A Woman Under the Influence [Special Edition] [Criterion Collection] [DVD] 
A Woman Under the Influence [Special Edition] [Criterion Collection]
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Arguably John Cassavetes' best directorial effort, highlighted by a brilliant and brave performance by Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under The Influence hasn't had a very distinguished history on DVD -- it was released on a no-frills pan-and-scan disc in 1999 and has since been available only as part of a box set of five Cassavetes' films from the Criterion Collection. But Criterion have now made their excellent transfer available in a stand-alone edition, and it lends the film the presentation and exposure it deserves. A Woman Under The Influence has been given a widescreen transfer for this release, letterboxed at 1.85:1 on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic play on 16x9 monitors. The film's simple, naturalistic visual style is preserved with unobtrusive clarity on this disc, which features a spotless transfer that adds nothing unnecessary to the picture. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and recreates the slightly messy realism of the original track beautifully. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options included. The disc features an optional commentary track, in which Michael Farris (one of several cinematographers who worked on the picture) and Bo Harwood (who composed the score and recorded the production sound) discuss the practical and creative challenges of working with Cassavetes. Other bonus materials include a chat with stars Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk, excerpts from an audio-only interview with Cassavetes recorded in 1975, a large gallery of production stills, the film's original theatrical trailer, and a twenty-six page booklet including an essay by Kent Jones and a 1975 interview with Cassavetes from the magazine Filmmakers Newsletter. It's hard to imagine A Woman Under The Influence being given a better and more caring presentation on home video than this, and Criterion are to be congratulated for making an important film available again in optimal quality.
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