The Criterion Collection deluxe treatment!
Cubist | United States | 03/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Director Ang Lee has had a fascinatingly diverse career. He's tried his hand at the literary adaptation with Sense & Sensibility (Special Edition), the Civil War epic with Ride with the Devil, a period martial arts tale with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and a comic book adaptation with the much-maligned Hulk (Widescreen 2-Disc Special Edition). He has successfully dabbled in several genres and with The Ice Storm, he adapted Rick Moody's 1994 novel of the same name, a drama set in 1973 during the waning years of the sexual revolution.
The Ice Storm feels like an Ingmar Bergman or John Cassavetes film from the 1970s with a dash of Atom Egoyan (the look of either Exotica or The Sweet Hereafter). It also has a textured, painterly quality thanks to the exquisite cinematography of Frederick Elmes who also shot some of David Lynch's best films (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Wild at Heart). He really captures the tacky, kitschy look of the `70s and is helped considerably by the attention to period detail (awful sweater vests over turtleneck sweaters) and the top notch production design (capturing the look of the houses from that era).
The Ice Storm takes a fascinating look at a specific time and place through the eyes of an outsider - the Taiwanese-born Lee who offers a fresh perspective on American culture. His film can be seen as a melancholic lament for the end of an era and the loss of innocence that began with the Kennedy assassination. Kudos to the Criterion Collection for giving this unfairly neglected film their deluxe treatment.
The first disc features an audio commentary by director Ang Lee and producer/screenwriter James Schamus. They banter back and forth like the long-time friends and collaborators that they are. Lee makes some astute observations about the characters and points out his favourite shots and lines of dialogue in the film. This is an entertaining and informative commentary.
There is also a theatrical trailer.
The second disc starts off with "Weathering the Storm," a 36-minute retrospective featurette with new interviews with a lot of the key cast members who reflect on making the film and how it affected their careers. Everyone talks about what it was like to work with Lee. This is an excellent look at how the film came together by some of the actors who were in it.
"Rick Moody Interview" features the author of the source novel talking about his feelings towards the film adaptation. These characters were an intimate part of him and the film version was a very different take on them.
"Lee and Schamus at MOMI." The two talk about their filmmaking career together at the Museum of the Moving Image in November 2007. They talk about how various films came together and reflect on them in an eloquent and intelligent way.
"The Look of The Ice Storm" features interviews with cinematographer Frederick Elmes, production designer Mark Friedberg, and costume designer Carol Oditz. They talk about how they helped realize Lee's vision.
Also included are four deleted scenes with optional commentary by Schamus. We see Ben at work in a funny bit with Kline and Henry Czerny. He talks about why these scenes were cut."
Not Enough Score
Eric M. Byrne | 02/02/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As I was watching the film the music of Mychael Danna's fantastic score began to come through and talk to the audience. Danna's music was telling us what the characters were not saying, but unfortunately the CD only contains two tracks of his work. Though there are nice songs for nostalgia, the CD could have been a great deal better with more of Danna's haunting, somewhat spiritual, music."
Growing up IS hard to do...
Eric Swanger | Chicago, IL USA | 07/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can tell just from the first shot in The Ice Storm that it will completely envelop you. The crackling sound as the train comes to a stop on a cold Connecticut night, the beautifully poetic score by Michael Danna, the twinkling trees and landscape revealing a calm after the storm. You have a feeling that the beauty is masking a lot of desperation and vulnerability. It is a really bold piece of New American Cinema. Tackling the same old issues, but in a way that is startlingly fresh and revealing.Kevin Cline is great as a fumbling, bored NY businessman who finds a tragic way to rock the family suburban lifestyle. And Joan Allen is amazingly sparse in her portrayal of an early 1970's housewife who finally confronts her husband's infedelity. Tobey Mcguire (who also narrates the film) and Cristina Ricci, as their children, give equally delicate and involved performances. Sigourney Weaver is given her best role here, as the swinging wife of Jamey Sheridan, who is supposedly the genious that helps develop silicon from sand. Rounding out the cast is Elijah Wood as their troubled son, and Adam Hann-Byrd as his younger and more eloquent brother.Overall, It's an beautifully interwoven story of the miscommunications between two neighboring families. And it really confronts the overtone of the early 1970's era, by setting up parallels between the harsh political climate (a la Watergate) with what is hapenning between the two families. But I think the most meaningful and touching aspect is how we see love (or at least a sexual awakening mistaken as love) blooming between 2 teenagers in a way that is heartbreakingly real. I really appreciated how they made the experiences between these young characters appear genuine, loving, and meaningful. It isnt often that a film captures what love feels like for someone so new at it. I think one of the delicate ironies of the film is that, despite their youth and inexperience, these people's children probably have a better understanding about what love is really about than they do. I think the film is also about a loss of innocence, but not necessarily a loss of sexual innocence. It shows how sometimes children are thrust into adulthood because of traumatic events in their lives, and they often times loose a part of themselves in the process. The ending is truly devastating, but so poetically rendered and realistically fleshed-out. It really makes you feel an incomprehensible sadness that is never really resolved before the film ends, which is infinately refreshing. As we all know, there isn't always a fitting way to console the heartbroken. So maybe its best to just leave it at that.It probes deep into the intricate concepts of love, family, betrayal, and loss. It is as delicate a film as they come. Surely the best film Ang Lee has ever done. And i think greatly overlooked as possibly one of the best films in the past decade."