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The Dancer Upstairs [DVD] [2002]

Release Date:09/23/2003
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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    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (1 out of 1)

    Special Features

    • Full-length audio commentary by director John Malkovich and actor Javier Bardem
    • Sundance Channel featurette
    • Making-of featurette
    • Theatrical trailer
    • Closed Captioned


    The Dancer Upstairs
    Actor John Malkovich made his directorial debut with this tense political thriller, set in an unnamed Latin American nation and based on a novel by Nicholas Shakespeare. Agustin Rejas (Javier Bardem) is a former lawyer who became a police detective as a more direct way of dealing with crime and justice. Rejas has been assigned to investigate a group of terrorists who are determined to up-end the current government through any means necessary, from revolting pranks (such as leaving dead animals, painted with revolutionary rhetoric, around the capitol building) to bombings and assassinations. Rejas knows little about the terrorists, and no one on the force is certain of the identity or whereabouts of the group's leader, who calls himself President Ezequiel. As Rejas learns more about Ezequiel and his group, they begin stepping up their actions, making his investigation all the more urgent. Meanwhile, Rejas is a man whose daughter is taking dance lessons from Yolanda (Laura Morante); as Rejas and Yolanda get to know one another, a romance begins to grow between them, but in time, Rejas begins to suspect that the woman he loves is working with the terrorists he's been trying to ferret out. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Javier Bardem
      Javier Bardem - Augustin Rejas
    • Juan Diego Botto
      Juan Diego Botto - Sucre
    • Laura Morante
      Laura Morante - Yolanda
    • Elvira Mínguez
      Elvira Mínguez - Llosa
    • Alexandra Lencastre
      Alexandra Lencastre - Sylvina

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.