Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Arrow Video - WHITE OF THE EYE on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Arrow Video - WHITE OF THE EYE on Blu-ray

WHITE OF THE EYE was a movie that wasn't even really on my radar until last year. It started with a mention in Killer POV, one of my favorite podcasts and then my attention was brought to it again when Cinefamily here in LA did their amazing United States of Horror midnight series. I missed the screening at Cinefamily, but by that time I feel like I had caught wind of Arrow putting out this Blu-ray. WHITE OF THE EYE had been a bit difficult to see prior to this. That's obviously part of the reason I was less aware of it. I should have looked it up at some point though because I have been intrigued by Director Donald Cammell's film PERFORMANCE ever since I first read about in one of Danny Peary's Cult Movies books. Funny enough that WHITE OF THE EYE and PERFORMANCE should hit Blu-ray one week apart! Anyway, having finally gotten around to seeing PERFORMANCE just recently, I was very curious what WHITE OF THE EYE would be like (especially because I'd heard that PERFORMANCE was more a Nicolas Roeg film than a Cammell film).
From the very opening frames it's clear that Cammell has something impressionistic in mind. The use of blue cards for the cast and crew credits at the front is a unique choice I don't think I've seen before. Each time he cuts to one if them it's a bit jarring and yet it sends this subtle message that this movie is going to be different than other Cannon films you've become accustomed to seeing. I had forgotten that Cammell only made 3 or 4 films in his career and that his previous movie (DEMON SEED) had been a full decade prior. From what I gather, the process of making that film was so difficult, it may have out him off making movies for a time (or at least making movies for a major studio). I would imagine that working for a studio like Cannon allowed him at least a little more autonomy and it shows.
David Keith (or the poor man's Patrick Swayze) and Cathy Moriarty headline this movie and their are an interesting duo with interesting chemistry. My experience with Moriarty is mostly limited to RAGING BULL and my oddball favorite NEIGHBORS so this is a different kind of thing. Donald Cammell chooses to portray their relationship in lots of flashbacks that conjoin with the present. Cammell's structural choices in general always make his films stand out to a certain degree. Here the film waivers between a more traditional murder mystery and some kind of surreal dream-like observation of time and space loose and unstuck from each other. It's a unique mixture, and though not entirely successful, it weaves a very specifically Cammell-esque tapestry of a movie. Between this film and PERFORMANCE, Cammell country is a place worth visiting.

Special Features:

  • Brand new high definition digital transfer of the film from the original camera negative.
  • Audio commentary by Donald Cammell biographer Sam Umland.
  • Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance – This feature length documentary by Kevin Macdonald and Chris Rodley (originally broadcast by the BBC in 1998) looks over the life and career of the rebel filmmaker and features interviews with Cammell and his closest friends, family and colleagues including Nicolas Roeg, Mick Jagger, Kenneth Anger, James Fox, Barbara Steele, Cathy Moriarty, Elliot Kastner and many more. This doc starts with Cammell's brother reading his obituary from the Hollywood Reporter (after his death of a self-inflicted gunshot wound). This sets a rather somber tone for an absolutely fascinating portrait of a young artist turned filmmaker. The documentary touches on the circumstances surrounding all 4 of Cammell's feature films (including his last one WILD SIDE, which Cammell ended up taking his name off of). Overall, the doc gives a compelling sense of this man who was certainly a visionary filmmaker and how difficult it can be for such a man to get films made as he sees them in his head. 
  • The Argument – a 1972 short film by Cammell, gorgeously shot by Vilmos Zsigmond in the Utah Desert. Rediscovered and assembled by Cammell’s regular editor Frank Mazzola in 1999, it is viewable with optional commentary by Sam Umland.
  • Rare deleted scenes, newly transferred from the original camera negative, with commentary by Sam Umland.
  • The flashback scenes as originally shot, prior to the bleach bypass processing that they underwent in the final film.
  • Alternate credits sequence
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh.
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Brad Stevens and Sam Umland, and a previously unpublished extract from the memoirs of producer Elliott Kastner, illustrated with original archive stills. 
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