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4.4 out of 5 stars
Exotica [Blu-ray + DVD]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2012
I first watched this movie in a German cinema early in 1995. I was overwhelmed, as well as my attendance, a very good friend. As soon as the DVD releases came out, I started to collect them. Not only from North America, also in Europe and every region I could get access to. I haven't found one which was totally satisfying. Mostly, the pictures were too dark, the colours not adequate. And now, at last, after seventeen years, the Blu-ray release is here.

At last, the pictures and the light are satisfying. This is how it all should be. I haven't seen this movie in a cinema for many years now, but I always knew how the light and the colours have to look like. This is eventually realized on this disc.

I may be hypercritically cinephilistic, but I as a film-lover, I would have preferred the original 1.85:1 ratio, however, for whatever reason, the movie comes in 1.78:1. Just to fit the 16:9 screen? This is hard to understand, for me at least.

The sound comes in 2.0, which is like in 1994/95, but I hoped they could expand it to 5.1 to get the real experience, especially in the club scenes.

No extras but an audio commentary of the director and the composer - obviously very well done.

As this is one of my all-time favourites, I have to give the highest score, with a couple of stains remaining.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2004
One has to wonder if those who rated this movie poorly 'got it'. I gave this to a co-worker and he was highly confused at the end because he missed a critical link. For myself, I'm not sure what I expected. I knew I liked Mia Kirshner, and the pick-up of the DVD in a bargain bin was a "what the heck" purchase though I'd read reviews that seemed to promise a dark, disturbing, thought provoking movie.
Well, the packaging, as alluded to in the description, makes this seem like a standard erotic thriller. The addition of much of the action taking place in a strip club only seems to reinforce this as being standard, even shallow, fare. It's anything but. It might not be believable as a story, but the characters themselves are. Not only that, but fittingly enough, the shallowest seeming character through much of the film turns out to be potentially the most complex. It wasn't until after the end credits had rolled, and while still wrapping my mind around the whole canvas of the movie, it clicked as to why the character may have acted in a certain way.
I'll add a disclaimer here for anyone interested in the movie. If you are at all squeamish about the concepts of pedophelia, homosexuality, strip clubs, etc... well, just be aware that you might feel highly uncomfortable. I only plead discomfort to the first and parts were painful to watch even though nothing explicitly happens (and as is the case of the whole movie, nothing is anywhere near as simple or obvious as it first appears).
Highly recommended if you want a thought provoking, dark movie that at times makes you do a mental doubletake.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2003
I like movies that reveal their mysteries gradually. Films like Mullholland Drive, Memento, Following, etc. Like a good postmodern novel (no that's not an oxymoron - there are a few [Paul Auster comes immediately to mind]) these films are non-linear and one is kept guessing about not only what will happen, but whethere central characters are crazy, evil, benign, etc. The audience is kept intentionally in the dark, and thus on edge, and sometimes (as is the case with Mullholland Drive) there is no clear resolution, no tidying things up at the end. Egoyan seems to be operating in similar territory.
Another characterstic that these directors share is that often their characters are not what one would call likeable. This is the case in Exotica. A Canadian Customs Inspector (David Hemblen) is assigned to audit the books of a nervous Toronto exotic pet shop owner. From the outset, we see that this is not going to be your typical CPA/customer relationship. Things get more intriguing when the inspector finds a pistol in the pet-shop owner's drawer and reacts enigmatically.
As the film progresses, the inspector's psyche gradually disintegrates, until finally there is a denouement of denouements at the end of the film. Finally, Egoyan lets the audience in on the source of the inspector's descent into emotional breakdown. No spoilers here, but suffice it to say that the ending provides resolution, without relying on clichés.
Another satisfying Egoyan film. Thoughful script. Uniformly excellent acting, cinematography, direction. Worth re-viewing.
BEK
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2003
I thought this was one of the most interesting films to come out of the 90's. The film's weird, kinky, and dark overtones and themes interweave to produce an oddly engrossing film. All the main characters in the movie bring virtually truckloads of emotional baggage to their relationships, and the movie doesn't so much resolve those tensions so much as use them to provide an emotionally charged atmosphere, as we see the hidden elements of each relationship peeled off and revealed until the final climax of the movie is reached. Overall, a fine film and one that should reward seeing again.
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on January 7, 2004
In "Exotica" Egoyan returns to the theme of emotional and visceral disengagement and alienation in the New World. The film's protangonist has no way to directly engaging his emotional turmoil and diress. All he can do is engage in a series of staged psychodramas which are repeated again and again without any sort of real interpersonal engagement or personal mental catharsis. The lonliness or trauma of people in the New World has no cultural idiom. There is only forms in which there is play acting but never any real touching or meeting or feeling or realness.
We are accustomed to seeing vice portrayed in certain ways in the media and in the politics. "Erotica" suggests that the patronization of vice and fantasy in the New World has other reasons, motivations, and offers sympathy for men involved in this. It suggests that they are driven to it because of the paucity of ways for men to deal with issues of the emotion and spirit in the practically oriented material culture of North America.
Despite the highly unusual plot, theme, and experimental nature of the movie, it is paced and filmed in a smooth, well organized, professional and technically proficient manner. All of the actors play their part in a realistic and belivable way.
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on January 20, 2003
In all honesty I have seen a lot of phycological thrillers. But in my opinion this one is all looks and cinematography. The only thing this movie serves as a mystery with a simple plot. The movie was designed to make you think there is more to it than there really is. The key to the movie is the flash back of Eric and Christina walking in the field.They drag that flash back all the way to the end of the film,and there's you answer! They could have just made a movie out of the flashback because that is the Plot!And trust me people there is no pot of gold at the end of the flash back! The Girl Christina played by Mia Kirshner,was basically an ordinary girl that was made out to be mysterious.There was nothing mind goggling about her personality. Basically there was 3 guys that had very serious mental problems. Seriously disconnected from reality with an obcession for Christina. But not the kind of obcession you would expect. The club was beautiful but a joke, there was no nudity which really makes the movie unreasonable. A strip club with no stripping? Come on people! When this mystery unravels you will be sitting there like "that was it?" The only thing in this movie that resembled sensuality was when Christina was talking to the owner of the club and touching her pregnant belly. The rest is just whatever I guess! The movie is nice to look at but is very drawn out for what the plot was actually conveying. A real artistic, sensual, surprising, puzzling movie to watch would be Mullholland Dr,and Lost Highway. People that think this is the greatest movie since "Slice Bread" obviously haven't seen alot of challenging thrillers. "Palmetto" unraveled more mystery than this! But over all it did have a feel of sensuality about it I guess it had alot to do with the lighting and the fact that Mia was beautiful. Own this one for the art and the feel of the film the plot is just basic with a few film trick techniques to throw you off.
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First of all, Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan's lavishly intense film is NOT to be mistaken for "Showgirls," nor for any triple-x movie (although it IS R-rated).
Although the film presents certain elements of mystery (and one must pay extraordinary attention to both detail and innuendo), the intensity of the characters and plot propel the film across several levels. The viewer hangs on every word, both to pick up (almost desperately) clues toward understanding the over-lapping stories, but also because the characterizations are so thoroughly riveting.
Bruce Greenwood displays excellent range as he portrays both a care-free young family man as well as that character in middle age, besought with layer upon layer of tragedy and "baggage."
Mia Kirshner similarly impresses as we see her character at various stages: as a troubled pre-teen, replete with pony tail and braces, and also as both a mature college graduate and, quite convincingly, as an exotic dancer.
Elias Koteas is stunning as an anguished and lost club DJ/poet.
Don McKellar and Arsinée Khanjian are also quite brilliant in supporting roles.
Be prepared to want to immediately view the film a second time -- to do so is not merely repetition but serves as an opportunity to continue to fathom the depths of the characters and the film's unrelentingly passionate intrigue.
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on February 2, 2002
In my opinion, Atom Egoyan's EXOTICA is one of the best movies of the last decade. Those of us who had the opportunity to watch in the eighties Egoyan's first movies such as THE ADJUSTER or FAMILY VIEWING are not surprised by the nowadays international recognition of the armenian-canadian director. With EXOTICA, he has joined the very small guild of the writer/directors whose name will be remembered in the future.
Atom Egoyan is treating such universal themes as Redemption, Guiltiness or Desire, mixing them in a puzzle of images and subplots that leave us petrified by the beauty of the movie and the deepness of the feelings experienced by the characters. EXOTICA, like a book you cherish, must be seen several times in order to appreciate the complexity of the screenplay. Don't hesitate to buy it, you cannot be wrong with this movie.
There are alas no bonus features with this Disney/Buena Vista DVD, a company that prefers present extra long documentaries about the making of some infantile movie rather than contribute to the nobler but less profitable effort to help true artists reveal their work. Shame.
A DVD zone your library.
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on December 20, 2001
A brilliant and complex film that intertwines the destinies of four people via a strip club named "Exotica". This club is an appropriate meeting place for these characters since it is a metaphor for what is happening in the film: the stripping bare of each character's hidden secrets and painful histories.
Fate/destiny/karma is the major theme of this penetrating film. The characters feel trapped by the circumstances that life has handed them and feel helpless and manipulated by fate. "We rarely have the luxury of choosing our life..," exclaims the stripper, elaborating upon the theme of the film. "No one asks to be born...," declares the auditor, as he ponders the terrible tragedies that his destiny has afforded him. In addition, as the destinies of the characters converge, we learn each one has been both pain inflictor and healer to the other, similar to the theme of "balancing one's karma".
The director skillfully plays out these themes in a highly creative and original way. We are slowly drawn into the lives of these characters in a mysterious, film noir atmosphere. The perceptive script, haunting score, and non linear storyline all contribute to the powerful impact this dazzling film has on the audience. It is a film not to be missed.
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on August 6, 2001
This was easily one of the best films made in the 1990s, but it has to be strongly emphasized that it is not a sex film. The movie is not about sex, but about relationships, and the bizarre and wildly unexpected ways our lives can criss-cross each other. The movie does not have a fraction of the intended sexual content of a movie like BASIC INSTINCT or SHOWGIRLS. If someone rents EXOTICA expecting to be titillated, they are going to be severely disappointed. On the other hand, if you want a film that will challenge you intellectually, this is your flick.
The movie is best seen two or more times. The plot is not incoherent, as some writing here have found it, but complex. And part of the job of a re-viewing is seeing all the subtle ways the lives of the different characters are bound up with the lives of the other principle characters. Gradually we are given more and more information about the characters, and when we receive the last bits in the final seconds of the movie, the effect, at least for me, is staggering.
The acting is superb. Bruce Greenwood, a staple of Atom Egoyen films, is marvelous as the accountant. His character is also the hardest to figure out. It is only near the very end of the movie when we have enough evidence of what has happened to him that we are able to understand what makes him tick. Mia Kirshner is good in her role as the stripper in the club who has a very unusual relationship with the account. Again, the dynamics of their connection is not explained until the very last shot in the film. But the kudos for the most impressive job in this film goes to the tragically underrated and underappreciated Elias Koteas, as the club DJ and estranged boyfriend of the stripper. In most films, Koteas has only a very small role to work with, such as LIVING OUT LOUD (where he plays "the kisser" [check the credits! that's his character's name!] the man Holly Hunter meets very briefly on the back landing of a nightclub) or as the morally conflicted captain who is relieved of his duty for showing too much concern for the well-being of his men in THE THIN RED LINE. EXOTICA gives us a hint of what he could do with more significant roles.
EXOTICA has one of the most surreal scenes I have ever seen: Mia Kirshner dressed as a Catholic schoolgirl, signing in American Sign Language the lyrics of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows", while she does a strip dance (again, not as sexy as it might sound).
So, while not even remotely a sex film, this is an exceptionally complex and intelligent one about the intricacies of human relationships. In closing I would like to agree with the reviewer who found the cover of the video/DVD to be horrid. It seriously misrepresents the nature of the film. This is very much an "art" film, not an erotic one.
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