HOUSE OF GAMES - THE CRITERION COLLECTION
Posted: Tue, Jul 29 2008 - 18:26 PM
Do you like movies about con men? I do. Some of my favorites being The Sting (hands down, the best), Paper Moon, The Grifters, Catch Me If You Can, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Spanish Prisoner, Matchstick Men, etc ...
Add one more to that list -- David Mamet's 1987 directorial debut, House of Games, which last year received a deluxe upgrade from Criterion.
Pulitzer-winning playright, Mamet -- whose other writing credits include, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), The Verdict, The Untouchables, Glengarry Glen Ross -- cast longtime friend Joe Mantegna and then-wife, Lindsay Crouse, in this tale of a restless psychiatrist who becomes unwittingly involved in the world of cons and con men. Going to a place called House of Games to pay off one of her patients debts, Crouse's Margaret Ford meets Mantegna's Mike, a smooth talking con artist who ultimately fascinates the good-but-troubled doctor. To reveal anymore would be criminal.
After a badly transferred DVD was released a few years ago, House of Games - The Criterion Collection remedies everything that was previously lacking. Special features include:
- DIRECTOR-APPROVED EDITION:
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Juan Ruiz Anchia
- Audio commentary by director David Mamet and consultant/actor Ricky Jay
- New video interviews with actors Lindsay Crouse and Joe Mantegna
- David Mamet on House of Games, a short documentary shot on location during the film's preparation and production
- Storyboard detail
- Theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones and excerpts from Mamet's introduction to the published screenplay
That commentary by director Mamet and Ricky Jay (co-star, magic historian, and expert in the confidence game) is fun, fast paced, educational, and very entertaining.
The digital transfer is flawless, bring to life the obvious affection the DP had for Hopper's famous Nighthawks painting.
The only thing dated? Shoulder pads, hair styles and a few rolled up jacket sleeves. It was the 80s -- what are ya gonna do?
Look fast for cameos by J.T. Walsh and William H. Macy.
Mamet's dialogue, as always, takes a bit of getting used to -- it is purposefully stilted, and oddly cadenced -- but once it gets hold of you, it doesn't let you go.
If you enjoy films about the big con, this is one of the best. A taut, intelligent, fascinating psychological thriller.
MOVIE GRADE: B+
BONUS CONTENT: B+
HOUSE OF GAMES - theatrical trailer
Category: DVD Reviews