Road" on DVD
by Jim Bray
is a nifty flick that goes along as your typical suspense offering until
a couple of minutes from the end, at which time reality comes at you from
left field and you're left scratching your head in awe at the unaccustomed
ingenuity of the screenplay's final twists.
Jeff Bridges stars
as college prof Michael Faraday, who teaches a course on urban terrorism.
His wife, an FBI agent, was killed in a "Ruby Ridge-type" incident
and he's slowly getting his life back together, though haunted by the
experience and the fact that it had been totally unnecessary.
Alarm bells start
going off in his head when he notices some funny things going on with
his neighbors, Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack) who
have recently moved into the area and are turning into good friends -
or so it appears.
But things are never
what they appear on Arlington Road - or are they? Bridges unmasks Robbins'
past and, when confronted by it, Robbins admits his past mistakes and
has good explanations about them. This causes an embarrassed Bridges to
re-assess his opinions of his neighbor.
Then the movie takes
a sharp turn and events take off at a breakneck pace to a remarkable conclusion
that shows there's still some creativity left in Hollywood - and bravo
film - in typical Hollywood/media intelligentsia manner - insists on labelling
right wing groups as bad while ignoring the historical record of left
wing groups. This political shot is totally unwarranted in the movie,
since the terrorist acts perpetrated in "Arlington Road" have
been done by both sides of the ideological coin in real life (consider
the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings and Pan Am flight 103,
for example, then throw in Waco to further muddle things) especially since
the ideology of the terrorists in this movie is never more than hinted
To be fair, they don't
belabor this point, which is nice, but one gets tired of this endless
campaign to demonize people with whom the Hollywood liberal establishment
But I digress...
Performances by the
leads are first rate, and Joan Cusack is alternately charming and chilling
- despite showing virtually the same, "good neighbor" facade
- as her role is played out.
The DVD is in widescreen,
Dolby Digital; the audio and video are digitally mastered and the quality
shows. There's also a fair set of liner notes, a second-track commentary
with Jeff Bridges and Director Mark Pellington which makes for a fascinating
glimpse at moviemaking, a "making of" featurette, and an alternate
ending that clearly shows the producers/director made the right choice
in the one they used. There are also talent files, chapter stops, and
As an aside, I must
tease Columbia Tristar for accidentally sending TechnoFILE nearly 4000
copies of "Arlington Road" to review. Needless to say, these
130-plus boxes really filled up our offices and the company was quite
embarrassed by the mix-up (they shouldn't have been; it was just a clerical
error that can happen to anyone). Columbia/Tristar also fixed the problem
as quickly as possible (the boxes arrived on a Friday, so we poked our
way around them over the weekend) and I must compliment them on their
professionalism at getting the DVD's delivered to their rightful destination.
But after "seeing"
Arlington Road 2500 times, the ending was no longer a surprise and we
quit trying to get through them all...
Arlington Road, from
Columbia Tristar Home Video
117 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Hope Davis, Robert Gossett
Produced by Peter Samuelson, Tom Gorai, Marc Samuelson, Written by Ehren
Directed by Mark Pellington
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