The Dancer Upstairs

Overview

John Malkovich's intelligent, talky and ultimately slow directorial debut The Dancer Upstairs comes to DVD. As is often the case with smaller, independent, or "arty" films, the DVD release will no doubt give this title more life than it received in the theaters. This picture, framed at 1.85:1 and anamorphic, is the strong point of the DVD. It's a very natural-looking image, and while never flashy, translates wonderfully from the original source. Flesh tones are beautiful and detail is constantly strong. The ...
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Overview

John Malkovich's intelligent, talky and ultimately slow directorial debut The Dancer Upstairs comes to DVD. As is often the case with smaller, independent, or "arty" films, the DVD release will no doubt give this title more life than it received in the theaters. This picture, framed at 1.85:1 and anamorphic, is the strong point of the DVD. It's a very natural-looking image, and while never flashy, translates wonderfully from the original source. Flesh tones are beautiful and detail is constantly strong. The darker scenes occasionally show some breakdown, but it's never enough to be a distraction to a fine presentation. The sound, a 5.1 English Dolby Digital track, is generally centered up front, but there are moments when the surrounds jump in, primarily with the use of the music in the soundtrack and some sound effects. Overall though, this is a standard audio arrangement. Malkovich's choice to use Latin American actors who can speak English, however, means that the subtitle option sometimes comes in handy. The extras aren't extensive, but still offer a few bright moments. A four-minute Sundance Channel spot on Malkovich is too short to be noteworthy, but a far longer featurette on the making of the film, with interviews primarily from Javier Bardem and author/screenwriter Nicholas Shakespeare, fares better. Along with the theatrical trailer for this film and In America, the high point of the supplements is a scene-specific commentary track from Malkovich and Bardem filled with production information and a surprising amount of humor. Although Malkovich takes the lead, Bardem has plenty to contribute, and it's one of the better tracks.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Full-length audio commentary by director John Malkovich and actor Javier Bardem; Sundance Channel featurette; Making-of featurette; Theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Todd Kristel
John Malkovich's debut as a feature-film director is a combination of political thriller, police procedural, and love story. Slow and methodical, the film fares better at developing mood (with considerable help from cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine, who seems fond of dim lighting) than with building suspense or political commentary. Indeed, the film's terrorist organization remains an enigma even though the screenplay, which was adapted by Nicholas Shakespeare from his novel, was inspired by the real-life search for Abimael Guzman, the founder of the "Shining Path" terrorist group. The plot is rather vague at times and the characters remain somewhat distant and inaccessible. The major exception is Javier Bardem as Rejas. He delivers an excellent restrained performance in which the film's story line unfolds subtlety on his face. Unfortunately, he does not have a great deal of romantic chemistry with Laura Morante, although their mutual attraction seems relatively plausible given the contrast between Rejas and his wife, a poorly developed character whose relationship with him remains somewhat inexplicable. The film is sometimes interesting and often evocative, but it doesn't quite hold up as an emotionally engaging story.
Entertainment Weekly - Owen Gleiberman
The movie has a mystery, and moral unease, that lingers.
New York Times - Elvis Mitchell
Echoes its director's own deportment as a performer, alternating silky smoothness with burlap coarseness. Though Mr. Malkovich stays entirely behind the scenes, he creates a languorous but gripping story of people fighting to stay a step ahead of hopelessness.
Time Magazine
Patient and plodding -- but as realized by John Malkovich, in his directorial debut, utterly absorbing. Richard Shickel
Slate
The film has a foggy cast to it--flat and insinuatingly creepy, like the actor. But then it can be lit, in an instant, by searing flash-pots of cruelty and wit. Even when it's slightly opaque, it's transfixing. David Edelstein

Echoes its director's own deportment as a performer, alternating silky smoothness with burlap coarseness. Though Mr. Malkovich stays entirely behind the scenes, he creates a languorous but gripping story of people fighting to stay a step ahead of hopelessness.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/23/2003
  • UPC: 024543088295
  • Original Release: 2002
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20th Century Fox
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Language: English, Français, Español
  • Time: 2:15:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 48,886

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Javier Bardem Augustin Rejas
Juan Diego Botto Sucre
Laura Morante Yolanda
Elvira Mínguez Llosa
Alexandra Lencastre Sylvina
Oliver Cotton General Merino
Abel Folk Ezequiel/Duran
Marie-Anne Verganza Laura
Technical Credits
John Malkovich Director, Producer
Jose Luis Alcaine Cinematographer
Mario Battistel Editor
Katrina Bayonas Casting
Antonio Bloch Sound/Sound Designer
Yousaf Bokhari Associate Producer
Bina Daigeler Costumes/Costume Designer
Andrés Vicente Gómez Producer
Lianne Halfon Executive Producer
Alberto Iglesias Score Composer
Camilla-Valentine Isola Casting
Pierre-Francois Limbosch Production Designer
David Martinez Asst. Director
Nicholas Shakespeare Screenwriter
Russ Smith Executive Producer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Title
2. Checkpoint
3. Diplomacy
4. Presidente Ezequiel
5. Suicide Bomber
6. New Assignment
7. Home Life
8. Dead Ends
9. Nose Job
10. Political Philosophy
11. Book Club
12. Pas de Deux
13. On the Carpet
14. Assassination
15. It's the Fashion
16. Martial Law
17. Fear of the Dark
18. Homecoming
19. Character Judgments
20. Work and Play
21. Caught on Tape
22. Garbage Detail
23. A Gift of the Heart
24. Ready to Roll
25. The Takedown
26. Political Threat
27. Harsh Sentence
28. Ballet Recital/End Credits
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Language Selection
      English 5.1 Dolby Surround
      French Dolby Surround
      Spanish Dolby Surround
      Director and Actor Commentary
      English Subtitles
      Spanish Subtitles
      Subtitles Off
   Scene Selection
   Special Features
      Commentary by Director John Malkovich and Actor Javier Bardem
      Sundance Channel's 24 Fram News - Journeys With John Malkovich
      Revealing the Dancer Upstairs
      Theatrical Trailer
      In America Theatrical Trailer
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