'Ivansxtc: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Danny Huston, Peter Weller, Lisa Enos, Angela Featherstone, Valeria Golino, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2000) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)
Overview: Opening with the death of its titular protagonist, 'Ivansxtc' goes back in time to chart the final days of hot-shot Tinseltown agent Ivan Beckman (Huston) and his fast-paced, wheeler-dealer lifestyle, which will ultimately lead him to an early grave after a shock cancer diagnosis.
Blu-ray Verdict: Loosely based on Leo Tolstoy's celebrated 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and featuring a searing performance by Danny Huston at its core and wonderfully sleazy turn from Peter Weller as Ivan's biggest client, 'Ivansxtc' is not only a powerful meditation on life, death and morality set against the glitzy backdrop of La La Land, but is really one of the most honest, most genuinely unnerving films I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot, by any standards, trust me).
My lady and I didn't speak for any entire hour afterward, just sitting there in stunned contemplation of this stunning film!
Huston is an absolute revelation as Ivan, a once-in-a-lifetime performance that seems to have sprung into life fully formed and whole.
His is one of the greatest faces cinema has offered, full of humanity and pathos, at once a recognizable everyman and a unique and extraordinary figure.
The narrative's initially gimmicky flashback structure become essential as we are allowed to see the fundamental pointlessness of the feckless Ivan's life even before we meet him.
From the early realization of Ivan's insignificance, we are drawn to see him as fully alive and utterly human.
This is the triumph of the director's intensely humanist vision, a moving testament to the individual worth and humanity of each of us, even the most lost and dissolute amongst us.
Equally rich are the surrounding performances, the whole cast working tiny wonders, but special mention certainly belongs to Huston and also Peter Weller, the latter giving what I think must be his strongest ever role.
His sleazy big-shot actor is an instant classic, utterly true and blackly comic.
I lived and worked in the industry in Hollywood and I recognized many of the characters and situations. In the whole film, not one false note was struck.
The locations expertly chosen, from the Sky bar to the winding backroads around Mulholland and Hollywood Blvd at dawn, the feel of Ivan's Hollywood was exactly right.
In closing, I wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone looking for difficult but richly rewarding, thought-provoking cinema. It is not "entertainment", but it performs the quiet miracles that few film-makers even attempt, let alone achieve with these devastating results.
A triumph, a truly visionary work and clearly a labor of love for all involved, 'Ivansxtc' is simply astounding and quite the equal to the early works of Ingmar Bergman; and I can think of no higher praise than that. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA options
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Q&A with director Bernard Rose, actress/producer/co-writer Lisa Enos, actors Danny Huston, Peter Weller and Adam Krentzman from a 2018 screening at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Robert J Simpson
Amazon Purchase Link