[box cover]

Tempest

Paul Mazursky, who devoted much of his career in the early 1970s exploring the pains and complexities of upper-middle-class angst in films like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), Blume in Love (1973), and An Unmarried Woman (1978) might seem like one of the last directors to remake a Shakespeare play. But the '80s were a time of experimentation and growth for Mazursky, whose previous film, Willie and Phil (1980), was a not-very-good remake of Truffaut's Jules et Jim, and follow-up pictures Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), and Moon Over Parador (1989) took pointed, satiric — yet sympathetic — stabs at class, politics and alienation. Based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, Mazursky's 1982 picture is personal and typically New York-centric, despite being filmed mostly on location in Greece. John Cassavetes plays successful architect Philip Demitrius, whose mid-life crisis takes on supernatural proportions. He abandons his faithless wife (Gena Rowlands) and heads for Greece with his teenage daughter, Miranda (Molly Ringwald, in her first film), where Philip becomes something of a tan nature-god, flourishing in the hot Aegean sun and developing a passionately celibate relationship with a beautiful expat American (Susan Sarandon). It's a beautiful, and curious, piece of filmmaking, long and meandering with moments of brilliance, with the underlying premise that Prospero was merely a middle-aged man in need of a good therapist and that Ariel was the only one with her head on her shoulders. Ringwald is marvelous, sexy, and endearing as the self-consciously adolescent Miranda, but the film's real break-out star was Raoul Julia as the horny goatherd Kalibanos — the scene where he deliriously plays his pipes and dances with his goats is an absolutely delicious moment in cinema. Cassavetes may have been at his very best as an actor here, bringing a smug, lonely determination to Philip/Prospero, obsessing over his young daughter's blossoming puberty while calling up storms with the mantra "Show me the magic." Tempest received seriously mixed reviews on its theatrical release, excoriated by many critics, yet garnering a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture while winning honors at the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment offers up a  remastered, high-def anamorphic (1.85:1) transfer that seems a little unstable in the early parts of the film, with a grainy, wavering quality during the opening credits, but which sharpens nicely once the story kicks in. Colors have been given a boost, most notably reds — skin tones look a little overly pink in some scenes, and anything orange is positively garish. Overall, though, it's a very watchable print. The DD 5.1 audio (English, with English or French subtitles) is pretty good, offering a nice showcase for the unusual, atmospheric score by Stomu Yamashita (The Man Who Fell to Earth). Sadly, the disc offers no special features — commentary by Mazursky would be very welcome here — save trailers for three Sony DVD titles. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor



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