muddy and unnatural. Sharpness and detail is on and off but as a whole this characteristic never comes off all that impressive, long shots looking especially messy. Shadow delineation is practically non-existent, blacks are never really all that black and a lot of darker sequences come off as blobby messes because of these issues making it hard to see. I canít say I noticed noise or artifacts but I was a little distracted by other problems.

Itís actually the most disappointing transfer Iíve seen from the company lately and itís a little frustrating since the film is so new. Definitely not one of their best efforts.

6/10

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AUDIO

The Dolby Surround track doesnít prove to be much better. While it has some punch to it and also contains some decent surround work in some sequences it does come off flat and hollow overall, specifically in voices. The occasional explosion and gunshot have some bass to them and can come off loud but thatís about it as the track as a whole comes off fairly weak.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Supplements are slim and really donít add much value to the package.

First is an audio commentary featuring director David Mamet and actor William H. Macy. I believe the only other Mamet track Iíve listened to is the one he did for Criterionís House of Games DVD. It was probably a good thing he was accompanied by Ricky Jay in that track because honestly I donít know if I could find Mamet bearable on his own. Mamet again talks himself up and canít help but find everything about his film to be wonderful and this stroking of his own ego gets old very quickly. Macy offers some counter balance but not much. The two end up laughing at a lot of lines throughout and then feel they have to comment on them, with Mamet of course declaring what a great line the line in question was. I actually like Mametís films and I like his writing and I like his dialogue, as unnatural as it is, and I even like the stilted acting and line deliveries that usually appear in his films (though itís not as stilted in this film) but I actually canít stand his commentary tracks (based on this and House of Games at least.) Heís incredibly brazen and itís hard to listen to someone talk about how unbelievably great they are. Macy even has to joke with him about how he decided to write a book on directing after only directing two films. The track really only becomes good when the two talk about the actual production or other things not related directly to this film, like the current state of indie filmmaking (Mamet figuring the internet might bring indie filmmaking back to life) or talking about acting, or even talking about television shows. There are some good anecdotes, decent discussion about the actors and the family atmosphere on set and the track does clear up the ending (which I admit left me a little baffled as I wasnít completely sure on one revelation) but Mamet can be off putting and that fact makes it easy to overlook any other good aspects to the track.

A little better is the 21-minute collection of interviews found under ĒInvent Nothing, Deny NothingĒ Ė Five Guys From Mametís Homicide. This was made exclusively for Criterion and features Joe Mantegna, Ricky Jay, Steven Goldstein, J. J. Johnston, and Jack Wallace. These actors appear in most of Mametís work and theyíre a close group and the discussions within (mixed in with clips from Homicide) focus primarily on that. While they cover their work with Mamet as a whole they also get into their roles for Homicide and how Mamet writes roles especially for them, which take advantage of their own skill set as performers. They also talk about the dialogue but I have to find it amusing that Wallace refuses to repeat curse words from Mametís dialogue during the interview, despite the F-bomb being dropped in the clips that play throughout the piece. Jay also talks a bit about his martial arts training helped him in this film (this is also mentioned in the commentary where Macy and Mamet somewhat question his training.) This was better than the commentary track but feels too brief. Itís a shame these guys couldnít also appear in the track.

An odd addition for Criterion (I donít recall one since their DVD for Armageddon) is a gag reel running about 6-minutes. Gags were mentioned in the commentary and this collection of short clips features some amusing ones, made up of flubs and pranks. Not required viewing but thereís a couple of good bits and it highlights the loose, fun, and close work environment.

The supplements then conclude with 4 TV Spots running 3 and a half minutes. Three of them are short spots, but the last one feels closer to a theatrical trailer.

The release then includes a booklet with an essay by Stuart Klawans, which is an okay read covering Mametís career and how Homicide fits in his filmography.

A little sparse and I donít know if itís worth the higher price point. I found the commentary obnoxious overall and the other supplements, while fine, donít make up for it. Not a thrilling collection.

5/10

CLOSING

This is my first time with this film and of his films that Iíve seen itís certainly the most different. It has his usual red herrings and twists though theyíre slight in this case and the focus is certainly more on Mantegnaís character and his struggles. Thereís some great things in here and itís one Iíll certainly revisit. But I have to express my extreme disappointment in this release, which lets me down in every area. The picture is muddy and unimpressive, the sound is flat overall, and the commentary was, well, not very good. Not one I can wholly recommend.


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