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Directed by Robert Altman
USA / France 1996

 

Robert Altman has often seemed impatient with the conventional ways of making a movie. At 71, he is still the most iconoclastic and experimental of major American filmmakers. Ambitious young directors want to make slick formula hits that mimic one another, but Altman tries to make it new every time. Sometimes he strikes out, but he always goes down swinging. His originality and invention pay off in “Kansas City,” his 31st film--a memory of the wide-open Depression era, circa 1934, when Boss Tom Pendergast ruled, jazz flourished, and the city boasted the largest red-light district in the country. Altman tells a fairly straightforward story about a gun moll who kidnaps a politician's wife, but there's a lot more to the film than its story. Altman grew up in Kansas City--he was 9 in 1934--and he has a lot of memories, first- and secondhand, about a colorful period that always seemed to have a jazz soundtrack. He remembers the “cutting contests” in which soloists would duel onstage, and I think he wants to make this movie a cutting contest, too. The story is intercut with performance footage from the Hey Hey Club, and as jazz musicians try to top one another it's as if the actors are doing the same thing in their arena.

Excerpt from RogerEbert.com located HERE

***

Aspiring thief Johnny (Dermot Mulroney) messes with the wrong man when he attempts to steal from Seldom Seen (Harry Belafonte), a Kansas City mob dynamo. Blondie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Johnny's wife, refuses to sit back and let Johnny be held captive, resulting in a scheme to abduct a prominent government official's wife (Miranda Richardson). Blondie's plan is to use the woman's political connections to free her husband, but it gets complicated when the two women form an unlikely bond.

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 15th, 1996 (Cannes Film Festival)

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:55:41.684        
Video

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,885,289,947 bytes

Feature: 33,049,620,480 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1969 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1969 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DUB:

DTS-HD Master Audio German 937 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 937 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, German, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Koch Media

 

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,885,289,947 bytes

Feature: 33,049,620,480 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Robert Altman (in English)
• German Trailer (1:33)
• Original Trailer (2:18)
• Visual Essay Robert Altman's Kansas City (16:01 - French with German subtitles)
• Einfuhrung Von Filmhistoriker Luc Lagier (3:39 - French with German subtitles)
• Interviews (13:43 - English with German subtitles)
• Behind the Scenes (2:19 - B-roll)
• Gallery (2:30)


Blu-ray Release Date:
June 13th, 2019
Media-book Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Koch Media Blu-ray (September 2019): Koch Media have transferred Robert Altman's Kansas City to Blu-ray. It is on a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate. Where most Altman's films can look intentionally gritty and unpolished - Kansas City isn't too different. It does have some impressive art direction supporting the Depression-era drabness and darker pastels. There is a thickness, and occasional softness, to the visuals - no gloss, and it does appear dark overall. It is in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio and looks appealing in-motion.

On their Blu-ray, Koch Media transfer a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track (16-bit) in the original English language with an optional German DUB. Another attribute of the film is the jazz music of Count Basie, Lester Young, Duke Ellington and others that sounds great - and looks impressive while being performed. The audio is pretty clean and deep with only a few instances of aggressive separation (gunfire). Dialogue is clear and discernable. Koch Media offer optional English (see sample) or German subtitles on their Region 'B' Blu-ray.

The Koch Media Blu-ray have added extras. First off we get a fascinating audio commentary by Robert Altman (from the previous DVD) where he discusses the French company that approached him about producing his next film, Jennifer Jason Leigh trying to represent Jean Harlow or how she was made-up from movie magazines of the era, kidnapping back in the Depression, how no one at the Academy looked at Kansas City, David Lean's Brief Encounter - how it changed his whole perception of film, second viewings of films, real influences of his own films that he didn't like, how Three Women was influenced by Persona etc.. I loved when he says that "I never try to make a film that the audience wants - it's none of my business what the audience wants." It is filled with interesting information about himself and Kansas City. There are both German and original trailers, a 1/4 hour video essay, in French with German subtitles, 14-minutes of interviews with Altman, Leigh, Belafonte and others, behind the scenes B-roll footage and a gallery of posters and stills. The case is a 'Media-book' with German text and photos.

Kansas City is a kind of forgotten Robert Altman film, often criticized for Jennifer Jason Leigh's characterizational portrayal of Blondie O'Hara which may remind you of her screwball-comedy-like 'Amy Archer' in the Coen's The Hudsucker Proxy. There is both a good crime-drama element to the film as well as the jazz music (in lossless) with themes involving racial overtones. The commentary is invaluable to those who appreciate Altman's cinema.  Great to have this clandestine film reach Blu-ray. Recommended to all Altman fans.

Gary Tooze

 


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Box Cover

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Distribution Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray


 


 

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