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Ironweed [Import]

Jack Nicholson , Meryl Streep , Hector Babenco    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 50.48
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant (if slow) film, an awful DVD Aug. 8 2011
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
No question this is a five star film. The docked star is for the DVD.

Given the weak print and media reviews, I was shocked at how moving and
poetic this portrait of street bums in the 30s was.

Streep and Nicholson are both magnificent, but the whole supporting
cast is very good.

It has flaws - it's a little overlong, there the occasional heavy
handed moment. But it's also a deeply moving portrait of lost souls
trying to find meaning in a very cold world.

The big frustration is the Region 1 DVD - for some reason it was released
full screen (4:3) and not in the original 1:85. That might have been
forgivable if the DVD had been released years ago, when that was a more
common practice, but 'Ironweed' - a visually stunning film - was
released in 2009! So there is no excuse for this inaccurate
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  68 reviews
87 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To Comfort The Dead July 27 2000
By Mr. Cairene - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
In highschool I came across a poem called The Projectionist's Nightmare, I don't recall the name of the poet but the poem's message is still very much with me. It described a wayward bird inside a movie theatre, where an audience was watching two poeple "being nice to each other". The bird crashes into the screen, its blood slithering onto the image, the spell is broken, the fantasy dispelled and the audience screams. Hector Babenco had already made this poem in substance in 1985s Kiss Of A Spider Woman where his lead character, a prisoner, escaped his miserable surroundings through memories and fantasies of a propaganda film. Two years later Bebanco would make Ironweed, and his lead character Frances Phelan (Jack Nicholson) is well past the dreaming stage, the only fantasies he has are of ghosts from his past.
Ironweed is a film many people would find slow. Nothing much happens and the characters don't change. The stark grim atmosphere and the dead end conditions unrelenting. There is no hope in the story of Frances Phelan. He has abandoned his family 22 years ago after dropping his 13 year old baby to its death. The film starts with him visiting his dead baby's grave for the first time, and then follows him around as he joins his companion Helen Archer (Meryl Streep) and his friend of sorts Rudy (Tom Waits). All three of them are alcoholics, and we watch as they wade through the alleys of Albany 1938 looking for a place to sleep . They get robbed, they see a homeless prostitute from Alaska die of cold and they get into fights. But there is no emotional release in their anger or in their better moments. You'd expect there to be emancipated joy when Streep sings in a bar in front of a full house, or rage when a bunch of kids rob them of all their money. But Streep is quickly back to her depression, and Nicholson shrugs off the robbery. All the characters in Ironweed are infact dead, they live off their memories, do what they have to do to stay alive as they await their physical death. Meanwhile there are quietly affecting scenes of closure as Nicholson visits his abandoned family and Streep remember her "musical days". Nicholson's and Streep's Oscar nominated performance are among their best.
Babenco holds his camera on his characters for a long time, as if waiting for them to crack. They never do because Ironweed is not angry, it doesn't have an agenda, it is just mournful. As I watched it for the first time tonight I became aware that the episodic cyclic nature of the film develops in the end to a complete whole. When the end credits roll you feel like you were standing too close to a painting, and now for the first time you are far enough to see it for the sad beautiful image it is. The famed author John Fowles said that we are all poets but few of us can write it. From the rhetorical dialogue of these hobos, the ugly poverty they endure, the dark allyways they inhabit and the ghosts that haunt them, Ironweed emerges as a sad and deeply affecting poem.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VERY GOOD MOVIE June 15 2005
By M. R. Sheffield - Published on Amazon.com
No, this is not a typical Nicholson project, but it's the better for that. I mean -- "About Schmidt" or "Ironweed" -- the former is good, the latter nearly great. The fact that Nicholson is playing so off-character makes this a role well worth seeing him in. Streep is good, Tom Waits is GREAT as Rudy. The film is not for depressives, however. PLEASE RELEASE THIS IMPORTANT FILM IN DVD FORMAT!! With all the toppings, please.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Non-OAR Release! Product Details are Correct! Feb. 21 2009
By M. Orlando - Published on Amazon.com
This film has been released for the first time on DVD in a horrid Full Screen only version. Not sure why, but I thought the days of non-original aspect ratio releases were over. Apparently not.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars By far, this is Jack Nicholson's best performace July 9 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
This film never received the attention it deserved. Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep both have fine performances, but Nicholson's stands out as he demonstrates a range of emotion and pathos not seen in his other work. The cinemaphotography and lighting as he drifts from the dreary reality of life on the streets to his inner world of neurotic fears, joys, and memories is fantastic. You will not forget this movie.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's a VHS tape... April 9 2009
By James A. Ramirez - Published on Amazon.com
... it's in a DVD case but make no mistakes. It's a VHS tape. I'm not just saying this because it isn't a widescreen presentation. It actually may not have been shot in a widescreen format to begin with. Stanley Kubrick shot the shining in 1.37: 1, and up until it's latest DVD/Blu-ray release it had only been available on home video in it's original negative ratio (fullscreen). No. This is a VHS tape. It was clearly transfered from a VHS tape. It looks just like a VHS tape. It sounds just like a VHS tape. Horrendous video and audio quality. Shame on Lionsgate. After waiting for X amount of years for a DVD edition of Ironweed, what do I get? A second VHS copy in disguise!

If you haven't seen Ironweed, then don't let this shoddy edition stop you. It is definitely worth watching even if you've been spoiled over the last decade or so by the picture/sound quality that 99% of DVD's generally offer. Just know what you're in for with this DVD, quality wise. Rent it, but don't pay money to own it. It's a sham(e).
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