[box cover]

The Underneath

Despite his indie-artiste leanings, director Steven Soderbergh has a true knack for crafting taut, enigmatic thrillers that pay-off until the last punch. The Underneath tells the noirish tale of Michael Chambers (Peter Gallagher), a compulsive gambler whose mounting debts compelled him to leave town -- without a word to his wife or family. A few years later, all debts settled, he returns for his mother's wedding and decides to rebuild his life on the straight and narrow. Against the warnings of his menacing cop brother (Adam Trese), he can't resist looking up his ex-wife (Allison Elliot), now the abused moll of a shady nightclub owner. As Mike says, there's what you want, and what's good for you, and rarely do the two intersect. Soderbergh tricks out this riveting yarn in customary style, telling the first half as a series of flashbacks within flashbacks, and painting Mike's world with a gripping array of tinted palettes and primary colors. It's one of the most unique-looking and underappreciated films of the 1990s. Also with warm Elizabeth Shue as the nice girl, and icy William Fichtner as the bad guy. Adapted by Daniel Fuchs and Sam Lowry (actually Soderbergh) from Don Tracy's novel Criss Cross. Elliot Davis excellent photography looks great in this 2.35:1 transfer with 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. There are a few nice technical extras, including a great comparison of letterbox and pan-and-scan formatting, and text-based explanations of the film-to-video transfer process.

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