Ivans XTC. (1999) Arrow Video Blu-ray Review

Judgement

Abstract

A disarming drama, almost documentary, shot in digital HD first. Ivan’s XTC is an almost overwhelming look at the banality and amorality behind the scenes of show business.

Lot:

An aspiring Hollywood talent agent goes on a week-long drug and alcohol binge, initially not realizing he has stage four lung cancer, but by the end of the binge he catches up to his diagnosis.

Review :

The news of the death of young Hollywood talent agent Ivan Beckman (Danny Huston in a memorable performance) shocked Hollywood, his colleagues and clients. When it was announced that he had died of lung cancer, nobody believed him. We see Ivan a few weeks before he dies: He leads a loose and uncontrolled lifestyle, full of drugs and alcohol, and during a routine visit to the doctor for an examination, he finds out that he has developed lung cancer. All the blood he spits out and the pain he feels all over his body suddenly makes sense, but he suppresses his fear and feelings through sex with strangers, superficial conversations with his loved ones, and drugs, which are exponentially more meaningless. Lots and lots of drugs. In the last days before his death, he seized a huge sum of money that was being talked about in town. To celebrate, he overdoes it and nearly commits suicide in a car accident. He has no idea he’s days away from death, and in a town that’s on its way to another coffee break, his life and death are just a spot on Tinsel’s radar.

A disarming drama, almost documentary, shot in digital HD first. Ivan’s XTC is an almost overwhelming look at the banality and amorality behind the scenes of show business. Huston (whose father was the great director John Huston and whose sister is Angelica) is fully entrenched in the role of this character, who was apparently based on a real player who committed suicide, and the film has an amazing sense of time and place that is hard to beat. It is perhaps one of the most revealing films of what it is (at least at the time) to be someone who acts and supposedly films talent. Peter Weller plays the role of an ugly movie star, and his performance is also very successful. Director Bernard Rose (Candyman) and writer/producer Lisa Enos (who later married Rose) have made an incredibly sharp and visionary film here that, while depressing, is also full of pathos and soul.

Arrow Video recently released a Blu-ray edition of Ivan’s XTC, which features two versions of the film: A theatre record and a longer production record. I had never heard of this movie, and for good reason: It hasn’t been distributed in the US yet, so I watched the theatrical version. The disc contains Enos’ new retrospective documentary, which runs about 30 minutes, as well as a new commentary, plus interviews, extended scenes, footage, a trailer, a booklet with an essay on the film, and much more. I was very excited to discover this film, and any other fan of the film would be too.

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