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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Paranoia" )

 

directed by Eric Steven Stahl
USA 19
98

 

Patrick Stewart plays Mace Sowell, a retired government operative who possesses damaging information about a presidential hopeful, and holes himself up inside his secure compound because he fears reprisal. In order to protect himself, Sowell has designed a system whereby the information will be released to the public if he is not there to type in a password at regular intervals. This he believes will keep him from being assassinated, but just in case, he stages elaborate self-defense drills with unwitting servants, and tries to convince his family that the explanation he gave them about his career was a cover story to hide his true military affiliations. The problem is, Sowell is also suffering the early stages of Alzheimer's, so his daughter (Joy Kilpatrick) considers his paranoid stories to be delusional ravings. She hires a psychiatrist (Kimberly Williams) to analyze her father and watch over him, in the hopes of easing his dementia. Sowell initially distrusts his new companion, but begins to lower his guard and care for her deeply. Meanwhile, his disease is advancing, and if he can't remember the password, his critical information will be released prematurely and he'll be hunted down by his enemie.

***

Safe House is a thoughtful, if gradually paced, thriller that explores a fascinating issue: how the crisis of a degenerative brain disease becomes greater when it involves someone burdened with secret information. Not only might the information die, or at least lose its credibility once the affliction reaches a certain level, but the Alzheimer's patient will also lose the ability to defend himself against his enemies, especially when his loved ones don't believe they exist. The intelligent subject matter and an unrestrained performance from Patrick Stewart elevate Safe House above the usual straight-to-video fodder. Stewart's work adds dimension to an already thoughtful screenplay, and the details of his blockading his home against outsiders -- the behavior of either a deranged fool or a prudent planner, it's hard to say which -- make for funny material with built-in ambiguity. Even the viewer is not always sure what's real and what's only a manifestation of Mace Sowell's henpecked mind. His relationship with the young psychiatrist (Kimberly Williams) develops in a manner free from cliché. All of this makes Safe House a minor original worth seeking out.

Excerpt from B+N.com located HERE

Promotional/other DVD covers etc.

Television Premiere: July 1st, 1998

 

Reviews                                                               More Reviews                                                       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Showtime Ent. - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Showtime Ent.

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:51:52
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.14 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English or Spanish)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Showtime Ent.

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Short Interviews with Patrick Stewart, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Eric Steven Stahl

• Text Filmographies, Previews

DVD Release Date: July 18th, 2000
Keep Case

Chapters 10

 

 

 

Comments

Safe House is on my re-watchables shelf and I indulge every couple of years. Bald, egg-headed and distinctively voiced Patrick Stewart is probably best known as Captain Jean Luc Picard, Professor Charles Xavier, and as voice characterizations in American Dad (as Stan's boss Avery Bullock) and a variety of characters in Family Guy. I also recall him as Dr. Armstrong in Lifeforce and evil Dr. Jonas in Conspiracy Theory. He is great here as a retired super-spy with the onset of Alzheimer's disease but who has identified a specific plot regarding a Presidential front-runner. It's a psychological thriller vacillating between the protagonist's fantasy paranoia or potentially, dangerous reality. It's suspenseful, deceptive and has some exciting action sequences. I appreciated the concept and loved this, one of the better, made-for-TV broadcast films.

It's single-layered and interlaced in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and looks quite good for SD. The image is clean with some softness but is consistent and exports the film for a decent, if less-remarkable, presentation. Once the film is running, I had no complaints

The standard Dolby sound is clear supporting the score by the, very active, Kevin Kiner and there are no subtitles offered, although there is a Spanish DUB option. Supplements consist of short interviews with Patrick Stewart, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Eric Steven Stahl plus some text screen filmographies and previews.

This isn't a flic that will ever get a Blu-ray release. But I'd say the entertainment value is at the very high end considering the price. In fact, I couldn't find this disc once - and simply bought it for a second time. So you know what I think of it. Absolutely recommended!  

  - Gary Tooze

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Showtime Ent.

Region 1 - NTSC

 




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